News

September 27 is Voter Registration Day

Sept. 27 is National Voter Registration Day and hundreds of events are being planned across the country. A website dedicated to commemorating the day features a directory of events for prospective voters, information for those interested in volunteering, and voting and election resources for educators and lawyers to use in the classroom. Two other sites offer resources for the upcoming election, including the ABA Division for Public Education and the Brennan Center for Justice, which describes its election website as a “one-stop-shop for factual information on some of the most important topics of 2016.”

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Saturday is Constitution Day 2016

Constitution Day is an American federal observance that commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution. It is celebrated each year on Sept. 17. The TBA has a range of resources available for those who want to mark the day on Saturday. The ABA also has identified a theme for this year's Constitution Day. The focus spotlights the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution – known as the “Reconstruction Amendments” – and the role they played in helping to extend the guarantees of freedom to all Americans.

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Events This Week Mark Constitution Day

Constitution Day is recognized annually on Sept. 17, though local groups are hosting events over the next several days to mark the occasion. Middle Tennessee State University celebrated today with a public event featuring Nashville civil rights leader Diane Nash. Faculty and staff also read the U.S. Constitution out loud at various sites across the campus and voting rights groups hosted a voter registration drive, the Daily News Journal reports. Tomorrow, Motlow State Community College will host a panel discussion on elections and the Constitution. The forum will take place in Room 105 of the Marcum Technology Center from 10:50 a.m. to 12:05 p.m., the Shelbyville Times-Gazette reports.

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Federalist Society’s Memphis Chapters Host Constitutional Scholar

The Memphis Lawyers Chapter and the University of Memphis Student Chapter of the Federalist Society will hold a discussion with constitutional scholar Gordon Lloyd next Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the law school. Lloyd, a senior fellow at the Ashbrook Center and professor of public policy at Pepperdine University, has developed a number of online exhibits on the constitution for TeachingAmericanHistory.org. These exhibits focus on the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist-Antifederalist debate, ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. RSVP to Melanie Busch by this Friday.

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Chief Justice Highlights Court’s Accomplishments

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee recently spoke to chief justices from across the country at a national conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Lee focused her remarks on accomplishments achieved during her tenure as chief justice. She steps down from that role at the end of the month. Lee praised the state legislature for funding the court’s new electronic filing system and raises for staff. She also talked about efforts to ensure consistency of process and procedures in the state’s juvenile courts and highlighted the Access to Justice Initiative, civics education through the SCALES program, a new business court, a new human trafficking court and an indigent representation task force. Read her full remarks and see a photo gallery of her time as chief justice.

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Reminder: Tennessee Suffrage Monument to be Unveiled Friday

A monument honoring women's suffrage and the suffragists of Tennessee will be unveiled at Nashville's Centennial Park this Friday. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Speakers will include Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillian, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, among others. The date was chosen to coincide with Women's Equality Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 19th Amendment into law. Visit the Tennessee Suffrage Monument or make a donation now.

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State Launches Student Essay Contest, Mock Election

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office is running the state’s first ever student mock election and reports the program is off to a great start. More than 170 schools across the state are registered to participate, meaning an estimated 76,000 students will cast a mock vote for president. Secretary of State Tre Hargett says his office is now rolling out an essay contest to encourage students to be engaged citizens. Essays should focus on a voting-related topic. Winners will receive a trip to the state capitol and a college scholarship. The office also has lesson plans to help teachers incorporate civic engagement and citizenship into their curriculum.

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New ABA President to Focus on Veterans, Election Issues

Atlanta lawyer Linda Klein, senior managing shareholder at Baker Donelson, was sworn in as president of the ABA yesterday and outlined her goals for the year, which include a focus on veterans’ legal needs, promotion of voting in the upcoming election and support for quality education. A new ABA Commission on Veterans’ Legal Services will provide resources for local legal groups to serve veterans and their families, and explore ways to provide legal services at VA medical facilities. Tennessee will be represented on the commission by TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur. The voting initiative, ABA Votes 2016, will provide a state-by-state summary of voter laws as well as resources lawyers can use to encourage participation. Finally, a new education commission will study ways to address substandard education in rural and inner city communities and improve opportunities for children with disabilities.

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Law Camp Participants Learn About Civics, Justice System

The Tennessee Bar Association recently partnered with Lipscomb University for its annual Law Camp, held in Nashville June 6-10. The law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings also sponsored the program.

Each summer, Lipscomb University’s Institute for Law, Justice & Society hosts high school students from across the country to participate in a week-long residential camp that exposes them to various aspects of the legal profession. This year’s camp focused on civics and justice, with special attention paid to the question, "What is justice?"

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Students Will Hear Oral Arguments in Cookeville

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hold oral arguments before 600 students next week at American Legion Boys State in Cookeville. The cases include a wage dispute lawsuit from Memphis and a first degree murder case.

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AG: Amendment Will Not Impact Equal Protection Provisions

A legal opinion from state Attorney General Herbert Slatery said a proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution regarding public school funding would not negatively impact the state's equal protection provisions. The Times Free Press reports Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, requested the opinion about his proposed amendment that would allow state lawmakers "to devote as much - or as little - funding as they wish to public education.” The proposed amendment, HJR 0493, comes after Hamilton County and other school systems have sued the state over the school funding formula. 

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TBA YLD Releases 2016 Mock Trial Case

The TBA YLD Mock Trial Committee has released the problem and rules for the 2016 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition. The list of district competition coordinators should be available later this week. This year’s case is a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of appliances for recreational vehicles. The suit is brought by a semi professional rodeo junkie and walking horse aficionado who claims a defective refrigerator is to blame for a fire that damages a high-end customized horse trailer. The manufacturer denies any liability, arguing that the owner intentionally altered the refrigerator’s cooling unit to cause the fire. High school students across the state will put their best arguments forward at local competitions in February, with district winners advancing to the state competition March 18-19 in Nashville. Follow along at @tnmocktrial or sign up to receive updates by email.

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Heriges Joins TBA Staff as YLD Coordinator

Young Lawyers Division Director Stacey Shrader Joslin will be leaving the TBA at the end of the month, concluding 11 years of service with the organization. Taking her place will be Katharine Heriges, who joined the staff on Nov. 16 and has been training under Shrader Joslin this week. Heriges comes to TBA after two years of working on local Nashville political races. Prior to that she worked as an English teacher abroad in Busan, South Korea. In addition to serving as coordinator for the YLD, Heriges will work with the TBA’s Public Education Committee. She can be reached at (615) 383-7421 or kheriges@tnbar.org.

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Committee Creates New Districts for High School Mock Trial

The TBA Young Lawyers Division Mock Trial Committee today released rules for the 2016 competition and a new map of mock trial districts. The new districts will be in effect for the 2016 competition. Questions should be directed to committee chair Kristen Corn, (615) 550-6603. Case material will be released in November.

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Tennessee Judge Speaks to National Historians Group

Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Andy D. Bennett recently spoke to a national gathering of historians interested in legal cases at the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. Appearing as part of a panel on how to include legal cases at historic sites, Bennett explained the creation of the Tennessee Judiciary Museum and the selection of cases and display materials. He also discussed criteria for identifying cases useful in educating the public about the courts. Bennett was invited to address the group by Matthew Hofstedt, associate curator of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Supreme Court Hears 3 Cases at Cumberland University

The Tennessee Supreme Court heard arguments in three cases yesterday at Cumberland University as a part of the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students (SCALES) Program. More than 1,000 high school and university students attended the session. Cumberland has a strong connection to the national and state judiciary. In all, 15 Cumberland alumni have served as chief justice or associate justice for the U.S. Supreme Court or the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Lebanon Democrat reports.

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1st Amendment Moot Court Competition Announced

Entries are due Oct.1 for the 2016 Seigenthaler-Sutherland Cup National First Amendment Moot Court Competition, which will be held March 18-19. The competition for law students is sponsored by the Newseum’s First Amendment Center and the Columbus School of Law. First-day rounds will be at the Columbus School of Law and second-day final rounds at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

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2016 Law Day to Focus on Miranda Rights

In 2016, the nation will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the best-known U.S. Supreme Court cases: Miranda v. Arizona. The Miranda Warning has become ingrained in law enforcement and has permeated popular consciousness through countless recitations in films and television shows. But it is only part of the story when it comes to the procedures for ensuring justice.

The 2016 Law Day theme “Miranda: More than Words” will explore the procedural protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts and why the preservation of these principles is essential for liberty.

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Bar Foundation Grant Deadline is Aug. 31

A news item in yesterday’s issue of TBA Today had the wrong date for the Memphis Bar Foundation’s deadline for a law-related grant program. Applications are due by Aug. 31. The grant funds programs and projects that advocate and support public awareness of the legal profession, promote social justice, promote legal education, and recognize professionalism among members of the bar. Applications are available on the MBA's website or by contacting MBA Executive Director Anne Fritz at (901) 527-3575.

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Apply Now for Memphis Bar Foundation Grants

The Memphis Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Memphis Bar Association, is now accepting grant applications for law-related programs and projects that fall within its mission, including those that advocate and support public awareness of the legal profession; promote social justice; promote legal education; and recognize professionalism among members of the bar. Applications are available on the MBA's website  or by contacting Anne Fritz  at (901) 527-3575. The deadline for submitting a grant application is 5 p.m. Central on Aug. 31.

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Nashville Lawyer to Chair Public Education Panel

Mark P. Chalos, managing partner of the Nashville office of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, has been named chair of the Public Education Committee for the American Association for Justice – a national organization which promotes a fair and effective civil justice system. He also has been re-elected to the Tennessee Association for Justice Board of Governors and Executive Committee. Read more from his firm.

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Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program on Chopping Block?

Based on reports out of Washington, discussions on the future direction of federal student loans include a possible plan to end the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The TBA has begun discussions with representatives of a broad range of groups representing organizations that have members receiving student loan debt relief under the program. Also participating in the discussions are non-profit and public agencies, that are able to employ talented graduates because the program allows them to work for lower public sector salaries. The TBA has set up a TBA IMPACT contact page for members to register their interest and to contact members of Congress, particularly Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate HELP Committee that oversees the program.

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5 Lawyers Recognized for Service During Bar Year

Awards presented at TBA Convention in Memphis

NASHVILLE, June 29, 2015 – The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) recognized five lawyers who provided especially distinguished service to the legal community during the past year. Each was recognized by then President Jonathan Steen.

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Jackson Legal Group Recognized for Public Service

Awards presented at TBA Convention in Memphis

NASHVILLE, June 29, 2015 – Outgoing Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) President Jonathan Steen presented the Liberty Bell Award to the Jackson-based Howell Edmunds Jackson American Inn of Court at the TBA Convention in Memphis this month. Inn President Laura Williams with Rainey Kizer Reviere & Bell and Vice President Kristi Rezabek with the Tennessee Appellate Courts were on hand to accept the award.

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Law Camp Features Veteran Civil Rights Attorney Fred Gray

High school students from across the country learned about the development of key freedoms and the concept of equality under the law during the annual Law Camp held recently at Lipscomb University. The Tennessee Bar Association, the Napier-Looby Bar Association and law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings were among program sponsors. Veteran civil rights attorney Fred D. Gray was the featured guest at the camp, which this year had a special focus on the Civil Rights Movement.

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