What’s the Mental Health Court?

By Mike Steely
Senior Writer
Are you curious about what the new Knox County Mental Health Court does or how it operates?
On Tuesday, February 13, some of your questions might be answered as the Knox County Mental Health Court Advisory Board’s Community Coordinating Committee meets. The public session begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Small Assembly Room of the City-County Building.
The session is sponsored by the Knoxville Bar Association and entitled “Mental Health Court 101.” Several speakers will address the program.
The speakers include General Sessions Judge Chuck Cerny, Chief Deputy District Attorney Sam Lee, District Public Defender Eric Lutton, Public Defender Megan Newman and Assistant District Attorney General Justin Pruitt.
The session offers a peer-to-peer training on how the court operates and explains the 10 key components and the advantages that participants can use.
The court was created to provide treatment as an alternative to incarceration and strengthen the justice system’s ability to identify, assess and monitor defendants with mental illness. Its purpose is to improve public safety by ensuring that participants receive high-quality, community-based services.
Judge Cerny served the local Recovery and Veterans Treatment Courts. He helped create and presides over the mental health court.