Judge Tom Greenholtz was unanimously affirmed before the Criminal Court of Appeals – Eastern Division by the Tennessee General Assembly. He was appointed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals by Governor Bill Lee on March 28 and will succeed Judge Norma McGee Ogle, who has announced her retirement, effective September 1.
The move constitutes a second opening for judges in Hamilton County Criminal Court.
Judge Don Paul is retiring, and running for the seat is Amanda Dunn, Boyd Patterson and Rebecca Stern.
Judge Greenholtz first joined the bench in 2015 when he was appointed and then elected as judge of the criminal court on 11y The judicial district, which is Hamilton County. He also presides over the Hamilton County Court for Drug Restitution.
Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger A. Page: “Judge Greenholtz is a respected and distinguished member of the judiciary, and his confirmation before the Court of Criminal Appeals will serve the people of Tennessee well.” “He has been innovative and diligent in ensuring the openness and transparency of the criminal courts in Hamilton County, both before and during the pandemic, and has been a strong advocate for civic education in our communities. These cases build public confidence in our court system and the Supreme Court is pleased that he will advocate these initiatives in court Criminal Appeal”.
While on the stand in Hamilton County, Judge Greenholtz created a website for his court that included a complete calendar of all hearings and trials so that the public, media, lawyers and case participants had easy and simple access to the court’s agenda. He broadcast court proceedings on a webpage when access to the court was limited during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues this practice.
Judge Greenholtz is also an active public speaker and frequently visits schools and civic groups to build an understanding of the court system. He is regularly invited to teach in continuing legal education classes throughout the state.
“I am humbled by the confidence expressed in me by Governor Bill Lee and our General Assembly,” said Judge Greenholtz. “The Criminal Court of Appeals is an essential rule of law institution, and it helps ensure the equal protection of our laws in our criminal justice system. Judge Ogle and Judge Kelly Thomas, both retirees, have rendered decades of honorable and dedicated service to the people of this country, and I am pleased to continue, in a small way, their exceptional work.”
While Judge Greenholtz is the son of a lawyer and has been greatly influenced by this father’s legal career as an administrative law judge, this relationship was severed when his father died after a long battle with cancer when the younger Justice Greenholtz was only 15 years old.
“I have been fortunate to have so many important examples to guide my views on the law. Early on, I learned from my father that serving the law is primarily to serve our people. Later as a law clerk to Justice William M. Parker, I also learned of the important, if limited, role that our courts play within our system of separate powers,” Justice Greenholtz said. Others of government, our courts serve as valuable protections for our constitutional values. In this context, the role of a judge is that of a servant of the people, given the important and limited nature of this special position.”
Before becoming a judge, he spent 13 years in private practice handling criminal and civil cases at Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC, Shumacker Witt Gaither & Whitaker, PC, and Summers & Wyatt, PC, all in Chattanooga. After graduating from law school, Justice Greenholtz served as clerk for former Tennessee Supreme Court William H. Parker for three years. He also taught as an assistant professor of political science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for 20 years, teaching classes in judicial decision-making, presidential powers, and constitutional law, among other topics. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tennessee Law School and his BA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Judge Greenholtz is involved with a variety of legal and community organizations, including: United Road in Greater Chattanooga (Member of the Board of Directors); Community Investment Committee, Co-Chair, Chair, and Member; Volunteer on the assignment panel; St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Cabinet Member; Driving Breakfast Chattanooga area; Rotary Club of Chattanooga; Chambliss Children’s Center, former board member and former president; Orange Grove Center, Board Member, Former President, Former President; Greater Chattanooga Community Foundation, former Board Member; Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society, former board member; and St. Peter’s Episcopal School, former board member.
Justice Greenholtz has also served as chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court Committee on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization, and as a member of the Local Disciplinary Committee of the Board of Professional Responsibility. He is a member of Ray L. Brock, Robert E. Cooper American Inn or Court, Tennessee Bar Association, Chattanooga Bar Association, American Bar Association, and Federal Bar Association.