TBA to Host ‘Civil Right to Counsel’ Events

The TBA and Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will hold a series of discussions this month to explore “civil right to counsel” – the idea that people who face certain civil court cases and cannot afford representation should be provided with free counsel. The concept builds on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainright, which found that indigent criminal defendants must be provided free legal representation. Programs in Knoxville, Johnson City and Chattanooga will look at arguments for and against a civil right to counsel, past and present efforts to secure the right and the types of cases that might qualify for the right. Each session also will include a taped presentation featuring TBA President Cindy Wyrick and Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade. Each program will wrap up with an overview of pro bono programs offered by LAET and free CLE for those who agree to handle a pro bono case. Learn more and get event details on the TBA website.

Today's Opinions

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Rivera Sworn in as Middle Tenn. U.S. Attorney

Middle Tennessee’s newly appointed top federal prosecutor vowed to carry on the priorities of his predecessor -- aggressively investigating health care fraud and pursuing stiff penalties against gangs -- after being sworn in last week as U.S. Attorney. David Rivera, who had been serving as “acting” U.S. attorney since Jerry Martin stepped down, now will serve in the top job for 120 days. After that, he will have to nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Congress, The Tennessean reports. Rivera has been an assistant U.S. attorney in the office since 2004. Before moving to Tennessee, he worked in federal prosecutors’ offices in Puerto Rico, Florida and New York.

Nashville Lawyer Charged with Theft, Fraud in Conservatorship Cases

Nashville attorney John E. Clemmons was jailed on charges of aggravated perjury, theft and TennCare fraud after turning himself in Friday. The charges stem from his handling of three conservatorships, The Tennessean reports. Court records and interviews show that more than $1 million in assets is unaccounted for and much of it has been tracked back to Clemmons, who also faces a number of civil suits from the families of his former wards. In another case from Rutherford County, Clemmons already has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $60,000 from a retired teacher he was charged with protecting. Sentencing in that case is set for Nov. 18.

TCA: Attorney Not Entitled to BPR Communications

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled that a Brentwood attorney cannot see state documents related to disciplinary proceedings against her, the Nashville Post reports. Family and divorce lawyer Connie Reguli had petitioned the Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR) for documents related to complaints filed against her in 2009 and 2010. Reguli had been granted access to the documents by Chancellor Ellen Lyle, but the BPR appealed the ruling. The appellate court reversed the decision saying the documents were not subject to a public records request because they were prepared after the disciplinary proceeding against Reguli began. Read more from the Nashville Post or download the opinion.

Judges Ross, Watson Honored by Corrections Group

Bradley County Criminal Court Judge Carroll Ross and McMinn General Sessions Court Judge James Watson, both of whom are retiring at the end of their terms, were honored during a meeting of the Southeast Tennessee Community Corrections Program advisory board last week. “It’s been a great trip for me. I have really enjoyed the last 17 years,” Ross said. Criminal Court Judge Amy Reedy said she was impressed with Ross’s leadership and vision to improve the court process for victims and defendants. Watson, who has served in the court system since 1986, said his father instilled in him the importance of doing his best. He was presented with a state proclamation declaring “Judge James Watson day,” the Cleveland Banner reports.

UT Gender Discrimination Suits Drawing National Attention

For nearly 40 years, the University of Tennessee's Lady Vols were a role model for college athletics while former coach Pat Summitt and sports medicine director Jenny Moshak provided examples of how women can succeed in sporting. But as two discrimination lawsuits filed last year work their way through the system, new filings and exhibits lead sex discrimination lawyers to believe they could become a model for similar cases nationwide. And there is plenty of fertile ground, Northern Virginia attorney and Title IX specialist Kristen Galles says, alleging that there is “massive sex discrimination in college sports.” Read more on govolsxtra.com.

Murfreesboro Lawyer Seeks General Sessions Post

Murfreesboro attorney Thomas D. Frost will seek the Republican Party’s nomination for General Sessions Judge during the party's primary next May, the Daily News Journal reports. The judgeship is for the criminal division part II, which is currently held by Judge David Loughry. Frost earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1976. He has been practicing in Murfreesboro since 1986, both as public defender and as a member of Drake Drake & Frost.

Hatchett Enters 10th District DA Race

McMinn County lawyer Stephen Hatchett has entered the race for district attorney general in the 10th Judicial District, the Cleveland Banner reports. He currently serves in the office as an assistant district attorney, handling cases in Bradley County. “It has been my distinct honor to serve the people of the 10th Judicial District for the past 7 1/2 years as a prosecutor, and I look forward to serving as district attorney general,” he said. Hatchett is a Nashville School of Law graduate.

Humor: Football Game Prayers and '1st Church of Neyland'

Prayers in Knoxville's Neyland Stadium were never more needed, especially after last Saturday's Auburn game, and Bill Haltom is ready. In this month's humor column, Haltom gives a testimonial about football-game prayers and the First Church of Neyland, where its 100,000 members "pass the orange offering plate seven times a year." Read "Meet me at the 50 … and bring your lawyer" in this month's Journal.

KBA to Elect New Leaders at Annual Meeting

The Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) will hold its Annual Meeting Dec. 13 at 8:30 a.m. at the City County Building. The KBA’s Nominating Committee has recommended the following members for election: Tasha C. Blakney for president-elect, Wayne R. Kramer for treasurer and Amanda M. Busby for secretary. Association members also will fill four open positions on the board. Those nominated to date include Charles E. Atchley Jr., Joshua M. Ball, Wynne du Mariau Caffey, Robert R. Carl II, S. Dawn Coppock, Timothy M. McLemore and Keith D. Stewart. The KBA reports that all judges have been asked to delay court until 10 a.m. that day.

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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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