A resolution recognizing the Honorable Adolpho A. Birch, Jr., Former Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, on the occasion of his retirement.

WHEREAS, on August 31, 2006, Adolpho A. Birch, Jr., an icon in the legal community, retired having served with distinction for 13 years on the Tennessee Supreme Court, serving as Chief Justice from May, 1996, to July, 1997, thus becoming the first African-American to hold the esteemed position; and

WHEREAS, Justice Birch's noteworthy 43-year career of judicial service includes 19 years of appellate court service in addition to his years on the Tennessee Supreme Court; he is the only judge in Tennessee history to ever serve at each level of the court system - general sessions, trial, intermediate appellate court, and state Supreme Court; and

WHEREAS, a native son of Washington, D.C., born on September 22, 1932, Justice Birch is a graduate of Dunbar High School in Washington; he attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania from 1950 to 1952 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Doctor of Jurisprudence legal degree from Howard University, where he was a member of the Harvard Law Review from 1954 to 1956; and

WHEREAS, as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve, Justice Birch saw active duty from 1956 to 1958; during the interval of 1958 to 1966 he served as Associate Professor of Legal Medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, lecturer in law at Fisk University and Tennessee State University, and operated a private legal practice; and

WHEREAS, serving as an Assistant Public Defender for Davidson County in 1963, Justice Birch continued in that capacity until 1966 when he was named an Assistant District Attorney General, a post he held until 1969 when he began his judicial career as a General Sessions Court judge in Davidson County; and

WHEREAS, in 1978, Justice Birch became a Criminal Court judge for Davidson County and served as presiding judge of the Trial Courts of Davidson County from 1981 to 1982; and

WHEREAS, Justice Birch was appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals in 1987 and was elected to the appellate court in 1988 and re-elected in 1990; and

WHEREAS, in 1993, Governor Ned McWherter appointed Justice Adolpho A. Birch to the Tennessee Supreme Court; he was elected the next year and won re-election to an eight year term in 1998; and

WHEREAS, a conscientious member of his profession, Justice Birch is a member of the National Bar Association Judicial Council and the Tennessee, Nashville, and Napier-Looby Bar Associations; he is a member of the teaching faculty at the Nashville School of Law, a former member of the Court of the Judiciary from 1983 to 1986, and has served as the University of Memphis Distinguished Jurist in Residence; and

WHEREAS, no stranger to awards and accolades during his extraordinary career, Justice Birch won the National Bar Association's prestigious William H. Hastie Award in 2005, the highest award of the NBA's Judicial Council for excellence in legal and judicial scholarship and commitment to justice; he was also the recipient of the Barbara Jordan Award, the highest award given by the international Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity; and

WHEREAS, in respectful tribute to this esteemed gentleman, the public officials of Davidson County have made the decision to name a new Criminal and General Sessions Court building the "Justice A.A. Birch Building" in his honor; and

WHEREAS, Justice Birch exemplifies the spirit and allegiance to family and community that are characteristic of a true Tennessean; he enjoys the love and support of his family and is the proud parent of three beloved children and a doting grandfather to his treasured grandchildren; and

WHEREAS, throughout his estimable career, Adolpho A. Birch, Jr., has demonstrated the utmost professionalism, ability, and integrity, winning the unbridled respect and admiration of his colleagues in the judiciary, Tennessee's legal community, and of the citizenry of this State; and

WHEREAS, it is fitting and proper that the Metropolitan Council recognizes Chief Justice Adolpho A. Birch, Jr., for the great service he has given to this State and wishes for a happy and gratifying retirement and every continued success in his future endeavors.


Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as recognizing the Honorable Adolpho A. Birch, Jr., Former Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, on the occasion of his retirement.

Section 2. The Metropolitan Clerks Office is directed to prepare a hand-lettered scroll to be presented to the Honorable Adolpho A. Birch, Jr. upon his retirement.

Section 3. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsored by: Vivian Wilhoite


Referred: Rules & Confirmations Committee 
Introduced: July 6, 2006
Adopted: July 6, 2006
Approved: July 7, 2006