Links for May 2015

Holt Wins HOD Seat, Vacancies Announced

Springfield lawyer John Holt with the Law Offices of Holt & Kroeger has been declared the winner of a contested race for TBA House of Delegates (HOD) District 19. Vacancies in five other districts will be filled by appointment: District 7 (Anderson County), District 9 (Loudon, Meigs, Morgan, Roane counties), District 11 (Hamilton County), District 18 (Sumner County) and District 23 (Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Stewart counties). To be considered for one of the seats, submit a statement of interest and resume to TBA Executive Assistant Karen Belcher by June 1. In addition, an open position on the TBA Board of Governors for the West Grand Division Governor (Position 1) will be filled during the group's June 20 meeting. To be considered for the position submit a statement of interest and a resume to TBA Executive Director Allan F. Ramsaur by June 1.

Statutory Fix Addresses Notary Records

A legislative fix to the state notary laws was signed by Gov. Haslam last week. The bill, SB888/HB1033, clarifies that notaries public who do not charge a fee for services do not have to keep a record of their dealings, and that the records of notaries who are bank employees are governed by bank privacy laws. An attorney general’s opinion last year, which interpreted a 2014 change to the statute to classify notary records as public documents, caused some concern in the legal community. The effective date of the bill is April 6.

Governor Signs 2 TBA Bills

Two pieces of the TBA’s legislative package were signed by Gov. Bill Haslam last week. SB877/HB1183, which originated with the TBA’s Construction Law Section, makes changes to two sections of the Mechanics’ and Materialmen’s Liens statute that are clerical and procedural in nature. SB144/HB620, which proposed technical changes to the for-profit and non-profit corporations code, was signed into law and has been enacted as Public Chapter 60.

Court Postpones All Scheduled Execution Dates

The Tennessee Supreme Court has postponed execution dates for four inmates, effectively halting all executions until legal questions about current protocols are settled, the Associated Press reports. Tennessee last executed a prisoner in 2009. Since then, legal challenges and problems obtaining lethal injection drugs have stalled new executions. The court said Friday it would set new dates after the questions are resolved. The Nashville Ledger has the story.

NCSC Relaunches Judicial Ethics Clearinghouse

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has taken over the Center for Judicial Ethics (CJE) following the dissolution of the American Judicature Society. The CJE, a national clearinghouse for information on judicial ethics and discipline, has a new online presence at ncsc.org/cje. NCSC also will take over the hosting of the National College on Judicial Conduct and Ethics. This year's event will take place Oct. 28-30 in Chicago.

Judge OKs Service of Divorce Papers on Social Media

Facebook may need to add "Just got served divorce papers" to its list of relationship statuses now that a New York judge has said the social media site is an acceptable way for a woman to serve her husband with a summons for divorce, CNN reports. The judge in the case said that the “advent and ascendency of social media” means sites like Facebook and Twitter are the “next frontier” as “forums through which a summons can be delivered.”

Apps Help Provide Easier Access to Legal Help

Smartphone apps for immigrants, the indigent, those who face arrest and the lawyers who help them have been popping up with increasing frequency, the ABA Journal reports. “People talk a lot about digital technologies revolutionizing legal practice,” says Tanina Rostain, a law professor at Georgetown Law Center who teaches a course on the potential of Internet-based technologies for legal practice and pedagogy. “This is the area where the revolution is happening.” The Journal reviews 20 apps that are aiming to help close the access to justice gap.

National Award Named for George Barrett

A new national award to honor attorneys has been named after George Barrett, the late Nashville civil rights and labor attorney who started his career representing sit-in demonstrators when few would. The Sidney Hillman Foundation, which historically recognizes journalists, recently announced the creation of the award. Barrett died in August after practicing law in Nashville for more than 50 years. Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, will be the inaugural recipient. The Tennessean has more.

Doctors, Lawyers Explore Medical-Legal Partnerships

Close to 100 lawyers and medical professionals from across Tennessee gathered Monday to learn about partnership opportunities between medical community and legal providers that can benefit vulnerable individuals. Produced by the TBA Access to Justice Committee and its Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group, the program was held at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and provided an introduction to Medical-Legal Partnerships and how to promote these programs in Tennessee. Learn more and view photos from the event.

Memphis Lawyer to Lead YLD in 2017

Memphis lawyer Ahsaki Baptist with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs will lead the TBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) in 2017-2018. She will take office in June as vice president, and then assume the office of president-elect in 2016 and president in 2017. Baptist, who will be the first African American woman to lead the group, was deemed elected yesterday after the filing deadline passed with no opposition. Baptist has been active in the YLD since 2008, serving as the liaison from the Lawyers Association for Women, co-chair of the Diversity Committee for one year and chair of the committee for four years. Under her leadership, the YLD developed the award-winning Diversity Leadership Institute. YLD members will decide several contested races at the group's Annual Meeting June 19 in Memphis.

Springfield Repeats as State Mock Trial Champion

The Springfield High School mock trial team repeated its championship win for the second year in a row at the 2015 Tennessee State High School Mock Competition this past weekend in Nashville. Springfield defeated St. Mary’s Episcopal School of Memphis in the championship round. The team now will represent Tennessee at the National High School Mock Trial Competition May 14-16 in Raleigh, North Carolina. See complete competition results and a list of all volunteers.

Court Maintains Voluntary Pro Bono Reporting

The Tennessee Supreme Court adopted an order today establishing a new mechanism to fund access to justice programs, but declined to implement a requirement that attorneys make an annual report of pro bono activity. Today’s order is consistent with recommendations made by the TBA in a comment submitted to the court in February. The comment came in response to a November 2014 petition from the court’s Access to Justice Commission, which had proposed required reporting of pro bono hours. Read more about the order.

Rutherford Veterans' Court to Open Soon

A court tailored to serving veterans who run into trouble with the law could be available in the next few months, Rutherford County officials report. In February, commissioners endorsed the pilot launch of the court, which would begin by serving those participating in the county’s Drug Court and DUI Court. Courts coordinator Trey King and General Sessions Court Judge Ben Hall MacFarlin will lead the effort, the Daily News Journal reports.

Do’s and Don’ts of New Social Media Law

Employers can't ask employees who use company technology to access personal social media accounts for their passwords, according to the Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014. The law, which went into effect the first of this year, provides clear guidelines to help employers navigate the numerous scenarios involving employees' personal Internet activity. The Tennessean outlines guidelines for adhering to the new law.