35th Annual Conference on Juvenile Justice Recently Held in Knoxville

September 14, 2018

The 35th Annual Conference on Juvenile Justice was recently held in Knoxville, bringing together an array of judges, lawyers, advocates, and experts to discuss some of the biggest issues facing children and families who become involved with Tennessee’s legal system.

The conference saw the election of a new president to head the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and featured sessions touching on a number of different topics, from the opioid epidemic, to LGBTQ youth in the justice system, to TennCare.

Henry County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Vicki Snyder had served as vice-president of the TCJFCJ for the past year, but was elevated to the top post at the conference. She takes over as president from Roane County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Dennis Humphrey.

Judge Snyder offered the following remarks concerning her recent elevation to the top position with the TCJFCJ:

"I’m honored and humbled to serve as President of the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. When passed the gavel by past President Judge Dennis Humphrey, I read the speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1910 in Paris, France. It is now commonly referred to as 'The Man in the Arena:'

'It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…'

"This inspiring speech reminds us that as Juvenile Court Judges, we fight big battles on a daily basis. There is no worthier cause than to serve the humblest and most vulnerable members of our society, our children. We measure the progress by the storms we quell; by the lives of the children we touch; and by understanding that our primary goal is to continue to be on the front line for Tennessee children and families.

"I look forward to working with the Council this next year. As a team, we can strive for every child in Tennessee to have access to equal, fair, effective and timely justice. We are in the arena together and we will always dare greatly!"

The opening session of this year’s conference was a two-part presentation on the over-representation of LGBTQ youth in the justice system. It was led by Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Stacy Miller  and Pamela Sheffer, the director of the Just Us program at the Oasis Center. That program is geared toward empowering LGBTQ high school students.

Another session centered on the ongoing opioid epidemic. That session was led by 4th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Duane Slone, Dr. Stephen Loyd, and Amy Coble. Judge Slone has taken a leadership role in combating the opioid epidemic by spearheading the innovative TN ROCS docket in his district. Dr. Loyd served formerly as the State of Tennessee’s medical director of substance abuse services and is now with the addiction treatment provider JourneyPure. Amy Coble is the state director of investigations at the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

TennCare Behavioral Health was the subject of another of the conference’s sessions. Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Deputy Commissioner Michael Leech, DCS Executive Director of the Office of Continuous Quality Improvement Crystal Parker, and TennCare Director of Behavioral Health Operations Dr. Mary Shelton presented this session.

Further sessions looked at other juvenile justice issues and featured CASA Executive Director Lynne Farrar, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Director of the Council on Children’s Mental Health Melissa McGee, and TDMHSAS Director of System of Care Across Tennessee Keri Virgo, among others..

The TCJFCJ was created by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1982. The TCJFCJ is the official organization of Tennessee judges who have juvenile court jurisdiction.

 

Judge Vicki Snyder, the new president of the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges