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Senate Judiciary Committee Moves Judge Jill Ayers' Confirmation To The Court of Criminal Appeals Forward

The Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee today held a confirmation hearing for Judge Jill Bartee Ayers for a seat on the Court of Criminal Appeals Middle Section. Judge Ayers is currently a circuit court judge in the 19th judicial district, which includes Montgomery and Robertson counties.   In October, after interviewing 11 candidates, the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments recommended Judge Ayers and two other candidates to Governor Bill Lee to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Thomas Woodall, effective December 31, 2020. On January 12, 2021, Governor Bill Lee selected Judge Ayers, and the General Assembly can confirm or deny that selection during this legislative session.  

“We are so fortunate to have such a sterling crop of judges in the state of Tennessee,” said Lang Wiseman, chief deputy and counsel to the governor, during an introduction of Judge Ayers. “We are so fortunate and we are pleased to bring you today one of the best of that crop. The governor takes the process of appointing judges very seriously, and he is proud to bring forward Judge Ayers for your consideration.”

Judge Ayers has been on the criminal court bench since 2015 and has presided over 50 jury trials.

 “She has done an exemplary job on the 19th judicial district criminal court and I know she will do a fantastic job on the Court of Criminal Appeals,” said State Senator Bill Powers from district 22, which includes Clarksville.

Judge Ayers was a partner at Batson Nolan PLC in Clarksville prior to being appointed to the bench by former Governor Bill Haslam.

“She has done an excellent job on the bench and is well-respected in the community,” said State Senator Kerry Roberts of district 25, which includes Springfield in the 19th judicial district. “It was a big transition to go from civil law to criminal law when you took the bench, and you have done it so well. We are incredibly proud.”

During the hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Bell asked Judge Ayers about her judicial temperament and philosophy.

“I am a textualist. The words matter. They say what they say,” Judge Ayers said. “The General Assembly is in the business of making the law. The judges have that separation of powers and it is our job to apply that law. I believe the Constitution says what it says. It is not a living and breathing document. I love what Justice Scalia said – it is not living; it is enduring.“

Judge Ayers’ confirmation will now go before the full Tennessee Senate.  The Tennessee House can hold separate confirmation hearings.