Judge Hector Sanchez becomes first Hispanic trial court judge in Tennessee

Sanchez replaces Criminal Court Judge Kyle Hixson, who is leaving for a seat on the state Court of Criminal Appeals.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 11:27 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - On Sept. 28, Gov. Lee appointed Hector Sanchez as the new sixth Judicial District Criminal Court judge. Sanchez, who first joined the District Attorney’s Office in 2010 as an intern, explained why this moment was important for the community.

“I think inclusion is extremely important and I think diversity on the bench is extremely important. So, I am just fortunate to be in this position and fortunate to be able to serve in this capacity,” Sanchez said.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee swore Sanchez in, surrounded by more than 150 people.

“I think it sends a very powerful message not only to people of Hispanic descent but just everyone, that if you work hard and you have dreams and that you can accomplish this,” Lee said.

Judge Hector Sanchez gets sworn in Friday in Knox County Criminal Court, Division II.
Judge Hector Sanchez gets sworn in Friday in Knox County Criminal Court, Division II.(Richard Mason)

Benjamin Barton, Sanchez’s former UT Law professor, said he will be a great judge regardless of being Hispanic.

“As the first Hispanic judge, criminal court judge in Tennessee, we’re thrilled to be associated with that, but I just want to be absolutely clear, Judge Sanchez is an outstanding applicant under any circumstances,” Barton said.

After Lee swore Sanchez in, he explained what it felt like to wear his judicial robe for the first time.

“It feels that it comes with a great weight of responsibility and something that you would take seriously and something that you would do your best to fulfill your oath,” Sanchez said.