Links for February 2016

Page Named to Tennessee Supreme Court

By Amelia Ferrell  on Thu, 01/07/2016 - 1:33pm

Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Roger Amos Page to the Tennessee Supreme Court, replacing Justice Gary R. Wade, who retired in September. The Madison County attorney has been a judge on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals since his appointment by Haslam in December 2011. He previously served as a circuit court judge for the 26th Judicial District. “I have been honored to serve the citizens of Tennessee for the past 18 years as a member of the judiciary, and I am humbled by the governor’s confidence in selecting me for the Tennessee Supreme Court,” Page said. Page's appointment is subject to confirmation by the Tennessee General Assembly under the state's new system that allows state lawmakers to review and reject the governor's nominations.

Court Adopts Updates to Rule Governing Licensing of Attorneys

By Allan Ramsaur on Mon, 12/21/2015 - 5:31pm

Out-of-state lawyers received an early Christmas present from the Tennessee Supreme Court when the Court today adopted new rules allowing practice pending admission for lawyers who are seeking Tennessee admission and are licensed in other jurisdictions. The new provisions, part of an over-all rewrite of the admissions rules in Tennessee, were largely backed by the TBA and Tennessee Board of Law Examiners.

The spouses of active-duty service members stationed in Tennessee also have a new pathway to a temporary license while their spouses are based in Tennessee. The two-year temporary military spouse license is subject to revocation if the military spouse relocates.

The rule change on practice pending admission is by far the most sweeping of the changes and could effect hundreds of lawyers who are licensed in other jurisdictions and have practiced for at least five years and seek a “comity” admission. Interpretations of a 2011 change in the rule had severely restricted practice pending admission. Such admissions will still require that the lawyer “associate” with a lawyer admitted in Tennessee during the one-year permission to provide legal services. 

The revised rule also:

  • Clarifies various ways in which legal services can be provided including by fully licensed lawyers, by lawyers granted permission to engage in special or limited practice and through temporary practice.
  • Permits for the first time the TBLE to permit lawyers with degrees from schools not accredited with the ABA in other U.S. jurisdictions and who have five years in practice to sit for the bar exam.
  • Establishes a single deadline for future applications to sit for the exam of May 20 and Dec. 20.
  • Eliminates negotiable instruments and bulk transfers from required exam topics.
  • Establishes a new amnesty period for in-house counsel registration through July 1, 2016.
  • Requires that applicants who attended law schools in foreign countries obtain an onsite LLM taught in English at an ABA accredited or Tennessee approved law school.

Tennessee Legislature Opens 2016 Session

By Amelia Ferrell  on Tue, 01/12/2016 - 4:14pm

Tennessee lawmakers returned today to the state Capitol for the second half of the 109th legislative session. The TBA keeps you up-to-date on legislation important to the practice of law through TBAToday, government affairs updates online and on Twitter. And look for Action Alerts posted to TBA Impact.

Legislative Session Begins Tuesday

By Brenda Gadd on Mon, 01/11/2016 - 12:00am

The Tennessee General Assembly will reconvene tomorrow at noon. The TBA advocates on behalf of its members for the passage of legislation important to the practice of law. This session will be focused on the budget surplus, implementation of 2014 constitutional amendment on judicial selection, indigent defense representation funding and many other initiatives. Stay tuned for Action Alerts on TBAImpact and government affairs updates online and in TBAToday.

Legal Market Added 10,000 Jobs in 2015

By Amelia Ferrell  on Mon, 01/11/2016 - 1:50pm

The U.S. legal market added 10,000 jobs from the beginning of 2015, Bloomberg BNA reports. Although the job market for lawyers fluctuated during 2015, the statistics put the industry ahead from the beginning of year.

New Leadership Law Class Launches at Retreat

By Barry Kolar on Fri, 01/08/2016 - 1:06pm

The 13th class of the TBA's Leadership Law (TBALL) program is kicking off six-months of programming this weekend at Montgomery Bell State Park. The program is designed to equip Tennessee lawyers with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in their profession and local communities. Among those speaking during the three-day retreat are Byron Trauger, Houston Gordon, Dean William Koch, TBA President Bill Harbison, Abby Rubenfeld, Gordon Bonnyman, Dwight Tarwater, Buck Lewis, Lisa Richter and Randy Kinnard. The group will hold regular monthly sessions throughout the spring, before graduating during the TBA Annual Convention, planned for June 18 in Nashville.

Advice for Attorneys on Making and Keeping Resolutions

By Amelia Ferrell on Fri, 01/08/2016 - 12:51pm

How can attorneys make and keep reasonable resolutions for their careers? The ABA Journal features a podcast (with transcript) with tips for making and keeping achievable goals. “The starting point often is: Where does my success come from and how can I do more of the same? You know, where did my best clients come from? Where are my best relationships?” Karen Kaplowitz, president of a business-development consulting firm, said.

Most Lawyers are Introverts, Study Finds

By Amelia Ferrell on Wed, 01/06/2016 - 3:34pm

The majority of lawyers are introverts, according to a study, and the ABA Journal says that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Many lawyers spend a lot of time by themselves — reading, writing, thinking — compared to other jobs where the majority of the work is interacting. Introverts make good lawyers, especially for clients who want a thoughtful answer,” said Eva Wisnik, president of the firm that conducted the study.

High Court Strikes Down Florida's Death Penalty Law

By Amelia Ferrell  on Tue, 01/12/2016 - 3:55pm

The U.S. Supreme Court today declared Florida’s death penalty law unconstitutional because it requires the trial judge, not the jury, to decide whether convicted criminals deserve the death penalty. "The Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death. A jury's mere recommendation is not enough," wrote Sonia Sotomayor. The 8-1 majority ruling sends the case of a man convicted of fatally stabbing his co-worker back to the lower courts. NBC News reports it is unclear how many other cases the ruling will affect.

Judge Swiney Elected Chief Judge of Court of Appeals

By Amelia Ferrell on Mon, 01/04/2016 - 1:56pm

Court of Appeals Judge D. Michael Swiney was selected by judges of the 12-member court to be chief judge for a term of one year. Judge Swiney of Knoxville was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1999 by then-Governor Don Sundquist. He was elected to the bench in August 2000 and re-elected in 2006 and 2014. “I am honored to have been selected by my fellow judges and look forward to the challenge of this expanded role with the Court of Appeals,” Judge Swiney said.

State Now Publishes Animal Abuse Registry

By Amelia Ferrell  on Mon, 01/04/2016 - 11:32am

Tennessee is now the first state to offer a published animal abuse registry, The Williamson Source reports. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation opened the list on its website Jan. 1. First time offenders’ names will appear on the TBI list for two years after conviction. People convicted before Jan. 1 are not listed on the website.

Board of Judicial Conduct Reprimands Atherton

By Amelia Ferrell on Wed, 12/30/2015 - 3:09pm

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct has publicly reprimanded Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton regarding an order he issued on Aug. 28 in a divorce case. Atherton initially denied a heterosexual couple’s request to divorce, saying it was up to the U.S. Supreme Court to define what was not a marriage after the Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex marriage case. The Dec. 18 letter says that in a meeting with the Disciplinary Counsel, Atherton indicated that he may have been in error entering the Order and that the error “could have been misunderstood by the public as undermining its confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary …”

YLD Election Petitions Due Feb. 15

By Katharine Heriges on Wed, 12/30/2015 - 2:01pm

Young lawyers interested in running for leadership positions within the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) have until Feb. 15 to file a nominating petition with YLD Secretary Troy Weston. Positions open for the 2016-2017 bar year include the following:

  • Vice President (must be from the Middle Grand Division; ascends to presidency in 2018-2019)
  • East Tennessee Governor
  • Middle Tennessee Governor
  • West Tennessee Governor
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Even-numbered District Representatives:
    • District 2: Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Fentress, Grainger, Jefferson, Scott, Sevier, Union counties
    • District 4: Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Loudon, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Polk, Rhea, Roane counties
    • District 6: Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Jackson, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Van Buren, Warren, White counties
    • District 8: Macon, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Wilson counties
    • District 10: Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery, Robertson, Stewart counties
    • District 12: Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Weakley counties
    • District 14: Shelby County

This year, for the first time, candidates for Executive Committee positions must complete a nominating petition signed by at least 25 TBA members who are in good standing. These positions include: vice president, secretary, treasurer and the three grand division governors. Candidates for district representative seats may file the standard nomination petition.

Ballots will also be submitted electronically this year. For more details about the electronic voting process, see the TBA website.

For all YLD positions, candidates must be members of the division at the time of their nomination. Petitions should be submitted to Westin by emailn o later than Feb. 15, 2016, Questions about the election should be directed to Weston by email or phone, (865) 544-2010.

Read the full election notice and download nominating petitions or visit the YLD’s election webpage for details about length of term and qualifications for office.

Female Attorneys File Brief in Abortion Case

By Amelia Ferrell Knisley on Mon, 01/11/2016 - 4:31pm

More than a hundred women in the legal profession who “have exercised their constitutional right to an abortion” filed a brief in support of petitioners in an upcoming abortion case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, debates restrictions on clinics and physicians who provide abortions in Texas. “To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and, to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion,” one of the women wrote. Read more from The Atlantic.

Greene County Judge Again Pleads for Additional Judge

By Amelia Ferrell Knisley on Fri, 01/08/2016 - 11:30am

Greene County General Sessions Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. once again asked Greene County Commission's Budget and Finance Committee for a second judge in the county, The Greeneville Sun reports. Bailey said last year that General Sessions Court saw 22,548 cases, a dramatic increase from previous years. "We are the largest county in population with one Sessions judge, with one person doing what I do," Bailey said. He suggested the implementation of a $15 litigation tax increase to fund the salary of an additional judge.