News

Judge Wants Stricter Curfew for Minors

Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw says Chattanooga’s current curfew law needs to be strengthened, WRCB TV reports. Philyaw has drafted a new rule that would (1) require anyone under age 18 to be supervised after 11 p.m. during the week and after midnight on weekends, (2) add a new weekday curfew from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. when teens should be in school, and (3) give judges authority to fine parents or mandate community service if rules are broken.

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State Partners with Private Group to Help Youth

The Tennessee Department of Children and Families is partnering with Youth Villages to make programming and staff available for young adults transitioning back into the community after aging out of foster care or the juvenile justice system, Fox 17 reports. The first of its kind in the nation, the partnership will help young people find employment, re-engage with family and access social and health services.

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Juvenile Arrests Decline in Hamilton County

Chattanooga police and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office say that a decline in the arrests of children and teens under 18 is the result of a shift away from punitive, arrest-focused work toward more comprehensive ways of dealing with juvenile offenders. To help reduce the rate even more, local officials plan to launch a new program in the next six months that will focus on repeat offenders by providing coordinated services from law enforcement and social service agencies. Read more in the Times Free Press.

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New Leadership Named for Juvenile Services in Williamson County

Zannie Martin has been named the new director of Juvenile Services in Williamson County, and Chris Holz has been named assistant director. Combined, the pair have nearly 28 years experience in Juvenile Court, The Williamson Source reports.

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49 Juvenile Court Officers Injured on the Job

Larry Scroggs, chief administrator of the Shelby County Juvenile Court, revealed this week that 49 detention and security officers were injured on the job, and two had to undergo surgery, during the last year. All injuries stemmed from efforts to break up inmate fights, WMCA News 5 reports. The information comes as the sheriff's office is about to implement a Department of Justice mandate to convert all juvenile court officers to deputies. Scroggs says that complying with the requirement will cost about $2 million.

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Juvenile Justice Forum Set for May 16

The Juvenile Justice Consortium of Memphis and Shelby County is holding a public forum May 16 in Frayser to hear from parents and juveniles about their experiences with the city and county juvenile court. The session will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ed Rice Community Center, 2907 N. Watkins St., the Memphis Daily News reports.

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Big Payback: Youth Courts Need Your Support

Help keep the Tennessee Youth Court program alive and growing by giving to The Big Payback Campaign. The Community Foundation fundraiser begins at midnight and runs all day Tuesday. Sponsors have stepped forward to match gifts, so your generosity can have a big impact, even if you donate just $10 or $20. The Youth Courts program is losing a major source of its funding this fall, so your contributions are vital to its future. Learn more about youth courts in Tennessee.

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Criminal Law CLE Connects with Juveniles

Representing juveniles charged with crimes is the focus of this week’s Criminal Law CLE. On Friday, attendees will look at how to handle criminal cases that involve juveniles, as well as cases that involve adult clients charged with abusing and/or neglecting juveniles. Learn more or register for the the program.

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DA Wants to Change Child Abuse Laws

District Attorney General Brent Cooper tells the Daily Herald that the system for handling child abuse cases needs to be reworked. One change Cooper said he and other district attorneys across the state have advocated is to the current reckless endangerment laws, specifically the actual harm doctrine. "The way the law in Tennessee is currently structured, you can’t charge a parent with abuse and neglect unless the child is actually harmed," Cooper says.

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Man Gets 22 Years for Trafficking in Nashville

Michael Kohlmeyer was sentenced in Nashville Thursday to 22 years in prison for trafficking a person under the age of 15 for a sex act, according to the Tennessean. The case is the first time in Tennessee a customer of sex trafficking has been prosecuted, Assistant District Attorney Antoinette Welch said. Derri Smith, executive director of End Slavery Tennessee, said that 94 minors are trafficked each month in the state.

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Haslam Signs Guns-in-Parks Bill

Gov. Bill Haslam today signed the controversial guns-in-parks bill into law, allowing handgun-carry permit holders to go armed in all parks statewide, regardless of local ordinances. The governor, a former mayor of Knoxville, had expressed concerns about the legislation because it removed the authority of city and county governments over parks under their control, and because the parks often border school properties, the Commercial Appeal reports.

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UT Law Prof Testifies at Senate Hearing

University of Tennessee law professor Dean Rivkin told a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday about an investigation into children who were shackled and jailed in Knox County after being summoned to court for truancy. His testimony came during a hearing on whether states have been allowed to take federal juvenile justice grant money while violating laws against jailing juveniles for minor infractions. Read more from Public Integrity.org.

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AG Confirmation Expected as Senate Reaches Trafficking Deal

Loretta Lynch can expect to be confirmed as the next attorney general within a day or two after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a deal on a sex trafficking bill that had been tied up in abortion politics for weeks. “And now, I’m glad we can say there is a bipartisan proposal that will allow us to complete action on this important legislation so we can provide help to the victims who desperately need it.” McConnell said today. Roll Call has more.

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TALS Seeks Presenters for Equal Justice Conference

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is seeking presenters to speak at this year’s Equal Justice University set for Sept. 2-4 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. The conference, cosponsored by the TBA, is the annual gathering for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community. Speakers are sought to provide substantive law courses, ethics and professionalism training, and technology and communications skills. Send proposals by May 15 to TALS’ Policy & Training Director Anne Fox.

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Brooks Gets Probation For Falsifying Election Papers

Former Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks was sentenced yesterday to two years probation, 80 hours of community service and a mental health assessment for falsifying her address on a petition to run for juvenile court clerk. Criminal Court Judge Paula Skahan said at the end of the hearing that there was “absolutely no excuse” for listing a false address on election documents. Brooks, who served two terms on the county commission, said she plans to appeal, according to the Commercial Appeal.

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Youth Court Program Identified as 'Promising'

The Tennessee Youth Court Program has been identified as one of five promising programs operating in our state by Vanderbilt University's Center for Safe and Supportive Schools (S3). In a newsletter out this week, S3 highlighted the success of the evidence-based, peer-driven juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention program and premiered a short video it produced on Youth Court programs in Davidson and Hamilton counties.

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New Law Would Let Memphis Open Curfew Centers

The state Senate approved a bill Monday to let Memphis set up juvenile safety centers around the city for minors who violate curfew. The measure could receive approval in the House before the end of the legislative session, according to Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis. Modeled after a program in Baltimore, the bill would give police officers the option to take curfew-violating juveniles to city-operated safety centers where they would receive counseling. Currently, officers can only take them home or to juvenile detention. The Commercial Appeal has the story.

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Austin Peay to Host Juvenile Justice Conference

The 5th Annual Joint Conference on Juvenile Justice will be held Saturday at Austin Peay State University from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Montgomery County Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Task Force, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth and the MerryInGOD Foundation will sponsor the conference. The event is free and open to the public. Business Clarksville has more.

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Verizon to Match Donation to Knoxville Family Justice Center

Verizon Wireless has announced it will match all donations up to $10,000 made to the Knoxville Family Justice Center during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, WATE reports. The center supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Knox County and surrounding areas, and is one of only 15 nationwide created by a presidential initiative to help those affected by domestic violence. Donate to the Knoxville Family Justice Center.

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Youth Discuss Juvenile Justice Reform

A group of about 40 young people ranging from 13 to 18 gathered to discuss issues surrounding juvenile justice reform last week at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis as part of the People’s Conference on Juvenile Justice. The students also took part in workshops, including a "Know Your Rights" seminar that taught them rights they are guaranteed despite being below the voting age. The Memphis Flyer has more.

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April Journal Has Insider's View to High Court

This month the Journal takes an inside look at the Tennessee Supreme Court, by former staff attorney Marshall L. Davidson III. Davidson, now presiding judge at the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, writes about "unexpected discoveries about the justices, lawyers who appear before them, and pitfalls to avoid in navigating our state’s appellate judiciary." Also, read about the good work through restorative justice that Tennessee Youth Courts are doing, as well as who the TBA Young Lawyers' Division CASA Volunteer of the Year is. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month; learn more about related CASA events and resources. It's no April Fool -- you can read the April issue here.

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Nashville to Build Family Justice Center

The city of Nashville will build a Family Justice Center at the former Capitol Chevrolet dealership on Murfreesboro Road near Foster Avenue, WKRN reports. The center would house resources for both victims of domestic abuse and child abuse in one place. The domestic violence unit, youth services and the Nashville Children’s Alliance — currently located in different parts of the city — would likely all have space in the new center.

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Pay Raise for Court Appointed Work Set for Committee

The TBA bill calling for an increase in pay for court appointed attorney will go before the House Civil Justice Subcommittee next week. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, HB1025 would raise compensation to a minimum of $100 per hour. The companion bill in the Senate, SB1009, is sponsored by Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis. It has been referred to the Judiciary Committee and is expected to be considered in the coming weeks. Court appointed attorneys have been working at the same rate since 1994 and have the lowest compensation rate in the nation. Use TBAImpact or contact subcommittee members directly to express your views.

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Retirement Celebration Set For CASA Director

Join CASA Nashville volunteers and staff on March 27 to celebrate Executive Director Jane Andrews’ retirement. Andrews has served CASA for nearly a decade, doubling the size of contributions and increasing reach to serve the more than 2,000 children in need in Davidson County. The event is at 601 Woodlands St. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Juvenile Court Seeks Beds to Keep Kids Out of Detention

The Shelby County Juvenile Court is seeking money for more beds at Porter-Leath, a nonprofit organization that accommodates kids who can't go home but shouldn’t be detained. The bed shortage often finds kids locked in detention with some of the county’s worst juvenile offenders. In its fiscal 2015 budget request to the County Commission, court CAO and chief counsel Larry Scroggs said the court needs an additional $140,000 for alternative beds. The Commercial Appeal has more.

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