News

CASA Monroe Gets Into Holiday Spirit for Fundraiser

CASA Monroe presents a Festival of Trees celebration to raise funds for the recruitment, training and support of volunteer advocates. The celebration includes three distinct events: a gala with dinner, dancing and silent auction on Nov. 14, a breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Clause on Nov. 15, and a holiday craft sale that will offer decorated trees, wreaths and centerpieces for sale. All activities will take place at the Tellico West Conference Center in Vonore. Download a flyer for more details.

read more »

Court Seeks Comments on Attorney Solicitation Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court is accepting comments on a proposed rule change regarding the direct solicitation of clients under Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3(b). The proposal seeks to bar the direct solicitation of clients for 30 days after the filing of divorce or legal separation papers. The rule already provides a 30-day ban on soliciting clients in personal injury cases, workers’ compensation cases, accidents and disasters. The comment deadline is Nov. 10.

read more »

Film Screening Marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence will host a special screening of “Private Violence” next Thursday in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The event will take place from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville. The film is an award-winning documentary that explores the complicated realities of intimate partner violence in today’s American life. After the film, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of Mark Wynn, a 21-year veteran of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department and member of the Domestic Violence Division. The event is free but registration is required. For more information download this flyer.

read more »

LAET Gets Grant for Domestic Violence Victims, Names Campaign Chairs

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) has received a $500,000, three-year grant to expand assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual assault and human trafficking. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. The funding allows LAET to provide comprehensive civil legal services, including legal advocacy, education and direct representation. Three attorneys and two paralegals will work directly under this grant to help about 1,000 East Tennessee clients over a three-year period. In other news, LAET announced the Knoxville volunteer leadership for its 2014 Annual Campaign for Equal Justice. Ian P. Hennessey of London Amburn and John E. Winters of Kramer Rayson LLP will serve as campaign co-chairmen, leading LAET’s Central Region campaign. The goal for the effort is $175,000. The campaign, which runs through Dec. 31, is currently at $67,619 or 38.6% of goal.

read more »

Parents Sue State Over Naming their Baby

A Brentwood couple has filed a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee for the right to choose the last name of their newborn son, Brentwood Homepage reports. Carl Abramson and Kim Sarubbi married in 2001, and decided "for personal and professional reasons" they would give their children a surname that combined both their last names— "Sabr." When the family moved to Tennessee in 2014 and had their third child, Abramson and Sarubbi were denied their request to use the hybrid name and instead were issued a birth certificate for the child with the last name Abramson. Citing a violation with First Amendment rights, the couple turned to the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, which filed a lawsuit in federal court last week.

read more »

Memphis Gets $900,000 Grant for Domestic Violence Work

The U.S. Department of Justice awarded the City of Memphis $900,000 to help cover the costs of processing rape kits and domestic violence cases. WREG reports that more than half of the money will go to the local district attorney’s office so it can assign a designated investigator to process rape and domestic violence cases. 

read more »

Nashville Opens Advocacy Center for Domestic Violence Victims

Mayor Karl Dean on Thursday helped cut the ribbon for the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center in Nashville, WKRN reports. The facility, located in the Ben West Building at the Nashville courts complex, is a family justice center that will serve as a place where domestic violence victims can get assistance as they go through the Davidson County court systems. The advocacy center came about after the recommendations were made in a 2013 Domestic Violence Safety and Accountability Assessment, which was released a year ago. The 3,300-square-foot area is a safe place for victims to go on their court dates while waiting for their cases to be heard to avoid contact with alleged offenders while waiting for the court proceeding.

read more »

Lawmakers Call on Federal Judge to Resign

Four members of the U.S. Congress are calling for the resignation of U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller, who was arrested on domestic violence charges last month. Republican Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions and Democrat Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama, and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri say the Alabama judge should step down after allegedly throwing his wife to the floor, pulling her hair and kicking her at an Atlanta hotel. Fuller has accepted a plea deal to have the arrest removed if he undergoes domestic violence counseling. Politico has more on the story.

read more »

Domestic Violence Event Set for Sept. 25

The Partnership for Families, Children and Adults will offer a one-hour educational event for Chattanoogans interested in learning more about domestic violence. The session will take place at noon on Sept. 25 at the partnership’s office at 1800 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga 37404. Free parking is available. The session will cover a variety of topics, including signs of abuse, resources for victims, safety planning and how to talk to teens about the issue. For more information contact Julie Tipton at (423) 697-3829. The Chattanoogan.com has more.

read more »

Comedy Show to Benefit Wilson County CASA

Proceeds from the Oct. 10 showing of “The Second City 55th Anniversary Tour” will benefit Wilson County CASA and its work on behalf of neglected and abused children. The show will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theater in Lebanon. Second City has given rise to such comedians as Jim and John Belushi, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. The anniversary tour brings its legendary comedy to cities across the country. General admission tickets are $50 each and are available online. VIP tickets provide access to the pre-show cocktail party and special seating.

read more »

Magistrate Swearing-In Tomorrow

Autry L. Jones has recently accepted an appointment as the Child Support Magistrate for the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. The swearing in ceremony will be Friday at 1 p.m. at the juvenile court.

read more »

Memphis Receives More than $1 Million in Grants to Combat Gangs, Domestic Violence

The city of Memphis has received two grants by the Department of Justice to combat gangs and domestic violence, U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton announced yesterday in a press release. Totaling $900,000, the “Grant to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders” will help enforce protection orders and protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. “Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant” is a $148,885 grant to reduce gang and gun violence locally. The Memphis Flyer has more.

read more »

Supreme Court Adds Gay Marriage to Sept. 29 Agenda

The Supreme Court has formally added gay marriage cases to the justices' agenda for their closed-door conference on Sept. 29. The action does not mean that the court will decide that day to hear state appeals of lower court rulings that struck down bans on same-sex marriage, but the late September conference will be the first time the justices have the issue before them. Appeals have been filed from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. WRCB has more from the Associated Press.

read more »

Tennessee CASA Holds Annual Meeting

Tennessee CASA will hold its 2014 Annual Meeting Sept. 17 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Nashville Public Library. The event will feature brunch, a keynote address from Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway and presentation of awards that honor those making an impact for Tennessee’s abused and neglected children. Michael Leach with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services will receive the the Champion for Children Award, while Tawny Spinelli with the Tennessee Children’s Cabinet at the state Department of Health will receive the Light of Hope Award. The library is located at 615 Church St. in Nashville. Free parking is available for up to 90 minutes in the library garage. Register online by Sept. 10.

read more »

Domestic Abuse Victims Group Calls for Reform

In the wake of a high profile murder-suicide in Shelby County this week, domestic abuse victims’ advocates gathered Wednesday to demand changes to the system. The crime was perpetrated by a husband with a lengthy history of domestic violence against a wife who had initiated three separate protection orders against him; all were dismissed, the Commercial Appeal reports. “The way the system is set up now, the burden is on the victim,” said Olliette Murry-Drobot, director of the Family Safety Center. Most victims of domestic violence earn less than $25,000 per year, Murry-Drobot said, and they have to deal with divorce filings, child custody issues, related criminal cases and order of protections all by themselves and in different venues because Shelby County has no centralized family court.

read more »

States Urge Supreme Court to Take Up Gay Marriage

Following a ruling yesterday by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana, 32 states have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the issue of gay marriage once and for all, the Associated Press reports. Led by Massachusetts, 15 of the 19 states that allow gay marriage filed a brief asking the justices to take up cases from Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma and overturn their marriage bans. A second group of 17 states that have banned the practice asked the court to hear cases from Utah and Oklahoma to clear up a "morass" of lawsuits. Led by Colorado, this group did not urge the court to rule one way or another. WATE News 6 has the AP story.

read more »

Medical-Legal Partnerships, Copyright and More in New TBJ

TBA President Jonathan Steen explains medical-legal partnerships in his September Tennessee Bar Journal column and his hopes for fostering more MLPs in the state. Technology versus the Copyright Act is covered by Nashville lawyer Tim Warnock, while columnists Marlene Eskind Moses and Benjamin Russ write about forced marriage.

read more »

Apperson Crump Acquires Family Law Firm

Memphis’ oldest law firm, Apperson Crump, is expanding its family law practice with the acquisition of the Putnam Firm PLC, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The move adds attorneys Rachael Putnam and Austin Rainey, counsel Cynthia Pensoneau and several staff members to the firm. Putnam joins as a partner. In announcing the news, Apperson Crump Managing Partner Richard Myers said, “These additions substantially augment our existing family law practice."

read more »

New Domestic Violence Court Begins Sept. 2

Courtroom 4B looks like any other room in the Justice A.A. Birch Building, but beginning Sept. 2, it will be the site of Davidson County’s new Domestic Violence Court, the Tennessean reports. For the first time, all domestic violence cases will be referred here, with judges, prosecutors and security staff specially trained to handle such matters. “We’re going to see a major change in how the cases are handled,” said General Sessions Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton, who will be the first in a three-judge rotation to run the new court. General Sessions Judge Gale Robinson and newly elected Judge Allegra Walker will round out the rotation.

read more »

Domestic Partnership Ordinance Loses in Public Vote

Chattanooga voters yesterday defeated the Domestic Partnership Ordinance. The measure, which would have provided health benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees, was approved by the Chattanooga City Council last year but was forced to a public vote. “The City of Chattanooga’s non-discrimination ordinance was repealed tonight, but I want every city employee to know one thing — your work is valued and you are important to the future of our community,” Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said following the vote. News Channel 9 has the story.

read more »

Judges Weigh in on Gay Marriage Cases

Judges Martha Craig Daughtrey and Deborah L. Cook made it clear fairly quickly they stood on opposite sides of the same-sex marriage debate, but their colleague, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton gave fewer hints as to where he may come down when the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decides the fate of gay marriage bans in four states, ABC News reports from the Associated Press. The cases heard Wednesday pit states' rights and conservative values against what plaintiffs' attorneys say is a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution. If the 6th Circuit decides against gay marriage, it would create a divide among federal appeals courts and put pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the issue during its 2015 session. The appeals panel did not indicate when it would rule.

read more »

Domestic Abusers Asked to ‘Check-in’

Davidson County court officers appear to be misapplying a new state law that was intended to cut down on frivolous arrest warrants by issuing summonses instead of warrants for domestic abuse suspects, a Tennessean editorial suggests. Domestic abusers are among criminals most likely to reoffend in a short amount of time, because of the level of anger involved, and the episodes only grow more violent and more deadly. Switching to summonses, for which there are no consequences if you choose to ignore them, may be the worst turn of events yet, the publication says.

read more »

Judges Call to Double Number of Foster Families

Montgomery County Judge Ken Goble and Juvenile Magistrate Tim Barnes are asking citizens to look at their circumstances and see if they have the ability to become a foster parent, the Leaf Chronicle reports. There are currently 50 foster families, but the judges say the county needs to double that number to adequately serve all of the 279 children in the system.

read more »

Judge Strikes Down Colorado Gay Marriage Ban

Colorado Judge C. Scott Crabtree yesterday struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage citing constitutional grounds, WCYB reports. Crabtree also ruled that same-sex marriages performed outside the state should be recognized and that offering "civil unions" instead of marriage "is further evidence of discrimination against same-sex couples." Crabtree, however, prevented gay and lesbian couples from immediately marrying by staying his decision, saying it will take time for the issue to be resolved.

read more »

Court Issues ‘2nd Blow’ to Contraceptive Mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Thursday allowing Wheaton College in Illinois to bypass regulations governing how religious objections to contraceptive coverage are to be made. Under the law, religiously affiliated organizations are allowed an exemption from the mandate so long as they fill out a government form for their insurers and third-party administrators. The court’s order allows the school to skip the form if it notifies the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in writing that it is a nonprofit religious group and has religious objections to providing the coverage. The school had argued that filling out the form made it complicit in the provision of the services. Dissenting justices argued that the decision departs from language in the Hobby Lobby case, causing confusion and undermining confidence in the court. The ABA Journal has links to coverage of the issue.

read more »