County Commission seeks new juvenile court Process may seat new judge in early 2013
By Brent Andrews
General Sessions Judge Denise Andre told Williamson County commissioners she supports creating a special juvenile court as a cost-effective way to meet growing demand.
Commissioners voted 23-0 Monday night to ask local representatives to the Tennessee General Assembly to sponsor a private act creating a new Williamson County juvenile court. It could begin operating in January 2013 under an appointed judge followed by an election in 2014. Juveniles in the court system are presently overseen by one full- and one part-time magistrate and two General Sessions judges – Andre and Judge Al Nations.
“At this time I think it’s very important to look forward and see what’s best for our county,” said Andre, who spoke at commissioners’ request.
Juvenile court judges can spend a lot of time on their cases and have a different, family oriented philosophy than adult court judges, she said. She also sees “tremendous” savings in creating a new juvenile court position, as opposed to adding another General Sessions judge.
She said the space and staff is already in place for the juvenile court. There might be a need for a part-time referee, but it wouldn’t require a new court clerk or court officer, she told commissioners.
“This is a very cost effective way to deal with both the cases that we have in General Sessions, but also in juvenile court,” where young people are “facing challenges that we haven’t seen before,” said Andre.
“It’s the right time and I certainly do support it,” she said.
District 3 Commissioner Judy Herbert applauded those working under the current system, but supports forming the new court.
“I really understand this resolution very well,” Herbert said.
“Juvenile services does an excellent job. This would make it even smoother,” she said. “It would save so much money in the long run … plus improve the quality of services at juvenile court.”
The request to the General Assembly requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
Posted on: 2/15/2012