News

Knoxville Lawyer Named Top 100 Law Blogger

Knoxville family lawyer K.O. Herston has been named a top 100 blogger by the ABA Journal for the second year in a row. Herston, the author of “Herston on Tennessee Family Law,” practices with the Herston Law Group and focuses the blog on legal developments in Tennessee family law. The ABA Journal has been identifying the best blogs for lawyers for the past 10 years through its ABA Blawg 100.

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‘Loving’ in Theaters Tomorrow

A 1958 civil rights case is coming to the big screen tomorrow with the release of “Loving.” The film follows the story of Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, an interracial couple, who were married in Washington, D.C., but soon moved back to their home in Virginia. A pregnant Mrs. Loving and her husband were yanked out of bed by police enforcing Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, which prohibited interracial marriage. They were arrested and ordered by a judge to dissolve their union or leave the state for 25 years. For nearly a decade, the Lovings fought the law, ultimately prevailing when the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down in 1967. The New York Times reviews the film.

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A Step Ahead Foundation Honors Late Volunteer

Attorneys and community leaders gathered yesterday at the Nashville home of Colleen Conway Welch to celebrate A Step Ahead of Middle Tennessee, an affiliate of the original A Step Ahead Foundation in Memphis. Program founder Claudia Haltom, an attorney and former juvenile magistrate in Memphis, launched A Step Ahead in 2011. There are now four affiliates in other Tennessee cities. The event also honored the late Mary Ruth Shell, one of the founding board members of the foundation and an active pro bono volunteer with the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center and on behalf of children in the juvenile court system. The Administrative Office of the Courts reported the news.

From left: Nashville attorneys Brenda Dowdle, Anne Russell, Claudia Haltom, Deborah Taylor Tate, Jackie Dixon and Mary Walker

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Bystander Intervention Summit Planned

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence and the State Department of Health are joining forces to host a Bystander Intervention Summit Nov. 29 and 30 at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro. The event will feature national speakers leading discussions centered on issues related to bystander intervention, which is defined as the psychological phenomenon in which someone is more likely to intervene in an emergency situation when alone than when others are present. Participants will leave with a toolkit to enhance bystander intervention messaging in their own communities. Register online.

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Opinion: Homeless Vets Lack Access to Justice

Gary Housepian with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands writes in today’s Tennessean that there are nearly 40,000 homeless veterans in America and another 1.4 million at risk of homelessness. This fact, he suggests, complicates efforts to provide legal services to veterans, who often need help with eviction and foreclosure, outstanding warrants and fines and child support issues. Housepian calls on his fellow lawyers to provide critical civil legal services and urges veterans to reach out for help.

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Chili Contest, Lunch, Auction to Benefit Foster Kids

The Knoxville Bar Association will hold its annual chili cook-off, lunch and basket auction on Nov. 18 at the Knox County Juvenile Court, 3323 Division St. Chili judging will occur at 11 a.m. followed by lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A silent auction will open at 11:30 a.m. A live auction will begin at 12:45 p.m. All winners must be present to accept their items. All proceeds from the event go to an annual foster care parents’ appreciation dinner and to meet any emergency needs of foster care children. Those interested in donating a basket should complete a donation form. For more information, call 865-215-6475.

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Brentwood Lawyer Named YWCA President

Sharon K. Roberson has been named the new president and chief executive officer of the YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, the organization announced today. Roberson will begin her new role on Nov. 14. She is currently serving as senior vice president and general counsel at Direct General Corporation in the Nashville suburb of Brentwood. She also is a member of TBA’s Corporate Counsel Section. In a press release, the YWCA said Roberson is a “well-established leader within the Nashville business community” with a “proven track record and strength in operating complex organizations.” She will replace Pat Shea, who will continue to stay involved with the YWCA’s MEND initiative, which focuses on engaging and educating men and boys to help end violence against women and girls.

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Court OKs Forms for Uncontested Divorce with Children

The Tennessee Supreme Court today adopted a set of plain-language forms and instructions for use in uncontested divorces between parties with minor children. The forms were developed by the Access to Justice Commission as part of an effort to simplify court proceedings, reduce barriers to access to justice and meet the legal needs of vulnerable Tennessean who do not qualify for legal aid programs. To use the forms, both parties must have minor children together and agree on all aspects of the divorce, including child support. They also cannot own real property or have retirement accounts. The new forms will be universally accepted in Tennessee courts as of Jan. 1. Read the court's order.

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Lipscomb Legal Clinic, Dinner to Honor Gray

The Institute for Law, Justice & Society at Lipscomb University will be renamed in honor of civil rights lawyer Fred D. Gray next month. As part of the renaming celebration, the institute will hold a free legal clinic Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Schrader Lane Church of Christ in Nashville. Volunteers are needed to provide advice on civil, criminal, domestic and probate issues. That evening, the school will host Gray for a dinner and keynote address at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. Tickets are $200 per person. RSVP by Nov. 2 . Contact institute director Randy Spivey, 615-966-2503, for more information about any of these events. Read more about Gray and the institute in the October issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal or in this press release from the school.

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New Family Justice Center to Open Nov. 22

About 100 people attended yesterday’s ribbon cutting at Chattanooga’s new Family Justice Center, which will provide free services for victims of sexual assault, human trafficking, elder abuse and domestic violence. The center, which has been operating out of another space, will officially open in the new location on Nov. 22, Nooga.com reports. Dignitaries at the ceremony included Mayor Andy Berke, Police Chief Fred Fletcher, Judge Christie Sells and Child Advocacy Center of Hamilton County Executive Director Shelley McGraw.

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Stanton to Address Domestic Violence Awareness Event

Men across Memphis were set to gather this evening to take a stand against domestic violence at the second annual Shine Your Light on Domestic Violence event. Mayor Jim Strickland, Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings and U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton were scheduled to address the group. Judicial Commissioner Kevin Reed, who was also on the agenda, told News 5 that it is the “silence of good men that allows domestic violence to persist.” Read more from station.

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KBA Sections Holding Pro Bono Night

The Knoxville Bar Association’s Corporate Counsel Section and Family Law Section are joining forces for a Pro Bono Night next Tuesday. Members of the sections will gather to answer civil legal questions posted to TN Free Legal Answers. Representatives from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services will be available during the event to answer questions and assist with technology issues. Other volunteers are invited to join the group from 5 to 7 p.m. EST at the Adams Law Firm, 8517 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919. Register online to participate.

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DOJ Addresses Jailing of Domestic Violence Victims

The U.S. Department of Justice has had multiple conversations with state officials about the jailing of domestic violence victims in Washington County, according to  WJHL.com. The federal Office on Violence Against Women confirms that it has provided technical assistance to the state to help improve training. WJHL first brought the issue of jailing victims to light when it reported that the county arrested domestic violence victims more than 12 times last year.

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CASA Monroe Holding Fundraiser Tuesday

CASA Monroe is holding a Pampered Chef fundraiser Tuesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Rarity Bay Community Activity Center, 150 Rarity Bay Pkwy. in Vonore. The event will feature free food samples and gift drawings every half hour. All proceeds will benefit the work of the organization. Those who cannot attend in person can support CASA by ordering online. Questions about products should be directed to Cheryl Madenford, 239-825-5607.

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Advocate Proposes Domestic Violence Offender Registry

A domestic violence survivor and victim’s rights advocate is working with state lawmakers to help track repeat domestic violence offenders, News Channel 11 reports. Debbie Church says she was inspired to propose the registry after experiencing domestic violence at the hands of her now ex-husband. The Tri-Cities woman has spoken with the Sullivan County Family Justice Center, which indicated support for the idea. Church says the legislation is still in the initial stage but hopes local lawmakers will propose the bill next legislative session.

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State: Don’t Jail Domestic Violence Victims

At a district attorney general’s conference this week in Pigeon Forge, state officials reminded Tennessee’s grant-funded domestic violence prosecutors that forcing victims to testify against their abusers and jailing those who do not cooperate will not be tolerated. WJHL-TV first reported on Washington County's use of the practice to punish victims who disobeyed subpoenas. It now reveals that the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs reported the situation to the U.S. Department of Justice in mid-September. The state agency emphasized that it had made the prohibition on use of funds clear in its grant materials and that the county agreed to the conditions in signing to accept the funds.

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Judge Sammons Faces Civil Rights Lawsuit

Campbell County Judge Amanda Sammons, who was indicted in August on four counts of official misconduct, now faces a federal civil rights lawsuit unrelated to her previous charges. Knoxnews reports that in September 2015, Sammons wrote a note ordering the removal of Ashley Keisling’s children from their Kentucky home, to be moved to Campbell County into their father’s custody. A Kentucky judge had barred the father, Johnny Ray Elliot, from contact with the children in 2011. Sammons’ order claims that the state Department of Children’s Services had alleged the children were being harmed in their mother’s care, but according to documents filed in Campbell County Circuit Court, DCS had filed no such petition.
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October TBJ: Alimony, Pro Bono and Fred Gray

Even when income changes dramatically at retirement, alimony in futuro does not change without asking the court for a modification. This may be a shock to your clients, but Memphis lawyer Miles Mason Sr. explains it in this new Tennessee Bar Journal. October is “Celebrate Pro Bono Month” and Chattanooga lawyer Russell Fowler looks at President James A. Garfield’s good example as a lawyer doing pro bono. The Journal also highlights civil rights icon Fred D. Gray upon the opening of an institute named in his honor. TBA President Jason Long examines the core values and principles that define us as lawyers and the profession. Read the October issue.

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Event Honors Domestic Violence Victims, Advocates

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands and the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence will hold the annual “Meet Us at the Bridge” event Saturday at 1 p.m. in Nashville to kick-off Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The event, held on the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, honors those who have lost their lives to domestic violence in the last year. Awards also will be presented to those who have done outstanding work in the fight to end domestic violence. The Waller law firm will be recognized for its work with the Civil-Legal Advocate Program (CLAP), a partnership between Legal Aid and the Metro Office of Family Safety that provides free legal representation to domestic violence victims.

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Domestic Violence Prosecutor to Speak at Luncheon

The Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga is hosting the Fourth Annual Voices Luncheon Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Stratton Hall to mark the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Cindy Dyer, a former domestic and sexual violence prosecutor internationally known for her work on gender-based violence, will give the keynote address. Dyer served as director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women under President George W. Bush. Purchase tickets online or contact Katie Jackson at 423-752-4820. Chattanoogan.com has more.

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ABA Urges Senate Vote on Child Welfare Bill

The ABA is urging the Senate to pass the Family First Prevention Services Act (S. 3065) by the end of the month. The bill, which passed unanimously in the House of Representatives this summer, reforms the federal child welfare financing structure and extends the Court Improvement Program (CIP), which provides resources for child welfare courts in all 50 states. Since its creation more than 20 years ago, the CIP has supported courts’ ability to play an essential role in ensuring the safety and permanency for abused and neglected children, the ABA says.

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Indigent Representation Task Force to Meet Friday

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force will meet at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Room LP12 of Legislative Plaza in Nashville. The panel will hear presentations from Vince Dean, Hamilton County criminal court clerk and president of the Tennessee Clerks of Court Conference; Jerry N. Estes, executive director of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference; Charme Allen, Knox County district attorney general; Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Mark Fishburn; and Justyna Garbaczewska Scalpone with the Tennessee Office of the Post-Conviction Defender. Get details about the meeting.

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Court Grants Review of 4 New Cases

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently granted review of four cases, which raise issues related to administrative employment appeals, marital property and two wrongful death claims. The Raybin Supreme Court Hotlist reviews each case and offers a prediction as to how each may be decided.

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Judge Reopens Funk Case, State Hires Private Counsel

A federal judge has reopened a case against Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk, the Tennessean reports. Last week, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger dismissed the lawsuit brought by David Chase because his lawyer, John Boucher, missed a deadline to respond. Boucher appealed the decision arguing that he was mistakenly following rules for the Eastern District. Yesterday, Trauger reopened the case and gave Boucher until Sept. 23 to respond. Chase is suing Funk and Assistant District Attorney General Katy Miller over how his domestic violence case was handled. In related news, the state has hired James Kay with the Nashville firm of Kay, Griffin, Enkema & Colbert to represent Funk and Miller.

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Pearls & Pinstripes Gala Planned for Sept. 30

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence will host the fourth annual Pearls & Pinstripes Gala Sept. 30 from 6-10 p.m. at Nissan Stadium’ West Club in Nashville. The event, which is the group’s annual fundraising gala, includes dinner, entertainment and live and silent auctions. Tickets are $125 each and may be purchased online. For a second year, the Tennessee Titans have partnered with the coalition to present the gala and to kick off October’s designation as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Learn more about the event in this release.

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