People

20th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Walter C. Kurtz of Nashville will retire effective March 21 after more than 25 years, to become the state's fifth senior judge. Chief Justice William M. Barker of Chattanooga said Kurtz will be missed as a trial court judge, but will continue to serve Tennesseans in his new position. Senior judges are former trial and appellate court judges who may be assigned on a temporary basis to any state court.

"He is as well-respected as any judge in the state, and for good reason," Barker said.   

Kurtz, 64, has been a judge since 1982 and previously served one term as a public defender in Davidson County.

The Sevier County Bar Association recently elected its officers for 2008. They are: President Charles S. Sexton with the Wallace & Sexton Law Office, Vice President Scott D. Hall, and Secretary-Treasurer Jeffrey L. Stern. They are all of Sevierville.

Marcy Adcock of McMinnville is the new president of the Warren County Bar Association. She will serve in the position for two years.

The Kingsport law firm of Hunter, Smith & Davis LLP has added a new attorney to its developing immigration practice. Michael A. Eastridge joins the firm after working in the Atlanta office of a large immigration firm. While there, Eastridge handled employer-based non-immigrant visas for large-employer clients. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1994 and is licensed to practice in Tennessee and Georgia. He also is the founder and director of a nonprofit organization engaged in international justice initiatives in Africa.

The 15th Judicial District Bar Association has elected its officers for 2008. Among the group are the following TBA members: Treasurer Byron Gill with Rochelle, McCulloch & Aulds, and Secretary Robert P. Hamilton, probate and general sessions judge. Both are from Lebanon.

The Bristol Bar Association recently chose its officers for the new year: Jack Lewis Combs, an assistant district attorney in Blountville, will serve as president and Joseph Wesley Edens with Icenhour & Edens in Bristol will serve as treasurer.

Marjorie Kaup Haines has joined the law firm of Kay B. Housch PC where she will practice commercial real estate law. A 2007 graduate of the Nashville School of Law, Haines co-founded the Nashville School of Law Legal Society and served as its president from 2006 to 2007.

Holly Melinda Bishop has joined Jack A. Butler & Associates in Nashville. Bishop previously served as a paralegal for the firm and will focus in the areas of personal injury, domestic law, criminal defense and general practice. She earned her law degree from the Nashville School of Law in 2007.

Lisa Millican Ewing has opened a private law practice under the name Ewing Law Office LLC in association with Jack A. Butler & Associates. Ewing is a 2007 graduate of the Nashville School of Law and is focusing her practice in the areas of domestic law, probate, wills and estate planning and civil litigation.  The office is located in the Washington Square Building, Suite 417, 222 Second Ave., North, Nashville 37201.

Miller & Martin PLLC has named four lawyers to leadership positions in the firm. In the Nashville office, Katie Edge has been named chair of the Commercial Department and Tony Swafford has been named chair of the Labor & Employment Department. In Chattanooga, Jonathan Kent has been named chair of the Corporate Department and Randy Wilson has been named chair of the Litigation Department.

In other news from the firm, S. Ruffin Craig Jr. has joined the Nashville office as an associate in the Corporate Department where he will focus on ERISA and employee benefits, taxation, corporate law, investment banking and bank regulatory matters.  He previously practiced with the Memphis firm of Gerrish McCreary Smith PC.  A 2001 graduate of the University of Mississippi College of Law, Craig also earned Master of Laws in Taxation from Villanova School of Law in 2002.

The law firms of Husch & Eppenberger LLC and Blackwell Sanders LLP have merged to form Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP. The new firm, whose name was decided by a coin toss, will focus on commercial litigation and business services. The firm has offices in Chattanooga and Memphis, as well as around the nation and overseas.

After 15 years in private practice in Crossville, Sharon Potter has joined the Knoxville law firm of Frantz, McConnell & Seymour LLP.  She will focus her practice in real estate transactions, estate planning and probate.  Potter graduated from Memphis State University, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 1985.

W. Scott Sims with Walker Tipps & Malone has taken office as president of the Nashville Bar Association for 2008. Sims earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1995. Trey Harwell of Neal & Harwell PLC is the new president-elect. New board members, who are TBA members, are Anne Arney, Martha Boyd, Stacey Garrett, Robert Mendes and Jim Weatherly.

Frost Brown Todd LLC member M. Clark Spoden and associate Derek C. Jumper were recognized as the Nashville Bar Association's 2007 Joseph G. Cummings Pro Bono Volunteers of the Year. The distinction is given to an attorney whose work, in association with the Nashville Pro Bono Program, best exemplifies the capacity to provide pro bono legal services. Spoden and Jumper represented an elderly, sight-
disabled, couple that was taken advantage of when purchasing a home.

The NBA's highest award, the John C. Tune Community Service Award, was presented to Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Haynes.

The law firm of Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC recently announced the addition of Amanda Clearman Waddell to its Memphis office. Waddell joins the firm after practicing for eight years in Hattiesburg, Miss. She will focus her practice primarily in the areas of medical malpractice, general insurance defense and insurance coverage. She obtained her law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1999.

The Nashville law firm of Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry PLC has named six new members of the firm: Emily Hatch Bowman, Robert C. Hannon, Austin L. McMullen, J. Scott Richardson, Jonathan M. Skeeters and Christopher E. Thorsen. Bowman represents financial institutions and corporate clients in a variety of commercial lending, real estate, and general corporate and business transactional matters. She joined the firm in 2000 after earning her law degree from the Vanderbilt University Law School. Hannon joined the firm in 2005 after practicing at Stites & Harbison PLLC and graduating from the Vanderbilt University Law School in 1998 graduate. He focuses his practice on commercial loan transactions and has extensive experience with loan workouts and distressed debt acquisition. McMullen has an active bankruptcy practice representing creditors and clients in commercial litigation. He joined the firm in 2000 after earning his law degree from the Vanderbilt University Law School. Richardson joined the firm in 2000 and focuses his practice on health care law, with an emphasis on regulatory compliance, licensing and certification, and transaction matters. He received his law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2000. Skeeters represents clients in business transactions, with a primary focus on advising health care companies. He joined the firm in 2003 and received his law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2000. Finally, Thorsen practices in the areas of commercial, securities and intellectual property litigation. He joined the firm in 2000 after obtaining his law degree from the Vanderbilt University Law School.

In other news, Boult, Cummings announced that Mark W. Miller has joined its Nashville office as a member in the tax practice. Miller, who has more than 10 years of experience in tax law, will focus his practice on partnership and limited liability company transactions. Prior to joining Boult Cummings, he was a partner at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP. Miller earned his law degree from Indiana University in 1996 and an advanced degree in taxation from New York University in 1997.

Jason R. Mirmelstein and Harold L. North Jr. have been named shareholders in the Chattanooga firm of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC. Mirmelstein is a member of the firm's business section and focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, corporate and securities law and business organizations. He earned his law degree in 1998 from the University of Virginia. North focuses his practice on bankruptcy and commercial litigation. He received his law degree from the University of Memphis in 1980.

The Blount County Bar Association has elected its officers for 2008. Among them are TBA members Stephen S. Ogle, president, and Sherri DeCosta, secretary. Both are from Maryville. DeCosta practices with Kizer & Black.

Stacy Slone Neisler
has announced the opening of The Law Office of Stacy S. Neisler at 2011 Wall Street in Spring Hill, Tennessee. She can be reached at (615) 302-3300.

Pentecost & Glenn PLLC in Jackson has named Brandon O. Gibson a partner in the firm effective Sept. 1, 2007.  Gibson has practiced with the firm since its inception in 2003.  She is a 2000 graduate of Southern Methodist University School of Law and focuses her practice on civil rights defense, employment defense and commercial litigation.

The Knoxville law firm of London & Amburn PC has hired four new attorneys: Ian P. Hennessey, Jessica Kulkarni, Summer Stevens and Daniel T. Swanson. Hennessey graduated in 2007 from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he was articles editor for the Tennessee Journal of Law and Policy. Kulkarni also earned her law degree from the University of Tennessee in 2007. As a student she worked as a Legal Aid volunteer and a federal investigator for the EEOC. Stevens has been practicing for eight years in the areas of general civil litigation, products liability, nursing home litigation and medical malpractice defense. She is a 1999 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law and currently serves as the publications chair for the Defense Research Institute's Medical Liability Committee. Swanson has practiced in Knoxville for the last four years in the areas of insurance defense and workers' compensation. He is a 2003 graduate of the University of Baltimore College of Law. All four attorneys will be practicing primarily in the areas of health care law and medical malpractice defense.

The Lawrenceburg law firm of Boston, Holt, Sockwell & Durham PLLC has named Ryan P. Durham a member of the firm. Durham joined the firm as an associate in 2004 and focuses his practice in the areas of general civil litigation, family law, personal injury and corporate litigation. He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2002.

Nashville lawyer Guilford F. Thornton Jr. has been elected to serve on Adams and Reese's executive committee. Thornton serves as legislative counsel to a number of trade associations, as well as business and governmental entities with interests before the Tennessee General Assembly and regulatory boards and administrative agencies of local, state and federal government. He earned his law degree in 1990 from the Vanderbilt University Law School.

Adams and Reese also recently announced that Nashville attorney Kolin B. Holladay has been elected to partnership in the firm. Holladay serves in the Transactions and Corporate Advisory Practice Group, assisting clients with federal and state securities law, public and private offerings, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and contracts. He earned a law degree and a master of business administration simultaneously from the University of Tennessee in 2001.

In other news from the firm, Adams and Reese LLP will be featured in two magazines for its efforts "to foster a working environment of inclusion, respect and opportunity for all employees." MultiCultural Law Magazine has named it in the top 100 firms for diversity and Women 3.0 has named it in the top 100 firms for women.

Morristown lawyer Martha Lionberger has been elected president of the Hamblen County Bar Association for 2008. She serves with Legal Aid of East Tennessee.

Dawn Davis Carson has been named a partner in the Memphis firm of Heaton and Moore PC. Carson received her law degree from the University of Mississippi in 2001. She focuses her practice in the areas of insurance defense, medical malpractice and general litigation.

Nashville attorney Alexandra MacKay has been elected to membership in Stites & Harbison PLLC. A member of the firm's Intellectual Property & Technology Service Group, she focuses on intellectual property law and handles both transactional and litigation work.

Kate M. Embry recently joined the Memphis law firm of Bourland Heflin Alvarez Minor & Matthews as an associate. Embry earned her law degree in 2007 from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where she was an editor of the Mississippi Law Journal and president of the Environmental Law Society. She is focusing her practice primarily in the area of commercial litigation.

The Clarksville firm of Batson, Nolan, Pearson, Miller & Joiner has named Philip Mize a partner, effective Jan. 1.  Mize has been with the firm for six years practicing in its  civil litigation, commercial law and family law practice groups.  He received his law degree in 2002 from the University of Memphis School of Law.

Virginia Trotter Betts, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities, was recently named president of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. Betts was elected vice president of the organization in 2007, having represented the Southern region on its board of directors since 2005.

Stephen D. Potts has been awarded the 2007 Stanley C. Pace Ethics in Leadership Award by the Ethics Resource Center Fellows Program for his years of work promoting ethical conduct in the public and private sectors. Potts served as chair of the Virginia-based Ethics Resource Center for three years. He left in 2007 to take the position of White House associate counsel. His career has included service in the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps, as director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and as a partner with the Washington, D.C. firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts and Trowbridge.  Potts earned his law degree from the Vanderbilt University Law School in 1954.
  
Knoxville attorney Joseph G. Jarret recently authored two articles in addition to his recent feature in the Tennessee Bar Journal. They are "Public Sector Mediation," which ran in the Tennessee Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission Newsletter; and "Firefighter Stress-Related Illness," which appeared in Public Risk Magazine.

Nashville lawyer Julie-Karel Elkin has joined with long-time personal injury and criminal defense attorney Jack A. Butler to form the firm of Butler & Elkin. The firm has a new office at 222 Second Avenue North, Suite 417 in Nashville and a second location at 725 Cool Springs Blvd. in Franklin. Elkin has handled insurance defense litigation for 12 years. In her new practice she will represent clients with personal injuries and assist small business owners with litigation needs.

Passages

Nashville attorney GWEN E.N. MCFARLAND died Jan. 2 at the age of 77. McFarland, who had achieved senior counselor status, worked as a solo practioner. She earned her law degree in 1979 from the YMCA Night Law School, the precursor entity to the Nashville School of Law.

IRA H. MURPHY, a former state lawmaker and judge, died Jan. 6 at the age of 79. Murphy served in the state House from 1969 to 1983 as a Democrat from Memphis, and was a general sessions judge in Shelby County.

WILLIAM JAMES (BILL) PEELER OF MCEWEN died Jan. 24 at age 80. Funeral services were held at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in McEwen and burial was at Richlawn Cemetery in Waverly. Peeler served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1959 to 1963, and in the state Senate from 1967 to 1975 (holding the post of Senate Majority Leader for four years). Peeler may be known best for drafting and passing legislation that established a statewide system of general sessions courts. He also served as county attorney for Humphreys County. Peeler established his Waverly law firm " Porch, Peeler, Williams & Thomason " in 1952 following graduation from the Cumberland School of Law.