New Juvenile Judge Pledges Action On Curfew, Truancy Problems

Monday, June 24, 2013
Rob Philyaw
Rob Philyaw

The new judge in Juvenile Court on Monday said little to nothing is currently being done on Chattanooga youth curfews or truancy, but he aims to spark some action.

He said curfew enforcement "is non-existant," and he said the situation is about the same on dealing with truancy.

  Rob Philyaw told members of the Pachyderm Club that Chattanooga has a poor curfew law and it is not enforced. He said after there were issues about youths roaming Coolidge Park at late hours, a special area was set up in North Chattanooga to take those caught for curfew violations. He said the center closed because no one was ever brought there.

Judge Philyaw said virtually nothing is being done here about dealing with the truancy issue, except for the filing of some cases in May - when school is about over. He said the number of truancy cases brought to the court last year from Howard High School was zero.

He said, "This is not about getting little Johnny to bed on time. It's about the safety of these kids and the safety of the community."

Judge Philyaw said he found that the current city curfew ordinance was so inadequate that he took part in an effort to rewrite it. He said it currently is one paragraph and the proposed version is a page and a half. He said he has presented the draft to Mayor Andy Berke.

The speaker said the current curfew ordinance "was lacking a lot," and the rewrite "is a good draft for the mayor and City Council to consider." 

He said he has identified a section of the Juvenile Court site on East Third Street where curfew violators could possibly be taken.

He said when underage kids are out in groups in the early hours of the morning they are often in danger themselves or may be a threat to endanger others.

The judge, who replaced Suzanne Bailey when she retired, said older Chattanooga gang members with felony records often utilize very young kids to wield weapons for them. He said they do not want to be caught themselves with the guns.

He said the court is taking several initiatives to deal with curfew and truancy issues and is being aided by prosecutor Boyd Patterson, the former gang task force leader who has been assigned by District Attorney Bill Cox mainly to Juvenile Court.

On whether action can be taken against parents of curfew violators and truants, he said options are limited, but they may be found in contempt of court.

He said he understands why officers who have to deal with very serious crimes are reluctant to spend time on curfew violations, but he indicated he will seek more help from the police. He also said he plans to meet with School Supt. Rick Smith on dealing with the truancy problem.

Judge Philyaw said the Juvenile Detention Center on Third Street is designed to hold 25 youthful offenders, but had 34 last Thursday. He said those included 13 who had guns, two charged with carjacking, three accused of aggravated robbery and three (ages 12, 13 and 16) charged with attempted first-degree murder.

He said they may be commiting adult crimes, "but I see kids when I look in their faces."  


26,228 Cast Ballots In First 5 Days Of Early Voting In Hamilton County

In the first five days of early voting in Hamilton County, 26,228 have already cast ballots. That includes 2,200 ballots received by mail. There were 5,157 who turned out at early voting sites on Wednesday and 5,083 on Thursday. The total on Friday was 5,011, and it was 3,818 on Saturday. The turnout on Monday was 5,552. Sites: Brainerd 1,084, 1080, 1,030, 816 ... (click for more)

John Wilson To Autograph New Hiener Photo Book Of Historic Chattanooga On Tuesday At Zarzour's

John Wilson, publisher of, will autograph the new historic photo book being published by on Tuesday at Zarzour's Restaurant from noon until 2 p.m. Paul Hiener's Historic Chattanooga Photos features a wide range of interesting old Chattanooga pictures ranging from the Civil War to local personalities. Mr. Hiener, a longtime Chattanooga printer ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What Southerners Sing

Barry Norris plays the organ at Birmingham’s East Lake United Methodist Church and two days ago the church hosted what we used to call “A Singing on the Grounds.” Today it is called a “Hymnfest” and, believe it or not, it is has to be just as fun today as it was 100 years ago when our forefathers tied their horse and wagon to a tree. It just so happens I know a little bit about ... (click for more)

Vols' DB Kelly Expects Another Tight Game With Gamecocks

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs, defensive lineman Kendal Vickers and safety Todd Kelly Jr. spoke to reporters Tuesday at an on-campus press conference. Dobbs, Vickers and Kelly discussed several topics, including how the No. 18/18 Vols (5-2, 2-2 SEC) spent their bye week and what the team has seen so far on South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 SEC) in film study. ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Draws Top Ranked Greeneville, CCS Opens With Madison Magnet

For the second year in a row, Notre Dame drew the top-ranked Greeneville in the opening round of the TSSAA Class A/AA state tournament.  Notre Dame is scheduled to play Greeneville on Wednesday at 8 p m. (EST)  in Murfreesboro. CCS will play Madison Magnet in the first round on field #1 at 7:30 p.m. (EST) . CCS and Greeneville met in the state championship game ... (click for more)