Local attorneys, law enforcement and court officials will meet Friday to toss around ideas to advance a state initiative designed to assist the public’s access to the court system.
A luncheon, hosted by Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal, will prompt a dialog for ideas to create a more user-friendly atmosphere in the courthouse, according to attorney Tony Seaton, who has headed up the local programs.
“The Washington County legal community has been at the forefront in establishing an initiative that furthers these goals by starting a free legal clinic every month for financially disadvantaged individuals and providing free legal service in (civil) General Sessions Court,” Seaton said.
The Tennessee Supreme Court launched Access to Justice in 2009 to help citizens who encounter civil legal issues.
A commission to study the issue developed a strategic plan that consists of pro bono services from local attorneys, free legal clinics and assistance to litigants that allow them to handle their case without an attorney.
The Washington County Bar Association has actively participated in Access to Justice since the Supreme Court implemented it.
One of the primary goals of Access to Justice is to make the justice system more user-friendly, according to the commission’s plan.
“The judges and clerks of Washington County have taken hold of these initiatives and, together with the attorneys that volunteer their time, have developed a legal system by which the Washington County public can have simpler and more informed access to the Washington County judicial system,” Seaton said.
Seaton said he’s encouraged that the sheriff’s office and Graybeal wanted to host Friday’s luncheon.
Seaton said the plan for Friday is getting lawyers, court personnel and judges together “and talk about how we can make it less intimidating,” to go into court for people who have no court experience.