News

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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Wedding CLE Looks at Everything from Prenups to Blended Families

Last chance to register! On March 29, experience a special wedding CLE at one of Nashville's premier wedding venues, the Cordelle. Sessions will touch on a variety of nuptial-related considerations, such as what to do pre-wedding, how to handle blended families, and the ins and outs of tax planning. Brunch will be included, with all the cake, mimosas and darling wedding mints you could want.

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Supreme Court Clarifies Parental Relocation Statute

The Tennessee Supreme Court has clarified a law on divorced parents relocating with their children and held that Tennessee’s Parental Relocation Statute’s legislative intent was to make parental relocation with children clear cut. This statute applies to parents with a court-ordered parenting plan. In the case, Cassidy Lynne Aragon v. Reynaldo Manuel Aragon, the court held unanimously that the parent spending the majority of time with the child would be allowed to relocate with that child unless the opposing parent met a high standard of proof on one of three grounds: (1) that the proposed move would pose a threat of serious harm to the child; (2) that the relocating parent’s motive was vindictive; or (3) that the move did not have a reasonable purpose. The decision reversed Court of Appeals and trial court decisions.

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Wedding CLE at the Cordelle

Experience a special wedding CLE at one of Nashville's premier wedding venues, The Cordelle. The faculty will lift the veil on a variety of nuptial-related considerations, such as what to do pre-wedding, how to handle blended families, and the ins and outs of tax planning. Brunch will be included, with all the cake, mimosas and darling wedding mints you could want. Learn more and register here.

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New Alimony Bench Book Available

The 15th Edition Alimony Bench Book is now available. TBA Family Law Section members can download the book free from the section's resource page after logging in. Others can purchase a loose-leaf printed version of this publication for $40 per book ($50 in a 3-ring binder) from the online TBA Bookstore or by contacting the TBA at (615) 383-7421. The book, which includes published and unpublished cases from Aug. 8, 2003, through Dec. 31, 2016, is compiled by the section's Alimony Committee under direction of its chair, Amy Amundsen.

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Join Us at The Cordelle for the TBA Wedding CLE

Join us on March 29 for the TBA's Wedding CLE at one of Nashville's premier wedding venues, The Cordelle, with all the cake, mimosas and darling wedding mints you could want. Sessions will touch on a variety of nuptial-related considerations, such as what to do pre-wedding, tax planning, marital assests, adoption and more. Don't forget about those "tortes" and contracts for venues, photographers and entertainment that keep the guests happy! 
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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
 
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
 
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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AOC Seeks Attorneys for Child Support Contempt Services in Nashville

The Administrative Office of the Courts often contracts attorneys to represent individuals unable to afford legal representation in cases in which a client is facing contempt of court charges for failure to pay court-ordered child support. The AOC is seeking attorneys who are interested in contracting with the AOC to streamline performance of this service in Davidson County Juvenile Court. The contract would be for March 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018.

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Judge Has Personal Connection in Fight Against Opioid Crisis

A Tennessean profile of Dandridge judge Duane Sloane highlights how the circuit judge came to fight for recovery over harsh sentences for addicts. His methods have been deemed controversial by some, especially ones aimed at pregnant mothers with addiction, but he cites his family’s adoption of a baby born with withdrawal symptoms as his motivation to fight for solutions to the crisis.
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Legal Battle Over Senator's Estate Continues

The legal dispute between the late U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson’s wife and his two adult sons from another marriage will continue, the Tennessean reports based on court documents filed last week. Thompson’s sons, Tony and Dan Thompson, filed suit against Thompson’s wife, Jeri Thompson, in August, accusing her of forcing him to make changes to his estate plan. New court documents show a fight over what information Jeri Thompson must turn over as the case moves forward. 
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‘State of Juvenile Court’ Focuses on Family Trauma

At the second annual State of the Juvenile Court Address today, Shelby County Judge Dan Michael said the court is making significant progress on reforms mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice. He also called on the community to help break the cycle of trauma that lands young people in state custody. “I’m a juvenile court judge. I’m not the parent of these children. If I have a good parent or parents, I rarely see their children in court,” he said. WMC News 5 has the story.

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TBJ Covers Immigration, Child Sexual Abuse, Family Law, Humor

Companies’ hiring of employees using work visas is a tedious business, but Nashville lawyer Dan E. White details it in the January Tennessee Bar Journal. Since the printing of the issue, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) increased filing fees by an average of 21 percent. Read the article online, which now includes the specifics on the updated fees. Also in this issue, John Day writes about child sexual abuse victims, and Marlene Eskind Moses and Benjamin Russ explain the doctrine of “inconvenient forum.” Bill Haltom looks at the flip side of “absence of malice.” Read the January TBJ.

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Help Needed Tomorrow for Memphis Veterans’ Clinic

A free legal clinic for veterans will be held Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Memphis Veterans Center, 1407 Union Ave., 11th floor. Volunteers are still needed, especially in the practice areas of criminal defense, family law and employment law. The clinic is co-sponsored by the Memphis Bar Association and Memphis Area Legal Services and takes place the second Tuesday of the month to assist veterans with legal advice. For more information and to volunteer, contact Jake Dickerson, 901-577-8236.

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Wrong Address Given for Law Firm

A story in yesterday’s issue of TBA Today contained an incorrect suite number for the new Cordell & Cordell law office opening in Chattanooga. The firm issued a corrected press release today, noting that its address will be 200 W. Martin Luther King Blvd., Suite 1000, Chattanooga, TN 37402.

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New Law Requires Mandatory Minimum Sentences

A new Tennessee state law means people who are convicted of three or more domestic violence crimes will be charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor, and those found guilty of a third felony burglary or drug charge will face a mandatory minimum sentence. The law also sets the mandatory minimum period of time to be served to at least 85 percent of time sentenced. With the state prison system at 90 percent capacity, the law may pose challenges for some facilities. News Channel 9 looks at several, however, that claim they will not be affected.

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643 Children Identified as Severe Abuse Victims

A Tennessee committee charged with investigating and issuing recommendations on severe child abuse in the state says 643 children were victims of a second or subsequent incident of severe abuse during the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The Second Look Commission found that sexual abuse is the most prevalent type of abuse and that the “lack of consequences for failing to report child abuse continues to be an issue.” The report is based on data provided by the Department of Children’s Services. Fox 17 has more on the findings.

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Divorce Firm Opens Chattanooga Office

Cordell & Cordell, a domestic litigation firm focusing on representing men in family law cases, has opened a Chattanooga office. The law firm has more than 200 attorneys working in more than 100 offices across the United States and the United Kingdom. The new office will be located at 200 W. Martin Luther King Blvd., Suite 1000, Chattanooga, TN 37402. Associate attorney Rachel Hodges will head the office. Read more in this release from the firm.

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ABA Releases Guide to Issues in Assisted Reproduction

The American Bar Association (ABA) has released a guide to the legal and medical issues related to assisted reproduction. “The ABA Consumer Guide to Assisted Reproduction” is designed to educate consumers about the processes involved in choosing medical providers, legal representatives and other key players throughout the assisted reproduction process. The book provides a critical understanding of the protocols to enter into appropriate legal contracts while addressing the unique issues that may arise pre-and post-birth.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Child Advocacy Center Receives $11,000 Donation

The Exchange Club Foundation has donated $11,000 to the Third Judicial District Child Advocacy Center, the Greeneville Sun reports. The center, located in Mosheim, serves victims of child abuse in Greene, Hamblen, Hawkins and Hancock counties. The center is the largest single beneficiary of the foundation, which has made prevention of child abuse its top national priority.

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Wrongful Arrest Prompts Calls for Investigation

For more than eight weeks last fall, Rachel Heffner was prohibited from returning home because she had been designated an “aggressor” and “defendant” in a domestic violence case. In fact, she was not the aggressor but the victim. But that was not acknowledged by prosecutors or the police until criminal charges against her were dismissed when her older son failed to appear in court. Now, police confirm charges against the teenager are pending. According to the Tennessean, Heffner’s lawyer is raising a host of issues such as why the two children were not separated before being interviewed by police and why they were allowed to remain home alone after their mother’s arrest. He also has asked the department to conduct a review as to why Heffner’s side of the story was never investigated.

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