The Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission joins countless others in the legal and equal justice communities in mourning the loss of Sean A. Hunt. Hunt was initially appointed to the Commission in 2016 and was re-appointed for a second term in 2019. He served on and grew to become a leader of the Commission’s Public Awareness Committee, which focused on communicating the need for civil legal services in Tennessee and spotlighting existing civil legal resources.
“The Court appointed Sean Hunt to the Commission because his dedication to the Access to Justice Initiative and his passion for helping Tennesseans in need was visible to all who worked with him,” said Justice Jeff Bivins, the Tennessee Supreme Court Liaison to the Commission. “He was a remarkable voice for equal access to the court system and his presence will be greatly missed by many.”
During Hunt’s time on the Commission, he oversaw the launch of the court kiosk pilot project. The court kiosk project brought accessible technology to the courthouse. The kiosks were computers or tablets set up so that self-represented litigants could have free access to legal information, legal forms, and legal advice online.
Hunt was a part of the initial planning and development team for the annual Help4TNMonth public awareness campaign that occurs each April. Help4TNMonth brings attention to the on-going need for free and low cost civil legal services in Tennessee, and highlights the groups that provide these services to disadvantaged Tennesseans. Help4TNMonth began in 2017 as Help4TNDay, but was expanded under Hunt’s leadership to a full month of training events, legal clinics, and legal education opportunities. Hunt led this initiative in each annual celebration throughout his time on the Commission.
“I had the honor to serve with Sean Hunt on the Commission,” said J. William (Bill) Coley, the current Commission Chair. “We had not known each other before, but it was easy to recognize from the start why Sean was such a good choice for the Commission. Sean brought creative energy to our meetings. He pushed us to think outside the box about effective ways to extend legal services to those in need in Tennessee. Sean was always optimistic about our ATJ opportunities and gave of his time generously.
“It was clear that Sean had great love and devotion for his family,” said Coley. We enjoyed hearing stories of the successes of his children and the chance to meet them at our meetings. Sean left me with the impression that he had worked out for himself the delicate balance between an extremely busy practice, civic responsibilities and family commitment.
“Our time on the Commission coincided with our Country’s renewed emphasis on race and social equity,” said Coley. “Sean was a friend and trusted resource for the Commission as we sought to understand and define the role of the Commission in response to these issues. Sean’s understanding of balance and his demonstration of grace during our discussions on these issues will be a big part of his enduring legacy on the Commission. We will all miss him.”
Former and current Commission members and staff share their memories of Sean:
“Sean will be missed in our legal community. He and I joined the Commission at the same time. Sean had a keen sense of humor and was always ready with valuable suggestions during our working sessions. My condolences to his family, whom he loved very much.”
Mary Jo Middlebrooks
“I am so saddened to hear of his passing. He was always a thoughtful and positive contributor to our meetings.”
“Unbelievable. Prayers to his family; I cannot believe we have lost another amazing ATJ champion and just an overall amazing guy.”
Judge Alexander McVeagh
“This is truly unbelievable news. My heart is heavy, too. Thoughts and prayers for all of his family and friends.”
“With his boundless energy, Sean Hunt always impressed me because of the many ways he challenged himself in his personal and professional life—-and his deep devotion to his family Clarice and Aaron and David. His character traits—embracing challenges —carried through to his invaluable service on the Access to Justice Commission and motivated and inspired each of us in our time together. Sean’s exceptional technical skills, and his willingness to try bold new ideas to advance the initiatives of the ATJC were much appreciated. His commitment to service, shown in the numerous community projects in which he was involved, was part of his DNA, as was his steadiness and reliability. He served on the Public Awareness Committee but his contributions were much broader and visionary. And remembering his joyful smile makes great memories of time spent together.”
Marcia “Marcy” Eason
“My heart is heavy over the huge loss of our friend Sean. We have lost another great warrior for ATJ and a wonderful person. We spent so many good times with Sean and his family and we were so lucky to know him.”
”Sean and I co-chaired the Public Awareness Committee for several years, and his enthusiasm for access to justice was infectious. He was always thinking about what we could do next and ways to make legal help more accessible. When we would talk, Sean almost always started the conversation with, “What if….”. I loved that about him, and I am certain many of us who worked with Sean on the Commission will think of him when we have future focused “what if” conversations.”
Ann J. Pruitt
“Sean was an extraordinary person and a fine lawyer, with great compassion and hunger to help. It was a huge honor to work with him on Access to Justice matters. I am so very sorry for this loss. His family and loved ones will be in our prayers.”
“Sean was always quick to respond to an email or answer the phone when it came to the Commission’s work. His first question was how could he help. His passion and creativity were unparalleled. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, who he shared so many wonderful stories of and loved greatly.”
Serenity Funeral Home, in Memphis, Tenn., is overseeing the arrangements. You may click here for information on the visitation and service.