News

NBA Looks at Revisions to E-Discovery Standard

The Federal Court Committee of the Nashville Bar Association is in the early stages of preparing proposed revisions to the Middle District of Tennessee’s Administrative Order No. 174, the district’s default standard for e-discovery. Riley Warnock & Jacobson lawyer Russell Taber is collecting comments and recommendations for proposed changes to the order through Aug. 15. Taber reports that after the deadline passes, the committee will circulate a draft of proposed revisions, seek input on the draft and plan a meeting to discuss suggested revisions. It will then present a proposal to the court. Email comments and suggestions to Taber at rtaber@rwjplc.com.

read more »

Bone McAllester Launches New Practice, Adds Former U.S. Attorney

The Nashville law firm of Bone McAllester Norton has launched a criminal defense and government investigations practice, and has hired former U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough and current Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Little in the Middle District of Tennessee for the group. They both will start Aug. 1. Current Bone McAllester employee James Mackler, a former senior trial counsel in the Judge Advocate General Corps., also will join the practice group. Yarborough left the Middle Tennessee prosecutor’s office in 2010 and has been working at the Nashville law firm of Walker Tipps & Malone. Read more on the firm’s website and on Nashville Post.com.

read more »

Portrait Unveiling and Reception for Judge Phillips

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee will hold a portrait unveiling and reception in honor of Judge Thomas W. Phillips on July 11, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The event will take place in the courtyard of the Howard H. Baker Jr. U.S. Courthouse, 800 Market Street, Knoxville. Phillips is retiring effective Aug. 1. Knoxville lawyer Pamela Reeves has been nominated by President Obama to replace him.

read more »

Court Saves Gay Marriage Cases for Last

The U.S. Supreme Court has saved two of its most controversial opinions for what is expected to be the last day of this term. The court is expected to issue rulings on the California gay marriage ban and the federal Defense of Marriage Act tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. SCOTUSblog will begin live blogging from the court at 9 a.m.

read more »

New Rules Clarify Protests at Supreme Court

Following Judge Beryl Howell’s ruling last week tossing out as unconstitutional the previous anti-demonstration rules at the U.S. Supreme Court, court officials clarified and revised regulations to the 60-year old law. "The term demonstration includes demonstrations, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers," says the revised Regulation 7, which was effective last Thursday. "The term does not include casual use by visitors or tourists that is not reasonably likely to attract a crowd or onlookers." WCYB has the story.

read more »

A Round-Up of the Supreme Court Opinions

Although the Supreme Court did not issue opinions on hot button topics such as same sex marriage, affirmative action or Voting Rights Act cases, SCOTUSblog reports that the court did issue rulings in three other argued cases. The decision in Descamps v. United States will make it more difficult for the federal government to use the details of a prior conviction to strengthen criminal sentences. In American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, the court ruled that retailers would need to work through arbitration individually, rather than through class action, to resolve claims with American Express. In the final opinion of the day, Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society, the court held that the government could not require aid organizations to explicitly oppose prostitution and sex trafficking to receive federal funding for HIV/AIDS programs overseas.

read more »

Court Grants 4 Cases for Next Term

The court today also agreed to decide four cases in its next term, SCOTUSBlog reports. These cases involve questions of whether federal housing law requires proof of intentional discrimination; the legality of a $1.24 million defamation judgment against a Wisconsin airline that reported a pilot was potentially dangerous; an attorneys fees issue in a district court case; and whether a bankruptcy trustee may surcharge a debtor’s constitutionally protected homestead property. Bloomberg and the AP have stories on these issues.

read more »

Cohen Recommends 3 for Federal Judge

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., has reportedly recommended three Memphis lawyers to succeed U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla, who is taking senior status. The Memphis Flyer reports that Cohen suggested President Obama consider Sheri Lipman, counsel for the University of Memphis; Steve Mulroy, professor of law at the university and member of the Shelby County Commission; and Irma Merrill Stratton, a lawyer in private practice. The paper reports all three have successfully undergone interviews by a screening committee and vetting by the FBI.

read more »

Nashville Developers Coveting Courthouse Site

Some Nashville business leaders are getting impatient with progress on a new federal courthouse and would like to see private development of the land already purchased by the government. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, who has been pushing for a new federal courthouse on the property since he came to Congress in 2002, says he is “very confident” construction will begin within three years, the Nashville Business Journal reports (subscription required). However, recent reports from the Government Accountability Office cast doubts on the $173 million project, suggesting that Nashville doesn’t have a shortage of courtrooms necessitating a new courthouse. While developers drool over the downtown block, Cooper dismisses a possible sale. “Why would we do that? We’ve got $26 [million] to $30 million in it,” Cooper said. “My job is to protect the taxpayer.”

read more »

Obama Nominates 3 to D.C. Court of Appeals

President Barack Obama today nominated three judges to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and challenged opponents to stop the "political obstruction" holding up his nominees. The three named today are Patricia Millett, head of the Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and former member of the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office; Cornelia "Nina" Pillard, an experienced Supreme Court litigator who has worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office and Georgetown University; and U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins, a former public defender in Washington D.C. who helped establish the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and spent nine years in private practice. Read more about the nominees in the White House announcement.

read more »

Western District Proposes Local Rules Revision

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee has revised the local court rules and local patent rules. This revision has been drafted for adoption by the court. The proposed changes are available for review and public comment for a 30-day period beginning June 1. View the rule amendments here

read more »

Reeves to be Nominated for Federal District Court

President Barack Obama today announced his intention to nominate Knoxville attorney and former TBA President Pamela Reeves for the federal district court seat currently held by U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips, who plans to retire July 3. Reeves practices with Reeves, Herbert & Murrian PA focusing on commercial litigation, labor and employment law and dispute resolution. She is known statewide for her work as a Rule 31 registered mediator and as an approved mediator for the Eastern and Middle district federal courts. Reeves was the first female to serve as TBA president. She currently serves on the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission and on the Board of Judicial Conduct. She also writes a monthly column on business law for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Reeves earned her law degree in 1979 from the University of Tennessee College of Law. She is married to Charles Swanson, another former TBA president, who serves as Knoxville city attorney.

read more »

Senate Committee Approves 3 Judicial Nominees

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today approved three judicial nominees, including Sri Srinivasan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Raymond Chen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and Jennifer Dorsey to a federal district court in Nevada. Srinivasan, currently the principal deputy in the Office of the Solicitor General, was approved on a unanimous vote. If confirmed by the full Senate, he will be President Obama’s first nominee to a court often seen as a stepping stone to the U.S. Supreme Court. WRCB TV3 NBC has the AP story.

read more »

Cooper Continues Support for Nashville Courthouse

The Tennessean today followed up on the discussion of whether a new federal courthouse is needed in Nashville, quoting U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, who said a report critical of the project overlooks some of the ways in which the current court building is outdated. Cooper, a Democrat who has made fiscal conservatism his calling card in Congress but has long pushed for a new federal courthouse in Nashville, told the newspaper that, “We played by the rules. We haven’t elbowed our way in the federal line. We shouldn’t be punished for that.”

read more »

Watchdog Group: Courthouses Not Needed

Investigative online newspaper Tennessee Watchdog warns that taxpayers could spend more than $165 million to replace federal courthouses in Nashville and Chattanooga even though a new audit by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggests replacements are not needed. The GAO report, according to the paper, found fault with the Nashville plan, saying the current building has more courtrooms than it does judges. In Chattanooga, it found that the current facility has the same number of judges and courtrooms. One of the GAO’s requirements for supporting new courthouses is the need for at least two additional courtrooms. Tennessee is not alone in the assessment. The report found that of the 12 courthouses planned across the country, only two are really needed.

read more »

Vines: Reeves Vetted for Judicial Appointment

Georgiana Vines’ column in Saturday’s Knoxnews reports that Knoxville lawyer and former TBA President Pam Reeves is being vetted by a committee of the American Bar Association as a possible replacement for U.S. District Court Judge Thomas W. Phillips, who is retiring Aug. 1. Vines writes that several members of Knoxville’s legal community are in receipt of a letter from the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary asking them to evaluate Reeves’ professional qualifications in terms of integrity, competence and temperament.

read more »

Paper Speculates on U.S. Attorney Nominee

When Jerry Martin announced on April 3 that he was leaving his position as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, speculation began in earnest over who would replace him. The Nashville City Paper reports that the Obama Administration has indicated it would like to move quickly on a replacement, and speculates what the president might be looking for in his new appointee.

read more »

Rivera Named Acting Federal Prosecutor

David Rivera has been named acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, replacing Jerry Martin who left office to create a Nashville office for Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd. Rivera is a veteran federal prosecutor who worked in federal prosecutors’ offices in Puerto Rico, Florida and New York, and has been recognized for work on prosecutions of international drug trafficking organizations as well as his work on public corruption and economic fraud cases. Knoxnews has the story.

read more »

U.S. Attorney Steps Down

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin is stepping down after three years to create a Nashville office for Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, a San Diego-based firm recognized as a leader in class action and whistleblower litigation. According to the Tennessean, the firm represents investors who allege deception and fraud, and has represented shareholders in high-caliber lawsuits against Enron, WorldCom and Wachovia. “I wouldn’t be happy representing big corporate interests,” Martin said Wednesday morning. “I’m more interested in unearthing fraud and representing the underdog.”

read more »

Appeals Court Nominee Withdraws from Consideration

New York attorney Caitlin Halligan, one of two nominated in January to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, has withdrawn her name from consideration after the U.S. Senate failed to garner the votes needed to end debate on her nomination, CNN reports. The president and Senate Democrats complained she was being unfairly held to a different standard than other nominees, while Republicans argued she holds extreme positions on constitutional issues and would be an activist on the bench. Halligan is general counsel in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. She would have filled the appeals court seat vacated by John Roberts, who joined the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.

read more »

Hearsay Exceptions: What's the Difference?

Knoxville lawyer Donald F. Paine details the differences between Tennessee and federal hearsay exceptions in the current Tennessee Bar Journal.

FBI Will Release Records on Civil Rights Era Photographer

The FBI will release records about civil rights-era photographer Ernest Withers' work as an informant for the FBI, settling The Commercial Appeal’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Under the deal, the paper will have access to portions of 70 investigative files in which Withers participated as an informant. In addition, the FBI will pay $186,000 in attorney fees and legal costs. Withers, a freelancer for America's black press, was known as "the civil rights photographer" for his iconic images of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others working for racial equality. NPR has the Associated Press story.

read more »

Applicants Sought for District Court Vacancy

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis is seeking applications from those interested in being considered for an upcoming vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, created by Chief Judge Jon McCalla’s transition to senior status. Those interested should send a letter stating reasons for interest in the position and listing qualifications, a resume and college and law school transcripts to Cohen at The Clifford Davis/Odell Horton Federal Building, 167 N. Main, Suite 369, Memphis, TN 38103. For more information, email or call Beanie Self at (615) 544-4131. Deadline for submission is March 6 at 5 p.m. The Memphis Bar Association announced the news this week.

read more »

ABA House Adopts Range of Resolutions

The ABA House of Delegates approved a range of resolutions today at its winter meeting in Dallas, the ABA Journal reports. Proposals garnering support included those urging lawmakers to provide adequate funding for federal courts and the Legal Services Corp.; creating a new national entity to help public defenders dealing with excessive caseloads; providing guidance for an amicus brief in a case on the patenting of isolated human genes; giving foreign lawyers limited authority to serve as in-house counsel in the United States; encouraging lawyers to provide unbundled legal services; clarifying a model rule dealing with conflicts of interest in multi jurisdictional cases; and urging federal courts to instruct grand jury members that they are not bound to indict just because a conviction can be obtained. The body also approved a series of resolutions addressing human trafficking, a key issue for ABA President Laurel G. Bellows.

read more »

Middle District Court Excels in Productivity

Tennessee’s U.S. District Court for the Middle District was rated among the nation’s most productive courts based on statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U. S. Courts. The Middle District – which saw 1,998 filings during the 12-month period ending Sept. 30 – was rated as the seventh most productive court in the country based on the service of an average judge in the district. Tennessee’s Western District court also was rated in the top grouping, at number 27. It saw 2,286 civil and criminal filings during the period. See full statistics for all of the nation’s 12 courts of appeal and 94 district courts.

read more »