Battle brews in Juvenile Court over addition of second judge

There's a battle brewing in Juvenile Court. It's not over a child but how the system should run.

It's a power struggle with racial undertones and s a push to add a second judge to Juvenile Court.

The case is on hold in Chancery Court. But, Wenesday, a county committee released a report on how they think Juvenile Court should operate.

It was a unanimous vote. The Shelby County Juvenile Court Ad Hoc Committee voted to pass 40 recommendations to the court system.

The most controversial: to add a second judge.

"To go to a system of elected judges versus one judge and appointed referees is a major recommendation in the proposal," says Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter.

A day earlier, attorneys for Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person convinced Chancery Court to put a ruling on hold to add that second judge. Some commissioners call that a waste of tax dollars.

The court's Chief Counsel, Larry Scroggs, says the committee report has no bearing, with an independent court study on the way.

Juvenile Court Chief Counsel Larry Scroggs says, "the County commissioned a $50,000 study of the court. Their study is viewed at the moment, certainly, by the court as having more credibility."

The investigation of Juvenile Court began when commissioners claimed the court was practicing discrimination, nepotism and poor treatment of juveniles.

"I think we'd be naïve not recognize that race plays a factor when 86 percent of the juveniles that go through this court are African American," adds Carpenter.

"I hope the public understands that the court has done everything possible to comply with the study of this committee," says Scroggs.

Before Chairman Carpenter dropped the gavel, he stressed the committee report would just supplement the upcoming study.

Committee members say they'll move forward as they wait to hear how the courts will rule on the issue of the second judge.


to email Kontji Anthony.