Longtime District Attorney General Randall E. Nichols Retires Leaving Behind an Era of Justice and ServicePosted: 9/02/2014
On August 29, 2014, District Attorney General Randall E. Nichols retired after twenty-two years of service to Knox County. General Nichols stands as the longest-serving Attorney General in Knox County history, and his dedication to the pursuit of fairness, justice and community service is marked by his accomplishments during his long and successful tenure as top prosecutor.
General Nichols graduated from UT College of Law in 1973, and in 1976, he became an Assistant District Attorney General under General Ron Webster. After serving in that capacity for three years, Nichols partnered with Ralph Harwell to establish a law practice specializing in criminal law. Then in 1988, Governor Ned Ray McWherter appointed Nichols to serve as Judge of Criminal Court, Division I, a seat that Nichols was elected to in the next election.
Thereafter in 1992, Judge Nichols was appointed to fill the position of Knox County District Attorney General, which had been suddenly vacated by the death of General Ed Dossett. Randall Nichols was re-elected for two more full terms in 1998 and 2006 making him the longest-serving District Attorney General in Knox County's history.
General Nichols’ service as District Attorney was at times marked by great turmoil stemming from the notorious high profile crimes that occurred in Knox County during that period. General Nichols prosecuted, tried, and convicted Knoxville serial rapist Thomas “Zoo Man” Huskey during the 1990s. Nichols and his staff also fiercely sought justice for the families of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, following the young couple’s murder in early 2007. Reflecting on those trials, Nichols stated, “What always got to me was the brutality of those cases, and how it took almost seven years for convictions.”
Randall Nichols acted as Knox County’s chief prosecutor, but his service and leadership was not limited to his presence in the courthouse. Ever the community leader, Nichols was instrumental in the development of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse prosecution. Early in his tenure as District Attorney General, Nichols created specialized units to combat domestic violence and child abuse offenders. In 2013, he was recognized for his accomplishments in a ceremony that included the naming of the Randall E. Nichols Family Justice Center in his honor.
Nichols also took pro-active steps to stunt the growth of crime at its source. He was instrumental in the creation of a “Truancy Program” in the Knox County Juvenile Court, through which he sought to curb the lack of student and parent participation in the school system. His hope for the Truancy Program was that it would improve the younger generation’s chance at a meaningful and productive future. General Nichols also pushed for the creation of a Safety Center for Knox County in an effort to prevent crime by providing resources to those suffering from mental illness and addiction.
Following his retirement announcement, General Nichols was quick to show his support for Assistant District Attorney Charme Allen. He recognized Charme’s ability and readiness to serve as new chief prosecutor on day one. Nichols says of Charme Allen “I can’t think of a better mix of character and talent that I want leading our law enforcement community into the future.” And it is with Randall Nichols’ strong vote of confidence that General Charme Allen will begin her new administration and continue to build upon Nichols’ legacy of leadership in the courtroom and the community.