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Arbitrator/Architect Retiring

Tennessee state architect and lawyer Mike Fitts is leaving his post effective June 1 after serving 45 years in state government. He was appointed as state architect in 1971 and earned his law degree from the Nashville School of Law in 1980. He has handled arbitration work on the side while working for the state and plans to continue doing arbitration in retirement.


Memphis attorney Gary K. Morrell has been named a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He practices with the Boswell Law Firm and is admitted in Tennessee and Arkansas.

Jackson lawyer Mary Jo Middlebrooks with Middlebrooks & Gray PA has been recognized by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Board Certified Family Law Trial Advocate. She previously was certified as a Family Law Specialist by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education & Specialization and as a Rule 31 Listed Mediator in the field of General Civil/Family Mediation with a designation as "Specially Trained in Domestic Violence Issues." Middlebrooks earned her law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1976. In 1978, she opened her law firm in Jackson.

Memphis lawyer Miles Mason Sr. has announced the opening of the new Miles Mason Family Law Group LLC, a comprehensive family law practice focused exclusively on divorce, custody, alimony and related legal areas. Mason " who was a co-founding partner of Crone & Mason PLC, which is now dissolved " and a team of four family law experts have opened offices in Memphis and Nashville/Brentwood.

Knoxville lawyer Weldon E. Patterson has been elected managing partner of Spicer Rudstrom PLLC, replacing Joe Spicer, the founder of the firm, who is still actively practicing. Patterson will continue to handle civil litigation cases, including products liability, transportation and construction matters. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1988.

The firm also recently named two new partners. Gary H. Nichols handles insurance and workers' compensation litigation as well as automobile liability, premises liability and products liability defense. He practices in the firm's Memphis office and graduated from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 1998. Thomas J. Smith focuses his practice in the areas of insurance and workers' compensation litigation as well as automobile and premises liability defense in the firm's Nashville office. He earned his law degree from the University of Memphis in 1996.

The Jefferson County Bar Association recently elected Dennis "Will" Roach II of Jefferson City as its new president. Christopher D. Brown with P. Richard Talley & Associates remains the association's vice president.

Judge Ronald Lee Gilman of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will take "senior status" on Nov. 21. Gilman has served on the court for 13 years. Although he is eligible for full retirement, Gilman plans to reduce his caseload by 25 percent and continue hearing cases both in the Sixth Circuit and as a visiting judge in other circuits. His primary chambers are in the Clifford Davis-Odell Horton Federal Building in Memphis. Judge Gilman was president of the Tennessee Bar Association in 1990-1991.

Rutherford County attorney Guy R. Dotson Jr. recently announced that M. Andre "Andy" Brunelle joined his practice and the two have formed the firm of Dotson and Brunelle. A native of Murfreesboro, Brunelle earned his law degree in 2009 from the Nashville School of Law. His areas of practice include family and domestic law, criminal law and personal injury law.

Elizabeth Maxey Hackworth has joined the Maryville office of Kizer & Black Attorneys PLLC as an associate. She will practice in the area of family law. Hackworth previously worked at Barnes & Diehl PC in Richmond, Va., and at Sheppeard, Swanson & Mynatt in Knoxville. She is a 2007 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law.

In April, the Bristol City Council appointed attorney Randy M. Kennedy as city juvenile judge after the death of Paul R. Wohlford. Kennedy will continue to practice law full time while handling juvenile matters on a part time basis. Kennedy has maintained a general practice in Bristol for over 30 years with an emphasis on real estate, business entities, probate and domestic issues. He earned his law degree from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the then-Memphis State University in 1979.

Davidson County Judge Daniel Eisenstein, presiding judge of the county's Mental Health Court, recently honored Elisabeth M. Dykens for her help in developing a program for individuals suffering from mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance abuse who are referred to the court. Dykens is director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, co-director of the University Center for Excellence in Development Disabilities, and professor of psychology, human development, psychiatry and pediatrics. The court supervises a year-long probation treatment program for those who enter the justice system with serious and persistent mental illness.

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Retired Memphis lawyer JAMES T. BLAND SR. died Feb. 18 at the age of 91. Bland, who earned his law degree in 1941 from the then-Southern College of Law in Memphis, practiced law as a member of Malloy Leary & Bland until his retirement. In 1987 he served as president of the Federal Bar Association. Prior to joining Malloy Leary & Bland, he worked as a claims manager for several companies, including Hertz Corporation and Bland Claim Service " a business he opened in Memphis. The family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Memphis Bar Foundation, the Tennessee Bar Foundation or the Federal Bar Foundation.

Covington attorney DUKE HARRIS BRASFIELD, 62, died April 9. Brasfield practiced law in Covington for 33 years. He represented the Covington Industrial Development Board and had served as Tipton County attorney since 1985. Brasfield was instrumental in opening a Covington campus of the Dyersburg State Community College. He graduated in 1975 from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the then-Memphis State University. He is survived by his wife and 25th Judicial District Chancery Court Chancellor Martha Brasfield. Memorials should be sent to the First United Methodist Church of Covington, Dyersburg State Community College or a charity of the donor's choice.

SUSAN KATE COLLINS of Memphis died Feb. 2. A 1982 graduate of the Loyola University School of Law, Collins practiced law in Illinois and Ohio and was licensed to practice in Tennessee in 2003. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The Rev. Dr. BENJAMIN L. HOOKS died April 15 at the age of 85. A civil rights leader, lawyer, judge and preacher, Hooks was a native Memphian who grew up on Beale Street. He earned his law degree from DePaul University in 1949 and returned to Memphis to practice law. Hooks became a leader in the civil rights movement, working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and serving as secretary of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On the night of King's assassination, Hooks moved throughout the city calling for nonviolence. In 1965, he was appointed to the Tennessee Criminal Court, becoming the first African-American judge in the south since Reconstruction. He spent a number of years in Washington, D.C., as the first black member of the Federal Communications Commission and as president of the NAACP from 1977 to 1992. For many years he served as pastor of the Greater New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, and for 52 years he delivered sermons at the Greater Middle Baptist Church in Memphis, retiring just last year.

EMANUEL "MANNY" PETER SCARMOUTSOS died April 4 at the age of 80. A 1957 graduate of Southern Law University, he practiced law in Memphis for 49 years until he retired in 2009. Scarmoutsos served as president of the Memphis Trial Lawyers from 1985 to 1986, taught business law classes at the then-Memphis State University and authored the book Unfrocked and Unashamed. The family requests that memorials be sent to the Andrew Scarmoutsos Scholarship fund in care of attorney Charles Patton, 5100 Poplar Ave., Suite 2723, Memphis 38137.