POSTED BY ALEX HUBBARD (nashvillescene.com) ON WED, OCT 7, 2015 AT 5:00 PM
A new federal magistrate judge was formally sworn in Tuesday in Nashville.
In a ceremony held in the Estes Kefauver federal building, Barbara Holmes, a longtime Nashville attorney, took her oath of office in front of her family and a large contingent of the legal community from around the state. Holmes took the place of Juliet Griffin, who retired as a federal magistrate judge at the end of July. She has been on the job for several weeks already, but the investiture ceremony marked her formal swearing-in.
“You have chosen well,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Bivins, who attended law school with Holmes and is a close friend. “I have no doubt that Barbara will be an outstanding judge with her character, her wisdom, her common sense and her work ethic.”
Magistrate judges on the federal level handle many of the preliminary hearings and routine case-management procedures prior to advancing the case to trial or plea hearings in front of a district judge.
Holmes was most recently an attorney with Harwell Howard Hyne Gabbert and Manner, where she headed up the commercial bankruptcy and reorganization division. Prior to that, she spent a decade with the U.S. Trustee’s office.
Holmes also worked closely with local juvenile courts to reduce absenteeism among the youngest students and to serve as an advocate for at-risk children and families, often free of charge, said Margaret Behm, a former colleague.
“Maybe the most interesting thing about Barbara is her real commitment to kids,” Behm said. “One of the real problems with her being a magistrate judge is I don’t know who will be taking those calls for real representation.”
Holmes is a Colorado native who moved to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt Law School in the early 1980s. She recalled her husband, John, moving in the young couple’s furniture in the middle of the night to avoid the gripping Tennessee heat. An avid hockey and baseball fan, Holmes presented her speech to the crowd in the form of a letter to her two young grandchildren.
Holmes used a baseball metaphor to explain her frame of mind as she begins her time on the bench.
“I think what I learned from baseball will serve me well on the bench,” she said. “You don’t always know whether something is foul or fair right away. Sometimes the difference between the right and wrong call, a strike or a ball, is a matter of inches.”