Links for October 2014

Field Narrows to 6 for Attorney General After Hearings

Public hearings to choose Tennessee’s next attorney general wrapped up in Nashville today after nearly five hours of statements from each of the eight candidates, members of the public, those speaking on behalf of candidates, and a series of interviews by the five state Supreme Court justices. Most of the candidates praised current Attorney General Robert Cooper for the job he is doing – even as they sought to unseat him. Learn more and see pictures from the hearings. Chief Justice Sharon Lee said the group was impressive and had “a lot of talent,” but gave no clue as to when the court might make its decision, saying it would be released “at a later date.”

Two hours after the proceeding ended, the court released a statement narrowing the field to six candidates: Eugene N. Bulso Jr., Brentwood; Robert E. Cooper Jr., Nashville; Mark A. Fulks, Johnson City; James Douglas Overbey, Maryville; Herbert H. Slatery III, Nashville; and William E. Young, Brentwood. This took William Helou and Andrew Tillman out of the running. The court will conduct private interviews on Tuesday with the six. WPLN has more.

Justice Lee: No Politics in AG Selection

Sharon Lee, the new Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice, said there will be no partisan politics involved when the court selects a new state attorney general, Gavel Grab reports. “I think the voters rejected partisan politics in our judiciary with the election,” Justice Lee said this week, according to a blog of the Knoxville News Sentinel. ”And they certainly will not have any place in the selection of the attorney general, or how we do the rest of our jobs.” The court will conduct public interviews of eight candidates Monday.

ABA Releases Opinion on Prosecutors’ Ethical Duties

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility today released Formal Opinion 467, which deals with the managerial and supervisory obligations of prosecutors under Model Ethics Rules 5.1 and 5.3. The opinion finds that (1) prosecutors with managerial authority must adopt reasonable policies and procedures to ensure all lawyers and non-lawyers in their office conform to model rules, (2) prosecutors with direct supervisory authority must make reasonable efforts to ensure all lawyers and non-lawyers they supervise conform to the rules, and (3) prosecutors with both managerial and supervisory authority may be required to fulfill both sets of obligations.

TBA Unveils Resources for Amendment 2

Tennessee voters will be asked to vote on four amendments to the state constitution on Nov. 4. Among them is Amendment 2, which would change the way appellate judges are appointed and retained in the state. The TBA has created an Amendment 2 Resource Page to help lawyers and members of the public understand the issues at stake. The page includes the text of the amendment, a frequently-asked-questions section that answers common questions about the amendment, the text of and rationale for the TBA’s resolution supporting the amendment and links to resources offered by the Yes on 2 Campaign.

DOJ Weighs Public Comments on Music Licensing Decrees

The music industry has entered into waiting mode as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) weighs hundreds of pages of public comments regarding its review of the consent decrees that govern how ASCAP and BMI administer music licenses and distributes royalties, the Tennessean reports. Because of the emergence of new technologies and music delivery systems, the licensing of music has become more complicated and disputes have arisen over fair rates. The issue has spilled into the federal courts, where the performance rights organizations dispute the rate that Internet radio company Pandora pays to songwriters and publishers.

6 Counties Giving Judges Access to Drug Database

Six counties in Tennessee have been chosen to take part in a pilot project that gives drug court judges access to information in the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database to help ensure the success of program participants, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Cocke, Grainger, Hamilton, Jefferson, Sevier and Sullivan counties were selected to represent rural, semi-urban and urban areas. “This program is designed to give judges more tools in their tool box to assist those persons who suffer from addiction and who are in drug court treatment programs,” said Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, a co-sponsor of the legislation allowing the program. If successful, the legislation sponsors believe the pilot program could be extended statewide.

McMinn Courthouse Almost Ready for Occupancy

There will be a new courthouse in McMinn County next month, the Daily Post Athenian reports. According to Circuit Court Clerk Rhonda Cooley, every court office – except chancery court – will move to the new structure. That includes criminal court, circuit court, general sessions court, juvenile court and traffic court. Cooley noted the move from the downtown Athens Courthouse will be “an overwhelming process” but will be worth the updated phone system and improved security at the new location. In addition to the courts, county prisoners will be moved into a new portion of the jail as early as next week, the sheriff says.

Memphis Among 'Most Impressive Law School Buildings' in the World

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law was ranked 24 out of 50 Most Impressive Law School Buildings in the world, according to the website The law school relocated to the former U.S. Post Office, which also served as the U.S. Customs House before it reopened for students in 2010 after an extensive renovation. “This honor confirms what all of us in Memphis have long known,” said Peter Letsou, dean of the school. “We have an absolutely spectacular facility that instills a great sense of pride among our students, alumni, faculty, staff and the greater Memphis community.” The Memphis Business Journal has more.

Stay current with legal news in Tennessee. This page features the latest news for and about the Tennessee legal community, either produced by the Tennessee Bar Association or collected from news sources.

Seersucker Flash Mob Planned for Friday

Memphis lawyers are gathering for the Fourth Annual Seersucker Flash Mob this Friday at noon in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel. The hotel is located at 149 Union Ave., Memphis 38103. Contact Bill Haltom at or (901) 525-8721 for more details.

Seersucker Day to Raise Funds for ChildHelp

Knoxville lawyers are encouraged to participate in the first Seersucker Day on Thursday (Aug. 21) to benefit ChildHelp of East Tennessee. Lawyers are asked to make a $10 donation to the group, which works to protect local children from abuse and place local foster children in loving homes. A group photo of all those participating will be taken on Market Square at noon that day. For more in information or for promotion material contact Kyle Baisley at Pilot Corp.

New Domestic Violence Court Begins Sept. 2

Courtroom 4B looks like any other room in the Justice A.A. Birch Building, but beginning Sept. 2, it will be the site of Davidson County’s new Domestic Violence Court, the Tennessean reports. For the first time, all domestic violence cases will be referred here, with judges, prosecutors and security staff specially trained to handle such matters. “We’re going to see a major change in how the cases are handled,” said General Sessions Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton, who will be the first in a three-judge rotation to run the new court. General Sessions Judge Gale Robinson and newly elected Judge Allegra Walker will round out the rotation.

TBI Launches New Anti-Trafficking Resource

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has launched a new outreach campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking in Tennessee, WRCB News 3 reports. The campaign, “IT Has To Stop,” provides information, research and statistics, contacts and links for visitors. The campaign also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

What Retention Elections Look like in Other States

As part of Gavel to Gavels’ review of Tennessee’s Amendment 2, the publication compares the final provision regarding the retention election for appellate judges with similar provisions in others states. Twenty states provide for some form of retention election at some stage in the judge’s career, however they don’t all operate quite the same. Sixteen states use the typical retention system: a judge is initially appointed to the bench and then serves for a short period of time. The judge then must receive a simple majority of votes in a yes/no retention race to receive a full term. The language of the question also varies by state with some using “yes/no” and others “retain/replace.”