Henry County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Vicki S. Snyder Receives Presidential Leadership Award from the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

April 14, 2022

The Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (TCJFCJ) presented Henry County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Vicki S. Snyder with the Presidential Leadership Award at its recent conference.

“I’m just humbled and honored at the award from the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges,” Judge Snyder said. “They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. I feel like that. Being a public servant is an honor and a privilege, but with it comes a great responsibility to serve the public, to do what we are required to do. I am honored to be recognized by my peers and I hope to continue doing that because it is a privilege.”

Judge Snyder was recognized for her years of meritorious leadership, dedicated and tireless efforts, and unwavering support to the juvenile courts across the state of Tennessee.

“Judge Snyder has always been a leader on the Juvenile Court Judges executive committee. She works passionately, advocating for the children she serves,” said Judge Tim Irwin, TCJFCJ President and Knox County Juvenile Court Judge, who presented Judge Snyder with the award.

“Judge Snyder is not only a competent, caring judge but is an example for and an encourager of other judges,” said Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw. “Her leadership, both formally and informally, regularly makes a positive impact on the Tennessee judiciary. I am better in my judgeship and, more importantly, Tennessee is better because of her.”    

“I have served with Judge Snyder for many years and have had the opportunity to work with her on numerous issues,” said Sevier County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Jeff D. Radar. “Judge Snyder is a tremendous advocate for children and the judiciary as a whole.  She has served our conference tirelessly for many years and very few people would be aware of the energy and sacrifice she has exhibited on behalf of our conference in many different leadership roles. She has represented our conference, as well as our state judiciary, in a number of roles and has always exhibited the finest qualities one could ask for in a judge and a leader.  The juvenile justice system in Tennessee has benefited tremendously from her leadership and insight. In addition to all of this, she is a wonderful person to work with and I consider her a real friend.”

Safe Baby Court

In addition to her service as General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge, Judge Snyder has mental health jurisdiction and presides over Safe Baby Court in Henry County. Henry County is one of the fourteen Safe Baby Courts in Tennessee.

“We are proud of Judge Vicki Snyder and all that she has done and continues to do for the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges,” said Stephanie Etheridge, Juvenile Court Manager and Statewide Judicial Safe Baby Court Coordinator at the Administrative Office of the Courts. “During her time as President of the TCJFCJ (2018-2020), she led the Council through important and significant changes to our state's juvenile justice system, and the creation and enactment of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018. She always led with incredible professionalism, integrity, and grace. Judge Snyder is a champion of children, youth, and families.”

Judge Snyder said it’s her calling to serve the children and families who come to juvenile court. She said one of her greatest joys is seeing those families reunite after receiving services offered by the court system.

“The children are our future and if we don’t recognize serving the needs of those children and getting those needs met — whether infants, toddlers, tweens or teens — then we’re going to have to address those issues as general sessions judges when they’re incarcerated or coming in to us with drug issues or having committed heinous crimes. That’s what adverse childhood experiences look like. Those are the things we are trained on and address and it does work. We are seeing that as a Council,” said Judge Snyder.

“Judge Snyder is certainly deserving of the Presidential Leadership Award,” said Benton County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge John Whitworth. “She led our conference during a very important and trying time, constantly advocating for the independence of the Judiciary and making sure that we remembered it is the children and families in our courts that should always be our focus. Congratulations to my friend Vicki Snyder for a job well done.” 

Justice Reform Act of 2018

Judge Snyder’s work on the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 started when she was appointed to the Tennessee Blue Ribbon Task Force. She served alongside Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael, the only other judge on the task force.

“We developed and provided a work product and from that the Juvenile Justice Reform Act was created,” Judge Snyder said. “There were parts of it that we felt would not work well with families and children as the courts tried to implement it. A group of us met and looked at the Act itself, and looked at solutions. We met with then-Governor Haslam and his staff, and we were able to craft out some tweaks to the Juvenile Justice Reform Act.”

Stewart County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Andy Brigham has known Judge Snyder since her election to the bench in 2006.

“Her term coincided with a particularly difficult period due to the contentious passage of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018,” he said. “Judge Snyder spent many days in telephone conferences and meetings on Capitol Hill discussing various aspects of the Act. But for her advocacy, our job as juvenile judges would be much more difficult, and, by extension, our juvenile justice system would be weaker.”

Truancy Prevention Act

From the Juvenile Justice Reform Act came the Truancy Prevention Act.

“We are addressing truancy in a way we’ve never addressed it,” Judge Snyder said. “I believe if children are not in school, where they are supposed to be, they are potentially getting into mischief. They are getting behind. There are problems that come with not being in school. There may be dependency and neglect issues in the home. That’s a really good part of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act.”

“She was meant to be a judge, supremely qualified due to her years as a public defender and then as a prosecutor,” Judge Brigham said. “She knows the law cold, as a judge should.  But the crux of being a judge is knowing how to apply the law to facts. She does this as good as any judge has ever applied law to facts. She has a passion for children, resulting in countless hours spent in juvenile judge committee work, all in an effort to improve our system. She presides over one of our state’s Safe Baby Courts, a specialized recovery-type court focused on children up to age three.”

State-Wide Task Forces

In addition, Judge Snyder has served on several state-wide Task Forces with the purpose of examining Tennessee’s juvenile justice system and the representation of Tennessee’s indigent litigants.  

“Her efforts resulted in many improvements in Tennessee’s system of indigent representation,” Judge Brigham said. “Judge Snyder has been a force for good for our state’s children and our state’s juvenile court system.  She always has a positive disposition, is patient and understanding, treats those appearing in her court and on her staff with courtesy, dignity and respect, and upholds the highest ethical standards as a bright light in our state’s judiciary.”  

“The TCJFCJ was fortunate to have Judge Snyder as our leader,” said Williamson County Juvenile Court Judge Sharon Guffee. “She represents the integrity and compassion that is necessary to protect the children of Tennessee in our juvenile courts. We were the beneficiaries of her stellar character.”

“Several adjectives come to mind when I think of Judge Snyder: intelligent, caring, poised, kind, gracious, a true servant who is eager to help whenever needed, and an overall beautiful person inside and out,” said Judge Katerina Moore, who serves as a General Sessions and Juvenile Judge in Perry County. “She is gracious with her time and when you speak to her, she gives you her complete and undivided attention. When I started as a judge, Judge Snyder was very kind to give advice and guidance at any time I had questions, and continues to this day. She represents the Conference with all her energy and is an invaluable asset. I am blessed for being able to call her a friend and to know her as a person.”

Judge Snyder worked in private practice and as both an assistant public defender and an assistant district attorney general in Tennessee’s 24th Judicial District before winning election to the Henry County General Sessions and Juvenile Court bench in 2006. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and her juris doctor from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

Judge Snyder received the Leon Ruben Award in 2019 and the McCain-Abernathy Award from the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in 2016.

Henry County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Vicki S. Snyder