News

Attorney Questions Juvenile Judge's Haircut Orders

Attorney Meggan Sullivan is questioning Wilson County juvenile Judge Barry Tatum’s practice of periodically ordering and paying for haircuts for boys. The haircuts – ordered when Tatum feels the boy's hair is too long – can only occur with the consent of parents or guardians, but Sullivan recently witnessed an incident where she did not see a parental consent form. “Judicial bullying is what it was. That kid did not feel he had choice, and I didn’t feel like the dad did either,” Sullivan said. Read more from The Tennessean

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Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway Featured

The Tennessee Tribune features Davidson County Juvenile Court Sheila Calloway in this week’s Take 10 on Tuesdays. Judge Calloway discusses her first year on the bench and youth courts now functioning in four high schools.

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DA Wants Fetal Assault Law Strengthened

Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus, who championed a new state law that allows drug-addicted mothers to be charged with assault to a fetus if they refuse treatment, said the law should be reworked to include meth. The statute currently only applies to narcotics like prescription pain pills, heroin and crack. Statewide, roughly 100 women have been prosecuted under the law, Nashville Public Radio reports.

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State Officials Attend Summit on Juvenile Jailing

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) led a team of state officials, including Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby, to a summit in Austin aimed at reducing the likelihood youth will be rearrested and end up in the adult criminal justice system. Humphrey on the Hill reports the summit is sponsored by the Council of State Government’s Justice Center and the MacArthur Foundation. “If we can get to the root causes of juvenile justice, we can intervene before it’s too late,” Sen. Norris said.

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Shelby County Woman Jailed for Failing to Pay Guardian ad Litem

Shelby County resident Angela Gilmore spent time behind bars after failing to pay Guardian ad Litem Shari Myers – an attorney Judge Donna Fields appointed to Gilmore’s divorce case involving children. WREG reports Gilmore claims she was unable to pay the $3,300 owed to Myers, prompting the attorney to file a petition of contempt against Gilmore.

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Hamilton County Celebrates 30 Years with CASA

Hamilton County Juvenile Court celebrated its 30th anniversary with the Court Appointed Special Advocated Program (CASA), a national program that trains volunteers to work with abused children within the legal process, the Times Free Press reports. Since the late Judge Dixie T. Smith applied for CASA in 1985, the program has provided abut $22,000 in services to the county. "CASA volunteers are the lifeblood. They are extremely effective and are able to bring immediate concerns to members of the court's Volunteer Services Department for review,” Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw said. 

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Child Custody, Immigration Law Covered in New TBJ

In the November Tennessee Bar Journal, Memphis lawyer Miles Mason Sr. details what you need to know about an independent child custody evaluation, and Nashville lawyer Milen Saev considers Kerry v. Din and the consular non-reviewability doctrine. Tennessee Bar Association President Bill Harbison points out the many reasons why 1881 was a very important year (besides that the TBA was formed!). Read these articles and more.

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Prosecutors Discuss Trafficking, Sexting and More at Fall Meeting

Prosecutors from across the state gathered this week to discuss possible changes to laws at the annual fall Tennessee District Attorneys General conference, the Times Free Press reports. Topics included cyberbullying, human trafficking and sexting, where there isn't always a clear legislative solution, Jennifer Moore Mason said. The problem, she said, is that no specific statute exists for juvenile sexting, where teens exchange sexually explicit photos via email or text. Instead, teenagers can get hit with charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, or harassment. 

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Seminar on Human Trafficking Comes to Brentwood

The Brentwood Library will host a program on human trafficking, how to identify it and steps to prevent it on Oct. 29. Co-sponsored by the Brentwood Woman’s Club and You Have the Power, the “No Girl’s Dream” program will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Brentwood Library, 8109 Concord Rd. Brentwood Homepage has more.

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Knox County Juvenile Court to Hold Fundraiser

The Knox County Juvenile Court will hold an auction and chili cook-off on Nov. 13 to raise money for its Volunteer Advisory Board and annual appreciation dinner for foster care parents and children. The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Attendees can purchase an all-you-can-eat lunch for $5. Contact Patrice Staley at (865) 215-6475 for more information.

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CASA Agency Seeking New Volunteers

CASA of the Ninth Judicial District is seeking more volunteers in Loudon County, says Rosemary Quillen, CASA assistant director. The nonprofit organization “desperately” needs more volunteer participation, as the local agency currently oversees 14 active cases with three more on the way, Quillen says. For more information on volunteering or taking an upcoming training course, contact Quillen, (865) 988-2311. The News Herald has an interview with CASA leaders.

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Anderson County Juvenile Court Honored

Judge Brian J. Hunt and his staff of the Anderson County Juvenile Court were honored with the inaugural Community Award by the Legal Aid Society’s Oak Ridge office. “The Anderson County Juvenile Court pioneered the first ever Guardian ad litem project between a local juvenile court and Legal Aid Society,” said Janet Mynatt, managing attorney of Legal Aid Society’s Oak Ridge office. “With the court’s help, attorneys are able to identify and provide post-adjudication guardianship for children in the care of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services – some of our most vulnerable youth.”

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DCS to Remain Under Court Oversight

The Department of Children’s Services (DCS) could be out from under federal court oversight by 2017 if the agency can continue to make progress in its care of foster kids, The Tennessean reports. DCS has been under court oversight since 2001 after New York city-based Children’s Rights filed suit over mismanagement. "We've done a lot of hard work in recent years, and we think we are very close to meeting court orders,” DCS commissioner Bonnie Hommrich said. 

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Legal Nonprofit Wins Access to Knox County Juvenile Court

Knoxville nonprofit Lawyers Education Advocacy Group has won the right to offer free legal services during truancy cases in the lobby of the Knox County Juvenile Court, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Their request last year to distribute literature on legal rights and offer free legal representation in the court was denied. "We are pleased that Knox County is now allowing the Lawyers Education Advocacy Project access to young people who need help," American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee legal director Thomas H. Castelli said.

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11-year-old Not Likely to be Charged as Adult in Girl's Murder

The 11-year-old White Pine boy charged in the Saturday shooting and killing of 8-year-old McKayla Dyer will be detained until his Oct. 28 hearing by order of a judge at the Jefferson County Justice Center, WATE reports. Defense attorney Greg Isaacs said that there have been no cases in Tennessee where an 11-year-old was tried as an adult in a homicide case. “It’s not going to be the lawyers, it’s going to be the mental health experts, and they’re going to tell the court and petition the court when they feel he is rehabilitated,” Isaacs said.

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Senators Unveil Criminal Justice Reform Bill

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators unveiled a major criminal justice reform bill today that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for certain non-violent drug offenses; make crack-cocaine sentencing reductions retroactive; give judges more discretion in sentencing for gun-related crimes; eliminate the so-called "three strikes" law; enhance prisoner rehabilitation and anti-recidivism programs; and largely ban solitary confinement of juveniles. The measure would also create two new mandatory minimums for crimes involving interstate domestic violence and providing weapons to terrorists. The Washington Post reports on the outlook for the bill.

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Congress Expected to Discuss Foster-care System Overhaul

The Crossville Chronicle reports Congress is moving toward an overhaul of the country’s foster-care system and bi-partisan legislation could be presented this fall. Advocates say foster care funds should be going to help biological parents learn to care for children properly, including paying for psychotherapy or treatment for a parent’s addiction issues. "When you ask a child who has been in foster care how we can best improve the current foster-care system, often the answer will be: You could have helped my mom so that I did not have to go into foster care in the first place," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said.

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Memphis Youth Center Requests Money Despite Empty Beds

Damascus Road Residential Center in Memphis is being criticized for doing little to help teenage boys, despite its president and CEO Sharon Paige requesting $550,000 in grants from local governments. The Commercial Appeal reports that no children have been admitted to the facility, which Paige said is equipped to handle 100 boys ages 12-17 as an alternative to juvenile detention. Juvenile court officials say the facility has more beds than necessary for the area and security concerns could keep the court from partnering with the facility. 

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Columns Include Same-Sex Marriage, Tolerance and Atticus Finch

President Bill Harbison makes a plea for tolerance among lawyers who hold divergent viewpoints in his column in the September Tennessee Bar Journal. Marlene Eskind Moses and John A. Day each cover the issue of same-sex marriage in their columns: Moses on how that affects family law and Day on loss of consortium claims. Humor columnist Bill Haltom remains steadfast in his admiration of Atticus Finch, even after the jolting view portrayed in Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman

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Rule Change Package Released for Review, Comment

The Tennessee Supreme Court has published the annual package of recommendations from the Advisory Commission on Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Proposals include new authority for appellate courts to dismiss appeals; provisions permitting electronic signatures in courts employing electronic filing; clarification of the effect of service of process on commencement of actions; adoption of the term preliminary hearing in lieu of preliminary examination in criminal procedure; and, refinement of procedure for correction of illegal sentences in criminal cases. The are no evidence rules changes proposed this year. A 90-page comprehensive restructuring and revision of the Rules of Juvenile Procedure is also included.

Six TBA sections -- Appellate Practice, Litigation, Tort and Insurance Law , Family Law, Juvenile and Children’s Law and Criminal Justice -- will be asked to review the proposed amendments and recommend comments on behalf of the association. Comments on the proposals are due to the Court by November 25, 2015.

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CASA Director Takes New Position in Georgia

Suzanne Wisdom, executive director of CASA of Bradley/Polk County, is leaving to become executive director of CASA in Savannah, Georgia. “I’ve learned a lot about having faith – that if you just keep doing the work, it would work out,” Wisdom said about her work. The CASA board is currently seeking Wisdom’s replacement. CASA volunteer and law student Andrea Chase has been appointed as interim director, the Cleveland Daily Banner reports.

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Nashville Peer Court Educating Students, Saving Money

Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Shelia Calloway conducted training at Lipscomb University in Nashville for her court’s Peer-Driven Youth Justice program, which offers an alternative to juvenile courts. Participating students learn about court proceedings including courtroom etiquette and sentence determination. Calloway estimates that the program has saved more than $1 million by keeping juveniles out of the court system. The AOC has more on the story.

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Gangs Big Contributors to Youth Crimes, Judge Says

Gangs are alive and are actively recruiting young people in Chattanooga, Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw told members of the Pachyderm Club on Monday. He said gangs use children to commit crimes because adult gang members would face felony charges if arrested. They convince youth they will not. In reality, Philyaw said he transfers one or two juvenile cases a week to adult courts. "It breaks my heart literally every time," he said. Chattanoogan.com has more.

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Students Learn Work Ethic Through Summer Jobs

Juvenile offenders who stayed out of trouble had the opportunity to work a summer job for eight weeks through the Madison County Juvenile Court System, the Jackson Sun reports. Christy Little, juvenile court judge, said the program was the product of a gang violence prevention task force that Mayor Jerry Gist launched four years ago. Students worked at mostly local nonprofit organizations like RIFA, the Dream Center, Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Club, the Fire Department and the Humane Society.

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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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