KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Hector Sanchez has been sworn in as a Knox County Criminal Court judge, becoming the first Hispanic trial court judge in the state.
It's a distinction Sanchez said he's conscious of and respects.
“I am honored to serve in this role with that designation. I believe that inclusion is important. I believe diversity on the bench is important. And I’m thrilled that I can serve the citizens of Knox County," Sanchez told WBIR on Monday.
Sanchez said it's his understanding he's the first Hispanic person to be a trial court judge in the state. Ana Escobar has previously been elected to the bench as a General Sessions Court judge in Davidson County.
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee swore Sanchez in over the weekend so he could proceed with his duties. He'll likely face a formal swearing-in ceremony Friday.
Sanchez said he anticipates taking over his own docket for Criminal Court's Division 2 on Oct. 17.
He was appointed last week by Gov. Bill Lee.
A former prosecutor, Sanchez told 10News he’s always had thoughts of being a judge. He's the first lawyer in his family
Sanchez takes the place of Kyle Hixson, who has become a state appeals court judge.
Sanchez had been in the Knox County District Attorney General's Office since 2014. He's a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law.
He served as a U.S. Marine. He has prosecuted violent crimes in Knox County.
Among the cases he has prosecuted -- the murder trial of Joel Guy, convicted of murdering and dismembering his mother and father over Thanksgiving weekend in 2016.
Criminal Court judges are elected to the bench unless a vacancy occurs, creating an opportunity for the governor to appoint someone to the position. Criminal Court judges oversee trials of people charged with a crime.