News

League of Women Voters Recognizes Nashville Lawyer

The Nashville League of Women Voters has awarded this year’s Molly Todd Award to lawyer Diane Di Ianni, who has practiced for two decades in the areas of civil rights litigation, public sector law and government relations, and teaches at Vanderbilt University Law School. Di Ianni, who has been active with the league for many years, has been involved in the group's promotion of the Informed Voters–Fair Judges project this year. Prior to relocating to Tennessee, she served as general counsel to the Boston Public Schools during a time of historic litigation involving the use of race in school assignments.

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TBA Resource for Seniors Wins Statewide Award

Legal handbook named best public service project by a Tennessee association

NASHVILLE, July 23, 2014 – For the second consecutive year, the Tennessee Bar Association earned the top public service award from the Tennessee Society of Association Executives. The Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors won the Association’s Advance Tennessee Award as the best public service project by an association in the state. The award was presented last week at a luncheon in Nashville.

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TBA Wins Top Award for Public Education Project

For the second consecutive year, the Tennessee Bar Association earned the top public service award from the Tennessee Society of Association Executives. The 2014 Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors was named winner of the Association's Advance Tennessee Award. The TBA’s Public Education Committee updated the Handbook and is continuing to conduct outreach and education across the state. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur and Access to Justice/Public Education Coordinator Liz Todaro accepted the Award today at a Nashville luncheon.

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Federal Bar Marks Civil Rights Milestone

U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier, the senior federal judge in Chattanooga, spoke at the Federal Bar Association’s 50th anniversary civil rights celebration this week. Hundreds of people – blacks, whites, attorneys, students and professionals – listened to speeches, freedom songs and soul-moving music to commemorate the event, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. “Civil rights didn’t happen by magic,” Collier told the crowd. “People made tremendous sacrifice. That’s why we come to celebrate.”

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Law Camp Teaches Youth About Legal Professioon

The Tennessee Bar Association joined Lipscomb University in sponsoring the annual Law Camp program this week in Nashville. TBA volunteers presenting at Law Camp included TBA Public Education Committee Chair Shauna Billingsley, past TBA President Jackie Dixon, Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur and Tiffani Pope. TBA staff members Denise Bentley, Josie Beets and Liz Todaro also led sessions. The school's Institute for Law, Justice & Society hosts high school students from across the country to participate in the week-long residential camp that exposes the students to various aspects of the legal profession. The Napier-Looby Bar Association and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings were also camp sponsors.

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TBA Public Ed. Volunteers Take Message to Law Camp

The TBA partnered with Lipscomb University for its annual Law Camp, held in Nashville this week (June 23-27). Other Law Camp sponsors included the Napier-Looby Bar Association and law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings. 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.

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GOP Lawmakers Call for Education Commissioner’s Resignation

Fifteen Republicans lawmakers have asked for the immediate resignation of state Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman. In a letter sent to Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday, the legislators -- including several with tea party affiliations -- accuse Huffman of withholding scores to conceal low results on the TCAP test. They also raise the possibility the department, in performing "post-equating," removed questions from tests to alter and improve results. Haslam spokesman Dave Smith accused the group of playing politics and denies the allegation of tampering and altering scores. The Tennessean has more.

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Civics Education Program Captures Emmy Award

The groundbreaking civics education campaign backed by the TBA has earned an Emmy Award for a public service film featuring former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The Informed Voters Project was developed by the National Association of Women Judges. It focuses on providing non-partisan education to increase public awareness about the judicial system, to inform voters that politics and special interest attacks have no place in the courts, and to give voters the tools they need to exercise an informed vote in favor of fair and impartial courts.

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President Steen Lays Out Plans for Coming Year

Newly sworn in TBA President Jonathan Steen outlined initiatives for the upcoming TBA membership year during his Lawyers Luncheon speech at the TBA Annual Convention in Gatlinburg (June 13). The Jackson attorney plans to carry on the association's work in responding to unjust criticism of our judges and provide educational materials on how to be informed voters. In addition, he wants the association to build on the mentoring and Solo-in-a-Box programs to help lawyers to succeed in the practice of law and deliver first-rate services to their clients. Steen also outlined plans for expanding civics education in schools and developing medical/legal partnerships across the state. Watch his presentation to learn more.

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Steen New TBA President, Lawyers Recognized

Jackson lawyer Jonathan Steen was installed today as president of the Tennessee Bar Association at the Lawyers Luncheon, part of the group's annual convention in Gatlinburg. "Our founders knew that a strong judicial branch is critical for the health of a democracy," Steen said, and "blatant partisan attacks of late undermine the public's confidence in the judiciary. Lawyers need to be informed and educate their family and friends about these important issues." Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade administered the oath of office to Steen, as well as the new members of the TBA Board of Governors. Nashville lawyer Bill Harbison is now president-elect and Knoxville lawyer Jason Long is vice president.

Also at the luncheon, Senior Counselors and these award winners were recognized: The TBA Young Lawyers Division Fellows William M. Leech Public Service Award was given to Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice M. Holder by Memphis lawyer Charlotte Knight Griffin. Two awards were given for the Justice Joseph Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing. First to Nashville lawyers Kimberly Stagg and John E. Anderson Sr. for their article published in the Tennessee Bar Journal. Second, a Lifetime Acheivement Award was given posthumously to Donald F. Paine for his continuous and important contributions to and shaping of the Journal. The Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award was given to Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade. Former Chief Justice Drowota was on hand to help present the award. You Tube Video Awards were presented and the winning videos shown. Three President's Awards were given: to Angelia Nystrom, Richard Johnson and Jeff Levy. TBA Sections and Committees Coordinator Lynn Pointer was honored on her retirement from the TBA. Read more and see pictures from the event.

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Steen Takes Office as President, Awards Given at Lawyers Lunch

Lawyers Luncheon 2014

Jackson lawyer Jonathan Steen takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Gary Wade, while a group of former TBA presidents look on.

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Law Professor Looks at Lawyers’ Role in Elections

An ethics column by University of Tennessee College of Law Professor Judy Cornett ran in this month’s issue of DICTA, the Knoxville Bar Association’s monthly newsletter. In the piece, which appears on page 19, Cornett reminds lawyers of their ethical obligations regarding judges and judicial candidates. Her recommendations: don’t lie about judges, defend judges who are unjustly criticized, and if you want to educate others about the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary contact the bar for an Informed Voters Project presentation.

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TBA Earns National Award for Public Service

The Tennessee Bar Association has been awarded the LexisNexis Community and Educational Outreach Award for production and distribution of the 2014 Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors. Written and edited by volunteers working with the TBA Public Education Committee, the handbook contains practical information on topics ranging from Social Security benefits to long-term care considerations and estate planning, as well as sections addressing online security and new health care legislation. The handbook has been distributed to several thousand Tennesseans through live presentations and requests on the TBA.org website since its launch in February. Members of the National Association of Bar Executives who reviewed entries for the award praised the breadth of information in the handbook and the volunteer involvement with its preparation and outreach. Formal presentation of the award will take place during the NABE's annual meeting this August in Boston.

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Help Celebrate the Magna Carta's 800th Anniversary

In anticipation of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015, the ABA is planning a range of events to promote the historical and contemporary relevance of the document, including new publications, a London meeting for lawyers and a tour of Runnymede. In addition, the ABA is partnering with the Library of Congress to create a traveling and stationary exhibit. The traveling exhibit will launch in August and will travel across the country to law schools, courthouses, public libraries and other venues. Educational and commemorative events also are planned. Lawyers can get involved by helping to refurbish the ABA Memorial at Runnymede, promoting awareness of the charter and supporting events that mark the anniversary.

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Saturday Marks 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education Decision

This Saturday marks 60 years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka finding school segregation unconstitutional. The U.S. Courts website has resources to commemorate the landmark ruling including a history of the doctrine of “separate but equal,” how the NAACP mounted a two-decade-long legal campaign to challenge that idea and a profile of Justice Thurgood Marshall, who as a young lawyer led numerous lawsuits against segregation.

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TBA Announces 2014 Video Contest Winners

Winners in the TBA’s 2014 YouTube Video Contest have been announced, with Jack Tucker of Signal Mountain winning first place in the middle school category for his video “A Four Day School Week” and Caroline Rogers of Knoxville taking top honors in the high school category for her video “Ban Mountaintop Removal.” This year’s contest challenged students to produce three-minute videos addressing the statement “There ought to be a law…” Students were asked to identify an issue affecting their communities and either propose a new law or suggest taking one off the books to address the situation. Tucker and Rogers each will receive a cash award of $500 and their videos will be shown during the Lawyers Lunch at the TBA Convention in Gatlinburg in June. See a list of all the winners and watch their videos.

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TBA Announces 2014 YouTube Video Contest Winners

Annual contest challenged students to propose legislative responses to issues affecting their communities

NASHVILLE, May 15, 2014 — Middle and high school students from across Tennessee were challenged to produce three-minute videos addressing the statement “There ought to be a law…” The contest asked students to identify an issue affecting their communities and either propose a new law or suggest taking one off the books to address the situation.

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O’Connor Pushes Civics Education at Nashville Event

More than 100 lawyers and judges from across the southeast today heard about the “appalling level of public ignorance” about our democratic system from former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The lawyers were in Nashville attending SEABOTA, the regional gathering of members of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Among the solutions offered to what was described as a “crisis” in civics education was the iCivics program, which now numbers more than 65,000 registered teachers; the new civics education and engagement and assessment requirement for Tennessee schools sponsored by Sen. Mark Norris, R-Memphis; and respect for jurors and effective access to justice programs. Also at the event, Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade moderated a panel of judges from 10 southern states who highlighted the importance of fair and impartial state courts. Learn more about ways to assist civics education efforts in Tennessee.

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Youth Court Training Conference Launches 3 New Nashville-Based Programs

Antioch, McGavock & Whites Creek to House Newest Youth Court Programs

Nearly 100 Metro Nashville Public School students and teachers gathered at the Martin Professional Development Center on Monday for the Davidson County Youth Court Training Conference. Three Nashville high schools are preparing to implement new Youth Courts, diversionary programs now in place in 16 counties across the state.

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2014 Law Day Events Set Across the State

Bar associations and legal organizations across the state are gearing up for this year’s Law Day with events that begin this week and run through May. Activities include programs for lawyers, public service opportunities, presentation of awards and recognition of students who participate in law-related education programs. The theme of this year’s celebration is “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters,” which asks Americans to reflect on the importance of a citizen’s right to vote and the challenges we still face in ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to participate in our democracy. If your organization is hosting an event that is not listed, please send details to tbatoday@tnbar.org.

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Harwell Opposes TN For-Profit Charter Schools Bill

A bill that would have let for-profit companies operate charter schools in Tennessee was defeated today after House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, made a rare display of public opposition to the measure, the Tennessean reports. House Bill 1693 was quashed on a 10-7 vote at the urging of Harwell, who said turning charter schools over to private operators could sink the entire project. She also cited concerns about the bill raised by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, a supporter of charter schools.

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Judge Upholds Requirement for Memphis-Shelby County Consolidation

The 2010 federal court lawsuit over the failed attempt at consolidating the city of Memphis and Shelby County governments has failed as well with an order Wednesday from U.S. District Judge Thomas Anderson granting a motion for summary judgment by defendants in the case. The proposal for consolidation lost by a large margin in the county outside Memphis, although it was approved by a narrow margin within Memphis. The lawsuit filed in 2010 challenged on constitutional grounds the state law requiring that such a charter must be approved by dual majorities in separate referendums for consolidation to take place. The Memphis Daily News has more.

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LAET to Hold Senior Handbook Event Thursday

The first of many events featuring the TBA’s new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors will take place Thursday in Knoxville when Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) holds a training session at the John T. O’Connor Senior Center. The event will begin at 2 p.m. TBA President Cindy Wyrick and Public Education Committee Co-Chair Angelia Nystrom will be joined by representatives from LAET and the Knoxville/Knox County Office on Aging to present the new resource and answer questions. For more information about the event, contact LAET’s Knoxville office at (865) 637-0484. For information on the Handbook, contact TBA Public Education Coordinator Liz Todaro, (615) 383-7421.

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TBA Releases Senior Handbook for Lawyers, Public

The Tennessee Bar Association today released The Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors to help Tennesseans better understand federal and state benefits, new health care laws and a wide range of other issues of importance to older citizens. It is available for download on the TBA website and will be the subject of presentations across the state starting this week and continuing during March. TBA members also may use the handbook in counseling their clients and may customize the front page to add their own firm’s logo and branding. In addition, the TBA will offer CLE sessions to equip members to make optimal use of the handbook in their practices.

The handbook, a project of TBA President Cindy Wyrick, was produced by the Public Education Committee and a host of volunteer lawyers under the leadership of Knoxville lawyer Angelia Nystrom. “As difficult as it is to fathom, an average of 7,000 Americans are becoming senior citizens each day,” Wyrick said in announcing release of the handbook. “This trend is expected to continue for years, so it is important that we do something meaningful to assist this rapidly growing, but typically underserved, segment of the population.”

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New Resource Helps Tennesseans Understand, Navigate Programs and Benefits for Senior Citizens

The Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors includes information about federal benefits programs, estate planning, online security and health care

NASHVILLE, Feb. 24, 2014 – The Tennessee Bar Association released a new handbook today designed to help Tennesseans better understand federal and state benefits, new health care laws and a wide range of other issues of importance to senior citizens. The Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors is available for download on the TBA website and will be the subject of presentations across the state starting this week.

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