News

Lawyers' Good Works Recognized at Public Service Luncheon

Tennessee lawyers from across the state were honored for their good works Saturday (Jan. 18) at the annual TBA Public Service Luncheon in Nashville (see video here). Close to 200 filled the War Memorial Auditorium to hear from the honorees and Clarksville mayor, lawyer and former State Rep. Kim McMillan.

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Legal Aid Receives Grant for Medical Legal Partnership

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has received a $55,000 grant from Baptist Healing Trust to support its Middle Tennessee Medical Legal Partnership. The partnership -- a joint effort between Legal Aid and Vanderbilt University -- integrates legal advocacy into the health care system at two Nashville clinics. The funds, according to Gary Housepian, executive director of the Legal Aid Society, will allow the agency to continue providing free, direct legal services to low-income patients and their families receiving treatment at the United Neighborhood Health Services clinic and the Shade Tree Clinic. Funds also will be used to train health care professionals on how to recognize a patient’s need for legal assistance as it relates to their illness.

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Volunteers Needed for Juvenile Court Clinic

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) is organizing and staffing a pro bono legal advice clinic at the Hamilton County Juvenile Court on the second Thursday of each month. The next event will be Feb. 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. The clinic focuses on helping families with child support issues and other matters that come before the Juvenile Court. The agency is seeking three to five lawyers to volunteer at the clinic. For those who do not have a background in juvenile law, the court has offered to hold training sessions. Email LAET to learn more or to help out.

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Registration Opens Jan. 7 for People’s Law School

Offered January through April in partnership with the Nashville Community Education Commission, the People’s Law School is a free program taught by Legal Aid Society attorneys and volunteer attorneys. It provides an overview of common civil legal issues at weekly, one-hour classes. The sessions will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursdays at Wright Middle School, 180 McCall St. and at Cohn Learning Center, 4805 Park Ave. beginning Jan. 23. To register, call the Nashville Community Education Commission at (615) 298-8085 or visit the commission's website.

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LAET Seeks CFO Applicants

Legal Aid of East Tennessee is hiring an experienced Chief Financial Officer to be based in its Knoxville office. Interested candidates may submit a letter of interest and resume to Executive Director David R. Yoder or call (865) 637-0484 for more information. Download a job description.

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Probation Fees Used to Help Local Community

It is the season for giving, and on Friday, three Washington County judges were handing out money. WCYB News reports that Sessions Court Judges James Nidiffer, Robert Lincoln and Robert Arnold gave out more than $11,000 in grants to four area non-profits. The money comes from the First Tennessee Human Resource Agency, which handles probation cases in Washington County. Director of Corrections Kristina Peters says the program gives back to other non-profits through the probation fees that are collected. This year’s recipients of the funding were CASA of Northeast Tennessee, Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee, the Alzheimer's Association and the Dawn of Hope Foundation.

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MALS Elects Board Officers

The board of directors of Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) elected new officers last week. Each will serve a one-year term. They are: President Jonathan Hancock with Baker Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz; Vice President Mary Wolff with Wolff Ardis; Treasurer Clayton Purdom with Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston; and Secretary Rose Benson with Porter-Leath.

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Foundation Awards $548K Through IOLTA Grants

The Tennessee Bar Foundation has awarded $548,030 to 25 organizations across the state as part of its 2014 Interest On Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) grants. Gifts range in size from $3,000 for Catholic Charities’ Immigrant Services to $122,153 for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. Legal aid agencies in Jackson, Knoxville and Memphis also received funding. Download the full list at the link above.

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Ashworth to Join Access to Justice Commission

Former TBA President Gail Ashworth has been appointed by the Supreme Court to serve the remainder of Bill Young’s term on the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission. Ashworth will be eligible for reappointment in April 2014.

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Chattanooga Grand Jury Recommends Mental Health Court

The Hamilton County Grand Jury wrapped up two months of work with a recommendation that the government set up a mental health court to reduce recidivism, reduce the length of incarceration for participants and improve mental health outcomes. "It is difficult to provide humane and just treatment to persons with mental health issues in our jails and prisons," the jurors reported. “We believe that combining judicial supervision with community mental health treatment would in turn curtail criminal activity while improving the participants' quality of life." Chattanoogan.com has the full report.

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Legal Aid Clinic Helps Parents at Juvenile Court

Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Hamilton County Juvenile Court and the Court Clerk’s Office held the first free legal advice clinic aimed at child support problems in Hamilton County Juvenile Court. Five lawyers, some volunteers and others with Legal Aid, sat with non-custodial parents and reviewed forms and fielded questions. LAET attorney Charlie McDaniel, who led the event, said if there’s demand the group will hold the clinic monthly. For information on the next Legal Aid clinic at Hamilton County Juvenile Court, contact Legal Aid of East Tennessee at (423) 756-4013. The Chattanooga Times Free has more. 

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Nashville PD: One More Capital Case is Too Much

As Tennessee pushes to carry out more executions, Nashville’s public defenders say they can’t take on any more capital punishment cases, and that includes the case of Lorenzo Jenkins who is accused of murdering three people in October, The Tennessean reports. Assistant Public Defender Mike Engle told Criminal Court Judge Randall Wyatt Jr. on Monday that the state should hire Jenkins a private attorney. Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman, who is prosecuting the case, disagreed. He said the public defender’s office should reassign cases to free up one of five attorneys qualified to handle death penalty cases. Besides, he said, he’s handling three cases. But Nashville’s elected public defender Dawn Deaner said it is unfair to compare the workload of her office with that of local prosecutors who have police officers, detectives, forensic experts and witnesses at their disposal.

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Free Legal Aid Clinic Set for Franklin

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands is hosting a free legal clinic tomorrow at the Williamson County Public Library from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public with no appointment necessary. Visit HobNob Franklin for more information.

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LAET Holiday Open House Nov. 29

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host a holiday Open House Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at 502 South Gay St., Suite 404 in downtown Knoxville. Local lawyers are invited to enjoy the Krutch Park tree lighting at 6 p.m. and then stop by Legal Aid’s office to warm up and enjoy holiday goodies. Admission is free with a business card. Families are welcome! Visit www.laet.org for more information.

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LAET, TBA Conclude Civil Right to Counsel Series

Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Tennessee Bar Association have concluded a multi-city panel discussion series on the issue of Civil Right to Counsel. This year is  the 50th anniversary of Gideon v Wainwright, which established the right to counsel in criminal cases. A great deal of discussion has been going on nationally about the lack of a right to counsel in critical civil cases where the risk of harm is greater than that in many criminal cases, including domestic violence, custody and foreclosure. Each of the sessions began with videos featuring Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade and Tennessee Bar Association President Cindy Wyrick. The Knoxville event on Nov. 15 was held at Lincoln Memorial University's Duncan School of Law. The second was Nov. 18 at Memorial Park Community Center in Johnson City and the third presentation was today on the University of Tennessee Chattanooga campus. Read more from LAET or see photos from the events.

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Free Legal Assistance Helped 1,800 in October

Tennessee lawyers helped 1,800 state residents by providing free legal information and advice throughout the month of October as part of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Celebrate Pro Bono initiative. Now in its fifth year, the initiative brings together bar associations, law schools, law firms, legal services providers and individual lawyers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer. This year, more than 330 volunteers – including lawyers, law students, paralegals, notaries and language interpreters – held more than 80 events and activities across the state. Read more or see photos from some of the events.

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Lawyers Help 1,800 During Celebrate Pro Bono Month

Tennessee lawyers helped more than 1,800 state residents by providing free legal information and advice throughout the month of October as part of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Celebrate Pro Bono initiative.

Now in its fifth year, the initiative brings together bar associations, law schools, law firms, legal services providers and individual lawyers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer. This year, more than 330 volunteers – including lawyers, law students, paralegals, notaries and language interpreters – held more than 80 events and activities across the state. Below are photos from some of the events in Memphis. You can also see photos from a Wills for Heroes event in Nashville hosted by the TBA's Young Lawyers Division.

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TJC Puts Bonnyman in Hot Seat to Raise Funds

Gordon Bonnyman was in the hot seat as friends and foes alike took turns sharing stories and poking fun at the Tennessee Justice Center co-founder during a roast/fund raiser Tuesday night in Nashville. With emcee Phil Williams starting the fun, the roast was on. Featured roasters were Stewart Clifton, former Tennessee Gov. Sundquist (below), Allston VanderHorst, Dana Dye, former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, Matt Wiltshire and Michele Johnson. See photos from the event.

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Memphis Attorney Honored for Pro Bono Work

Pamela Williams Kelly of the Law Offices of Pamela Kelly received the Celebrate Pro Bono Award from the Memphis Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee and the Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) Pro Bono Project. Kelly was honored for her work on extended cases on behalf of indigent clients through the clinics offered by MALS. She also works with the Community Legal Center, Online Tennessee Justice and the Nashville-based Volunteer Lawyers for Professionals and the Arts. As an accredited attorney for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, she also provides pro bono representation for veterans, the Memphis Daily News reports.

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Knox Firm Honored at Philanthropy Day Event

Knoxville law firm Eldridge & Blakney PC was recognized today for the firm’s service to the community and for its support of Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The honor came on the occasion of National Philanthropy Day. Eldridge & Blakney was among nine other individuals and organizations recognized during a luncheon hosted by the Great Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

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95 First Responders Served at Nashville Clinic

Volunteer lawyers in Nashville assisted 95 first responders and their families with wills and other end-of-life planning at a Wills for Heroes clinic this past weekend. The event, held at the Metro Police North Nashville Precinct office, was coordinated by Nashville lawyer Chip Howorth with Smith Cashion & Orr and Clarksville lawyer Brad Carter, chair of the TBA Young Lawyers Division's Wills for Heroes Committee. The YLD has served more than 300 police, firefighters and EMS personnel so far this year. Since the project began in Tennessee in 2008, more than 2,000 heroes have received free wills to protect their families. Learn more about the project and see photos from the event.

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AOC Seeking Pro Bono Coordinator

The Administrative Office of the Courts is seeking a pro bono coordinator to work with the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission. The coordinator -- who must be an attorney -- will cultivate, monitor and publicize new pro bono initiatives; maintain a statewide directory of pro bono programs; work with bar associations, attorneys and the judiciary to recruit new pro bono volunteers; and help implement the commission’s strategic plan and draft its annual report. The position is funded by a grant through November 2014, with the possibility of a one-year extension. Those interested should submit a current resume and completed application to human.resources@tncourts.gov. For more information contact Anne-Louise Wirthlin at (615) 741-2687.

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TBA to Host ‘Civil Right to Counsel’ Events

The TBA and Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will hold a series of discussions this month to explore “civil right to counsel” – the idea that people who face certain civil court cases and cannot afford representation should be provided with free counsel. The concept builds on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainright, which found that indigent criminal defendants must be provided free legal representation. Programs in Knoxville, Johnson City and Chattanooga will look at arguments for and against a civil right to counsel, past and present efforts to secure the right and the types of cases that might qualify for the right. Each session also will include a taped presentation featuring TBA President Cindy Wyrick and Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade. Each program will wrap up with an overview of pro bono programs offered by LAET and free CLE for those who agree to handle a pro bono case.

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KBA Holds 17th Annual LawTalk Next Week

The Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) will hold its annual LawTalk Program next week. This year, the free educational program will focus on issues of concern to the elderly, including having a will and an estate plan, and understanding legal protections that are available for seniors and their caregivers. Sessions will be held Nov. 15 at the O'Connor Senior Center and Nov. 16 at Fellowship Church. Free parking is available at both locations and materials will be provided. At each location, local lawyers will present information and answer questions from the audience. Pre-registration is not required but appreciated. Register by calling (865) 522-6522 or visiting the KBA online. Download a flyer about the sessions or get answers to frequently asked questions here.

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Lipscomb Plans 2nd Legal Clinic

The Institute for Law, Justice and Society at Lipscomb University is planning its second free community legal clinic Nov. 4 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in Room 324 of the Burton Health Sciences Building. An additional six volunteer attorneys are needed. Please email Randy Spivey, academic director of the institute, or call him at (615) 966-2503 for more information or to sign up to help.

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