Links for September 2012

Video Will Help You Represent Persons with Disabilities

A short video is now available to help lawyers when they provide pro bono legal services to persons with disabilities. The project from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission — Providing Legal Services to Persons with Disabilities — raises awareness and reduces the barriers that persons with disabilities face when seeking legal services. The 12-minute video provides general etiquette tips on interacting with individuals with disabilities and highlights specific examples of common scenarios that people with disabilities encounter when seeking legal services. The Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee developed the video with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Learn more from the AOC.

TBA Programs Named Best in State

News from the Tennessee Bar Journal Editorial Board
Two Tennessee Bar Association programs were named the best in the state by the Tennessee Society of Association Executives (TNSAE) at a luncheon and award ceremony in Nashville July 20. The Tennessee Bar Journal — the TBA’s flagship publication — was named best magazine for the third time. In addition, the TBA Young Lawyers Division was recognized for its Judicial Internship Program, which matches Tennessee law students with trial judges across the state for summer internships. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur was on hand to accept the awards.

Court Issues Draft Revision to Discipline Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Aug. 8 issued a draft "comprehensive revision" and reorganization of its rule on lawyer registration and discipline. Comments on the 118-page proposal are due Feb. 8, 2013. The TBA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility will review the proposal for the TBA. Download a copy of the proposal.

Comments Sought on Judicial Disqualification Rules

The ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence met during the annual meeting in Chicago last week and issued a draft of revised judicial disqualification rules designed to deal with the influx of cash into judicial races. Sept. 15 is the deadline for comments on the draft revisions. Learn more from the ABA Journal.

Grants Available for Courtroom Technology

Judges and court clerks are eligible to apply for some of the $100,000 grant the Administrative Office of the Courts has received to enhance courtroom technology throughout the state. The one-time funds are from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant. Applications are due on Sept. 15. Learn more here.

AOC Announces Grants to Help Pro Se

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has approximately $200,000 in grant funding available for the development or continuation of initiatives that aid self-represented litigants with child support issues. The funding is made possible through the Access and Visitation Grant. To receive funding, programs must address the needs of divorced or never-married parents and focus on cases involving child support, parenting or visitation issues. Proposals must be received by Sept. 14. Learn more or download an application.

Counties Launch Veterans' Courts

A newly established veterans' court in Shelby County will help veterans navigate the criminal justice system if they find themselves facing charges, says county mayor Mark Luttrell. According to the Commercial Appeal, the court will provide a comprehensive approach that coordinates criminal justice processes with services from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Only non-violent defendants will be referred the program, which the county will spend $60,000 a year to support.

A court aimed at helping veterans who come to the criminal justice system as a result of drug addictions, homelessness and other situations brought on by the ravages of untreated wartime stress held its first session this summer in Clarksville. General Sessions Judge Ken Goble brought the court to order, telling one early participant, “This is for those who have sacrificed and are now in a bad place. This is a chance to get you off the road you’re on.” Learn more about the court from the AOC.

Follow the TBA on Social Media

More than 2,000 people now get regular updates on news from the Tennessee legal community by following the Tennessee Bar Association on Twitter. You can also watch for regular updates on the TBA's Facebook page or sign up to join the Tennessee Bar Association group on LinkedIn.

Job Prospects for Bilingual Lawyers Good

Lawyers who speak a second language are a hot commodity, though the jobs they are snagging are usually temporary. Patent and automotive litigation are improving the employment picture for lawyers who speak Asian languages. Also popular are lawyers who can help translate language for deals and documents in emerging economies such as Brazil and India. ABAJournal.com has the details

Tennessee Legal History Interviews Now Available to Public

The Tennessee Bar Foundation’s collection of videotaped interviews with prominent Tennessee lawyers and judges is now available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The collection consists of 76 interviews — a virtual “Who’s Who” of the 20th Century legal profession in Tennessee, including Howard Baker, Adolpho Birch, Wyeth Chandler, Martha Craig Daughtrey, Lewis Donelson, Joe Duncan, Benjamin Hooks, Irvin Kilcrease, Gilbert Merritt, James Neal, Paul Summers, Thomas Wiseman and many others. See them here

TBA Report: More Lawyers Running for Legislature

A report compiled by the Tennessee Bar Association shows that while the number of lawyers serving in the legislature has declined over the last several years, more lawyers are candidates for the General Assembly this year than in the last two election cycles. The report shows that 25 lawyers are running for 20 seats. In two districts, lawyers are pitted against each other in the primary or will likely face off in the general election. It remains to be seen whether, with the retirement of several lawyer lawmakers, the actual number of lawyers in the General Assembly will increase. See a full list of candidates with links to learn more about their campaigns.

Survey: Public Does Not Recognize Plight of Courts

The ABA Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System wrapped up two years of work recently 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.