NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Three General Sessions judges handle all of the domestic violence cases in Davidson County.
Last year in Tennessee, almost 70,000 offenses were flagged as domestic violence, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
One of those judges, Judge Allegra Walker, allows News 2’s Alex Denis in the courtroom to see what it’s like to take on these volatile cases.
“My day, absolutely, is pretty nuts. And, that’s the only thing that I can say,” Judge Walker says.
The judges serve in a rotation. For eight months, day in and day out, cases involving some kind of domestic violence is all Judge Walker focuses on.
“It’s subject matter from domestic violence, all the way up to a murder case and anything in between. It could be rape. It could be vandalism, It could be stalking, violations of orders of protection.”
Judge Walker says moving through court procedure can be fast-paced. “You have to be able to think quick on your feet. Make decisions about people’s lives.”
It can also be emotionally taxing. “I don’ take lunch breaks because I try to respect people’s time,” Judge Walker says sometimes she goes six hours without a break.
She adds, in a week, it’s possible to process a couple hundred cases.
Some subject matter often evokes highly charged reactions.
“Sometimes the behavior of the people can be very intense. My court officers have to be on guard all the time.”
When it comes to sentencing, Judge Walker says she’s focused on changing domestic violence behavior.
“Jail’s not my automatic go to,” she continues, “When I have to do tough sentencing, I’m really at the end of my rope – like I’ve already tried some alternative things.”
If it comes to jail time, Judge Walker says she’s confident in her decisions.
“I find that if I’m doing the right thing for the right reasons, then I’m good.” She says, “At the end of the day, I’m put here by the people to protect folks that are victims of domestic violence.”
Judge Walker will get a 4-month-long break from hearing domestic violence cases at the end of the month.
Watch more of News 2’s in-depth reports on ‘Domestic Violence: Escaping the Danger’ all day Thursday in every newscast.