More Tort Reform Proposals to Come, Including ‘Loser Pay’

The same coalition of businesspeople that helped sell the governor’s tort reform package, which became the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011, this year wants more limitations imposed in civil lawsuits, including a handful of bills targeting the losing side in civil cases and litigants who refuse to settle lawsuits.

One bill would require a party who loses a motion to dismiss to pay the litigation costs of the opposing party. Read more in the Tennessean.

Today's Opinions

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Editorial: Public Deserves Answers About Officials' Roles in Baumgartner's Actions

In an editorial, the News Sentinel says former Judge Richard Baumgartner's fall has thrown the criminal justice system in Knox County into disarray, and therefore the public needs answers about how that happened. The paper calls for the legislature to remove the Public Records Act exemption for closed TBI investigative files, saying “lawmakers would demonstrate a commitment to openness and a respect for the people of Tennessee by exercising that power.”

In a related column, editor Jack McElroy asks pointed questions about  Baumgartner’s misdeeds to Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz, Judge Andrew Jackson IV, the Court of the Judiciary, Drug Court Director Ron Hanaver, attorney Russell Greene and District Attorney General Randy Nichols.

National Mock Trial Winds Up in Memphis

The University of Memphis' Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law hosted law schools from across the region over the weekend in the 37th National Trial Competition. In the final round of the competition, Wake Forest University bested the UM and will go on to compete against Georgia in the national finals. Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee also competed. Learn more from the Commercial Appeal.

Employees Need to be Clear on Privacy Rights

When the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that law enforcement officials can’t place a global positioning system tracking device on a suspect's car, it raised questions about the types of digital information that law enforcement officials can access without a warrant. In a Knoxville News Sentinel column, Knoxville lawyer Pam Reeves reminds us that private companies do not have to conform to the same requirements that govern public employers or law enforcement agencies, but that private employers should review their policies and procedures so that employees understand that there is no right to privacy for digital information generated or stored on company-owned equipment.

High Number of Minority Juveniles in System is Target of Task Force

Blount County's Disproportionate Minority Contact task force is working on ways to combat the reasons that put an unbalanced number of minority children in the Tennessee justice system. The task force believes that one way to stop this is through education, so at a two-day workshop this weekend, they discussed and learned about the roots of racism. WBIR has this story.

Haslam Updates Status on Legislative Effort

Gov. Bill Haslam late last week gave reporters a status update on his legislative agenda for this year. The City Paper reports that the governor is pressing ahead with his bill to overhaul civil service laws to give the executive branch broader authority to fire state workers, as well as his legislation to keep secret the names of the owners of companies that win state economic development grants. Haslam also talked about his duties as Tennessee chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and what he wants to do about the Occupy Nashville encampment.

Law Tech Speaker Dies in Accident

Legal technology consultant and Kentucky lawyer Finis Price died in an accident Thursday night, just hours after speaking at the TBA’s annual technology CLE program. A regular speaker at the event, Mr. Price was also cofounder of TechnoEsq Presentations and served on the Board of Governors for the Kentucky Justice Association. Colleague Jones Ward wrote about Mr. Price in his Kentucky Injury Attorney Blog as did Ben Stevens, who also was on the Law Tech program.

Services were today at Stoess Funeral Home

Candidate: Opponent’s Legal Knowledge Not as Good With Reciprocity

A candidate in the race for the Knox County law director’s job, Richard "Bud" Armstrong, is saying in a telephone message to Republican voters that he is the only candidate who has passed the Tennessee Bar exam and trained in Tennessee law. His opponent and incumbent, Joe Jarret, has been licensed to practice law in Tennessee since 2007 through reciprocity with Florida, where he was licensed in 1990.  A spokesperson for the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court points out that with reciprocity, licenses “are identical in all other ways." The News Sentinel explains in this column

Public Action Law Society plans fundraiser

The Public Action Law Society at the University of Memphis School of Law will host a fundraising luncheon for its Alternative Spring Break on Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. in the law school Student Lounge, and a benefit show at Earnestine & Hazel's that night at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the luncheon and donations will be accepted at the door during the show. Food will be provided by numerous local donors, and all members of the downtown business and legal communities are invited to attend.


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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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