Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice A.A. Birch died at 78
Tennessee: Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Adolpho A. Birch Jr. has passed away at age 78. Birch was a front runner in many ways, being the first African-American elected to a Nashville judgeship and the first to lead the court as Chief Justice. Birch was remembered as an inspiration for many aspiring law professionals within the community for his efforts to break the glass ceiling. Birch was first elected in 1969 as a General Sessions Court judge in Davidson County. He was then elected to the Criminal Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court. He served as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1996-1997 and despite health issues served the court until his retirement in 2006. Over the course of his career Birch denied executions arguing that the state lacked "proportionality review" in deciding death sentences and played a pivotal role in bringing transparency to the courts by allowing cameras in courtrooms.