A Judicial Story

There’s few times that I’ll gloss over the accomplishments of a judge.

Today is one of those days.

Yesterday was the last day on the bench for Judge William “Bill” Swann, Knox County’s Fourth Circuit Court Judge for 32 years. Bill Swann became one of my favorite people in the last year as I got to know him. When out in public, you could easily spot him by his iconic green Filson fishing hat. On the bench, the man displayed a penchant for bow ties that few men these days can match.

As far as his accomplishments on the bench, Judge Swann spent his time in the judiciary doing his best to make the problem of domestic violence in Knox County a little less prevalent. His Order of Protection docket days were always full of individuals who needed relief from a spouse, family member, or lover abusing them in one form or another. Swann developed a team of “Special Masters” from the community who helped accommodate a crowded docket on the roughest of days. He brought the docket to the UT College of Law so students could get a taste of what life was like in the most hectic docket Knox County had to offer. When it came to other family court matters, Judge Swann handled each and every case with a wisdom close to that of King Solomon, and a temperament matching the same.

He’s also the only judge to punk me out in open court.

One day on the domestic violence docket, I agreed to help a Petitioner with a Show Cause matter. As this is a blog post, I don’t want to get into specifics, but the man whom I helped that day needed serious relief from a very troubled woman. As Judge Swann filled out the necessary paperwork, he introduced me to the man, and then said the following:

“Mr. (Name Redacted), you will like Mr. Seaton. He is a polished and experienced attorney who does thorough work. I will, however, ask that you be patient with him, as he is extremely long-winded and loves to hear himself talk.”

The entire courtroom erupted into laughter. The prisoners, clerks, bailiff, other attorneys, spectators–everyone. Even I couldn’t resist giggling and then mouthing “He got me. He really did” to my new client.

To his credit, Judge Swann asked me if I was offended by his jibe later that day, and apologized if he had offended.

Here’s to you, Bill Swann. May whatever you do in your next adventure have as much of an impact on Knox County as the last 32 years have shown.


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