News

IJM's Haugen: In Some Places 'People Die if Lawyers Don't Show Up'

The Belmont University College of Law presented its second Champions for Justice Award Wednesday to Gary Haugen, the president and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization that secures justice for victims of slavery and sexual exploitation. “Make your work in the law connect to things that matter to the satisfaction of your own soul,” Haugen told the students. “There are places in the world where people die if the lawyers don’t show up. In such desperate places, it turns out that lawyers desperately matter.” Haugen’s appearance at Belmont came the day after he joined President Barack Obama at the Clinton Global Initiative event in New York, where the president announced that he had signed an executive order to stem the crime of human trafficking, a major focus of IJM’s work.

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LSC to Give $3.4 Million in Grants

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has announced new technology grants to increase access to Web-based resources, enhance pro bono, expand websites for veterans and disaster recovery, and -- a new category this year -- improve data collection and analysis. Through its Technology Initiative Grants program, LSC plans to award 43 grants in 2012, totaling more than $3.4 million. The grants will fund LSC grantee programs in 25 states and the territory of Guam. Learn more

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5K to Support Public Interest Law

The Bly Roll Race for Justice will take place Friday on the campus of University of Tennessee Knoxville and will support students pursuing work in public interest law. The 5k event is named in memory of Roll, a member of the 2012 College of Law class. Read more or register for the event at The Informant.

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Behm, Kittos to Receive Equal Justice Awards

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services will present awards to Margaret L. Behm and Adrienne Kittos on Wednesday at the annual Equal Justice University. The 2012 B. Riney Green Award will be presented to Behm, who was the first chair of the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission. The 2012 New Advocate of the Year Award will be presented to Kittos from Justice for Our Neighbors-Tennessee. Equal Justice University, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Alliance of Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association, is the annual gathering of about 250 lawyers, advocates, professionals and pro bono attorneys involved in providing civil legal assistance across Tennessee. The event is at at Paris Landing State Park through Friday. Learn more about the awards

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CLE Grants to Fund Access to Justice Initiatives

The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization has awarded funds from its reserves for projects supporting the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Initiative and the creation of two new positions for attorneys. First, the grant will fund a new statewide toll-free number the public can call for legal information. It will be staffed by an attorney housed at the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Service. Learn more about the position. Second, the grant will pay to staff an initiative to develop new pro bono projects to help low-income Tennesseans get free legal advice. The position will focus on creating projects in areas of the state that do not currently have free legal resources for low-income individuals. Learn more about the AOC's pro bono coordinator position.

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New York Law Requires Pro Bono

The state of New York will require applicants to the state bar to complete 50 hours of pro bono work in order to practice law starting in 2015, the Wall Street Journal reports. Although 21 law schools have pro bono requirements for graduation, the law will be the first of its kind among the states.

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Legal Aid Announces Hall of Fame Inductees

Legal Aid of East Tennessee has inducted four people into its Pro Bono Hall of Fame, the Chattanoogan reports. The attorneys were chosen based on their commitment to pro bono, access to justice and the Legal Aid mission. This year's honorees are Richard D. Crotteau with Miller & Martin; Sam Elliott with Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon; Joseph C. Simpson with Husch Blackwell; and Glenn C. Stophel with Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel. 

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Fellowship Promotes Public Interest Law

The Ford Foundation is funding a special public interest fellowship at four law schools, the ABA Journal reports. First and second year students at Harvard, NYU, Stanford, and Yale will be eligible to apply for a 10-week summer program. Stanford fellowships will offer a focus on international as well as domestic public interest practice.

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Feds Closing 6 Courthouses in South; More Cuts Likely

The federal judiciary says it will close six courthouses in the South because of inadequate funding from Congress and the prospect of more cuts to come. Locations include Gadsen, Ala.; Pikeville, Ky.; Meridian, Miss.; Wilkesboro, N.C.; Beaufort, S.C.; and Amarillo, Texas, News Channel 5 reports. In addition to announcing the closings, the Judicial Conference asked all district courts to adopt shared administrative services and curb printing and mailing costs, according to the ABA Journal.

In related news, David Sentelle, chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, this week warned that federal civil jury trials in the United States likely would have to be suspended if Congress fails to reach a budget deal next year. As reported by the Associated Press, he also said that the nation’s probation system and payment for defense lawyers could be thrown into disarray. If Congress does not reach a budget deal by year’s end, some $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and tax increases automatically will kick in. According to Sentelle, the federal judiciary's share of the cuts would be more than $500 million.

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Public Defender Likely to Take Role in Memphis Juvenile Court

The office of the Public Defender will likely represent minors who cannot afford legal counsel in Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court proceedings, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell told the Memphis Daily News last week, but that funding issues are still being worked out. Appearing on Behind the Headlines, Luttrell said he believes it is a necessary and beneficial change and that staffing and funding issues can be overcome.

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TBA President to Speak at Equal Justice University

The 2012 Equal Justice University will feature a host of speakers and more than 40 educational sessions Sept. 26-29 at Paris Landing State Park. Among the speakers will be TBA President Jackie Dixon, who will address attendees at the Leadership Luncheon on Thursday and lead a CLE on domestic relations basics. For the first time, the conference also will offer a leadership/management track that includes four courses designed to improve leadership skills. They include Quality Supervision; Generational Issues in Supervision; Understanding and Analyzing Financial Statements of Nonprofits; and Supervision of New Attorneys, Law Students and Advocates. Check out all the offerings

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Concert to Raise Funds for Law School Scholarship

Nashville artists and members of the legal community are uniting for an evening of music, dinner, drinks and a silent auction on Sept. 13, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at 3rd and Lindsley. All proceeds will benefit the Robert L. Sullivan Scholarship at Vanderbilt Law School, which honors the late attorney’s commitment to legal aid. Learn more about the event or get tickets

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Services Set for LAET Attorney

Laura Rule, who managed the Blount County office of Legal Aid of East Tennessee, died this morning (Aug. 31). She was 65. Ms. Rule was a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she was a member of the nationally ranked Labor Law Moot Court Team. After completing a judicial clerkship for the Hon. Samuel L. Lewis on the Tennessee Court of Appeals, she became an associate at Reid & Priest in Manhattan. In 1993, she returned to Tennessee to work with the Blount County Public Defender. She joined Legal Aid in 2001. The family will receive friends from 3 to 5 p.m. on Monday at McCammon-Ammons-Click Funeral Home, 220 W. Broadway Ave. in Maryville. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, 858 Louisville Road in Alcoa. Burial will follow at Grandview Cemetary, 2304 Tuckaleechee Pike in Maryville. LAET’s Knoxville and Maryville offices will be closed on Tuesday. Memorial donations may be made to the LAET Blount County Office, 307 Ellis Ave., Maryville, TN 37801.

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Memphis Law Launches Curriculum Changes

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law has been making changes to its curriculum that it hopes will better prepare students for the changing nature of the legal profession. One such change is a new pro bono requirement that will require students entering the school this fall to complete 40 hours of supervised pro bono work before they graduate. Also starting this fall, students will have more flexibility in classes they take earlier in their education. The Memphis Daily News has more

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Todaro Joins TBA Staff, Will Handle Public Ed, Access to Justice

Elizabeth “Liz” Slagle Todaro joined the TBA staff this week to begin training as the new Access to Justice and Public Education Coordinator. She will take over later this fall when Sarah Hayman, who currently fills those roles, departs to have her first child. Todaro, a graduate of the City University of New York Law School, most recently led Nashville Debate – a comprehensive debate program for high school students. She also has served in a consulting role with the YWCA as a community educator and outreach coordinator for the agency’s Domestic Violence Center, and as program director for the Family and Children’s Service Crisis Center. A native of Nashville, Todaro graduated from Hume-Fogg High School. She earned her undergraduate degree from Emory University and worked in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., prior to attending law school.

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Lawyers Take Cases Pro Bono To Keep Steelman's Court Moving

A group of Chattanooga attorneys volunteered to take cases pro bono today in Judge Barry Steelman's Criminal Courtroom so that a backlog would not increase further until multiple recusal motions by Public Defender Ardena Garth are dealt with. Garth was in the courtroom continuing to step aside on all new cases, saying in an earlier motion that Judge Steelman has been "venomous" toward her office. Steelman has set a hearing for Monday afternoon on the recusal motions. The Chattanoogan has the update

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Legal Clinic Partnership Set in Chattanooga

Legal Aid of East Tennessee has partnered with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and the law firm Miller & Martin to offer a free legal advice clinic on Sept.13, at 2 p.m., at the downtown office of BlueCross Blueshield, 1 Cameron Hill Circle, Chattanooga 37402. Individuals interested in meeting with a lawyer for free legal advice at this clinic should call Legal Aid of East Tennessee at 423 756-4013.

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2012 EJU Speakers Named

The 2012 Equal Justice University will feature a host of stellar speakers and more than 40 educational sessions Sept. 26-29 at Paris Landing State Park. Judge Bernice Donald, recently appointed to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, will give the keynote speech at the welcome lunch on Sept. 26. That evening, former Nashville mayor Bill Purcell will speak at the annual Awards Dinner, and on Thursday, the Leadership Luncheon will feature Memphis lawyer Buck Lewis, chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission and former TBA president. In all, attendees can earn 15 hours of CLE.

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Equal Justice University 2012: Enjoy Beautiful Tennessee While Earning CLE

Equal Justice University is truly a “destination education” opportunity taking place September 26-28.  The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association invite you to join us at the breathtaking Paris Landing State Park for two and a half days of CLE programs in a relaxing environment. This is a unique opportunity to earn all 15 hours of CLE (including DUAL offerings) in a short period of time at a beautiful location. Bring your family and enjoy the state park between your training sessions! This conference facility is just 90 miles northwest of Nashville.  The hotel is on the lake; all rooms will have great views of the lake and the autumn leaves. The conference prices are very reasonable, as are the overnight stays at the park. There will be a variety of programming for most areas of substantive law and other advocacy techniques. Keynote speakers include:  Bill Purcell, former Nashville mayor; Buck Lewis, chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission; and Judge Bernice Donald of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Below you will find just half of the 40 sessions that will be offered at the conference:

  • Evidentiary Issues: Social Media and Family Law
  • The Affordable Healthcare Act
  • Loss Mitigation for Clients and the AG Mortgage Settlement
  • Immigration 101 and VAWA
  • Pitfalls and Potholes of Buying a Used Car
  • Social Security Disability for Low Income Clients with No Health Insurance
  • Introduction to Criminal Injuries Compensation
  • TennCare Basics and Advanced
  • Introduction to WestLaw Next
  • Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline
  • Compassion, Mission, and the Calling of Service
  • Employment Law Basics
  • Understanding and Analyzing Financial Statements of Nonprofits
  • Supervision of New Attorneys, Law Students, and Advocates
  • Maximizing Microsoft Office
  • Civil and Criminal Contempt as a Remedy in Family Law Cases
  • Bankruptcy and Consumer Issues
  • Introduction to Veterans Benefits-Cindy Gardner
  • Fee Generating Cases and Collecting Attorneys Fees
  • Landlord/Tenant Current Issues

For more information visit http://www.tals.org/equal-justice-university

See a list of conference sponsors

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What DOJ Report Tells Us About Indigent Criminal Defense in Tennessee

The Sixth Amendment Center takes a look at the recent Department of Justice investigation of the Memphis Juvenile Court, examining what it also tells us about indigent criminal defense throughout Tennessee. The center’s blog notes that Tennessee had been in the forefront in providing state funding for indigent criminal defense, but suggests that there should be greater emphasis placed on structural standards and the guarantee of sufficient resources to meet those standards.

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Cases Backing Up With 50+ Recusal Requests from PD

Claiming that Judge Barry Steelman is biased against her office, Public Defender Ardena Garth filed more motions today asking the judge to recuse himself from cases in which her office is involved. So far, she has filed for recusals in more than 50 cases, beginning last week. Cases are backing up in Steelman's division of Hamilton County Criminal Court, the Chattanoogan reports.

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Pro Se Litigants More Likely to Lose, Survey Says

The need for lawyers to provide pro bono services continues. Judges say self-represented people are slowing down court dockets because they typically don’t know what legal points to argue or what motions to file.  And an American Bar Association survey last year said 75 percent of lawyers believe that people who represent themselves are more likely to lose their cases. “Courthouses are being filled with people just showing up, trying to figure out what their rights are," said Legal Services Corp. Chair John Levi. "If you're a low-income person and you have a legal need, it is not easy to get it addressed.” Legal Services funds 135 legal aid groups across the country and serves about 900,000 clients a year, but it has to turn away about the same number of people because of too few staff. The Leaf Chronicle has this AP story

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PD Requests Blanket Recusal from Judge

Hamilton County Public Defender Ardena Garth has asked Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman to recuse himself or reassign her office's cases to another judge. That followed a Tuesday hearing in which a public defender said the judge was biased against her and other public defenders. Garth filed recusal motions for 11 cases scheduled in Steelman's courtroom Wednesday, the day after the hearing. Transcripts of Tuesday's hearing are being prepared to determine exactly what was said, according to court records. The hearing was continued to Aug. 27 and the recusal/reassignment motions will be addressed that day, after the hearing. Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts spokeswoman Casey Mahoney said Thursday that staff could not recall a recent situation in which a public defender's office sought blanket recusal of a judge on multiple cases. The Times Free Press has more

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Lawyers Needed to Work Anti-Bullying Legal Clinics

Volunteer at one of three legal clinics -- "The Puck Stops Here" -- to help stop bullying in schools. The events are sponsored by the Nashville Predators and the Disability Law Advocacy Center (DLAC) to help students and their families identify, prevent, and legally respond to bullying in schools. Volunteer attorneys are needed at the clinics for brief client consultations and to assist clients in drafting key points in notification letters to schools and/or an OCR complaints. Learn more here. DLAC will provide training for all volunteer attorneys on bullying legal issues on Aug. 24. The clinics will be in Clarksville, Sept. 15; Nashville, Oct. 6; and Lebanon, Nov. 10. For more information, contact Sherry Wilds at DLAC at (615) 298-­‐1080, ext. 141 or at sherryw@dlactn.org

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TALS Accepting 2012 Award Nominations

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is accepting nominations for two access to justice awards now through Sept. 7. The first, the Riney Green Award, recognizes those who promote inter-program cooperation and statewide collaboration to strengthen access to justice in Tennessee. The second, the New Advocate of the Year, recognizes attorneys or paralegals that have been employed by their local legal aid program less than five years and have a track record of affirmative, creative and effective advocacy on behalf of clients. Nominations for both awards should be submitted to TALS Executive Director Erik Cole by e-mail to ecole@tals.org or by fax to (615) 627-0964. Learn more online

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