Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Biography Series: Justice Sharon Lee

As Tennesseans prepare to head to the polls on August 4, where they will vote on whether to retain the state’s five Supreme Court justices, The Tennessee Star is profiling each justice who currently sits on the bench.

Justice Sharon Lee was first appointed to the Court by former Governor Phil Bredesen (D) in 2008. She was retained by voters in 2010, and in 2014. From 2014 to 2016, she served as the state’s chief justice.

“During her tenure as Chief Justice, she promoted access to justice, establishment of the state’s first Business Court pilot project, implementation of electronic filing, a review of the state’s indigent representation system, and a docket clean-up initiative,” according to her biography on the State Supreme Court’s website.

Lee has a business administration degree from the University of Tennessee. She graduated with that degree in 1975, and three years later graduated from the University of Tennessee School of Law.

From there, she worked in a private practice in Madisonville, until she became a city judge in the same town in 2002.

During that time, Lee also worked as a city and county attorney. From 1981 to 1987, she was the Madisonville city attorney; from 1986 to 1988, and then again from 1997 to 2004, she served as the Vonore city attorney, and from 1991 to 2004 she served as the Monroe County attorney.

She has also been an adjunct faculty member at the University of Tennessee School of Law, and a family mediator.

According to her biography, Lee has received a plethora of awards throughout her legal careers. Those awards are:

  • University of Tennessee Distinguished Alumna Award
  • University of Tennessee Centennial Alumnus, recognizing 100 outstanding alumni in the past 100 years
  • University of Tennessee Alumni Professional Achievement Award
  • Grayfred Gray Public Service in Mediation Award
  • Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s Chief Justice William M. Barker Equal Access to Justice Award
  • ABOTA Tennessee Chapter Courage Award
  • East Tennessee Women’s Leadership Council’s Lizzie Crozier French Award
  • Webb School of Knoxville Distinguished Alumni Award
  • YWCA of Knoxville Tribute to Women Honoree
  • YWCA of Knoxville 30 Remarkable Women Over the Past 30 Years Honoree
  • Girl Scouts Council of the Southern Appalachians’ Woman of Achievement Award
  • East Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women’s Spirit of Justice Award
  • National Association of Women Judges’ Spotlight Award

Importantly, Supreme Court justices in Tennessee select the attorney general – the state’s highest attorney.

The application period for that position has begun, and the person who is selected will replace outgoing Attorney General Herbert Slatery III.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Sharon Lee” by Sharon Lee. Background Photo “Tennessee Supreme Court” by Jon698. CC BY-SA 4.0.




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2 Thoughts to “Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Biography Series: Justice Sharon Lee”

  1. 83ragtop50

    Vote against retention for ALL judges. Time to once again require real elections.

  2. John Bumpus

    Judge Lee is the niece of the late John Davis (J.D.) Lee, the high-powered East Tennessee lawyer, who died on September 7, 2020, aged 91.