Commissioners in Memphis’s Shelby County found support for some of their critiques of their juvenile court in a new report from the National Center for State Courts, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The center made 25 recommendations, including changing the way cases are judged, improving the juvenile defender’s office, and taking steps to make the court more customer-friendly. The $50,000 study did not touch on the issue of a second juvenile court judge or child-support operations. “I’m pleased that we had so many recommendations in common,” said Commissioner Mike Carpenter, who chaired an ad hoc committee that proposed its own set of suggestions for the court last month.
The court’s operations have come under fire in an ongoing public debate about the need for a second juvenile court judge. “Now we have to rely on the court to say, ‘Here’s an independent objective study and, in good faith, we’re going to implement these changes,’ ” Carpenter said. The new report suggests adjusting the way the court hears cases to fit a one-judge, one-family model. Now, one family might work with different referees. In the one-judge, one-family model, a single judicial officer hears all cases related to that family, ensuring consistency.