News

Attorney Testifies to Extortion in Trial of Hamilton County Commissioner

A witness in the trial of Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd told a jury on Wednesday that he received a call from an attorney who said that Boyd had damaging information about East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert which would be released if Lambert did not "pull his papers" when running against Boyd, The Chattanoogan reports. Attorney Allen McCallie said the call was from Mike Mallen — his former law partner — regarding a special meeting called by Lambert to ask the East Ridge City Council to approve a deal with Exit One developers. District Attorney Neal Pinkston told the jury the call and follow-up conversations that Lambert secretly recorded went beyond free speech, amounting to extortion, the paper reported.

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Zagorski Petitions U.S. Supreme Court, 6th Circuit for Stay of Execution

Lawyers for Edmund Zagorski on Wednesday filed a Writ of Certiorari and an Application for Stay of Execution with the U.S. Supreme Court asserting errors made at his trial and maintaining that he was required to choose between two torturous execution methods, The Tennessean reports. Zagorski’s execution was previously delayed after he selected the electric chair for his execution method so that prison staff could ready the device. The Supreme Court has already declined to intervene in the case earlier this month. A separate challenge with the 6th Circuit also focused on his attorneys' objections to the electric chair, the method Zagorski chose for his execution. It was denied Wednesday night. Zagorski's attorneys said Wednesday they would also appeal the electric chair challenge to the high court. The maker of the device has recently expressed concern, saying the chair may not work properly.

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TBA Board of Governors to Vote on Proposed Bylaw Amendments

The TBA Board of Governors on Oct. 27 accepted recommendations from the Operations Committee to amend the TBA Bylaws. These amendments provide clarification of various sections associated with board governance. A link to the most recent version of the bylaws can be found here. The amendments provide clarification and revision to the following sections: parenthetical reference to the “Association," the definition of a regularly scheduled meeting of the members, eligibility requirements for election to the Board of Governors, the rotation of election of Governors, Board authority to change composition of District and Grand Divisions, Executive Committee responsibilities, notice of meetings protocol, Board action on policy recommendations of the House (this item has only been moved to another section with no changes made), eligibility requirements for election to the House of Delegates, responsibilities of Board officers, nomination protocol, vacancies of Board membership and vacancy of officer protocol. The draft revisions will be posted for 21 days, after which the Board of Governors will vote on the amendments at a specially set board meeting. CORRECTION NOTE: The original bylaws proposal attached to this article contained an error. Here is the corrected bylaws proposal

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19th Judicial District Seeks Assistant District Public Defender

The 19th Judicial District is seeking an Assistant District Public Defender to serve in General Sessions Court in Robertson County (Springfield). In addition to outstanding ability as a trial lawyer, attorneys interested in this position must possess unquestionable integrity, a high degree of personal time management skill, enthusiastic desire to continue to learn and grow in the craft of trial advocacy, recognition of the importance of attending to administrative details and duties, and unquenchable thirst to obtain justice for the clients. The attorney in this position will also likely contribute to cases in Circuit Court to include jury trials. You can learn more about the position including how to apply using this link.

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Register Now: Criminal Law Forum 2018

This year’s half-day Criminal Law Forum will feature a specialized format, allowing state and federal prosecutors, defenders and judges to take a deep dive into DNA evidence and analysis led by professionals at the forefront of the field. We will also examine the interaction between immigration and criminal law, identifying the often-overlooked collateral consequences that come into play. Rounding out the day will be an ethics presentation from a former judge who will share well-being tips for lawyers to incorporate into their life and practice. A networking lunch will be provided following the program. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn and tie-in with attorneys of a shared focus. Here are the key details:

When: Dec. 7, 8 a.m. – 12:45 p.m., CST
Where: The Tennessee Car Center, 221 Fourth Ave N., Nashville
 
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7 New Job Postings for October on TBA JobLink

New job postings have been added to TBA’s employment portal. Postings include Consumer Law, Disability Rights, Environmental Law, Litigation and Associate positions. JobLink helps Tennessee legal employers post jobs and TBA members connect with job opportunities.
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THEC Denies MTSU Acquisition of Valparaiso University School of Law

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) decided to deny MTSU's acquisition of Valparaiso University School of Law in an eight to five vote last week, The Daily News Journal reports. THEC had a consultant conduct an independent study regarding issues surrounding the law school transfer, with results citing competition the transfer would create among existing schools in Tennessee. Attorney Evan Cope, who serves as chairman of the THEC, commented on the decision saying, “I can’t speak for the other members of the commission, but my sense is there was genuine concern about the labor supply and demand for lawyers, and that concern was legitimate."

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Elder Care Facility Hid Unreported Patient in Storage Closet

An elder care facility in Arlington, Tennessee, has been ordered to stop accepting new patients after employees hid an unreported resident in a storage closet, The Tennessean reports. The incident happened when police and state health inspectors were investigating a complaint about the care of an unreported patient at the Caring Estates long-term care facility on Sept. 18. An administrator for Caring Estates said that the woman “was not a resident” and would occasionally come for daytime care only. The home can continue to operate with its current residents under the oversight of a state-appointed monitor.

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Pain Clinic CEO Implicated in Medicaid Fraud Conspiracy

The former CEO of the recently shuttered Brentwood-based pain clinic company Comprehensive Pain Specialists (CPS) is accused of plotting to forge the signature of a dead patient so Medicaid could be billed in her name, The Tennessean reports. Former CPS CEO John Davis allegedly emailed about the forgery with an accomplice, Brenda Montgomery, as part of an illegal kickback scheme. Prosecutors have said that Davis’ prosecution has little to do with the direct operations of CPS and are primarily related to a “side agreement” he had with Montgomery, who was the head of a medical device company named CCC Medical Inc. Davis’ attorney has filed a motion for relief regarding the emails in question.

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Basic Tech Checklist for Firms

Law firms attempting to stay competitive and state-of-the-art need to consistently evaluate their use of technology. In addition to staying competitive, technological competency is required. In 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Rule 8 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility to include this obligation. Above the Law presents a simple and straightforward tech checklist for law firms or lawyers seeking guidance in this area.   

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Tomorrow: Fall FastTrack Program Helps You Fulfill All of Your CLE Requirements for the Year

The TBA General–Solo Section will present its annual Fall FastTrack program tomorrow in Nashville. Produced by Jane Powers and Jim Romer of the section's executive council, this CLE opportunity is designed to provide you with up-to-date information on a diverse range of topics while allowing you to customize your learning to your schedule and fulfill all your Tennessee CLE requirements for the year. Topics and speakers for the Fall FastTrack program include:

  • Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins discussing sentencing reform.
  • Judge Brandon Gibson presenting appellate practice tips.
  • Judge Sheila Calloway discussing representing clients in juvenile court.
  • Joanna McCracken on well-being and mindfulness for lawyers
  • Sean Martin offering information on essential legal technology for solo and small firm practitioners
  • A representative for Clio discussing document automation
  • And more

General–Solo–Small Firm Section members receive a discount to attend. You can register for the program here.

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Global Study Finds Businesses Unknowingly Breaching Copyright Law with Background Music

Nielsen Music has released a global study of the background music business and found that composers, artists and musicians could be missing out on an estimated $2.65 billion a year, Forbes reports. Many small businesses are streaming personal music without obtaining a commercial license, violating copyright laws. The study found that 71 percent of small business owners in the U.S. incorrectly believed they could use their personal (B2C) music service for background music. In reality, they need a licensed business-to-business (B2B) music service. Although there are some organizations that do store visits, the story points out, there are too many small businesses for these organizations to effectively regulate their background music use.   

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CLE Programs Coming to Jackson, Columbia, Dyersburg and Chattanooga

Quality CLE programming will be coming to four more cities this month as the annual TBA Court Square CLE series comes to an end. These three-hour programs are geared to general practice attorneys, bringing the latest developments in multiple areas of the law. October programs include: Jackson Court Square on Oct. 19, Columbia Court Square on Oct. 23, Chattanooga Court Square on Oct. 25 and Dyersburg Court Square on Oct. 25.

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Accused South Carolina Shooter is a Disbarred Lawyer

The man accused of shooting seven South Carolina law enforcement officers, killing one, is a 74-year-old Vietnam veteran and disbarred attorney, The Chattanooga Times Free Press Reports. Frederick Hopkins is accused of firing on officers from his Florence home on Wednesday while holding children hostage inside. The officers were at the home to carry out a search warrant investigating allegations that a 27-year-old person at the home sexually assaulted a foster child who lives there. Hopkins surrendered his law license in 1984 over $18,000 in wrongfully collected attorney fees in lieu of serving jail time. 

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Zagorski Sends Handwritten Note to Haslam Asking for Clemency

Condemned prisoner Edmund Zagorski has sent a handwritten note to Governor Bill Haslam pleading for clemency from his death sentence, WKRN reports. Zagorski was convicted in 1984 of the murders a year earlier of two men who were purchasing marijuana from him in Hickman County. His attorney Robert Hutton has requested that the inmate's death penalty be commuted to life without parole. Other attorneys involved in the case are seeking to halt the execution based on lingering questions about the drugs used for lethal injection. Zagorski’s execution is scheduled for Oct. 11.

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Legal Aid to Host Clinic for Seniors on Oct. 16

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has scheduled a Free Legal Help Clinic for seniors on Oct. 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Life Church, 2223 N Washington Ave., Cookeville, TN, 38501. The event will be coordinated through the Tennessee Senior Law Alliance, and in partnership with the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability. All lawyers are invited to help at this advice-only clinic. To volunteer or for more information please contact Matt Silvey, 931-528-7436.

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Supreme Court Adopts Changes to Rule 31

On Oct. 3, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 and Appendix A of Rule 31 and adopted Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31A. The changes will become effective Nov. 1, 2018. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission first proposed the changes in March, seeking to redefine and clarify the eligible civil actions encompassed by Rule 31; to establish grievance procedures; to clarify matters related to confidentiality, privilege and admissibility; to clarify the obligations of Rule 31 mediators; to modify and clarify the training and listing requirements for mediators; to propose additional duties for mediators; and to remove appendices B-E from Rule 31. The court reviewed comments from the Tennessee Bar Association, as well as the Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville bar associations and several individuals and mediation centers before issuing the order.

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Health Law Programs Set for Next Week

Just starting out as a health law practitioner? Next week’s Health Law Primer program is for you. Now in its 18th year, the program provides a general health law overview and discussion of hot topics by experienced healthcare leaders. Sessions during the four-hour program provide practical tips to identify and avoid the pitfalls of real life situations in the heavily regulated health care industry. The Primer will be held on Oct. 10 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cool Springs. To get a broader view of health care law, stick around for the 30th Annual Health Law Forum on Oct. 11 - 12.

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Three Charged With Murder in Shooting Death of Memphis Civic Leader

Three people have been arrested and charged in the shooting death of Memphis civic leader Phil Trenary, The Commercial Appeal reports. McKinney Wright Jr, Quandarius Richardson and Racanisha Wright, 16, have been charged with first-degree murder in perpetration of criminal attempted robbery and criminal attempted especially aggravated robbery. Trenary was shot as he was leaving a meeting of the Greater Memphis Chamber where he served as CEO. He was 64.

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Hamilton County RICO Defendant Pleads Not Guilty in Murder of State's Witness

One of the three men facing the death penalty for conspiracy in the murder of a state’s witness pleaded not guilty on Monday, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Courtney High allegedly conspired with Andre Grier and Charles Shelton to kidnap and kill Bianca Horton who was to testify regarding a murder trial of another member of the Athens Park Bloods gang. Horton’s then two-year-old daughter was paralyzed during the slaying. All men are part of a 54-person RICO indictment in Hamilton County.
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TBA YLD Seeking Volunteers for Nashville Expungement Clinic

The TBA Young Lawyers Division is seeking volunteers for an expungement clinic on Oct. 27 at Nashville's Cathedral of Praise, 4300 Clarksville Highway. The event will be hosted by the National Prison Summit. Registration for pre-registered participants will take place from 8 - 9 a.m. and the clinic will start at 9:30 a.m. All volunteer attorneys are asked to arrive at 9 a.m. for orientation and the run of the day. The Criminal Court Clerk’s office will have computers and the ability to process the expungement paperwork right on the spot. The clinic is expected to end around noon. Those who wish to volunteer should contact Amber Floyd.
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Memphis Man Shot by Police During Traffic Stop

A Memphis man was critically wounded after being shot by police during a traffic stop on Monday, The Commercial Appeal reports. Memphis police shot Martavious Banks after he allegedly fled the location of the traffic stop on foot towards a nearby house. MPD later posted a tweet stating: "An armed male driver got out of the vehicle and fled… Officers gave chase and a confrontation occurred. The driver was shot." A standoff developed following the shooting, in which members of Banks' family and the community appeared at the scene demanding answers from the officers.

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Children of Lorenzen Wright Maintain Their Mother Was Not Involved in His Murder

The children of slain basketball star Lorenzen Wright adamantly dispute that their mother, Sherra Wright, had anything to do with his murder, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times. Wright’s body was found badly decomposed in a Memphis field where he was left after being shot twice in the head and torso and once in his forearm. Wright was ordered in a parenting plan to maintain a $1 million life insurance policy, which authorities believe may have been a motive. The children created a GoFundMe account in late June to help bail out their mother, but had not raised any cash when the article was published.

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New Suit Filed in Father-Son Dispute Over Buchanan Firm

A new lawsuit has been filed in the ongoing dispute between attorney Dale Buchanan and his son, Michael Buchanan, over the operation of their firm, The Chattanoogan reports. The filing claims Michael Buchanan hired his wife, a non-lawyer, as chief executive officer, as well as hired several other family members and in-laws. The firm allegedly provided his wife a luxury car and hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing little work, as well as paid for vacations for her and her family. Dale Buchanan first sued his son in 2015, saying that Michael Buchanan was using the firm for personal affairs. That suit was settled in 2016.
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Prosecutors, Defense Attorneys Differ on New Ethics Opinion

The Nashville Scene has taken an in-depth look into the recent Board of Professional Responsibility ethics opinion, which says prosecutors must hand over all evidence that is in some way favorable to a defendant, no matter if they believe it would affect the outcome or not. Prosecutors say it would be a new “tactical weapon” that would “only create confusion,” while defense attorneys say defendants are entitled to know all of the facts. The battle over this year’s opinion has earned national coverage, including from The Marshall Project last month.
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