News and Music Discovery
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

New ‘Justice Bus’ will crisscross Tennessee providing free legal aid

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins speaks about the court's 'Justice Bus,' which will provide free legal clinics for underserved populations.
Julia Ritchey
/
WPLN News
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins speaks about the court's 'Justice Bus,' which will provide free legal clinics for underserved populations.

The Tennessee Supreme Court launched a free legal clinic on wheels Monday. The court used federal pandemic aid to retrofit a blue sprinter van to make stops in mostly rural places across the state.

It’s called the “Justice Bus” and it’s essentially a law office on wheels. It has a couple of laptops, a printer, a scanner and most importantly, Wi-Fi.

“People should not have to go to their local McDonald’s to get a reliable connection to file their lawsuit,” said Ana Escobar, a Davidson County general sessions judge, who spoke at the bus launch.

She said during the pandemic, many lawyers cut back their hours and administrative offices ran on skeleton crews. She says it became clear to her that people who represent themselves in matters like child support or evictions need more help.

“Life did not stop for the citizens of Tennessee,” she said. “People still needed to get divorced, litigate wills of estate before a probate judge, file for child support, finalize adoptions, get relief from a car accident and many other issues.”

The Justice Bus is the latest initiative from an outreach arm of the Tennessee Supreme Court that launched in 2009.

Its first stop will be in Rutherford County on June 29. The clinic will focus on expungements and employment opportunities.

“Access to the courts should not be complicated or mysterious. It should be transparent and clear,” said Escobar.

Tennesseans can already gain access to the bus by visiting their website or emailing justicebus@tnbus.gov. A licensed attorney will respond to questions. You can also follow the bus on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JusticeBusTN.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
Related Content