PHOTO: From left to right: Connie, Elizabeth, Natasha and Alison, four mothers who allege abuse and injustice by Williamson County Juvenile Judge Sharon Guffee / Photo courtesy of www.judgesharonguffee.com
By BROOKE WANSER
During a public comment session at Monday night’s County Commission, over half a dozen parents of children who had been through the Williamson County Juvenile Court spoke out against juvenile Judge Sharon Guffee, alleging illegal behavior and corruption and demanding her impeachment.
Guffee, who attended the Nashville School of Law, was sworn into office after being unanimously appointed in 2012 as the juvenile court judge.
Connie Reguli, a family attorney, spearheaded the efforts behind a series of speakers during the meeting. She was seen often holding up framed photos of children as their parents spoke.
Reguli said her experience with Guffee began in 2008, when she reported her teenage daughter, who ran away with a man she met online, as a runaway.
The website, www.judgesharonguffee.com, has filmed testimonials and written stories including descriptions of the county’s juvenile system and Guffee’s personal life. It also features detailed stories from several of the parents who spoke at Monday’s meeting.
Roy Matlock said his sons got in trouble with the law, and were placed under Department of Child Services custody.
He called for an investigation into Guffee’s behavior. “If you don’t remove her, you’re going to get civil cases against you,” he said.
Elizabeth Harris broke down in tears as she spoke of her 14-year-old son’s time in solitary at the Williamson County Detention Center.
“I could see the fear in his face and hear the terror in his voice, and he begged me not to take him back,” she said, as she searched for a rehabilitation center in Illinois.
An undiagnosed neurological disorder, she said, caused her son to crash into the White’s Mercantile storefront on Main Street in 2015.
Other complainants alleged “abusive” comments and Guffee’s withholding of trial transcripts and falsifying records. One woman even compared Guffee’s court to the Salem witch trials.
Guffee, who came late to the meeting, defended herself after her accusers left.
“If you ever have any concerns about what we do in juvenile court, or what is being done, I am happy to talk to each and every one of you at any time,” she said, addressing the commissioners.
“There are always many sides to the stories we hear in juvenile court and they are sad, and they are tragic,” she said.
“We do great work, and there are complicated cases in our court,” Guffee told the Home Page, noting she could not comment further due to ethical boundaries in her profession.
“Does this commission have an oversight role for our juvenile court system?” District Nine Commissioner Todd Kaestner asked.
“If you’re asking, ‘Do we have the power to remove a juvenile judge?’ The answer is no,” county attorney Jeff Moseley said. He further explained that the general oversight is under state power.