Marcia Phillips Parsons, Greeneville-based chief judge of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Tennessee, announced Monday her intention to retire at the end of September.
Parsons’ retirement will mean the loss of one bankruptcy judgeship in the Eastern District of Tennessee. Parsons’ position in Greeneville will not be filled, she wrote in a message to members of the bar.
Parsons recently informed the Sixth Court of Appeals and U.S. Chief District Judge Pamela Reeves of her intent to retire on Sept. 30. She has served as a Bankruptcy Court judge for nearly 27 years.
Parsons wrote that she customarily wouldn’t make a public announcement “of what would otherwise primarily be a private decision” but added, “Unfortunately, as things currently stand, my retirement will result in the loss of a bankruptcy judgeship in the Eastern District of Tennessee.”
Parsons explained that the Eastern District has a temporary bankruptcy judgeship that lapsed on May 25, 2017.
“Stated differently, when I retire the circuit will not be able to appoint a new judge to succeed me, with the result that there will no longer be a resident bankruptcy judge in Greeneville or in the northeastern division of the district. The bankruptcy clerk’s office in Greeneville will remain open, but cases filed in this division will be heard by another bankruptcy judge in the district,” she wrote.
Parsons wrote that the loss of the bankruptcy judgeship can be avoided “if Congress acts before my retirement to extend the temporary judgeship or convert it from a temporary to a permanent judgeship.”
“Knowing of the eventual loss of the temporary judgeship, our court over the last few years has advised members of Congress from Tennessee of this eventuality, and recently I informed Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, and Congressman Phil Roe of my planned retirement.”
“Hopefully, Congress will act to save the judgeship, so that the northeastern division of the district will continue to be served by a resident bankruptcy judge,” wrote Parsons, who said she continues to have the “utmost confidence” in the three other bankruptcy judges in the Eastern District, judges Shelley Rucker, Suzanne Bauknight and Nicholas Whittenburg, “and know that the bankruptcy cases filed here will be heard with judicial excellence.”
Parsons was appointed as a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in November 1993, and was elevated to her current position as chief judge in July 2012.
Her current term expires on Nov. 22, 2021.
“On a brief personal note, I am profoundly grateful to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for the confidence that it placed in me by appointing me to the position. Serving as a United States Bankruptcy Judge has been the honor of my professional life,” Parsons wrote to members of the bar.
“I remain humbled by the exemplary support of my dedicated staff, as well as the staff of the bankruptcy clerk’s office in this district, all of whom who are top-notch public servants, second to none. And lastly, I am indebted to each of you, members of the bar,” she wrote.
Parsons earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of North Alabama and a law degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Before joining the court, Parsons began her legal career as a law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Judge Roger W. Dickson. She then entered into private practice, first with the Chattanooga law firm of Stophel, Caldwell & Heggie, and later with the Knoxville law firm of Wanger, Myers and Sanger.
Parsons was then appointed as the Chapter 13 Trustee for the Northern and Northeastern Divisions of the Eastern District of Tennessee, where she remained until she took the bench.
Parsons closed her message with a few additional personal words to the bar:
“With your professionalism and devoted service to your clients and the rule of law, you have honored me with your respect, and helped make me a better judge. Together, we have hopefully made a positive difference to those we have served in the bankruptcy community. Thank you for your invaluable contributions.”