Rep. Brooks: State House Summary

Thursday, February 7, 2013 - by Rep. Kevin Brooks

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 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’s 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.  Fourteen 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. 


Mayor's Friends Should Rally Around

I have been keeping up with the latest news about Mayor Burke. I have also seen that the media is breaking their necks trying to get the latest.  I live in a glass house, the glass is very thin and a blade of grass would crack it.  My thinking of this is, if you are a true friend of the mayor, let him know...If you say you are a friend of the mayor and turn your back ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The American Dream, 2016

On this, the week of commencement, junior high graduations, and achievement at every level is displayed, we stand with hope and wonder as the next wave of promising Americans gives our nation the reason we pray for our next tomorrow. On Monday, as Vice President Joe Biden addressed 950 cadets who would become 2nd Lieutenants by the end of the day at the United States Military ... (click for more)

Attorney Says Lacie Stone, Advisor To Mayor Berke, Is Victim, Not Instigator

The attorney for advisor to Mayor Andy Berke Lacie Stone said she has been thrust into the spotlight, but said she is "the victim of an unprovoked attack" by her husband, Bobby Stone. Attorney John Cavett said it is ridiculous "to suggest that she was the perpetrator." Mr. Stone is facing charges of domestic assault and vandalism. Attorney Cavett said, "It is unfortunate ... (click for more)

Dr. Russell Dyer Chosen As Director Of Schools By Cleveland City School Board

The Cleveland City School board unanimously voted Thursday afternoon to offer the job of director of Schools to Dr. Russell Dyer. Dr. Dyer serves as the chief of staff of schools in Collierville, Tn.  If Dr. Dyer accepts the school board's contract, he will be paid $132,500 a year.  After contract negotiations, the board plans for Dr. Dyer to start at Cleveland City ... (click for more)

Baylor Rolls Past St. Benedict In D-II Softball Opener

MURFREESBORO – The Baylor softball team had somewhat of a slow start here at McKnight Field No. 3 Wednesday morning as they began defense of their D-II state softball crown, but they finished on a strong note and that’s probably all that matters at this point. The Lady Red Raiders, improving to 35-4, needed just five innings to slide past St. Benedict as they scored at least ... (click for more)

Baylor Rocks GPS, 8-2, For Shot At 10th State Softball Championship

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The magic number Baylor’s softball team has in mind now is 10. After polishing off bitter rival Girls Preparatory School – a seemingly constant opponent at TSSAA’s Spring Fling – by 8-2 Thursday in the Division II-AA winner’s bracket final, the Lady Red Raiders are zeroed in on a game that could produce their 10 th  state championship.  “It ... (click for more)