Our Team

The Mental Health Court treatment team is here to help you be successful as you progress through the program.

Meet Judge Blackburn

Melissa Blackburn was elected to serve as Judge of the Division II General Sessions Court on August 7, 2014 and overwhelmingly re-elected by the voters of Nashville on August 4, 2022.

 

A Nashville native, Judge Blackburn is a graduate of David Lipscomb High School and Lipscomb University, She attended the Nashville School of Law to earn her law degree. Following graduation, she decided to practice law in the General Sessions courts across Tennessee and extensively in Nashville. Her work resulted in new protections for schoolchildren who had experienced abuse at school or on buses during transport to school.

In addition to her duties in General Sessions Court, Judge Blackburn serves as judge of the Mental Health and Veterans Courts. She works through the court program to provide assistance to the mentally challenged and works with Nashville’s Veterans who have encountered legal difficulties resulting from trauma suffered in the service of the United States Military. Since taking the bench, Judge Blackburn has established the Davidson County Mental Health and Veterans Court Assistance Foundation.

In her role as Judge, she successfully led the effort in 2015 to secure funding to support the work of Veterans Courts in the Tennessee Legislature, making Tennessee the first state in the nation to provide such funding. In 2022, she successfully worked with the Legislature to enact Tennessee’s first funding of Mental Health Courts. Her court now serves as a mentor court for other jurisdictions across Tennessee as they implement Mental Health Court programs.

Among the civic leadership positions Judge Blackburn has held are:

  • Member of the Tennessee Bar Association.
  • Member of the Nashville Bar Association.
  • Elected to the Nashville Bar Association Board of Directors for 2019-2023.
  • Nashville Bar Association First Vice President, 2022
  • Past Board Member, Lawyers Association for Women.
  • 2005-2007 Chairman of the Downtown Nashville YMCA Board.
    Campaign Chairman for the YMCA “We Build People” Campaign.
  • Past Chair of the General Sessions Court Committee for Nashville Bar Association.
  • Past Chair of the Small and Solo Section of Tennessee Bar Association.
    Fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation.
  • Fellow of the American Inns of Court.
  • Former Executive Director of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Tennessee Chapter.
  • Member of “Women In Numbers.”
  • Developed the “Women Build” Program for Habitat, annually bringing together a diverse group of women leaders to build a home for a deserving woman in Nashville.
  • Member of the Downtown Nashville Chapter of Rotary International.
  • Member of the Hearts of Hope Luncheon Committee for the Nashville Rescue Mission.
  • Member of the Women’s Political Collaborative.
    Member of the Davidson County Democratic Women.
  • Member of Nashville CABLE.
  • 2022 Graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee.
  • 2023 Graduate of Leadership Nashville.

Together Judge Blackburn and her husband, Nashville Attorney Gary Blackburn, are the parents of four children and recently welcomed their fourth grandchild. They are avid fans of the Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. In her spare time she enjoys golf, spending time with Gary and doting on her dog, Abigail.

Meet Our Team

Mark Winslow

Director
markwinslow@jisnashville.gov

Derek DeSha

Client Specialist
derekdesha@jisnashville.gov

Trish Breeding

Assistant Director
trishbreeding@jisnashville.gov

Frances Whitaker

Client Specialist
franceslwhitaker@jisnashville.gov

Brandon Bentley

Client Specialist
brandonbentley@jisnashville.gov

Cynthia Nelson

Administration
cynthianelson@jisnashville.gov

Valerie Fisher

Client Specialist
markwinslow@jisnashville.gov

See How We Can Help Today

The Davidson County Mental Health Court is committed to assisting clients in reasserting control of their lives and managing their mental health. Contact us today to see how we can help you or someone you know.