Franklin's Municipal Court Judge Jessica Borne began her new role behind the bench last week, but she's no stranger to the courtroom, bringing with her more than a decade of legal experience and an eagerness to continue to serve her community.
The Atlanta, Georgia, native moved to Tennessee in 2001 where she attended Middle Tennessee State University, earning her bachelor's degree and master’s degree in Criminal Justice, while also earning her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Nashville School of Law in 2011.
She spent more than a decade as an assistant district attorney for the 21st Judicial District headquartered in Franklin where she prosecuted a variety of criminal cases including numerous domestic violence and stalking cases.
“It wasn't a passion of mine to get involved in domestic violence when I started in that role at the DA’s office, but I became extremely passionate about it and being able to help people who couldn't help themselves and prosecuting and holding people accountable for hurting other people,” Borne said. “It's rewarding when you don't even know anything about people, and you can step in into their lives and help them.”
Those experiences have pushed Borne to continue to represent those in challenging situations when she left the DA's office in 2021 and joined the Fort, Holloway and Rogers law firm, where she remains a practicing lawyer, and now in her new role as judge where she aims to continue to grow professionally.
“In the role as the municipal court judge, I still have the opportunity to serve the community in a leadership role and just become more experienced, and I'm really fortunate that now that I made this transition," Borne said. "I'm still really involved on the board at Bridges Domestic Violence Center, and Davis House Child Advocacy Center as well, so it gives me opportunities to help the two nonprofits that I worked with daily at the DA’s office.”
According to a City of Franklin news release, Borne was chose out of 19 candidates who applied for the position following the departure of Judge Deana Hood who served the city for eight years before she was elected to serve Williamson County in Circuit Court.
“I knew after going on 13 years in the DHS office, if I was going to step out and try something new and become a more well rounded lawyer, it was the time to do it, so I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join [the firm] here and really get a foothold into domestic and family law, and I'm trying to really keep a component of helping victims of domestic violence, which is obviously what I did for most of my time at the DA’s office,” Borne said.
“It wasn't really the plan for the city court position, but it opened and I thought it would just be such a great opportunity to continue to be a leader and to develop another aspect of being a lawyer and a judge and to continue to develop my career.”
Borne has also served on the Veteran’s Treatment Court Team, Sexual Assault Response Team, Domestic Violence Task Force, and Domestic Violence Community Coordinated Response Team.
“It's a really cool role where I'll have the opportunity to really educate people that haven't ever been in the courtroom and maybe explain to them a bit about what Williamson County looks like as far as the judicial system,” Borne said.
Borne added that while she was a bit nervous on her first day, she quickly became comfortable behind the bench, something that she credits to her prosecutorial experience, especially from her trial work — but it's the title of judge that she said will take some time to get use to, calling the opportunity "an honor."