News

Judge Donald to Receive ABA Pickering Award

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bernice Donald will receive the American Bar Association’s 2014 John H. Pickering Award of Achievement during the group’s Annual Meeting in Boston this August. Donald, a native of Mississippi, worked for Memphis Area Legal Services and the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office before being elected the first female African-American judge in Tennessee. She later moved from General Sessions court to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the U.S. District Court for western Tennessee. She was appointed to her current position in 2010. In nominating Donald, California attorney Pauline Weaver wrote, “Judge Donald represents the best of the profession. She has consistently demonstrated the kind of integrity, legal ability, access to justice and public service that would make John Pickering proud.”

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Chief Justice Roberts to Give Keynote at ABA Annual Meeting

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will be keynote speaker to the ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates during the group's Annual Meeting in Boston this August. Roberts will talk about the historical and present-day significance of the Magna Carta, kicking off the ABA’s commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the signing of the document in 1215. The ABA journal has more.

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Help Celebrate the Magna Carta's 800th Anniversary

In anticipation of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015, the ABA is planning a range of events to promote the historical and contemporary relevance of the document, including new publications, a London meeting for lawyers and a tour of Runnymede. In addition, the ABA is partnering with the Library of Congress to create a traveling and stationary exhibit. The traveling exhibit will launch in August and will travel across the country to law schools, courthouses, public libraries and other venues. Educational and commemorative events also are planned. Lawyers can get involved by helping to refurbish the ABA Memorial at Runnymede, promoting awareness of the charter and supporting events that mark the anniversary.

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ABA President Addresses Attorney-Client Privilege

American Bar Association President James R. Silkenat responded to a letter from National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander by saying, the ABA "looks forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the NSA to ensure that American lawyers and their clients have confidence that their privileged communications are appropriately protected." The exchange follows the ABA’s Feb. 20 questioning of the agency’s policies to protect the attorney-client privilege in the course of its intelligence mission.

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TBA Executive Honored at ABA Event

The Tennessee Bar Association and several of Tennessee's law schools joined together to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at a reception Saturday during the annual ABA Midyear Meeting in Chicago. The "Tennessee Reception" is a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. Ramsaur serves as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, representing the National Association of Bar Executives. See photos from the event at the link above.

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TBA Executive Honored for ABA Activities

The Tennessee Bar Association and several of Tennessee's law schools joined together to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at a reception Saturday during the annual ABA Midyear Meeting in Chicago. The "Tennessee Reception" is a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. Ramsaur serves as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, representing the National Association of Bar Executives.

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ABA Accepting Nominations for Appointments

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced it is accepting applications and nominations for 2014-2015 Presidential Appointments to ABA standing committees, special committees, commissions and other entities and initiatives. The online application process opened this week and is available until Feb. 28.

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Former TBA President Ashworth Honored at Reception

Attorneys from across the country joined their Tennessee colleagues at a reception honoring former TBA President Gail Vaughn Ashworth during the recent ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The event was hosted by the Tennessee Bar Association with generous support from the University of Tennessee College of Law, the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School and Belmont University College of Law. See photos from the event.

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YLD Brings Home Awards from ABA Meeting

The TBA YLD was recognized for a number of programs and activities at the ABA YLD Annual Meeting this past weekend in San Francisco. The YLD was awarded first place in the Minority Project category for its new invited guest program, which seeks to include the broadest range of perspectives and experiences on its governing board by inviting representatives from all specialty and minority bars in the state to attend meetings and participate in decision-making. It also received special recognition for its annual Mock Trial Competition and its overall member service and public service initiatives. Read more in a message from YLD President David McDowell.

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Tennessee Lawyers Selected for National Offices

Four Tennessee lawyers were selected for leadership positions in the ABA and other national organizations this past week: former TBA President and Memphis lawyer Danny Van Horn was named chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Membership; Knoxville lawyer Carole Lynch Worthington was elected to an at-large seat in the ABA House of Delegates; and Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper was named to another term as a delegate to the ABA House, representing the National Association of Attorneys General. In addition, former Nashville Bar Association President and TBA Delegate to the ABA Jonathan Cole was elected secretary of the National Conference of Bar Presidents -- a move that puts him in line to lead the group in several years. Cole is only the third Tennessean to hold that position, following in the footsteps of Memphis lawyer Shepherd Tate and Worthington.

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New York Lawyer Takes Office as ABA President

Accepting the presidential gavel today at the ABA Annual Meeting, New York lawyer James Silkenat laid out a series of initiatives he intends to focus on during his year in office. These include a renewed effort to improve access to justice, creating employment opportunities for new lawyers and addressing the public policy issues of gun violence, immigration and election law reform. The ABA Journal reports.

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Justice Kennedy, ABA House Address Human Trafficking

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy spoke out against human trafficking on Saturday after attendees at the ABA Annual Meeting had heard from Minh Dang, a victim of human slavery. In his keynote address, Kennedy recounted statistics indicating there are 27 million people being held as slaves around the world, with at least 100,000 of them in the United States. "Let's stop human trafficking," he said. "I urge you to continue to bring this to the world's attention." On Monday, the ABA House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved model legislation for states to use in adopting new prohibitions against human trafficking. In related news, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission announced it has begun using civil actions -- which require a lesser burden of proof than criminal actions -- against those who traffic or abuse employees, while a federal judge struck down a New Jersey law aimed at fighting the sexual trafficking of minors. The ABA Journal has more on these developments.

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Lewis Earns ABA Presidential Citation

Former TBA President and Memphis attorney George T. "Buck" Lewis today was awarded a Presidential Citation from ABA President Laurel Bellows at the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon in San Francisco. The presidential citation is a new award that allows the ABA president to recognize lawyers who have made "noteworthy contributions to the legal profession and the ABA," and who exhibit "outstanding leadership qualities." The luncheon was being held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting. See a photo from the event on the TBA's homepage.

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Holder, Clinton Address ABA House of Delegates

The ABA House of Delegates, meeting today and tomorrow in San Francisco, faces a full agenda of resolutions but “the early buzz [was] over two legal superstars" who addressed the House today, the ABA Journal reports. This morning, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder outlined a new crime and prison policy focusing on what the administration believes is an over-reliance on mandatory minimum sentences. Holder said the department would be directing the nation’s prosecutors to avoid these sentences for “low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or drug organizations.” Then this afternoon, Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared before the House to receive the ABA Medal, the association's highest award. The Washington Post has more on both of those stories.

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Nashville Lawyer to Lead ABA’s Environmental Law Section

Stites & Harbison attorney William L. Penny is the new chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, the Herald Online reports. A longtime Nashville resident, Penny is the first Tennessean to lead the group though he has served as vice chair, chair-elect and budget officer. Penny has practiced environmental law and litigation for more than 30 years and has served as general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation. He also was the first chair of the TBA’s Environmental Law Section and the first chair of the Nashville Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee.

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Lewis to Receive ABA Presidential Citation

Former TBA President and Memphis attorney George T. "Buck" Lewis will receive a Presidential Citation from ABA President Laurel Bellows at the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon Aug. 12 in San Francisco. The presidential citation is a new award that allows the ABA president to recognize lawyers who have made "noteworthy contributions to the legal profession and the ABA," and who exhibit "outstanding leadership qualities." The luncheon is being held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting. Representatives from the Tennessee legal community will be in attendance to celebrate Lewis' recognition.

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State Report: Trafficking Victims Need More Help

Tennessee ramped up criminal penalties for human traffickers this year, but rehabilitative services for survivors remain disjointed and reliable data remain elusive according to a new state study. The 97-page report, which has been in development for a year, found that communities do not have sufficient services, such as housing, relocation assistance, transportation and legal aid, to help trafficking victims. The report also calls for counseling victims within four hours of their discovery, relying on nonprofits to provide follow-up contact with survivors, creating a central data collection point for reporting trafficking incidents, creating four new staff positions in the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), and designating DHS and DCS as the point agencies for coordinating victim services. The Tennessean has more on the story.

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Former ABA President Honored with Service Award

William T. “Bill” Robinson III, immediate past president of the ABA, will be presented with the National Center for State Courts’ Distinguished Service Award at the Conference of Chief Justices next week in Vermont, the ABA reports. He is being recognized for his work supporting sufficient funding for federal and state courts. Robinson, member in charge of the Northern Kentucky offices of Frost Brown Todd, also is licensed in Tennessee and is a member of the TBA.

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ABA Honoring Judge It Once Opposed

Alabama's first black federal judge, U.W. Clemon of Birmingham, will be honored next month by the ABA despite the fact that the group opposed his appointment 33 years ago, WKRN reports. The ABA is scheduled to give its 2013 John H. Pickering Award to Clemon, who is now retired, at its annual meeting in San Francisco. Clemon said he was gratified to be selected for the award and that it showed how far the association had come. President Jimmy Carter nominated Clemon in 1980, and he was approved by the U.S. Senate though the ABA found at the time that he was unqualified.

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Drafter of ABA Model Code Dies

John F. Sutton, former dean of the University of Texas Austin School of Law and drafter of the ABA’s Model Code of Professional Conduct, died Friday at age 95, the ABA Journal reports. A Texas native and 1941 graduate of the law school, Sutton served with the FBI as a special agent at the start of World War II and then served in Judge Advocate General’s Corps during the Korean War. From 1950-1957 he was in private practice and from 1957-2003 he served on the law school faculty at his alma mater, serving as dean from 1979-1984. From 1965-1970, Sutton was one of the original draftsmen of the ABA's Model Code of Professional Responsibility, which replaced the 1908 Canons of Ethics. Later, he consulted on the drafting of the association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Visitation and funeral services will be held Friday and Saturday in San Angelo. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made to the First Presbyterian Church of San Angelo, the San Angelo Area Foundation or a charity of one's choice.

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Apply By Monday for ABA Posts

Tennessee lawyers interested in any of the more than 600 positions for which the ABA president makes appointments, should file their application by Monday. The TBA’s ABA Resource Committee is offering assistance to lawyers interested in applying for the various committees, commissions and other entities. Contact ABA Resource Committee Chair Jonathan Cole or ABA State Delegate Randy Noel for more information.

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ABA House Adopts Range of Resolutions

The ABA House of Delegates approved a range of resolutions today at its winter meeting in Dallas, the ABA Journal reports. Proposals garnering support included those urging lawmakers to provide adequate funding for federal courts and the Legal Services Corp.; creating a new national entity to help public defenders dealing with excessive caseloads; providing guidance for an amicus brief in a case on the patenting of isolated human genes; giving foreign lawyers limited authority to serve as in-house counsel in the United States; encouraging lawyers to provide unbundled legal services; clarifying a model rule dealing with conflicts of interest in multi jurisdictional cases; and urging federal courts to instruct grand jury members that they are not bound to indict just because a conviction can be obtained. The body also approved a series of resolutions addressing human trafficking, a key issue for ABA President Laurel G. Bellows.

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S.C. Lawyer in Line for 2014 ABA President

The ABA Nominating Committee yesterday confirmed its selection of William C. Hubbard, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Columbia, S.C., as the association's president-elect nominee. Hubbard, who served as chair of the House of Delegates from 2008 to 2010, is running unopposed, the ABA Journal reports. His nomination was announced at the ABA House of Delegates meeting today in Dallas, where the association is holding its 2013 Midyear Meeting. He will be inducted as president-elect this August and take office as president in August 2014.

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Apply Now for ABA Posts

Applications are now available for lawyers interested in being appointed to any of the more than 600 positions for which the American Bar Association (ABA) president makes appointments. The deadline for submitting applications is Feb. 25. The Tennessee Bar Association's ABA Resource Committee is offering assistance to lawyers interested in applying for service on the various committees, commissions and other entities to which the ABA president appoints. Contact ABA Resource Committee Chair Jonathan Cole or ABA State Delegate Randy Noel for further information about ways in which the committee can be of assistance.

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Tennessee Native, Former ABA President Dies

Wm. Reece Smith Jr., whose legal career was recounted in the book "A Consummate Lawyer", died Jan. 11 after a brief illness. He was 87. Smith was president of the American Bar Association from 1980-1981 and during that time established the ABA Center for Pro Bono. He also chaired the ABA's Committee on Legal Services for 12 years. During the 1980s, Smith opposed the Reagan Administration's efforts to defund the Legal Services Corporation and is credited with leading a lawyer "March on Washington" – an event that eventually led to the creation of ABA Day. Though he was born in Athens, Tenn., Smith attended the University of Florida College of Law and practiced in Tampa with the firm of Carlton Fields. Funeral services will be held Thursday at the Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the ABA Fund for Justice and Education, the Florida Bar Foundation, Bay Area Legal Services or the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation. Learn more about his life and the funeral arrangements from Carlton Fields.

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