Steve Hornsby

Retired Judge

Steven Hornsby has served for 40 years as a trial lawyer, judge, senior state government official, health care executive, consultant, and coach. His purpose of his efforts throughout all these careers has been to help people and improve systems.

Steve began practicing law in 1982 in his hometown of Bolivar, Tennessee. He founded a successful law firm representing a variety of clients with commercial, family law, probate, real estate, and municipal law needs.

His practice included state and federal litigation, transactional law, and appellate practice, having argued cases before the Tennessee Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

Elected general sessions judge in 1990 and re-elected in 1998, Steve implemented a more efficient docket system to reduce waiting times in courts, pioneered the use of mediation and family group conferencing in juvenile cases, and championed local efforts to reduce child abuse and truancy.

Steve served on the Executive Council of the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges for six years, chairing the Legislation Committee for two years. He authored legislation to encourage parental involvement and accountability in juvenile cases (TCA §37-1-174). In 1999, Steve was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court to a special task force to study the feasibility of family courts for Tennessee. In 2004, Steve was the recipient of the McCain-Abernathy Award, the highest award given to Tennessee juvenile court judges.

In 2003, Steve joined the administration of Governor Phil Bredesen in the Department of Children’s Services, serving as general counsel and then deputy commissioner for juvenile justice. As general counsel, he oversaw a staff of 125 legal professionals, including 75 attorneys, and was responsible for prosecuting termination of parental rights cases where children had been abused, neglected, or abandoned.

As deputy commissioner, Steve led the Division of Juvenile Justice in a reform effort to modernize youth rehabilitation with evidence-based practices and behavioral health treatment. Steve co-authored legislation that mandated the use of evidence-based juvenile rehabilitation programs (TCA §37-5-121). Tennessee was one of the first states in the country to do so.

In 2010, Steve presented at Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform on “An Innovative Approach to Evidence-Based Practice in Juvenile Justice.” The Tennessee approach was highlighted as a model for other states.

After state service, Steve joined the leadership of Camelot Care Centers, Inc. as senior vice president. Focusing on creating an organizational culture of openness, integrity, and professional excellence, Camelot experienced remarkable success: employee turnover was reduced by half, growth more than doubled, and record profit levels resulted. In 2013, Camelot was named a “Best Place to Work” by the Tennessean newspaper.

From 2015 to 2017, Steve served as senior vice president for WestCare Foundation, Inc, a national nonprofit. He oversaw the southeastern U.S. operations, which included residential and outpatient addiction treatment, drug court treatment programs, juvenile behavior modification programs, and jail-based addiction treatment programs.

Steve has served as project consultant for a number of human service organizations and government entities, including the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the MacArthur Foundation “Models for Change” initiative, to promote the use of mental health assessments in juvenile courts.

He has taught many workshops on leadership and professional development and led juvenile justice programs. As adjunct professor, Steve has taught college classes on judicial process and restorative justice.

Steve has served on numerous boards, commissions, and committees that focus on children’s issues and public safety. Among these are the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, the Governor’s Crime Coordinating Commission, and the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators. He presently serves on the managing board of the Mindfulness in Law Society, the board of trustees of the Western Mental Health Institute, and the board of Mid-South Sober Living. He is active on the Tennessee Bar Association and Memphis Bar Association Well-Being Committees.

At the age of 16, Steve learned meditation and creative visualization. He has managed a mindfulness practice throughout his adult life as a source of stress reduction, maintaining focus, goal attainment, and innovative problem-solving.

In 2017, he began a coaching practice for attorneys and judges, health care professionals, and government executives. He serves as a consultant on organizational and culture development, leadership development, and mindfulness training/coaching, and he is a legal consultant and co-counsel on selected juvenile and family law cases.

Steve holds two coaching certifications—Leadership Coach and Life Coach—from an International Coaching Federation-accredited coaching school called Coach For Life. He has accumulated over 500 hours as a coach for lawyers and other professionals.

Steve received his undergraduate degree (1978; magna cum laude) and his J.D. (1981) from the University of Memphis. He is a trained Circle Process facilitator (2009) and graduated from the Silva Method (mindfulness and creative visualization) in 1970.

Steve lives in Downtown Memphis beside the Mississippi River. He has two grown children and one very smart and handsome grandson. He believes in lifelong learning and is always reading about human consciousness, personal development, spirituality, and cooking. One of his favorite books is the 1934 classic Joy of Cooking.