New Laws Set to Take Effect With New Year

New state laws regarding workers compensation, business organizations, mortgages, licenses and much more will take effect on Jan. 1. See a full list of new Tennessee laws going into effect with the new year from the Knoxville New Sentinel’s Tom Humphrey.

Today's Opinions

Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format.

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Municipal School Talks to Resume

Private meetings aimed at settling the federal lawsuit over municipal school districts in the greater Memphis area are expected to resume with the end of the holiday season, reports the Memphis Daily News. All sides in the legal matter have met behind closed doors at least twice after U.S. District Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays ruled in late November that the 2012 state law allowing Shelby County suburbs to create their own school districts violated the Tennessee Constitution.

ABA Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Gideon Decision

The ABA will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright on March 18 with events and public education programs that draw attention to the challenges facing the criminal justice system. The landmark Supreme Court ruling required state courts to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who cannot afford their own. For more information, contact Tori Jo Wible or Karyn Linn.

Swafford Talks About Experience as Juvenile Judge

A profile of Bradley County Juvenile Court Judge Daniel Swafford in today’s Cleveland Daily Banner sheds light on his background, the type of situations he faces while sitting on the bench and how he deals with difficult issues such as neglected or abused children and methamphetamine abuse. He touts the innovative ideas the county has adopted, including a juvenile drug court – one of just a few in the state – and a program that uses high school coaches to talk to kids in detention. Reflecting on his service, Swafford says, “I’m blessed to have this job, and I give my best effort every day. [But] I go home sometimes and worry and cry about the stuff I have to deal with. We try to save every family, but some families can’t do it, and you’ve got to move on.”

Murfreesboro Lawyer Critical After Accidental Shooting

Murfreesboro attorney and La Vergne Municipal Judge Guy Dotson Jr. remained in critical condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Saturday after an accidental shooting while cleaning a gun, reports the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. According to Murfreesboro police, officers were called to Dotson's residence Thursday night and found him lying on the floor with a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He told police he was going to clean a pistol when it accidentally discharged. Dotson, a Murfreesboro native, received his law degree from Memphis State University in 1987.

TBA Closed Tuesday for New Years Day

The Tennessee Bar Association will be closed tomorrow for New Years Day. The office will reopen on Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Courthouse Dogs Program Helps Children in Court

The Child Advocacy Center of Charlotte and the Courthouse Dogs Foundation recently joined together with Humphreys County court officials to discuss a new program in Waverly. Under the new program, Courthouse Dogs would assist and comfort sexually abused children while they go through forensic interviews and testify in court. The dogs are trained by organizations that are members of Assistance Dogs International. Experts say the dogs play two key roles in the courtroom -- making victims feel safe and less anxious, and reducing stress levels. Learn more from the Leaf Chronicle

Lawyer Seeks to Sue Connecticut Over School Shooting

A Connecticut attorney is requesting permission to sue the state over the Sandy Hook school shooting, saying his six-year-old client was left with emotional and psychological trauma because authorities failed to make the school safe. The attorney, Irving Pinsky, is seeking $100 million in damages on behalf of his client, a survivor of the shooting identified only as Jill Doe. The girl was at the elementary school during the attack and heard everything including gunfire, screaming and conversations over the intercom, Pinsky said. WCYB Channel 5 Bristol has this CNN report.

Foundation to Premiere Legal Traditions Videos

This year’s Tennessee Bar Foundation Fellows’ Dinner will feature the video premiere of 10 interviews with distinguished Tennessee attorneys conducted as part of the Legal Traditions program. This year, guests at the dinner will see interviews with Justice William M. Barker, William L. (Dick) Barry, W.J. Michael Cody, Judge Herschel P. Franks, Harris A. Gilbert, Judge Thomas A. Higgins, the Hon. William L. Jenkins, Judge Gilbert S. Merritt, Arvin H. Reingold and Justice Penny J. White. The dinner will take place in Nashville on Jan. 18 and is by invitation only.

Haslam Plans Re-Election Kick Off

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will kick off his re-election bid with a reception Jan. 7 in Knoxville. He also has a fundraiser planned in Nashville sometime before Jan. 8 when the legislature goes into session. Though no primary opponent is expected, House Minority Leader and Ripley Democrat Craig Fitzhugh has said he is willing to be a candidates that Democrats could "rally around" at the top of the ticket in 2014. Columnist Georgia Vines reports

Services Thursday for Chattanooga Lawyer

Raymond R. Murphy Jr., 76, of Lookout Mountain, Ga., died yesterday (Dec. 30) after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Murphy returned to the southeast to work for Spears, Moore, Rebman (now Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams). He then joined Miller & Martin in 1963, where he became a senior partner focused on civil litigation and dispute resolution. His service to the bar included a term as member and president of the Chattanooga Bar Association Board of Governors; sitting on the board of Chattanooga Area Law Enforcement Commission; and being named a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the Tennessee Bar Foundation and the Chattanooga Bar Foundation. Funeral services will be held Thursday at the Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church at 11:30 a.m. The family will receive friends beginning at 10 a.m. at the church. A private burial will follow at Forrest Hills Cemetery. The family reports that memorial contributions may be made to Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, Teen Challenge of the Mid South or Hospice of Chattanooga. Read a full obituary at

Chattanooga Lawyer Dies; Services Not Yet Set

Chattanooga lawyer Hal Fredric Sherman Clements died on Saturday (Dec. 29). A memorial service will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at a date and time to be determined. The family suggests that memorials be made to The Tennessee River Gorge Trust, 535 Chestnut Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402, or online at Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421.


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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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