News

TBA to Launch New Adoption Law Section in 2018

The Tennessee Bar Association will launch a new section next year devoted to the practice of Adoption Law. The move was requested by the Adoption Policy Working Group and was approved unanimously by the TBA Board of Governors during its fall meeting Saturday in Memphis. In a letter requesting the creation, TBA Immediate Past President Jason Long and Chattanooga attorney Michael S. Jennings wrote that adoption law is a discrete area of practice and that “there is a need for a dedicated section to assist with ongoing legislative efforts in this area and to educate members on a complex and highly structured area of the law.”

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LAET Hosts Pro Se Divorce Clinic

Legal Aid of East Tennessee, in partnership with the University of Tennessee College of Law, will offer a Pro Se Divorce Legal Advice Clinic for pre-screened individuals without children. The clinic will take place on Oct. 13 from 4 to 6 p.m. Spouses must be in agreement on all issues involving division of personal property, including vehicles, and division of all debts currently owed by both spouses. To be pre-screened for this Legal Advice Clinic, call LAET’s Knoxville office at (865) 637-0484, or visit the “Begin Client Intake” section of the LAET website.
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Free Legal Advice Clinic in Maryville

Volunteer attorneys from the Blount County Bar Association will join staff attorneys from Legal Aid of East Tennessee to provide free advice on various legal matters. The public will be able to seek advice on topics such as adoption, child custody and support, divorce, elder law, foreclosure, identity theft, personal injury, VA benefits, wills, worker’s comp, and more.  Legal help will be available on a first come, first served basis. The clinic is open to the public. No appointment is necessary. The Advice Clinic is part of LAET’s Pro Bono Project, and is offered in celebration of Pro Bono Month. The event is Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
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Court Issues Proposed Rules Amendments, Asks for Comment

The Tennessee Supreme Court has published the annual package of recommendations from the Advisory Commission on Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the 2018 Proposed Rules Amendments. Several TBA sections are reviewing the recommendations for possible comment. Comments are due to the court no later than Nov. 22.

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Tennessee Supreme Court Clarifies Process for Determining Best Interests of a Child in Parental Termination Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that courts must consider all nine statutory factors, as well as any other relevant facts, when deciding whether terminating parental rights is in a child’s best interests. The Supreme Court explained that requiring courts to consider all relevant facts and circumstances ensures each case receives individualized consideration before fundamental parental rights are terminated. Justice Cornelia A. Clark authored the unanimous opinion.

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New Journal: Divorce Law, Startling Stats on Addiction

The September Tennessee Bar Journal covers updates in divorce law, with details from B.J. Strickland about recent federal actions impacting military service members. Also, Family Matters columnists Marlene Eskind Moses and Ben Russ explain 2017 modifications to state child support laws. In perhaps one of the most important subjects, President Lucian Pera writes about recent studies showing how the legal profession has a much higher rate for addiction than other professions – and that those in the first 10 years of practice are most at risk. Pera offers startling statistics and helpful resources, suggesting that lawyers should be aware of warning signs and “if you see something, say something.”

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Help Needed for Power of Attorney Clinic Tomorrow in Memphis

The TBA’s Young Lawyers Division and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition are partnering for a power of attorney clinic in Memphis tomorrow and still need volunteers. The clinic will offer assistance with family preparation plans in the event of a deportation or other enforcement action. The clinic will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at El Mercadito, 3766 Ridgeway Road. Those who would like to volunteer can sign up here.
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Court Seeking Comments on Practice of Collaborative Family Law

The Tennessee Supreme Court is seeking comments on a petition, filed by the Tennessee Bar Association, that would amend the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court to address the practice of “collaborative family law.” Comments from judges, lawyers, bar association and members of the public are welcome and will be accepted until Nov. 21. They should be sent via email to appellatecourtclerk@tncourts.gov or mailed to James M. Hivner, Clerk, Re: Collaborative Family Law, Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Ave. N, Nashville, TN 37219-1407. Read the petition here.
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Tenn. Supreme Court Holds Attorney's Public Reprimand

The Tennessee Supreme Court has affirmed a 2014 disciplinary action by the Board of Professional Responsibility that found a Knoxville attorney guilty of professional misconduct. A petition for discipline filed against Danny C. Garland II alleged that while handling an adoption case, he failed to communicate appropriately with clients, failed to exercise reasonable diligence in his representation and committed professional misconduct. A hearing panel found that he should be publicly reprimanded, a ruling affirmed after Garland’s appeal to the Knox County Chancery Court. The Supreme Court's ruling agreed as well, although a dissenting opinion was authored by Justice Holly Kirby.
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Redero Retires from Vanderbilt Law's Clinical Legal Faculty

Vanderbilt Law School's Yolanda (Yoli) Redero has retired from her position as clinical professor of law. She served on Vanderbilt’s clinical law faculty for 15 years and is credited with creating the school’s Family Law and Domestic Violence Clinic, which was originally funded with a grant from the Violence Against Women Office of the Department of Justice. “My clinic helped many victims of domestic violence break free from their violence with orders of protection and much counseling,” Redero said. “By handling cases from start to finish, my students gained valuable skills for their future careers in any field by participating in real court hearings and advocating for real clients.”

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AOC Updates Parenting Plan Forms

The Administrative Office of the Courts has revised the Permanent Parenting Plan and Temporary Parenting Plan Forms. Copies of the revised forms are available for download here.
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Item of Interest

Below is an article that was published in the the Disability Section Connect. We thought it had information that would be of interest to those of you in this section as well.  

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Elder Law Forum 2017 This Friday

The Elder Law CLE Forum will be held this Friday at the ATT Building in downtown Nashville. This full-day forum offers essential and practical material for practicing Elder Law attorneys and those interested in Elder Law. Registration is still open, so sign up or get more information now

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Disability Rights TN Conducting Survey on Needs and Resources

Disability Rights Tennessee is conducting a survey to gather 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 and colleagues in the disability rights field, so an accurate picture of the needs of those with disabilities can be compiled. The deadline to respond is July 15. For more information contact DRT at (800) 342-1660 or gethelp@disabilityrightstn.org.

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July TBJ: Mentors, Annuities and the Challenges of Change

Covington lawyer Amber Griffin Shaw writes about how having a mentor in Houston Gordon made all the difference in her law practice. Read her story — and his advice — in the July Tennessee Bar Journal. Knoxville lawyer Glen A. Kyle writes about planning options for spousal annuities. President Lucian T. Pera writes about the challenges of change – whether it be in the changing of leadership at the helm of the TBA, the need for improvements in indigent defense for Tennessee’s least-privileged citizens, or how lawyers respond to the dramatic changes “facing not just the profession or the business of lawyers, but the whole market for the delivery of legal services.”

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Loving v. Virginia Turns 50

The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, turns 50 today, and NPR has collected several audio clips from the dramatic trial. Many of the clips document arguments made by Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, two young lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union who represented Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black and Native American woman whose marriage was considered illegal in Virginia.
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Court Orders Minor Modifications to Certain Divorce Forms

The Tennessee Supreme Court has approved minor modifications to the plain language forms for uncontested divorces with no minor children, as recommended by the Access to Justice Commission. These changes were necessary to ensure that the plain language forms adopted in 2011 for uncontested divorces with no minor children are consistent with the same forms that were adopted in 2016 for uncontested divorces with minor children, according to the court documents. The order as well as the changes can be found here.
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Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.

How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines at http://www.tba.org/submit-an-article, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.

If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Commission on CLE & Specialization at http://www.cletn.com/.

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TSC: Prevailing Party Entitled to Contractually Agreed-Upon Attorney’s Fees

The Tennessee Supreme Court has reversed a decision of the Court of Appeals, which declined to award attorney’s fees on appeal in a post-divorce proceeding. In a divorce case, the husband and wife agreed to a provision that would award attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in any subsequent legal proceedings. A trial court awarded the wife, as the prevailing party, the attorney’s fees she requested, but the Court of Appeals declined to award fees for the appeal. In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court found that the Court of Appeals must apply standard rules regarding contractual interpretation and enforcement.
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Sentenced to Debt: When You Can't Pay Your Fines

In the current issue of the Journal, Nashville lawyer Vidhi S. Joshi looks into what happens within the criminal justice system in Tennessee when a person cannot pay their fines. Read the feature “Sentenced to Debt.” Columns this month include "Redefining Relocation," by Marlene Moses and Benjamin Russ; John Day writing about "Mothers, Minors and Medical Bills"; and Bill Haltom following the saga of where the bodies of President and Mrs. James K. Polk will land for eternity.

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TBA Convention in Kingsport is Just Around the Corner

Registration is open for the 2017 TBA Annual Convention. This years programming offers plenty of opportunities to make new friends and renew acquaintances with colleagues from across the state. The highlight comes Thursday night with the Kingsport Karnival at the downtown Farmers Market. Along with fabulous food and drink, there will be live music from two bands, an aerialist, juggler, magician, body and face painters, caricaturist and more. Plus, you'll have access to the fabulous Kingsport Carousel, the delightful project of community artisans. Special thanks to Eastman for support of this event! 

This years convention also offers 12 hours of CLE programming, highlighted by sessions on the Hatfields and McCoys, The Neuroscience of Decision-Making, and the popular Better Right Now wellness program. It is all set at the beautiful MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center. To receive the TBA $129 room rate, you must book your reservation by May 23. Book your room online now or call 423-578-6600.

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Call For Submissions — Law Practice Pointers

One of the benefits of being a TBA Section Member is having access to information from experienced practitioners to assist in your day-to-day practice. The sharing of this information amongst colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession. It is also a way of helping each other to maneuver the evolving legal market and strengthen your legal practice.

How can you help your fellow Section Members?  If you have some Law Practice Pointers you would like to share with your fellow section members, write an article between 300-500 words and submit it to the Section Coordinator for review and approval. These Law Practice Pointers can be related to a court opinion, piece of legislation, or current event or industry trend that affects the practice of law as it relates to the specific Section. The main requirement is to make sure the article gives lawyers practical tips, based on experience, to include in their day-to-day practice.

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Knox Judge Grants Woman Rights of Husband in Same-sex Divorce

A Knox County judge has granted a woman the legal rights of a husband as part of a same-sex divorce proceeding, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. In a reversal of his decision in the case last year, Judge Greg McMillan approved the divorce of Erica Witt and Sabrina Witt, and designated Erica Witt as the father of the couple’s daughter, who was conceived through artificial insemination. The ruling appears to contradict a recently passed Tennessee law that was inspired by the Witt case. That law requires courts to define terms in state law by their “natural and ordinary meaning.” 
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Suit Challenges New ‘Natural and Ordinary Meaning’ Law

Just four days after Gov. Bill Haslam signed it into law, the legislation which requires undefined terms in state law to be interpreted with their “natural and ordinary meaning” is facing a lawsuit, the Tennessean reports. Four same-sex couples filed suit in Davidson County Chancery Court today, naming the governor, Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner and the Tennessee Department of Health as defendants. Each of the couples have conceived a child via a sperm donor, and are concerned that the new law could threaten their parental rights.
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Court Considers What’s Real, What’s ‘Fake News’ in Jones Child Custody Case

Lawyers for Alex Jones, conservative radio and YouTube host, and his ex-wife are battling in a child custody case about whether his online persona is who he really is, the ABA Journal reports. Jones, the personality behind Infowars, is famous for promoting conspiracy theories, but his attorney is arguing that the views presented on his show are all an act, calling him a “performance artist.” Attorneys for his ex-wife have submitted multiple Infowars videos as evidence to prove that Jones is “not a stable person.”
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