Judge Sharp is the Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Nashville office, which opened in the spring of 2017. He joined Sanford Heisler Sharp after serving as a judge on the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee from May 2011 through April 2017, serving from 2014 to 2017 as the Court’s Chief Judge.
About Joining Sanford Heisler Sharp
I would not have left the bench for just any firm. I liked my role as a judge and was proud to have been selected by President Obama to serve in the judiciary. However, David Sanford and I have been friends for over a decade, and the firm that he and Jeremy Heisler built is the best in the country at what they do. So the chance to be a part of a group of smart, talented and, above all, dedicated individuals working toward a social justice end was an opportunity I could not let pass.
On Equal Opportunity and Equal Justice
Growing up, my father, a former army paratrooper and Memphis firefighter, instilled in me a love of country and a sense of duty. And on multiple occasions, I have taken my own oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States. I became a lawyer to fulfill those commitments, and there is no worthier means for realizing the ideals embodied in our constitution than fighting for equal opportunity and working toward a more just society.
On His Time in Public Service
It has been my great honor to serve this nation and the citizens of Tennessee as a federal judge, and, since 2014, the District's Chief Judge. Having worked in all three branches of government, first as a sailor in the U.S. Navy, then as a lawyer for the U.S. Congress Office of Compliance, and now as a member of the judiciary, I have witnessed the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women who have chosen to put country above self. They have inspired me and, I hope, made me a better citizen.
Judge Sharp was nominated to the federal bench by President Barack Obama in November 2010, and he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 2011. During his judicial tenure, he presided over 75 trials and 60 contested evidentiary hearings, ranging from complex, multi-party commercial cases, a variety of class action matters, issues of excessive force by law enforcement, and dozens of criminal cases.
In his judicial role, Judge Sharp handled several high-profile cases, including Young v. Giles County Board of Ed., granting an injunction against school officials who prevented a student from wearing a t-shirt that read “Some People are Gay. Get Over It!”; Rodriguez v. Providence Community Corrections, Inc., halting the practice of a private probation company, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, seeking to jail probationers when the only violation alleged was nonpayment of court costs and fines; Marshall v. ESPN, Inc., et al., a case garnering national attention addressing the right of publicity by college athletes; George v. Haslam, et al., ordering the state to recount votes in Tennessee’s contentious 2014 abortion measure Amendment 1 to the state constitution, a matter that remains pending in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Prior to his appointment to the federal judiciary, Judge Sharp was a partner in the law firm of Drescher & Sharp, P.C., in Nashville, Tennessee, where his practice focused on federal court litigation. Before co-founding Drescher & Sharp in 2003, he spent a majority of his legal career at the firm of Stokes, Bartholomew, Evans & Petree, where he was a partner from 2001 to 2003 and an associate from 1993 to 1996 and 1997 to 2001.
Earlier in his career, Judge Sharp served as an attorney in the Office of Compliance of the U.S. Congress from 1996 to 1997. Prior to college, from 1982 to 1986, he served in the United States Navy, specializing in in-flight communications aboard the P-3 Orion.
- J.D., Vanderbilt University School of Law, Nashville, TN 1993
- B.S. Christian Brothers College, Memphis, TN 1990, summa cum laude
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee - Chief Judge, October 2014 to April 2017 - Judge, May 2011- September 2014
- United States Navy, Petty Officer, Patrol Squadron 17, Barbers Point, HI 1982-1986
- U.S. Congressional Office of Compliance, Attorney, Washington, DC. 1996-1997
- Drescher & Sharp, P.C., Nashville TN, Shareholder 2003-2011
- Stokes, Bartholomew, Evans & Petree, P.A. Nashville, TN - Member, Litigation Section; Co-Chair, Employment Law Group, 1997-2003 - Associate Litigation, federal and state, 1993-1996
- American Bar Association
- Tennessee Bar Association
- Nashville Bar Association
- Admitted, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee
- Admitted, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee
- Admitted, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee
- Admitted, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
- Admitted, U.S. Supreme Court
Memberships & Activities
- Sustaining Life Fellow, American Bar Foundation
- Fellow, Napier-Looby Bar Foundation
- Fellow, Nashville Bar Foundation
- Member, Nashville Bar Association
- Member, Tennessee Bar Association
- Member, Federal Bar Association
- Member, National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA)
- Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law Class (2005)
- Board member, Tennessee Supreme Court Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection (2004 – 2009)
- Member, TBPR Disciplinary Hearing Committee (2000 – 2006)
- Special Disciplinary Counsel to the Tennessee Supreme Court (2001)
- Former president, ALS Association, Tennessee Chapter (nonprofit organization dedicated to serving patients and families living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Volunteer Counsel, Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund (2005 – 2010)
- Former board member (2001-2004) and legal counsel (1994-2004), Girl Scout Council of Cumberland Valley
- Judge Sharp Reflects On His Exit From The Bench
- Jones Day Partner Among Trump’s 1st US Attorney Nominees
- Sanford Heisler Gets ‘Sharp,’ Adds Former Federal Chief Judge as New Named Partner
- Attorney General Orders Tougher Sentences, Rolling Back Obama Policy
- Justice Department Orders Tougher Criminal Punishments
- Sessions Restores Tough Drug War Policies That Trigger Mandatory Minimum Sentences
- Former Federal Judges Say Sessions’ New Policy Will Take Power Away From The Courts
- A drug dealer got a life sentence and was devastated. So was the judge who sentenced him.
- Sanford Heisler Sharp
- Civil Rights Firm Sanford Heisler Adds Ex-Fed. Judge
- Nashville Business Journal’s Best of the Bar (2003, 2005-2009)
- “Mid-South Super Lawyers” (2007 - 2010)
- Best Lawyers in America (2008 - 2010)
- Included in Corporate Counsel magazine’s feature The 2009 Best Lawyers Annual Guide to Labor and Employment Law
- Awarded “AV” rating by Martindale-Hubbell
- Listed in Who’s Who in American Law