Presiding Judge Rachel Bell (affectionately called Judge Rachel by many) has always been and remains committed to her community and the people she serves. She pays homage to the late Justice Adolpho A. Birch Jr., who was not only a great influence on Judge Rachel as a child but throughout her life. His trailblazing leadership and staunch legal mind successfully carried on for over 43 years before his retirement. Justice Birch was the state’s first African American chief justice, beginning his judicial career in 1969 as a General Sessions Court judge in Davidson County.
His honor had previously served as an assistant public defender and assistant district attorney in Nashville. In 1978, he became a Criminal Court judge, and in 1987 he was appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals. He was elected to the appellate court in 1988 and was re-elected in 1990. Gov. Ned McWherter appointed Birch to the state Supreme Court in 1993. He was elected to the court the following year and re-elected to an eight-year term in 1998. During his tenure on the bench, Birch has been recognized with professional awards and honors, including a decision last year by Davidson County officials to name a new Criminal and General Sessions Court building the Justice A.A. Birch Building.
Judge Rachel is a devout visionary who is dedicated to hard work overcoming obstacles to make a variable difference. While walking around the court building one day she noticed that other than the name (Justice A. A. Birch Building), there was no clear marking of whom the great man was. There was little to substantiate his tireless commitment to the law and civil rights. She moved forward expeditiously to spearhead a committee for a commemorative statue to honor his life’s legacy. Her mission was overseeing every aspect of the work from concept to reality, fueled partly by the motto ‘Justice doesn’t stop at the courthouse steps.’
This exciting news comes on the heels of a successful Music City Court held during her church (New Covenant Christian Church Nashville) expongement clinic. Judge Rachel also spearheaded the endeavor where countless people lined up two hours earlier than the event start time to be seen. She and her fellow judges and legal team worked long after the scheduled event was to conclude, helping many to re-establish their voting rights, employment and driving privileges.
Among the many other community programs and support, Judge Rachel’s good work is known from the preventative justice program with area youth programs, with her doing all possible to stop the playground-to-prison pipeline.
Judge Bell established the Ring the Bell Foundation that allows high school seniors and juniors to intern during their school breaks.
Bell is also an avid supporter of raising awareness for Type I Diabetes and Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). The latter is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. She is in the fight for her life daily as a survivor of diabetes, working with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) for the rights of herself and others who are faced with that manageable disease. Both diseases fall under the protection of the ADA.
Throughout her personal and professional life, she currently and previously served on several boards such as Hands on Nashville, Davidson County Industrial Development Board, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, (JDRF), Golfers Recognizing Opportunities for Women (GROW), Women in Numbers (WIN), Disciples Village, Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce and Kaplan Career Institute. Judge Bell works tirelessly as an active participant in the legal community serving as a fair, compassionate judge and consistently supporting, assisting and volunteering with the Davidson County community at large.
On Saturday, August 27, the beautifully crafted rendering will begin with a free reception and unveiling which is open to the public free of charge. The ticketed event with food and music is not free.
The memorable event will take place downtown 408 2nd Avenue N. Nashville 37201. For additional information call: (615) 852-8341