News

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nashville to Build Family Justice Center

The city of Nashville will build a Family Justice Center at the former Capitol Chevrolet dealership on Murfreesboro Road near Foster Avenue, WKRN reports. The center would house resources for both victims of domestic abuse and child abuse in one place. The domestic violence unit, youth services and the Nashville Children’s Alliance — currently located in different parts of the city — would likely all have space in the new center.

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SCOTUS Sets Same-Sex Marriage Arguments for April

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the blockbuster case on same-sex marriage on April 28, the Wall Street Journal law blog reports. The high court will hear two and one half hours of argument on cases originating from Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan. The justices will be considering whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry nationwide.

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New Alimony Bench Book Available

The 13th Edition Alimony Bench Book is now available from the TBA Family Law Section. Produced by the members of the section’s Alimony Committee, the book is available for purchase in a loose-leaf format for $40 or a three-ring binder for $50. To order the book, visit the TBA’s online bookstore or contact TBA at (615) 383-7421. Members of the Family Law Section can download the new edition at no charge by logging in to TBA.org and going to the Resources link on the Family Law Section's webpage.  

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Bill Keeps Judicial Discretion on Domestic Violence Arrests

Judges in Tennessee will retain the authority to waive a 12-hour "cooling off" period after domestic violence arrests, according to the latest draft of a proposed bill. An amendment approved yesterday to HB41 keeps judicial discretion to release suspects before the end of the period, while also adding elements to the law meant to improve transparency and guarantee victims are notified before the hold is waived. The Tennessean has more.

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Memphis Firm Establishes New Law School Scholarship

The Memphis law firm of Rice, Amundsen & Caperton has established an annual family law scholarship at the Cecil C. Humphreys University of Memphis Law School, Memphis Daily News reports. Firm partners and the law school dean will select the scholarship recipient, who must be a student specializing in family law. An internship opportunity with firm also will be extended to the student. Larry Rice, senior partner at the firm, said the scholarship would help develop the next generation of family law lawyers.

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Firm Focused on Men in Family Law Cases Opens New Office

Cordell & Cordell, a St. Louis-based firm focused on representing men in family law cases, has opened an office in Murfreesboro. The office – the fourth in the state for the firm – is located at 352 West Northfield Blvd., Suite 4C, Murfreesboro 37129. Other Tennessee offices include locations in Franklin, Memphis and Nashville. The firm also has more than 100 other offices across the country. Read more.

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Couples File Brief in Same-Sex Marriage Case

Three same-sex Tennessee couples today filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban, Knoxnews reports. The brief argues that the Supreme Court “should not permit any state to deprive another generation of lesbian and gay persons of the opportunity to participate fully in marriage.” Supreme Court justices last month agreed to hear gay marriage appeals from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. 

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Court to Hold Arguments in Jackson, Review 4 New Cases

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear two health care liability disputes among four cases scheduled for oral arguments March 4 in Jackson. The court also granted review to four new cases this week. Criminal issues include indictments and relief from execution for the intellectually disabled. Civil issues include the Health Care Liability Act and marital dissolution agreements. The Raybin-Perky Hotlist reviews the four cases and offers a prediction as to how each may be decided.

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YLD Produces New GAL Webcast

Thanks to the efforts of the YLD’s Children’s Issues and CLE committees, lawyers interested in learning more about serving as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) can tune in to a TBA webcast on March 4 at noon Central.
The one-hour session “Guardian ad Litem: Managing Your Child-Client, Third Parties and Opposing Counsel” will look at the responsibilities of a GAL, offer best practices for developing a relationship with the child-client and cover tips for managing parents’ counsel and third parties such as the Department of Child Services (DCS), Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and psychologists. Finally, the course will review the differences in rules governing GALs in juvenile and circuit cases. Register online to watch the webcast live.
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Bill Removes Birth Parent Right to Revoke Surrender of Child in Adoption

A bill in front of the General Assembly would eliminate the 10-day revocation period when there is a surrender of parental rights in an adoption proceeding. Sponsored by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, and Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, SB 440/HB445 goes on to say that a judge must inform the person surrendering that there is no right to revoke the surrender. The bill allows a judge to revoke or invalidate a surrender if shown by clear and convincing evidence that the surrender involved duress, fraud, or intentional misrepresentation, or if the revocation is in the child's best interest. Weigh in using TBAImpact.

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Tweaks Likely to Domestic Violence Cooling Bill

A bill eliminating a judge's authority to release domestic violence suspects before the end of a 12-hour cooling off period is likely to be changed by amendment, according the Tennessean. In the House Criminal Justice subcommittee meeting yesterday, bill sponsor Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, asked that the issue be tabled for a week to allow for amendment. The bill is widely seen as a response to a controversial Nashville case. Real estate developer David Chase was arrested after police said he assaulted his girlfriend, but was released when his attorney called a judge, who in turn made a call resulting in Chase's release before the 12-hour hold expired. The judge was reprimanded by the Board of Professional Conduct for those actions. Weigh in on this and other legislative issues using TBAImpact.

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Supreme Court Upholds Child Neglect Conviction in Religious Exemption Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court today affirmed the conviction of an East Tennessee woman who had failed to obtain medical treatment for her adolescent daughter suffering from a tumor on her shoulder. Jacqueline Crank, a member of a small congregation of the Universal Life Church in Lenoir City, said she had prayed for her daughter in accordance with her religious beliefs instead of seeking medical care. The Department of Children’s Services intervened and Crank’s daughter was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. She died in September 2002 at the age of 15. On appeal, Crank claimed that the spiritual treatment law was too vague to give her fair warning that she could be prosecuted for her conduct. The court ruled that the law was not too vague.

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ABA House Acts on Range of Issues

The ABA House of Delegates met Monday in Houston, adopting a number of resolutions, including: (1) calling for counsel to be appointed to unaccompanied minor immigrants and special training be provided to courts that hear their cases, (2) opposing stand-your-ground laws, (3) condemning foreclosure rescue fraud, (4) urging states to grant protective orders even though a victim and perpetrator have no established domestic relationship, (5) requiring a unanimous jury verdict before imposing the death penalty, (6) calling for open and transparent disclosure of execution protocols, (7) urging governments to adopt a presumption against the shackling of juveniles in court, and (8) urging law schools and bar associations to counsel young attorneys on student loan debt. The body considered but sponsors ultimately withdrew resolutions calling for federal regulation of paid tax preparers and stronger laws to protect the privacy of consumer data.

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Children’s Advocacy Center and Family Justice Center Joining Forces

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Hamilton County has formalized a partnership with Chattanooga’s Family Justice Center, News Channel 9 reports. In a letter of intent submitted to the city, the advocacy center says it will “co-locate and lease approximately 10,000 square feet at the Family Justice Center facility.” “We are incredibly excited to have a leading organization such as the Children’s Advocacy Center partner on this important initiative,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “Their commitment and willingness to collaborate will produce maximum impact in the community’s effort to address family violence.”

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Appeals Court Won’t Touch Gay Marriage Case Until After SCOTUS Ruling

A federal appeals court in Atlanta said Wednesday it will not move forward with Florida’s gay marriage case until after the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue nationally, probably in June. Same-sex marriages in Florida and the recognition of out-of-state marriages will continue until the court decides, Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida told the Miami Herald.

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Training Offered for Handling Domestic, Sexual Violence Cases

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence is offering a legal advocacy training in Memphis on Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Topics to be covered include the basics of civil and criminal law in domestic and sexual violence cases, the differing roles of advocates and attorneys and benefits for immigrant victims of domestic violence and sex crimes. Robin Kimbrough, legal counsel for the Coalition, will conduct the training, which will be held at The Urban Child Institute at 600 Jefferson Ave. Attendance is free but registration is required. Contact the Coalition at (615) 386-9406 for more information.

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Nonprofit's Role Unclear with New Chattanooga Family Justice Center

With the opening of the new Chattanooga Family Justice Center later this year, the role of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults is no longer clear, WDEF reports. Established 137 years ago, the Partnership is a non-profit group that deals with family violence, elder abuse and human trafficking. It already offers most of the same crisis one-stop services at its downtown location that the new Family Justice Center will offer. The city's goal with the new facility is to also offer those in crisis one-stop service, but the question arises: what role will Partnership will play?

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Appeals Court: No Stay for Alabama Gay Marriage Decision

The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today denied Alabama’s request to stay a lower court’s decision striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The state attorney general’s office had asked the court to stay a decision overturning its bans on gay marriage until the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case later this year. A stay placed on the decision by the district court expires Feb. 9. With the appeals court action, Alabama is on tap to become the 37th state where same-sex marriage is legal. The Alabama attorney general’s office said it will appeal the stay denial to the U.S. Supreme Court. ABAJournal.com has more.

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