It will be with highly deserved honor that a portrait of former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice William M. "Mickey" Barker will be unveiled with appropriate ceremonies at the Hamilton County Courthouse today at 1 p.m. It will recognize his exemplary service in our state's judiciary on three levels over many years.
Former Chief Justice Barker is a native of Chattanooga, and a graduate of Chattanooga High School, which named him a member of that school's Hall of Fame. He is a graduate of the University of Chattanooga, which in 2006 honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award. At the university, he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, which nationally recognized him with its "Significant Sig" award.
He earned a scholarship to attend the University of Cincinnati College of Law, after which he served on active military duty as a captain in the United States Army Medical Service Corps.
He entered private law practice in Chattanooga as a member of the Dietzen, Dietzen & Barker law firm. Then in 1983, he was named by Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander to become a Circuit Court judge in Hamilton County. He was elected to continue that service in 1984 and again in 1990.
Gov. Don Sundquist recognized Judge Barker's quality by appointing him to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in 1995. He won election to continue in that office, and then in 1998, Gov. Sundquist appointed Judge Barker to the Tennessee Supreme Court, to which he was elected for eight-year terms in 1998 and 2006.
His Supreme Court colleagues unanimously elected him chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2005. He served with distinction in that position until his retirement from the court in 2008. Subsequently, he has engaged in dispute resolution practice with the Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel law firm.
Former Chief Justice Barker has been an active member of First Presbyterian Church, where he served as a Sunday school teacher for 18 years, as chairman of the Board of Deacons and as an elder. He is married to wife Catherine. They are the parents of three adult children and have seven grandchildren.
Former Chief Justice Barker's personal and professional service have made him one of the most distinguished and respected members of Tennessee's legal profession. It is appropriate that his portrait will become a permanent courthouse reminder of his exemplary service.