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

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 [email protected]. A licensed attorney will respond to questions. You can also follow the bus on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JusticeBusTN.

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