News

Judge Upholds Requirement for Memphis-Shelby County Consolidation

The 2010 federal court lawsuit over the failed attempt at consolidating the city of Memphis and Shelby County governments has failed as well with an order Wednesday from U.S. District Judge Thomas Anderson granting a motion for summary judgment by defendants in the case. The proposal for consolidation lost by a large margin in the county outside Memphis, although it was approved by a narrow margin within Memphis. The lawsuit filed in 2010 challenged on constitutional grounds the state law requiring that such a charter must be approved by dual majorities in separate referendums for consolidation to take place. The Memphis Daily News has more.

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If You Did It, Flaunt It With a TBJ Announcement

The Tennessee Bar Journal has a new opportunity for lawyers and firms to promote outstanding achievements, new associates, new partners, mergers, awards and any changes within the firm. Now, Professional Announcements are available at special, lower-rate pricing. You can tell more than 12,000 of your peers about your accomplishments by placing an announcement in the Journal. For information or to place an announcement, contact Debbie Taylor at 503-445-2231 or Debbie@llm.com. To have an announcement placed in the April issue, please contact her before Feb. 18.

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Magazine Predicts 12 ‘Hottest’ Practice Areas

The September issue of The National Jurist predicts the 12 "hottest" practice areas for the next decade. Those deemed to be “super hot” were health care, administrative, intellectual property and family law. Food and drug law, tax litigation, privacy law and compliance law were ranked as “hot.” And employment, energy, manufacturing and immigration law were judged “somewhat hot.”

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Bone McAllester Launches New Practice, Adds Former U.S. Attorney

The Nashville law firm of Bone McAllester Norton has launched a criminal defense and government investigations practice, and has hired former U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough and current Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Little in the Middle District of Tennessee for the group. They both will start Aug. 1. Current Bone McAllester employee James Mackler, a former senior trial counsel in the Judge Advocate General Corps., also will join the practice group. Yarborough left the Middle Tennessee prosecutor’s office in 2010 and has been working at the Nashville law firm of Walker Tipps & Malone. Read more on the firm’s website and on Nashville Post.com.

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Social Security Judges File Suit Over Caseload

Social Security administrative law judges have filed suit against the agency claiming they are so overwhelmed by disability claims that they sometimes award benefits they might otherwise deny just to keep up with the workload. The Social Security Administration says it has set a “productivity goal” for each judge to handle 500 to 700 cases a year. The judges, however, claim that is an illegal quota that violates their independence and denies due process rights to applicants. The Associated Press suggests that the suit “raises serious questions about the integrity of the disability hearing process” and comes as the disability program faces serious financial problems. WRCB-TV in Chattanooga has the AP story.

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Court Strikes Down Presidential Recess Appointments

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Barack Obama violated the U.S. Constitution when he used recess appointments to fill vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Obama, stymied by Republican inaction on his nominees, appointed three to the board while Congress was on recess. In the near-term, the ruling casts doubt on the ability of the NLRB to conduct its business and could make recent rulings vulnerable to challenge. In the long-term, the decision could diminish the president's ability to make appointments in the absence of congressional action. Reuters News Service reports.

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Knox Law Department Seeks Outside Counsel

The Knox County Law Department is seeking to establish a non-exclusive panel of attorneys and firms it may call on to provide legal expertise when it requires the assistance of outside counsel. The county reports it will only seek assistance from outside counsel when it encounters a matter that creates an actual or perceived conflict of interest within the law department; that requires highly specialized expertise; or that requires additional assistance due to its complexity and/or time demands. Any attorney or firm interested in being considered as outside counsel should submit qualifications to the department by Feb. 13. Learn more in this announcement.

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Social Security Judge Joins Chattanooga Firm

Richard Gordon, former chief judge of the Social Security Administration Office of Disability Adjudication and Review Hearing Office in Chattanooga, has joined the law firm of Dale Buchanan and Associates as general counsel. According to Chattanoogan.com, Gordon served as an administrative law judge for 25 years, deciding over 10,000 Social Security disability cases. He also worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, as a judge with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Army Reserve.

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Tennessee Turns to Feds for Health Exchange

Gov. Bill Haslam said today he will let the federal government set up a health insurance exchange in the state, rather than establish a separate state-run system. Haslam made his remarks during a meeting of the Nashville Rotary Club. In explaining his decision, Haslam said there is still a lot of uncertainty about how a state exchange would work and that draft regulations he has seen led him to conclude there would be little flexibility or autonomy for the state-run systems. The Nashville Business Journal has details.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Returns to Bass Berry & Sims

Former Bass Berry & Sims partner Matt Curley has returned to the firm following a two-year stint in the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, the Nashville Post reports. A graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law, Curley served as an assistant U.S. attorney and chief of the local office’s civil division. At Bass, he will again be a partner in the firm’s compliance and government investigations practice group.

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Public Policy Added to UT Master's Degree

The University of Tennessee this fall began offering a new master of public policy and administration through a partnership between the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the College of Arts and Science’s political science department. The new degree replaces the existing master of public administration degree that has been offered for more than 40 years. The degree will "equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to be effective managers, responsible executives and ethical public servants,” program director Professor David Folz said.

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Haslam Signs Bill Restructuring TRA, Other Boards

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed two bills from his 2012 legislative agenda that make structural changes to the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and 21 boards, commissions and licensing programs. Haslam had announced a review of state boards and commissions during his 2011 State of the State address and worked with the legislature throughout the year to implement many of the review's recommendations. Learn more on Chattanoogan.com

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TRA Reform Bill Moves Ahead

Despite a plea from the Republican chair of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and criticism from Democratic legislators, a Senate committee Thursday approved Gov. Bill Haslam's plans for transforming the agency. "Maybe it'll work. Maybe not," TRA Chair Kenneth Hill told the committee. "Why go there and inflict damage to the utilities of Tennessee and to the people of Tennessee … then have to come back and fix it?" he asked. Read more from Knoxnews.com

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Ban of Fireworks for Newly Annexed Business Stands

In SNPCO Inc v. City of Jefferson City et al, the Tennessee Supreme Court today upheld previous rulings by the trial court and the Court of Appeals that a city ordinance prohibiting the sale of fireworks inside city limits did apply to businesses incorporated into the city even though the business had been selling fireworks since 2006. Learn more from the Administrative Office of the Court

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Letter From the Section Chair

As the chair of the Administrative Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association, I want to take this opportunity to share some of the improvements our Section has already made as well some of the goals Vice-Chair Christy Allen and I have for the year. For those of you who don't know us, I am the Director and Chief Administrative Judge of the Administrative Procedures Division of the Office of the Secretary of State.
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