News

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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Reminder: 2 Events Taking Place Next Week

The Nashville Bar Association will host its annual member picnic Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Walk of Fame Park. The family-friendly event, co-sponsored by the Metro Law Department, will include a catered dinner and open bar. Members can attend for free. Nonmembers can buy tickets for $20 per person. CASA Monroe will benefit from the fourth annual Muscadine Balloon Fiesta next weekend at the Tsali Notch Vineyard, 140 Harrison Rd. in Madisonville. The event will feature balloon rides, live music, food, games and a Balloon Glow at dusk. 

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County Can’t Use Federal Grant to Compel Victims’ Testimony

The grant Washington County uses to prosecute domestic violence cases prohibits the district attorney’s office from forcing victims to participate in criminal proceedings, according to News Channel 11. The $216,000, three-year STOP Domestic Violence Against Women grant funds the district’s domestic violence prosecutor through June 2018. Channel 11 reporters had earlier found that more than a dozen victims were held in contempt of court after they failed to appear in court and testify. Domestic violence prevention advocate Lynn Armstrong says she is still in shock from learning about the contempt charges. “It is never OK to arrest victims for not showing up to court, because we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors,” she said.

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County Can’t Use Federal Grant to Compel Victims’ Testimony

The grant Washington County uses to prosecute domestic violence cases prohibits the district attorney’s office from forcing victims to participate in criminal proceedings, according to News Channel 11. The $216,000, three-year STOP Domestic Violence Against Women grant funds the district’s domestic violence prosecutor through June 2018. Channel 11 reporters had earlier found that more than a dozen victims were held in contempt of court after they failed to appear in court and testify. Domestic violence prevention advocate Lynn Armstrong says she is still in shock from learning about the contempt charges. “It is never OK to arrest victims for not showing up to court, because we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors,” she said.

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Nashville Funds Legal Aid’s Work Against Domestic Violence

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will receive $186,500 from the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County for the current fiscal year. The grant will fund services to survivors of domestic violence, including legal representation, attendance at order of protection hearings, and community education. Last year, the group used similar funding to provide legal assistance to 279 domestic violence victims, attend 136 court dockets where order of protection petitions and related motions were heard, and publish more than 1,150 educational materials and self-help guides for domestic violence victims. The group announced the partnership in a recent newsletter to supporters.

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Services Pending for Memphis Lawyer Caywood

Memphis lawyer David Caywood died Wednesday (Sept. 7) after suffering a stroke a few weeks earlier. He was 79. As a young lawyer at Burch, Porter & Johnson, Caywood was recruited by his father-in-law, Lucius Burch, to help represent sanitation strikers in Memphis during the height of the civil rights movement. Burch and Caywood met with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel the day before King was assassinated. Caywood went on to practice for 50 years mostly in the area of family law. He also represented former state senator John Ford and the wife of a FedEx pilot who was found beaten and burned while attempting to divorce her husband. The Commercial Appeal has more on his life. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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Opinions Differ on Jailing Domestic Violence Victims

Prosecutors and defense attorneys differ on the wisdom of jailing domestic violence victims who fail to appear in court. That question is being played out in the case of a Johnson City woman who could not get a ride to court to testify against her abusive spouse. She was jailed and said she was beaten there, the Johnson City Press reports.

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Read About Estates, Torts, Family Law … and Dodge Ball?

Murfreesboro lawyer Josh McCreary examines last wills and testaments, writing that "in the wake of the 2015 Court of Appeals opinion in In Re: Estate of Morris, the Tennessee legislature has stepped in and amended Tenn. Code Ann. §32-1-104 to lessen the formalities of Wills executed before July 1, 2016." Read in the September Tennessee Bar Journal what this will mean for estate practice. Columnist John Day writes about the two times in the past five years that the statute of limitations applicable to personal injury claims filed on behalf of persons with mental impairments has been changed. Columnists Marlene Eskind Moses and Manuel Benjamin Russ look into finding and defining income available for child support and alimony, and humor columnist Bill Haltom writes about his dubious experiences with junior high sports, particularly Dodge Ball.

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House Approves Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors

The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously Tuesday for legislation outlining a federal bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault. The legislation would ensure that survivors in federal criminal cases have a right to a sexual assault evidence collection kit, to be told of the results and to be notified in writing before the kit is destroyed. Lawmakers said they are troubled by the number of untested rape kits that remain in the country, despite efforts to reduce a national backlog. The bill now heads to the Senate, where similar legislation was approved this spring. WRCB-TV has the Associated Press story.

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ETSU, Family Justice Center Host Rape Education Event

East Tennessee State University and the Johnson City Family Justice Center are hosting a rape education and prevention conference Sept. 15 at the Millennium Center. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. with the program following from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The conference is designed to eliminate misconceptions about rape and foster better care for victims and survivors. Representatives from the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, First Judicial District Attorney General’s office and the Johnson City Police will educate attendees on prevention, response, advocacy and treatment for assault victims. The Erwin Record has details.

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Tennessee CASA to Recognize Attorney, State Rep.

The 2016 Tennessee CASA Annual Meeting will be held Sept. 20 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Nashville Public Library Downtown Branch. The Light of Hope Award will be given to Commissioner Bonnie Hommrick of the state Department of Children’s Services, the Champion for Children Award will be given to Nashville attorney Meagan Frazier with Smith Harris Carr, and the President’s Award will be presented to State Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin. For more information and to register before the Sept. 13 deadline, visit CASA’s event page.

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Court Solicits Comments on 2017 Rules Package

The Tennessee Supreme Court today published the annual package of recommendations from the Advisory Commission on Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Proposals include changing the place for filing a notice of appeal to the appellate clerk’s office, requiring payment of fees and taxes to the appellate court clerk at the time of initiation of an appeal, and changes to the Juvenile, Criminal and Evidence rules. Six TBA sections – Appellate Practice, Litigation, Tort and Insurance Law, Criminal Justice, Family Law and Juvenile and Children’s Law – will be asked to review the recommendations and propose comments on behalf of the association. Comments on the proposals are due Nov. 23.

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New Family Law CLE Videos Online

If you missed the TBA Family Law Section's annual family law forum, the sessions are now available online. Speakers focused on legislative updates, criminal implications in divorce and using digital evidence to win your case.

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Court Issues Order Amending Rule 40A

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order amending Rule 40A of the Rules of the Supreme Court to remove “contested private guardianship cases” from the definition of “custody proceeding.” The court said that including guardianship cases in the definition is an apparent conflict with Rule 40A(6)(b) and Tennessee code section 34-1-107(d)(1). The court solicited comments on this proposed change between May 16 and July 15 but reports that it did not receive any comments.

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Judge Celebrates 1st Graduate of Trafficking Court

Davidson County’s sex and human trafficking court celebrated its first graduate this week, the Tennessean reports. For years, the woman was trafficked, sold to others for sex by her husband. She used drugs, leading to an addiction, and was stabbed several times during an attack. Instead of languishing in jail, she became one of the first participants in the Cherished H.E.A.R.T.S. intervention court, which provides resources and treatment to women who are arrested for crimes such as prostitution or drug offenses. A dozen women currently are participating in the program, which is overseen by Judge Casey Moreland.

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New Fee Could Fund Advocacy Centers

Two organizations helping victims of abuse may get additional financial assistance through a new fee assessed by the courts, the Tullahoma News reports. A Coffee County committee recently approved a $45 victims’ assistance fee to benefit the local Children’s Advocacy Center and Haven of Hope. The proposed fee would be collected from individuals convicted of or entering a plea of guilty to a crime that imposes a fine of over $500 and possible imprisonment. The county would keep $3 while the rest would be split between the groups. The full commission will vote on the issue in September.

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Celebration of Life Set for Johnson City Lawyer

The family and friends of Johnson City attorney Janie Lindamood will honor her memory on Sept. 11 at 4 p.m. at the Barn at Boone Falls, 1770 Old Gray Station Rd., the Washington County Bar Association announced today. Visitors are asked to use the entrance at 110 Kim Dr. The celebration will be casual and include live entertainment, food and beverages. Lindamood died Aug. 13 at the age of 65. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Coalition for Kids in Johnson City, which is part of the GoFund Me account set up in her name.

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