News

Roundtable Discussion on Supreme Court Nominee at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos will host a roundtable discussion exploring the U.S. Supreme Court’s current vacancy and the controversy surrounding the nomination of a new justice. The roundtable will include Andrew Napolitano, Fox News senior judicial correspondent and author; Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst and New Yorker staff writer; and Audrey Anderson, Vanderbilt University general counsel. The one-hour discussion is planned for May 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Vanderbilt’s Langford Auditorium. A reception will precede the talk at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby. 

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Republicans Again Delay Stanton Judicial Confirmation

Republicans in Congress today blocked a confirmation vote on nearly a dozen judicial nominees, including U.S. District Court nominee Edward Stanton III. The Memphis attorney was nominated by President Obama nearly a year ago and was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last October. The Senate voted two weeks ago to confirm Nashville attorney Waverly Crenshaw Jr. to a U.S. District Court judgeship in Middle Tennessee. The Commercial Appeal reports more than three dozen seats on federal appellate and district courts are also vacant awaiting confirmations.

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Op-ed: 'No Sane Judge' Would Pass Sanders' Test

Democratic Presidential contender Bernie Sanders last week said he would demand a public commitment that any U.S. Supreme Court nominee would vote to overturn a precedent Sanders did not like. An opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times criticizes Sanders’ approach: "(It) is not just politically stupid; it undermines the independence of the judiciary.” The author adds, “No lawyer in his or her right mind would make such a commitment to a president or to the Senate.”

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Changes to Nashville Courthouse Plan Drop Price Tag

The Nashville Business Journal reports on recent changes to the plan for Nashville’s new federal courthouse, which would now be one story shorter and carry a price tag 8 percent lower. The project is now slated for $167.4 million. It is still unclear when construction will begin or when the government will request bids from architects, contractors and others for the project. Funding for the courthouse cleared its final hurdle in March; Congress must now vote to formally authorize federal agencies to spend that money.

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Senate Approves Crenshaw as U.S. District Judge

The U.S. Senate today confirmed Waverly Crenshaw to be a U.S. district judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, according to a post from Knoxville News Sentinel Washington reporter Michael Collins. The position has been vacant since December 2014. Nashville attorney Crenshaw was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2015 and unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee eight months ago. The Associated Press reports 27 of Obama's nominees to district courts and five to the appeals court remain in limbo. Edward Stanton III of Memphis is among nominees awaiting Senate approval; Stanton was nominated by Obama in May 2015 to serve as U.S. district judge for the Western District of Tennessee.

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U.S. Circuit Judge Ted Milburn Dies

U.S. Circuit Judge H. Ted Milburn of Signal Mountain died on April 1. After graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1959, Milburn practiced law in Chattanooga and became a partner at Bishop, Thomas, Leitner, Mann and Milburn. He was appointed by Gov. Winfield Dunn to be a judge in Tennessee Circuit Court, Division III, Hamilton County in 1973 and won re-election to the position for two more terms. Milburn was later appointed in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan as the U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee sitting in Chattanooga; the next year, Reagan appointed him to a newly created seat as a U.S. Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He served on the court until 1996 when he took Senior Status. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers can be sent to Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvior Ave, Chattanooga, TN, 37411. Condolences may be posted online or shared with the family via e-mail

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Report Says Crenshaw Vote Will Come Monday

The U.S. Senate today reached an agreement to vote on confirmation of Waverly Crenshaw as a U.S. District Court judge in Tennessee's Middle District, according to a post from Knoxville News Sentinel Washington reporter Michael Collins. Crenshaw was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2015 and was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee eight months ago. 

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Portrait Unveiling for Judge Donald Set for April 22

A portrait unveiling ceremony for the Hon. Bernice Bouie Donald, judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, is planned for April 22 at 2 p.m., in the Clifford Davis-Odell Horton Federal Building, 167 N. Main St., in Memphis. A reception will follow the event, according to the Memphis Bar Association. RSVP by Friday via e-mail or by calling 901-495-1239.

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Register Today for the 135th Annual TBA Convention

Join us on June 15-18 in Nashville for the 135th Annual Convention! Registration for the 2016 TBA Convention includes:

  • free access to all TBA CLE programming;
  • the Opening Reception;
  • the Bench Bar Programming and Luncheon;
  • Law School and general breakfasts;
  • the Lawyers Luncheon;
  • the Thursday evening Joint (TBA/TLAW/TABL) Reception;
  • the Thursday night dinner and entertainment at the George Jones Museum;
  • and the Friday night Dance Party.

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Texas Republican Blocks Crenshaw's Confirmation

Two Democratic senators from Maryland last week tried to get the U.S. Senate to confirm Waverly Crenshaw as a U.S. District Court judge in Tennessee's Middle District. Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn rejected the bid. Crenshaw was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2015 and was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee eight months ago. Read more from The Tennessean.

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House Thanks U.S. Senators for Opposing Action on SCOTUS Nominee

The state House last week passed a resolution thanking Tennessee’s U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker for stating they will not vote for anyone nominated by President Barack Obama as a U.S. Supreme Court nominee. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville criticized the measure (HR178) as "engaging in these partisan games." Read more from The Knoxville News Sentinel.

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Book of Ginsburg's Writings Coming in 2017

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will release a collection of speeches and writings in January 2017, the Associated Press reports. The book, “My Own Words,” will also include introductions and interview excerpts from Ginsburg’s authorized biographers.

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Obama Says Nominee Should Come Quickly

"I think it's important for me to nominate a Supreme Court nominee quickly because I think it's important for the Supreme Court to have its full complement of justices," President Barack Obama said today at a White House news conference. He added that he does not feel “constrained to a pool to draw from” following Senate Republicans’ plan to block the president’s nomination. The Associated Press shares a list of potential nominees.

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Lawyers to Obama: Fill Supreme Court Vacancy

Nearly 250 corporate lawyers sent a letter today to President Barack Obama and U.S. Senators urging the president to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. “…Nearly one third of all presidents have nominated a justice in an election year who was eventually confirmed,” the letter said. Read more from the ABA Journal.

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Appeals Court: Overturning Convictions in Sex-Trafficking Case Correct

In an opinion released today, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said U.S. District Judge William Haynes acted correctly in 2012 when overturning the convictions of three men accused of being in a Somali gang and running a prostitution ring. The appeals court also said the case was based on a false story and "a person who had been diagnosed as insane," according to The Tennessean. The ruling could impact around 20 other cases.

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Funding for Nashville Courthouse Clears Final Hurdle

The new Nashville federal courthouse, a $182 million project, cleared its final hurdle today after passing through the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The announcement comes from the office of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee, who said the city has needed a new courthouse for more than 20 years for safety reasons. WKRN reports it is unclear when work will begin on the project. 

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Republican Nevada Governor Emerges as Possible Next Justice

The Washington Post reports President Barack Obama is considering Brian Sandoval, the centrist Republican governor of Nevada, as his pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on the nation’s High Court. The review process is in its initial phases and White House press secretary Josh Earnest has not commented on the consideration of Sandoval, a former federal judge.

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The Unlikely Friendship of Ginsburg and Scalia

“We were best buddies,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a tribute to her longtime friend, Justice Antonin Scalia. The two shared more than opposite political leanings; they shared international trips, family holidays and a mutual respect for one another, Vox explains. “…When I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation,” she wrote.

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No Home for Justice Scalia's Papers

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia did not specify a home for his official papers before his death, according to the National Law Journal (sub. req.). Preservation of such documents is not governed by any law, and Scalia’s family and Library of Congress have not commented on the fate of the files. Scalia’s papers could include writings on landmark cases from Bush v. Gore in 2000 to decisions that upheld the Affordable Care Act.

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Killian Joins Polsinelli’s Chattanooga Office

William C. Killian, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, joined Polsinelli’s Chattanooga office as a shareholder. He will work within the national Government Investigations and Compliance-Civil and Criminal Practice. “Joining the firm allows me to have a platform to focus on critical health care and fraud issues, and I look forward to working with Polsinelli’s highly recognized team of attorneys,” Killian said. Read more from The Chattanoogan

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McDonough Confirmed by Senate as U.S. District Judge

Travis Randall McDonough was confirmed 89-0 today by the U.S. Senate as U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee. McDonough was nominated to fill the vacancy created by Judge Curtis Collier, who took senior status on Oct. 31, 2014. He previously served as counselor and chief of staff for Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. Two other Tennessee District Court nominees – Edward Stanton III and Waverly Crenshaw Jr. – have won Judiciary Committee approval for the West and Middle Districts, respectively, but are still awaiting a Senate vote.

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Eastern District of Tennessee Collects $42.7M in 2015

The Eastern District of Tennessee collected about $42 million in criminal and civil actions in 2015, according to an announcement today by U.S. Attorney William C. Killian. The Johnson City Press reports the biggest chunk of that -- $38.4 million -- came as part of the massive civil settlement by Pilot Flying J for the company’s role in a complex rebate fraud scheme.

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9 Sworn In at TBA Supreme Court Admission Ceremony

Nine Tennessee attorneys were admitted to practice today before the U.S. Supreme Court at the 32nd Annual TBA Academy and Admission Ceremony in Washington, D.C. TBA President Bill Harbison led the activities leading up to admission of: Rebecca Wells Demaree of Cornelius & Collins in Nashville; Calvin Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley; incoming TBA president Jason H. Long of Lowe, Yeager and Brown in Knoxville; Shane Kelvin McNeill of Tellus Law in Thompson’s Station; C. Creed McGinley of Savannah; Charles McIver Molder of Mounger and Molder in Columbia; J. Britt Phillips of Sutter O’Connell in Franklin; Steven Wilson of The Steve Wilson Firm in Memphis; and Rachel Lea Zamata of Nashville. See more photos.

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Proposed Nashville Courthouse in Jeopardy

Tennessee’s congressional delegation is pleading with House leaders to fund the proposed $182 million Nashville courthouse, even as gridlock over budget negotiations threatens to delay the project for at least another year. “Conditions have been deteriorating in federal courthouses for decades. Nowhere is this more apparent than Nashville, where we've reached a critical situation," the members argue in a letter to leaders, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Although the courthouse proposal has cleared major funding hurdles this year, if a budget agreement is not reached by Dec. 11, the project will be in jeopardy.

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Study says Roberts Favors Justices When Assigning Major Decisions

A new study says U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. plays favorites when assigning the court’s most important decisions. “Not surprisingly, Roberts calls his own number more than anyone else’s and assigns the second-highest number to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the pivotal justice on the ideologically divided court,” The Washington Post writes about the new study published in the Harvard Law Review. The article also says Roberts pays "little regard to seniority" in assigning major decisions. 

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