Initiative asks legislators to show support for youth courts during special session
NASHVILLE, Jan. 12, 2010 — As the Tennessee General Assembly gathers this week for a special session on education reform, the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) is offering legislators an opportunity to have a little fun and raise money for an important youth program in the state.
The TBA, through its charitable arm, the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation, kicks off the first annual "Tacky For Teens: A Second Chance For Hideous Neckwear" today. The campaign encourages lawmakers, staff and lobbyists to wear tacky neckwear (ties for men and scarves for women) during the special session. Those who make a $25 contribution to the foundation will receive a lapel pin letting colleagues know they are wearing their hideous accessories on purpose! In honor of the long-forgotten tie tack, legislators are encouraged to use the pin to secure their neckwear. Those willing to participate can make their donation and receive their pin at the office of Senator Doug Overbey, R-Maryville.
The Tennessee Legal Community Foundation administers the state youth court program, which began in 2001. These courts, sometimes referred to as teen or peer courts, offer an opportunity for teenagers to prosecute, defend and act as jurors for other youth accused of misdemeanor offenses such as shoplifting, truancy or alcohol possession. Cases are referred to youth courts by local Juvenile Courts and, in many locations, attorneys and judges serve as advisors to the youth court. Youth courts have a dual benefit of reducing the caseload in juvenile court -- freeing the court to focus on more serious crimes -- and providing valuable civics education for Tennessee students. There are currently 11 youth courts in the state located in Crockett, Davidson, Haywood, Jackson, Lake, Madison, Montgomery, Sullivan, Sumner, Warren and Wilson counties. Cities or counties interested in starting a youth court program should contact the TBA at (615) 383-7421. To learn more about youth courts visit the TBA website at www.tba.org/youth-courts.