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Judge Reeves becomes federal district's first female chief judge

Pamela Reeves was for many years a Knoxville attorney. She became a federal judge in Knoxville in 2014.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — She became the first female federal district judge in East Tennessee. And now Pamela Reeves is the district's first female chief judge.

Chief District Judge Thomas Varlan swore Reeves in as the Eastern District of Tennessee's new chief judge at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Federal Courthouse.

Appointed by President Barack Obama, Reeves has been a U.S. district judge since 2014.

Varlan has served as chief district judge seven years.

The role calls for a judge to be the chief administrative judge, overseeing day to day operations of the district courts. The Eastern District stretches from the Tri-Cities to Chattanooga and features multiple courthouses.

Reeves was a Knoxville attorney for many years. Her husband, Charles Swanson, is law director for the city of Knoxville.

Credit: US District Court

Reeves is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the UT College of Law.

The Eastern District is the state's largest with 41 of the state's 95 counties.

Varlan said in a statement that his colleague was "eminently qualified to lead our district as the next chief judge."

"Judge Reeves's contributions to the legal profession and to her community are far-reaching, and her becoming our court's first female judge is a tribute to her and a historic milestone for our district."

Reeves said in a statement she was "honored and humbled" to take on the role. Varlan, she noted, "and the team he has put together in the last seven years has the court working so smoothly."

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