Judge Betty Adams Green Receives McCain-Abernathy Memorial Award

August 8, 2012

From the Tennessean
By: Bobby Allyn

As Judge Betty Adams Green accepted an award yesterday at a statewide juvenile justice conference, she reflected on the advancements Tennessee has made in keeping children safe.

“Over the past 35 years, I’d challenge you to see how far juvenile justice has come,” said Green at the Sheraton Music City, where the state’s juvenile courts association presented her with the McCain-Abernathy Memorial Award for outstanding service.

Green didn’t take credit for improving juvenile justice over the four decades she has worked with children caught in the legal system, but local observers say her impact cannot be overstated.

Last week, Green, 66, announced her retirement after 14 years on the Davidson County juvenile bench. Several colleagues said her varied knowledge about the needs of children, unflinching toughness and community compassion combined to make the court as respectable as it has ever been.

Her expansion of after-school programs and push to create probation offices in nonprofits and other community outposts were cited as examples of her efforts to bolster the court’s neighborly ties.

“She was a mentor to us and brought so much creativity to the court,” said Charles Ward, the court’s top probation officer. “She was always a risk-taker in getting new initiatives started. She brought the court to the community.”

“She’ll certainly be missed. It’s going to be an awesome role to fill.”

Lisa Atkins, the court’s lead youth services officer, said Green imbued the court with lively energy and a wealth of knowledge about children from her early work as a teacher and then as an advocate for at-risk kids.

Metro Juvenile Court Clerk David Smith said “she’s a legend in the state for all she’s done for the betterment of children,” later adding: “there’s no telling how many lives she’s touched through child reform on the bench.”

Green’s career, however, was not without unwanted headlines.

In August 2007, Vic Lineweaver, Smith’s predecessor as clerk, was arrested for failing to produce court files.

Judge Green threw Lineweaver in jail for neglecting to turn over child support files that had been missing for months. Within hours the files were found and Lineweaver was released.

In 2001, Green was held up at gunpoint outside her East Nashville home. She told The Tennessean that it could happen to anyone, adding that it failed to strike fear in her heart. “I am not going to be intimidated by a bunch of thugs.”

Among her proudest moments, Green said, was keeping the court running in May 2010, after the court office was ravaged by flood waters.

Judge Betty Adams Green, pictured with Judge Ray Grimes, is honored at the Joint Conference on Juvenile Justice at the Sheraton Music City on Aug. 7, 2012. / Dipti Vaidya / The Tennessean