Nashville Attorney Appointed to LaunchTN Board

Nashville attorney and TBA General Counsel Paul Ney was appointed to the LaunchTN board of directors by House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, the Nashville Ledger reports. Ney is a partner of Patterson Intellectual Property Law PC and previously served as director of the Nashville Davidson County Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development. Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in the state of Tennessee.

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TBA VP Pera to Chair ABA Coordinating Council

Memphis attorney and TBA vice president Lucian T. Pera of Adams and Reese was appointed to chair the Coordinating Council with the American Bar Association's Center for Professional Responsibility. The Center’s Coordinating Council oversees and directs legal and judicial ethical issues that come before the ABA’s policymaking body, the ABA House of Delegates and other national initiatives. Pera, a Vanderbilt University Law School graduate, is the immediate past treasurer of the ABA and a former member of its Board of Governors and Executive Committee.

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New TBA President Offers Vision for His Term

Newly installed TBA President Bill Harbison laid out his vision for the coming year during a Lawyers Luncheon address at the TBA Annual Convention in Memphis on Friday. Harbison talked about challenges facing the profession and concluded by noting that "one thing that will not change is that the TBA will continue to serve as a clear and measured voice for the lawyers and judges in our state." Watch the video of his address or see photos from convention programs and events.

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McGannon to Retire at End of Year

Murfreesboro City Attorney Susan Emery McGannon will retire Nov. 1, she told the city council members and her legal staff this week. McGannon served as the assistant city attorney from 1992 until 2001, when she became the city attorney. She serves on the Board of Professional Responsibility and was an original member of the Tennessee Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization. Twice elected as president of the Tennessee Municipal Attorneys Association, McGannon also served on the Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors and helped found both the Lawyers' Association for Women in Nashville and the Tennessee Lawyers' Association for Women. The Murfreesboro Post has more.

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Holt Wins HOD Seat, Vacancies Announced

Springfield lawyer John Holt with the Law Offices of Holt & Kroeger has been declared the winner of a contested race for TBA House of Delegates (HOD) District 19. Vacancies in five other districts will be filled by appointment: District 7 (Anderson County), District 9 (Loudon, Meigs, Morgan, Roane counties), District 11 (Hamilton County), District 18 (Sumner County) and District 23 (Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Stewart counties). To be considered for one of the seats, submit a statement of interest and resume to TBA Executive Assistant Karen Belcher by June 1. In addition, an open position on the TBA Board of Governors for the West Grand Division Governor (Position 1) will be filled during the group's June 20 meeting. To be considered for the position submit a statement of interest and a resume to TBA Executive Director Allan F. Ramsaur by June 1.

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President: Court-Appointed Lawyers Should Get Raise

The March issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal includes a lot of criminal justice-related information, including articles exploring the “unnecessary rigor” provision of the Tennessee Constitution, legislative initiatives on privacy and criminal law, and the successes of a residential drug treatment program. In his column, President Jonathan Steen explains why the rate for court-appointed lawyers should be increased. "The compensation rate for lawyers appointed by Tennessee state courts to represent indigent parties in criminal, juvenile and civil cases has not changed in 20 years. The current rate for court-appointed lawyers is $40 per hour for out-of-court work and $50 per hour for in-court work," he writes. "At $40 an hour for out-of-court work, Tennessee court-appointed lawyers are the lowest paid in the nation."

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Pera to Lead TBA in 2017-2018

Memphis attorney Lucian Pera of Adams and Reese will be president of the Tennessee Bar Association in 2017-2018, according to election-qualifying results released today. No other candidate filed for the vice president position by the Feb. 15 deadline. After taking office as vice president this summer, Pera will become president-elect in 2016-2017 and take over the organization’s leadership in June 2017.

There will be one contested election this spring. John Holt with the Law Offices of Holt & Kroeger and Roger Nell, the public defender in Clarksville, are both vying for the District 19 seat in the House of Delegates. Several vacancies in the House will be filled through appointment, as will the West Grand Division Governor, Position 1, post that Pera now holds on the Board of Governors.

Candidates who filed for the following positions will take office at the June annual meeting as they did not draw opponents: David McDowell, 3rd District Governor; Mary Dohner Smith, 5th District Governor; Kim Helper, 6th District Governor; Brian Faughnan, 8th District Governor; Sarah Sheppeard, East Grand Division Governor, Position 1; Andy Roskind, East Grand Division Governor, Position 2; Gary Shockley, Middle Grand Division Governor, Position 1; David Veile, Middle Grand Division Governor, Position 2; and Carl Carter, West Grand Division Governor, Position 2. Also winning without opposition are two TBA delegates to the ABA House of Delegates: Jonathan Cole, Position 1, and young lawyer delegate Troy Weston, Position 3.

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ABA Midyear Meeting Opens in Houston

Immigration, access to justice for persons of modest means and money’s influence on elections are just some of the issues that will be tackled by attendees in hearings and panel programs during the 2015 ABA Midyear Meeting. The meeting runs through Monday when the 560-member House of Delegates, which sets policy for the ABA, convenes. The Tennessee Bar Association with support from Tennessee law schools will host a reception in Houston Saturday for former TBA president Danny Van Horn. View the invitiation here

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There’s Still Time to Run for TBA Office

With the approaching Feb. 15 deadline to file a petition or declaration of candidacy, there is still time for Tennessee Bar Association members to offer themselves for a service in the leadership of the TBA. A complete notice of the elections was published in the December 2014 Tennessee Bar Journal. In publishing that notice, there was one error. The notice indicated that Carl Carter, 8th District governor, was eligible for an additional term. In fact, Carter is term-limited by the bylaws for running for another term for the 8th District governor slot.

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Bar Leaders Convene in Nashville

The Tennessee Bar Association's annual Leadership Conference kicked off today in Nashville with meetings of the group's House of Delegates, TBASCUS (TBA Seasoned Lawyers Up to Something) and various committees. Events also included a rededication of the Tennessee Bar Center's flagship conference room, Nippert Hall, and the opening session of the Diversity Leadership Institute, a leadership and mentoring program for Tennessee law students. On Saturday, leaders will participate in informational and group-building sessions, followed by the annual Public Service Luncheon where Rep. Chuck Fleischmann will address the group. Two lawyers and a law student will be honored for their work: Rebecca McKelvey Castañeda as the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year; Michele Johnson as the the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year; and Jennifer Mayham as the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. The rest of the weekend includes meetings of the Board of Governors, Section leaders and local bar leaders, the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation board and the board of directors of TBA Member Services Inc.

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Wife of Former TBA President Dies at 90

Janet Graf Tate, the wife of former TBA President S. Shepherd "Shep" Tate, died Sunday (July 27) at 90. A native of Cincinnati, Janet met and married Tate while he was clerking for Judge John D. Martin in Cincinnati. The couple later moved to Memphis, where she was involved in a number of civic organizations and founded the Mental Health Society of Memphis and Shelby County. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the parish hall at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 1720 Peabody Ave., Memphis 38104. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Grace-St. Luke’s. Burial at Elmwood Cemetery will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to The Church Health Center, to Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church or to a charity of the donor’s choice. The Commercial Appeal has more.

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Mergers, 'Kaley' Ruling, Seersucker and More Covered in July TBJ

Kathryn Reed Edge gives the details of what a merger entails in the July issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal. Enjoy TBA Convention photos and stories in the printed version -- and read new TBA President Jonathan Steen's column, "If Not Us, Then Who?" Wade Davies explains the recent Kaley ruling about criminal defendants using their earnings to retain counsel (spoiler: they can't). And if you are wavering about buying a Seersucker suit this summer, read Bill Haltom's column for a nudge in favor of the cool, cotton ensemble.

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Opinion: Judicial Board’s Integrity Unfairly Attacked

In response to a June 7 article, immediate past president of the Tennessee Bar Association Cindy Wyrick denounces state Sen. Janice Bowling’s accusations that the Board of Judicial Conduct is “failing to do its job” and that members of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission were “pressured” into changing their votes. Wyrick defends the integrity of the board’s members, stating “In reviewing the performance of judges, the commission makes a preliminary finding. Fairness demands that judges have an opportunity for a hearing to offer an alternate viewpoint. Similarly, judges and lawyers who have experience with the judges being evaluated should, and did, come forward to recommend a different result. The implication that it was unusual or improper for those opinions to be offered to the commission is simply false. The idea that Commission members succumbed to ‘improper influence’ is equally incorrect and untrue.” She goes on to state that the board’s counsel found no misconduct, based on a careful reading of the Code of Judicial Conduct. “Inappropriate and unnecessary distractions that unfairly call into question the integrity of the ethics process should, therefore, be viewed in light of the fact that they conveniently come during an election year,” Wyrick concludes. The Tennessean has the full letter.

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President Steen Lays Out Plans for Coming Year

Newly sworn in TBA President Jonathan Steen outlined initiatives for the upcoming TBA membership year during his Lawyers Luncheon speech at the TBA Annual Convention in Gatlinburg (June 13). The Jackson attorney plans to carry on the association's work in responding to unjust criticism of our judges and provide educational materials on how to be informed voters. In addition, he wants the association to build on the mentoring and Solo-in-a-Box programs to help lawyers to succeed in the practice of law and deliver first-rate services to their clients. Steen also outlined plans for expanding civics education in schools and developing medical/legal partnerships across the state. Watch his presentation to learn more.

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Steen Lays Out Plans for Coming Year

Newly sworn in TBA President Jonathan Steen outlined initiatives for the upcoming TBA membership year during his Lawyers Luncheon speech at the TBA Annual Convention in Gatlinburg (June 13). The Jackson attorney plans to carry on the association's work in responding to unjust criticism of our judges and provide educational materials on how to be informed voters. In addition, he wants the association to build on the mentoring and Solo-in-a-Box programs to help lawyers to succeed in the practice of law and deliver first-rate services to their clients.

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Steen New TBA President, Lawyers Recognized

Jackson lawyer Jonathan Steen was installed today as president of the Tennessee Bar Association at the Lawyers Luncheon, part of the group's annual convention in Gatlinburg. "Our founders knew that a strong judicial branch is critical for the health of a democracy," Steen said, and "blatant partisan attacks of late undermine the public's confidence in the judiciary. Lawyers need to be informed and educate their family and friends about these important issues." Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade administered the oath of office to Steen, as well as the new members of the TBA Board of Governors. Nashville lawyer Bill Harbison is now president-elect and Knoxville lawyer Jason Long is vice president.

Also at the luncheon, Senior Counselors and these award winners were recognized: The TBA Young Lawyers Division Fellows William M. Leech Public Service Award was given to Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice M. Holder by Memphis lawyer Charlotte Knight Griffin. Two awards were given for the Justice Joseph Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing. First to Nashville lawyers Kimberly Stagg and John E. Anderson Sr. for their article published in the Tennessee Bar Journal. Second, a Lifetime Acheivement Award was given posthumously to Donald F. Paine for his continuous and important contributions to and shaping of the Journal. The Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award was given to Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade. Former Chief Justice Drowota was on hand to help present the award. You Tube Video Awards were presented and the winning videos shown. Three President's Awards were given: to Angelia Nystrom, Richard Johnson and Jeff Levy. TBA Sections and Committees Coordinator Lynn Pointer was honored on her retirement from the TBA. Read more and see pictures from the event.

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Steen Takes Office as President, Awards Given at Lawyers Lunch

Lawyers Luncheon 2014

Jackson lawyer Jonathan Steen takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Gary Wade, while a group of former TBA presidents look on.

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TBA Convention Kicks Off Today

The 133rd Annual Convention of the Tennessee Bar Association begins today in Gatlinburg, with meetings of the House of Delegates, a Section Chairs Roundtable and a Welcome Reception. Tomorrow kicks off with Law School Alumni Breakfasts and many hours of CLE, including a panel with Keel Hunt, Hal Hardin and John Seigenthaler discussing Hunt's book, COUP: The Day the Democrats Ousted Their Governor, Put Repubican Lamar Alexander in Office Early, and Stopped a Pardon Scandal. The annual Bench Bar Luncheon will feature Iowa Chief Justice Mark S. Cady. Follow and comment on happenings at the convention on Twitter using the hashtag #TBAannual.

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Reeves Lauded as 'Trailblazer' at Swearing-In Ceremony

Pamela L. Reeves was officially sworn in as the first female district judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee Friday. She was joined at the ceremony by fellow federal judges, Knoxville’s first female mayor Madeline Rogero and Gov. Bill Haslam, who delivered the keynote speech. Haslam pointed out the oddity of a Republican governor lauding an appointee of Democratic president but said, “I’m here because I love her story.” Noting that Reeves also was the first female president of the Tennessee Bar Association, current TBA President Cindy Wyrick said “Pam Reeves is a trailblazer” and “will be an outstanding judge who truly believes in equal justice for all.” Knoxnews has video comments from Reeves.

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Reeves Formally Installed as Federal Judge

Pamela L. Reeves was formally installed as the newest federal district court judge in a ceremony in Knoxville today. Reeves, a former TBA president, was appointed by President Obama to fill the lifetime post. The ceremony at Knoxville's Bijou Theatre was attended by more than 800 colleagues, friends and guests. Reeves' robing was done by her spouse Charles Swanson— also a former TBA president— and adult children Reedy and Amanda Swanson.

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Supreme Court Evaluation Poll Open Until June 9

The Tennessee Bar Association has launched a Tennessee Supreme Court Candidate Evaluation Poll, which will remain open until June 9. For the first time in its history, the TBA is polling its members for their views on the three justices facing retention votes in the August General Election. For each of the three – Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Cornelia Clark and Justice Sharon Lee – TBA members are being asked to select one of four options: (1) highly recommend retention, (2) recommend retention, (3) do not recommend retention or (4) do not have an informed opinion at this time. The TBA is using the SurveyMonkey platform to conduct the survey, which ensures the secrecy of votes. If you have not yet received an email to participate, please check your spam folder for an email from Results will be released in mid June.

The TBA is taking this unprecedented step because it believes that lawyers are uniquely qualified to provide an informed opinion as to whether a justice should be retained, and by providing the collective view of the organized bar, it can help Tennessee voters educate themselves about the election. The poll is one part of TBA’s efforts to help ensure that the 2014 judicial elections maintain a fair, impartial and accountable judiciary. Learn more about other efforts at the TBA’s Judicial Selection Information Center.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Judicial Selection Amendment

Amendment #2 – November Elections

What is the Judicial Selection Amendment?

• The Judicial Selection Amendment, also known as Amendment 2, sets forth the way we select our judges who serve on our statewide appellate courts. The appellate court judges are the five Supreme Court justices, the twelve judges on the Court of Appeals and the twelve judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals.

• The Judicial Selection Amendment will be number two of four proposed amendments on the statewide ballot in November 2014.

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TBA President Joins in Yes on 2 Campaign Launch

TBA President Cindy Wyrick today joined Gov. Bill Haslam and Yes on 2 Honorary Co-Chairs former Gov. Phil Bredesen and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson for the Yes on 2 Campaign kickoff. The Yes on 2 Campaign is supported by a business coalition that hopes to raise the funds necessary for mass campaign activities, including television commercials urging the adoption of the amendment. “I was very pleased to be present for the launch of the Yes on 2 campaign, as the TBA shares the campaign’s very important goal of passing the Judicial Selection Amendment, or Amendment 2," Wyrick said. "The TBA believes that adoption of the amendment is the best way to ensure stability and consistency in our judicial system and to maintain our fair and impartial courts."  The TBA Board of Governors determined that it should favor adoption of the amendment with the advent of the Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments, because it is the best way to further the TBA’s long-standing policy of supporting merit selection for judges and the use of retention elections.

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Elliott: Lewis Shepherd's Colorful Career

Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA president Sam D. Elliott writes in the Times Free Press about "the best known lawyer in Chattanooga" around the turn of the century, Lewis Shepherd. His colorful career included being district attorney general and serving in the Tennessee General Assembly (resigning because he didn't enjoy "serving with men with less intelligence than his wife's mule"). He left a Circuit Court judgeship because he was "born to be an advocate, not a referee." He died in 1917 in the midst of trying a lawsuit. The Chattanooga Times observed that Shepherd's last wish was satisfied: "to go to his reward straight from the courtroom."

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Blaze, Eason Now Lead Access to Justice Commission

University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Douglas Blaze is the new chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, while Miller & Martin lawyer and former TBA President Marcy Eason is the new vice chair. Blaze replaces Memphis lawyer and former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis, a shareholder with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. During his time as chair, Lewis implemented a number of initiatives, including programs that utilize technology to help bridge the geographic and logistic barriers that prevent Tennesseans in need from accessing pro bono services. The statewide toll-free line 888-aLEGALz and web-based service Online Tennessee Justice now provide legal information and advice to a greater extent than available in any other state. The court also named Ann Jarvis Pruitt, executive director of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), as a new commission member. She fills the seat of Nashville business leader and human rights activist Francis Guess, who is rotating off the commission. See an updated roster of commission members.

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