Links for January 2014

Court Seeks Comments on Changes to CLE Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court filed an order yesterday soliciting comments on amendments to Supreme Court Rule 21, which have been proposed by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Education. Comments should be filed by March 20, 2014. Download the order, petition and appendix.

LAET, TBA Conclude Civil Right to Counsel Series

Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Tennessee Bar Association have concluded a multi-city panel discussion series on the issue of Civil Right to Counsel. This year is  the 50th anniversary of Gideon v Wainwright, which established the right to counsel in criminal cases. A great deal of discussion has been going on nationally about the lack of a right to counsel in critical civil cases where the risk of harm is greater than that in many criminal cases, including domestic violence, custody and foreclosure. Each of the sessions began with videos featuring Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade and Tennessee Bar Association President Cindy Wyrick. The Knoxville event on Nov. 15 was held at Lincoln Memorial University's Duncan School of Law. The second was Nov. 18 at Memorial Park Community Center in Johnson City and the third presentation was today on the University of Tennessee Chattanooga campus. Read more from LAET or see photos from the events.

BPR Issues Ethics Opinion on Guardian Ad Litem Roles

A formal ethics opinion released today by the Board of Professional Responsibility addresses the question of whether it is a conflict of interest for a lawyer who was appointed guardian ad litem to subsequently represent another interest in a matter regarding the child for whom the lawyer was appointed guardian ad litem. The opinion states in part that an attorney who was appointed guardian ad litem for a child may represent another party’s interest as long as it is consistent with the interests of the child and does not violate professional conduct rules. To insure that the subsequent representation of another interest is not inconsistent with the interest of the child, it would be advisable to secure consent or permission from the judge who had appointed the lawyer as GAL to represent the other party.

Bill Young Joins AOC as Director

Former Tennessee Solicitor General Bill Young has started work as Administrative Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the AOC reports. Young was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court in September to succeed Libby Sykes, who held the position for seven years before retiring. “I appreciate the tremendous opportunity provided to me by the Supreme Court and look forward to serving in this capacity,” Young said. He will direct an office of about 75 people who provide administrative support to the trial and appellate judges and courts across the state.

Judiciary Museum Launches New Exhibits, Website

The Tennessee Judiciary Museum has launched several new exhibits and a website to celebrate its one-year anniversary. The exhibits detail several historic cases, divided by alcoves that show examples from all levels of Tennessee courts — trial courts, appellate courts and the Tennessee Supreme Court. The museum also launched its own website to provide information to prospective visitors about the museum and offer lesson plans and other information for educators. The museum is open Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Admission is free.

ABA Accepting Nominations for Appointments

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced it is accepting applications and nominations for 2014-2015 Presidential Appointments to ABA standing committees, special committees, commissions and other entities and initiatives. The online application process opened this week and is available until Feb. 28.

Survey Shows What People Want in a Lawyer

A new survey by the attorney rating company Avvo Inc. says that consumers want a lawyer who is confident and realistic, but reality show fans want lawyers who are aggressive and attractive. The three lowest-ranking characteristics people want in their lawyers are ambitious (12 percent), friendly (15 percent) and reassuring (18 percent). The Nashville Business Journal notes that responsiveness was the top factor, cited by 92 percent of respondents, followed by track record (80 percent).

2014 Mock Trial Case Released Today

The problem and rules for the 2014 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition are now available. This year’s problem involves allegations that a hit song climbing the country charts violates the copyright of a song penned by struggling singer-songwriter Jessie Jameson. The infringement suit claims that the hit song is substantially similar to Jameson’s and that the author had access to the work. The defense argues that similarities between the songs are merely scenes à faire – common themes, language and expressions that appear frequently in country songs – and that the defendant did not have access to the work. Witnesses such as Dr. Doe Raymie and Jordan “Catnip” Evergreen, and two songs written and recorded just for the competition, make this year’s case entertaining as well as educational.

Women Striving for Parity in Judiciary

Advances in making Tennessee’s judiciary more diverse are evident: women now make up the majority of justices on the Tennessee Supreme Court; Deborah Stevens was recently appointed to serve as a Knox County Circuit Court judge; and Pam Reeves, when confirmed by the Senate, will become the first woman to serve as a federal judge in East Tennessee. However, progress has been slow Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee points out to Knoxnews: “We are not where we should be yet in terms of judicial diversity.” According to a report by the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at the University of Albany, State University of New York, Tennessee lags behind the national (27.1 percent) and Southeastern average (25.6 percent) with just 18.4 percent of women judges. Lee, other seasoned women attorneys and organizations such as the state and East Tennessee chapters of the Lawyers Association for Women are working to change that by addressing some of the dynamics cited for low advancement among women within the state’s judicial system.

Memphis Bar Moving to New Office

The Memphis Bar Association reports that it is moving its offices tonight. The association now will be located on the third floor of the BankTennessee building at 145 Court Ave., Suite 301, Memphis, TN 38103. Phone and fax numbers will remain the same though the association says telephone, email and Internet access will be down for part or all of the day on Friday due to the move.

TBA Selects Attorneys for 2014 Leadership Law Class
33 lawyers from across the state join six-month leadership training program

NASHVILLE, Nov. 14, 2013 — The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) announces that 33 attorneys from across the state have been selected for its 2014 Leadership Law program. Now in its 11th year, Leadership Law is designed to equip Tennessee lawyers with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in their profession and local communities.