A former Circuit Court judge died Tuesday morning just before General Sessions Court was to begin at the Cannon County Courthouse.
Judge James K. Clayton, retired from the 16th Judicial District, reportedly collapsed in the entryway to the courtroom. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Judge Clayton served as Circuit Court Judge for Cannon County for several years before retiring in August 2008.
Judge Clayton practiced law following his retirement from the bench and was due to be in court Tuesday to represent a client.
General Sessions Judge Susan Melton, visably shaken by the death of her colleague, cancelled court Tuesday and all cases on the docket were reset to a later day.
One defendant scheduled to appear in court stood and led the room in prayer while emergency personnel were administering aid to Judge Clayton, and several defendants expressed their sympathy and condolences to Judge Melton as they were leaving.
Clayton was first elected Circuit Court Judge in 1984 after spending 12 years as a General Sessions Court Judge in Rutherford County.
In his over 36 years on the bench Clayton has presided over countless defendants and trials many of which were in Cannon County.
He apparently suffered a heart attack, and he was unable to be revived.
Clayton was the first juvenile court judge in Rutherford County.
Friends and colleagues described him as a perfect gentleman and a professional, who set a standard everyone on the bench should strive-for.
Clayton was said to have had heart problems in the past.
A visitation will be held on Saturday, May 7 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Woodfin Memorial Chapel in Murfreesboro. A memorial service will take place on Sunday, May 8 at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Murfreesboro.