Gov. Bill Lee appointed a number of lawmakers to judicial positions across the state on the first day of the 112th Tennessee General Assembly — among them the appointment of Judge Jill Ayers to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Kim Helper, the District Attorney for Tennessee's 21st Judicial District, which includes Williamson County, was among only 11 candidates interviewed for the position. While unsuccessful in her bid for Court of Criminal Appeals, Helper has experience working for the office of the District Attorney General dating back to the late 1990s.
"It was an honor to be included in the final three candidates considered for the Middle District Court of Criminal Appeals," Helper told the Home Page.
"I appreciated the support of so many within this district and across the state throughout the process. My full attention and focus remains on serving the citizens of the 21st Judicial District as I have done as the District Attorney General since 2008. In these challenging times, it is more important than ever to pursue justice for all. My office is committed to that responsibility and obligation."
In a statement, Lee championed his appointees as "highly qualified," and expressed confidence in their ability to serve the state with "integrity."
“I am proud to announce the appointment of these highly qualified individuals, and I value the experience they will bring to their respective judicial districts,” Lee said. “I’m confident they will serve Tennessee with integrity.”
The appointments are as follows:
- Judge Jill Ayers: Court of Criminal Appeals, Middle District
- Christopher Heagerty: 6th Judicial District Chancery Court
- Jerome Melson: 6th Judicial District Circuit Court
- James "Jimmy" Turner: 16th Judicial District Circuit Court
- Rebecca Lee: 4th Judicial District Public Defender
Receiving her J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law, Ayers will fill the Honorable Thomas Woodall's vacancy following a confirmation through the state legislature.
Created in 1967, the Court of Criminal Appeals hears trial court appeals in felony and misdemeanor cases, as well as post-conviction petitions. With 12 members, judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals serve eight-year terms.