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Crooked judge to ‘retire,’ escape supervision

Rutherford County Juvenile Court Judge Donna Scott Davenport will not seek re-election, and thus avoid having to face Tennessee’s feeble judicial oversight practices. (Photo Rutherford County)

A Tennessee juvenile court judge who is the subject of a legislative resolution seeking her removal over her history of sentencing has announced she will not seek reelection when her term ends this year.

By John Styf / The Center Square

“After prayerful thought and talking with my family, I have decided not to run for re-election after serving more than 22 years on the bench,” Rutherford County Juvenile Court Judge Donna Scott Davenport said in a statement.

“I will always look back at my time as judge as one of the greatest honors of my life and I am so proud of what this court has accomplished in the last two decades and how it has positively affected the lives of young people and families in Rutherford County. I wish my successor the best and hope that this job provides them the same fulfillment it has provided me over the years.”

She has a staggering history of jailing children, and, in most instances, African American children.

— Sen. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville

Davenport is the subject of Senate Joint Resolution 788, sponsored by Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville.

Campbell said Davenport has a record of incarcerating 48% of juveniles who appear before her, far more than the 5% statewide average. Davenport also was the subject of a recent lawsuit in which the plaintiffs won a $6 million finding against her for illegally arresting and jailing juveniles.

“She has a staggering history of jailing children, and, in most instances, African American children,” Sen. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, said. “We have seen the rate of locking up juveniles going down in every state and in Tennessee – with the exception of Rutherford County. Again, it’s time for us to take action and have this judge removed.”

Davenport was appointed to the judge role in 1999, elected in 2000 and reelected in 2006 and 2014 to eight-year terms. She was the first female judge to serve in Rutherford County, according to a news release announcing her retirement and was the county’s only juvenile judge.

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