July 2017 - Vol. 53, No. 7


CLIFFORD JOY HARRISON of Nashville died on May 8. He was 92. Before earning his law degree from Nashville School of Law, Harrison served in World War II, where he flew 35 missions in Europe as a part of the Army Air Corps. Harrison continued his military service in the Air Force reserve and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, and was later a member of the Middle Tennessee WWII Fighter Pilots Association. He began his professional career at Third National Bank in 1950 and retired as Vice Chairman of the Board.

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The Tennessee Bar Association has named Nashville lawyer Joycelyn Stevenson as its new executive director. Stevenson fills the position held by Allan F. Ramsaur for 19 years. He continues as the TBA’s executive director emeritus. (Look for a more in-depth story about each of them in an upcoming issue of the Journal.)

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Tennessee Civil Rights Cold Case Act Signed by Governor 
A bill that would create a legislative committee to study unsolved civil rights cold cases was signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam on June 6.

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President's Perspective: The Challenges of Change

It’s a time of real change here at the Tennessee Bar Association.

By now, you probably know that our long-time executive director has taken emeritus status, and his successor will be joining us in a matter of days. The lawyer who guided us, seemingly effortlessly, through this change was my predecessor, Jason Long. Of course, he did this on top of the “usual” duties.

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But, Seriously Folks: Should Lawyers Vet the President’s Tweets?

Forty-four years ago, a young Tennessee Senator named Howard Baker appeared on national television during a Senate hearing and asked the following compound question: “What did the President know, and when did the President know it?”

The question that should now be asked is, “What did the President tweet, and why did he tweet it?” Our 45th President, Donald John Trump, has become our Tweeter-in-Chief.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously communicated to the American people through his “Fireside Chats.” President Trump communicates through his midnight tweets.

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Crime & Punishment: Bitcoin Criminals

Crime is changing. Law enforcement has better tools and more information. Investigators solve cases now with DNA, cell phone location, and social media posts. At the same time, crime has become more sophisticated. Drug dealers and thieves have adopted technology designed to make detection impossible. As with crime throughout the ages, though, criminals are still making false assumptions about what can be discovered and are simply making old fashioned mistakes.

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Why Mentor?

Covington lawyer J. Houston Gordon guesses he has mentored 15 to 20 young lawyers over the years since being licensed to practice in 1970, after graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

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The First Case of Temporary Insanity

To be responsible for a crime, the defendant must traditionally have criminal intent, mens rea, a guilty mind. Hence, the accused cannot be punished for an act perpetrated while insane. Sir Edward Coke observed in 1628: “A madman is only punished by his madness.”[1] And as an 1828 British decision declared, “Insanity vitiates all acts.”[2]

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Spousal Annuities

An Old and New Planning Option

Annuities are one of the oldest and most widely used tools for retirement, long-term care, and Medicaid planning Annuities can be thought of as reverse life insurance policies. Where life insurance protects against the risk of death, traditionally annuities were designed to protect against the risk of outliving an individual’s funds.

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The Importance of Being Mentored

Each Generation Has a Lot to Teach … and Learn

I sat surrounded by paperwork, almost, it seemed, up to my ears. My desk was covered. The table behind my desk was covered. Part of the floor was covered. It was my second week working as a trial lawyer in a rural West Tennessee firm, and I was now responsible for answering 20 or so motions in limine filed by Ford Motor Company weeks before the trial of a complex products liability case pending in Memphis.

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