Links for December 2013

Haslam Appoints 17-Member Group

Commission for Judicial Appointments Begins Duties

Gov. Bill Haslam named members to the Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments, which will consider applications from those seeking to fill court vacancies. The new 17-member commission will send a panel of three nominees to the governor to make an appointment when a vacancy occurs or is impending.

In October, the Tennessee Attorney General issued an opinion confirming the governor’s authority to continue making judicial appointments after the termination of the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) on June 30. The JNC also had 17 members.

“I would like to keep the process virtually the same for selecting judges in Tennessee … until Tennesseans have the opportunity to vote on the proposed constitutional amendment in 2014. This commission allows us to continue to select the highest quality people and ensure a stable and effective judiciary,” Haslam said.

Attorneys among the group are S. Leo Arnold of Dyersburg; Bradford Box of Jackson; Alberto Gonzales of Nashville; Olen Haynes Sr. of Johnson City; Thomas Lawless of Nashville; Gilbert McCarter II of Murfreesboro; Jimmie Carpenter Miller of Kingsport; J. Bartlett Quinn of Chattanooga; Cheryl G. Rice of Knoxville; W. Scott Sims of Nashville; Michael Spitzer of Hohenwald; and Charles Tuggle and Amy P. Weirich of Memphis.

Community members are Miles Burdine, president of the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Jesse Cannon with Western Mental Health Institute in Bolivar; David Golden with Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport; and victim advocate Verna Wyatt of Nashville.

TBA Votes to Support Constitutional Amendment on Judicial Selection; Merit Selection to Be Made Part of the Process by Executive Order

NASHVILLE, Oct. 24, 2013 -- Following a complete review of its policy on judicial selection, the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) Board of Governors on Oct. 12 reaffirmed its commitment to merit selection to fill judicial vacancies, and voted to support a constitutional amendment that provides for gubernatorial appointment, legislative confirmation and retention elections for judges. The board did so because of assurances that Governor Bill Haslam would include merit in the process via an Executive Order, if the amendment is adopted. The amendment will be on the ballot in the state's November 2014 general election.

http://www.tba.org/press-release/tba-votes-to-support-constitutional-ame...

CLE Commission Proposes Extensive Rule Changes

The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization has proposed a comprehensive set of revisions to the rule on mandatory continuing legal education. The 18-page petition filed with the Tennessee Supreme Court details changes to almost every section of the rule and includes: a recommendation to end exemption for lawyers 65 or older; a new requirement that at least 5 credit hours must be by live, in-person CLE activity; reshuffling the requirements for responding to the annual report statement; ending presumptive approval for CLE courses by certain providers; and, making a number of other changes which the commission characterizes as self-evident. The petition was filed on Oct. 30, but no order has been issued by the Court soliciting or setting a deadline for comments. 

TBA Renews Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct Program

The TBA is renewing a program that invites judges and judicial candidates to agree to a campaign code aimed at preserving public faith in the integrity of the justice system. Announcing the effort today, TBA President Cindy Wyrick said, “Judicial elections are different. Judges must run on a pledge that they will conduct themselves in a fair and impartial manner if elected. A judicial candidate who might be asked to pre-judge a case or to comment on legal issues might have to step aside, or recuse himself or herself, if they already announced how they would rule.” The 2014 effort builds on the highly successful 2006 program, which saw 189 judicial candidates agree to abide by the code of conduct. Judicial candidates who agree to the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct during this election cycle will be listed on the TBA's website, which also will include general information about judicial campaigns and a voter guide called “Judging Judges.” Watch for details coming soon.

Mentoring Program Deadline Jan. 3

The Tennessee Bar Association has launched a new mentoring program, developed in part to respond to the growing trend of newly admitted lawyers opening solo practices.  The program will offer mentoring to TBA members with up to three years of law practice experience who do not have access to an existing mentoring program.  The TBA is currently soliciting attorneys from across the state with at least eight years of legal practice experience to serve as mentors. Those interested in being mentored may submit their applications to be matched with a mentor by Jan. 3, 2014.

Those participating in the program will commit to a formal mentoring relationship that will last for one year, and mentors and mentees will be required to meet face-to-face at least once a month.  Participants can choose one of two tracks — one track can result in participants receiving up to 7 hours of CLE credit, and the other track will  not confer CLE credit. Participants can choose from curriculum materials on a variety of topics that will be available at tba.org. The program will officially kick off on Feb. 3, 2014, and each newly matched mentor and mentee pair will be encouraged to have their first face-to-face meeting during that week.   

If you are a TBA member interested in serving as a mentor or participating as a mentee, please complete an application, which can be found at www.tba.org/programs/the-tba-mentoring-program. Contact the TBA’s Mentoring Coordinator, Christy Gibson at (615) 383-7421 or cgibson@tnbar.org for more information.

Medicare Terms Still Make a Difference After 'Bagnall' Ruling

In her recent “Senior Moments” column (October 2013), Knoxville lawyer Monica Franklin wrote about the differences in the Medicare world between the terms “observation” and “admission.” The use of one or other of the words can make a huge difference in whether your client will incur extra costs for the hospitalization and whether your client will receive the Medicare benefit to pay for skilled care in a rehabilitation facility. In the column, Franklin references Bagnall v. Sebelius, which at the Journal’s press time was pending. Late last month, Judge Michael P. Shea ruled against the plaintiffs and granted the government's motion to dismiss the action.

The plaintiffs’ main substantive claim was that observation status violates the Medicare statute because it deprives them of coverage they are entitled to by law. The judge dismissed this claim by relying on a federal appeals court case that held that it is permissible for Medicare to consider someone an inpatient only if she has been formally admitted by a hospital. Franklin notes that the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1179), provides that a three-day stay in the hospital, regardless of observation or admission status, would allow a Medicare beneficiary to receive benefits to pay for skilled care in a rehabilitation facility.

Ceremonies Welcome New Lawyers to Tennessee

Nearly 200 new attorneys were sworn in to the practice of law during ceremonies today in Nashville. Between the two admission sessions, many new lawyers and their families attended a luncheon and open house at the Tennessee Bar Center. Along with being an important event for the Tennessee legal community, the ceremonies also were a celebration for many families, with 19 new lawyers being introduced to the court by parents who are also lawyers. In addition, a number of the new admittees were introduced by spouses, brothers, fiances, former Boy Scout leaders, father-in-laws, step-fathers and former professors. Additional ceremonies have or will be taking place in Knoxville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Jackson.

189 New Lawyers Receive Oath in Nashville

Congratulations to the nearly 200 new attorneys admitted to the practice of law in Tennessee today (Nov. 5) in Nashville.

611 New Lawyers to Join the Profession

Results from the July Tennessee bar exam were released earlier this month with 611 applicants successfully passing the exam. The legal profession will welcome these new colleagues to the practice of law next week at admission ceremonies across the state.

On Monday, new lawyers in Knoxville will appear before the state Supreme Court during a ceremony at the City County Building at 10 a.m. The court will then travel to Chattanooga for a ceremony at 4 p.m. at the Hamilton County Courthouse. In Nashville, new lawyers will be sworn in on Tuesday at sessions set for 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Between the two sessions, new lawyers and their families are invited to attend an open house and luncheon at the Tennessee Bar Association offices. On Wednesday, the court will be in Jackson to swear in new lawyers at the Supreme Court Building beginning at 9 a.m. Finally, on Thursday, the court will travel to Memphis to swear in new lawyers at a 10 a.m. ceremony at the Memphis City Council Chambers.

Blount Teens Sworn in to New Youth Court

Blount County's first youth court became official this weekend as 30 students were sworn in as jurors of the court, the Daily Times reports. The Blount County Youth Court, a legacy project for the Leadership Blount Class of 2013, will operate under Juvenile Judge Terry Denton’s supervision. Student volunteers will hear cases and determine the sentences of first-time, nonviolent juvenile offenders. “They’re proven programs,” said Lynn Peterson, youth court president and attorney with Lewis, King, Kreig & Waldrop. “We’ve seen an increase in juvenile offenses, but many of these offenses are simply mistakes. Youth courts have been successful in turning them into opportunities.”

Student Swearing-in Thursday at Cane Ridge Youth Court

Ground-breaking program lets students hear real cases

NASHVILLE, Oct. 23, 2013 -- After a successful pilot program in the spring, the Academy of Law at Cane Ridge High School will install the newest members of its youth court program. Davidson County Juvenile Judge Sophia Crawford, whose support has been central to the development of this innovative collaboration, will officiate at the installation and swearing-in ceremonies at Cane Ridge High School on October 24, 2013.

The Tennessee Youth Court Program spans the state with youth court programs in 16 counties. Tennessee youth courts, juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention programs, have achieved a 93 percent success rate.  Youth court programs are for first-time juvenile offenders who accept responsibility for low-level offenses.  A jury of their peers determines the youthful offender's sentence.

http://www.tba.org/press-release/student-swearing-in-thursday-at-cane-ridge-youth-court

Two new Youth Courts have opened recently in Tennessee: Blount County and the Academy of Law at Cane Ridge High School in Nashville.

The Blount County Youth Court, a legacy project for the Leadership Blount Class of 2013, will operate under Juvenile Judge Terry Denton’s supervision.

After a successful pilot program in the spring, Cane Ridge installed the newest members of its youth court program in October. Davidson County Juvenile Judge Sophia Crawford, whose support has been central to the development of this innovative collaboration, officiated at the installation and swearing-in ceremonies .

The Tennessee Youth Court Program, which operates out of the Tennessee Bar Association offices, spans the state with youth court programs in 16 counties. Tennessee youth courts, juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention programs, have achieved a 93 percent success rate.  Youth court programs are for first-time juvenile offenders who accept responsibility for low-level offenses.  A jury of their peers determines the youthful offender's sentence.