News

July TBJ: Mentors, Annuities and the Challenges of Change

Covington lawyer Amber Griffin Shaw writes about how having a mentor in Houston Gordon made all the difference in her law practice. Read her story — and his advice — in the July Tennessee Bar Journal. Knoxville lawyer Glen A. Kyle writes about planning options for spousal annuities. President Lucian T. Pera writes about the challenges of change – whether it be in the changing of leadership at the helm of the TBA, the need for improvements in indigent defense for Tennessee’s least-privileged citizens, or how lawyers respond to the dramatic changes “facing not just the profession or the business of lawyers, but the whole market for the delivery of legal services.”

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Lipscomb Seeking Volunteers for Free Legal Clinic Next Week

The Fred D. Gray Institute for Law, Justice and Society at Lipscomb University will host a free legal clinic at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Schrader Lane Church of Christ, 1234 Schrader Lane in Nashville, and attorneys are needed to volunteer. Those who are available should contact Randy Spivey.

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Volunteers Needed for Upcoming Expungement Clinics in Memphis, Paris

The TBA Young Lawyers Division is seeking volunteers for upcoming expungement clinics in Memphis and Henry County. The clinic in Memphis will be held on July 29 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church, located at 123 South Parkway West. The second clinic will be on Aug. 12 at the Henry County Courthouse, 101 E Washington Street in Paris, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those interested in volunteering should contact Amber Floyd at (901) 537-1054.
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TALS Extends Deadline for Awards Nominations

The deadline to submit nominations for the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services’ three annual Access to Justice Awards has been extended to June 30. The awards will be presented at the Equal Justice University Conference. The Janice M. Holder Award recognizes a professional in private practice, corporate counsel, a public servant or other social service advocate who has advanced the quality of justice statewide by ensuring the legal system is open and available to all, the B. Riney Green Award recognizes someone who promotes inter-program cooperation across the state, and the New Advocate of the Year Award acknowledges someone who has been with their legal services program for five years or less.

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Registration Open for Equal Justice University

Registration is now open for the 40th Anniversary Equal Justice University Conference, which will be held Aug. 30 through Sept. 1 in Murfreesboro. Hosted by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services with support from the Tennessee Bar Association, EJU is the annual gathering of 200 lawyers, advocates, and pro bono attorneys involved in providing civil legal assistance across Tennessee. Find out more information and register here.
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Commission on Civil Rights Concerned with Proposed Budget Cuts

The bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has launched an investigation into Trump Administration proposals to cut funding and staff from civil rights programs. The commission expressed concern that the administration’s proposed budget cuts “would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country.” The proposal to eliminate funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the major funding source for local legal aid agencies across the country, is one of the specific cuts to be considered in the two-year investigation. Learn more about the bar’s support for LSC on the TBA website.

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TALS Access to Justice Awards Nominations Due Friday

The deadline to submit nominations for the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services’ (TALS) three annual Access to Justice Awards is this Friday. The awards will be presented at the Equal Justice University Conference. The Janice M. Holder Award recognizes a professional in private practice, corporate counsel, a public servant or other social service advocate who has advanced the quality of justice statewide by ensuring the legal system is open and available to all, the B. Riney Green Award recognizes someone who promotes inter-program cooperation across the state, and the New Advocate of the Year Award acknowledges someone who has been with their legal services program for five years or less.

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Memphis Lawyer’s Nonprofit Featured in Vogue

Former Shelby County juvenile court judicial magistrate Claudia Haltom’s A Step Ahead Foundation was among several women’s health organizations profiled in Vogue magazine this month. Haltom’s group was hailed as “innovative” for its work helping women in need. The organization even provides free rides to those it serves so they can obtain health services.
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CASA Monroe to Host 5th Annual Balloon Fiesta Benefit

CASA Monroe will host the 5th Annual Muscadine Balloon Fiesta benefit at Tsali Notch Vineyard. The event will feature balloon rides, live music, food, games and more and all proceeds will support the organization. The two-day Fiesta runs on Sept. 2 and 3, from 2 to 10 p.m. at 140 Harrison Road, Madisonville. VIP packages are available. Tickets can be found at the Muscadine Festival website.
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Volunteers Needed for Veterans’ Legal Clinic in Memphis

The next Memphis Veterans’ Legal Clinic will take place tomorrow (Tuesday) from noon to 2 p.m. at 1407 Union Ave, 11th Floor. Volunteers are needed to assist, especially those with expertise in criminal defense, family law and employment law. Those with questions or who would be able to volunteer should contact Jake Dickerson at (901) 577-8236 or jdickerson@bakerdonelson.com.
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Volunteers Needed for Lipscomb Legal Clinic Next Week

A free legal advice clinic, hosted by the Lipscomb University Institute for Law, Justice and Society, will be held at St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville on June 20 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. This will be an advice-only clinic and informational materials with frequently asked questions will be provided. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Randy Spivey at Lipscomb at (615) 966-2503 or randy.spivey@lipscomb.edu.
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Attorney General Ends Practice of Donating Settlement Money to Third Parties

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo on Tuesday telling Department of Justice lawyers to stop directing settlement funds to nongovernmental organizations unaffiliated with the cases, the ABA Journal reports. The practice, popularized during the Obama administration, was especially common in settlements with mortgage lenders accused of wrongdoing during the financial crisis of 2008. That money was often directed to community groups, including legal aid organizations. The new policy forbids these settlements unless the funds go directly to remedy direct harm from the wrongdoing; all other funds will go to the U.S. Treasury. 
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LAET to Host 3 Legal Clinics for Seniors Thanks to Grant

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host three legal clinics for seniors in Knoxville this month, thanks to the “Serving Seniors” grant and The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The first clinic will be held June 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Frank Strange Senior Center in Lovell Heights, the second will be on the same day from 10 a.m. to noon at the Corryton Senior Center, and the third will be on June 15 at 1 p.m. at the South Knoxville Senior Center. Each session will continue until everyone present has been served, and no appointment is necessary. The grant is being administered by the Community Foundation through the settlement of a lawsuit against SeniorTrust and ElderTrust.
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Legal Aid Attorney Elected to Chair Domestic Violence Council

Deborah Yeomans-Barton, Managing Attorney for Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s Johnson City office, has been elected to chair the Tennessee Domestic Violence State Coordinating Council (DVSCC). Her one-year term begins on July 1, 2017. Yeomans-Barton has served on the Council for five years and is the appointed representative for legal aid service providers across the state. The DVSCC was established through legislation in 1995, and works to develop model policies and training curricula for law enforcement agencies, the courts, and batterers’ intervention programs. Yeomans-Barton also serves on the TBA Board of Governors.
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TALS Now Accepting Nominations for Access to Justice Awards

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is now accepting nominations for its three annual Access to Justice Awards, which will be presented at the Equal Justice University Conference. The Janice M. Holder Award recognizes a professional in private practice, corporate counsel, a public servant or other social service advocate, the B. Riney Green Award recognizes someone who promotes inter-program cooperation across the state, and the New Advocate of the Year Award acknowledges someone who has been with their legal services program for five years or less. Nominations and any supporting documents must be submitted to TALS by June 23.
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Haslam Signs Law to Cheapen Price Tag of Expungements

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law legislation that will lessen the costs of expunging criminal conviction records, NewsChannel 5 reports. Effective immediately, the cost of expunging records will be $270, down from $450. The law was backed by a bipartisan coalition and was sponsored in the state legislature by Rep. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, and Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville. 
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Court Orders Minor Modifications to Certain Divorce Forms

The Tennessee Supreme Court has approved minor modifications to the plain language forms for uncontested divorces with no minor children, as recommended by the Access to Justice Commission. These changes were necessary to ensure that the plain language forms adopted in 2011 for uncontested divorces with no minor children are consistent with the same forms that were adopted in 2016 for uncontested divorces with minor children, according to the court documents. The order as well as the changes can be found here.
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Former TBA President Reflects on Fight to Take Public Defender Office Statewide

Former TBA President Landis Turner writes to The Tennessean about the hard work of extending public defender offices statewide. Prior to 1989, public defenders were only found in the four big cities, and young lawyers and solo practitioners in rural areas suffered because of it. Turner worked alongside TBA lobbyist John Lyell, Gov. Ned McWherter and then-Rep. Bill Purcell, a former public defender who would go on to serve as mayor of Nashville.
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LAET to Host ‘Pro Bono Night’ in Chattanooga

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host its annual Pro Bono Night event on June 9 in Chattanooga. The program will be held at 2 on the Roof, 313 Manufacturers Road, starting at 5:30 p.m., and will feature a live band, open bar and silent auction. Tickets are $35 each and are available on the LAET website.
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Columnist Examines Indigent Representation Report

In a new piece published in The Tennessean, columnist Keel Hunt examines the Indigent Representation Task Force’s report released earlier this year, and highlights the paramount importance of a working justice system, the struggles public defenders face and the necessity of every person having access to a skilled lawyer. Former Tennessee Supreme Court justice and current Dean of Nashville School of Law William C. Koch, the task force’s chair, elaborated: “Fundamental fairness says that everybody stands on the same floor and no one has an advantage over anyone else.” 
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Trump Budget Eliminates LSC, Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The White House today released its first full budget proposal, maintaining overall spending levels, but cutting many domestic programs that provide legal and social services. In response to the budget, which proposes elimination of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), American Bar Association President Linda Klein said the cuts would “severely undermine the fairness of the legal system and deny access to justice for some of society’s most vulnerable individuals.” The budget also proposes to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which Klein said means fewer law school graduates will be “able to dedicate their lives to public service as prosecutors, public defenders, legal aid lawyers and other justice related fields, especially in underserved rural areas.” Lawyers and legal groups across the country are speaking out against the cuts. The Knoxville Bar Association is among the most recent, adopting a resolution last week.

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U.S. Judge Blocks DOJ Move Against Immigration Legal Aid

After the Justice Department attempted to stop a nonprofit from advising immigrants who cannot afford a lawyer, a federal judge granted the organization a temporary restraining order and issued an order to stop the department from taking similar actions against legal nonprofits, Reuters reports. The government had told the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project of Washington state that it could not advise people in immigration court without formally representing them. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones’ order prevents the department from enforcing the rule against legal nonprofits.
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Sentenced to Debt: When You Can't Pay Your Fines

In the current issue of the Journal, Nashville lawyer Vidhi S. Joshi looks into what happens within the criminal justice system in Tennessee when a person cannot pay their fines. Read the feature “Sentenced to Debt.” Columns this month include "Redefining Relocation," by Marlene Moses and Benjamin Russ; John Day writing about "Mothers, Minors and Medical Bills"; and Bill Haltom following the saga of where the bodies of President and Mrs. James K. Polk will land for eternity.

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Program Will Train Attorneys to Represent TennCare Enrollees

A free program in Chattanooga will train pro bono attorneys to represent TennCare enrollees in enrollment and medical service appeals and contested case hearings. The program, called “Making a Difference for Families in Need,” will be led by Chris Coleman, a staff attorney with the Tennessee Justice Center. It will be held May 18 from noon to 1 p.m. at 832 Georgia Ave #1200, Chattanooga, 37402. Find more information and register here.
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Klein Testifies in Congress to Support LSC Funding

ABA President Lina Klein testified in the U.S. House of Representatives last week on the importance of funding the Legal Services Corporation, the nonprofit that supports legal aid offices across the county, the ABA Journal reports. President Donald Trump’s budget proposed eliminating all funding for LSC. “Funding for equal justice under federal law is a federal duty,” Klein said. “To strengthen legal aid is to strengthen the rule of law.”
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