Proposed Law Increases Authority Of Unelected Magistrates To Rule On Constitutional Rights Of Parents And Children

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –

A proposed bill aims to increase the authority of unelected magistrates to rule on substantive constitutional rights of parents and children within the juvenile court system.

House Bill 1186 (HB1186) sponsored by Representative Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville-District 45) and companion Senate Bill 0400 (SB0400) sponsored by Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin-District 18) turns the state’s elected Juvenile Court Judges “into mere administrators” says a source who spoke to The Tennessee Conservative about the bill.

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Unless you are familiar with the workings of the Juvenile Court, you might think its job mainly involves finger wagging at unruly teenagers, telling them to go to school, and mind their parents. But behind the doors of these confidential closed courts, children are handed over to the State of Tennessee where they might find themselves shipped off to other states, parental rights are terminated, and children are criminalized for such slight offenses as joy riding in their parent’s car. 

The juvenile court structure, even in the largest cities, is controlled by one judge who has the ability to hire magistrates. These magistrates are not elected, but mere employees of the court and work at the pleasure of the judge.  

In the largest metropolitan arenas, the landscape looks like this: Metro Nashville/Davidson County: Judge Sheila Calloway, with nine magistrates; Shelby County: Judge Tarik B. Sugarmon, with seven magistrates; Knox County Judge Tim Irwin, with four magistrates; and Hamilton County, Judge Robert Philyaw, with three magistrates

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Under current law, the ruling of the magistrate may be appealed to the judge where the citizen is entitled to a new trial before the judge. This is called a “de novo” hearing, meaning brand new. The ruling of the magistrate carries no weight with the judge. However, according to our source, the Judge has access to these rulings, and to believe there is no influence over the judge’s decision is naive.  

Under the proposed law, the magistrate’s ruling would carry more weight and influence over the judge should the citizens seek an appeal from a magistrate’s ruling. A request for review would include written exceptions to the magistrate’s findings, conclusions, or recommendations, and specify the findings to which the party objects, the grounds for the objection, and the party’s proposed findings, conclusions, or recommendations.  And the magistrate’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations would be afforded “a presumption of correctness.” This means that the burden of proof would be shifted to the parent seeking a review. 

The Juvenile Court system is the only judicial system in Tennessee that utilizes magistrates to sit in judgment and enter final orders of adjudication. While the Juvenile Court system needs reorganization, turning an elected judge into an administrator is not the answer, said our source. “Citizens have a right to have their cases heard before an elected official who is responsible to the voters and not just themselves.” 


This is not the first time this revision has been proposed. Disgraced Judge Donna Davenport of Rutherford County requested this change years ago.

In 2014, Attorney W. Ray Glasgow filed a lawsuit in Shelby County against the judge, magistrates, and administrators of the juvenile court, in part, because he claimed that citizens had a due process right to have their cases heard before an elected official. The lawsuit attacked the long standing practice of having magistrates hear the cases without review. 

This law will soon be docketed in the House criminal justice committee. Our source said, “This bill should die and the issue should go to summer study.” 

Contact information for the main bill sponsors:

Rep. Johnny Garrett (R) – – 615-741-3893

Sen. Ferrell Haille (R) – – 615-741-1999

About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at

2 thoughts on “Proposed Law Increases Authority Of Unelected Magistrates To Rule On Constitutional Rights Of Parents And Children

  • February 23, 2023 at 12:27 am

    Hmm, just posted that I emailed both and???
    Also the email links are inop.
    This would increase the authority of unelected magistrates to rule on substantive constitutional rights of parents and children within the juvenile court system.

    Why would a Republican be for such?

    Please withdraw.

  • February 23, 2023 at 4:59 am

    Some of these people get elected and right away they have an answer for everything, too “DIMWITTED” to know their solutions violates the Constitution.

    Between the censoring of the Freedom of the Press, Restrictions on Gun Rights and now an attack on “Due Process/Trial by Jury”, I don’t think some of these people even “GIVE A DAMN” about the Constitution.

    Neither State or Federal Government has “ANY AUTHORITY” to legislate anything “OUTSIDE” the “ENUMERATIONS OF POWERS” GIVEN TO THE GOVERNMENT.

    In writing the Constitution, many opposed placing an itemized Bill of Rights in the Constitution.
    If they itemized the Rights of Citizens, Government might attempt to legislate other rights/freedoms not itemized.
    Madison explained the solution to the problem was to enumerate the powers Government could exercise, therefore restricting Government to only those enumerations

    . “the rights in question are reserved by the manner in which the federal powers are granted”. (enumerations of powers)

    By restricting Government to only the powers enumerated citizens would be complete free from government intervention in their life.

    “making clear that a Bill of Rights might not by implication be taken to increase the powers of the national government in areas not enumerated”.

    This was the argument James Madison made for excluding not just the Bill of Rights but all other rights as well from Government powers of legislating.
    Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the powers given to Government.
    Hamilton also believed a Bill of Rights was UN-necessary.

    “For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed”? (Federalist Paper 84)

    Madison acknowledged that states would “accomplish their injurious objects” but they could be “set aside by the national tribunals.” A law violating any part of the constitution “would be considered by the judges as null and void.” In Virginia’s ratification convention, Marshall said that if the government “were to make a law not warranted by any of the (congressional) powers enumerated, it would be considered by the judges as an infringement of the Constitution which they are to guard. … They would declare it void.”

    Madison believed that by including a “Bill of Right”, they would be even more secure because no Court could deny those rights.

    “If they are incorporated into the Constitution, independent tribunals of justice will consider themselves in a peculiar manner the guardians of those rights; they will be an impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the legislative or executive; they will be naturally led to resist every encroachment upon rights expressly stipulated for in the Constitution by the declaration of rights”.

    Since the Courts, the Supreme Court in particular, doesn’t seem to be interested in upholding the Constitution, or their “Oath of office”,

    People like me will have to use our guns to protect our Rights/Freedoms, and from all that has/is happening I’m giving serious consideration to organize and overthrow these people who have no respect for US Citizens or our Constitution.

    And I have the authority to do that by the “Supreme Law of the Land”.

    Abraham Lincoln:
    “The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both Congresses and Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution”.

    Declaration of Independence
    Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,


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