Administrative Office of the Courts Director Deborah Taylor Tate from Murfreesboro recently moderated an opioid-related discussion at the National Association of Attorneys General’s Southern Regional Meeting. Also participating as one of four panelists in the discussion was Judge Duane Slone, who serves in the Fourth District. The discussion came in a segment of the conference titled Opioid Addiction – Crisis and Trends.
In late January 2018, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced a plan to attack the state’s opioid problem. TN Together takes a three-pronged approach that focuses on prevention, treatment, and law enforcement to combat the epidemic sweeping across the state. The plan also incorporates all three branches of government in the fight against opioids.
Both Director Tate and Judge Slone have been regional and national leaders in the battle against opioid addiction. Director Tate is currently serving as co-chair of the National Opioid Task Force created by the Conference of Chief Justices’ (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA). The task force has been working to find solutions, examine current efforts, and make recommendations related to the opioid epidemic’s ongoing impact on the justice system.
Judge Duane Slone, a dedicated advocate in the opioid fight, leads the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative, a multi-state effort to leverage local, state, and federal partnerships and resources to explore solutions to the opioid epidemic. Judge Slone also combats the opioid crisis actively in his courtroom implementing the Tennessee Recovery Oriented Compliance Court docket (TN ROCCs). TN ROCCs "allow judges to provide impactful intervention for low risk offenders dealing with substance abuse/co-occurring disorders that do not meet the criteria for the intense programming of recovery courts."
Other panelists on the Opioid Addiction discussion included Johnny Koremenos, director of communications for the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office; Jayme Simmons, policy director and special assistant for strategy for Governor Bill Haslam; and Marie Williams, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Herbert H. Slatery III, attorney general of Tennessee and current NAAG Southern Region Chair, delivered opening remarks and acted as the hosting AG for the Southern Regional Meeting.
The main agenda of the two-day meeting was "Healthcare Dynamics in the 21st Century." Topics discussed included hospital and health care system consolidation, educational and legislative efforts to reduce opioid use and abuse, special issues related to health care and the protection of older Americans, and the future direction of the American health care system and the U.S. attorney general’s role in shaping it. Governor Bill Haslam and former U.S. Attorney General and current Dean of Belmont University’s College of Law Alberto Gonzales also served as keynote speakers at the meeting.