Jeff Bivins elected as new chief justice of Tennessee Supreme Court

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Supreme Court has elected Justice Jeff Bivins as its new chief justice.

Elevated to the state's highest court just two years ago, Bivins, a Republican, officially takes over from current Chief Justice Sharon Lee, a Democrat, for the term that begins Sept. 1.

"I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of Tennessee in this expanded role," Bivins said in a news release. "Serving alongside two former chief justices on a Court with more than 80 years of judicial experience among the justices, I know we are well positioned to lead the efforts of the judiciary."

He praised Lee, who previously headed the five-justice court, saying she "accomplished a great deal over her term as chief justice, from efforts to modernize the court system, to addressing the needs of business litigants, and taking steps to improve our indigent defense system."

He called it "a privilege to guide the court on the heels of her excellent leadership."

Bivins was appointed to the Court in 2014 by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. Prior to that, he served as a judge on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals from August 2011 until July 2014. Before his elevation to the appellate court, Bivins served as a Circuit Court judge for the 21st Judicial District of Tennessee, covering Williamson, Hickman, Lewis, and Perry counties.

Earlier this month, Tennessee voters approved Bivins' serving a full eight-year term on the Supreme Court in a statewide retention election.

He is a 1986 graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law and received his B.A. degree, magna cum laude, from East Tennessee State University in 1982.

Bivins was appointed to the trial bench in March 2005. He was elected to a full 8-year term in 2006. He also previously served in a trial judge position from July 1999 through August 2000.

As a trial and intermediate appellate judge, Bivins served on the Board of Judicial Conduct as well as on its predecessor, the Court of the Judiciary. He is a former president of the Tennessee Judicial Conference and continues to serve on its executive committee.

He is a member of the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court and the John Marshall American Inn of Court, having served as president of the John Marshall Inn from 2003-2008. He is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association and the Williamson County Bar Association.

Bivins also is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the Tennessee Bar Foundation, and the Nashville Bar Foundation.

Prior to his appointment to the trial bench, Justice Bivins practiced law with the firm of Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry PLC in Nashville. He also served as assistant commissioner and general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Personnel.

Bivins and his wife, Gail, have two daughters and live in Franklin. He is a former member of the Williamson County Commission.