Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 19, 2017

Thomas announces exit from Circuit Court


Judge Neil Thomas III, who serves the people of Hamilton County in Tennessee’s Eleventh Circuit Court, will resign from the bench on Oct. 5 after 20 years of public service.

“Serving the community for two decades has been an extraordinary honor I’ll cherish forever. Leaving the bench will permit me to invest more time in my heart’s desires – our great community and my family,” says Thomas, appointed in 1997 by Gov. Don Sundquist to fill the vacancy of Judge William L. Brown.

Thomas was re-elected for three eight-year terms after his initial appointment to the Fourth Division of the Circuit Court. The court features jury trials and hears pleadings of citizens and businesses regarding contract disputes, domestic matters such as divorce and adoption and appeals from lower courts.

“While I’m leaving the bench, I’m not retiring. I will continue my life’s work of complex business law and mediation. But much of my prior civic engagement and philanthropy have been measured due to ethical concerns,” says Thomas, whose judicial career included more than 200 jury trials. “I’m excited to have new opportunities ahead.”

Thomas, a graduate of The Baylor School, the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan School of Law, first practiced law in New York City before returning to Chattanooga in 1976.

Thomas is a founder of the Litigation Section of the Tennessee Bar Association, a Fellow of the American, Tennessee and Chattanooga Bar Foundations and a member of the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thomas’ community engagement includes previous service as the president of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Chattanooga Rotary Club, the Brock-Cooper American Inns of Court, the Tennessee Safety Council, Junior Achievement and Friends of both the Chickamauga National Military and Moccasin Bend Parks.

Thomas and his wife, Anne, are the parents of four sons: Neil, David, Michael and Greg. Michael practices law in Chattanooga.

Thomas’ letter of resignation to Gov. Bill Haslam and Administrative Director of the Courts Deborah Tate triggers the process overseen by the Governor’s Council on Judicial Appointments to receive applicants and conduct interviews. The council will make recommendations to Haslam for an appointment.

Source: Office of Judge Neil Thomas, III