Martha Craig Daughtrey

Martha Craig Daughtrey, attorney, law professor, and judge, was born on July 21, 1942, in Covington, Kentucky. She received a B.A. (cum laude) from Vanderbilt University in 1964 and graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1968. Her academic honors included election to Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif.

Daughtrey was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1968, and after a brief period in private practice in Nashville she joined the U.S. attorney's office as an assistant U.S. attorney (1968-69). From 1969 to 1972 she was an assistant district attorney for Davidson County.

In 1972 Daughtrey became the first woman appointed to the faculty of Vanderbilt University School of Law, serving as an assistant professor, 1972-75. She also taught there as lecturer (1971-72 and 1976-88) and adjunct professor (1988-90).

Daughtrey served as a judge on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals from 1975 through 1990, and as an associate justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1990 through 1993. She was the first woman on both the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and the Tennessee Supreme Court.

In 1993 President Bill Clinton selected Daughtrey to serve as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit (Nashville), the first Tennessee woman to be appointed to the Sixth Circuit. Although conservative groups opposed her nomination because of the perception that she opposed the death penalty, elected officials and Tennessee bar leaders offered overwhelming support, and her nomination received swift confirmation.

In addition to her legal duties, Daughtrey has provided leadership in a number of professional and judicial activities. She served on the faculty of the Appellate Judges Seminar at New York University (1977-89, 1994-present), and the National Judicial College (1989). She has accepted leadership roles in the American Bar Association, including service as a council member of the Judicial Administration Division (1984-85, 1987-present, chair 1989-90), House of Delegates (1988-91), and executive committee of the Appellate Judges' Conference (1978-86, chair 1985-86) and as a member of the Standing Committee on Continuing Education of the Bar (1992-94) and the commission on Women in the Profession (1994-present). She has been a member of the board of editors of the ABA Journal since 1995. During April 1991 she participated in an ABA-sponsored delegation that consulted with the drafters of the new Romanian constitution.

Daughtrey also served as a member of the editors' board of The Judges Journal (1979-82) and was president of the National Association of Women Judges (1985-86) and the Women Judges Fund for Justice (1983-84, 1985-86). She has been a director of the Nashville Bar Association (1988-90) and the American Judicature Society (1988-92), president of the Middle Tennessee-based Lawyers Association for Women (1986-87), and on the Board of Visitors of Memphis State University School of Law (1978-86).

Daughtrey's professional contributions have been recognized nationally and internationally. She has received the Athena Award from the National Athena Program (1991), been included in the Ladies Home Journal's Thirty Women to Watch, and been named Woman of the Year by Women Professionals International (Nashville, 1976).

Daughtrey is married to Larry G. Daughtrey, with whom she has one adult daughter, Carran.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Martha Craig Daughtrey
  • Author
  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
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  • Access Date May 26, 2024
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018