News

Legal Aid Relocates Oak Ridge Office

The Legal Aid Society has moved its Oak Ridge office to Victory Centre, 575 Oak Ridge Turnpike. Staff already are working in the new location and all phone numbers remain unchanged. According to the organization, the new space will provide convenient access for clients and guests and greater amenities for staff, including new technology. The office serves low-income individuals in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan, Roane, Scott and Union counties.

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Reminder: MALS Fundraiser Set for Tomorrow

The Young Lawyers Committee of the Campaign for Equal Justice is hosting its annual Kickoff Party tomorrow (June 29) from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Rec Room, 3000 Broad Ave. in Memphis. Tickets are $15 for law students and $25 for others and include food, drinks games and entry to a silent auction. All proceeds will benefit Memphis Area Legal Services. The University of Memphis School of Law announced the event.

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Nominations for TALS Awards Due Friday

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is accepting nominations for its 2016 Access to Justice Awards through Friday. The Janice M. Holder Award recognizes an individual who has advanced the quality of justice statewide by ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all. The B. Riney Green Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership in encouraging collaboration and inter-program cooperation to strengthen access to justice. And the New Advocate Award recognizes attorneys who have excelled in the first five years of working in public interest law. The awards will be presented Aug. 31 in conjunction with the 2016 Equal Justice University, which is hosted by TALS and co-sponsored by the TBA. Learn more or submit a nomination here.

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City Will Stop Jailing for Unpaid Fines

A federal class action lawsuit against Jackson, Mississippi, has been settled, ending a system of jailing people because they could not pay court fines. The suit was filed by the nonprofit civil rights group Equal Justice Under Law and the University of Mississippi School of Law on behalf of seven plaintiffs who were jailed due to inability to pay fines and fees imposed in misdemeanor cases. Under the settlement, defendants can pay their fines at a rate of $25 per month or perform community service and get a credit toward their debt at a rate of $9 per hour. News Channel 5 has the story.

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3 Lawyers Named to Racial Justice Program

Three attorneys from the Legal Aid Society have been selected as fellows in the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law’s 2016 Racial Justice Training Institute (RJTI). They are Patricia Jones from the Columbia office, Samuel Keen from the Clarksville office and Marla Williams, managing attorney of the Cookeville office. They are the first, and currently only, participants from Tennessee. They will spend the next six months researching disparate expulsions, suspensions and disciplinary actions among students. Read the release from Legal Aid.

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LAS to Hold Legal Clinics at Clarksville Church Meal Program

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has announced a partnership with First Presbyterian Church in Clarksville to launch the Presbyterian Legal Assistance Network. Staff attorneys from Legal Aid Society’s Clarksville office will provide a free legal clinic every second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 11 a.m. – noon at a meal program that operates out of the church.

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Pro Bono CLE: Immigrant Children and Tennessee Family Courts

A live broadcast CLE Friday at several Baker Donelson offices will train non-immigration-law practitioners on how to aid eligible unaccompanied children with obtaining predicate state court orders for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Immigrant Children and Tennessee Family Courts: Challenges and Avenues for Relief is scheduled from noon - 2 p.m. EDT and approved for two hours of CLE credit. The course is free if you agree to take a case pro-bono. You may choose the location you want to attend through the online registration.

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TBA Members Speak at Indigent Task Force Meeting in Cookeville

Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville today hosted the sixth meeting of the Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force’s statewide listening tour. TBA members Bridget Wilhite and Lisa Cothron attended the meeting and shared their personal stories of practicing in rural communities and appointments of juvenile and criminal indigent clients. It was noted that in McMinn County, less than two dozen attorneys are available for appointments and there is often a caseload burden in addition to costs not being covered by the current compensation rate and caps. About 30 people from the judicial system attended today’s meeting along with task force members: Nashville School of Law Dean William Koch, DarKenya Waller, Susan Matson, Dwight Tarwater, Chief Justice Sharon Lee and Lela Hollabough. The task force wraps up its statewide tour in Nashville on July 29 at the Nashville School of Law.

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Indigent Representation Task Force Holds Hearing in Cleveland

The state Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force held a public meeting today at the Cleveland State Community College as part of the group’s statewide listening tour. Members of the private bar shared their thoughts on Tennessee lawyers being the lowest paid in the court room. According to one practitioner, her calculations showed that with the $40 out-of-court and $50 in-court rate per hour, she made less than a minimum wage after overhead. Task force members attending today's meeting were: Nashville School of Law Dean Bill Koch; DarKenya Waller, Legal Aid Society; Judge Barry Steelman, Criminal Court Judge in Chattanooga; Susan Matson, State Comptroller’s Office; Chief Justice Sharon Lee; and special guest state Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville.

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AOC Seeks Contract Attorneys for Indigent Representation

The Administrative Office of the Courts is seeking attorneys who are interested in contracting with the AOC for judicial hospitalization services in the General Sessions Courts in Blount, Davidson, Hamilton, Hardeman and Wilson Counties. Attorneys will represent indigent respondents facing involuntary emergency judicial hospitalization. The contract arrangement establishes compensation based on dockets. Applications by county and more information are available here

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LAS Murfreesboro Office to Celebrate Reopening

The Murfreesboro office of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will reopen its doors next week after relocating for a year due to a fire. The office, located at 526 North Walnut St., will host a reception on June 14 from 3-5 p.m. to thank the community for its support. While insurance paid for some of the reconstruction costs, Legal Aid Society must still cover a number of expenses associated with the office’s reconstruction. Donations can be mailed to Legal Aid Society’s Nashville office at 300 Deaderick St., Nashville, TN, 37201.

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Report: 'Legal Aid With a Digital Twist'

The New York Times profiles several emerging technologies across the country that are improving access to legal aid. The article also explores how attorneys can use the online tools to make the legal process faster and more accurate, sometimes providing resources that can be helpful for attorneys who do not have expertise in a particular field. 

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LAET Seeks Staff Attorney for Johnson City

Legal Aid of East Tennessee seeks to hire a full-time staff attorney for the Johnson City office to handle domestic violence matters. Three years of experience is preferred. Applications must be submitted by June 10. 

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Douglas Blaze Receives Community Service Award

Former University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Douglas A. Blaze recently received the Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Blaze serves as the director of UT Law’s Institute for Professional Leadership and serves as chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission.

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TJC to Host Annual Reception in Nashville

The Tennessee Justice Center will host its annual reception in Nashville on June 17, 5-7 p.m., at the top of the Pinnacle Building, 150 3rd Ave. S., Ste. 2800. The free event will include stories from a TJC client and a volunteer attorney. Light refreshments and drinks will be served. Call TJC at (615) 255-0331 for more information. 

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Editorial: Improve Pay for Court-Appointed Attorneys

“Tennessee pays its court-appointed attorneys so little that it threatens to undermine the right of their clients to a fair trial.” A Knoxville News Sentinel editorial argues why the state must increase compensation for court-appointed lawyers, calling the current rate – $40 per hour for work outside the courtroom – “ridiculously low.”   The comments come after the Indigent Representation Task Force held a public hearing in Knoxville last week as part of the group’s statewide listening tour. 

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UT Pro Bono Members Set New Record

Members of the University of Tennessee College of Law’s Pro Bono program performed more than 10,000 hours of pro bono legal service over the last year for charitable and nonprofit organizations. This year's hours surpassed last year’s record of 8,764. 

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Indigent Representation Task Force Holds Hearing in Knoxville

The state Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force wrapped up its East Tennessee public hearings today in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee College of Law with more than 50 people attending. Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee joined the meeting, where public defenders from the region and members of the private bar presented to the task force. UT Law Professor Joy Radice also referenced the studies on compensation rates by the TBA. 

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Indigent Representation Task Force Meets in Johnson City

More than two dozen people attended the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force listening tour stop today in Johnson City at the campus of East Tennessee State University. Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee was joined with task force Chair William C. Koch Jr. and task force members Dwight Tarwater and Susan L. Kay. The listening tour continues tomorrow in Knoxville. 

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WTLS Seeks Staff Attorneys

West Tennessee Legal Services has immediate openings for attorneys in Huntington, Selmer, Dyersburg and Jackson. The attorneys will represent victims of domestic and sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in civil protection order and divorce cases, and provide legal advocacy on behalf of victims in various forums. License to practice law in Tennessee required and litigation experience on behalf of domestic violence and/or sexual assault victims and prior work with specialized client populations and/or ethnic or language distinct communities preferred. Send cover letter, resume, writing sample and references to: Hiring Committee, West Tennessee Legal Services, Inc., P.O. Box 2066, Jackson, TN  38302 or email sandy@wtls.org. Deadline for submission is June 6.

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Lewis, Sanchez Detail National Online Legal Resource at Equal Justice Conference

Former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis was presented the American Bar Association’s William Reece Smith Jr. Special Services to Pro Bono Award in recognition of his commitment to developing, improving and promoting Online Tennessee Justice and his support for the national expansion to ABA Free Legal Answers.

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Justice Index Ranks Tennessee in Top 10

Tennessee was ranked towards the top in the recently published Justice Index 2016 that provided a snapshot view of the national and state-by-state commitment to providing access to the civil and criminal courts for some of the most vulnerable populations. The index, compiled by the National Center for Access to Justice at Cardozo Law School, includes Language Access and Self-Represented indexes. 

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Lewis Recognized with ABA Award for Online Pro Bono Project

Former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis received the American Bar Association’s William Reece Smith Jr. Special Services to Pro Bono Award in recognition of his commitment to developing, improving and promoting Online Tennessee Justice, and his support for the national expansion to ABA Free Legal Answers. Lewis is a shareholder in the Memphis office of Baker Donelson. The annual award was presented last week in Chicago.

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Indigent Representation Task Force to Visit East Tennessee

The Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force will take its listening tour to East Tennessee next week, making stops in Johnson City and Knoxville. If you wish to speak on the topic of indigent defense, submit your intentions through the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Johnson City session will be held May 19 from 3 to 6 p.m. at East Tennessee State University’s Culp Center Auditorium. The tour will be in Knoxville on May 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University of Tennessee College of Law, Room 132.

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Washington County Public Defenders Relocate

The Washington County Public Defender’s Office has moved to 1102 Sunset Drive in North Johnson City. Johnson City Press reports the office’s landlines are not completely installed, but Public Defender Jeff Kelly said those who need the office may call 423-434-6845 and they will be given the cell phone number of an attorney. 

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