News

Supreme Court Ruling Puts Same-Sex Divorce Back on Table

A same-sex divorce case filed in Roane County Circuit Court last year was working its way through the appeals process when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country. Now the Tennessee Court of Appeals has ordered the parties to file briefs by July 10 on how that decision impacts the case, Roane County News reports. The state, which originally opposed the divorce, has indicated it likely will drop its objections since it now must recognize the marriage, which had been performed in Iowa.

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West Tennessee Legal Services Seeks Victim Assistance Attorney

West Tennessee Legal Services is seeking an attorney in its Victim Assistance and Advocacy Project. The position will represent victims of domestic and sexual violence in civil protection order cases and provide legal advocacy on behalf of victims in various forums. Litigation experience on behalf of domestic violence and/or sexual assault victims, and prior work with specialized client populations and/or ethnic or language distinct communities is preferred. Applicants should send a cover letter, resume, writing sample and references by July 18 to: Hiring Committee, West Tennessee Legal Services, Inc., P.O. Box 2066, Jackson, TN 38302 or by email to sandy@wtls.org.

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Services Pending for Domestic Violence Victims’ Advocate

Jean Crowe died today (June 22). Considered by many to be the Mother of the Domestic Violence Movement in Nashville, Crowe founded the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence while an employee of Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. The Jean Crowe Advocacy Center was named in her honor. In 2013, she was named the TBA Public Service Attorney of the Year. Information on funeral services is pending.

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Supreme Court to Decide Whether to Take Up Major Abortion Case

The Supreme Court is considering an emergency appeal from abortion providers in Texas, who want the justices to block two provisions of a state law that already has forced the closure of roughly half the licensed abortion clinics in the state. Ten of the remaining 19 clinics will have to shut their doors by July 1, without an order from the Supreme Court. The justices could signal by the end of June whether they are likely to take up the biggest case on the hot-button subject in nearly a quarter-century. WATE has more from the Associated Press.

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Domestic Violence Reports Expected to Spike After Family Justice Center Opens

As the city of Chattanooga readies for the official launch of the Family Justice Center on July 1, Police Chief Fred Fletcher and others told the Chattanooga Times Free Press they expect the number of domestic violence incidents in Chattanooga and Hamilton County to spike by 20 or 30 percent because more people will report the crime. The center is designed to cater to victims of domestic violence by offering a variety of services — from legal advice to health care — under one roof near the Eastgate Town Center.

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Governor: State Preparing for Gay Marriage Ruling

Gov. Bill Haslam says state officials are discussing how to proceed should the U.S. Supreme Court rule same-sex marriage legal later this month in a case involving Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio, the Columbia Daily Herald reports. Haslam told reporters this week that the attorney General's office and his counsel and departments are preparing. Jay West, executive director of the 95-member County Officials Association of Tennessee, said, "What we are telling our clerks is we’re going to obviously wait."

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More Tools Available to Aid Domestic Violence Victims

The Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center has begun using a training program to help law enforcement better help domestic violence victims who are in critical danger, the Herald-Citizen reports. Several area law enforcement jurisdictions are using the Maryland Model Lethality Assessment Program (LAP), which has 11 assessment questions for a police officer to ask domestic violence victims. And in Grundy County, the Sheriff's Office is using a tracking device able to alert victims when an offender is close, in hopes of warding off another attack.  WRCB has more.

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Learn New Approach to Parenting Plans

Presented by the TBA Family Law section, an upcoming TBA webcast will help you learn how to use research on parenting plan schedules to create the best possible options for the children of divorce. Janice Walden from “A Better Way Mediation” explores new ways to tackle this challenge during the webcast on June 24. Visit TBA CLE for more information.

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TBI Releases New Data on Domestic Violence

A recent study by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows domestic violence resulted in 270 murder victims in Tennessee from 2012 to 2014. The review also found that simple assault accounted for more than 68 percent of all domestic violence offenses, that females were three times more likely to be victimized than males and that victims were six times more likely to be abused by a spouse than an ex-spouse. Read more in the Memphis Daily News.

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CASA Fundraiser Raises Record-Breaking Amount

Williamson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) announced this week that the 4th Annual Voices for Children fundraiser raised more than $130,000, money that will serve its mission to find safe and permanent homes for abused and neglected children in the court system. Director of Public Relations and Development Danielle McMorran estimates that nearly $120,000 will go straight toward program support. Williamson Herald has the story.

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June TBJ: Paternity Fraud, Economic Losses, Grad Advice

In this issue, learn how to successfully file a paternity fraud lawsuit by reading an article by Peggy R. Smith. You may also need to know how to calculate economic losses in employment termination cases, which Charles Baum explains. In this graduation season, Andra J. Hedrick writes a letter to herself (and new grads) about what to expect and what she would have done differently. There's a lot more in the June issue -- take a look!

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Alabama Gay Marriage Ban

A federal judge in Alabama ruled yesterday that same-sex couples have the right to marry throughout the state, but she put her ruling on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue, WCYB reports from CNN. U.S. District Judge Callie Granade in Mobile had issued a preliminary injunction in February prohibiting the state Attorney General Luther Strange and Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis from enforcing Alabama's laws, which prohibit same-sex marriage. But the ruling was challenged by probate judges who refused to abide by it, and their argument was bolstered by a conflicting opinion by the Alabama Supreme Court.

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Court Brings Arguments to Boys and Girls State

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hold oral arguments before hundreds of high school students next week. At Boys State, held May 27 at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, the court will consider cases involving unlawful search and seizure and whether an employer can refuse to hire someone who previously filed a workers’ compensation claim. At Girls State, held May 28 at Lipscomb University, the court will hear cases involving termination of parental rights and whether records related to the Vanderbilt rape case should be released to the public. The AOC has more on the cases.

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Learn More About Pending Decision on Marriage Equality

Join us in person or via webcast on July 2 for a TBA CLE on the Tanco v. Haslam marriage recognition challenge. The presentation will include a discussion on how the U.S. Supreme Court's decision will affect Tennessee, as well as an overview of the background, parties and issues involved in the case. Register for the onsite program or for the webcast.

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Columnists Hold High Standard for 'Journal' Writing

In this issue, columnist John Day shares some facts about Tennessee Tort Cases; Marlene Moses and Ben Russ explain orders of protection; and Bill Haltom writes why lawyers should “go out for lunch and home for dinner.” In the year-long commemoration of the Journal’s 50 years, this installment looks back over all the columns and the impact they have made on readers, including the 10 men and women who write in substantive areas today. Especially do not miss the granddaddy of them all, the column that started in 1965 with the pressing subject, "The Telephone: Friend of Foe."

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Report: Baker Donelson Among Best Work Places for New Dads

The law firm of Baker Donelson has been named among the 50 best places for new dads to work in a report by Fatherly, a digital lifestyle guide for men entering parenthood. Baker Donelson was highlighted for its father-friendly paternity leave policy, Chattanoogan.com reports.

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Domestic Violence Now More than Half of Crimes

Domestic violence arrests spiked in Chattanooga over the weekend, WDEF reports. According to Family Justice Center director Dr. Valerie Radu new statistics show that more than 50 percent of all crimes in Tennessee are domestic violence. Radu anticipates the number of reported cases will increase in July when the Family Justice Center officially opens — an increase is considered good by experts because it means more victims are choosing to not stay silent about the abuse they encounter.

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A New Approach to Parenting Plans

Does the current parenting plan schedule consider the best interests of Tennessee children? Nashville lawyer Janice Walden will review recent research on the topic during a June 24 webcast designed to help lawyers draft the best possible parenting plans for the children of divorcing parents. Learn more or register here.

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Maryville Lawyers Launch New Mediation Firm

Maryville lawyers Josh Jones and his wife, Bonnie Jones, have launched East Tennessee Mediation Services (ETMS), the Daily Times reports. The firm will offer comprehensive mediation and alternative dispute resolution services. Both lawyers are Rule 31-listed Tennessee Supreme Court civil and family mediators with special domestic violence designations.

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DA Wants to Change Child Abuse Laws

District Attorney General Brent Cooper tells the Daily Herald that the system for handling child abuse cases needs to be reworked. One change Cooper said he and other district attorneys across the state have advocated is to the current reckless endangerment laws, specifically the actual harm doctrine. "The way the law in Tennessee is currently structured, you can’t charge a parent with abuse and neglect unless the child is actually harmed," Cooper says.

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Much Interest Generated from Same-Sex Marriage Case

The U.S. Supreme Court offered tickets for three-minute views of the arguments in yesterday's Obergefell v. Hodges for those who did not get seats for the historic case about whether states must allow same-sex couples to marry and whether states must recognize gay marriages performed in other states. The ABAJournal reports the court also released audio for the day's events. Couples from Memphis and Knoxville, who were among the plaintiffs, reacted to the historic day in these Memphis Flyer and News Sentinel articles. WCYB looks at the different stands of two attorneys general: Virginia's attorney general is for it while Tennessee's is against it. Read excerpts from all the arguments.

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Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Gay Marriage Bans

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today about whether states have the power to ban same-sex marriage and whether states with bans must recognize gay marriages performed in other states. The first hour of arguments focused on the constitutional right to marry. Most media coverage suggested that Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. did not appear ready to endorse that position. Listen to the audio feed from that debate. In the second hour, Tennessee Deputy Solicitor Joseph Whalen had his chance to address the court on the question of recognizing marriages from other states. Listen to the audio from that exchange. News wrap ups from the day are available from Scotublog, which was live blogging from the courthouse, and National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg, who contributed to this report.

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State Allows Parents to Merge Last Names for Baby

The state Department of Health has agreed to let a Brentwood couple give their child the surname of their choice, bringing to an end a yearlong contentious legal battle, the Memphis Daily News reports. A lawsuit brought by the parents was dismissed last Thursday and a birth certificate has been issued with the parents’ chosen surname: Sabr, a combination of their last names of Abramson and Sarubbi. A state attorney general’s opinion issued last year found that Tennessee law does not allow such name to be listed on a birth certificate.

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Historic Oral Arguments on Same-Sex Marriage Begin Tuesday

When the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could decide whether gay and lesbian couples nationwide have the constitutional right to marry, Tennessee will be a big part of it. Legal analysts say the case could do for gay couples what Brown v. Board of Education did for black Americans and what Roe v. Wade did for women's rights concerning abortions. "This will be the case everyone refers to 50 years from now as the gay rights case," Vanderbilt University Law School Professor Brian Fitzpatrick told The Tennessean. Both sides see the case as a legacy-making moment for Chief Justice John Roberts, CNN reports, upset nearly three years ago upset conservatives with a pivotal vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The ABA Journal takes a look at recent cases involving the rights of same-sex couples.

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New Series for Elder and Health Law Attorneys Starts in May

A new webcast series starts May 5 and runs to the end of the month for elder law and health law attorneys. This series addresses TennCare changes, managed care delivery, intellectual disabilities and Medicaid coverage.

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