Robin Kimbrough Hayes, candidate for District V General Sessions Judge, said it’s time Nashville’s bench looks more like the city it serves, reflecting the principles of restoration, compassion, and transparency.

Robin Kimbrough Hayes

Further, Hayes relayed the judicial system isn’t “serving” much but a revolving door into the prison system when it assigns punitive, not transformative, sentences that disproportionately affect the city’s communities of color. 

However, she affirmed that doesn’t have to mean a lack of justice for victims.

Hayes believes punitive justice is often counterproductive and meaningful reform “means increased transparency, honest conversations about racial inequality, addressing convictions related to mental health and substance abuse issues in a more rehabilitative and restorative manner. There should be continuous review of the criminal and court dockets to identify systemic problems affecting all communities, especially communities of color and underserved communities,” her Passion for Justice platform states.

“Unfortunately, the judicial system has earned a reputation of having a disproportionate effect on the city’s communities of color and poor people,” she said, adding she wants “to do her part in reimagining the court to make it more transparent, community involved, and transformative to address social determinants related to hunger, housing, transportation to work on this issue.”  

“The justice system should take into consideration the impact of the opioid crisis, mental health, and trauma in making decisions, and how these issues have an impact on the individual and the entire community,” her site reads. “Whether the system is rendering judgments or other findings based on an individual case, these decisions often have long lasting consequences on the individual or business at issue, but true justice recognizes the long-term consequences on people who may never be before the court.”

Further, Kimbrough Hayes said she plans to implement a community assessment survey and a pilot program to hold court in the evening to allow greater access to resolve both criminal and civil matters, saying she “wants to be hands-on when it comes to engaging everyone in the judicial process.”   

Kimbrough Hayes grew up in a trailer park in Lexington, Kentucky, where she and her mother were the only African American family. However, the residents were all bound together by the same thread—poverty.

Determined not to tie herself into those roots but to grow, Kimbrough Hayes said she focused on education as a way out, earning her Bachelor’s degree at Fisk University in Nashville before moving to Atlanta to study law at Emory School of Law.  

She later received her Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University Divinity School and after earning her Doctor of Jurisprudence she returned to Nashville where she became Assistant Attorney General in Tennessee’s Attorney General’s Office. 

She spent the bulk of her legal career serving as legal counsel for the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. Kimbrough Hayes is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and has spent 20 years pastoring and conducting her “call to ministry, as she works to address issues of poverty, criminal justice reform, and women’s issues,” her website continues. 

She also currently serves as a chaplain and ombudsman at Meharry Medical College where she provides spiritual care at the Dr. Lloyd Elam Mental Health Center to persons who are struggling with drug and alcohol dependency, she relayed.

Hayes answers that call to ministry with intention, representing indigent clients and volunteering for the Legal Aid Society.

A member of the Nashville Branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), NOAH (Nashville Organized for Change and Hope), Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF). 

Her political ambitions include a recent appointment to the Tennessee Democratic Party Advisory Board, the Lawyers’ Association of Women, Napier Looby Bar Association, Nashville Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, and the Tennessee Women’s Political Collaborative of Middle Tennessee.  

Kimbrough Hayes is also President of the National Panhellenic Council of Nashville where she “provides leadership for all the Black Greek-lettered organizations on issues addressing criminal justice reform, policing, housing, healthcare, economic development, and voter engagement,” her campaign site reads.  

Kimbrough Hayes’s dedication to acts of grace in her legal and theological careers bolster her vision of her campaign to exercise justice on the bench by extending the same grace to others with compassion and fairness.  

Nearly 70 percent of litigation in Davidson County comes through the General Sessions Court, which addresses a myriad of cases involving evictions, debt collection, personal injury, property damage, traffic violations, misdemeanors, felonies, bond, and probation.   

Early voting begins April 13 and ends April 28, 2022. Election day is May 3. To find information on Davidson County’s election calendar visit

More about Hayes’s platform can be viewed at and her team can be reached at