News

Legal Aid Conference Highlights Work of Judiciary

A three-day conference this week celebrating the Legal Service Corporation’s 40th anniversary brought out dignitaries such as Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but most of the gratitude went to state judges who are leading the way in efforts to increase public funding for unmet legal needs, the ABA Journal reports. Among the sessions offered was one led by New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who interviewed justices from nine state supreme courts. The jurists shared how they are working to increase public funding and find other ways to stem the crisis of unmet legal needs.

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Grant Will Fund ‘Know Your Rights’ Training for Immigrants

The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center/Immigrant Rights Project has received a grant of $8,830 from GiVE 365, The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis’ dollar-a-day philanthropy program. The group will partner with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and Memphis Immigration Advocates to provide compressive “Know Your Rights” training to immigrant communities in Memphis. Formed in 2010, GiVE 365 members donate $365 a year, pool their money, and vote on the annual grant recipients. A total of $62,600 was given this year to support collaborative nonprofit efforts, the Memphis Daily News reports.

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LAET Chattanooga Wins $10,000 in Geo Adventure Race

The Chattanooga office of Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) won the second place $10,000 prize at the “The Greater Race” last Saturday morning in downtown Chattanooga in celebration of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga’s 50th anniversary. The foundation selected 25 Chattanooga non-profits it has funded in the past to take part in the geo adventure race. Each of the selected organizations supplied a team of four racers on bicycles and two additional volunteers.

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Legal Aid Office to Reopen in Cleveland

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will celebrate the grand reopening of its Bradley County office tomorrow at noon. The new office is located at 166 North Ocoee, directly across from the Bradley County Courthouse. Thursday’s celebration will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by tours of the new office. Local dignitaries, United Way leadership, judges, members of the Bradley County Bar Association, and a representative from Gov. Haslam’s office are expected to attend. “In 2010, LAET’s budget was devastated by deep cuts in our federal appropriation, and we were forced to close our Cleveland office,” Russell Fowler, associate director for LAET’s Southern Region said in a press release. “But civil legal needs for low-income Bradley Countians have continued to increase. United Way recognized those needs and worked to form a partnership with LAET. The reopening of the Cleveland office is due in large part to that partnership.”

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Barker Kicks Off LAET Fundraising Campaign

Former Tennessee Chief Justice William M. “Muecke” Barker, of counsel with the firm of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC, was the keynote speaker at Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s (LAET) Southern Region Annual Campaign Kick Off Breakfast in Chattanooga today. Barker reviewed the history of the court’s access to justice initiatives and addressed the funding challenges faced by legal aid programs. He called on individual lawyers and law firms to support LAET’s fundraising campaign and pro bono programs in Chattanooga. Those wishing to donate may do so online or by sending a check to LAET, 502 Gay St., Ste 404, Knoxville, TN 37902.

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Steen Launches Medical-Legal Partnerships Initiative

TBA President Jonathan Steen launched plans for developing Medical-Legal Partnerships – a key 2014 TBA initiative – during an Equal Justice University (EJU) luncheon yesterday in Murfreesboro. The Partnerships will engage professionals from both fields to create more comprehensive and responsive healthcare teams. To help support their development, the TBA has formed a Medical Legal Partnership Working Group. Nearly 250 lawyers, law students and other advocates were at the annual conference for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community, which is hosted by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and co-sponsored by the TBA. Along with Steen's address, the event featured the presentation of the annual Access to Justice Awards, continuing education and opportunities for networking through task force meetings and social functions. Other speakers at the 2014 EJU included retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder, civil rights leader Diane Nash and former TBA President Buck Lewis, who received the inaugural award named in Justice Holder’s honor. See photos and learn more about the event.

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Equal Justice University Celebrates Access to Justice Efforts in Tennessee

Annual Conference Welcomed Nearly 250 to Middle Tennessee

Nearly 250 lawyers, law students and other advocates gathered for the annual Equal Justice University (EJU) this week in Murfreesboro. EJU is the annual conference for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community, hosted by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and co-sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association. Highlights of conference included presentation of the annual Access to Justice Awards, engaging keynote remarks, continuing education and opportunities for networking through task force meetings and social functions. Presenters at the 2014 EJU included retir

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Legal Aid Hiring Medical Partnership Attorney

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands is now accepting applications for a lawyer to work out of Nashville's Shade Tree Clinic, a medical legal partnership clinic that is staffed by medical students from Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College. The Tennessean reports that the position is being vacated by Chay Sengkhounmany who is going into private practice. Download a job description.

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Legal Aid Receives $5,000 Grant from ABA

The American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation Legal Services Access to Justice Committee has awarded Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands a $5,000 Justice Assistance Fund Grant. The money will be used to expand and deepen relationships with rural attorneys, private law firms, government agencies and private businesses for Legal Aid Society’s Volunteer Lawyers Program as well as to expand its Campaign for Equal Justice.

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Friday Deadline for Public Service Awards Nominations

Nominations for TBA Public Service Awards are due by Friday. The annual awards recognize lawyers and law students who have shown exceptional commitment to increasing access to justice to individuals and communities. Caregories are: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization primarily involved in providing legal representation to the indigent, work performed by a private attorney and work performed by a law student volunteer. Nominations may be submitted via the TBA website or by email to Liz Todaro. Download a hard copy submission form to do so. Submissions should include a narrative of the individual’s accomplishments, the nominator’s reasons for selecting the individual and a description of how the nominee meets the award criteria. Awards are presented at the annual Public Service Awards Luncheon in January.

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Reminder: TJC Celebration Set for Thursday

The Tennessee Justice Center will kick off a new year with a celebration this Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The group recently announced that 20 law firms have committed to help it serve more families across the state. The celebration will recognize these firms for “Raising the Bar.” All friends of TJC are invited. The event will be held in the offices of Bass, Berry & Sims, located on the 28th Floor of the Pinnacle at Symphony Place, 150 Third Ave. S., Nashville. Free drinks provided by the Patterson House. Learn more or RSVP online.

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Legal Aid Announces People’s Law School Fall Schedule

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has announced its fall People’s Law School schedule. The free program, which is taught by Legal Aid Society attorneys and volunteer attorneys, provides an overview of common civil legal issues people may face, such as renters' rights and responsibilities and Social Security options. For the first time, People’s Law School is offering a class on child support. Learn more at www.las.org.

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TJC Celebration to Honor Firm Involvement

The Tennessee Justice Center will kick off a new year with a celebration on Sept. 4 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The group recently announced that 20 law firms have committed to help it serve more families across the state. The celebration will recognize these firms for “Raising the Bar.” All friends of TJC are invited. The event will be held in the offices of Bass, Berry & Sims, located on the 28th Floor of the Pinnacle at Symphony Place, 150 Third Ave. S., Nashville. Learn more or RSVP online.

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Wednesday is Deadline for EJU Registration

Tennessee lawyers who want to attend this year’s Equal Justice University (EJU), set for Sept. 10-12 in Murfreesboro, have until the end of the day Wednesday to register. A schedule for the event, which is cosponsored by the TBA, is available online as is the registration form. The program will offer 40 hours of CLE and keynote addresses by civil rights leader Diane Nash, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder and TBA President Jonathan Steen, who will speak on medical-legal partnerships, one focus of his presidency this year.

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Justice Holder Featured in ‘Litigants Without Lawyers’ Video

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder's appearance in a congressional briefing on “Litigants Without Lawyers: Equal Justice Under Threat in State Courts” is now available on video. The event was sponsored by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and featured justices from four states. The justices said that large numbers of unrepresented individuals lead to slow dockets and less efficiency.

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New Firm Offers Reduced Rates for Criminal Defense

Three northeast Tennessee lawyers have opened the Criminal Defense Clinic (CDC) to provide legal services for those who need a criminal defense attorney but do not qualify for a court-appointed one or cannot afford to pay full price for one. Jim Bowman, Chris Byrd and Nikki Himebaugh maintain separate legal offices, but collaborate on cases accepted by the CDC, the Johnson City Press reports. The attorneys assess each client and apply a sliding fee scale for the service. The trio stress they are not trying to undercut fees other lawyers charge, just trying to help defendants who legitimately do not have the money to pay for a lawyer. The CDC is currently taking cases in Washington and Unicoi counties.

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Medical-Legal Partnership Attorney Sought

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) has an immediate opening for an attorney in its Nashville office to direct its Middle Tennessee Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) program. The attorney will manage a program that provides legal services to the patients of its medical partners and will handle a general civil practice, including domestic violence, housing, mortgage foreclosure, consumer, elder law, health and benefit law and immigration. Learn more about the position and how to apply in the attached job description.

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TBA Accepting Nominations for Public Service Awards

The TBA each year recognizes lawyers and law students who have shown exceptional commitment to increasing access to justice to individuals and communities. The awards recognize pro bono service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization primarily involved in providing legal representation to the indigent, work performed by a private attorney and work performed by a law student volunteer. The nomination period for 2014 honorees is now open. Nominations may be submitted via the TBA website or by email to Liz Todaro. Download a hard copy submission form. Nominations are due no later than Sept. 5. Submissions should include a narrative of the individual’s accomplishments, the nominator’s reasons for selecting the individual and a description of how the nominee meets the award criteria. Awards are presented at the Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon in January.

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Access to Justice Award Winners Announced

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services will present this year’s Access to Justice awards on Sept. 10 at its annual Equal Justice University. Former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis will receive the inaugural Janice M. Holder Award, named for retiring Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder. The award honors an individual who has advanced the quality of justice statewide by ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all. Theresa Vay-Smith of Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands will receive the B. Riney Green Award, which recognizes the advocate who has coordinated statewide efforts to improve the quality of legal services for low income Tennesseans. Charlie McDaniel, with Legal Aid East Tennessee, will receive the New Advocate of the Year Award honoring advocates who have excelled within their first five years in public interest law.

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New ABA President Calls for Innovation in Delivery of Legal Services

South Carolina lawyer William C. Hubbard accepted the gavel as the new president of the ABA and urged lawyers to join him in his signature effort: closing the legal services delivery gap for the poor. Hubbard outlined several ways to accomplish that goal, including connecting lawyers, judges and academics with technology innovators who are spending millions of dollars on finding new ways of providing legal services. “We must marry this creativity with our own justice system to provide greater access while protecting the public,” he said. He also noted that several specific issues “clamor for our attention and rational evidence-based solutions.” These include a criminal justice system that is breaking down fiscally, the continued imprisonment of low-level offenders, the number of mentally ill in prison, the need for more pro bono representation for domestic violence victims, and the balance between privacy and security. Read more about Hubbard’s goals for the year in the ABA Journal.

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ABA House of Delegates Acts on Range of Issues

The ABA Annual Meeting continued yesterday with a number of actions by the group’s House of Delegates. The body approved new standards and procedural rules to be used in the accreditation process for U.S. law schools and adopted resolutions urging:

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McIver Honored at ABA Events

Memphis attorney Harrison D. McIver II, executive director/CEO of Memphis Area Legal Services, was honored two times during the ABA Annual meeting in Boston. First, McIver received the 2014 Dorsey Award in recognition of exceptional work as a legal aid adviser. Later he was honored for his service to the Tennessee legal community at the Tennessee Reception, an event hosted by the TBA with support from the University of Tennessee College of Law, University of Memphis School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. See photos from the events.

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LAET’s Autocross Event in Knoxville This Month

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host a fundraiser at Knoxville’s Chilhowee Park on Aug. 16-17. The 4th Annual Solo in the Park Autocross competition is sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America and features sports car enthusiasts driving a timed precision course. More than 100 competitors are expected during the two-day event. All proceeds benefit Knoxville Family Justice Center and Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Driver registration is $35. Spectator admission is $5 per person or $10 per family. For a $10 donation, spectators may ride the course at competition speed with a participating driver. For more information visit the event website or call (865) 637-0484.

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Tennessee Lawyers Honored for Public Service at ABA Events

Tennessee lawyers received recognition across the board during this past week at the ABA Annual Conference in Boston. 


YLD Recognized for Diversity, Public Service, Overall Programming


YLD ABA Award Winners

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Incumbent Judges, DAs, PDs Defeated by Challengers

Thursday was a day for incumbent wins overall, but there were exceptions, with several Republicans upsetting Democrats across the state. In District 6, incumbent Chancellor Daryl Fansler was beaten by Republican Clarence Pridemore Jr., and Circuit Court Judge Harold Wimberly Jr. was bested by Republican William "Bill" Ailor. Read more in Knoxnews. In District 8, Elizabeth Asbury defeated incumbent Chancellor Andy Tillman, who was appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam in April 2013.  In the same district, incumbent District Attorney General Lori Phillips-Jones was defeated by Jared Effler. Both are independents, but made the news in the spring when Phillips-Jones fired Effler, a 14-year prosecutor in the district. Two other district attorneys general were defeated: Mickey Layne, a Democrat, lost to Republican Craig Northcott in Coffee County, the Manchester Times reports, and Democrat Hansel J. McCadams fell to Republican Matt Stowe in Madison County. In District 10 Criminal Court, Republican Sandra N. C. Donaghy defeated Democrat incumbent Amy Armstrong Reedy, Chattanoogan.com reports. In Distrtict 26, the Jackson Sun reports that incumbent Circuit Court Judge Nathan B. Pride lost to Republican Kyle Atkins.

Two incumbent public defenders lost their jobs in this election. In District 11, Democrat Ardena Garth lost to Steven E. Smith, a Republican. Democrat David N. Brady lost to Republican Craig P. Fickling in District 13.  Also, Smyrna Town Judge Keta Barnes was defeated by challenger Lynn England Alexander. The Secretary of State’s Office has more results.

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