Three Hamilton County Circuit Court judges announced they will be seeking re-election. Judge Jeffrey Hollingsworth, Division II, Judge Neil W. Thomas III, Division IV, and Judge Marie L. Williams, Division III, will run. Circuit Court Judge Jackie Bolton announced earlier that she is not seeking re-election.
Judge Hollingsworth, who was elected in 2006, has been licensed to practice law since he graduated from the Louisiana State University Law School in 1977. He served as an Assistant District Attorney in Baton Rouge, La., and Chattanooga until January 1989. From 1989 until his election to the bench in 2006, he was with the law firms of Stophel & Stophel, P .C. and Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. While practicing law, Judge Hollingsworth was certified as a civil trial specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and the Tennessee Supreme Court.
During his term as judge, Judge Hollingsworth has served as vice president and chair of the Public Trust and Confidence Committee of the Tennessee Judicial Conference. He has been chosen as a fellow of the Chattanooga and Tennessee Bar Foundations.
Active in his community and church, Judge Hollingsworth serves on the Board of Hope for the Inner City and is a member and past pPresident of the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Chattanooga. He is an elder and trustee at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church.
Judge Hollingsworth and his wife Mary, have been married for 41 years and have two children. Their daughter, Katy Murphy, and her husband Cliff live in Soddy-Daisy. Their son, John and his wife, Lauren, live in the Highland Park area of Chattanooga. Jeff and Mary are the proud grandparents of Jack and Luke.
Judge Thomas was appointed to his position by the governor in 1997, and was elected for two eight-year terms in 1998 and 2006. Circuit Court is a court of general jurisdiction, and the cases that are tried there include medical malpractice, car wrecks and domestic disputes.
In addition to providing service locally, Judge Thomas has served as chairman of the Family Law Committee and Treasurer of The Tennessee Judicial Conference.
Judge Thomas graduated from The Baylor School and then from the University of North Carolina and The University of Michigan Law School. He started his career in New York and then returned home in 1976 to practice commercial law until being appointed to the bench in 1997. He is a member of the American, Tennessee and Chattanooga Bar associations. He also is a member of the Supreme Court of The United States and Federal Circuit Courts for the Second, Third, Sixth and Tenth Circuits.
He and his wife, Anne, are the parents of four sons, Neil, David, Michael and Greg. Michael practices as a lawyer in Chattanooga.
Judge Williams has presided over Division Ill of the Circuit Court of Hamilton County since 1995.
Judge Williams is a graduate for the University of Georgia and earned her law degree from the University of Tennessee. She has been licensed to practice law since 1977. Williams was a partner in the firm of Spears, Moore, Rebman, and Williams until she was appointed to the bench by Governor Don Sundquist in 1995. Judge Williams is the first woman to hold a state judgeship in Hamilton County.
A committed community volunteer, Judge Williams is a member of The Rotary Club of Chattanooga and has served on the boards of St. Barnabas Nursing Home and St. Nicholas School. She is also a current member of the Board of Trustees of Girls Preparatory School of which she is a graduate and a recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award and the Margaret Rawlings Lupton Award of Excellence. Judge Williams is a lifelong member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and has long been active in parish life. She is also a vice-chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee.
A member of many professional organizations, Judge Williams was instrumental in the adoption and implementation of legislation designed to reduce the damage inflicted on children by the divorce process and in the revision of procedures utilized in jury trials.
These changes have been proven to make the jury experience more rewarding and time efficient.
Judge Williams has been married to Jeffrey L. Cleary since 1980. Together, they have four children: Commander Margaret Cleary Dean of Annapolis, Md., Caroline Cleary Vale of Lovettsville, Va., Laura McBee Cleary of Atlanta; Jonathan Cleary of North Chattanooga. Judge Williams and Mr. Cleary are the proud grandparents of nine.