Former AOC Director Deborah Taylor Tate is the recipient of the 2022 Friend of the Conference Award by the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference. The award is given to an individual who has devoted their career to the legal profession, the judiciary and the conference. It was presented to Taylor Tate by her colleague and friend, Judge Alex McVeagh of Hamilton County.
“Her biography is absolutely amazing,” said Judge McVeagh. “To get to know Debi as a leader and as a friend has been one of my greatest honors. Debi, your passion and care, not only for all of us here in this room, but also for those suffering from mental illness and substance abuse disorder has been extraordinary. The attention that you brought to the drug recovery courts, treatment courts, veterans courts and mental health courts across our state was obviously much needed and we are continuing your work. I know Chief Justice Page is here and mentioned the expansion of mental health courts across Tennessee. A lot of that work is thanks to you.”
Taylor Tate told attendees how much this award means to her.
“I will never forget the first day that I met the whole conference, in Nashville, and you all were in a long room,” said Taylor Tate. “I just remember looking at it and seeing all of these strangers. Then, all of a sudden, I saw Bobby Sands and all these people that were from law school. I was just so honored. You all have done so much with your legal careers. You are now the leaders of your communities. I just wanted you to know that now I don’t look and see you as strangers, I feel like I look and see friends.”
She then turned the praise back on the attendees for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You all kept the courts open,” said Taylor Tate. “Starting with the Chief Justice and the leadership of the Supreme Court, you continued to make sure that people had not only access to justice, but access to justice for all. I hope all of you have seen pictures of the Justice Bus and you invite it to your counties because it’s all about access to justice and helping people get the services that they need. So, thank you all, again. This means so much to me.”
Tate has spent much of her professional life in public service — at every level and across all branches of government as well as serving on dozens of nonprofits, national, and community boards. While at the AOC, Taylor Tate was co-chair of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators National Opioid Task Force and served on the Juvenile Justice Task Force, the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Board of Trustees, the Information Systems Council, Human Trafficking Advisory Council, the Three Branch Institute, and the Tennessee Domestic Violence State Coordinating Council.