Hughes, a Republican, has served as the elected district public defender since 2005 for Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties.
He had served as an assistant public defender representing adults and children appointed by the criminal and juvenile courts throughout the judicial district for 15 years before becoming the District Public Defender in 2005.
Hughes has a staff of eight attorneys and three administrative assistants located in both Cleveland and Madisonville but he continues to be a working attorney representing many adults and children just as he did as an assistant attorney prior to being elected public defender.
“I have made changes by placing attorneys in the two investigator positions funded by the state, placed a full time attorney instead of using two part time attorneys, and opened a second office in Madisonville.
These hiring and location decisions have provided better legal service to many individuals we are appointed to represent each year.”
As district public defender, Hughes participated in the creation of the district wide adult drug court now called Recovery Court.
He also participated in the creation of the Bradley County Juvenile Drug Court and has been actively involved in the operation of these two special treatment court programs since their beginning.
“These treatment courts have proven to be effective and cost saving for adults and children with serious substance abuse and I want to continue to expand their reach throughout our district,” he said.
“All the dockets of the various courts we appear in have current dockets without unreasonable backlog or delay and the District Public Defender’s Office is a large part of this success,” he said.
As public defender, I view juvenile court as a priority and have worked with the judges to add juvenile court dockets in two of the counties of our district and represent children in juvenile court in Bradley County each week. These children need and deserve the opportunity to be successful and productive adults and to avoid the school to prison pipeline that is a concern throughout the country.”
Hughes is a member of the advising board in both the Southeast Tennessee Community Corrections Program and Bradley County Misdemeanor Probation program, as well as a member of a committee formed to create a Bradley County workhouse program.
Hughes has been an adjunct instructor at both Cleveland State Community College and Lee University.
He is an active member of the Kiwanis Club and Sunrise Rotary Club and Westside Ruritan Club in Cleveland.
He served as a member of the board of directors for Habitat For Humanity of Cleveland for three years and continues to provide support for this organization.
He is a lifelong resident of Bradley County and he and his wife, Kelly, have two children, Hallie and Jack Henry, who attend Cleveland High School.
Kelly has been a visual arts teacher at E.L. Ross and Cleveland Middle School since 2002.
Hughes is the son of Dr. Charles Richard Hughes and Henrietta Hughes, who live in Cleveland.
The family worships at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
“I also understand I have a responsibility as an elected official to the many citizens throughout the district who will never need or use the public defender or legal system to honor the public trust given me and to administer the office wisely.
“I have concerns about the overcrowded conditions of three of the four county jails in our district and the resulting substantial costs to the taxpayers of our district.
“Associated with this concern is the large number of probation violators before our courts and in our jails and want to develop better ways for them to be successful.
“Treatment courts, a county workhouse, county work release programs, a pretrial release program and effective community service programs are some of the alternatives that are or should be available to address both overcrowding and these substantial costs.
“I understand I am not entitled to my elected position, but I have been loyal to the Office and committed to the legal services provided by the office since I began here in 1989,” he said.
“I ask the voters of our district to recognize the importance of my office to the criminal justice system and ask for their continued support of me as district public defender next year on May 6, 2014 in the Republican Primary.”