Gov. Phil Bredesen has appointed William C. Koch Jr. to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Koch, who has served as presiding judge of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, since 2003, fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Adolpho A. Birch, Jr.
"Bill Koch is a highly qualified judge who has proven himself in the practice of law and in his service on the Court of Appeals," Bredesen said. "While I have expressed concerns about the judicial selection process in our state, there is no question that Bill Koch will be an excellent Justice on our Supreme Court. His reputation for fairness and consistency, his strong commitment to the law and his dedication to the faithful dispensation of justice will serve the Tennessee Supreme Court and the citizens of our state well."
Judge Koch was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1984. Before his appointment, he served as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Personnel from 1979 to 1981 and was Legal Counsel to Governor Lamar Alexander from 1981 to 1984. He began his legal career on the staff of the State Attorney General in 1972, rising to the position of Deputy Attorney General in 1977.
"I am profoundly grateful to Governor Bredesen for providing me this opportunity to continue to serve all the citizens of Tennessee," said Koch. "I appreciate his confidence in me, and I accept with much humility. I am excited about the challenge, and I look forward to serving with the other outstanding jurists on the Tennessee Supreme Court."
Koch was sworn in to office as a state Supreme Court Justice by Governor Bredesen at a ceremony on June 22.
Koch was named the Appellate Judge of the Year in 2002 by the American Board of Trial Advocates and was the only Tennessee state judge named to The Lawdragon 500 Leading Judges in America in 2006. He has served as president of the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court in Nashville since 1990 and has served as secretary of the national American Inns of Court Foundation since 2004, an organization that works to promote professionalism, excellence and civility in the practice of law. He received the 1999 Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Jr. award from the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville in recognition of his outstanding volunteer service and later was elected to serve as president of the Board of Directors from 2003 to 2004. Koch currently serves as instructor in Constitutional Law at the Nashville School of Law where he was recognized as teacher of the year in 1998, 1999, and 2001.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state and hears appeals in both civil and criminal cases. The five justices are nominated by the Judicial Selection Commission, appointed by the governor and subject to a "yes-no" vote for eight-year terms. Koch joins another Vanderbilt Law alumna, Cornelia A. Clark (’79), who was appointed to the state’s Supreme Court in 2005.
Koch graduated from Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut, received his legal degree from Vanderbilt University Law School, and earned his Masters of Law in Judicial Process from the University of Virginia. He serves on the boards of several organizations, including the American Inns of Court, the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.