News

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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!

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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."

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

Group Launches Statewide Domestic Violence Campaign

The Knoxville Family Justice Center unveiled a poster yesterday, which will be used in a statewide campaign that highlights and brings awareness to the prevalence of domestic violence, WBIR reports. The organization is one of only 15 of its kind in the country. Since it opened in 2006, the center has helped more than 10,000 victims.

read more »

TALS Seeks Presenters for Equal Justice Conference

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is seeking presenters to speak at this year’s Equal Justice University set for Sept. 2-4 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. The conference, cosponsored by the TBA, is the annual gathering for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community. Speakers are sought to provide substantive law courses, ethics and professionalism training, and technology and communications skills. Send proposals by May 15 to TALS’ Policy & Training Director Anne Fox.

read more »

Labor CLE to Include Session on Pregnancy Discrimination

Recent administration guidelines and case law on pregnancy discrimination will be addressed at this year’s Annual Labor & Employment CLE set for April 24 at the Tennessee Bar Center.

read more »

Judge OKs Service of Divorce Papers on Social Media

Facebook may need to add "Just got served divorce papers" to its list of relationship statuses now that a New York judge has said the social media site is an acceptable way for a woman to serve her husband with a summons for divorce, CNN reports. The judge in the case said that the “advent and ascendency of social media” means sites like Facebook and Twitter are the “next frontier” as “forums through which a summons can be delivered.”

read more »

Verizon to Match Donation to Knoxville Family Justice Center

Verizon Wireless has announced it will match all donations up to $10,000 made to the Knoxville Family Justice Center during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, WATE reports. The center supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Knox County and surrounding areas, and is one of only 15 nationwide created by a presidential initiative to help those affected by domestic violence. Donate to the Knoxville Family Justice Center.

read more »

April Journal Has Insider's View to High Court

This month the Journal takes an inside look at the Tennessee Supreme Court, by former staff attorney Marshall L. Davidson III. Davidson, now presiding judge at the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, writes about "unexpected discoveries about the justices, lawyers who appear before them, and pitfalls to avoid in navigating our state’s appellate judiciary." Also, read about the good work through restorative justice that Tennessee Youth Courts are doing, as well as who the TBA Young Lawyers' Division CASA Volunteer of the Year is. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month; learn more about related CASA events and resources. It's no April Fool -- you can read the April issue here.

read more »

Amended 12-Hour Hold Bill Preserves Judicial Discretion

A bill that would place a mandatory 12-hour hold on defendants charged with a domestic violence offense (SB610/HB41) was amended today to preserve judicial discretion in such cases. The original legislation left no opportunity for a judge to waive the hold. The amendment provides that a judge may waive the 12-hour hold under certain circumstances, including if more than 48 hours have elapsed from the time the offense occurred or if the defendant has turned himself or herself in to proper authorities. The measure was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee and forwarded to the full Senate for consideration.

read more »

TBA Legislative Initiatives Head to Governor for Signature

SB877/HB1183 passed the House chamber this week and is headed to the governor’s desk for signature. The bill makes changes to two sections of the Mechanics’ and Materialmen’s Liens statute that are clerical and procedural in nature. The proposal originated with the TBA’s Construction Law Section. In addition, SB144/HB620, which proposed technical changes to the for-profit and non-profit corporations code, passed both chambers this week. Finally, SB161/HB609, which would treat pension benefits the same as other marital property in divorce proceedings, passed the Senate and is set for a House vote on April 1. Find out more about important bills in the legislature at TBAImpact.

read more »