The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.

Day One

I did it! I got my first court-appointed cases today! Woo hoo! The cases I'm doing now are child-support, and I'm appointed as a defense counsel. For the parent who has to pay the support (and usually isn't paying - that's why they're in court). Only one of my three clients was there today; the other two are incarcerated, and I'll have to request them to be brought to court when we have their hearings. Tennessee law is pretty straightforward on child support: it's a flat rate percentage of the non-custodial parent's income, and if they fail to make a certain number of payments, they're brought in court. Then, the judge decides whether they are put on probation or put in jail. (Really, they only are incarcerated if they refuse to pay.) If they make their payments, nothing happens. If they miss one, they go to jail, for a prescribed amount of time. So really, as their attorney, there's not much for me to do, other than help them if they can't make their payments for some reason. I just stand beside them and tell them to do whatever the judge wants them to.

Yesterday, I went back and observed again in the neglect and dependency court. Last week, that's where I started, but Gayle showed me around and I never made it back in there. Anyway, so I went back yesterday to try to learn what exactly goes on. It was really heartbreaking. The one case I watched was where a mother had apparently given birth to a little girl while high. The child was voluntarily given a safety placement with family friends. The hearing yesterday was to see if the child needed to be taken into state custody and placed in foster care, pending termination of the mother's rights. Fortunately, she showed up, and the family caring for the child stood up in her defense, and the judge let things continue the way they have been. The mom still has access to her daughter, but not custody. Which is good, because she was high as a kite in court. My money is on meth. It was wrenching to see, but it filled me up to see the way the family with custody loves the little girl. I'm glad her mom has a role in her life, but that someone as loving and responsible as the people I met will be raising her. I can't wait to be involved in such meaningful, if hard, cases.

One interesting thing: remember this case? He was in the court yesterday, but I didn't stay long enough to watch any of his case. Still, it's one of the more high-profile arrests in Nashville lately, so I felt pretty cool to be there.

On a positive note, spring is in full force! 75 degrees, some rain, some sun, birds, leaves, tulips, redbuds, dogwoods, daffodils, violets, clover, forsythia, headaches, sneezing. But I love it. Tennessee is definitely my favorite place.

1 Responses to “Day One”

  1. # Blogger Tara

    YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited for you, it sounds really cool!
    I love you!

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