Blount County Circuit Court Judge W. Dale Young announced on Sunday, after the swearing-in of Governor Bill Haslam, that he is retiring.
On Monday, Judge Young, who serves as Division I judge, said that while he does have some health issues, his decision to retire was a matter of the timing “just being right.”
“At age 72 and after 32 years of credited service, I just feel like it’s time to move on,” Judge Young said. “I wanted to wait to be certain a Republican governor would appoint my successor, and now I want to just rest up and enjoy retirement.”
Judge Young said he was going to stay in Maryville and enjoy the things he loves to do. “I like all kinds of artwork, and especially doing watercolors. I especially love being with my friends, and I have a host of them who check on me every day. I look forward to spending more time with them because we just have a ball!”
The process of selecting a replacement for his position is one where applications will be considered and members of a state judicial nominating committee will submit three names to the governor, Judge Young said. The governor can select from those three names or ask the committee to send more names.
General Sessions Judge William Brewer is the senior judge on that level. The judge took the bench in 1989 and said Young has always been someone he looked to for advice.
“He was always someone I could walk down the hall with and talk with about how the law should apply to certain facts,” Brewer said. “I appreciate his counsel.”
When asked if he would seek the appointment, Judge Brewer said, “I’ve been encouraged to do that, and I appreciate the encouragement, but I enjoy the job I do right now.”
Assistant District Attorney Tammy Harrington said Judge Young is a shining example of the civility that exists in the practice of law. “Judge Young is an asset to the judiciary in this community,” she said.
Harrington said she intends to put in her application and seek the appointment to fill the Circuit Court judgeship from the governor. “I feel that it would be a continuation of what has thus far been for me a career of public service. Having worked in the district attorney’s office in Blount County since 1996, I feel that I really understand the issues that bring people to the Justice Center,” she said.
Harrington said people should be treated fairly, equally and with respect when proceeding through the court system. “I had the pleasure to appear in front of Judge Young over the years and truly admired the way that he respectfully treated the lawyers and litigants that appeared in front of him,” she said.
Former Blount County attorney Rob Goddard said he is saddened by Young is retiring. “He has been a very honest, hardworking judge and has done yeoman’s service for the county for a number of years,” he said.
As to who should succeed him, Goddard said, “I am going to apply for the position through the judicial nominating committee and see what happens from there.”
General Sessions Judge Mike Gallegos said Judge Young will be greatly missed in the Justice Center. “I have the upmost respect for Judge Young, not only for his ability as a judge, but also because he is such a kind and compassionate person who has helped countless people,” he said. “Thank you, Judge Young, for your honorable service.”
Gallegos said he is not going to seek the appointment. “I am very happy in my current position of General Sessions judge,” he said.
General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick had high praise for Judge Young. “Judge Young represents for jurists in this state as the pinnacle of fairness, decorum and intellect,” he said. “I count myself privileged for having had his example and wise counsel. I count myself honored to call him my friend.”
Headrick said he will not be seeking an application for appointment to become circuit court judge.
Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher said it is going to be a great loss to the judicial system in Blount County with Young’s retirement. “His knowledge and experience on the bench and his integrity and fairness in the courtrooms have been impeccable,” he said. Hatcher said he has worked with Young both when Hatcher was a deputy and since he has been circuit court clerk. “He has been a great friend and mentor of mine and has helped me. His willingness to help everyone has been unbelievable. He’s a great asset to the judicial system in Blount County, and I’m going to miss him tremendously. Everyone in the judicial system will miss him tremendously,” he said. “It is going be to a gapping hole to fill. It is emotional for me to say goodbye to him after working closely with him over the years as clerk.”
District Attorney Mike Flynn said Judge Young has always been someone who took the time to help young lawyers take the right career paths as far as behaving ethically.
“He has been a tremendous friend to this community,” Flynn said.
The district attorney said Young could be stern in court when he needed to be. What Flynn said he would always remember was how happy it made Young to do adoptions. “When he was uniting a family and making sure a child was placed in the right home, he had a glow and felt he was accomplishing something,” Flynn said.
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said he always felt Young was fair. “I think he took the position of being a judge to heart, and I believe he understood the responsibilities that came with being a judge,” he said. “I always admired him. I felt he was always fair with everyone who went in front of him.”
Mitchell said that away from the courtroom, Young always took time to talk to you, always took time to speak to people. “In the everyday world, I felt Judge Young was a fine person who was always good to everyone,” he said. “He would always have time to talk to you. That was one of his special qualities, you always felt like he really cared how you were doing.”
Former Blount County Mayor and longtime attorney Jerry Cunningham said he has known Young since high school. “He’s not only been a good friend of mine and Janis and my children, he’s just an outstanding Blount Countian. I can’t say enough accolades about his knowledge of the law,” Cunningham said. “His rulings were impartial. I’ve won cases and lost cases in front of him and always got a fair shake. “Judge Young always treated people with dignity and courtesy regardless of their status in life. He never forgot where he came from, and he’s a compassionate and wonderful human being and one of the closest friends Janis and I have in this world. I always thought he would have made a wonderful supreme court justice.”
Sheriff James Berrong said he hates to see Young retire. “He’s been such a distinguished gentleman and judge, and it has been a pleasure to work with him,” Berrong said. “It is hard to imagine he’s not going to be the circuit judge. He is someone special.” District 5-A Blount County commissioner Peggy Lambert said Young has been a very positive force in Blount County. “We’re going to miss his wisdom, level headedness, kindness and compassion,” Young said. “We have some very good people who are submitting resumes to the judicial board, and I’m sure we’ll have a good replacement, but he can never really be replaced.”
The Judicial Nominating Commission is now accepting applications for the vacancy in the 5th Judicial District Circuit Court created by Young’s retirement.
Interested applicants must be attorneys who are at least 30 years of age, a resident of the state for five years and a resident of their circuit or district for one year. Applicants must complete the designated application, which is available at www.tncourts.gov, and submit it to the Administrative Office of the Courts by 12 p.m. CST on Feb. 11, 2011.
Judge Young was educated in the Maryville School System, graduating Maryville High School in 1956. He received a B. A. Degree from Maryville College and an L. L.B. and JD (Doctor of Jurisprudence) Degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1963. He attended Security and Exchange schools, several banking schools and was graduated from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Judicial Academy.
Judge Young engaged in the private practice of law for some 8 years before joining The Winfield Dunn for Governor Campaign as East Tennessee Manager in 1969.
While in private practice, he served on several boards and commissions for the City of Maryville, for County Government and the Blount Chamber of Commerce. He was a member (“Squire”) of the Blount County Quarterly Court (Blount County Commission).
After returning home from Nashville, Young served as House counsel for a bank holding company and was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the Honorable James H. Jarvis who was elevated to the Federal Bench.