Williamson County native General Sessions Division II Judge Murrey Thomas “Tom” Taylor will seek another term as a Republican in the May 2022 election.
Taylor is a fifth-generation Williamson County resident. He was born and raised in Fairview, where his parents ran a grocery store, service station and farm. Taylor worked for the family enterprises at a young age and attended Battle Ground Academy as a boarding student beginning at age 12.
He graduated from Birmingham Southern College, where he met his wife, Andrewena. After his wife graduated from her master’s program, Taylor attended law school at the University of Memphis.
“Teachers had told me I was so argumentative, I should become a lawyer,” he said.
Hoping to practice law in his home county, Taylor went to work for Tom Fox, who was then the county attorney.
Taylor and Franklin attorney Tom Jones purchased an old building on Main Street in 1984, remodeled it and moved their office there. Taylor still maintains an office in the space.
In 1987, he was appointed to be city court judge, serving both the communities of Fairview and Franklin. In 2014, he decided to run for his current position of general sessions judge for Williamson County.
General sessions courts are where citizens first bring both civil and criminal cases. The judge presides over matter like traffic court, bonds, probationary terms, issuing criminal warrants and orders of protection.
Having worked in criminal defense and civil litigation prior to joining the judicial branch, Taylor said he has an open-minded perspective.
“I’m patient, and I want to listen to both sides and have the best information possible,” he said.
Though the nature of the job doesn’t allow for sympathy towards one party over another, “I have empathy for the people and the situation they’re in,” Taylor said.
Since taking office in 2014, Taylor has helped start a veteran’s treatment court, which oversees crimes committed by veterans relating to their unique challenges, like PTSD, traumatic brain injuries incurred while serving, and traumatic stress syndrome.
The veterans court helps offer resources veterans are entitled to from the Veterans Administration, like opportunities for group therapy and rehabilitative services.
Another program he started is the mental health court.
Taylor pointed out that 35% of inmates at the Williamson County Jail have a diagnosed mental illness and need treatment. He credited former Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long with recognizing the need to pair those inmates with a treatment program instead of incarcerating them.
Currently, Taylor said there are 17 people receiving services through that program.
“Those are 17 people that would be in jail right now,” he added.
The courts are funded through state grants that the county provides oversight for, but they do accept financial contributions for support.
Taylor said since the COVID-19 pandemic, courts have also had to adapt the way they function.
“The Supreme Court of the state put strict prohibitions on the number of people who could come into court or be in the courthouse,” he explained. “We had never done it in the past, but we began having court sessions by Zoom. That’s something that never would have happened if it hadn’t been for COVID. We’re still carrying on with those things.”
Taylor wants voters to know he strives to “do the right thing.”
“We can’t help everybody, but we work hard to be fair,” he said. “I love coming to work and doing it every day.”