-  About The Veterans Court  -

-  Meet Judge Melissa Blackburn  -

Melissa Blackburn was elected to serve as Judge of the Division II General Sessions Court on August 7, 2014.

 

A Nashville native, Judge Blackburn is a graduate of David Lipscomb High School and Lipscomb University, She attended the Nashville School of Law to earn her law degree. Following graduation, she decided to practice law in the General Sessions courts across Tennessee and extensively in Nashville.

 

Prior to her election, the focus of Judge Blackburn’s practice was in the area of employment law, standing up for employees who face discrimination and unfair wage practices. Judge Blackburn has been a strong advocate for children, especially those who have suffered the horror of sexual abuse.

 

In addition to her duties in General Sessions Court, Judge Blackburn serves as presiding judge of the Mental Health and Veterans Courts. She works through the court program to provide assistance to the mentally challenged and works with Nashville’s Veterans who have encountered legal difficulties resulting from trauma suffered in the service of the United States Military. Since taking the bench, Judge Blackburn has established the Davidson County Mental Health and Veterans Court Assistance Foundation. She successfully lead the effort to secure funding to support the work of Veterans Courts in the Tennessee Legislature, making Tennessee the first state to provide such funding.

 

Among the civic leadership positions Judge Blackburn has held are:

 

• Member of the Tennessee Bar Association.

• Member of the Nashville Bar Association.

• Current Co-Chair, Nashville Bar Association Veterans Court Committee.

• Past Board Member, Lawyers Association for Women.

• 2005-2007 Chairman of the Downtown Nashville YMCA Board.

• Campaign Chairman for the YMCA “We Build People” Campaign.

• Chair of the General Sessions Court Committee for Nashville Bar Association.

• Chair of the Small and Solo Section of TN Bar Association.

• Fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation.

• Fellow of the American Inns of Court.

• Former Executive Director of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Tennessee Chapter.

• Member of “Women In Numbers.”

• Developed the “Women Build” Program for Habitat, annually bringing together a diverse group of

women leaders to build a home for a deserving woman in Nashville.

● Member of the Downtown Nashville Chapter of Rotary International.

● Member of Nashville CABLE.

 

Together Judge Blackburn and her husband, Nashville Attorney Gary Blackburn, have raised four children in our community. They are avid fans of the Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. In her spare time she enjoys golf, spending time with Gary and doting on her dog, Abigail.

-  Our History  -

Military service in defense of our freedom is an honorable duty, but for many Veterans the combat experience has unfortunately left a growing number with physical and emotional traumas such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

 

One in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment.  One in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffer from a substance abuse issue.  Government studies indicate as many as 22 Veterans per day commit suicide in America. Many turn to substance abuse to deal with combat-related mental illness.  Left untreated, mental health disorders common among veterans can directly lead to involvement in the criminal justice system.

 

Since receiving a U.S. Department of Justice grant to establish a Veterans Treatment Court in 2014, Nashville General Sessions Court under the leadership of Judge Melissa Blackburn has been working to meet these challenges facing Veterans. Following nationally established models, Veterans Treatment Court requires regular court appearances as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions and frequent and random testing for substance use (drug and/or alcohol).

 

Applying a structured program is particularly effective for Veterans given their past experiences in the Armed Forces.  Nationally, Veterans Treatment Courts have a success rate greater than 80%. However, a few will struggle and it is exactly those veterans who need a Veterans Treatment Court program the most.  Without this structure, these veterans will re-offend and remain in the criminal justice system.  The Veterans Treatment Court is able to ensure they meet their obligations to themselves, the court, and their community.

What is a Veterans Treatment Court?

 

Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) began in Buffalo, NY in 2008 with the goal of designing a specific program for soldiers and veterans who find themselves involved in the judicial system.

 

VTCs are based on successful Drug and Mental Health Court programs. Participants may have discharges that are honorable, other than honorable or dishonorable and have substance abuse and/or mental health issues.  The Judge and staff of the VTC design a plan for recovery and guide Veterans toward resources to improve their mental, physical, emotional, and financial situation.

 

Successful graduates of the court program may eligible to have their charges dismissed  or reduced and have their criminal record expunged. The VTC staff is committed to standing with Veterans as they work to reassert control over their own lives.

 

How do I apply for participation in the VTC?

 

Your attorney may request that the court evaluate you for consideration to be accepted in the VTC program. If you are eligible to apply they will explain program requirements and how your charges will possibly be handled upon completion. Attorneys must complete an application to include specific documents necessary for their client to be considered. Your attorney, or if you are an attorney, should reference the Attorney page to learn more.

 

Will it cost me anything to join?

 

VTC has no associated costs.  Any pending fines or court costs related to charge/s are not a part of the VTC.

 

What are the benefits of joining?

 

Participants of the VTC program will be placed into a probationary status while in the program, rather than sent to jail. The VTC provides the structure and responsibility many Veterans struggle without as they return to civilian life. VTC requires full commitment and accountability from the Veteran.

 

Veterans in the VTC program will have access to resources to assist them in dealing with emotional issues, physical problems and financial assistance. Once the program is successfully completed, the charges that you entered with will be addressed and, depending on the circumstances, may be reduced or dismissed.

 

How do I get to the VTC?

 

The Davidson County Veterans Court is located in Courtroom 3-B of the Justice A.A. Birch Courthouse at 408 2nd Avenue North, Nashville 37219. Veterans meet with VTC staff in Suite 100 of the Ben West Building next door to the courthouse. The court docket takes place every Monday at 1:30 p.m. You can reach the VTC at 615.862.8320.

-  Frequently Asked Questions  -

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Meet Judge Melissa Blackburn

Melissa Blackburn was elected to serve as Judge of the Division II General Sessions Court on August 7, 2014.

 

A Nashville native, Judge Blackburn is a graduate of David Lipscomb High School and Lipscomb University, She attended the Nashville School of Law to earn her law degree. Following graduation, she decided to practice law in the General Sessions courts across Tennessee and extensively in Nashville.

 

Prior to her election, the focus of Judge Blackburn’s practice was in the area of employment law, standing up for employees who face discrimination and unfair wage practices. Judge Blackburn has been a strong advocate for children, especially those who have suffered the horror of sexual abuse.

 

In addition to her duties in General Sessions Court, Judge Blackburn serves as presiding judge of the Mental Health and Veterans Courts. She works through the court program to provide assistance to the mentally challenged and works with Nashville’s Veterans who have encountered legal difficulties resulting from trauma suffered in the service of the United States Military. Since taking the bench, Judge Blackburn has established the Davidson County Mental Health and Veterans Court Assistance Foundation. She successfully lead the effort to secure funding to support the work of Veterans Courts in the Tennessee Legislature, making Tennessee the first state to provide such funding.

 

Among the civic leadership positions Judge Blackburn has held are:

 

• Member of the Tennessee Bar Association.

• Member of the Nashville Bar Association.

• Current Co-Chair, Nashville Bar Association Veterans Court Committee.

• Past Board Member, Lawyers Association for Women.

• 2005-2007 Chairman of the Downtown Nashville YMCA Board.

• Campaign Chairman for the YMCA “We Build People” Campaign.

• Chair of the General Sessions Court Committee for Nashville Bar Association.

• Chair of the Small and Solo Section of TN Bar Association.

• Fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation.

• Fellow of the American Inns of Court.

• Former Executive Director of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Tennessee Chapter.

• Member of “Women In Numbers.”

• Developed the “Women Build” Program for Habitat, annually bringing together a diverse group of

women leaders to build a home for a deserving woman in Nashville.

● Member of the Downtown Nashville Chapter of Rotary International.

● Member of Nashville CABLE.

 

Together Judge Blackburn and her husband, Nashville Attorney Gary Blackburn, have raised four children in our community. They are avid fans of the Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. In her spare time she enjoys golf, spending time with Gary and doting on her dog, Abigail.

Our History

Military service in defense of our freedom is an honorable duty, but for many Veterans the combat experience has unfortunately left a growing number with physical and emotional traumas such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

 

One in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment.  One in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffer from a substance abuse issue.  Government studies indicate as many as 22 Veterans per day commit suicide in America. Many turn to substance abuse to deal with combat-related mental illness.  Left untreated, mental health disorders common among veterans can directly lead to involvement in the criminal justice system.

 

Since receiving a U.S. Department of Justice grant to establish a Veterans Treatment Court in 2014, Nashville General Sessions Court under the leadership of Judge Melissa Blackburn has been working to meet these challenges facing Veterans. Following nationally established models, Veterans Treatment Court requires regular court appearances as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions and frequent and random testing for substance use (drug and/or alcohol).

 

Applying a structured program is particularly effective for Veterans given their past experiences in the Armed Forces.  Nationally, Veterans Treatment Courts have a success rate greater than 80%. However, a few will struggle and it is exactly those veterans who need a Veterans Treatment Court program the most.  Without this structure, these veterans will re-offend and remain in the criminal justice system.  The Veterans Treatment Court is able to ensure they meet their obligations to themselves, the court, and their community.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Veterans Treatment Court?

 

Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) began in Buffalo, NY in 2008 with the goal of designing a specific program for soldiers and veterans who find themselves involved in the judicial system.

 

VTCs are based on successful Drug and Mental Health Court programs. Participants may have discharges that are honorable, other than honorable or dishonorable and have substance abuse and/or mental health issues.  The Judge and staff of the VTC design a plan for recovery and guide Veterans toward resources to improve their mental, physical, emotional, and financial situation.

 

Successful graduates of the court program may eligible to have their charges dismissed  or reduced and have their criminal record expunged. The VTC staff is committed to standing with Veterans as they work to reassert control over their own lives.

 

How do I apply for participation in the VTC?

 

Your attorney may request that the court evaluate you for consideration to be accepted in the VTC program. If you are eligible to apply they will explain program requirements and how your charges will possibly be handled upon completion. Attorneys must complete an application to include specific documents necessary for their client to be considered. Your attorney, or if you are an attorney, should reference the Attorney page to learn more.

 

Will it cost me anything to join?

 

VTC has no associated costs.  Any pending fines or court costs related to charge/s are not a part of the VTC.

 

What are the benefits of joining?

 

Participants of the VTC program will be placed into a probationary status while in the program, rather than sent to jail. The VTC provides the structure and responsibility many Veterans struggle without as they return to civilian life. VTC requires full commitment and accountability from the Veteran.

 

Veterans in the VTC program will have access to resources to assist them in dealing with emotional issues, physical problems and financial assistance. Once the program is successfully completed, the charges that you entered with will be addressed and, depending on the circumstances, may be reduced or dismissed.

 

How do I get to the VTC?

 

The Davidson County Veterans Court is located in Courtroom 3-B of the Justice A.A. Birch Courthouse at 408 2nd Avenue North, Nashville 37219. Veterans meet with VTC staff in Suite 100 of the Ben West Building next door to the courthouse. The court docket takes place every Monday at 1:30 p.m. You can reach the VTC at 615.862.8320.

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