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(WBIR-Knoxville) After more than 25 years serving as the third division criminal judge, Honorable Mary Beth Leibowitz says it's time to retire.

"You're not going to believe what my first thought is: I made it, I survived," said Judge Leibowitz. "This job can kill you, and it didn't, and that's something I'm grateful for."

The Knoxville native holds the honor of being the first female criminal court judge in Knox County history, swearing in on February 15, 1989.

"And I was one of very few women in Knox County that practiced in criminal court, when I began to practice," she added.

In her quarter century on the bench, Honorable Judge Liebowitz has seen some of Knox County's biggest cases, including the 1996 Christa Pike case, who remains the only woman currently on death row, the high-profile Eric McLean love triangle, and last year's Curtis Harper trial.

"Violent cases, horrible cases -- I have to be able to do my job first and to obey the constitution first and that's just the way it is," she said.

On her last day on the bench, she did what she's been doing since February 15,1989: hear cases, oversee trials, and uphold the law.

"People that I had the joy to work with -- I'm grateful. I've been given such a wonderful opportunity to serve and to make a difference which in my faith is one of the highest things you can do," Judge Leibowitz smiled.

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