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32nd Judicial District
Mental Health Court


Judge Michael Spitzer

In 2023, 32nd Judicial District Circuit Judge Michael Spitzer partnered with Lewis County Mayor Jonah Keltner to apply for and administer one of the first Mental Health Court programs in the state. 

About the program

The MHC Program is designed to be a minimum of 12 months, consisting of five (5) phases; each phase having a minimum time to complete. The MHC program incorporates supervision through judicial leadership, oversight, and treatment to support participants through their recovery process. Treatment may consist of residential, inpatient, and outpatient treatment, or a combination of any of the above. These services may be provided through the MHC program and/or community resources. MH Court is a VOLUNTARY program for its participants but requires approval of the prosecutor, defense counsel, Judge Spitzer and the MHC treatment team.

Program Mission

The mission of the 32nd Judicial District Mental Health Court is to provide individualized treatment programs, linking participants with mental health service providers, and reducing incarceration and recidivism through a combination of mental health treatment
and court supervision.

About Judge Spitzer

Judge Spitzer is a lifetime resident of Lewis County and Hohenwald where he practiced law for xx years. In 2018, Spitzer was appointed to the 21st Judicial District by Governor Bill Haslam after determining the rural counties comprised of the 21st Judicial District needed a Circuit Judge of thier own. In 2022, after the creation of the 32nd Judicial District, Judge Spitzer was elected as Circuit Court Judge. 

About the 32nd Judcial District

The 32nd Judicial District was established in 2022 after the State of Tennessee Determined Hickman, Lewis, and Perry Counties were in need of their own Judicial District. 




29 West Main Street

Hohenwald, TN 38462

(931) 628-3099

8:00AM - 4:00PM

Monday - Friday


Denise Stags

Mental Health Court Director

Judge Spitzer appointed Denise Staggs as Director of the Mental Health Court Program. Denise has an extensive background in K-12 education with over 30 years of expirence, recently retired from Lewis County Schools. She holds a Masters Degree in Education and a Masters Degree in Special Education. 

As Mental Health Court Director, Denise is committed to using her educational background and leadership expirence to foster the well-being and mental health of our judicial district community. Her focus is on developing initiatives that address the unique mental health needs of our residents in the 32nd Judicial District. By blending her skills in the program development, goal orientation, and adaptability, Denise hopes to contribute meaningfully to this important community development program. 

Some of the key responsibilities of the Mental Health Court Director include general oversight of the treatment court, including meeting attendence and grant reporting; communication with partner agencies; Organization of court events, meetings, and compilation of supporting materials for stakeholders; Annual update of Mental Health Court policies and proceedures. 

Program Eligiblility

Candiate must…*Voluntarily agree to enter Mental Health Court. *Be (18) years or older. *Reside with the 32 nd Judicial District (Lewis, Hickman, or Perry counties). *Must NOT have violent charges that would make them ineligible. *Must HAVE a documented diagnosis of a severe and persistent mental illness. *Must have all legal matters in other courts and/or other jurisdictions resolved. *Must be high risk, high need as indicated by the TNRAS. *Must sign a release (HIPPA Form) to share Mental Health information with the program director and other mental health specialists who are part of the program.

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