Juvenile Court judge, magistrates face lawsuit

juvenile court

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A lawsuit has been filed against Juvenile Court, Shelby County, Judge Curtis Person, and magistrates Larry Scroggs, Herbert Lane, and Dan Michael.

The suit alleges the elected judge (Person) declined to hear the petitioners’ cases, as is their “constitutional and statutory right,” instead passing them on to appointed magistrates acting “as ‘special’ or ‘substitute’ judges in place of the elected judge on a daily basis.”

It adds the magistrates “aren’t qualified or authorized to do so by the statutes and rules of law in Tennessee pertinent to special or substitute judges.”

In one case, the lawsuit says a magistrate awarded a father custody of his child after the child’s mother was murdered. A DCS attorney contacted Michael, who issued a stay of the original order “without a hearing or communications with the other parties,” thereby unlawfully denying the father custody of his child.

The suit asks, among other things, that the court be stopped “from continuing the appointment of special judges on a daily basis.”

It was filed by Tanyawa Sallie, LaChundia and David Richmond, Kristopher Cole, and Jane/John Does.

Scroggs, the chief administrative officer, issued the following response:

Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County handles approximately 50,000 cases each year. These cases involve contested issues relative to delinquency, dependency and neglect, custody, visitation and child support. According to the law of the State of Tennessee, the Juvenile Court judge, the Juvenile Court magistrates, and the child support magistrates hear these cases.

The Juvenile Court judge is authorized by state law to appoint Juvenile Court magistrates. According to the law of the State of Tennessee, these magistrates have the powers of a trial judge. The Juvenile Court judge also is authorized by state statute to appoint a magistrate as a special judge. This authority has been affirmed by the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Click here to see the lawsuit.

13 comments

  • MOM

    Interesting. I have to say, I agree. I had it happen SEVERAL times. Once, one of the magistrates simply ignored the fact that the defendant presented forged documents that day (in order to stay out of going to jail), and in that moment, I proved the point beyond any shadow of any doubt and she agreed. Did she do anything? Did he go to jail? Hmmmm. I thought that was illegal. And to present it to the “judge”? Oh yeah, change needs to happen at Juvenile Court, but Henri Brooks is not fit to represent. It seems to me, after many years of this travesty of justice, all they care about is the money they can generate (not for the children) by continuing the madness.

  • scorned parent

    I certainly agree something needs to be done about the magistrates as well. Had a bad experience too at JC because the magistrate was not knowledgable about the law nor what had transpired previously. The magistrate had the audacity to say to me, “I know he hasn’t been paying support but I don’t think he’s a bad dad. He just needs to be given time.” I was livid. We were back in court because he’d been given time already and was working! So glad something is being done about it. JC is another area that needs a complete overhaul. There is a lot of favoritism happening down there that needs to be exposed.

  • David Hesson

    The whole Divorce/ Child support system is screwed up. The people believe whatever the lawyer or judge says without checking the law themselves. You may not be qualified to practice law, or have knowledge of court proceedures but everyone with a high school diploma should be able to read and understand the words that the law is written in.

  • Hard Truths

    Juvenile Court IS a mess.

    Judge-for-life Turner and his pension-hungry seat-warmer Curtis Person grew fat and lazy, as did their protege Dan Michaels, who has never practiced outside of Juvenile Court in his lengthy legal career..

    Henri Brooks will NOT make anything any better. She has obvious psychiatric problems.

    Tarik Sugarmon, who’s running against Michaels for judge, MIGHT make things better. The incumbent clerk, Republican Joy Touliatos, has done nothing wrong, and I’m vote AGAINST Henri Brooks.

  • KeepMeUpdated

    Henri Brooks obviously has nothing to give Juvenile Court – she is only looking for an easy, new job (because she ain’t workin at the hospital, or anywhere else right now! Huh). She couldn’t take any more taxpayer money from her old position, due to the law and term limits. What did she do in the 1980s, 90s, or before the millennium to help anyone? Seems like she is only “shopping” for a job. She has been hanging around Juvenile Court trying to land a position. She has not been representing the people of District 2 – as we elected her to do for us. She does not even live here among us! She has stabbed us in the backs, and now is crying for us to assist her! What a clown.

  • Thomas H. Evans

    Obviously this is a ploy to all of a sudden shine a light on Dan Michael who is running against Mr. Sugarman. The people who don’t understand juvenile court and what happen there maybe should try to stay out of juvenile, adults are there most likely for child support, while our “juveniles” are there for breaking a law. How many times can you sue juvenile court? If most of us did what we are supposed to be doing there wouldn’t be a need for juvenile court; just go down there one of these days, the hallways are full, just like 201 Poplar. Strange we can’t see that, but this whole thing is about the election. I will be so glad when this whole thing is over.

    • MOM

      If most of us did what we’re supposed to do, many juveniles wouldn’t land up in juvenile court for breaking the law. Most unfortunately, many do not “do what they’re supposed to do” therefore, adults must stand up in juvenile court to REPRESENT the juveniles they are trying to rear. Also most unfortunately, because these parents have to sometimes work two and three jobs to make up for the lack of the deadbeat parents, juveniles not always supervised as they should be and are more likely to end up commiting the crimes. ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAWS would be a good start.

  • C. Vaughn

    The judges at Juvenile Court all need to be fired! They are biased and do not listen to Real facts of the case. I agree that the whole system needs a complete overhaul. I have been waiting for almost a year to get a court date for child support! If the Lazy judge would have listen to facts back in September, I’d probably would have had my support then. It is ridiculous that with any case that the wait time for a court case is over six months. This particular Lazy judge told me that I shouldn’t listen to the Counselors at the Mendenhall office because they do not have law degrees! Then as a Tax payer who should I listen to? I sincerely hope someone files class action lawsuit because something has to be done!

  • Livid!

    Those who still support magistrate Dan Michael have never had the experience of being in his courtroom. Just last week this man heard an appeal filed by a mother after the father was awarded 50% custody of their child this past Feb. by a fellow magistrate . The mother alleged the father was a drug addict and alcoholic. The father knowing the accusations has spent the last 5 months voluntarily taking and PAYING for drug and alcohol screens twice a week, including urine and hair testing and had a breathalyzer installed in his car. ALL CAME BACK SHOWING ZERO USE OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL ! Mr Michael refused any of the expert testimony from the drug testing facility and scientific data and chose to take this child away from his father! This man stripped the father of his 50% custody and with no other reason than proclaiming the father was a “dry drunk” reduced his time with his child to supervised visitation only every other weekend. This even after the mother of the child said under oath that she has never known the father to put the child in harms way. In a society with numerous fatherless children, why in the world would any responsible “judge” (term used loosely) remove a man who WANTS to be a father from a child’s life? Mr Michael punished the child here not the father!

    • Thomas H. Evans

      “LIVID,” lets call this what it is, a political ploy by those who are for Mr. Sugarman. You have chosen to pick out one case out of 50,000, which in my opinion is shameful, but surely you have and know more about this case than the judge. I have also been in the courtrooms at juvenile court many times as an observer and have found Dan Michael to be as fair as any judge at juvenile court or 201 Poplar. If you do realize that the Department of Justice conducted an investigation of JC which is still is on going; but have found that the concerns have been addressed in most cases. I still say that if you have a beef against JC then do what I do, don’t do anything to have a case come before any judge. However, I think most people will see this as I do, politics as usual. Have a good day!

    • MOM

      If this is the whole true story it’s very sad. However, as Dr. Phil says “no matter how flat the pancake, there are two sides”. Dr. Phil also says “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior”. I can’t help but wonder the rest of the story. Living with a dry drunk is a very real and problematic situation for anyone.

  • Redblur63

    I’m with “LIVID.” I’ve spent quite a bit of the past year observing this particular father, who loves his child and works hard to support him, and worries over every aspect of this dear baby’s life. Those of us who know him are stunned and shocked at this turn in events, and are looking forward to the results of the appeal. Here is a parent who has gone above and beyond the requirements of the court to show that he is an involved and competent parent. The judge in the case chose instead to believe hearsay and fabricated text messages, and to completely ignore medical evidence presented by the father’s attorney. Something is really wrong here. A huge shame, that will only mean this child is denied the presence and influence of a loving father. This is not, I think, the original intent of Juvenile Court, but it has devolved into a money-collection agency.

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