Judge Ernie Williams, who served as the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, died this week. Judge Williams is a veteran who upon graduating high school entered the United States Marine Corps and served there from 1965 until 1969. His service included a tour in Vietnam as well as being selected as a member of the Marine Corps Color Guard in Washington, D.C. As such, he served at the White House and was ultimately honorably discharged as a sergeant.
Judge Williams returned from the Marine Corps and graduated from the University of Tennessee in December of 1974. He obtained his doctorate of jurisprudence from the Nashville School of Law in May of 1980. He ultimately moved to Franklin Tennessee and opened his own law practice where he quickly gained a reputation for being a skilled trial lawyer. President George H.W. Bush selected him to be the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee in 1991. In that role, he supervised the United States Attorney’s office in Nashville which was comprised of 75 employees and 19 assistant United States attorneys.
Judge Williams was considered to be a hands-on US attorney, actively involved in the trying of cases. These cases involved all types of federal crimes including large drug cases, sexual offenses, kidnappings and murders.
Upon leaving the United States Attorney’s office, he returned to Franklin, Tennessee where he resumed his private practice. He and his wife Nancy were very active in the community and assumed many leadership roles. His wife served on the County Commission until her untimely death in 2002. At that time, the County Commission appointed Judge Williams to fill her vacancy. He was elected to two successive terms following his appointment to represent the 9th Commissioner, he chaired numerous committees, including the budget committee. He is past chairman and board member of My Friends House, an organization that houses and assists at-risk youth throughout the community. He has also served on numerous professional legal associations. He was a Certified Supreme Court Rule 31 Civil and Family Law Mediator.
Prior to establishing Williams, Beal & Nations in 2013 in Franklin, Tennessee, Judge Williams was appointed as presiding judge of the Williamson County General Sessions Court, Division II. The General Sessions Court hears all types of small claims civil suits as well as criminal matters. As a General Sessions Judge, Judge Williams had the authority to dispose of misdemeanor cases and determine whether probable cause existed for felony charges to be brought before the Circuit Court.
Judge Williams lived in Williamson County and been a practicing attorney for 34 years. There are few attorneys in the Middle Tennessee area that have not had cases against him, mediated by him or appeared in front of him. He is survived by three children and five grandchildren.
As is our custom, NAFUSA will request that an American flag be flown over Main Justice in Judge Williams honor as a token of the high regard with which he was held by his colleagues.