Links for December 2016

Court Issues Order Amending TCCA Rule 7

November 10, 2016

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals issued an order today amending Rule 7 of its rules. The order deletes Rule 7 in its entirety and substitutes the following language: “Motions in this Court shall be in conformity with Rule 22, Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. The proponent of a motion is not required to submit a proposed order.” Get the order here.

Court OKs Good-Faith Exception to Exclusionary Rule

November 3, 2016

The Tennessee Supreme Court today by a vote of 4-1 approved a limited good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule only when law enforcement acts in objectively reasonable good-faith reliance on “binding appellate precedent” that “specifically authorizes a particular police practice” that is later overruled. The decision came in a vehicle accident case from October 2011 in which law enforcement obtained a blood sample from the driver without a warrant because the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that warrants were not required to obtain blood from DUI suspects. That decision was later overruled. Justice Sharon G. Lee was the lone dissent.

TBA Board Member and Franklin criminal defense lawyer David Veile said, “It would seem that the citizen, and not the police, will now literally be penalized for previous appellate judge error. The court cited with approval authority indicating that law enforcement officers are the vanguard of our legal system. As a former police officer, I would respectfully submit that the Tennessee Constitution, and its checks and balances on the prosecution of its citizens, should be the vanguard of our legal system.”

Court OKs Forms for Uncontested Divorce with Children

October 31, 2016

The Tennessee Supreme Court today adopted a set of plain-language forms and instructions for use in uncontested divorces between parties with minor children. The forms were developed by the Access to Justice Commission as part of an effort to simplify court proceedings, reduce barriers to access to justice and meet the legal needs of vulnerable Tennessean who do not qualify for legal aid programs. To use the forms, both parties must have minor children together and agree on all aspects of the divorce, including child support. They also cannot own real property or have retirement accounts. The new forms will be universally accepted in Tennessee courts as of Jan. 1. Read the court's order.

Voters in 3 States Back Capital Punishment

November 11, 2016

Voters in three states on Tuesday passed ballot initiatives supporting capital punishment. In California, voters rejected a measure to repeal the death penalty and passed a measure that seeks to speed up the appeal process. In Nebraska, voters restored the death penalty after lawmakers repealed it last year. And in Oklahoma, voters passed a constitutional amendment stating that the death penalty does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Link to news stories about each of these measures from the ABA Journal.

Stanton, Weirich Announce Special Heroin Prosecutor

November 9, 2016

U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton and Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich are joining forces to support a special prosecutor to go after those responsible for heroin overdoses and deaths, the Commercial Appeal reports. At the request of Stanton, the board of the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas approved a grant to hire a full-time prosecutor in Shelby County. The yet-to-be-named individual will come from Weirich’s office, but will be named a special assistant U.S. attorney and will work with federal, state and local officials on heroin cases. The pair hope to have a prosecutor on the job by January.

Lipscomb Renames Institute to Honor Fred Gray

November 14, 2016

Lipscomb University celebrated the renaming of its Institute for Law, Justice & Society in honor of civil rights attorney Fred Gray at a gala dinner Saturday in Nashville. Gray argued and won landmark civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court four times before he was 30 and represented clients like Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, John Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr. and the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Among those reflecting on Gray's legacy at the event were Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Richard Dinkins, Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark, Meharry Medical College President James E.K. Hildreth and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville. See photos from the event.

Duncan Law Finishes 4th at National Mock Trial Tournament

November 14, 2016

Lincoln Memorial University’s John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law took fourth place at the 28th Annual National Criminal Procedure Tournament at the University of San Diego School of Law this past weekend. The Knoxville-based team competed against 35 other teams from across the country. Team members Emily Persinger and Erin Wallin advanced to the semi-finals and were recognized for Best Petitioner’s Brief. Persinger also was honored as the 10th place oralist in the competition, which featured 72 individual competitors.

Youth Courts Expand, Maintain Low Recidivism Rate

November 9, 2016

Tennessee has seen growth in its youth court program recently with new pilot programs at Antioch Middle Prep and Dupont Hadley Middle Prep in Nashville, a new program at Stratford High School in Nashville and a new program in Union County. Tennessee Youth Courts Executive Director Denise D. Bentley also recently reported that a review of the statewide program showed a recidivism rate around three percent for the third year in a row with 2,000 youth served this past year. The program celebrated October as National Youth Justice Awareness Month. In a proclamation designating the month, President Barack Obama praised the work of youth courts and called on Congress to “increase protections for youth and limit the number of minors held in adult jails and prisons.”

Environmental Section Launches Writing Competition

November 9, 2016

The TBA Environmental Law Section has announced the 10th annual Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award writing competition for law students enrolled in a Tennessee law school in 2016 or 2017. The competition is held in memory of one of the section's outstanding founding members and has a cash prize pool of $1,200. It is a juried competition for the best legal writing on a topic of Tennessee or federal environmental law. Entries are due by April 1. The competition rules and announcement are available here.

New Lawyers Welcomed to Practice at Nashville Events

November 8, 2016

About 200 newly admitted attorneys and their families celebrated their admission to the practice of law in Tennessee today at a TBA luncheon and open house. The event took place between morning and  afternoon admissions ceremonies at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. Other ceremonies took place this past week in Knoxville, Jackson and Memphis. See photos from the ceremonies and open house.

Report: Number of Women Partners Rising

November 4, 2016

The percentage of women promoted to partnership in law firms reached a five-year high of 37.3 percent this year, according to an analysis by Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. The group looked at 134 law firms, including 98 of the nation’s top 100 firms. At 32 of the firms, at least half of the lawyers promoted to partnership were women. Read more from a press release or access the full report. The ABA Journal also has a story on the findings.

New Family Justice Center to Open Nov. 22

October 27, 2016

About 100 people attended yesterday’s ribbon cutting at Chattanooga’s new Family Justice Center, which will provide free services for victims of sexual assault, human trafficking, elder abuse and domestic violence. The center, which has been operating out of another space, will officially open in the new location on Nov. 22, Nooga.com reports. Dignitaries at the ceremony included Mayor Andy Berke, Police Chief Fred Fletcher, Judge Christie Sells and Child Advocacy Center of Hamilton County Executive Director Shelley McGraw.

DOJ Campaign to Help Children Exposed to Violence

October 20, 2016

The White House and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have launched a national campaign to raise awareness, teach skills and inspire public action to address children’s exposure to violence. The campaign, called Changing Minds, is a collaboration led by DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Futures Without Violence, the Ad Council and the advertising agency Wunderman. The campaign will make digital and print content available to adults who interact with children and youth.

‘Forging Justice’ Planned for Next Week

October 17, 2016

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will celebrate Pro Bono Month with a fundraising event Oct. 28 at Ironwoods Studios, 119 Jennings Ave. in Knoxville. The evening’s festivities will begin at 6 p.m. and feature the induction of Doug Blaze into the Donald F. Paine Memorial Pro Bono Hall of Fame. Tickets are $35. Email forgingjustice@laet.org or visit the event website for more information.

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