News

'Public Defense Day' Marks Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright

March 18 marks the anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that recognized that people who are charged with crimes are entitled to legal counsel even if they cannot afford to pay for it themselves. The day has now been dubbed Public Defense Day. Kira Fonteneau, an Alabama public defender, writes on Al.com about the importance of ensuring all defendants receive a fair trial. “Justice is only possible when it is extended to all parties in the criminal system,” she writes.

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TFJA to Host Volunteer Attorney Training in Knoxville

Registration is still available for the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance Attorney Training on March 31, 10 a.m. – 4:15 p.m., at the University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville. The training will focus on debt collection, expungements, landlord/tenant law, family law and civil general session issues in an effort to help attorneys offer free legal support to low income Tennesseans. Lunch will be provided.

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Technology's Use in Expanding Access to Justice

William Hubbard, former president of the American Bar Association, shared at the ABA Techshow how technology can help close the access-to-justice gap in the United States. Online dispute resolution, do-it-yourself court kiosks and virtual courthouses are some of the ways Hubbard mentioned technology is currently being used to help millions of Americans who cannot afford representation. Read more from the ABA Journal.

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Memphis Fundraiser to Help Expunge Criminal Records

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland will host a fundraiser March 21 at the Hattiloo Theater to benefit people who cannot afford to have their criminal records expunged, The Commercial Appeal reports. A 2012 law allows people convicted of specific nonviolent crimes in Tennessee to have their records expunged for a $450 fee. "There are many people in Memphis who want to find a job or a better job and their records are being held against them," Strickland said. The event is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. There is a suggested $25 donation.

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Legal Aid Society Launches 2016 Campaign at Luncheon

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands launched its 2016 Campaign for Equal Justice at a luncheon today in Nashville. Campaign Chair Trey Harwell of Neal and Harwell PLC announced that the campaign will seek to raise $827,000 to support free legal assistance across the region. The luncheon included a panel with Margaret Behm, principal at Dodson, Parker, Behm & Capparella, Judy Bond-McKissack, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Education, Judge Juliet Griffin, retired from the U.S. District Court, Middle District and Chancellor Carol McCoy, 20th Judicial District, Part II. Forty seven law firms are already supporting the campaign.

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Legal Aid Society Kicks Off Campaign for Equal Justice

(NASHVILLE, March 16, 2016) — The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands launched its 2016 Campaign for Equal Justice at a luncheon today in Nashville. Campaign Chair Trey Harwell of Neal and Harwell PLC announced that the campaign will seek to raise $827,000 to support free legal assistance across the region. “As lawyers we have the honor and responsibility to give back to the community and that is what Legal Aid Society is about – making a positive difference,” Harwell said.

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Mid-South Immigration Advocates Receives 2 Major Grants

The Commercial Appeal highlights the work of Mid-South Immigration Advocates, a non-profit organization that received two major grants this week to continue representing children in immigration cases. Nationwide, 80 percent of the children who went to immigration court without an attorney were deported. "It's our obligation to make sure children are protected from abuse, neglect and persecution" said attorney Sally Joyner. "We legally can't turn them away."

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AOC Seeking Pro Bono Coordinator

The Administrative Office of the Courts is seeking to employ a Pro Bono Coordinator to work with the Access to Justice Commission. The main job duties will be to cultivate, monitor and follow-up with new pro bono initiatives. Tasks include staffing select Commission Advisory Committees and Commission initiatives, planning and executing meetings, and conducting outreach to facilitate pro bono resources. A law degree is required, but applicants who are in their final year of law school may also be considered for the one-year grant-funded position, ending June 30, 2017.

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All About Trials: Evidence, Tactics and Being Challenged to a Duel

Journal columns this month touch on trial-related cases and personalities. Wade Davies discusses public records as evidence in criminal cases. Russell Fowler writes about a lawyer known for sensational trial tactics, which brought him fame but eventually ruined him. Bill Haltom writes about Nashville's John Jay Hooker, who died Jan. 24. Haltom's column, “When John Jay Hooker Almost Shot Me" explores the long-time and respectful relationship -- if filled with threats of duels and law suits -- the two shared. Read the March issue.

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Pro Bono Event Pushes Fundraising Past Half Million Mark

Tennessee lawyers helped raise more than $45,000 to help legal aid programs in the state at the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala Saturday in Nashville. Now in its 10th year, the event has raised more than half a million dollars to support pro bono efforts that engage in-house and corporate counsel. This year’s event was hosted by Bass, Berry & Sims, and featured honors for an outstanding law firm and legal department, recognized for ongoing commitment to promoting access to justice programs for low-income and vulnerable Tennesseans. This year, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz and International Paper Company were honored for their successful efforts. Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee provided the keynote address.

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Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala Celebrates a Decade of Service

Event Honors Attorneys, Raises Money for Legal Aid Groups

(NASHVILLE, March 5, 2016) — Tennessee lawyers helped raise more than $45,000 to help legal aid programs in the state at the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala. Now in its 10th year, the event has raised more than half a million dollars to support pro bono efforts that engage in-house and corporate counsel. This year’s event was hosted by Bass, Berry & Sims, and featured honors for outstanding law firm and legal department, recognized for ongoing commitment to promoting access to justice programs for low-income and vulnerable Tennesseans.

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Indigent Representation Task Force Adds Resources Online

The Indigent Representation Task Force has added a series of informational webpages to its site. Materials include The Tennessee Indigent Defense Fund 2011 Report, other state and national studies, presentations, biographies of task force members and an audio recording of the first meeting. The task force, appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court, has been tasked with reviewing the current indigent representation system, including the manner used for determining indigency, the delivery of various types of legal services and a number of pilot programs that have been implemented. 

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Southeast Tennessee Legal Services Receives Large Donation

Southeast Tennessee Legal Services was recently awarded a large cy pres donation, which is the single largest donation in the firm’s history. Miller & Martin PLLC of Chattanooga joined US Xpress Inc., O’Toole, McLaughlin, Dooley & Pecora Co., LPA of Ohio and United States District Court Judge Curtis Collier in facilitating the donation to the firm.

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TFJA to Host Training for Volunteer Attorneys

The Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (TFJA) will host training March 14 to prepare volunteer attorneys to assist low income Tennesseans in community specific high need areas of law. The training will focus on wills, expungements, landlord/tenant law, family law and civil general session issues. The training, scheduled from 10 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. Central Time at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, will offer five hours of CLE. Lunch will be provided. Online registration is $25.

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OTJ Reaches 500 Attorney Volunteers

Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services announced 500 Tennessee attorneys have registered to volunteer with www.OnlineTNJustice.org, a virtual legal advice clinic. Since its launch in April 2011, more than 10,800 questions have been posted to the site. Other states have requested to use the site’s software to create their own statewide virtual legal advice clinics and development of a national platform is underway. “It really is a great system for lawyers to give back to the community in a way that is convenient and accessible to all parties,” said Jill Thrash, an OTJ volunteer attorney.

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Non-profit Law Firm Seeks Employment Law Attorney in Nashville

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Inc. is seeking an employment-law attorney for its Southern Migrant Legal Services office in Nashville. The non-profit law firm provides legal services to agricultural workers throughout the middle south. Applicants should possess a commitment to workers’ rights. Proficiency in spoken and written Spanish is preferred. 

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Defend Nashville: Public Defender Launches New Campaign

“Public defenders toil with short staffs and shoestring budgets to uphold that last bit in your Miranda rights.” That's one of the messages from the Metro Nashville Public Defenders office, which launched a new campaign – Defend Nashville – to make its defenders a more prominent part of the judicial-reform debate. The Nashville Scene profiles the initiative, which includes Public Defender Dawn Deaner and her colleagues addressing crowds to share “about a city that few outside the halls of the downtown courthouse ever see.” The office has also launched a court watch program that allows citizens to spend a day in court with a public defender.

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LAS Adds 2 Board Members

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands announced Hallye Fetterolf and Alysa Medina have joined its Board of Directors. Fetterolf, a sales/customer service agent, will represent the client population of Legal Aid Society’s Oak Ridge service area. Medina, a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative and case coordinator for the Office of Immigrant Services, will represent the Cookeville service area.

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Attorneys Needed for Virtual Legal Advice Clinics

Attorneys registered with Online TN Justice are needed to volunteer for upcoming virtual legal advice clinics in Knoxville and Nashville. Attorneys will pair with law students from four Tennessee law schools to answer civil legal questions asked by low-income state residents through the site. Contact Samantha Sanchez, Online TN Justice Site Administrator, for more information.

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Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala is March 5

The TBA Access to Justice Committee, in partnership with the TBA Corporate Counsel Section and the Association of Corporate Counsel, is hosting the 10th annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala on March 5 in Nashville. The gala, which will be held at the Pinnacle at Symphony Place, will feature remarks from Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee. The CCPBI awards will be presented for outstanding law firm and legal department. The deadline to become an event sponsor or purchase tickets is Friday. Contact Liz Todaro, TBA programs director / access to justice coordinator, for more information.

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Volunteers Needed for Legal Clinic Tuesday in Nashville

Attorney volunteers are needed for a legal clinic planned for tomorrow night at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 600 28th Ave. N., in Nashville. The clinic will be 5:30 to 8 p.m. Contact Randy Spivey, academic director for the Institute for Law, Justice and Society at Lipscomb University, at 615-966-2503 to volunteer.

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Attorneys and Metro Schools Team Up to Help Parents

Nashville public defender Dawn Deaner has teamed up with the district attorney, the Criminal Court Clerk's Office and Metro Schools to offer a “cafeteria courtroom” program to parents. The goal is to help low-income parents, chosen by the schools, understand and resolve minor legal issues without having to choose between going to work and going to court. "The reality is that a $50 ticket for someone living below the poverty line has such greater consequences," Deaner said. Read more from The Tennessean.

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Legal Aid Society Receives Grants from Bar Foundation, Others

The Tennessee Bar Foundation's Interest on Lawyers Trusts Accounts recently awarded a $112,936 grant to the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. The non-profit law firm also received grants from The West End Home Foundation and The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The contributions will enable Legal Aid Society to help low-income individuals and families find legal civil assistance.

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Memphis Attorney's "Blight Fight" Featured

Next City, a nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire change in cities through journalism, profiles attorney Steve Barlow’s “blight fight” in Memphis. Barlow said he was inspired to begin tackling the city’s blight problem more than a decade ago after attending a conference put on by a national blight elimination nonprofit. He later filed the city’s first ever blight lawsuit under the state’s Neighborhood Preservation Act. “I feel like it is my job to be sure irresponsible owners are held accountable to a very high standard of property maintenance," Barlow said.

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Marshall County Lawyers Recognized for Law Day Efforts

The Marshall County Bar Association was recognized for providing the Most Innovative Law Day Program during the American Bar Association’s Mid-year Meeting in San Diego. Working in partnership with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, Marshall County lawyers launched a kiosk at the courthouse with an interactive Help Button that provided information on bankruptcy, housing, custody, debt and other legal services. MCBA members also partnered with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency to honor the Charter of the Forest, a charter established in 1217 with the reissuance of Magna Carta, and it conducted a Symbol of Freedom discussion with high school students on Magna Carta.

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