News

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.
read more »

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.
read more »

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/.

read more »

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.”
read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.
read more »

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.
read more »

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.
read more »

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.”
read more »

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.
read more »

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.
read more »

Gorsuch Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice

Neil Gorsuch was sworn in today as the newest justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, NBC News reports. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who Gorsuch once clerked for, administered the judicial oath. In another ceremony, Gorsuch took an oath administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, with the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s family in attendance. 
read more »

Senate Republicans Kill Filibuster to Pave Way for Gorsuch

Senate Republicans deployed the “nuclear option” today, permanently changing rules to bypass a Democratic filibuster and clear the way for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority vote, the New York Times reports. Republicans needed 60 votes to confirm Gorsuch without changing the rules, but could only secure 55, leading to the rule change. Knoxnews confirms that Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker voted in support of the change.

read more »

Democrats Have Votes to Filibuster Gorsuch

Democrats in the U.S. Senate secured enough votes today to block U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, setting the stage for Republicans to enact the “nuclear option” and change the rules regarding the filibuster, the Washington Post reports. Four Democrats joined the effort to block Gorsuch today. That followed Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings, which Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) characterized as “excruciatingly evasive.” Republicans could confirm Gorsuch by voting to eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
read more »

Democrats Have Votes to Filibuster Gorsuch

Democrats in the U.S. Senate secured enough votes today to block U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, setting the stage for Republicans to enact the “nuclear option” and change the rules regarding the filibuster, the Washington Post reports. Four Democrats joined the effort to block Gorsuch today. That followed Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings, which Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) characterized as “excruciatingly evasive.” Republicans could confirm Gorsuch by voting to eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
read more »

Democrats Have Votes to Filibuster Gorsuch

Democrats in the U.S. Senate secured enough votes today to block U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, setting the stage for Republicans to enact the “nuclear option” and change the rules regarding the filibuster, the Washington Post reports. Four Democrats joined the effort to block Gorsuch today. That followed Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings, which Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) characterized as “excruciatingly evasive.” Republicans could confirm Gorsuch by voting to eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
read more »

CLE Outlines How to Change Your Practice to Meet Market Demands

The fourth and final CLE in the “Modern Law Practice Series” will explore emerging trends in the delivery of legal services and how focusing on consumer behavior could benefit your law firm. This session will examine the ways in which consumer-facing companies like Avvo and LegalZoom have capitalized on tailoring services to the needs of the modern legal client and how you can adjust your practice to meet those same demands. The program will be held April 13, and will be available in person and on-demand.

read more »

GOP Could Consider Alternative Strategies to Confirm Gorsuch

Other than taking the “nuclear option” — which would change the rules regarding filibusters — Senate Republicans have other options to confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the ABA Journal reports. One option is the “two-speech rule,” in which senators could only give two speeches in a legislative day, and if the Senate doesn’t adjourn for the night, one “legislative day” could go on for weeks. It would limit each Democrat to two speeches and after they are finished, only a simple majority vote would be needed for confirmation. The second option is a recess appointment, in which the president could put Gorsuch on the bench during a recess, but the appointment would only last until the next session of Congress, which would end in late 2018 or 2019.
read more »

GOP Could Consider Alternative Strategies to Confirm Gorsuch

Other than taking the “nuclear option” — which would change the rules regarding filibusters — Senate Republicans have other options to confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the ABA Journal reports. One option is the “two-speech rule,” in which senators could only give two speeches in a legislative day, and if the Senate doesn’t adjourn for the night, one “legislative day” could go on for weeks. It would limit each Democrat to two speeches and after they are finished, only a simple majority vote would be needed for confirmation. The second option is a recess appointment, in which the president could put Gorsuch on the bench during a recess, but the appointment would only last until the next session of Congress, which would end in late 2018 or 2019.
read more »

Slatery Adds Support to Gorsuch Nomination

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery added his support to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, Humphrey on the Hill reports. In a letter to the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Slatery wrote, “In short, Judge Gorsuch is a champion of the structural safeguards that protect state sovereignty and individual liberty, a committed textualist and originalist, and a brilliant jurist.”

read more »

SCOTUS Strikes Down Texas Death Penalty Mental Standards

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas state standards used to determine whether someone is mentally fit to receive the death penalty, the ABA Journal Reports. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the 5-3 majority decision, saying that “adjudications of intellectual disability should be informed by the views of medical experts,” while in the case in question, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals relied on seven evidentiary factors that did not cite “any authority, medical or judicial.” 
read more »

SCOTUS Strikes Down Texas Death Penalty Mental Standards

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas state standards used to determine whether someone is mentally fit to receive the death penalty, the ABA Journal Reports. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the 5-3 majority decision, saying that “adjudications of intellectual disability should be informed by the views of medical experts,” while in the case in question, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals relied on seven evidentiary factors that did not cite “any authority, medical or judicial.” 
read more »

Federal Courts Struggle as Vacancies Mount

Federal courts are resorting to creative methods to cope with vacancies on the bench, the Nashville Post reports. With Middle District Chief Federal Judge Kevin Sharp stepping down and Judge Todd Campbell’s retirement late last year, remaining court judges Aleta Trauger and Waverly Crenshaw are seeing their dockets pile up. Judges from Detroit and elsewhere are helping to pick up the slack until two new judges can be appointed in Tennessee by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
read more »

Trump Names Federal Claims Chief Judge

The Trump administration announced the appointment of Susan G. Braden as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims today. Braden has served on the court since 2003, when she was appointed by President George W. Bush. She has had a long career in intellectual property practice.
read more »