BRISTOL, Tenn. — Attorney David W. Tipton was the unanimous choice of City Council members to fill the unexpired term of longtime Municipal Court Judge Shelton Hillman Jr., who died last month.
Tipton filled in for Hillman in court periodically through the years, said interim City Manager Bill Sorah, who said the heavy workload of the court warrants urgency for the replacement, although there is no timetable for filling the vacancy in the city’s charter.
“There is no way to replace Judge Hillman,” Tipton said following his selection Tuesday night. “I was an associate in the firm of Slaughter, Jackson, Cooper and Watson as a clerk when I met Shelton back in 1977. He was a very special person. Frank Miller was judge when I first came to Bristol , but it was Shelton ever since then. He was such a people person. His wife, Gay, had told me that Shelton wanted me to have the position one day when he retired, so it is kind of bittersweet.”
Tipton is a 1972 Sullivan East High School graduate who earned his bachelor’s degree at East Tennessee State University in 1976 and his law degree from Memphis State University in 1979. He is currently lead partner in the firm of Tipton and Jones of Bristol, Tenn.
Hillman, 69, died July 18 after serving as judge for more than 30 years.
“Judge Hillman was a conscientious, fair and impartial jurist who treated persons appearing before him with respect and dignity,” states a proclamation honoring Hillman that was presented to the judge’s family at the council meeting by Mayor Michelle Dolan and Vice Mayor Lea Powers.
Tipton will serve out the term, which expires in June 2014, and said he will later consider his options for serving further.
“We’ll see how it fits with the practice because it is a part-time position,” Tipton said.
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