Conversations: Lipscomb Hosts Former Justice for Topical Discussion

NASHVILLE, July 25, 2014 — Retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch Jr. was honored last night by Lipscomb University’s Institute for Law, Justice & Society as part of its “Conversations of Significance” series.

Nashville attorney Bob Wood, a member of the Lipscomb University Board of Trustees, welcomed the audience, which included members of the judiciary, attorneys, professors, law students and others from the community. Randy Spivey, academic director for the Institute for Law, Justice & Society served as moderator and host for the hour-long conversation with Justice Koch, who indicated during the event that he was happy to be called by his new title of "Dean." 

The event marked Koch's "transition" from his role as a Tennessee Supreme Court justice to dean of the Nashville School of Law. In the course of the discussion, Koch spoke about his career, the unique role of appellate judges and the future of the Nashville School of Law. He also fielded questions from the audience on current legal issues such as tort reform, the future of the death penalty and the complexities of family law.  

During the event, Koch spent considerable time commenting on the judicial retention elections and the topic of judicial independence in general. When asked why the retention election was so contentious this year, Koch replied “absolute power corrupts absolutely … Today, we have some at the levers of power who want more power. They have said ‘I want judges who think just like me.’ Is that the system we really want?”

Koch pointed out how that such an attitude fundamentally undermines the purpose of our justice system and “concentrates power in a dangerous way.”

Koch has spent the last week traveling to 17 cities across Tennessee to speak about the significance of this retention election and the crucial need for voters to be informed about what is at stake. He was unreserved in his endorsement for retaining the three Supreme Court Justices and 19 other appellate judges on this year's ballot.

“Though I have not agreed with all of their decisions, nor they with all of mine, they have earned the trust and respect of their colleagues, they approach their work with dedication, professionalism and integrity.”

He went on to say that were he ever to find himself with a matter before the court, he would “want people like them hearing my case” knowing that they would be basing their decision on “fair judgment.”

Bivins Investiture

Retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William Koch greets attendees at the "Coversation of Significance" event hosted by Lipscomb University in his honor. 

Dean Koch at Lipscomb

Randy Spivey, Lipscomb University Institute for Law, Justice & Society Academic Director, and Dean Koch prepare for the conversation.   

Dean Koch at Lipscomb

Bob Wood from Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, welcomes event attendees on behalf of the Lipscomb University Board of Trustees. 

Dean Koch at Lipscomb

Gregory Ramos, Douglas Fisher and retired Tennesse Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Drowota 

Dean Koch at Lipscomb

Judge Andy Bennett and others gathered following the event. 

Dean Koch at Lipscomb

Debby Patterson Koch and Dean William Koch

Dean Koch at Lipscomb

Dean Koch gathered with Nashville attorney Gregory Ramos and Nashville School of Law students Wayne Sutter and Jeanine Floyd following the event.