News

Art, Essays, Videos

TBA Contests Educate, Entertain

In conjunction with Law Day, the Tennessee Bar Association offered elementary, middle and high school students several opportunities to learn about the law and convey those concepts in creative ways.

In the Law Day Art & Essay Contest, sponsored by the TBA’s Young Lawyers Division, two Knoxville students earned first place. Their art and essay entries centered on the 2012 theme of “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom,” which asked students to consider the importance of the courts and their role in ensuring access to justice for all Americans. Ashley Holliday, an attorney with West Tennessee Legal Services, coordinated the competition. See all the winners’ work at www.tba.org/info/2012-law-day-art-essay-contest-winners

Students also were challenged to produce videos for the second annual TBA YouTube Video Contest on the topic of freedom of communication.  Middle and high school students across Tennessee created three-minute videos exploring issues related to free communication. Students were asked to examine one of several themes, including the value of an “invaluable” right; whether limits can, or should, be imposed on freedom of communication; whether there should be consequences for abusing freedom of communication; and how the concept of freedom of communication applies in a digital era.

First place in the high school division went to Vivian Hughbanks of Signal Mountain. Ben Panak of Murfreesboro won the middle school division. The TBA’s Public Education Committee, chaired by Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur, sponsors the contest. Read more about the winners and watch their videos at www.tba.org/press-release/tba-announces-youtube-video-contest-winners

First-place winners in all categories will have their work showcased at the TBA Convention June 6-9 in Memphis.

Briefs

Court Exempts Pro Bono Credit from Filing Fee
The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order in late April amending Supreme Court Rule 21, Section 4.07(c) to exempt all credit hours awarded for pro bono legal representation from the per-hour fee imposed by Section 8 and collected by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization. Under court rules, the commission may award one hour of ethics and professionalism credit for every five billable hours of pro bono legal representation.

The court said that the per-hour fee that was being charged to cover administrative costs no longer would be collected. It noted in the order that lawyers who perform pro bono work provide an invaluable service not only to their clients but also to the state’s system of justice, and should be exempt from the fees.

Comment on 6th Circuit Proposed Procedure Changes
The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is proposing comprehensive amendments to the Sixth Circuit Rules and Internal Operating Procedures.
Send your comments to the proposed changes to Clerk Leonard Green by July 12 to ca06-rules_comments@ca6.uscourts.gov

BLE: Duncan Students Can Take Bar Through 2017
The Lincoln Memorial University John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law in April received an extension from the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners to achieve American Bar Association accreditation. The board gave the school until December 2017 to earn American Bar Association approval, which means that its students can sit for the state bar exam at least through that time. The extension follows a March 29 visit from the board, in which members met with students, administrators and members of the legal community and observed classes.

Bill to Change Attorney General Selection Fails
A proposal to change the way the state attorney general is selected failed 16-15 in the Senate this session. Under the proposal, the governor would have appointed an attorney general and the legislature would have confirmed the selection. Currently, attorneys general are selected by state Supreme Court justices.

DOJ Slams Shelby County Juvenile System
The U.S. Justice Department issued a report this spring saying that juvenile offenders in Shelby County are denied due process rights and that black children are treated differently and more harshly than white children by the Juvenile Court. The investigation by the department’s Civil Rights Division began in August 2009 and included the review of 66,000 case files from a five-year period. Among other violations, it found repeated failures to protect children from self-incrimination, failure to notify children and their parents of charges prior to hearing dates, a pattern of sending children to detention without warrants if they were arrested on weekends or holidays, a lack of thoroughness in deciding to charge juveniles as adults, and a lack of safe conditions at the detention center. And while these failures applied to all children, the DOJ said there was a verifiable and noticeable difference in how black children were treated.

National YLD Meeting Features Tennessee Speakers, Programs
About 20 Tennessee lawyers addressed attendees at the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division spring meeting in Nashville in May. Members of the Tennessee Bar Association YLD played a key role in organizing the programming, as well as a service project that helped 20 veterans with VA benefit claims. Nashville lawyer Matt Potempa and Memphis lawyer Stacie Winkler were recognized by the ABA for their hard work. Memphis lawyer and TBA YLD Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist spoke to attendees about the group’s Diversity Leadership Institute, which was named one of four finalists for the ABA’s Next Steps Challenge Grant.The conference concluded with a panel discussion featuring Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch, Vanderbilt Law School Professor Brian T. Fitzpatrick and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jane Branstetter Stranch speaking about recent funding cuts and attacks on the judicary. TBA Executive Director Allan F. Ramsaur moderated.

Vandy Student Wins Writing Competition
William Airhart, a third-year student at Vanderbilt University Law School, in April was awarded first place in the Tennessee Bar Association Environmental Law Section’s 2012 Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition for his article “After AEP: The Climate Change Tort and the Social Cost of Carbon.” Airhart was awarded $1,200 and his article has been published in the TBA Environmental Law Section's newsletter.

Apply by June 4

TBA Board to Fill Open Positions

Two open positions will be filled by the Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors at its meeting June 9.

The first — 6th District Governor — is an open seat created  when no one sought to be considered  for the seat by the deadline. The 6th District is Giles, Lawrence, Humphreys, Houston, Wayne, Perry, Cheatham, Stewart, Lewis, Hickman, Montgomery, Sumner, Maury, Dickson, Robertson and Williamson counties.

The second position is the unexpired term for the 7th District Governor. This vacancy is created by Jonathan Steen assuming the vice-president position. The 7th District is Henry, Decatur, Hardeman, McNairy, Carroll, Chester, Hardin, Madison, Henderson, Fayette and Benton counties. The person who fills this seat will serve for one year. Under the new configuration of the Board adopted this year, the 7th and 8th districts will be combined into a new 7th district and a second grand division governor seat will be created.

In accordance with Article 47 of the TBA Bylaws, the board may fill the vacancies, with terms through Spring 2013, by election at its June 2012 meeting. If you would like to be considered for one of the positions, contact TBA Executive Director Allan F. Ramsaur at aramsaur@tnbar.org or 615-383-7421 by June 4.