Gov. signs judicial election plan, panel recruitment begins


On June 25, Gov. Phil Bredesen signed into law the new judicial election plan for merit selection of all judges, and performance evaluation and retention election of appellate judges.

The first step in implementing the plan will be appointment of the new Judicial Nominating Commission, the 17-member body that will nominate candidates to the governor for appointment to fill judicial vacancies. The new statute provides for an open process in which applicants fill out an application to be provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Applications were due July 31. Then information about each applicant will be posted on its web site for a 14-day public comment period. During that time, the TBA Board of Governors will make recommendations for candidates to fill a minimum of 10 and maximum of 14 seats for lawyers in the new body. Following this period, the speakers of the state House and Senate will have 14 days to appoint members to the Judicial Nominating Commission.

"It is important that many of our best and brightest lawyers offer themselves for appointment," TBA president Gail Vaughn Ashworth said. "Lt. Gov. [Ron] Ramsey and [House] Speaker [Kent] Williams are committed to appointing a high quality, diverse group to vet judicial candidates."



The annual TBA Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala was June 16 in Memphis in advance of the association's convention and annual meeting this week. Awards were presented to the law firm and corporate legal department that best exemplified extraordinary commitment to access to justice ideals, pro bono service and the Corporate Counsel Covenant of Service this past year.

The Hardison Law Firm of Memphis was recognized for its longstanding commitment to pro bono work, including participation in the Memphis Bar Association's Attorney of the Day Program and free Saturday legal clinics, the Memphis Advance Directive Initiative, and disaster legal assistance clinics. The firm was also one of the first in Memphis to adopt a formal pro bono policy. The corporate award went to the FedEx Legal Department for its partnership with Memphis Area Legal Services. Department lawyers donated more than $52,000 to MALS, sponsored 10 CLE programs to provide free training to volunteer and staff attorneys, and made its attorneys available to serve on various boards and committees. Department attorneys also participated in the Federal Court Pro Bono Panel, and the Memphis Bar Association's Attorney of the Day Program and free Saturday legal clinics. The TBA salutes these organizations for their commitment to pro bono work.

Learn more about the TBA's Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative
http://www.tba.org/TLCF/probono_initiative/index.html and see photos at http://www.tba.org/tbatoday/news/2009/ccpbi_2009.html

http://www.tba2.org/convention2009/scenes.html

The Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order June 22 soliciting written comments from the bench, bar and public and any other interested parties regarding a petition for Adoption of Amended Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct. The deadline for written comments, to be sent to the Administrative Office of the Courts, is Dec. 16.

Download the order, petition and exhibits at http://www.tba.org/ethics/index.html

A new federal program intended to help borrowers manage their student debt goes into effect on July 1. The legislation -- called the College Cost Reduction & Access Act -- will cap monthly loan payments according to income and forgive student debt balances after designated periods of time. For attorneys, the main beneficiaries will be those who go on to have long-term public interest careers. But the program will also make loan payments more affordable for all attorneys with high debt loads and relatively low incomes.

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has awarded nearly $220,000 in grants from the Parent Education and Mediation Fund (PEMF) to organizations that provide court-related assistance to low-income parties. The 16 organizations that received funding for the 2009-2010 fiscal year provide services such as mediation and interpreter services for low-income parties, courses to improve dispute resolution skills among families, and offering a safe atmosphere for children when exchanged between parents. http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/#PEMF2009



The grand opening of new facilities for the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is set for Jan. 16, 2010, and will feature performers from the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, as well as nationally recognized jazz soloist, Joyce Cobb. Gourmet food and beverage stations will offer "Best of Memphis" small plates from well-known restaurants and law school students will host building tours. The black-tie-optional event is expected to draw more than 1,500 attendees from across the city, state and country. There will be a VIP reception from 6 to 7 p.m., the grand opening from 7 to 10 p.m., followed by an after-party. Tickets are $250, with all proceeds benefiting the law school. For more information, contact Law Alumni Coordinator Chelsea Dubey at ctdubey@memphis.edu, or call her at (901) 678-1562.

An Oregon coffee company gave every penny from every sale in May -- not just profits-- to International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights agency that rescues victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of oppression. During the "Give It All Away in May" campaign, Storyville raised enough money for IJM - which currently operates in 12 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America -- to expand its work into Ecuador.

NewsChannel5 carried this PRNewsire story. http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=10640037

IJM and some of its Tennessee volunteers were featured in a 2006 issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal.
Read that story here http://www.tba.org/Journal_TBArchives/tbj-2006_01.html

The governor will appoint a new Tennessee Board of Court Reporting under the new licensing law for court reporters created by Public Chapter 450. This nine-member board must have two lawyer members. The Administrative Office of the Courts will provide support to the new body.



The Memphis Bar Association has made replicas of ornate doorknobs found in the 100-year-old Shelby County Courthouse, and will sell them at a fundraiser scheduled for Oct. 15. Call the MBA office at (901) 527-3573 for more information about purchasing a doorknob replica.

Read more about the effort in the Commercial Appeal http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/jul/07/one-good-turn/