Judge Barry A. Steelman is serving on the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force. The group is reviewing practices regarding how attorneys are compensated for work with individuals who are unable to afford legal counsel.
Over the next year, the task force will review the current indigent representation system, which is estimated to cost the state over $88 million dollars. In addition to the Indigent Defense Fund administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts, the task force will study the manner used for determining indigency, the delivery of various types of legal services, and a number of pilot programs that have been implemented. Their charge is to guarantee that the system is addressing the needs of its recipients as well as benefiting the taxpayers of Tennessee.
The task force plans to conduct a series of listening tours across the state to provide information and gain feedback from the public. Details about those events are expected to be released soon.
Steelman is a graduate of Red Bank High School, Carson-Newman College, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville College of Law. He was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1989, and worked for the law firm of Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams, where he practiced civil litigation.
In 1995, then-District Attorney Gary Gerbitz hired Steelman as a prosecutor in Hamilton County’s criminal courts. After the election of Bill Cox in 1996, Steelman was assigned to the position of managing prosecutor of Criminal Division III. In both positions, he was responsible for the prosecution of felony and misdemeanor offenses in criminal and municipal courts.
Steelman was later promoted to the position of executive assistant district attorney. In this role, he served as a leading trial lawyer and office administrator for the district attorney. His jury trial experience included capital and life-without-parole cases.
In August 2006, Steelman was elected Criminal Court judge of Division I in Hamilton County, where he continues to serve.
Steelman’s commitment to serving his community extends beyond the courthouse. His activities have included: educating students about leadership, public service, and the legal system; coaching youth sports teams; participating in the Chattanooga Resource Foundation Leadership Development Initiative; and serving on the board of the Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA) and the Carson-Newman University Alumni Executive Committee.
Steelman has also served as president of the CBA, and is a fellow of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation. He is a member of the Ray Brock Chapter of American Inns of Court, the Carson-Newman University Board of Trustees, and the Chattanooga Downtown Rotary Club.
More details about the task force, including an audio recording of the first meeting, are located at www.tncourts.gov/IndigentRepresentationTaskForce.
Source: Some information from Supreme Court of Tennessee and Judge Steelman