published Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge W. Neil Thomas III on medical leave

Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge W. Neil Thomas III has been off of the bench for the past two weeks because of an undisclosed medical condition.

Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth confirmed Wednesday that Thomas has taken a medical leave. He said he did not know the nature of Thomas' medical condition.

For the time being, Hollingsworth said, the other circuit judges are handling Thomas' docket.

Hollingsworth said the judges are in contact with Thomas but have not yet heard when he will return to the bench.

Hamilton County's four circuit judges hear civil cases for matters such as divorce, insurance claims and medical malpractice, among other issues.

If Thomas' absence is extended there are mechanisms for the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts to appoint a temporary judge to sit for him and handle his caseload, Hollingsworth said.

Chris Craft, Shelby County Criminal Court judge and chairman of the Board of Judicial Conduct, said Wednesday that if a judge's absence creates caseload problems, the presiding judge of the district can shift cases to other judges, ask one of Tennessee's four senior judges to sit in or request the Tennessee State Supreme Court appoint a temporary judge.

Thomas has served as judge since 1997.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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