Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands’ Oak Ridge office honored Anderson County Juvenile Court Judge Brian J. Hunt and the staff of the Anderson County Juvenile Court with its inaugural Community Award at a reception on Tuesday, October 6, at CapitalMark Bank and Trust in Oak Ridge.
Legal Aid Society’s Community Award honors individuals and/or organizations in the community for their leadership and compassion in supporting the nonprofit law firm’s mission, a press release said.
More than 60 people, including Representative Kent Calfee, Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark, former Mayor David Bradshaw (who hosted the event as President of CapitalMark Bank and Trust in Oak Ridge), United Way of Anderson County Executive Director Naomi Asher, and Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson celebrated Judge Hunt and the Anderson County Juvenile Court, or ACJC, for partnering with Legal Aid Society to advance access to justice among our region’s youth.
“The Anderson County Juvenile Court pioneered the first-ever Guardian ad litem (GAL) project between a local juvenile court and Legal Aid Society,” said Janet Mynatt, managing attorney of Legal Aid Society’s Oak Ridge office. “With the court’s help, attorneys are able to identify and provide post-adjudication guardianship for children in the care of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS)—some of our most vulnerable youth.”
The program now serves as a model for similar partnerships in the Oak Ridge office’s service area, including those in Campbell, Claiborne, and Scott counties.
“We are honored to receive Legal Aid Society’s first Oak Ridge Community Award. It is our hope this further highlights the need to support our community’s youth,” Hunt said. “Often, the children represented by Legal Aid Society attorneys have a high level of special education or health care needs. Our partnership with Legal Aid Society fills a gap that may otherwise leave a child in a very vulnerable position, lacking adequate representation to receive the services they need.“
Prior to being elected to the bench, Hunt had been a longtime advocate for children and a proponent of equal justice. When he was practicing with Hunt and Hunt Law Firm, both he and his father, attorney Leslie Hunt, provided pro bono legal services through Legal Aid Society to vulnerable families in Anderson County. They never turned down a request to volunteer their services to help a vulnerable family, especially in those cases where a child had special needs, the press release said.
“Fighting for our children does not fall on one agency or one sector of society alone. Rather, a community must band together to fiercely protect the wellbeing of its youth,” said Gary Housepian, Legal Aid Society’s executive director. “Partnerships with agencies like the ACJC are absolutely essential in this process, and we’re grateful for the ACJC’s role in helping to raise generations of happy, healthy and productive individuals.”
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands advocates for fairness and justice under the law. The nonprofit law firm offers free civil legal representation, educational programs, and advice to ensure people in its region are able to protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families. It serves 48 counties from offices in Clarksville, Columbia, Cookeville, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Oak Ridge, and Tullahoma. Legal Aid Society is funded in part by United Way. Learn more at www.las.org, or by following the firm on Facebook.
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