Links for July 2015

Judicial Conduct Rule Changes Proposed

Proposals put out for comment today by the Tennessee Supreme Court include changes to Judicial Conduct Rules regarding treatment of campaign contributions in the context of disqualification matters, permitting political party donations by judges, changing the standards of conduct by court personnel and use of court premises, rewriting the provisions on affiliation with discriminatory organizations and lengthening the time period of permitted campaign fundraising by judicial campaign committees from the present 180 days to 270 days. The proposals represent the work of a joint Tennessee Judicial Conference and Tennessee Trial Judges Association committee. The court set an August 14 deadline for comments.

Court Opens Pro Bono Recognition Process

Tennessee lawyers can now report their pro bono hours from the previous year at any time and be recognized through the “Attorneys for Justice” program if they provide 50 or more hours of pro bono service. Learn more from the AOC.

New Attorneys Welcomed to Practice of Law

(NASHVILLE, JUNE 2, 2015) — The Tennessee Bar Association today welcomed new attorneys to the practice of law with an open house and luncheon following Admission Ceremonies conducted by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

TBA Website Now Responsive to Mobile Users

The TBA today launched a new responsive design for the TBA.org website that allows for easier use on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. The site now automatically determines which type of device you are using and reformats information to offer the best display for that device. About 30 percent of all visits to the TBA.org website now come through mobile devices. 

Belmont Student Wins 2015 Hastings Writing Competition

The 2015 Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition winner is Patty Whitehead, a third-year law student at Belmont University College of Law. Sponsored by the TBA Environmental Law Section, the Hastings award is a juried competition for the best legal writing on a topic of Tennessee or federal environmental law and is open to law students enrolled in a Tennessee law school. Whitehead's paper "Opportunities for Environmental Justice Review in Title V Permits Under the Tennessee Air Quality Act" addresses disproportionate air quality among minority and low-income communities under Title V permit rules.

Law School Applications Continue to Fall

Law school applications are down for the fifth year in row, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports. Applications dropped 4.6 percent this year from last year, according to numbers from the Law School Admission Council. Law schools have adjusted to the decline in students by scaling back entry-level class sizes, boosting financial aid or cutting tuition price, and trimming staff ranks.

Haslam Signs 3 New Bills into Law

Gov. Bill Haslam today signed into law three new bills that could impact children and victims’ advocates, WATE reports. The Victim’s Rights Photo bill will allow a photo of a victim to be admissible evidence in a trial and show what the person looked like when alive. The Mabry Kate Act — named after a 10-month-old from Powell who died from a rare disorder called Krabbe disease — allows Tennessee’s genetic advisory board to decide if all babies born in the state will be screened for Krabbe disease. The Cannibis Oil bill allows it to be used for some medical conditions where other therapies haven’t provided relief.

AG: Lawmaker Insurance Info Not Confidential

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery has found that the cost of lawmakers’ taxpayer-subsidized health insurance coverage falls under Tennessee's open records laws, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported today. The opinion states that the amounts spent by the state are not confidential because they do not disclose any information about the treatment, diagnoses or medications for any individually identifiable lawmaker.

Leadership Law Honors Donelson

The Leadership Law Class of 2015 honored Lewis Donelson for his continuous dedication and service to TBALL during the Opening Retreat at Montgomery Bell State Park on Jan. 10. TBALL founder and former TBA president John Tarpley presented Donelson with a plaque in appreciation of his 12 consecutive years as an Opening Retreat speaker.

TBALL Class of 2015

Another year is coming to a close for the 12th annual Leadership Law class. The 36 class members began their journey in January during the Opening Retreat at Montgomery Bell State Park. In addition to enjoying the delicious Catfish Buffett of Love, they heard from perennial program favorites Janice Brown, Randy Kinnard and, of course, Buck Norris. In February, the class braved the “Snowmageddon” to participate in “Issues in Policy and Politics” in Nashville. Due to the inclement weather, we held a postponed session and a make-up session. During both sessions, the class participated in the first-ever Mock Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting led by former TBA Public Policy Coordinator Josie Beets and heard from Rep. Jim Cooper, lawyer lobbyists, lawyer legislators, and more. The class members who attended the second session even had a brief, impromptu chat with Gov. Bill Haslam during a tour of the State Capitol. TBALL traveled to Murfreesboro to hear from the Supreme Court and U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton in March for “Issues in the Courts” and participate in a community service project in Knoxville in April for “Issues in Community Leadership.” They returned back to Nashville in May for “Leadership in Action,” during which they were questioned on the spot for the always-entertaining Media Training. The class will conclude programming in Memphis next week with a tour of the Civil Rights Museum and a presentation by attorney Walter Bailey. Graduation and award ceremonies will take place at Bleu restaurant. Join us in welcoming the newest alumni!

Patent Pro Bono Program Expands to Tennessee

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is working with area law firms and legal organizations to launch a Patent Pro Bono program in Tennessee. Kickoff events will be held June 1 in Nashville and June 3 in Memphis.

Patent Pro Bono Program Coming to Tennessee

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is working with area law firms, the TBA and other legal organizations to launch a Patent Pro Bono program in Tennessee. Kickoff events will be held Monday in Nashville and Wednesday in Memphis. The event will bring inventors and small businesses together with attorneys to learn about a nationwide program created through a White House initiative to connect income-constrained individuals with pro bono patent services. The Nashville program will be from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Arciplex, 504 Sixth Ave. South, with a reception to follow at Encore, 301 Demonbreun. RSVP to coliver@ncbar.org. The Memphis program will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, 20 Dudley St., with reception to follow. Register online.

Stanton Nominated for Federal Judge

President Barack Obama has nominated U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III to be a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The nomination of Stanton, who has been the chief federal prosecutor for West Tennessee for five years, was announced in June by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis, who recommended Stanton to the White House after convening a screening committee of local attorneys.