Retired judge Sharon Lee leaves a legacy of dissidents

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee has announced her resignation for next year at a time when she has made history as a dissident.

She had authored so many dissenting opinions in 2017 that the Knoxville Bar Association published a story, “Justice Sharon G. Lee and the Power of Dissenting Opinions,” which made it clear that these opinions can have a powerful impact on the legal system.

The story was written by Emily H. Harvey, clerk at Frank G. Clement Jr. of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, and David L. Hudson Jr., director of academic affairs and legal writing, Nashville School of Law. They quoted former US Supreme Court Justices, including the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as saying that dissenting opinion can sharpen and improve the writing of a majority opinion.

Justice Sharon G. Lee, the longest-serving judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court, will retire on August 31, 2023.

Lee served 19 years on the Tennessee Judiciary and was first appointed to the Circuit Court of Appeals by Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat. Bredesen also appointed her to the country’s Supreme Court. Since then, it has been held by voters at elections.

“I am saddened to hear of her resignation, as are many Democrats,” Knox County Democratic Chairman Matt Shears said Tuesday. “I’m proud of her service and her legacy to the state. She represents the best of our party and the judicial system. I look forward to Justice Lee becoming an active member of the party.”