Links for August 2016

Court Adopts New Standard for Shareholder Lawsuits

July 12, 2016

In a case involving claims between siblings who were shareholders in a closely held family corporation, the Tennessee Supreme Court today adopted a new standard for when a shareholder can file a direct lawsuit on claims that concern the corporation. The decision overturned a ruling by the Court of Appeals and set aside Tennessee’s prior standard. In its place, the court adopted a standard used in Delaware that “is clear and easily understood” and “should facilitate consistent and predictable outcomes in disputes involving shareholder claims.” Chattannoogan.com has the story.

Nashville Lawyers Monitor Vigil, Protests

July 11, 2016

Nashville lawyers served as monitors for a march held Friday evening that closed Broadway but remained peaceful, the Tennessean reports. About 10 lawyers from private firms as well as the Nashville Public Defender’s Office, donned fluorescent green clothing designating them as a National Lawyers Guild Legal Observers. The group monitored the event to make sure there were no negative interactions with police and people’s rights were not violated.

ABA: Safety of Society Relies on Rule of Law

July 8, 2016

Following police-involved shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana., and St. Paul, Minnesota., as well as the killing of five police officers in Dallas, ABA President Paulette Brown issued a statement, saying that "Our civil society and the safety of all in it — citizens and law enforcement — rely on the rule of law. It is imperative that the law be fairly applied and enforced. All citizens must perceive our justice system as fair. It also is essential that laws and authority are respected and followed." Brown writes that the ABA is "urgently exploring opportunities to develop creative solutions to this problem that affects us all… The ABA calls on all lawyers to work quickly and collaboratively toward viable and just answers to these issues.” Related, police officers in Nashville and Memphis were disciplined this week for what were deemed inappropriate social media posts about the shootings, the Tennessean reports.

U.S. Jobs Up Overall, Only Modest Growth for Legal Sector

July 8, 2016

While job growth is up across the U.S., employment in the legal sector has remained mostly flat, gaining only about 100 jobs in the month of June, according to U.S. Department of Labor data reported by the American Lawyer. Following industry gains in 2015, this year’s legal jobs numbers have fluctuated, seeing a few large firms resort to layoffs. However, in a survey of large law firm leaders released on Thursday, nearly two-thirds of respondents said that they expected to grow their associate ranks in the near future.

Supreme Court Rules No Statutory Relief After Guilty Plea

July 7, 2016

A Tennessee Supreme Court ruling issued today held that defendants who have entered a guilty plea cannot seek statutory relief — only those found guilty at trial may do so under Tennessee law. Error coram nobis is a procedure that allows defendants to petition for a new trial if they believe there is new or newly discovered evidence that became available following the trial, and the court opined that this procedure cannot be invoked by a defendant who pled guilty. Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins authored the opinion. Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee filed a dissenting opinion, writing that a defendant who has pled guilty should not be denied the opportunity to challenge a conviction in the case of new evidence being discovered.

UT Law Students Claim Victory in Appeals Case

July 7, 2016

Photo credit: University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee law school students arguing two cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit claimed a victory today. In an opinion issued by the court, the members of UT Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic successfully argued that their client properly filed a habeas corpus petition under Kentucky state law, reversing the decision of the lower court. The Appellate Litigation Clinic students still await a decision in a second case that the group argued in March.

Precedent Set for Dogs in Courtrooms

July 6, 2016

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has rejected a claim that the presence of a comfort dog was "overly prejudicial" to a defendant in a rape trial. The case comes from the appeal of a man convicted of raping a 10-year-old in DeKalb County. Prosecutors wrote detailed guidelines for the dog’s courtroom presence during the trial, including instructions that the dog be invisible to everyone but the victim. The appeals court upheld the local court’s decision, citing case evidence from other states that allow service dogs in courtrooms. “This was the first case in Tennessee for a dog to be allowed in the courtroom to provide comfort to the victim,” said Jennifer Wilkerson, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center. With this win under their belts, prosecutors and child advocacy center directors across the state are planning to introduce service dogs into their own courtrooms, the Herald Citizen reports.

Gov. Haslam Administers Oath to Judge Dyer

July 6, 2016

Photo credit: Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

An investiture ceremony for Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Ross Dyer was held in Memphis last month with Gov. Bill Haslam administering the ceremonial oath of office. Judge Dyer was appointed by Haslam on March 31 and confirmed by a joint session of the General Assembly on April 18. The Administrative Office of the Courts has photos from the ceremony.

Bar Foundation to Get $8.5M from Mortgage Settlement

July 5, 2016

The Tennessee Bar Foundation is slated to receive $8.5 million as part of the settlement between Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Justice, WMC-TV reports. The funds are to be used to provide legal assistance in foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment. Eric D. Green, the independent monitor of the settlement, announced the news today. The foundation is one of 56 state-based legal-assistance organizations receiving funds under the deal, which settled legal claims arising from mortgage-related activities by Bank of America and its subsidiaries. Learn more about the settlement.

Fantasy Sports Licensing Now Open

July 5, 2016

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office has renamed its gaming department the Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming, as required by the Fantasy Sports Act of 2016, and opened the process for licensing. The new law requires fantasy sports operators to obtain a license from the division. There is no requirement for players to register. A copy of the law, application and complete set of rules can be found on the secretary of state's website. Those with questions can email fantasy.sports@tn.gov or call (615) 253-6658. Humphrey on the Hill has more from the secretary of state.

Songwriters, Publishers Criticize Music Licensing Decision

July 1, 2016

The Nashville songwriting and publishing communities voiced outrage Thursday after the U.S. Department of Justice said it will not recommend any changes to consent decrees governing licensing and fee collection agencies ASCAP and BMI, and instead will enforce so-called “100 percent licensing.” Under the DOJ’s plan, any licensing agency with a minority stake in a song could license it. Many in the music industry fear the new opinion could threaten the practice of co-writing songs, curb the creative process and complicate royalty payouts, the Tennessean reports.

NSL Honors 4 at Annual Dinner

June 28, 2016

More than 600 attendees honored four area attorneys at the recent Nashville School of Law 2016 Recognition Dinner. The event, hosted at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel, honored Hal Hardin with the Distinguished Faculty Award; Brenda Franks Hale and Douglas S. Hale with the Distinguished Alumni Awards; and the Hon. Martha Craig Daughtrey with the Community Service Award. Aubrey B. Harwell Jr. provided closing remarks.

Study: State Judges Don’t Reflect Populations They Serve

June 22, 2016

A first-of-its-kind study of more than 10,000 current state judges shows that when it comes to race, gender and ethnicity, courts are not representative of the people they serve. Authored by Vanderbilt University law professor Tracey George and University of Toronto law professor Albert H. Yoon, the review finds that more than half of all state trial and appellate judges are white men, a rate almost double their relative number in the U.S. population; fewer than two in ten judges represent a racial or ethnic minority; women are grossly underrepresented; and women of color are the most underrepresented. In state-by-state rankings, Tennessee came in near the bottom, with a ranking of 45 out of 50. Read more or see details for each state.

 

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