News

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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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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