News

Federal Judge Rules Evidence in Coal Ash Workers’ Case Enough for Trial

A federal judge has ruled that lawsuits filed by Kingston coal ash spill cleanup workers will be allowed to go to trial, Knoxnews reports. The lawsuits claim that the coal ash is killing them, and that the contractor that hired them lied about the safety of the cleanup sites and denied them protective gear. Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan shot down a bid by the contractor, Jacobs Engineering, to have the lawsuits tossed out without trial, finding that there was enough evidence to warrant a trial. “The evidence proffered of plaintiffs’ collective, significant exposure to fly ash is legion,” Varlan wrote in his ruling. A trial is set to begin on Oct. 16.
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Music Modernization Act Clears U.S. Senate

The Music Modernization Act, a landmark reform in the nation’s music copyright arena, passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, The Tennessean reports. The bill, which aims to improve the music licensing system and increase digital royalty payouts to songwriters, received rare bipartisan support in Congress. A reconciled version of the bill must be approved by the House, and then it would head to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.
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U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes Music Modernization Act

Late Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the Music Modernization Act of 2018, S. 2334, a substantial piece of legislation reforming music copyright laws, The Verge reports. Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander lead the unanimous passage and renamed the bill to honor retiring Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, who championed it from the beginning. Three pieces of legislation were combined in the bill in order to revamp Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act, including the AMP Act, the CLASSICS Act and the Music Modernization Act. The next steps for the bill include being reconsidered by the House, followed by President Trump ultimately signing it into law. 

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Children of Lorenzen Wright Maintain Their Mother Was Not Involved in His Murder

The children of slain basketball star Lorenzen Wright adamantly dispute that their mother, Sherra Wright, had anything to do with his murder, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times. Wright’s body was found badly decomposed in a Memphis field where he was left after being shot twice in the head and torso and once in his forearm. Wright was ordered in a parenting plan to maintain a $1 million life insurance policy, which authorities believe may have been a motive. The children created a GoFundMe account in late June to help bail out their mother, but had not raised any cash when the article was published.

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RIAA President Mitch Glazier Responds to Sirius XM's MMA Complaints

There is increased urgency to pass the Music Modernization Act this session before the November midterm elections restructure Congress and the Supreme Court. Years in the making, the MMA has 75 bipartisan co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and represents a compromise between music creators and digital services. However, Sirius XM adamantly opposes the bill and threatens to stall its passage. Read RIAA president Mitch Glazier's response to Sirius XM’s complaints of the MMA in this Billboard opinion piece.

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EU Parliament Approves Controversial Copyright Reforms

The European Parliament has voted in favor of a piece of legislation updating copyright laws, The Verge reports.  Two sections of the legislation — Articles 11 and 13 — are particularly controversial, sparking debate amongst artists, media companies and the tech giants that host their work. Article 11 requires internet companies, like Facebook or Google, to pay newspapers, magazines or news agencies for posting links or previews of their stories. Article 13 holds platforms like YouTube liable for posting copyrighted material.  A final approval vote will take place in January 2019, and it is expected to pass. Once approved, each individual member state of the EU will implement it based on its own interpretation of the text. 

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Aretha Franklin's $80 Million Estate in Limbo

If recent history is an indication, Aretha Franklin’s estimated $80 million estate could be in for a contentious battle, according to Rolling Stone. The Queen of Soul left no will when she died, so according to Michigan law, her estate should be evenly divided among her four adult sons: Ted White Jr., Kecalf Franklin, Edward Franklin and Clarence Franklin. However, the possibility of unreleased music, royalty streams and the likelihood of numerous financial accounts increases the likelihood of this being contested in court. 

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Actor Tim Conway's Daughter Granted Temporary Restraining Order

Actor Tim Conway‘s daughter was granted a temporary restraining order, preventing his wife, Charlene, from moving him to a new residence, People reports. Conway was recently diagnosed with dementia and is unable to communicate. Conway’s lawyer, Michael Harris told People that there were no plans to move him and that the wife “is an adequate and appropriate steward of her husband’s well-being and that her motives regarding Mr. Conway are in his best interest.” Conway is best known for his work on The Carol Burnett Show and McHale’s Navy. The next hearing date is set for Friday.

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ABA Files Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court to Adopt Speedier Enforcement of Copyright Claims

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, Sept. 4, asking the justices to settle a split among lower courts by establishing an “application approach” to enforce copyright claims. In endorsing the application approach, the ABA brief said it better reflects the nature of copyright law by focusing on the “copyright holder’s conduct not that of the Copyright Office.” The brief points out that as of July, the Copyright Office reported that a certificate of registration may take between three and 28 months to process, and the delay can prevent a copyright holder from filing suit immediately to prevent widespread dissemination of the infringing work.
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Volunteers Needed for YMCA Model United Nations and Youth in Government Programs

The Tennessee Bar Association's Public Education Committee is partnering with the YMCA to help mentor future lawyers in the Model United Nations and Youth in Government programs. The programs are designed to allow students ages 11-19 to experience the processes of government in a hands-on way. Model United Nations conferences occur in the Fall and Youth in Government conferences happen in the Spring. The YMCA is always in need of volunteers to help our young lawyers argue their cases well and to help our youth justices deliberate wisely. The Public Education Committee seeks volunteers for programs all across the state. Volunteers are welcome help serve for one, two or three days during the conferences. Each conference runs a similar program, just with different students from across Tennessee attending each weekend. For more information about the program, please visit the YMCA's website or contact Elise Dugger

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Rapper Not Protected Under Free Speech for Song Encouraging Police Violence

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a rapper that identified Pittsburgh police officers by name and made threats of violence against them in a song is not protected by the First Amendment, The Washington Post reports. The ruling upheld the conviction of Jamal Knox, who was found guilty of making terroristic threats and witness intimidation for his 2012 song, the music video for which included photos of the officers. 
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Judge Expands Administrator's Powers for Glen Campbell Estate

In the battle over Glen Campbell's estate, Judge David "Randy" Kennedy has expanded the powers of the estate’s administrator while also ordering a detailed accounting of a joint bank account Campbell maintained with his wife, the Tennessean reports. This development comes after Stanley B. Schneider — who serves as the estate’s administrator and was formally Campbell's business manager — petitioned the court for the power to pay taxes and other estate obligations. Under the order, Schneider is required to determine what funds in the account are considered community property with Kimberly Campbell and what funds belong to the estate. 

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Judge Rules Former Titans Player to Pay in Lawsuit

A judge has ruled against former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright in a lawsuit filed by Fantex, which sued him over back payments. The Nashville Post reports that Wright must pay the company, which sells shares in professional athletes against their future earnings, a total of more than $386,000, including damages and attorney fees. Wright was one of 10 professional athletes who served as “tracking stocks” for the company when it filed for an initial public offering in 2015.
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Aretha Franklin Dies at 76

Memphis-born, soulful singer Aretha Franklin died at her home in Detroit on Thursday, The New York Times reports. Franklin won 18 Grammy Awards, placed numerous songs in the top 10 pop singles chart and won a lifetime achievement award in 1994. Her career as a musical artist lasted for five decades and spanned many genres- including gospel, soul and pop. Franklin's hits included numerous solo songs as well as duets, including tracks with Whitney Houston, Elton John and George Michael. She battled advanced pancreatic cancer until succumbing to it at age 76.

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Woman Owned, Minority Firm Opens Nashville Office

A Memphis-based law firm, McCullough Law, PLLC, recently opened a Nashville office, The Tennessee Tribune reports. This woman-owned boutique firm is also a minority business; it employs 14 women in various roles from attorney to administrator. Carlee McCullough, founder of the firm, served as the legal advisor of the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission as well as the Memphis and Shelby County Film & Television Commission. The firm concentrates in a variety of legal areas including business, entertainment and many others. Christian West-Coleman is heading up the Nashville office.

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Section Seeks Your Opinions on Upcoming Law Office Technology Forum

To help build programming for its upcoming Law Tech Forum, the TBA Law Office Technology and Management Executive Council is asking your opinions. Completing this brief web form will assist in ensuring the forum remains timely, relevant and on the cutting edge. Comments can be related to subject matter, length and location of the event. Please respond by Sept. 7. 

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Put TBA UPS to Work

Have you enrolled in TBA’s UPS account for members? Visit UPS's TBA page and save up to 34 percent on UPS’s broad portfolio. Shipping services include next day air, international, ground and express.
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Law Office Management Tips on Shipping

If your law office uses shipping services, your TBA membership team can help you compare those costs to TBA’s UPS member benefit. Your firm office manager can work directly with TBA staff and UPS services to enroll or transfer shipping accounts. Members can save up to 34 percent on UPS’s broad portfolio of shipping services, including next day air, international, ground and express.
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Man Shoots Coach at Youth Football Game

Nashville police are looking for a man who allegedly shot a youth football coach during a dispute at a game, the Tennessean reports. The coach was shot twice in his right leg at Antioch High School after breaking up a fight between players. The suspect, upset about the fight, asked the coach to meet him under the bleachers. Once there, the coach said the man pulled a pistol and began shooting. Police said Sunday that the coach was recovering.

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Accuser Says Johnson and Williams 'Were Like Animals,' in Her First Public Testimony

The woman at the center of rape allegations against two former University of Tennessee football players did not mince words in her testimony, telling jurors on Wednesday that A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams “were like animals” during the incident, The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports. The accuser maintains that she did not initially object when Johnson engaged in sex with her but refused when Williams joined in. The pair of ex-Vols contend the encounter was consensual.

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Video Visits Trend Growing at Nation's Prisons

In-person visits to inmates are being eliminated at some prisons, which are turning to new video visitation technology, the ABA Journal reports. In Benton County, Arkansas, visitors will pay 50 cents a minute in 15-minute increments to talk to an inmate. In-person visits will no longer be allowed, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat reports.

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Destination CLE Survey

Let's take a trip! The TBA CLE Committee would like your feedback on destination CLE events. Taking a moment to complete this brief survey will greatly assist us in developing the best CLE experience for you. Please complete this survey by Aug. 10. We greatly appreciate your help with this endeavor.
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Last-minute Proposal Could Sink Music Modernization Bill

An 11th-hour proposal by a music licensing company could torpedo the Music Modernization Act before it even becomes a law, The Tennessean reports. The act, which has already passed the U.S. House and Senate, would improve digital royalty payouts to songwriters, begin paying artists and labels a digital royalty for songs recorded prior to 1972 and would create a new licensing collective to oversee digital mechanical licensing for songwriters and music publishers. The Nashville-based licensing agency SESAC has proposed changes to the legislation that would allow certified licensing companies to handle licensing and administration of digital mechanical licensing. Supporters of the bill say they worry that the last-minute addition could kill the bill.
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Jury Selection Underway in the Trial of Former UT Football Player A.J. Johnson

Jury selection for the rape trial of University of Tennessee Football player A.J. Johnson is underway, with jurors being asked about controversial topics such as threesomes, interracial relationships, elitist athletes and the ‘Me Too’ movement, The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports. Johnson and former teammate Michael Williams are accused of raping a female UT athlete during a football victory party at Johnson’s South Knoxville apartment in November 2014. The profile of the case — involving a popular athlete and no eye-witnesses — has sparked concerns of a fair trial, with most of the potential jurors knowing Johnson’s name and the basics of the allegations against him.

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