published Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Chancellor Peoples to retire after 32 years


by Monica Mercer

WHAT'S NEXT

Plans were not immediately revealed for replacing Chancellor Peoples, who announced his resignation Monday afternoon.

TIMELINE

* 1975 -- Howell Peoples appointed as clerk and master of the Hamilton County Chancery Court

* 1978 -- Tennessee Gov. Ray Blanton appoints Mr. Peoples to the bench of the Hamilton County Chancery Court

* March 31, 2010 -- Chancellor Peoples' last day on the court

Longtime Hamilton County Chancellor Howell Peoples has announced his resignation after serving 32 years on the bench of the local Chancery Court.

Chancellor Peoples' last day will be March 31, according to an announcement sent from his e-mail account Monday afternoon. His term of office does not expire until 2014, and he gave no apparent reason for the early departure.

Chancellor Peoples did not immediately return messages left via e-mail and voice mail at his home.

"I express my appreciation to the members of the Hamilton County Bar for their commitment to the rule of law and to the highest standards of law practice," Chancellor Peoples said in a written statement.

Chancellor Peoples' work in Chancery Court has largely dealt with civil lawsuits in which money is a driving factor. Chancery Court is a "court of equity," where most cases involving wills and estates are settled. Divorce cases also are often filed in Chancery Court.

Clerk and Master Lee Akers, who heads up Chancery Court's administrative offices, said Monday that he will be sorry to see his colleague go.

"He is a fine judge," Mr. Akers said. "We had anticipated that he would stay through the end of his term."

Chancellor Peoples was appointed by Gov. Ray Blanton in 1978 after Chancellor Herschel Franks was elevated to the Tennessee Courts of Appeals. Chancellor Peoples had been clerk and master of the court since 1975.

In 1998, Chancellor Peoples celebrated his 20-year anniversary on the bench. Even then, he had eclipsed the previous 19-year tenure record of Chancellor W.B. Garvin, who served on the bench from 1915 to 1934.

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