Local Government Revealed: County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis

Bobbi Jo Lewis, the Anderson County Attorney, is here to help. Ms Lewis is a lifelong Anderson County resident and loves the community and the people that live here. She, along with Tiffany Azzinaro, the Assistant County Attorney, and their dedicated staff, provide a wide variety of services to the citizens of the county.

Ms Lewis is a true success story.  She began working in the Anderson County Attorney’s office in 1990 as a receptionist. She did a variety of jobs within the office before deciding to go to law school.  She was not your typical law school student, as she was already married and had two children.  Yet, she graduated in 2000 in the top 10% of her class, receiving the “Order of the Coif” award for this outstanding achievement.

Why did she go back to school?  She wanted to be the Anderson County Attorney.  Upon graduation, she was hired as the Assistant County Attorney and three years later,  in 2003, she fulfilled her dream and has been the County Attorney now for 13 years.  Part of her motivation is to be an example that you can be anything you want to be, if you are willing to work for it.

Some of her basic duties are as prosecutor in both traffic court and criminal court and also serves in family court, with the primary concern of child support, and juvenile court.  In addition, she is the legal advisor to the fiscal court and various other county boards and agencies, among them the sheriff, coroner, jailer, PVA and the county clerk.  Any time they need legal advice, her office is there to help.

In court, she handles the misdemeanor cases as the prosecutor.  She also works with felonies through the preliminary hearings before the commonwealth attorney takes over.

Three areas Ms Lewis handles that are not as well-known are delinquent taxes, child support payments and bad checks. While the sheriff’s office is responsible for collecting property taxes, if the taxes are not paid by April 15th, a list of those that have not paid goes to the county clerk and that is forwarded to the county attorney. With the goal of getting the money collected, the county attorney frequently sets up payment schedules which assists the county and those owing the money.

Child support payments are a primary focus for the county attorney.  In family court, issues of neglect and abuse are of major concern and to ensure the safety of the children as well as adults being abused. But, what is involved with child support?  Child support payments are established by court order and are determined and enforced by state guidelines.  Child support payments are not made directly to the recipient, but to a statewide clearing house system that coordinates the payments.  Sometimes payments are made to the county attorney’s office, which forwards them to the state, and then the payments are made.

One interesting fact about this process is that the county attorney’s office does not charge a fee for helping with the collection of the child support payments.  They also work to coordinate enforcement of payments when one of the parties lives out of state.  They also help ensure paternity is determined in cases where the parents are not married.

The volume of open cases that the county attorney oversees is staggering.  Recently there were approximately 4,000 open child support cases.  Currently, there are approximately 2,500 cases.  So far, from July 2015 through May of this year, $1,605,804 has been collected in child support.  This all goes to the children.  And, these numbers are only for delinquent payments in which the County Attorney’s office needs to get involved.

Assisting businesses collect on bad checks is another service provided.  If a business receives an insufficient funds notification from a bank, they can take the information to the county attorney.  They will send out a letter giving the check writer 10 days to make the check good and pay the necessary fees.

One last area in which the county attorney helps out is with certain government assistance programs.  When IV-A government assistance is received, there are certain requirements that need to be met, for example, having insurance.  The county attorney makes sure these requirements are met.

Bobbi Jo Lewis and her staff provide a great service to the County.  Bobbi Jo and the staff love  Anderson County and are here to help.

-Written by Don West

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