TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Suzanne Craig Robertson on Mar 10, 2014

About 40 students gathered in Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Robert Philyaw's courtroom on Saturday to train to be on the county's new Youth Court, one of 16 diversionary programs in the state that allows non-violent, first-time offenders the opportunity to have their cases heard by a jury of kids their own age. In Chattanooga, the program is supported by the Hamilton County Juvenile Court, Miller & Martin PLLC and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and administered by the Tennessee Bar Association. Miller & Martin partner Randy Wilson tells the Times Free Press that 25 lawyers are volunteering time. Philyaw says he hopes to increase the court members 120 and to have the first actual court session with two cases in April and have a monthly session thereafter. Denise Bentley, the TBA's Youth Court coordinator, says fewer than 7 percent of respondents who participate in Tennessee youth courts re-offend within a year.