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‘Nowhere near the number’

Rutherford County attorneys seek illegally jailed juveniles in $11M settlement

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MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) - A deadline is quickly approaching for nearly 1,450 juveniles in Rutherford County.

Anyone born after October 1997 and put in jail at the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center can now file a claim in an $11 million settlement connected to a class action lawsuit.

Democratic lawmakers said they want to launch an investigation into juvenile court systems across the state.

It comes after the class action lawsuit said children in Rutherford County were put in jail for misdemeanor charges like school fights. The lawsuit alleges many of these arrests stem from one Rutherford County judge.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes to take care of my kids,” said Zaccaeus Crawford in a 2016 News4 Interview after three of his kids were arrested at Hobgood Elementary School after witnessing a fight that was videotaped.

He said his kids were charged with criminal responsibility of another and sent to the Rutherford County Detention Center by Judge Donna Davenport.

“Yes, yes, she is still in her seat,” said state Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, who is asking for more answers. “I think she needs to learn a lesson. Maybe she needs to be brought up on charges for abusing her power.”

The lawsuit also claims Davenport sent nearly 1,500 other juveniles to jail, no matter the severity of the crime.

Lawmakers said they plan to investigate all county juvenile systems, especially Rutherford County.

“We want to make sure that we get everyone out who is in Rutherford County, who was impacted by this particular judge’s decision, and actions and abuse power, to make sure that we get them notified as best as possible,” said Dixie.

But time is running out. Wesley Clark, one of the attorneys in the class action lawsuit, said they want to see the 1,500 affected to make a claim. So far only 200 claims have been filed.

“Nowhere near the number we would like to see,” said Clark. “It’s important to take that action now if you think you may be eligible. Don’t wait a week or two because there may be some sort of error in the claim form processing.”

To file a claim, send an email to the Brazil-Clark law firm or call 615-730-8619.

 

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