News

9th District CASA Names New Leadership, Seeks Volunteers

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Ninth Judicial District has named Lindsey Brown as executive director following the retirement of founding director Sandra Weaver, the News Herald reports. In addition, former county commissioner Rosemary Quillen has been named the new assistant director and program coordinator for Loudon and Roane counties. The agency also said it is seeking new volunteers.

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Senate Leader: State Ranking on Child Well-Being Unacceptable

Following the release of a report ranking Tennessee 36th in overall child well-being, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris called on his legislative colleagues and the Haslam Administration to focus more effectively on the needs of the state’s youth. The Annie E. Casey Foundation this week issued a report ranking states based on four factors related to children: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community support. The Chattanoogan has more.

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Opinion: Editorial Fails to Recognize True Horror of Child Porn

An editorial saying sentencing laws for child pornography are too harsh drew a strong response from Virginia attorney Stacey Estep Munsey. The Times News's editorial board commented on the disparity between sentences for possession of child porn and murder. “Make no mistake, murder is one of the most serious of our crimes," Estep Munsey wrote in response, "but that is not to say that possession of child pornography isn’t. In the crime of murder, a life is ended. In the crime of child pornography, a life is forever ruined.”

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Nashville Lawyer to Donate Book Proceeds to Local Nonprofits

Nashville lawyer Randy Kinnard with Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge will donate proceeds from his book, Respect: Through the Eyes of Children, to the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee and Nashville CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children), LAS announced. Released last fall, the book is a collection of essays written by local students illustrating the definition of respect from a youth’s perspective.

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Opinion: Some Child Porn Sentences Too Harsh

State and federal sentencing laws for child pornography has "gone overboard," the editorial staff of the Times News Net writes. “The notion that consumers of child pornography should be treated as harshly as the deviants who produce it, who rape children, seems a gross injustice,” the publication states. “Nor does downloading child pornography from the Internet merit a more severe punishment than first-degree murder.”

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DCS Child Abuse Registry Raises Concerns

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) is now publicly posting accused child abusers’ names, personal information and type of abuse, even if the case was never prosecuted or the individual was not convicted, Local Memphis reports. "Even if it were technically constitutional, it does raise some policy concerns with significant consequences to people for being accused and never actually proven guilty," says Steve Mulroy, associate dean at the University of Memphis School of Law.

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CASA to Benefit from GM Foundation Grants

The General Motors Foundation has awarded $75,000 in grant funds to 11 Tennessee organizations including Tennessee CASA, which will use the money to expand and strengthen its statewide network, and Maury County CASA, which will use the funds to train volunteers. This is the fifth consecutive year the Foundation’s Plant City Grants were awarded.

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Hommrich Named New DCS Commissioner

Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Bonnie Hommrich as the new commissioner for the Department of Children’s Services, the Tennessean reports. Hommrich has been serving as deputy commissioner for child programs at the department since 2004. She takes over for outgoing commissioner Jim Henry, who recently was named the governor’s new chief of staff.

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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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