News

Sessions Says He’s Staying, Despite Trump Criticism

After being criticized by President Donald Trump in a New York Times interview, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he’s staying at the Justice Department, Reuters reports. "We love this job, we love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate," Sessions said. Trump said that Sessions should have never recused himself from the investigation into the administration’s ties to Russia, and that if he had known Sessions would recuse himself prior to choosing him to lead the DOJ, he would have picked someone else.
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How to Sue the Government

The Federal Practice section's annual CLE will be held July 27 in Nashville. This year's program will focus on best practices when you find yourself suing the federal, state or local government. Find out more and register here.
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Trump Taps Sen. Norris, 3 Others to Federal Bench

President Donald Trump today nominated state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, Thomas L. Parker, William L. Campbell Jr. and Eli J. Richardson to serve as federal judges, The Tennessean reports. Norris and Parker were picked to serve as judges on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Trump nominated Campbell and Richardson to serve in the Middle District. Nominees must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before they can take their seats on the bench.
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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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Former Federal Prosecutor to Open Firm’s New Chicago Office

Former Nashville attorney and Chicago U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon will open a new office in Chicago for the firm King and Spalding, Crain’s Chicago Business reports. Fardon was a public defender and an assistant federal prosecutor in Nashville before serving as U.S. Attorney in Chicago, where he prosecuted gang crime and brought charges against former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Fardon is a 1992 graduate of Vanderbilt Law School.
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Man Sentenced in Mortgage Fraud Wants Conviction Tossed

A businessman sentenced in 2014 for a mortgage fraud scheme wants his conviction tossed out and a new trial, the Times Free Press reports. Attorney Michael Richardson argued in Chattanooga’s U.S. District Court that Joshua Dobson did not make an informed decision when he exercised his constitutional rights and took his case to trial in 2013. Richardson further explained that Dobson’s former attorney allowed his client to turn down a plea deal without properly explaining the amount of time Dobson faced in prison. Federal prosecutors, however, noted that the government never formally offered a deal to Dobson.
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18 States File Suit Against Betsy DeVos Over Student Loan Protections

Attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia today sued the U.S. Department of Education and its secretary, Betsy DeVos, over the decision to freeze rules for erasing debt from student borrowers who were cheated by colleges that acted fraudulently, The New York Times reports. The rules were put into place in October after years of negotiation and were scheduled to take effect on July 1, but DeVos paused the rollout, citing a lawsuit filed by for-profit colleges that seeks to block the rules entirely. The states’ suit claims that the excuse given by the department is “mere pretext” for repealing the rules. Also today, two student borrowers sued the department in the same federal court over the delayed rules.
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Study Finds ‘Astonishing’ Drop in Win Rates for Federal Plaintiffs

Success rates for plaintiffs in adjudicated federal cases declined from 70 percent in 1985 to 33 percent in 2009, according to a study by two University of Connecticut law professors, the ABA Journal reports. The professors say they can’t point to a single reason for the “astonishing” drop. “What our results show is that there’s a need to study the court system to understand what happens in the aggregate,” Lahav said. “There are systemic things going on.”
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Trump Nominates Belmont Law Professor for U.S. Attorney

Belmont University law professor Donald Cochran has been nominated by President Donald Trump to become the next U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, The Tennessean reports. The appointment is pending U.S. Senate confirmation. Before joining the faculty at Belmont, Cochran worked as a federal prosecutor in Alabama, during which he successfully aided in the high-profile prosecution of Ku Klux Klan members that orchestrated the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. 
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Trump Appoints Dunavant U.S. Attorney for Western Tennessee

President Donald Trump has nominated Michael Dunavant to serve as U.S. attorney for Western Tennessee, The Commercial Appeal reports. If confirmed Dunavant would replace Lawrence J. Laurenzi, who has served as U.S. attorney after Edward Stanton III resigned in February. Dunavant was among eight Trump appointed to U.S. attorney posts across the country on Monday.
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Trump Names 11 Judicial Nominees

President Donald Trump announced 11 new judicial nominees this week, including one from his U.S. Supreme Court short list, the ABA Journal reports. Trump pulled Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid’s name from his SCOTUS list to nominate her for a seat on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which was vacated by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Also nominated to appellate seats on the bench are University of Pennsylvania law professor Sephanos Bibas to the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit and U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson, nominated to the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit.
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Attorney General Ends Practice of Donating Settlement Money to Third Parties

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo on Tuesday telling Department of Justice lawyers to stop directing settlement funds to nongovernmental organizations unaffiliated with the cases, the ABA Journal reports. The practice, popularized during the Obama administration, was especially common in settlements with mortgage lenders accused of wrongdoing during the financial crisis of 2008. That money was often directed to community groups, including legal aid organizations. The new policy forbids these settlements unless the funds go directly to remedy direct harm from the wrongdoing; all other funds will go to the U.S. Treasury. 
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Sessions Praises Law Enforcement, Promises to Address Violent Crime in Memphis

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Memphis today and addressed a crowd of law enforcement officials at the U.S. District courthouse, The Commercial Appeal reports. He spoke about families living “every day as hostages in their own homes” in violent neighborhoods and promised to reverse the recent trend of reduced federal gun and drug prosecutions. Congressman David Kustoff welcomed him, and joined Sessions in praising the law enforcement of West Tennessee.

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Bipartisan Effort to Name Courthouse for Fred Thompson Succeeds

Congress today passed a bill to name a new federal courthouse in Nashville after the late Sen. Fred Thompson, The Tennessean reports. The Senate voted to formally name the $194 million building the Fred D. Thompson Federal Building and United States Courthouse. All 11 members of the Tennessee delegation in the House and Senate support the measure. The bill now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature.
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Sessions to Visit Memphis Tomorrow

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will pay a visit to Memphis tomorrow to speak with law enforcement, Action News 5 reports. He will talk to federal, state and local law enforcement about efforts to combat violent crime in the city. Sessions has cited Memphis in the past when discussing cities with rising opioid addiction and violent crime rates, alongside Chicago and Baltimore.
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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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Attorney’s Posts Under Fictitious Name Raise Questions on 6th Circuit Nomination

A nominee for the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and prominent Kentucky attorney admitted to authoring more than 400 blog posts under a pseudonym, the ABA Journal reports. Many posts authored by John K. Bush cover his personal thoughts on topics that are still under or subject to litigation, such as the Affordable Care Act and the public financing of political campaigns. The Alliance for Justice calls the nature of the posts “inflammatory and, often, offensive.”
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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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Activist Convicted for Laughing During Sessions Hearing

An activist was convicted today and could face jail time for laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing, NBC News reports. Desiree Fairooz was arrested on Jan. 10 for causing a disruption to the hearing when Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” Fairooz allegedly let out a laugh at that moment. She faces a maximum of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
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Gorsuch Forgoes SCOTUS Law Clerk Pool

One month into his service on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch has decided not to join the labor pool in which justices share their law clerks, the New York Times reports. The only other member of the court who is not part of the arrangement is Justice Samuel Alito. The pool is designed to streamline decisions about which cases to hear, but has been criticized for giving too much power to law clerks and for contributing to the court’s shrinking docket.
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Justice Department Has No U.S. Attorneys in Place

Though U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has prioritized aggressive law enforcement, there is not a single U.S. attorney in place across the country one month after Sessions dismissed the remaining Obama-era U.S. attorneys, the Washington Post reports. The Justice Department also lacks many heads of top units, including civil rights, criminal and national security divisions. Filling the vacancies has been complicated by the absence of a deputy attorney general as well. Rod J. Rosenstein has been nominated but not yet confirmed for the role.
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Federal Judge Resigned from Lifetime Post to Pursue Civil Rights Cases

Former U.S. District judge Kevin Sharp of Nashville resigned his post in January to return to private practice and take on civil rights cases, the Tennessean reports. Sharp held a lifetime appointment on the bench, but had issues with certain parts of the system during his six-year tenure, such as mandatory minimum sentences. “As a lawyer I can be more proactive, I can say things I want to say,” said Sharp. “I can advocate for positions that I want to advocate for.”
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Tennessee AG Joins States Supporting Trump Travel Ban

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed an amicus brief with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of President Donald Trump’s updated travel ban, the Tennessean reports. That adds Slatery to a list of officials in 15 states who believe the decision from the U.S. District Court in Hawaii should be reversed. That decision halted the president’s second version of the travel ban.
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