Links for June 2016

TBA Asks Judicial Candidates to Sign Code of Conduct

May 5, 2016

With three Tennessee Supreme Court Justices and seven intermediate appellate judges facing retention elections, along with 15 trial judges and a number of local judges on the ballot in August, the TBA is renewing its effort to assure fair and impartial judicial elections by asking judges to subscribe to the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct. In the 2014 election cycle, where all judges and judicial officers were on the ballot, more than 116 judges subscribed to the code. Letters to all known judges and judicial candidates on the ballot are being issued this week. Visit the TBA's 2016 Tennessee Judicial Election Information Center for more information.

Court Rules Caretaking Acts Are Exception to Warrant Requirement

May 10, 2016

The Tennessee Supreme Court today unanimously upheld a White County man’s DUI conviction and held that the community caretaking doctrine is an exception to the federal and state constitutional warrant requirement. The decision follows an appeal from Kenneth McCormick, who was arrested for DUI in 2012 after an officer found him in his parked car, and he failed three field sobriety tests. McCormick attempted before trial to suppress any evidence obtained by the officer who approached his car during the wellness check, arguing that the officer should not have seized him without either a warrant or a basis for believing a warrantless seizure was appropriate. The trial court denied McCormick’s motion and a jury found him guilty. A Court of Criminal Appeals had upheld the trial court’s ruling. Read the opinion in State of Tennessee v. Kenneth McCormick, authored by Justice Cornelia A. Clark.

ABA Antidiscrimination Proposal Draws Mixed Reviews

May 10, 2016

A new antidiscrimination rule proposed by the American Bar Association had drawn a mixed review in public comments from nearly 500 members of the legal community. The proposal would deem it “professional misconduct” for a lawyer to harass or discriminate based on factors such as race, sex, religion or socioeconomic status. The proposal drew mostly positive review reactions during a public hearing in February. However, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore criticized the proposal, saying it was “one more attempt to forcibly elevate sexual behavior, appetites, and self-styled identity to the level of unchanging characteristics.” Read more from The Wall Street Journal.

Supreme Court Building Marker Designates Historic Place

May 10, 2016

A marker recently placed inside the doors of the Tennessee Supreme Court Building in Nashville notes the building’s place on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, completed in 1937, was constructed as the first building specifically for the Supreme Court’s use.

Amendment Clarifies Discipline for Judicial Diversion

May 9, 2016

The Tennessee Supreme Court adopted an amendment to further clarify disciplinary measures when an attorney receives judicial diversion for a criminal offense. After a period of accepting public comments, the court added the amendment to Rule 9, section 22 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court, which includes, “… Judicial diversion shall not foreclose the initiation, investigation or prosecution of disciplinary action on the basis of the conduct constituting the diverted criminal offense(s).”

Data Shows Job Market Still Tough for Law Grads

May 6, 2016

The ABA Journal reports that out of everyone who graduated from ABA-accredited law schools in 2015, 70 percent have full-time, long-term employment positions that require or prefer a law degree. Data released earlier this week by the ABA’s Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar notes the class of 2015 was 8.8 percent smaller than the class of 2014, where 69 percent of graduates were in the same position. The data also showed a decline in law-firm hiring. “(The data) shows that the employment market remains challenging for recent graduates even as law schools are substantially reducing enrollment,” said Barry Currier, ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education. 

AG: Records Obtained by Search Firms Open to Public

May 5, 2016

In a legal opinion released today, Attorney General Hebert Slatery wrote that any records obtained by a third party in conjunction with an employment search for a director of schools for a school board are public records and subject to inspection. The opinion was requested by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville. Third parties include but are not limited to the Tennessee School Board Association and the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. Slatery added that if the third party is one whose “origin and authority may be traced to state, city, or county legislative action,” then its meetings are subject to the Open Meetings Act.

Williamson County Public Defenders Limit New Cases

May 5, 2016

Assistant public defenders in Williamson County have stopped accepting some new cases due to case overload, The Tennessean reports. "We’re not refusing all cases, we're just telling the judge each day we’re in court, 'as of right now I cannot accept this case,'" said 21st District Public Defender Vanessa Bryan. But District Attorney Kim Helper is challenging the case refusals, and said she plans to file a formal objection next week that will ask the public defender to provide more evidence of the overwhelming caseloads. Indigent cases have been handed over to private attorneys, which Helper said is costing taxpayers.

Chief Justice Lee Describes State of Judiciary

May 2, 2016

Chief Justice Sharon Lee pronounced the state of Tennessee judiciary as “great” today in an address to the Nashville Downtown Rotary Club. Among programs mentioned in her extensive remarks were the business docket at the Davidson County Chancery Court, the anticipated e-fling efforts and advances in the understanding of “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs) on children who appear before juvenile court.

Indigent Representation Task Force Kicks Off Listening Tour

April 29, 2016

The Indigent Representation Task Force's statewide listening tour began yesterday in Memphis and continued today in Trenton, located in Gibson County. In Memphis, Shelby County Chief Defender Stephen C. Bush and Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law Dean Peter Letsou spoke to the panel. Private lawyers shared their issues and experiences as they are faced with the cap on compensation with juvenile cases. The next stops on the task force's listening tour are May 19 in Johnson City and May 20 in Knoxville. If you would like to speak at the upcoming hearings, you may sign up online or email Brenda Gadd, TBA Public Policy Coordinator.

UT Law Students Argue Cases Before US Court of Appeals

April 28, 2016

Students of the University of Tennessee College of Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic recently argued two cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. Under the guidance of professor Lucy Jewel and and adjunct professor Wade Davies, the students worked over the last year to prepare. Third-year law student Trey Neal argued an immigration appeal on behalf of a young Honduran man seeking asylum from deadly gang violence in the country. “The judges were very engaged and knowledgeable about the case, so it really just became a conversation,” Neal said.


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