Family justice center grand-opening set


HUNTSVILLE — The Scott County Family Justice Center will hold a grand opening tomorrow (Friday) at 2 p.m., at its Baker Highway headquarters here.

The ceremony will begin at noon at 641 Baker Highway, which is located near S.R. 63’s intersection with Scott High Drive.

The Family Justice Center is a fledgling project that has the support of Eighth Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler, Scott County General Sessions Judge Jamie Cotton and a number of other local non-profit organizations.

Project coordinator Christy Harness — who left her role as a coordinator for Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Tennessee Heartland to head up the new project — has explained it as a one stop for victims of domestic violence. In fact, the new justice center’s logo displays two words: “one place.”

“The people (victims) need to talk to will be able to come to them,” Harness said in October of the new project. “They won’t have to drive to 15 or 20 different places.”

Specifically, the Scott County Family Justice Center will house a magistrate who can issue orders of protection, counselors, a prosecutor and other specialized personnel. Effler has already employed an assistant district attorney who will specialize in domestic violence cases, and the justice center will work closely with the judicial system, local law enforcement agencies, and other service providers, such as the local women’s shelter and the Children’s Center of the Cumberlands.

“It’s something to be extremely proud of,” Effler said last year as he unveiled the project at a public hearing. “Folks in places like Scott County and the 8th Judicial District, we deserve services just as much as the folks in the big four,” a reference to the cities of Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga.

With tomorrow’s grand opening, Scott County will become the smallest jurisdiction in the state to have a family justice center, which is a relatively new model of consolidating services for victims of domestic violence.

“This is an exciting time for Scott County and really the entire 8th Judicial District,” Effler said. “History is a very good teacher. We have two things, history-wise, that show us that we are much more effective when we have services in place. I can’t even begin to describe what a better job we are doing because of the Children’s Center than we were before.”

The family justice center project is funded by grants.

Contact the Independent Herald at Follow us on Twitter, @indherald.