News

Haslam Applauds Youth Villages’ Former Foster Youth Program

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam applauded the work of Memphis-based Youth Villages Monday, joining the youth services agency in unveiling the results of a clinical trial on the effectiveness of its program to aid young people who age out of the foster care system. YVLifeSet provides participants with help and guidance with housing, education, and life skills, the Commercial Appeal reports.

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Restaurant Hosts Benefit for CASA Saturday

Losers Bar and Grill in Cool Springs will host a benefit for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. For $15, guests will receive a beer ticket and an all-you-can-eat BBQ chicken buffet. Alternatively, guests can purchase a $5 drink ticket and participate in games of cornhole. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Losers will donate all event proceeds directly to Williamson County CASA and Nashville CASA, two nonprofits that serve abused and neglected children in their respective communities. Franklin Homepage has more.

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Domestic Violence Reports Expected to Spike After Family Justice Center Opens

As the city of Chattanooga readies for the official launch of the Family Justice Center on July 1, Police Chief Fred Fletcher and others told the Chattanooga Times Free Press they expect the number of domestic violence incidents in Chattanooga and Hamilton County to spike by 20 or 30 percent because more people will report the crime. The center is designed to cater to victims of domestic violence by offering a variety of services — from legal advice to health care — under one roof near the Eastgate Town Center.

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9th District CASA Director Named

Court Appointed Special Advocates of the 9th District, an organization that helps abused and neglected children in Roane, Morgan and Loudon counties find safe homes, has hired a new director. Lindsey Brown, who has extensive child welfare experience as a lawyer in Tennessee and Florida, will be taking over as a director effective July 1.

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More Tools Available to Aid Domestic Violence Victims

The Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center has begun using a training program to help law enforcement better help domestic violence victims who are in critical danger, the Herald-Citizen reports. Several area law enforcement jurisdictions are using the Maryland Model Lethality Assessment Program (LAP), which has 11 assessment questions for a police officer to ask domestic violence victims. And in Grundy County, the Sheriff's Office is using a tracking device able to alert victims when an offender is close, in hopes of warding off another attack.  WRCB has more.

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6th Annual ‘Lawyers for Littles’ Event Raises $21,500

The sixth annual “Lawyers for Littles” Bowl for Kid’s Sake event helped raise over $21,500 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. Twenty-three teams participated in the bowling event on June 4, representing all spheres of the legal profession, including law firms, corporate counsel, government agencies and bar associations. Money raised in events like “Lawyers for Littles” is used to conduct background checks on volunteers to ensure child safety and to provide ongoing support for children, families and volunteers to build and sustain long-lasting relationships. For more information contact Elizabeth Sitgreaves or Bart Pickett.

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Counties Look for Right Recipe for Juvenile Justice

The Nashville juvenile justice system is changing the way it treats children who commit crimes, WSMV reports. Instead of parole officers, the Davidson County Juvenile Justice Center will now have support intervention and accountability teams. Whether it's criminal trespassing or a theft charge, an assessment team will go into the child's home and school and spend 30 days writing an assessment report to get to the root of the problem. In Maury County, The Columbia Herald covers an ongoing debate about the treatment of juvenile offenders.

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Court Dogs Provide Furry Comfort, Stress Reduction

The six “court dogs” that attend proceedings at the Knox County Juvenile Court have proven to be a comfort and stress reducer for the children and families who pass through the court. CASA Volunteer Coordinator Summer Colbert started the program in collaboration with HABIT, or Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee, a University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine program that offers animal-assisted therapy. Knoxnews has the story.

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CAC Event Raises $45,000

The Kids First Child Advocacy Center of the Ninth Judicial District raised $45,000 during its annual dinner and auction last week at the Yacht Club in Tellico Village. The theme was “A Child’s Voyage ... from Victim to Survivor.” The event boasted a silent auction, live auction and music by the Tellico Top Notes. The News Herald has more.

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Wear Seersucker for a Good Cause

The Knoxville Bar Association is challenging lawyers and law firms to set a specific day for everyone in the office to wear seersucker and donate to Childhelp, a group dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Offices are asked to participate by June 25. View a flyer with more information.

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Portrait of Retired Juvenile Judge Unveiled

The Hon. Suzanne Bailey’s portrait was unveiled in her former courtroom at the Hamilton County Juvenile Court last week. Although Judge Bailey could not be present, her friends, family members and colleagues gathered to honor the memory of her more than 30 years of service to the children, families and citizens of Hamilton County. Bailey’s successor, Judge Robert Philyaw, presided over the standing-room only proceeding. The Hamilton County Herald has more.

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Juvenile Court Offers Alternative Detention Program

The Madison County Juvenile Court program opened its new HERO program on Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the University of Memphis at Lambuth. The HERO program is an alternative option for youth ages 12 to 17 with nonviolent offenses and will meet every night on the Lambuth campus. Judge Christy Little said she hopes the program will provide a positive influence for the youth involved by seeing students on campus during the school year. The Jackson Sun has the story.

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CASA Fundraiser Raises Record-Breaking Amount

Williamson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) announced this week that the 4th Annual Voices for Children fundraiser raised more than $130,000, money that will serve its mission to find safe and permanent homes for abused and neglected children in the court system. Director of Public Relations and Development Danielle McMorran estimates that nearly $120,000 will go straight toward program support. Williamson Herald has the story.

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Juvenile Court Sees Rehab as Top Priority

The top priority for juvenile court is rehabilitation, Judge Daniel Swafford tells the Cleveland Banner. While some youth and parents who appear before Judge Swafford are sentenced and detained, most are referred to some sort of intervention program such as the Drug Court, LEAF boot camp or an interventionist from the Camelot Care Center.

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June TBJ: Paternity Fraud, Economic Losses, Grad Advice

In this issue, learn how to successfully file a paternity fraud lawsuit by reading an article by Peggy R. Smith. You may also need to know how to calculate economic losses in employment termination cases, which Charles Baum explains. In this graduation season, Andra J. Hedrick writes a letter to herself (and new grads) about what to expect and what she would have done differently. There's a lot more in the June issue -- take a look!

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Campus Court Works to Reduce Truancy in Bradley County

Bradley County's Campus Court is the only one of its kind in Tennessee. The  Cleveland Banner takes a look at the program, and how it helps keep families out of Family and Juvenile Court when problems crop up. Juvenile Court Director Terry Gallaher and Kim Goins, special programs coordinator and Campus Court mediator, tell the story.

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Team to Focus on Alternatives for Juvenile Offenders

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell today announced a new effort aimed at reducing juvenile crime in the region. Under the plan, an eight-member team of professionals from the mayors’ offices, sheriff’s office, juvenile court and police department will work for one year to find positive alternatives for teens who get arrested on domestic violence and assault charges. The move, according to WMCA News 5, is designed to respond to criticisms that African-American juveniles end up at juvenile court at a rate much higher than other races.

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DA Creates Unit to Prosecute Human Trafficking

Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk has formed a human trafficking unit inside the DA's Office. Four assistant district attorneys have been assigned to the unit, led by lawyer Tammy Meade, and will ensure full prosecution of human sex trafficking cases in Nashville, a press release from the office read. The move comes as the TBI creates the Middle Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force, which this week arrested about a dozen people as part of an operation in Nashville, according to Knoxnews.com. The task force, which will include the DA's Office, End Slavery Tennessee and several local law enforcement agencies, is currently working to secure a federal grant to assist in prosecution of offenders and services for victims. Fox 17 has the story. Earlier this week, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill giving TBI jurisdiction over investigations of human trafficking. 

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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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