News

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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TBA “Balancing Civility and Free Expression” Tonight at Memphis Law

The Tennessee Bar Association and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will hold a public forum on free speech and civility tonight in Memphis. The first in a series of three forums across the state, the Balancing Civility and Free Speech Initiative is designed to encourage a public conversation about the tensions between civility and free speech, and will focus on how these issues play out in public policy debates -- especially those with cross-cultural implications. The event will be held tonight, Sept. 18., from 7-8:30p.m. in the law school’s Wade Auditorium. 

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Tenn. Department of Education Withholds $3.4 M from Metro School Board

The Tennessee Department of Education will withhold $3.4 million from Metro Nashville Public Schools, following its refusal to comply with a State Board of Education directive to approve Great Hearts Academy’s charter school application, the Tennessean reports. “We were all hopeful that Metro Nashville’s school board would obey the law and avoid this situation,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “It is our job to enforce state law, and we have no choice but to take this action.”

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Monday Events to Celebrate Constitution Day

Recognized by Congress in 2004 as an official holiday, Constitution Day commemorates the signing and adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. On Monday, several events will celebrate the day:

• University of Tennessee Knoxville students will hold a voter registration drive and public speech forum called SpeakoUT. For more information on events, visit Tennessee Today. 

• The Memphis Lawyers’ Chapter and University of Memphis Law Students’ Chapter of the Federalist Society will present  "The Road to Ratification: The Founders Debate the Proposed Constitution," with Pepperdine University Professor Dr. Gordon Lloyd. The event will be 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the law school, and is free to the public. To register, email Greg Grisham  or call 901-462-2616.

• Also on Monday, Middle Tennessee State University will host a citizenship ceremony in conjunction with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, USCIS, and the U.S. Marshals Service. Judges Joe E. Brown and E. Clarence Knowles will conduct the official proceedings and Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary R. Wade will give the keynote address. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. at Murphy Center, with a public reading of the Constitution at 12:30. The proceedings will also be simulcast online

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Todaro Joins TBA Staff, Will Handle Public Ed, Access to Justice

Elizabeth “Liz” Slagle Todaro joined the TBA staff this week to begin training as the new Access to Justice and Public Education Coordinator. She will take over later this fall when Sarah Hayman, who currently fills those roles, departs to have her first child. Todaro, a graduate of the City University of New York Law School, most recently led Nashville Debate – a comprehensive debate program for high school students. She also has served in a consulting role with the YWCA as a community educator and outreach coordinator for the agency’s Domestic Violence Center, and as program director for the Family and Children’s Service Crisis Center. A native of Nashville, Todaro graduated from Hume-Fogg High School. She earned her undergraduate degree from Emory University and worked in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., prior to attending law school.

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TBA and Memphis Law to Host 'Balancing Civility and Free Expression' Event

First of 3 programs to focus on civility in public policy debates

The Tennessee Bar Association and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will hold a public forum on the issue of free speech and civility in the public square on Sept. 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the law school's Wade Auditorium. In announcing the forum, TBA President Jacqueline B. Dixon said, "The TBA is pleased to be a part of such an important project.

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Lawyers Needed to Work Anti-Bullying Legal Clinics

Volunteer at one of three legal clinics -- "The Puck Stops Here" -- to help stop bullying in schools. The events are sponsored by the Nashville Predators and the Disability Law Advocacy Center (DLAC) to help students and their families identify, prevent, and legally respond to bullying in schools. Volunteer attorneys are needed at the clinics for brief client consultations and to assist clients in drafting key points in notification letters to schools and/or an OCR complaints. Learn more here. DLAC will provide training for all volunteer attorneys on bullying legal issues on Aug. 24. The clinics will be in Clarksville, Sept. 15; Nashville, Oct. 6; and Lebanon, Nov. 10. For more information, contact Sherry Wilds at DLAC at (615) 298-­‐1080, ext. 141 or at sherryw@dlactn.org

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Survey: Public Does Not Recognize Plight of Courts

The ABA Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System wrapped up two years of work this week with a presentation of its findings. A survey conducted by the group shows that lawyers face serious challenges in educating the public about the dangers of the current court funding crisis. The survey found that the public does not fully recognize the financial plight facing state courts and does not have great confidence in their state court systems. Pollsters involved with the survey suggested that court supporters focus on messages involving the financial stewardship of the courts, the importance of preserving access to justice and how delayed justice costs victims and taxpayers alike. Read more from the ABA

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TBA's Civics & Law Academy Highlighted at ABA Meeting

Tennessee Bar Association President Jackie Dixon was among the panelists on a program put on by the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Civic Education in the Nation’s Schools during the ABA meeting in Chicago over the weekend. The program highlighted the Civics & Law Academy activities developed and implemented by the TBA Public Education Committee, led by immediate past chair Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur. The activities also are featured in the commission's Year End Report. Dixon shared her experience in teaching a class at Nashville’s McGavock High School and said one of her goals as TBA president is to expand the program to other parts of the state. Learn more about the Civics & Law Academy

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YLD Leaders Meet for Planning Session

Members of the TBA Young Lawyers Division leadership are meeting this weekend in Nashville to plan public and member service programs for the new bar year. On Saturday morning, TBA President Jackie Dixon will speak to the group about her vision for the year and discuss how the YLD can support those efforts. YLD President David Veile has committed to helping Dixon implement public education efforts designed to help civic and community leaders understand the importance of an independent judiciary. That initiative as well as others are on the agenda for the session. Learn more about the YLD's programs

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Public Education Committee Makes Long Range Plans

The TBA Public Education Committee, under the leadership of chair Tasha Blakney, has met to develop a long-range plan for implementation and coordination of civics and public education programs offered by the TBA. The group will assess the effectiveness of current programs, review proposals for the addition of new programs and make plans to implement civics education programming. For more information about the committee or the programs offered by the TBA contact staff member Sarah Hayman or visit the committee's web page.

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Justice O'Connor Testifies on Civics Education

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee today on her work with iCivics, civics education and judicial independence. She also called recent criticism of Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote to uphold the health care law as “unfortunate” and said presidential comments on pending cases are “not ideal.” Read more from Fox News or watch a video of the hearing

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Opinion: Justices Give Good Civics Lesson

Jackson lawyer Kevin P. McMahon writes in a Jackson Sun opinion piece that the first six pages of Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion in the Affordable Care Act case should be required reading in every school, calling it a "much-needed civics lesson." McMahon writes that "it all comes down to an electorate that is both informed and engaged, and that holds government officials accountable." Becoming well-informed starts with a good civics lesson, he contends. "The chief justice and the dissenters have provided the grist," he writes. "We citizens now must make the effort to teach, and apply, what they have written."

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Tennessee Teen Court Gives $7,500 in Scholarships

The Mary Ann Williams Scholarship Benefit Dinner and Silent Auction recently raised more than $8,600, $7,500 of which was given in scholarships. The event was a fundraiser for Tennessee Teen Court Program Inc. Many members of the Sumner County Bar Association supported the fundraiser through generous donations, the Tennessean reports

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Annual Law Camp Teaches Students About Legal Profession

Nashville's Lipscomb University each summer hosts high school students from across the country to participate in a week-long camp that exposes them to various aspects of the legal profession. This year the Tennessee Bar Association’s Public Education Committee partnered with Lipscomb to teach lessons from the American Bar Association’s Civics & Law Academy curriculum and included topics such as distributive justice, procedural justice and corrective justice. Presenters included TBA President Jackie Dixon, Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur, Tyler Yarbro, Rebecca Blair, Shauna Billingsley, Ron Small and Alex Little. The camp closed today with a luncheon honoring the students and their parents, with remarks offered by Bob Wood, partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, and Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur, outgoing chair of the TBA’s Public Education Committee.

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Teachers Gather Next Week for Primer on Judicial System

The 7th Annual Summer Teacher’s Institute will take place next week in Washington, D.C., with a focus on “Federal Trials and Great Debates in United States History.” The week of professional development is designed to deepen teachers’ knowledge of the federal judiciary and the role the courts play in key public debates that define constitutional and other legal rights. The seminar will feature historians, federal judges and curriculum consultants who will focus on three landmark federal trials: Ex Parte Merryman, Chew Heong v. United States, and the Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial. Learn more from the ABA

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YouTube Contest Winners Recognized at TBA Convention

News from the Public Education Committee 
Winners of the TBA's YouTube Video Contest were recognized at the Lawyers Luncheon held in conjunction with the TBA Annual Convention in Memphis last week. Winner of the Middle School division of was Ben Panak of Murfreesboro. Winner of the high school division was Vivian Hughbanks of Signal Mountain. See photos of the award winners or view the winning video entries

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