Links for July 2012

The law school class of 2011 has more depressing news as employment hit an 18-year low, according to data released yesterday by NALP. Nine months after graduation, 85.6 percent had jobs, but not quite 66 percent of them had jobs that required a law degree. This is down 9 percent since 2008. Only 12.5 percent had jobs that preferred but did not require a law degree, up from 10.7 percent for the class of 2010. The National Law Journal has more.

6th Circuit Ruling Changes ADA Precedent

A decision handed down from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals last week resulted in a change in precedent in the way the courts in the circuit have dealt with cases involving the Americans with Disabilities Act. Up until this point, the Jackson Sun reports, the courts have ruled that an individual would need to prove that his or her disability was the “sole cause” for adverse actions from an employer, such as termination. Now, individuals with disabilities only to need prove “but for” causation, in that they must prove that they would have retained their employment but for their disability.

New General Session Judge Approved in Washington Co.

Washington County's two general sessions court judges will spend the next few months developing a schedule and division of duties among themselves and a new judge, who is expected to start work in January. Judge James Nidiffer said he was pleased when the county commission approved the new position Tuesday night. Nidiffer also said he and Judge Robert Lincoln will need to discuss how the new court will be staffed. Nidiffer and Lincoln currently share equal duties, and the new judge will be included in that same process. The Johnson City Press has more.

Journal Readers Now Can Comment on Online Articles

A new feature, beginning this month, allows readers to comment on Tennessee Bar Journal articles posted online. Comments are not anonymous and can only be made by TBA members who are logged in to the site. This new capability is designed to make the online Journal more interactive and useful to readers. Watch for the Journal in your mailbox or read it online and comment now.

Court Clarifies Parole Procedures

The Tennessee Supreme Court clarified on Friday the procedures an inmate must follow to dispute the determination of parole eligibility for consecutive sentences, clarifying that the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) and the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole (BOPP) are separate entities with distinct roles. TDOC is responsible for calculating release eligibility dates,the court said in the case, and BOPP decides whether to release inmates on parole. Inmates may obtain judicial review of these decisions, but the procedure differs. Chattanoogan.com has more.

Interim Dean Named at Memphis Law

William P. Kratzke has been named interim dean of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. He will begin June 1, 2012, and will succeed Kevin Smith, who is returning full-time to teaching and research. Kratzke has taught at the U of M law school since 1979. He served as associate dean from 1989 to 1991, and in 1995 he was named Cecil C. Humphreys Professor of Law. Kratzke’s areas of expertise are in business law and he has taught torts, civil procedure, administrative law and environmental law. He received his degree from Valparaiso University School of Law, and an LL.M. centered on labor law from Georgetown University.

Governor Signs Bill Requiring Civics Education

Legislation that calls for a new emphasis on civics education in Tennessee was among bills signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam this week. House Bill 2114, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, requires civics education to be included in the public school curriculum assessed by local educational agencies. The legislation drew praise from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor, who wrote the sponsors of the law last week, saying, “This important legislation will help make sure that every Tennessee student receives the civil learning that is so vital to their becoming an informed and engaged citizen.” The Chattanoogan.com reports.

New Law Would Allow Nonviolent Criminals to Clear Records

Tennesseans who have committed certain nonviolent crimes will be able to have their criminal records expunged for a $350 fee under a bill expected to become law July 1. The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Karen Camper and state Sen. Reginald Tate, both D-Memphis, passed by a wide margin earlier this year. Tennesseans convicted of a single felony or misdemeanor for nonviolent theft, certain types of fraud, vandalism, or other nonviolent crimes may qualify. They must have stayed crime-free for the past five years and paid all restitution and penalties. The Commercial Appeal has more.

Haslam Moves Drug Courts to New Department

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced an executive order to change the management and oversight of state drug court programs as part of an ongoing effort to increase government efficiency and effectiveness. Executive Order No. 12 transfers the drug court program from the Department of Finance and Administration to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) effective July 1. In signing the order Haslam said the transfer would reduce duplication of effort and better align the drug courts with TDMHSAS’ role as the substance abuse authority in the state. Read more in the Cannon Courier.

Lawyers, Judges Among Most Likely to Gain Weight

A recent survey of more than 5,700 workers found that lawyers and judges are among those most likely to report a weight gain at their current job. Among all workers who added pounds, 54 percent said it was because of sitting at their desk most of the day; 56 percent said they also ate their lunch at their desk. Other reasons included eating because of stress (reported by 37 percent) and eating out regularly (reported by 23 percent). ABAJournal.com connects you to the survey