News

Disability Law CLE Videos Now Available

If you missed the TBA’s Annual Disability Law Forum, the sessions are now available online. Presentations cover client consultations, ADA accessibility and effective communication, and ethics for the disability law practioner. Check them out today!

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Inaugural Veterans’ Clinic Coming in September

The Knoxville Bar Association’s inaugural Veterans’ Legal Advice Clinic will take place Sept. 7 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office, 1101 Liberty St., Knoxville 37912. The clinic is a joint project of the Knoxville Barristers and their Access to Justice Committee, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Knox County Public Defender’s Office, the University of Tennessee College of Law and the local VA office. Lawyers are needed to volunteer to help veterans with a wide variety of issues, including family, landlord/tenant, bankruptcy, criminal defense, consumer protection, contract disputes, child support and personal injury cases. WATE reports on the event.

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Court Square Series: Sept. 13 in Clarksville

The TBA’s 2016 Court Square series will head to Clarksville on Sept. 13. The three-hour course will be held at the Customs House Museum. Parke Morris, Judge William Goodman, Sherry Wilds and Elise McMillan will address privilege law in Tennessee, best practices from the bench, occupational diploma and hiring persons with disabilities.

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Disability Group Seeks Attorney in Chattanooga

The Florida-based Disability Help Group is seeking an associate attorney to serve the greater Chattanooga area. Responsibilities include helping individuals obtain disability benefits from the Social Security Administration and handling all stages of the administrative process. Past experience with SSA cases is not required but successful candidates will need to spend four to six months in Florida for training. Those hired also must be able to work from home. Interested individuals should submit a cover letter, salary request and resume to Matthew Sauerwald. Learn more in this job announcement.

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Deadline is Friday for Comments on Proposed SSA Rule Changes

The deadline is Friday to comment on proposed rule changes that the Social Security Administration says would make some of its procedures more consistent nationwide. The proposed rule would limit what evidence could be submitted less than five (5) days before an ALJ hearing, among other changes.

The National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) has already filed comments on the proposed rule changes. You can review those by following the links below:

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Group Seeks Input for Disability Rights Survey

Disability Rights Tennessee, formerly Disability Law & Advocacy Center Tennessee, is conducting a survey aimed at gathering information from people with disabilities, family members, service providers and professionals to help shape the work of the organization. Attorneys working in the disability rights field are asked to contribute their thoughts. Others are asked to share the survey with friends, colleagues and partners working in the field. The deadline to participate is July 11. For more information contact the center at 800-342-1660 or gethelp@disabilityrightstn.org.

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Disability Rights Tennessee Wants to Hear From You!

Disability Rights Tennessee has launched a survey aimed at gathering information from people with disabilities, family members, service providers and professionals to help shape the work of the organization.

The organization is looking for as much information as possible, so please feel free to share the survey with partners, colleagues and friends, so that an accurate picture of the needs of those with disabilities in the State of Tennessee can be compiled. Take the survey now. The deadline to respond is July 11.

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Register Today for the 135th Annual TBA Convention

Join us on June 15-18 in Nashville for the 135th Annual Convention! Registration for the 2016 TBA Convention includes:

  • free access to all TBA CLE programming;
  • the Opening Reception;
  • the Bench Bar Programming and Luncheon;
  • Law School and general breakfasts;
  • the Lawyers Luncheon;
  • the Thursday evening Joint (TBA/TLAW/TABL) Reception;
  • the Thursday night dinner and entertainment at the George Jones Museum;
  • and the Friday night Dance Party.

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2016 Microsoft Legal Internship for Law Student with a Disability

The American Bar Association's (ABA) Commission on Disability Rights has partnered with Microsoft to provide a summer internship opportunity for a highly motivated, first-year law student who is living with a disability.

Legal interns will work within Microsoft's Corporate, External and Legal Affairs department in Redmond, Washington. They will have a broad range of responsibilities from across the department, which may include researching legal issues impacting business strategy, drafting transactional documents, attending client meetings and product reviews, and collaborating with internal teams on cross-group projects. Get ready to overcome challenges, forge solutions and provide direct counsel to the cutting edge of the world's most dynamic industry.

For more information on the internship or if you would like to find out how to recommend a student, please click here.

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Investigation: Abuse at Group Homes Never Reported to Police

Third Judicial District Attorney General Dan Armstrong has requested that investigators with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities contact his office and police after every confirmed case of abuse and neglect at every state and privately-run group homes. The request comes after a DIDD investigation revealed cases involving people with intellectual disabilities in Greene County were never reported to police, WJHL reports.

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Term for Animals in Bill is 'Courtroom Facility Dogs'

An item in Wednesday’s issue of TBA Today used an incorrect term in identifying courtroom facility dogs, which are currently being debated in a Tennessee Senate bill. A 2014 Tennessee Bar Journal article offers guidance on the use of service animals, therapy animals and assistance animals, along with current laws regarding their use.

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Judge Partially Dismisses Lawsuit Over Treatment of Disabled

U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp on Friday partially dismissed a long-standing lawsuit over Tennessee’s treatment of people with disabilities following the state’s fulfillment of obligations outlined in an exit plan, the Associated Press reports. Advocates sued the state in 1995 over conditions at several state institutions. The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Bureau of TennCare have since completed several obligations agreed upon in the exit plan, including developing training for law enforcement and physicians. The state’s last remaining obligation under the exit plan is to close the Greene Valley Development Center.

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Suit Claims Nashville Restaurants Not ADA Compliant

Federal lawsuits filed by Jeffrey Anderson claim four popular Nashville restaurants are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Anderson, who travels in a wheelchair, alleges Bagel Face, Marche, Noshville, and Sitar lack compliant parking, required widths in restaurants and in bathrooms, and handrails. He is requesting that the restaurants be ordered into compliance and that his attorneys’ fees be paid. Read more from the Nashville Post.

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Deaf Couple Sues Johnson City Hospital

Chris and Donna Cantrell, a deaf couple from Virginia, are suing Mountain States Health Alliance in Johnson City for allegedly failing to provide a qualified sign language interpreter while their 21-year-old daughter was dying of cancer. The federal suit, filed Wednesday by Disability Rights Tennessee and the National Association of the Deaf, said the hospital provided an unqualified interpreter on fewer than five occasions. "(Donna) Cantrell saw her daughter burst into tears but had no idea why she was crying. Because her daughter was too upset to explain, (she) did not learn that her daughter was dying until much later,” the lawsuit said. Read more from The Times Free Press.

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State Settles with Parents in Special Education Classroom Suit

A settlement for $185,000 between the state of Tennessee and the parents of a Hamilton County student with down syndrome was approved Tuesday by the Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee, The Times Free Press reports. Deborah and Greg Hyde filed a suit against the Hamilton Count Department of Education and the Tennessee Department of Education last year when they were told their son would be removed from his normal class and placed in a special education class. The state settled because “it recognized its own administrative complaint process did not meet the court's standards,” according to Hamilton County Schools attorney Scott Bennett.

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Tullahoma School Board to Pay Legal Fees

The Tullahoma City Schools Board of Education was ordered to pay $23,582 in legal fees to the parent of a TCS student who claimed the school stopped providing special education services, Tullahoma News reports. “The board will be paying $11,791 of those fees, and the state will pay the remainder. We have to pay because we followed state regulations and procedures, which conflict with federal regulations and procedures,” TCS Director Dan Lawson said.

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NALSWD to Hold Board Elections

The National Association of Law Students with Disabilities (NALSWD) announced the elections for its 2015-2016 Executive Board and Junior Officer Committees. In addition, there are several Junior Officer positions that are available to pre-law and law students. Application requirements are due Sept. 30.

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UT Law Announces Partnership with Tennessee Human Rights Commission

Beverly L. Watts, executive director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC), will deliver a free public lecture at the University of Tennessee College of Law, as part of the school's semester-long partnership with the THRC. Watts’s lecture, “Human Rights: Education and Enforcement in the State of Tennessee,” is scheduled for Sept. 16 at noon in room 132 of the College of Law, 1505 W. Cumberland Ave., in Knoxville. Watts will also meet with students enrolled in UT Law’s new human rights practicum, in which students are making complex legal documents easier to understand for the general public.

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Proposed 'Rule 30' Changes Could Impact Hearing-impaired Reporter

In an opinion published in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, hearing-impaired journalist Brian Mosely asserts the proposed Rule 30 changes, regulating how reporters may use electronic devices in the courtroom, will prevent him from doing his job because he relies on his smart phone to record proceedings. New regulations prohibiting cell phones and the use of any audio or video devices without prior approval from the judge have already taken effect in Sumner County.

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Disability Conference Brings Rights Groups Together

The 13th annual Tennessee Disability MegaConference took place in Nashville last week. A number of groups, including the Special Needs Law Center and The Arc Tennessee, presented awards to those who have made significant contributions to promote community inclusion for people with disabilities. A new Family Support Award was presented to Lloyd and Lillian Finney of Hermitage, who have shown an exemplary commitment in supporting their adult disabled child. Read more about the conference.

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Families of Disabled to Benefit from ABLE Act

Families of those with disabilities are now one step closer to saving more money for medical costs with tax-free earnings, Chattanoogan.com reports. Gov. Haslam on Monday signed the Tennessee ABLE Act into law, giving the state treasurer authority to create tax-advantaged investment plans to help families save money for a variety of qualifying expenses. Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr. says the law will go into effect July 1 and his department plans to have the program operational by Jan. 1, 2016.

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UT Law Education Practicum Honored by disABILITY Center

Two of the driving forces behind the University of Tennessee College of Law’s Education Law Practicum were recently honored by the disABILITY Resource Center (DRC) for their work in the community. Distinguished Professor of Law Dean Hill Rivkin, community cooperating attorney Brenda McGee, a 1984 graduate of UT Law, and the Education Law Practicum and its six classes of students were all presented with the Advocate Award at the Spirit of ADA Award Celebration.

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Knoxville Celebrates ADA Anniversary

The disABILITY Resource Center (dRC) and the City of Knoxville are sponsoring a celebration in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on May 14. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Market Square Mall. The Knoxville Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service staff will have a table at the event to answer questions from attendees. For more information or to volunteer contact KBA staff member Tracy Chain.

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Hawkins Judge Seeks More Space for Programs

Hawkins County leaders agreed Tuesday to make more space available for two programs that are helping reduce jail expenses by providing treatment to offenders with addiction and mental health issues. Judge J. Todd Ross addressed the County Commission's Buildings Committee to request that a custodian office in the Justice Center be converted into extra space for his Drug Court. Hawkins County’s Recovery Court and Frontier Health’s Community Justice programs have been sharing an office in the Justice Center across from Sessions Court. The Times News has more.

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Appeals Court Affirms $3 Million Judgment Against MTSU

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has affirmed a $3 million judgment against Middle Tennessee State University after its original decision in the case was reversed by the Tennessee Supreme Court. In 2011, Jim Ferguson — an ex-maintenance worker who is of Japanese-American ancestry — sued MTSU for disparate treatment, malicious harassment and retaliation, alleging he was given work that exceeded doctor's orders after he filed a discrimination complaint. The Nashville Post has more (subcription required).

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