Judge Leon Ruben dies

Friday, October 7, 2011 at 2:29pm

Metro General Sessions Judge Leon Ruben died Friday after an extended illness.

Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell, a consultant on Ruben’s last campaign for re-election, said Nashville and its legal community have suffered a “huge loss.”

“He was a great judge, and the most fair judge around,” Mitchell said. “He treated everyone the same.”

Mitchell said Ruben, who was Jewish, was well known for sitting on the bench on Christmas so that others could have time off with family.

In 1981, the Metro Council appointed Ruben to fill a vacancy in the General Sessions Court. He was later elected to the position in his first election in 1982.

Prior to serving as a judge, Ruben worked as a local businessman and attorney. He and his family were “pillars” of the community, according to Charlie Cardwell, the Metro trustee.

Cardwell said the Ruben family owned a clothing business near the former Howard High School from which both he and Ruben graduated two years apart.

“He and has family have long been leaders in the community,” Cardwell said of Ruben. “He will be missed.”

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said Ruben will be "greatly missed."

"Being around 22 years, and in every capacity I held, he was the stalwart," Hall said. "From overcrowding to new facilities, he was the go-to guy [for assistance]. I'm not surprised he fought the illness as hard as he did." 

The Metro Council is tasked with appointing Ruben’s replacement in a process similar to the way members recently tapped Howard Gentry as Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk to replace David Torrence, who resigned.

Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors will announce the vacancy at the Oct. 18 council meeting, according to council attorney Jon Cooper. From there, the council would begin accepting nominations, which can come from citizens outside the council. 

Nominations then go to the Nashville Bar Association, which will conduct a poll among its members.

Cooper said the council would likely vote on Ruben’s replacement by the second council meeting in November. 

Ruben graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1956 and received his law degree from Nashville School of Law six years later. He was a member of the West End Synagogue, the Nashville Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee General Sessions Court Judges Conference, the Lawyers’ Association for Women and the American Bar Association. 

Ruben is survived by his wife, Sandi, as well as four children and 10 grandchildren. 

5 Comments on this post:

By: bfra on 10/7/11 at 3:39

Totally agree with all compliments given to Judge Leon Ruben. My sympathy to his family! All judges should strive to be as honest & fair as he was.

By: willtw on 10/7/11 at 4:11

Over the years, I have had the good fortune to have had contact with Judge Ruben in other than court proceedings. This was one of the Good Guys, a treasure in this community. This is a very sad day for Nashville...................

By: Nitzche on 10/7/11 at 6:11

good guy

By: Trumpet on 10/7/11 at 6:11

Joe/The Collection: Judge Ruben impressed me as a good citizen and as a good person. I met him closely during the 1970's while producing a short Profile on the individuals who made up our city Council. "Know Your Councilman" He and his family welcomed me into their home and were very gracious in the manner in which they treated me. I didn't know him as a Judge (for that I am grateful) but I agreed when he was appointed/elected. My condolences to his family and to those who knew
and loved him...........One Heart!...and I wholeheartedly agree with the first 2 comments above.

By: izzi1s on 10/7/11 at 11:45

I do not know if I would say that Judge Rubin was fair since he knew my parents.
When I was younger if I got a speeding ticket he would always say "Mr. XXXXX this is your 1st offense (regardless of how many times he had seen me over the years)? I would reply yes knowing that he knew my parents would kill me and so he always just made me go to watch the traffic film.

He was MORE than fair to me, what a cool Judge!!!

He will be missed.