PRESS RELEASE from Tennessee’s Administrative Office of the Courts, Jan. 6, 2016:
Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Judge John Everett Williams found himself on the other side of the bench this week, when he served as a member of the Carroll County grand jury.
Judge Williams received a notice from the sheriff’s office in December, requesting his service as a juror and asking him to fill out survey with questions concerning residency, criminal convictions, and other eligibility requirements. Judge Williams completed the survey and reported to the courthouse as directed on January 4.
Judge Williams said there was never a question in his mind that he would serve if called upon. He had a trip already planned for this week, but made other arrangements so he could be sure to be there.
Although Judge Williams has been around courtrooms since he was five (his father was an attorney), this was his first time serving on a jury. Twelve members of the grand jury were selected at random from the large jury pool that showed up on January 4.
“This experience made me proud of our American jurisprudence system. It reinforced that everything I had hoped was happening in our jury system was actually taking place.” Judge Williams said.
Judge Williams did make it known to his fellow grand jurors that he was a sitting appellate judge, and some people on the grand jury were already aware of his position. He wanted to make sure the information was known in case there were any conflicts. Judge Williams also said he was careful to not interject too much into the proceedings, and let the actions of the jury take its natural course.
“The people I served with are thoughtful, hardworking, and took their responsibility seriously,” Judge Williams said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the fellow county residents I served with.”
While the specific activities of the grand jury are confidential, the jury returned 30 indictments and three no true bills. Although there are no further pending cases for the grand jury at this time, the panel is on call to serve until April.
Judge Donald Parish, who was presiding over the court that day appreciated Judge Williams’ service, just as he does every other juror or potential juror who answers the call. Judge Parish noted that about 200 people were summoned for jury duty that day and about 120 showed up.
“An important takeaway from this is that jury duty is a responsibility that everyone bears,” Judge Parish said.
Judge Williams has been a member of the Court of Criminal Appeals since his appointment in 1998. He received his law degree from Cumberland University and is a graduate of University of Tennessee at Martin.
Carroll County is in West Tennessee, northeast of Jackson and is one of five counties in the 24th Judicial District. The county population was about 28,000 in the 2010 census.