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 Meet Heather's and Randall's Judge - C. Clifford Shirley

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Posts : 11648
Join date : 2015-02-19

PostSubject: Meet Heather's and Randall's Judge - C. Clifford Shirley   Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:59 pm

Longtime Judge Recognized For Judicial Service, Friendship At Friday Reception  

  • John M. Jones Jr.
  • Apr 25, 2015

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis H. Inman, left, greets U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Lee, of Chattanooga, center, and U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley, of Knoxville, following a reception at the U.S. District Courthouse here in honor of Inman, who retires April 30 after almost 20 years on the federal bench.

With U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis H. Inman's official retirement date less than a week away, an estimated 225 colleagues from throughout East Tennessee gathered here Friday to thank and praise him for his judicial service -- and to emphasize that he will be much missed.
Judge Inman, 68, a resident of Morristown, officially retires at the end of Thursday, April 30, after almost 20 years on the federal bench, following 12 years as Third Judicial District Chancellor.
One of the newest judges on hand Friday afternoon for the reception in his honor was his successor, newly appointed Magistrate Judge C. Clifton Corker, a Kingsport attorney, who will assume his duties here on Friday, May 1.
This Friday, though, was very much Judge Inman's day.
The official host was the Northeast Tennessee Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and welcoming remarks by Chapter President Mary Moffatt Helms, of Morristown, led off a number of speakers concluding with U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer.
A similar reception for Judge Inman arranged and attended especially by U.S. District Courthouse personnel had taken place last week, with at least as many well-wishers on hand.
Both events were held in a spacious meeting room on the second floor of the James H. Quillen United States Courthouse, seat of the Northeastern Division of the Eastern District of Tennessee.
A number of courthouse personnel were also present Friday. Staff had made the arrangements for the reception, and U.S. District Court Clerk Rick Tiption served as master of ceremonies.
Judge Marcia Phillips Parsons, of Greeneville, Chief Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, was not able to be present, Tipton said, but contributed the elaborately decorated cake for the occasion.
While there was plenty of humor at the judge's expense at Friday's event, most of the really funny stories had been told at the staff reception, some speakers indicated.
Instead, the main themes of Friday's gathering of mostly fellow judges and attorneys were deep professional and personal respect, appreciation for professional and personal consideration shown to others by the judge -- and much warm friendship.
Judge Inman responded to the praise and words of appreciation with appreciation of his own, as well as characteristic candor and humor and, at times, some restrained emotion.
Concerning his retirement, he acknowledged that "I wasn't sure I was comfortable with my decision to retire.
"You mean everything to me," he told the packed room. "You are a complete part of me."
Not coming to the courthouse on a virtual daily basis, he said, would be very hard for him.
He said he decided to retire "not because I want to but because I thought I had to."
In retirement, he and others indicated he would devote much attention to his daughter, Sharon Greene, and her family -- especially seven-year-old Samuel and eight-year-old Sean, all three of whom spoke briefly at the reception.
But he also revealed that he had already been called back in Senior Judge status to assist the other judges of the Northeastern Division in dealing with the division's very heavy caseload.
In a short interview with The Greeneville Sun, he said he planned to take about 30 days off before beginning any new judicial duties.
He said that he had agreed to serve 60 days a year and added that he planned to focus especially on reducing the backlog of "pro se" cases: cases in which individuals represent themselves rather than being represented by attorneys.
One of the first speakers at the reception was retired Third Judicial District Criminal Court Judge James E. Beckner, a fellow Morristown resident and a longtime personal friend and judicial colleague of Judge Inman.
Beckner singled out the qualities of "competency, honesty and integrity" as attributes of Inman's character and judicial service.
"He never let politics or personal preference interfere with the interests of justice," Beckner said, adding that "I have found my friend Dennis Inman to have a great servant's heart" in working with him in Boys and Girls Club projects in Morristown.
"Congratulations to one of the greatest judges that has ever served in Tennessee."
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian, of Knoxville, noted Judge Inman's attention to showing personal consideration where he could, to attorneys and others with whom he worked as magistrate judge, even at the expense of his own convenience.
Killian added that, speaking on behalf of both himself and his staff, "you will never know the enduring level of appreciation we have for you ... because you treat everybody with respect, even if you disagree with their position."
Daughter Sharon Greene briefly voiced congratulations to her father and expressed her appreciation and admiration for his having "met the demands of your profession and still made your family a priority."
Dan Thornton, speaking on behalf of the federal probation office, said that the office had arranged to plant an eight-foot dogwood tree on the courthouse grounds on Thursday in recognition of the fact that Judge Inman has himself planted thousands of trees during his lifetime.
It was also noted that the judge had personally overseen the planting, at a location near the intersection of Irish and Church streets.
Other special presentations included, among others, a limited edition Case knife for the judge and each of his two grandsons, presented by Asst. U.S. Atty. and current Greeneville branch chief Robert Reeves.
He noted that the judge would "leave with our love and respect."
Reeves also noted that Judge Inman had a "legendary sense of humor" and a knack for coming out with humorous statements from the bench that over the years have become known inside the courthouse as "Inmanisms."
Karen Burke, of the U.S. Marshals Service, presented the judge with a book of collected "Inmanisms" going back to the early 2000s.
In the same spirit, on behalf of the U.S. Court Clerk's office, Tipton presented Inman with the fully-loaded peanut dispenser in the clerk's office that, Tipton said, the judge visited on a daily basis for snacks.
Tipton, who said he had worked with Judge Inman for many years, added warmly, "You know how much we love you."
He also presented the judge with two folders of letters addressed to him from staff members, fellow judges and attorneys.
U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers Kim Coleman, of Greeneville, and Scott Cairnes, of Unicoi County, spoke with obvious feeling about Forest Service officers' appreciation for Inman's treating seriously the cases -- very often misdemeanors, though potentially dangerous matters -- the officers brought to his court.
"Who knows how many assaults we've avoided [over the years]," Coleman said, because potential lawbreakers knew the firm, serious reputation Inman's court has established in dealing with crime in the Cherokee National Forest.
As a memento, Coleman and Cairnes presented him with an inscribed but heavy rock from the national forest -- and offered to deliver it to his car. He accepted the rock, and their offer.
Last of the planned speakers was District Judge Greer, of Greeneville, who noted that U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan, of Knoxville, chief judge of the Eastern District of Tennessee, was not able to attend the reception but sent his best wishes to Inman in addition to mounted and framed photos of the federal courthouses in the district.
Speaking for himself, Greer said Judge Greer is "an exceptional judge" and "an exceptional human being."
"He has the qualities you need in a judge. He is honest, intelligent, mostly patient, empathetic with those who come into his court, fair, firm, consistent.
"He has all you could ask in a judge.
"Still," Greer continued, "his best qualities are his human qualities. This place is so much better because of him. I have become a better judge because of him."
He added, "I will miss you.... I truly mean it when I say that I could not have asked for a better friend."
In response to the various speakers' remarks, Judge Inman paid tribute especially to all those who serve in any of the many roles related to "the matrix that we call The Court."
"The Court has so many facets," he added.
"We're the hired help ...," he observed. "Our employer, the people of the United States of America, get their money's worth and then some.
"This Court is one of the most efficient in the country.
"I have been honored to work for you and with you."
Among numerous judicial officials present, in addition to those mentioned, were: U.S. District Judge Harry S. Mattice Jr. and Senior U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier, both of Chattanooga; Senior U.S. District Judges Leon Jordan and Thomas W. Phillips, both of Knoxville; U.S. Magistrate Judges C. Clifford Shirley, of Knoxville, and Susan K. Lee, of Chattanooga; Judge Thomas R. "Skip" Frierson, of the Tennessee Court of Appeals; Third Judicial District of Tennessee Circuit Judges Thomas Wright and Alex Pearson; Third Judicial District Chancellor Douglas Jenkins; and former U.S. Rep. Bill Jenkins, also of Rogersville, a former Third Judicical District Circuit Judge.


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