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Fall Commencement 2019

Pres. Butler announces Fall Commencement 2019

by Bethel University

President Walter Butler announced Bethel University’s Fall Commencement will be held on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 10 a.m. in the Rosemary and Harry Crisp II Arena in McKenzie.

The Honorable Judge John Everett Williams, Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, will be the commencement speaker.

Judge John Everett Williams is a life-long resident of Carroll County, Tennessee. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin and Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

Upon graduating law school, Judge Williams was offered jobs in 25 states and two foreign countries. He chose to return to his home in Huntingdon, Tennessee to establish his law practice.

In November of 1998, Judge Williams was appointed by Governor Don Sundquist to serve on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Although Judge Williams maintains an office on the court square in Huntingdon, Tennessee, he serves in the Jackson, Nashville, and Knoxville, Tennessee courthouses with statewide jurisdiction. In 2017, Judge Williams was elected by his colleagues as presiding judge of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals - the first Northwest Tennessean to ever hold this title.

In October 2015, his alma mater, University of Tennessee at Martin presented him with the first-ever Distinguished Criminal Justice Alumni Award.

For the past several years, Judge Williams has served as chairman of the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP). During his leadership, TLAP was recognized as one of the nation’s leading programs helping law students, lawyers, and judges in coping with alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, suicide, and other mental health-related problems unique to the legal profession.

President Walter Butler stated, “"Bethel University is proud to welcome Judge John E. Williams as our Fall Graduation Commencement Speaker. Judge Williams is a lifelong Carroll Countian and has just recently been honored by our Chamber of Commerce as Carroll Countian of the Year. He has served our State of Tennessee on the State Court of Criminal Appeals since 1998. He is recognized, across the State for his fairness. As citizens we are so fortunate to have Judge Williams working for the State of Tennessee. Bethel University is honored to welcome Judge Williams to our campus for this graduation ceremony."

Seating for graduation services will begin one hour prior to service time. For more information about Bethel University, please go to