News

TBA and UT Host 'Balancing Civility and Free Expression' Event

Program to feature 3 Tennessee governors discussing civility, effective governance

Three of Tennessee's governors -- current Governor Bill Haslam and former governors Phil Bredesen and Don Sundquist -- will headline a public forum on the issue of civility and effective governance Feb. 21 in Knoxville.

read more »

Kids' Mock Trial Program Teaches Debate, Public Speaking Skills

Kids in the gifted program at East Chester Elementary School in Henderson are learning debate skills and a little bit about the nation’s court system through performing mock trials of popular children’s stories such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Three Little Pigs” and “Humpty Dumpty.” Their teacher, Belinda Anderson, says the effort teaches students to look at both sides of an argument with a balanced view, and gives them the opportunity to ask questions. The Jackson Sun reports that as part of the program, the fourth and fifth graders also visited the Chester County Courthouse where they heard a lecture on the judicial system from a criminal justice professor at Freed-Hardeman University.

read more »

Haslam Announces Plans to Boost Higher Ed

Gov. Bill Haslam announced yesterday he plans to boost Tennessee college graduation rates by 23 percent by 2025. Currently only 32 percent of adults in the state hold a post-secondary degree, which is not enough to meet the requirements of the modern job market, Haslam said. He appointed Randy Boyd to lead a group consisting of heads of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Board of Regents, and University of Tennessee systems to find ways to tackle the “iron Triangle” of affordability, access, and quality issues for public colleges and universities across the state.

read more »

ABA Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Gideon Decision

The ABA will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright on March 18 with events and public education programs that draw attention to the challenges facing the criminal justice system. The landmark Supreme Court ruling required state courts to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who cannot afford their own. For more information, contact Tori Jo Wible or Karyn Linn.

read more »

Legislators to Consider Plans for Approving Charter Schools

Tennessee legislators are considering proposals for trumping local school boards who resist the formation of charter schools in their districts. The proposals come in response to Metro’s repeated resistance to approve Great Hearts Academies, House Speaker Beth Harwell told the Tennessean. Harwell said it is likely there will be two versions of bills involving charter authorization drafted during the next legislative session, one allowing charter operators to apply directly to a panel created solely to review and grant charters instead of  the Tennessee Board of Education.

read more »

2013 Law Day Theme Announced

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced that the 2013 Law Day theme will be “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” The event will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the impact that the Civil Rights Movement has had on equality under law. Law Day is celebrated each year on May 1 to foster greater appreciation for the law and greater understanding of the American judicial system. For talking points, planning ideas and other resources visit the ABA's Law Day homepage.

read more »

New Online Videos Educate Lawyers, Public

The Tennessee Supreme Court and its Access to Justice Commission today launched a new video service to equip lawyers with the skills needed to handle pro bono cases outside their regular practice areas and effectively work with different client groups. Two videos – one on orders of protection and domestic violence issues, and one on providing legal services to persons with disabilities – are available now, with more to come.

A second part of the project will educate the public about the law and how to navigate the court system. In announcing the service, Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary. R. Wade said the initiative is part of the commission’s strategic plan and is “a priority for our judiciary.” He also thanked the Tennessee Bar Association and its Access to Justice Committee, which are promoting the service as well as contributing to the content and production of the videos.

read more »

MNPS in Running for Race to the Top Funds

After being fined $3.4 million dollars by the state for denying the Great Hearts Charter School application, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) announced it is one of 61 finalists seeking a portion of $400 million in district-focused Race to the Top fund, the City Paper reports. MNPS is the only district in Tennessee to land in the final round. Federal education officials are expected to narrow down the remaining applicants to 15-25 by the end of the year.

In related news, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who is a staunch supporter of publicly financed, privately led charter schools, announced that he does not currently support the controversial school voucher-program, the Tennessean reports. The Metro Nashville Board of Education, along with school boards in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Memphis, each passed resolutions opposing the voucher proposal.

read more »

Judge Denies Request for Release of Online Commentators’ Information

U.S District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays rejected a request by the Shelby County Commission to compel the Commercial Appeal to release identifying information about those who commented on stories related to the public controversy over the reorganization of Shelby County’s public schools. The commission’s lawyers filed a motion to force the Memphis newspaper to comply with a July subpoena requesting commenters’ identifying information in order to help prove the new state laws enabling municipal school districts in suburban Shelby County was motivated in part by racially discriminatory intent. Judge Mays denied the motions stating, “The information sought by the commission is not relevant to the underlying issue to be decided and is not an appropriate subject of discovery in this case."

read more »

Law Rules Public Forum

The Memphis Bar Association will host a Law Rules Public Forum on Thursday at 6 p.m. to discuss the importance of a fair and impartial justice system and the rule of law in American society. Judge Gina Higgins of the Shelby County Circuit Court and attorneys Porter Feild and Tommy Parker will be on hand to lead the discussion at the Benjamin L. Hooks Public Library.

read more »

Civil Rights Forum on Tap in Chattanooga

A forum titled “Inalienable Rights: Civil Rights and Social Justice” will be presented at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Tuesday with a reception at 5 p.m., followed by a program with William C. Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Killian will speak on the topic Understanding Civil Rights in Today’s Diverse Society. The discussion will be moderated by Beverly Cosley with the Chattanooga Office of Multicultural Affairs. Read more about the event on Chattanoogan.com

read more »

School Board May Sue State Over Funding

The Metro Nashville School Board will have a special meeting Tuesday to discuss legal action against the Tennessee Board of Education, which withheld $3.4 million as a penalty for Metro denying Great Heart’s charter school application last month. The school board will not use Department of Law attorneys however, opting to hire Chuck Cagle as outside legal consultant. The Tennessean has the story.

read more »

Forum Covers Civility in Courts, Tension with Free Speech

In the second of three forums about civility -- this one focused on the court -- former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyle Reid said that although he is concerned about our legal system and how we choose judges, "merit selection is about as good a compromise between accountability and independence as we can get.” Reid joined two others on the panel -- former Tennessean editor Frank Sutherland and Phyllis Hildreth, academic director at the Institute for Conflict Management and adjunct professor at Lipscomb University. The event was held Tuesday night at Lipscomb University in Nashville. It is part of a series looking at the tensions between free speech and civility that is being moderated by Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom.

read more »

Miller & Martin Celebrates 145 Years

Chattanooga-based Miller & Martin PLLC recently celebrated its 145th anniversary with a reception that also celebrated the philanthropy of one of its partners. Founded in 1867 by T.M Burkett, Miller & Martin has served many of Chattanooga’s leading companies, and expanded to Atlanta and Nashville. The reception also honored Miller & Martin partner Burkett Miller’s philanthropic contributions to education, The Chattanoogan reports. Miller established the Tonya Foundation and founded Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia; The Tonya Public Affairs & Economics Internship programs at The University of the South; and The Burkett Miller Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

read more »

Previewing Tonight's Civility Forum

TBA President Jackie Dixon and First Amendment Center's Gene Policinski previewed tonight's Civility, Free Speech and Courts event this morning on Nashville's Channel 5+ Morningline program. The event is jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association, Lipscomb University's Institute for Law, Justice & Society and the First Amendment Center. See a clip from the program.

Reminder: Civility, Free Speech and Courts Event Tuesday

The Tennessee Bar Association, Lipscomb University's Institute for Law, Justice & Society and the First Amendment Center will hold a public forum on the issue of free speech and civility tomorrow evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Lipscomb's Ezell Center. A public viewing of the Presidential Debate will follow at 8 p.m. Refreshments will be served and free parking is available. Read media coverage of the event from News Channel 9 in Nashville and WATE News 6 in Knoxville.

read more »

TBA Hosts Civics & Law Academy

The Tennessee Bar Association hosted a Civics & Law Academy at McGavock High School in Nashville yesterday as part of the first Metro Nashville Public Schools Intersession, which provides additional learning opportunities for students during the district’s fall break. Volunteer lawyers and law students presented an introduction to law and justice issues and lead discussions about corrective and distributive justice with a group of high school juniors and seniors. Volunteer presenters included Michael Abelow with Sherrard & Roe and Krisann Hodges with the Board of Professional Responsibility, as well as Belmont College of Law students Katie Blankenship, Jaz Boon and Kelsey Boyle. See photos from the event

read more »

Nashville Students Take Part in Civics & Law Academy

The Tennessee Bar Association hosted a Civics & Law Academy at McGavock High School in Nashville as part of the first Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) Intersession, which provides additional learning opportunities for students during the district's fall break. Volunteer lawyers and law students presented an introduction to law and justice issues and lead discussions about corrective and distributive justice with a group of high school juniors and seniors.

read more »

Lawyer Helps Charter School Students Attend Debate

Leigh Chiles of Baker Donelson helped raise more than $15,000 for 20 seniors at Soulsville Charter School who were invited to attend the vice presidential debate next week at her alma mater, Centre College in Danville, Ky. Chiles works with the Leadership Memphis program to improve college access to several Memphis high schools, including Soulsville Charter School, which graduated its first senior class last spring. All 51 students were accepted into college, the Commercial Appeal reports.

read more »

Supreme Court Program Will Involve More Than 1,000 Students

Students from 12 high schools located in the 10th Judicial District will get to hear three state Supreme Court cases as participants in the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students (SCALES) program on Oct. 5. Funded by the Frist Foundation’s Ansley Fund, the program will bring more than 1,000 students and teachers to Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens. After hearing arguments in actual cases there, the students will take part in a question and answer session with the participating attorneys. Read the full press release at TNcourts.gov.

read more »

Civility Forum to Focus on Free Speech

A forum on the tensions between free speech and civility will take place in Nashville on Oct. 16. The event, sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA), the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and Lipscomb University, will take place in Lipscomb's Ezell Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served and free parking is available in front of the Ezell Center as well as in the P2 garage (view parking map). Following the program, attendees are invited to stay and watch the second presidential debate scheduled for that night beginning at 8 p.m. Central. A panel of three experts will discuss civility in interacting with the courts and take questions from the audience. Panelists include the Hon. Lyle Reid, retired chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court; Frank Sutherland, former editor of The Tennessean; and Phyllis Hildreth, academic director at the Institute for Conflict Management and adjunct professor at Lipscomb University. Memphis lawyer and former TBA President Bill Haltom will moderate the discussion.  Learn more

read more »

TBA and Nashville Groups to Host 'Balancing Civility and Free Expression' Event

Second of 3 programs to focus on civility in interacting with the courts

The Tennessee Bar Association, Lipscomb University's Institute for Law, Justice & Society and the First Amendment Center will hold a public forum on the issue of free speech and civility on Oct. 16 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Lipscomb University’s Ezell Center. A public viewing of the Presidential Debate will follow at 8 p.m.

read more »

TBA Program Looks at Civility in Memphis Schools Controversy

The TBA last night kicked off its new statewide educational program on civility and free expression with a lively discussion at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. The project is being conducted in association with Civility and Free Expression in a Constitutional Democracy — A National Dialogue, a nationwide initiative of the American Bar Association (ABA) Division for Public Education, with funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities. The next presentation in the series will focus on civility and the courts. It will be held at Lipscomb University on Oct 16 at 6 p.m., with public viewing of the second presidential debate to follow. See photos and learn more about the Memphis event.

read more »

Panel Discusses Balance of Civility and Free Expression

The Tennessee Bar Association's new statewide educational program on civility and free expression kicked off with a lively discussion at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. The panel of (from left) Christine Richards, Kenya Bradshaw, Daniel Kiel and Bill Haltom examined how historical issues can impact a current day debate and how old barriers to dialogue can be overcome. 

read more »