A former state senator is now the top federal prosecutor over 41 counties in Eastern Tennessee, including hundreds of criminal cases in Chattanooga.
U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan swore in James Douglas Overbey as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee on Tuesday in Nashville. President Donald J. Trump nominated Overbey, R-Maryville, to the position, and the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed his appointment earlier this month.
"I am deeply appreciative to Senators [Lamar] Alexander and [Bob] Corker for recommending me to the President and to President Trump for nominating me to the office," Overbey said in a statement Tuesday. "I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Tennessee in this position and working with the dedicated people in the U.S. Attorney's Office."
As U.S. attorney, Overbey will be responsible for prosecuting federal crimes such as terrorism, public corruption, child exploitation, firearms and illegal firearm possession. Overbey's office also defends the United States in civil cases and collects debts from convicted defendants, spokeswoman Sharry Dedman-Beard said in a news release. Eastern Tennessee is the largest federal district in the state and covers 2.6 million people across 41 counties between its three offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Greeneville.
Before his appointment, Overbey was serving his third term in the Tennessee Senate representing Blount and Sevier counties. From 2000 to 2008, Overbey also represented a portion of Blount County in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He served on the Finance and Health committees in the House and Senate, was chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and vice-chairman of the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees, Dedman- Beard said.
Hailing from Maryville, Tenn., Overbey received his undergraduate degree from Carson-Newman College, graduated first in his class from the University of Tennessee College of Law and has practiced law for 38 years. He co-founded the Robertson Overbey law firm in 1982, according to the news release.
From 2010 to 2015, William C. Killian, of Jasper, Tenn., served the Eastern District before submitting his resignation and going into private practice. Killian investigated the July 16 shootings in Chattanooga that killed five servicemen, and his acting replacement, Nancy Stallard Harr, secured the conviction of a Sequatchie County, Tenn., man accused of planning an attack on a Muslim community in New York earlier this year.
A career prosecutor with the office, Harr returned to her position as first assistant U.S. attorney after Overbey's swearing in, Dedman- Beard said.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.