As anticipated, Gov. Bill Lee late Monday morning appointed Cookeville attorney Wesley Thomas Bray as judge for the unexpired term of Judge David Patterson who retired effective June 30.
Bray survived the application process, including interviews by the Tennessee Trial Court Vacancy Commission, to be one of three names submitted to the governor for consideration. Having sought election to the post held by Judge Gary McKenzie in the last election cycle, Bray ran a close race and was considered the front runner by many in judicial circles to replace Patterson.
“Wesley brings extensive experience to this role and will serve the 13th District with integrity,” Lee said in making his appointment. “We welcome him to this role and appreciate his willingness to serve.”
Bray has been a private practice attorney in the Upper Cumberland for the past 14 years with experience in criminal and civil courts. In addition, he is a Rule 31 family mediator with a focus on divorce and family law issues.
Bray is a graduate of the Nashville School of Law and Tennessee Tech University. He previously worked in the District Attorney’s Office. Bray and his wife, Ashley, have three children.
The 13th Judicial District includes Cumberland, Clay, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam and White counties. It is a huge task for two judges to split the case load in those seven counties.
Judge McKenzie has been the lone judge since July 1 and has received help from Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Young in handling large court dockets in Cumberland and Putnam counties Monday.
The appointment is effective when Bray takes the oath of office, which has not yet been scheduled. Patterson’s term will expire next year and Bray is expected to seek election to a full 8-year term on the bench.