Judge Julia Smith Gibbons was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by President George W. Bush and took office on August 2, 2002. Prior to her appointment as circuit judge, she served as United States District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee, being appointed by President Ronald Reagan and taking office on June 24, 1983. She served as Chief Judge of the district court from 1994-2000.
Judge Gibbons was appointed by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to chair the Budget Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States in January 2005. She served in that position until January 2018. From 1994-99 she was chair of the Judicial Resources Committee of the Judicial Conference. From 2000-03 she was a member of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.
Prior to becoming a federal district judge, Judge Gibbons served as judge of the Tennessee Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit from 1981-83. She was appointed to that position by Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander in 1981 and was elected to a full term in 1982.
From 1979 to 1981 Judge Gibbons was Legal Advisor to Governor Alexander. She was in the private practice of law from 1976 to 1979 with the Memphis firm of Farris, Hancock, Gilman, Branan & Lanier. In 1975-76 she served as law clerk to the late Honorable William E. Miller, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1975.
Judge Gibbons received her J.D. degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. At Virginia she was elected to Order of the Coif and was a member of the Editorial Board of the VirginiaLawReview. She received her B.A. magnacumlaude from Vanderbilt University in 1972 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Judge Gibbons is an elder at Idlewild Presbyterian Church and a former President of the Memphis Rotary Club.
Judge Gibbons was born and grew up in Pulaski, Tennessee. She has been married since 1973 to William L. Gibbons, formerly District Attorney General for Shelby County (1996-2011) and Tennessee Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security (2011-16). He currently chairs the Public Safety Institute at the University of Memphis and is President/CEO of the Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission. They have two adult children.