Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, September 22, 2017

UT graduate selected as U.S. magistrate judge


Thomas A. Varlan, chief U.S. district judge, has announced the selection of Debra C. Poplin to the position of United States magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Poplin will begin her term of office on Feb. 13, 2018, upon the retirement of Chief Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley, Jr.

Poplin currently serves as clerk of court for the Eastern District, having been appointed to that position on Jan. 1, 2012.

“The district judges were pleased to select Ms. Poplin from a group of extremely well-qualified magistrate judge candidates,” Varlan says.

“She has served the Eastern District in excellent fashion as clerk of court, and we are confident she will continue to do so as a magistrate judge.

“We also express our appreciation and thanks to Judge Shirley for his 15 years of service as magistrate judge and currently as chief magistrate judge for the district.”

The U.S. district judges for the Eastern District of Tennessee appointed a seven-member merit selection panel consisting of attorneys and community members to review applications, interview prospective candidates and recommend to the district judges the candidates they deemed best qualified for the position.

Poplin is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Upon graduation from law school in 1990, she joined the City of Knoxville Law Department.

She returned to the law department as deputy law director in 2001 following two years of practice with the law firm of Ritchie, Fels & Dillard.

In 2008, then-Mayor Bill Haslam appointed Poplin as city law director, making her the first (and only) woman to serve in the post in the city’s history.

As clerk of court, Poplin works with the district judges in overseeing the administration of the district court including oversight of a districtwide caseload of more than 2,500 civil and criminal cases and management of a staff of 42 clerk’s office employees in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Greeneville.

Poplin is an active member of the Knoxville Bar Association, having previously served as a member of the Board of Governors and as co-chair of the Government and Public Service Section.

She is a graduate of the Leadership Knoxville Class of 2009.

United States magistrate judges are appointed by the U.S. district judges of the U.S. District Court for a term of eight years and are eligible for reappointment to successive terms. Composed of 41 counties and serving 2.5 million people, the Eastern District of Tennessee is the largest federal district court in Tennessee.

Source: Judge Varlan