Criminal Court Judge David Earl Durham announced Friday that he will not seek reelection next August, but will retire at the end of his term on Aug. 31, 2014.
Judge Durham has more than 30 years of public service to the citizens of the State of Tennessee, most recently as the Criminal Court Judge for the 15th Judicial District, which includes Jackson, Macon, Smith, Trousdale and Wilson Counties.
He has served as criminal court judge since Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed him in March 2009, and before that he served as deputy district attorney general for the district’s criminal division.
“This is a decision I’ve been thinking of for quite some time,” said Durham. "I have enjoyed my many years serving the citizens of the State of Tennessee, particularly those of the 15th Judicial District. I'm going to miss working with my wonderful staff, Michelle Wright and Gwen Cripps, the courtroom personnel, and attorneys of the District, but it's time to begin a new chapter in my life away from the public arena."
He said he wants to spend more time with his family, including his wife Tania and their children and grandchildren. He has no immediate plans to move out of Wilson County.
Retirement will also allow him to spend more time pursuing hobbies outside the courtroom.
“My passion in life is hunting big game,” said Durham.
He said he’s already been on two safaris in Africa and he has another planned.
Durham said he will miss the successes of the job – seeing the judicial system reform and rehabilitate – as well as the people he works with.
“The greatest thing [about the job] is the wonderful people I get to work with,” said Durham. “I hope the people of the district understand that I really have enjoyed the trust they’ve placed in me. It’s been an honor to serve them for 30 years.”
One longtime colleague, Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen, said Durham has been vital to Wilson County for decades.
He said that not only does Durham handle many of the county’s more serious cases, such as homicides, but Durham also prosecuted drug-related cases during his time in the District Attorney General’s Office.
“David’s going to be one of the people that’s going to be tough to replace,” said Bowen. “Whoever gets it is going to have some big shoes to fill, that’s for sure.”
But Durham is confident in his as-yet-unknown successor.
“There are a lot of good, smart lawyers out there,” said Durham. “I think the district’s going to be in good hands.”