In June 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued a statement on its commitment to equal justice. The statement was in response to a series of tragic deaths that served as reminder that racism and injustice remain a mortal threat in our country. Racism still exists and has no place in our society. The Court has a moral obligation and sworn duty to ensure that Tennesseans receive equal protection of its laws.
The Court tasked the Access to Justice Commission to establish a new initiative to identify and eliminate barriers to racial and ethnic fairness and justice. The Commission will lead the search for and advise the Court about how to accomplish change in areas of education and training, the judicial environment, and court policies and procedures that in any way lead to racial bias.
Racial and ethnic fairness have always been a key factor for the Commission when developing new projects and initiatives. Yet the Commission has not always publicized its racial justice work. That changed in 2020 when the Commission released its own statement as part of its updated two-year strategic plan.
The Commission's mission calls upon it to provide collaborative leadership to create solutions and resources to ensure access to justice for all. Going forward, the Commission will address issues of racism and disparate impact on racial and ethic minorities head on. The Commission outlined initial steps in the 2020 plan and successfully completed these items.
The 2022 strategic plan moves the Commission forward and directs all advisory committees and groups organized under the Commission to incorporate racial and ethnic fairness into all of their focuses, projects, and programs. Committees and groups will think through and track how each project furthers the the Commission's racial and ethnic fairness work. The Commission will dedicate time at each meeting to review and discuss the Committees' progress and ensure that racial and ethnic fairness remain at the center of its work.