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Knoxville lawyer Dwight Tarwater picked to be state's next Supreme Court justice

He'll replace Justice Sharon Lee, who is retiring from the five-member court.

Longtime Knoxville attorney Dwight Tarwater is being tapped to become the state's newest Supreme Court justice.

Gov. Bill Lee's office made the announcement Thursday afternoon. Tarwater was one of three finalists for the position to replace retiring Justice Sharon Lee, also of Knoxville.

The General Assembly must approve the appointment.

“Dwight is a highly qualified attorney who will bring significant experience to the Tennessee Supreme Court,” said Lee in a prepared statement.

"His understanding of the judiciary’s appropriate role and commitment to the conservative principles of judicial restraint make him well-suited for the state’s highest court, and I am proud to appoint him to this position.”

Tarwater previously was chief legal counsel when Bill Haslam was governor of Tennessee.

He's a partner at Paine, Tarwater, Bickers, LLP.

He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee and his law degree from UT's College of Law. During his time at UT he was elected to be a Torchbearer, the university's highest honor.

Justice Lee announced last year she planned to retire at the end of August.

Her departure created a vacancy for the court's eastern Grand Division. The high court consists of five members.

Lee was the court's lone Democrat. The panel now will consist entirely of Republicans.

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