Shelby PD Now Handling Juvenile Defense

Veteran Memphis defense attorney Donna Armstard is heading up a team of attorneys at the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office that has begun representing juveniles charged with crimes, the Commercial Appeal reports. “We’re basically starting a whole new law firm,” Armstard says of the effort. For decades, minors have been represented by private attorneys appointed to individual cases and paid with public money. But federal findings that black youths are treated more harshly than their white counterparts in the county justice system, have led the public defender’s office to make a number of changes, including gradually taking over the defense of all juveniles. Stephen Bush, the county’s chief public defender in the adult system, eventually will be in charge of representing indigent minors charged with serious crimes. But for now, he is relying on Armstard and her team, who are busy getting up to speed on juvenile law and court procedures.

Today's Opinions

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New Davidson County Magistrate on the Job

Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sophia Crawford has announced that Paul Robertson has accepted an interim appointment as magistrate within the parentage division of the court. In his new post, Robertson will hear cases involving child support, custody and visitation issues. Since 2006, Robertson has maintained a specialized practice in juvenile and domestic law. Prior to becoming an attorney, he was employed for 30 years in banking and regulatory fields. Robertson earned his law degree from the Nashville School of Law.

Legal Aid Society Adds Victims’ Advocate

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) has hired Barbara Gunn Lartey as its new victims’ advocate. Prior to joining LAS, Gunn Lartey worked as a bilingual legal advocate at the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. She also has been a women’s education coordinator and bilingual medical case manager at Nashville Cares, a disability claims examiner at Social Security Disability Services, and an international development volunteer with the Peace Corps in Equatorial Guinea. She earned her law degree from Temple University School of Law.

Alternative Spring Break Volunteers Needed

This year’s Alternative Spring Break for law school students in Tennessee is shaping up to be the biggest yet with more than 75 students participating. In Memphis, lawyers are needed to supervise students March 11-13 as they prepare basic wills and advanced directives. Notaries also are needed. Morning and afternoon shifts are available. Contact Linda Warren Seely at Memphis Area Legal Services to volunteer.

Opinion: Bill Shielding Rape Information Goes Too Far

In her Sunday piece for The Tennessean, columnist Gail Kerr says a bill intended to shield rape victims’ identity and personal information would turn rape into an "invisible crime" and would hurt public safety. Kerr notes that the bill was filed only days after The Tennessean and other media outlets filed suit seeking information about a Vanderbilt rape case, which the Metro Police Department and the university have refused to turn over. In an earlier article, TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur expressed concern about the proposal saying it could “compromise the right of the accused to confront the accuser and participate in their own defense.” Follow news regarding legislation through TBAImpact.

Court May Provide New Guidance on Class Action Suits

With the onslaught of litigation resulting from Target’s data privacy breaches, there is an increased focus on the appropriateness of class action certification, Lexology reports. Courts must sort out which groups to include, making tough calls to include or exclude those who have the potential of suffering an injury, but have not, as of the date of the filing. In the Target breach, for example, decisions will have to be made whether to include cardholders whose information was stolen, but not used as of the date of the case, and those whose information was stolen and used, but were reimbursed for any losses. The blog suggests that the U.S. Supreme Court may provide guidance soon on these issues. In an unrelated case from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the court is considering whether individuals who have suffered no injury as of the date of filing can be included in a class alleging their washing machines caused mold and mildew.

Groups to Honor Retiring Sen. Burks

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence, in partnership with the Women’s Political Collaborative, will host an advocacy day at the legislature on Feb. 26. The day also will include a breakfast at Waller Law and a luncheon at the Tennessee State Library & Archives honoring state Sen. Charlotte Burks, who is retiring this year. Registration is required. Lunch is $25. Other events are free. See the full schedule and register.

Immigration Enforcement & Removal Seminar

Chattanooga immigration attorney Terrence L. Olsen and ICE Detention and Deportation Officer Scott Lewis will speak on immigration enforcement and removal processes March 26 at the Memphis Bar Association, 145 Court Ave., Suite 301, Memphis, TN 38103. Among the topics that will be covered are VAWA protections for abused parents and spouses, deferred action for those brought to America as children, removal processes and site visits. The program, which will run from noon to 1 p.m., is open to all attorneys interested in learning more. Email Olsen by March 20 to RSVP.

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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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