KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Thursday the replacement for a Tennessee Supreme Court judge who will retire later this year.

According to Lee, Dwight E. Tarwater will be appointed to the impending vacancy on the court.

Dwight Tarwater in 2014. (Photo: Tennessee Office of the Governor)

Tarwater is a founding partner at the Knoxville-based law firm Paine, Tarwater, Bickers, LLP. He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1980 and previously served as Chief Legal Counsel to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam from 2014-2019.

According to Tarwater’s judicial application, he has represented Jacobs Engineering in the personal injury cases brought by workers involved in the 2008 Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill since returning to his firm in 2019.

He is also outside counsel to the State in the opioid litigation against Walgreens filed in Knox County last year.

“Dwight is a highly qualified attorney who will bring significant experience to the Tennessee Supreme Court,” Lee said. “His understanding of the judiciary’s appropriate role and commitment to the conservative principles of judicial restraint make him well-suited for the state’s highest court, and I am proud to appoint him to this position.”

He will replace Sharon G. Lee, who will retire on Aug. 31 after 15 years in the role. She had been the longest-serving member of the Supreme Court. Before her appointment, she was the first woman to serve on the Eastern Section of the Tennessee Court of Appeals in its history.

Tarwater was one of the finalists for the seat, running against Kristi M. Davis, of Knoxville and Thomas Clifton “Tom” Greenholtz, of Chattanooga.

His son, Davis Tarwater, won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London as part of the U.S. 4×200-meter freestyle relay team.

Each of these judicial appointments is subject to confirmation by the General Assembly.