State Supreme Court Access To Justice Commission Announces Faith-Based Initiative

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

In an effort to reach more people in need of information about legal services, the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has formed a faith-based initiative to engage lawyers within their place of worship.

The Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (TFJA) is a program developed by the Access to Justice Commission to support and encourage faith-based groups in Tennessee who commit to providing legal resources to their congregations and communities.

It is one of the first programs of its kind in the country created to align needs seen at the local church level with possible legal resources that are nearby, perhaps even within the same congregation.  The notion is to connect with people in need in a place they already go to seek help with a problem. That place is quite often their place of worship.

“Faith communities are a natural fit with our efforts to help those in need find access to legal advice,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark. “And with our goal of helping more lawyers find more occasions to provide pro bono services, this is the ideal opportunity for attorneys to put faith in action in their own worship communities.”

The pilot project for the initiative kicked off last month with members of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church. Church leaders and volunteer attorneys gathered to learn more about the program, assign attorneys to congregations, and receive training on how the program works.

The program is flexible to meet the needs and resources of a particular community. The United Methodist Church’s TFJA project is designed to pair an attorney with a place of worship. When a leader or clergy member of that congregation learns of a member’s legal need, that leader can then refer the person to the local attorney who has volunteered to serve as a resource to that congregation. That attorney in turn will provide the legal advice needed, or make connections with other resources that can provide the necessary services.

Twenty-four attorneys associated with UMC churches have already committed their service to the program for their church or another UMC church in the Nashville area that does not have an attorney in the congregation. 14 churches have at least one attorney aligned with their congregation.

The TFJA program, which has plans to expand to all faiths and geographic areas of the state, is flexible to meet the needs of a particular community. The UMC model is just one way to offer services. Other organizations may consider monthly legal clinics or other offerings.

The TJFA is a project of the Access to Justice Commission and was formed in 2012.  The Access to Justice Commission is tasked with making recommendations to the Supreme Court of projects and programs necessary for enhancing access to justice.

For more information, or if you are interested in developing a similar program in your faith-community, contact Palmer Williams, Pro Bono Coordinator at the Administrative Office of the Courts, palmer.williams@tncourts.gov or 615 741-2687, ext. 1414.


Tennessee American Water Submits 2015 Infrastructure Capital Projects

Tennessee American Water has submitted to the Tennessee Regulatory Authority its 2015 infrastructure capital projects in conjunction with the new alternative rate mechanism.   Approved earlier in 2014 by the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, the alternative rate mechanism creates a process whereby Tennessee American Water will annually submit by December 1 its capital infrastructure ... (click for more)

Supreme Court Reinstates Jury Verdict Awarding MTSU Employee Damages

The Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously reinstated a jury verdict, finding that a former maintenance employee of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) suffered unlawful retaliation through the actions of his supervisor. Jim Ferguson, a Japanese-American, argued that shortly after he filed a discrimination lawsuit against MTSU, his supervisor retaliated against him by requiring ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex Fetches $15 Million

Walnut Commons, the first downtown apartment complex built in many years, sold for $15 million, one of the developers said. John Clark said the initial estimate on the project was $11 million and it wound up costing around $12 million to build. "We're very pleased with the sale," he said. Mr. Clark, along with partners David Hudson and Bob McKenzie, are selling their stock ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Principal Ronald Hughes Named Tennessee's 2014-15 Principal Of The Year

A Hamilton County elementary school principal and an Anderson County supervisor have earned top honors for their work in Tennessee education. Ronald Hughes, principal of Apison Elementary School in Chattanooga, was named Tennessee’s 2014-15 Principal of the Year. He has served as principal at Apison Elementary for the past six years, and spent three decades working in Tennessee ... (click for more)

Congratulations To Ron Hughes

Hearty congratulations to Ron Hughes for being selected as Tennessee State Elementary Principal of the Year for 2014. Wherever Ron has been assigned as principal, he has exhibited strong leadership both academically and morally. His faith in God and his love for the students of Hamilton County have guided his actions and everyone that has benefited from the excellent education ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Brittany’s Days Dwindle

So here we are, facing what is known as “Devil’s Night” before Halloween comes, and the almost macabre news now comes that Brittany Maynard, the beautiful girl who has chosen to end her life as soon as Saturday, is struggling to meet her own deadline. She has inoperable brain cancer and, at best, only months to live. The 29-year-old, who was married shortly before her devastating ... (click for more)