Karen Garrett, Doug Himes will be legislature’s top lawyers

Two veteran legislative attorneys will serve jointly as directors of the General Assembly’s Office of Legal Services with the retirement of Joe Barnes from that position, according to an email sent to lawmakers today by Connie Ridley, chief of the Office of Legislative Administration.

Karen Garrett and Doug Himes, who have both been on the legal services staff under Barnes since 1998, were appointed by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell, according to the email.

They are, in effect, co-directors. Himes will focus on matters involving the House; Garrett on matters involving the Senate. They’ll collaborate on matters of joint interest.

Here’s the email:

Good afternoon Members,

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell are pleased to announce that Karen Garrett and Doug Himes have accepted the position of Director for the Office of Legal Services. Joe Barnes who has been a long standing Attorney for the office and Director has notified the Speakers of his intent to retire in the near future. Karen and Doug have served as Attorneys in the office since 1998 before accepting this new role today. They will continue to serve as counsel to the Lieutenant Governor and the House Speaker.

Please welcome Karen and Doug in their new assignment!

Connie Ridley
Office of Legislative Administration

UPDATE/NOTE: A news release came after this posting. Here it is:

News release from House and Senate speakers:
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced new leadership for the Tennessee General Assembly’s Office of Legal Services (OLS). Longtime Office of Legal Services attorneys Karen Garrett and Doug Himes will take on the leadership role of Directors of the Office of Legal Services, assuming the duties of retiring OLS Director Joe Barnes. Barnes will retire after six years as legal director and four decades in state service.

“I am extremely excited about the new leadership over the Office of Legal Services. We could not do our jobs as legislators without the capable assistance of our legislative attorneys,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “Karen and Doug are fantastic lawyers and individuals of great talent and ability. I’m confident they will continue the great tradition of excellence in the Office of Legal Services.”

“Finally, I would like to thank Joe Barnes for his service. The innovations in the Office of Legal Services under his tenure are too numerous to mention. He will be missed,” Ramsey concluded.

“When Joe Barnes told us after session that he planned to retire, we knew we would have big shoes to fill,” said Speaker Harwell. “Joe has provided leadership, guidance, and sound management to OLS for many years. Karen and Doug are excellent lawyers, and I look forward to working with them as they lead OLS. I know they will provide strong leadership and continue the office’s record of great service to our members and staff.”

Karen Garrett is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She most recently served as special counsel to the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of Senate and lead counsel for the Senate State and Local Government Committee. Garrett has been a legislative attorney for 17 years. She currently lives in Brentwood with her husband and two children.

Doug Himes is an alumnus of Lambuth College, the University of St. Andrews, and the Notre Dame Law School. He most recently served as special counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. In 1992, Himes began his career with the General Assembly as an intern. He currently lives in Nashville with his wife.