Rutherford County’s embattled juvenile court judge will not seek reelection, a county spokesperson announced Tuesday.
Judge Donna Scott Davenport has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by WPLN News and ProPublica.
Davenport will retire at the end of her term in September, allowing a new judge to replace her after more than 20 years on the bench. She’s been Rutherford County’s juvenile court judge since the position was established in 2000, and she also oversees the county’s juvenile detention facility.
Recently, WPLN News reported that, under her watch, Rutherford County had illegally jailed and arrested more than a thousand children. Last month, the county settled a class-action lawsuit over these practices for about $6 million.
State data show that Rutherford County had jailed kids in 48% of the cases referred to juvenile court — compared with the statewide average of 5%. WPLN News also found the county jailed Black children at a disproportionate rate, and it is getting worse.
The investigation drew the attention of those in government, from Gov. Bill Lee within the first week of publication to most recently — a day before Davenport’s retirement announcement — Nashville Sen. Heidi Campbell and Knoxville Rep. Gloria Johnson who introduced a resolution that could’ve resulted in the removal of Davenport from the bench.
WPLN News reached out to Davenport several times asking her to speak with us, and she’s declined. But in announcing her retirement, she stated, “I will always look back at my time as judge as one of the greatest honors of my life, and I am so proud of what this Court has accomplished in the last two decades and how it has positively affected the lives of young people and families in Rutherford County.”