News

Reeves to be Nominated for Federal District Court

President Barack Obama today announced his intention to nominate Knoxville attorney and former TBA President Pamela Reeves for the federal district court seat currently held by U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips, who plans to retire July 3. Reeves practices with Reeves, Herbert & Murrian PA focusing on commercial litigation, labor and employment law and dispute resolution. She is known statewide for her work as a Rule 31 registered mediator and as an approved mediator for the Eastern and Middle district federal courts. Reeves was the first female to serve as TBA president. She currently serves on the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission and on the Board of Judicial Conduct. She also writes a monthly column on business law for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Reeves earned her law degree in 1979 from the University of Tennessee College of Law. She is married to Charles Swanson, another former TBA president, who serves as Knoxville city attorney.

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TBA Board of Governors to Fill Open Positions

Three open positions will be filled by the Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors at its June 15 meeting.  The positions — West Grand Division Governors (Positions 1 and 2) and the 4th District Governor — are open seats created when no one sought to be considered for the seats by the deadline. If you would like to be considered for one of the positions, contact TBA Executive Director Allan F. Ramsaur by June 10. The West Grand Division includes Henry, Decatur, Hardeman, McNairy, Carroll, Chester, Hardin, Madison, Henderson, Fayette, Benton, Gibson, Weakley, Obion, Haywood, Crockett, Lake, Dyer, Tipton, Lauderdale and Shelby counties. The 4th District includes White, Warren, Franklin, Lincoln, Van Buren, Fentress, Moore, Marshall, Pickett, Bedford, Cannon, Putnam, Smith, Rutherford, DeKalb, Overton, Jackson, Wilson, Macon, Clay, Coffee, Trousdale, Grundy and Sequatchie counties. In accordance with Article 47 of the TBA Bylaws, the board may fill the vacancies at its June meeting, with terms running through spring 2014.

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Court Denies Advertising Rules Changes

A petition proposing several rules changes restricting lawyer advertising was denied today in a per curiam order issued by the Tennessee Supreme Court. In taking the action, the court said, "We have determined that the continued enforcement of the existing rules is preferable to any of the changes sought by the petitioners."

The petition, which was filed last spring, would have required that lawyers have a "bona fide" office in Tennessee, prohibited actors from portraying clients, banned commenting on results and imposed requirements for pre-submission of ads to the Board of Professional Responsibility.

The petition drew comments from a wide array of organizations and individuals including the Tennessee Bar Association, Knoxville Bar Association, two law school professors from the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, the Federal Trade Commission and others. TBA Ethics and Professionalism Committee Chair Brian Faughnan authored the TBA comment.

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What's Next on Judicial Redistricting?

With Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s judicial redistricting bill failing to garner support in the House of Representatives, supporters of the plan are asking if they have time to bring it back up when the legislature reconvenes in January 2014. Allan Ramsaur, executive director of the TBA, tells The Commercial Appeal that “It’s technically possible they could get something done when the legislature first convenes next year, but the qualifying date for judges running next year is Feb. 15” and “it would be disruptive to the system to redraw things that quickly and put judges and district attorneys and public defenders — all of whom are up for election next year — into play.” For his part, Ramsey indicated he was walking away from the effort, The Tennessean reports.

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Merit Selection Falls to Squabble, Legislature Adjourns for Year

Merit selection, considered by many to be the key feature of the successful Tennessee Plan, was eliminated from the process today when lawmakers could not, at the last minute, reach an accommodation on an unrelated squabble.

Three attempts to pass a bill to extend the life of the Judicial Nominating Commission in the House were stymied during the last day of the session. Since the constitutional power to fill vacancies is vested in the legislature, there will be no mechanism to appoint trial or appellate judges to replace jurists who die, retire or are removed.

Appellate judges will be evaluated by the present Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission before standing for election in August 2014. No changes in the composition or membership of that commission will come as a result of the inaction.

Some observers also saw developments early in the day on judicial redistricting (see related story) as part of the overall spat.

The legislature adjourned for the year this afternoon.

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House Rejects Judicial Redistricting Plan

The state House today failed to pass a plan pushed by Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey to enact the first judicial redistricting in the state since 1984. Richard Locker, Nashville bureau chief for The Commercial Appeal, writes today that opponents of the bill moved to kill it for the session but House Speaker Beth Harwell ruled that a motion to reject must wait one day. House members whose districts were directly affected by the plan persuasively argued against it and convinced a majority of their colleagues to join them on a 28-66 vote to oppose the bill. One lawmaker also expressed a common sentiment that the bill was "crammed down" their throats by the Senate, which had approved it 27-4 on Tuesday.

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Judicial Redistricting Passes State Senate

The state Senate has passed a proposal to redraw Tennessee’s judicial districts for the first time since 1984. The plan from Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey was approved 27-4 today, Chattanoogan.com reports. The measure would affect 22 counties in eight districts by (1) reducing the number of districts from 31 to 29; (2) creating separate districts for Rutherford and Williamson counties; (3) merging two districts (27 and 29) in northwestern Tennessee; and (4) creating a new district comprised of Coffee, Cannon, Warren and Van Buren counties.

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Lawyers Overwhelmingly Support Tennessee Plan

Lawyers across the state overwhelmingly support maintaining the current plan for merit selection, performance evaluation and retention election of appellate judges according to a TBA survey of Tennessee lawyers. The survey found that TBA members support The Tennessee Plan by 83 percent while non-member lawyers support it by a slightly smaller margin of 72.3 percent. Lawyers also were asked to express their opinion about a new plan that would eliminate merit-based review of potential judges by an independent panel, and instead provide for nomination by the governor, confirmation by both houses of the General Assembly, and yes/no retention votes in subsequent years. According to the study, 73.9 percent of association members oppose that plan, while 50.2 percent “strongly oppose” it. The study, conducted by Yacoubian Research of Memphis, had a very high response rate. According to Berje Yacoubian, chief statistician at the survey research firm, the “statistically significant” response rate reflects the full demographics of the Tennessee legal community and is highly reliable.

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50 Years after 'Gideon,' Indigent Defense Funding Still an Issue

In her Tennessee Bar Journal column this month, President Jackie Dixon looks back at the 50 years since the Gideon decision, explaining why adequate funding is still needed for indigent defense.

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Golden Appointed to Judicial Nominating Commission

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, on Thursday appointed David A. Golden of Hawkins County to the Judicial Nominating Commission, the Chattanoogan reports. Golden, one of those recommended for the post by the Tennessee Bar Association, will fill the vacancy left by the retirement of commission member Theresa Lee. Golden joined Eastman Chemical Company in 1995 as an attorney, eventually rising to the position of vice president, associate general counsel and corporate secretary.

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Services Sunday for Memphis Attorney Ross Clark

Retired Memphis attorney Ross Bert Clark II died Thursday (Nov. 8) at his home. He was 79. Mr. Clark was a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law and was active in the Tennessee legal community for many years, serving as a partner in the law firms of Laughlin Halle, Apperson Crump and Armstrong Allen. He also served as president of the Memphis & Shelby County Bar Association and was a co-founder of Memphis Area Legal Services and of the Memphis Bar Foundation. At the state level, Mr. Ross served as an officer of the Tennessee Bar Association and was a founder and president of the Tennessee Bar Foundation. He was also a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Services will be on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Calvary Episcopal Church, 102 North Second Street in Memphis. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, Mr. Clark suggested gifts in his memory be sent to Calvary Church; Sewanee, the University of the South, 735 University Ave., Sewanee, TN 37383; The Baylor School, 171 Baylor School Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405; or a charity of the donor's choice.

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TBJ: Gift-Tax Exemption Expiration Explained

On Dec. 31, the $5.2 million gift-tax exemption expires, making your job helping your clients with year-end gifts even more important. Hunter Mobley and Jeffrey Mobley help you know the details for this year in the November Tennessee Bar Journal. The issue also gives a glimpse into the history of Nashville's Supreme Court Building in preparation for its 75th anniversary celebration next month. Read these and much more -- and don't miss Jackie Dixon's president's column and Bill Haltom's humor column as they both give their takes on being thankful -- and how cornbread figures in.

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Memorial Service Set for Paul Campbell Jr.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Oct. 22 at First Centenary United Methodist Church in Chattanooga for Paul Campbell Jr., who died last Friday. Visitation will begin at 1:30 in the church. A funeral service was held on Monday for the longtime Chattanooga lawyer. Memorials may be made to any charity, but the family notes its collective appreciation for hospice services as well as their parents' attachment to the church. Read Mr. Campbell's obituary in the Times Free Press

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Chattanooga Lawyer Paul Campbell Jr., 96, Dies

Lawyer Paul Campbell Jr. died this morning in Chattanooga. He was 96. A graduate of George Washington University Law School, Campbell was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1940 and joined his father in law practice at the firm the elder Mr. Campbell founded in 1908, which continues today as Campbell & Campbell. Campbell was a special agent for the FBI and also served in the United States Navy Reserve. He was the father of former Tennessee Bar Association President Paul Campbell III. Arrangements are not available at this time.

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Event to Celebrate Court Building Will Preview Judiciary Museum, Constitutions

The Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society will host a cocktail reception Dec. 4 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the Supreme Court building in Nashville. At the celebration, attendees will be given an exclusive preview of the new Tennessee Judiciary Museum, and will see the original 1796, 1835 and 1870 constitutions of Tennessee. Tickets are $100 per person -- limited to 250 people -- and can be purchased by contacting Joy Day at 615-771-5008 or at jday@sutter-law.com.

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Wade to Be Sworn In as Chief Justice Sept. 1

Justice Gary R. Wade is to be sworn in as the 29th chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court at 10 a.m. on Sept. 1 at the Sevier County Courthouse. He will succeed Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark, who has served as chief justice since Sept. 1, 2010. On Sept. 5, Gov. Bill Haslam will administer the ceremonial oath to Wade at the Knoxville Bar Association’s annual dinner honoring the Supreme Court. Wade was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2006 by Gov. Phil Bredesen. Prior to his appointment, Wade served on the Court of Criminal Appeals for 19 years and was elected by his colleagues to serve as presiding judge from 1998 to 2006. Learn more from the Administrative Office of the Courts

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TBA Programs Named Best in State

News from the Tennessee Bar Journal Editorial Board
Two Tennessee Bar Association programs were named the best in the state by the Tennessee Society of Association Executives (TNSAE) at a luncheon and award ceremony in Nashville July 20. The Tennessee Bar Journal -– the TBA’s flagship publication -- was named best magazine for the third time. In addition, the TBA Young Lawyers Division was recognized for its Judicial Internship Program, which matches Tennessee law students with trial judges across the state for summer internships. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur was on hand to accept the awards.

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Study: Elected Judges More Likely for Discipline Than Appointed

A California study shows that judges who are first elected are more likely to be disciplined than initially appointed judges. Other findings of the report from the state Commission on Judicial Performance said that judges previously sanctioned by the commission made up a large share of disciplined judges; male judges were about twice as likely to be disciplined as female judges; and judges on small courts were more frequently sanctioned than judges on larger courts. ABAJournal.com has the details

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Opinion: Tenn. Plan a National Model, Don't Change It

In an opinion piece in the Tennessean today, American Bar Association President William T. 'Bill' Robinson explains how Tennessee's system for selecting appellate court judges, the Tennessee Plan, is nationally respected as "an open process that is as free from political influence as possible." He warns that a proposed constitutional amendment would change the system "for the worse" and would "politicize the courts and diminish the perception of appellate judges as fair, impartial and well-qualified." The proposed amendment allows the governor to appoint judges who have gone through no public screening process, with no assurance that a broad candidate pool had been considered, he points out, saying "it is critical for courts to be insulated from undue political influence."

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New Judicial Conduct Rules Effective July 1

The Tennessee Supreme Court today reissued the comprehensive rewrite of its Code of Judicial Conduct, adopted on Jan. 4, making a few minor changes in campaign activity provisions. Most of the rules changes came as the result of a two-year effort by the Tennessee Bar Association to revise the rules for the first time since 1990. New recusal standards and procedure were a major focus of the TBA effort. The new Code of Judicial Conduct, which is Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10, will take effect on July 1. Learn more from the Administrative Office of the Courts

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Jackson Lawyer Takes Office as TBA Vice President

Jonathan O. Steen to lead group in 2014

NASHVILLE, June 12, 2012 -- Jackson lawyer Jonathan O. Steen took office as the Tennessee Bar Association's vice president at the association's annual convention in Memphis on Friday. The move puts him in line to assume the presidency in June 2014. 

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Sevierville Lawyer Takes Office as TBA President-Elect

Cynthia Richardson Wyrick to lead group in 2013

NASHVILLE, June 12, 2012 -- Sevierville lawyer Cynthia Richardson Wyrick took office as the Tennessee Bar Association's president-elect at the association's annual convention in Memphis on Friday. The move puts her in line to assume the presidency in June 2013. During her time in office, Wyrick hopes to encourage more citizens to run for public service, increase professionalism in the practice of law, and provide greater support for lawyers who open solo practices.

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'Section Cup' Winners Named at TBA Convention

News from the Appellate Practice, Criminal Justice and Health Care Law Sections
Recipients of the 2012 Section Cup were announced recently at the Section Chairs Roundtable, kicking off the TBA Convention in Memphis. TBA President Danny Van Horn created the Section Cup to encourage service to section members. Over the past year, sections accumulated points for holding meetings and CLEs or providing new services to members. Sections of like size competed against each other for the honor. 

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Sellers, Helper Elected to TBA Board

At the meeting of the Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors on Saturday, two were elected to fill open seats. Andrew Sellers will represent the 7th District and Kim Helper will represent the 6th District until next year's election.

Dixon Takes Office; Lawyers Honored at Luncheon

Lawyers Luncheon Highlight of 131st Annual TBA Convention

Nashville lawyer Jacqueline B. Dixon took office as the Tennessee Bar Association's 130th president at the association's annual convention in Memphis today. After being sworn into office by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Connie Clark (above), Dixon laid out her vision for the year, which will include a focus on civics education, civility in the profession, pro bono efforts and working to preserve an impartial judiciary.

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