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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
The Tennessee State Supreme Court unveiled their new Justice Bus on Monday. The new program was created to provide legal assistance to underserved communities across the state.
The intent of the bus is to help bridge the technology gap in rural and disadvantaged areas by providing access to computers, tablets, internet access, printers, and more.
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeff Bivens says, “The Justice Bus will be able to help us bring technology to rural and underserved communities and to connect them with virtual resources.”
The bus will be also staffed by volunteer lawyers and legal experts who will be available to answer questions and provide legal aid to individuals who might not otherwise be able to obtain it.
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According to officials, six out of ten households in Tennessee have one or more civil matters that need to be worked out. Civil legal issues include but are not limited to child and family custody issues, debt and credit issues, labor violations, and landlord-renter matters.
Many of them do not have the ability to hire an attorney and are often forced to try and handle matters themselves. The Justice Bus will provide an opportunity for those individuals to gain a basic understanding of their rights in order to move them towards a just decision in their case.
Metro Nashville and Davidson County General Sessions Judge Ana Escobar says that, in her experience, it is troubling to see many of the issues that arise when people are left to represent themselves without any knowledge of the judicial system.
“It pains me to see self-represented litigants file in the wrong courts, with the wrong motions or petitions and be denied what they need simply because they did not know what to do or who to ask,” Escobar said. “Oftentimes, these litigants wait weeks and months for their court dates, only to be told they sought justice in the wrong place. This causes frustration and anger with the system. Although they may have a legitimate cause of action, as a judge I cannot tell them where to go to access the justice they need. With the justice bus, it is my hope that some of the self-represented litigants can be heard and respected, and their faith in our legal system will be restored. I can’t wait for the doors of justice to be open for this opportunity.”
The bus will be found across the state at pop-up events and will be hosted by community sponsors such as churches and non-profit organizations.
The first planned event for the Justice Bus is on June 29 in Rutherford County. They will be featured during a hiring event sponsored by the American Job Center, State Representative Mike Sparks, Belmont College of Law, and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com