News

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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Tarpley to Chair ABA Journal Board

John Tarpley of Lewis King Kreig & Waldrop in Nashville has been named chair of the Editorial Board for the American Bar Association Journal. Tarpley, former president of the Tennessee Bar Association, will assume the role in August for a three-year term.

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ABA Meeting Features Justice Ginsburg, Sen. Graham

The Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association kicks off tomorrow with a keynote address by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is expected to talk about how the practice of law can be enhanced by an appreciation for opera. Later in the day, she will join Israeli Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran and M. Cherif Bassiouni, president emeritus of the International Human Rights Institute at DePaul University College of Law, for a program comparing constitutional law in North America and the Middle East. Also on the agenda is a keynote speech by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, who will address the Opening Assembly. The meeting will wrap up with the ABA’s first ever battle of the bands featuring five groups of lawyers from across the country, and the oath of office for Chicago native Laurel G. Bellows, who will be installed as the group’s new president. Read more about the meeting

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Firm Honored for Death Penalty Representation

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP will be among those honored by the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project for its commitment to prisoners on death row, with the Exceptional Service Award. The firm, with offices in Nashville and six other Southeastern cities, has provided pro bono legal assistance for inmates on death row since 1988. In total, Bradley Arant lawyers have helped provide representation for 22 prisoners, nearly all of them from the extremely active death penalty jurisdiction of Alabama. The awards will be presented at the Project’s 2012 Volunteer Recognition & Awards Event this Friday during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

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Civil Rights Lawyer to Receive ABA Medal

The American Bar Association (ABA) will present its highest award, the ABA Medal, to Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, when the group meets next month in Chicago. In announcing the news, ABA President Bill Robinson said Dees is an outstanding example of a lawyer who has moved the country toward tolerance and equality. He is known for winning cases that helped integrate government and public institutions and for fighting white supremacist hate groups. WKRN reports

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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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Report: Just Over Half 2011 Law Grads Find Legal Jobs

Only 55 percent of people in the law classes of 2011 are known to have found employment in full-time legal jobs, according to an American Bar Association report released Friday. Above the Law looks into what that means.

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Robinson: Lawyers Need to Speak Up on Court Funding

American Bar Association President Bill Robinson III implored members of the Chattanooga Bar Association to bring public awareness to a nationwide funding crisis in state courts, during his address at the group's annual Law Day lunch on Thursday. "We must stand up and speak out for our courts," he said, adding that 42 states had reduced their budgets for courts last year and no state contributes more than 5 percent of its budget to courts. Robinson said it's the responsibility of those in the legal profession to educate the public on the importance of the judicial branch. The Times Free Press has more

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ABA Ethics Commission Issues Findings

The American Bar Association's Commission on Ethics 20/20 has made final recommendations about the impact of technology and globalization on the practice of law, as well as the structure for regulating U.S. lawyers. The ABA House of Delegates will consider a series of resolutions based on those recommendations when it meets in August. Discussion will center on lawyer mobility, legal process outsourcing and maintaining client confidences. Among the report’s main findings are that (1) lawyers must understand technology in order to provide clients with the competent and cost-effective services they deserve, and (2) globalization means that more clients are confronting legal problems that cross jurisdictional lines, requiring lawyers to cross real and virtual borders. The ABA Journal has more from the report

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Chattanooga Bar Holds Law Day Event Thursday

The Chattanooga Bar Association will host its annual Law Day celebration on Thursday at the Sheraton Read House. The event will feature remarks from William T. "Bill" Robinson III, president of the American Bar Association; presentation of the 2012 Liberty Bell Award; announcement of the Law Day High School Essay Scholarship recipient; announcement of the 2012 class of Chattanooga Bar Foundation Fellows; and presentation of the Judge W. Neil Thomas III Paralegal Utilization Award. For more information contact the CBA at (423) 756-3222 or visit the association online.

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