Binkley Begins Term as 21st Judicial District Circuit Court Judge

September 7, 2012

From Williamson Herald
By Donna O'Neil, Managing Editor

On the heels of an across the District victory, topping all boxes on the tally in the March election, attorney Michael W. Binkley became Judge Michael W. Binkley in the historic Courthouse in Franklin, Friday.

Surrounded by friends and esteemed colleagues, Binkley was humble in his address as he thanked everyone from his law partner Lee Davies to a man known only to those gathered as Leonard – Leonard Jones – the head of maintenance at the County Administrative Offices. “[Leonard] was so cordial and fantastic. I am appreciative of that,” Binkley said, referencing that Jones brought him water during the campaigning days of Early Voting.

Accompanied by his wife Sandy and flanked by his daughters Chris and Beth, the newly-sworn judge was administered the oath of office by his brother Judge Joe Binkley, 5th Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial District serving Davidson County, in an emotional exchange.

Prior to the official swearing in Judge Joe Binkley’s pride filled the room. “Mom and Dad would be extremely proud of you and your 33-plus year legal career as you take the office of 21st Judicial District Court Judge. You are uniquely qualified,” he said as he referenced his brother’s experience in a wide array of legal cases, including criminal, worker’s comp, chancery and domestic situations.

Judge Joe Binkley extols the virtues of his brother’s “intense work ethic” – a necessity for a small businessman. “[Mike] is keenly aware of his overhead numbers – payroll, bottom line, profitability – he understands and has wisdom of the industry. He will follow the law that is applicable to each case.”

Colleague and “about to be former” law partner Lee Davies said, “The real Mike Binkley is a competitive guy. If we saw each other on the street before work, we would race each other to the office. When he said he was going to apply for the District III Circuit Judgeship last year it took me by surprise.” At the time Davies explained to his law partner that he needed to be prepared not to be appointed by Gov. Haslam and then asked Binkley what he would do in that scenario. When Binkley replied he could run for the position, Davies said, “That’s what I wanted to hear.”

Davies noted the kind of judge the public could expect to see with Mike Binkley at the helm. “No. 1 he is prepared. If you take the time to write a brief, he will read it. No. 2 he will treat litigants and lawyers with respect. No. 3 you will not have to worry if Judge Binkley is in a good mood – he has only one mood – fired up. He is not going to be afraid to make tough decisions. He will do what he think is right no matter what – after all isn’t that the essence of a judge?”

After the oath was administered Judge Mike Binkley acknowledged the support of his family and friends. Then he turned to the row of judges seated behind him and one by one acknowledged their friendship and reasons for appreciation. To Judge James G. “Jim” Martin III, Circuit Court Judge Division II, he attributed his ability to try a good case. “He told me that you start with the result and work from there,” Judge Mike Binkley said. “He took an interest in me.”

Binkley noted the great friendship he had with Tim Easter, 21st Circuit Court Judge. He thanked Robbie Beal, 21st Circuit Court Judge “for being nice to me.” He called Judge Denise Andre a good friend and thanked her for her support and said he was appreciative of Judge Sharon Guffee’s knowledge.

Comments for his former campaign opponent Judge Derek Smith were saved for last. “You were cordial on election night to call after the race and congratulate me. You ran a good race,” he said, continuing, “If you have the burn to be a judge, I hope you follow that dream, but just don’t run against me.”

Judge Mike Binkley will hear his first case on Monday, Sept. 10.