‘Face the Future’ at the 2018 TBA Convention in Memphis

Get ready to “Face the Future” at the 137th annual TBA Convention, held this year from June 13 – 16 at the historic Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Learn about our changing court system, how data will affect your practice and about the future of the legal profession. You’ll also get a chance to meet the candidates for governor at the Bench/Bar Candidate Forum, as well as improve your well-being with our annual “better right now” CLE. Book your hotel today and register now at the TBA member rate.
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Volunteers Needed for Monroe County Expungement Clinic

Vet to Vet Tennessee and the University of Tennessee College of Law will host a free expungement clinic in Madisonville on April 21 and are seeking attorney volunteers to help out. The clinic will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the First Baptist Church of Madisonville and aims to help residents in Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties. To sign up to volunteer or ask a question, contact Troy Weston.
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East Tennessee ICE Crackdown Called ‘Largest Workplace Raid in a Decade’

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid conducted at the Southeastern Provision meatpacking plant in Bean Station on Thursday constituted the “largest single workplace raid in a decade,” The Washington Post reports. Ten people were arrested on federal immigration charges, one was arrested on state charges and 86 immigrants were detained for being in the country illegally. Volunteers interested in helping the affected families should sign up with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition here.
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Chattanooga Racketeering Indictment Raises Concerns of Overreach

Most of the 54 people charged in last month's racketeering indictment against a Chattanooga street gang don't know what they're specifically accused of doing, reports The Chattanooga Times Free Press. Criminal defense attorneys who've previously represented many of the accused are seeking as much information as possible before April 27, when all 54 defendants are set to appear in Hamilton County Criminal Court to plead guilty or not guilty.
Critics say these cases can be an overreach, creating collateral damage for those who may not have committed serious crimes, yet can be punished for their previous affiliation with gang members. Prosecutors declined to comment on this case, so the extent of their evidence is unknown. You can read the full presentment here.
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Topgolf CLE: Estate Planning Tee-off

The TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section will host the Topgolf CLE: Estate Planning Tee-off on June 26. The program will feature 2.5 hours of CLE programming, focused on information relevant to new attorneys interested in Estate Planning and lawyers who desire to add this area to their practice.
The CLE package includes breakfast, lunch, plus two hours of Topgolf after the presentations. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to build your practice knowledge and fine-tune your drive game, all in one day! 
When: Tuesday, June 26, 9 a.m., CDT
Where: Topgolf Nashville, 500 Cowan Street, Nashville, TN, 37207
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Former Skadden Associate Charged in Russia Probe Seeks Leniency

Alex van der Zwaan, the former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom associate who pleaded guilty to lying in the Russia investigation earlier this year, told a Washington, D.C., judge that his cooperation and remorse justify a non-jail sentence, reports The National Law Journal.

Van der Zwan’s lawyer, Cooley partner William Schwartz, wrote in a sentencing memo to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson that the 33-year-old’s career is ruined, and that he has “been serving a sentence while stuck in limbo” in the United States. The memo states that while it did not excuse his conduct, van der Zwaan lied to investigators in a Nov. 3, 2017, meeting because he feared for his career, as Skadden lawyers represented him at that time.

“During the interview, Alex was keenly aware that he was not speaking only to the OSC,” the document said. “Alex was represented by Skadden lawyers, and anything he shared with the OSC would simultaneously be heard by Skadden. In his mind, his boss was listening to every word.” The memorandum continues: “Focused on preserving his career at Skadden, and fearful that truthful answers could lead to discovery of the recordings (and in particular, the discovery that he had recorded a Skadden partner), Alex made a terrible decision… The conduct that brings Alex before this court was inexcusable… And while his actions following his initial meeting with the OSC cannot absolve him from culpability, they are compelling mitigating factors in considering just punishment.”

In their own memo, lawyers for Mueller told the judge she should not rule out prison time, because of a “scarcity of mitigating factors and several aggravating circumstances.” They said van der Zwaan “is a person to whom every advantage in life has been given,” and that the government rightly expected “candor and uprightness” from him. “While there might eventually be additional professional consequences that befall a foreign lawyer who commits a United States felony, those consequences do not themselves obviate the need for his current sentence to reflect the seriousness of his crime, to promote respect for the law, or to provide adequate specific and general deterrence,” prosecutors wrote.

The filing also included pleas for a lenient sentencing from van der Zwaan’s wife, the daughter of a Russian oligarch who is expecting a baby in August, and his mother, whom the filing said he helps with errands and household tasks. Van der Zwaan faces up to six months in prison.

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10 Essential Documents for Your Practice

Instructions and rules for client file retention, list of current curse and copy of bank’s form for IOLTA access are three of the top 10 documents attorneys need for succession planning and practice management. Learn more in this 3-hour dual credit workshop with attorney Timothy Takacs.

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Senate Committee Votes to Overturn Local Short-term Rental Laws

A Senate committee voted to advance controversial Republican-backed legislation that would overturn a Nashville ordinance set to gradually eliminate certain types of short-term rentals, led by companies such as Airbnb, as well as similar prohibitions in other cities, including Knoxville, reports The Tennessean. The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee voted 7-2 to approve a now-revamped ‘Short Term Rental Unit Act’ introduced by Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, and Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. If passed, the bill will block a Nashville ordinance passed in January to phase out most non-owner-occupied short-term rentals that currently exist in residential neighborhoods over the next three years, as well as a similar prohibition that passed last year in Knoxville. However, the bill allows local municipalities to still prohibit certain types of short-term rentals and require grandfathered short-term rentals to acquire permits. In addition, a local government could revoke a permit for a grandfathered unit if it violates standards on three separate occasions.
"Obviously, I'm pleased with the outcome," Stevens said after the bill passed in the committee. "I think it is a very difficult issue, but it's our property and it's a very personal issue. It's a distinction between the property rights and government, even if it is local government." Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, who is not a member of the committee, spoke against the measure saying, "If there is a permit that is issued by a local government, there is a mechanism that they might revoke that permit.”
"It is my impression that (the amendment) is somewhat too restrictive," Dickerson said. "The bill makes it almost impossible to do that."
The Nashville Area Short-Term Rental Association urged approval of the bill in a letter to lawmakers. “We are regular folks working to make a living and want to contribute to our local and state economy,” the short-term rental association’s letter reads. “Please protect the property rights of all. Please vote to pass SB1086 with amendments.” Detractors contend that short-term renting has displaced longtime residents by attracting investors who don’t live in the homes they rent out. 
Twenty-seven cities in Tennessee have rules that don't allow non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in residential areas, including Knoxville, Brentwood, Germantown and Smyrna. Local officials say they are just following zoning laws that restrict businesses in residential areas. Some cities have gone further by outlawing all short-term rentals, including owner-occupied types. These include Davidson County's five satellite cities — Belle Meade, Berry Hill, Forest Hills, Goodlettsville and Oak Hill. You can track the legislation using this link.
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Tennessee House Approves Bill Seeking Work Requirements for Some TennCare Recipients

A bill seeking to implement work requirements for "able-bodied" TennCare recipients was overwhelmingly approved by the state House on Monday, reports The Tennessean. The proposal, sponsored by House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, directs the state Department of Finance and Administration to seek a federal waiver to impose work requirements for able-bodied, working-age TennCare recipients without dependent children under 6 years old.
As the chamber discussed the bill Monday, several Democrats unsuccessfully introduced amendments seeking to change the measure. One amendment, sponsored by House Minority Leader and gubernatorial candidate Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, would have directed the state to submit a waiver to expand Medicaid, however, this amendment was voted down. "The problem with this bill as a whole," said Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, "is that poor mothers will have less and less access to health care. This movement to take health care away from Tennesseans will not stop with these disadvantaged individuals.”
Gov. Bill Haslam has voiced support for the bill, telling the Knoxville Chamber, “We have Tennessee Reconnect. Anybody can go back to school for free… and then actually we’re really short on workforce folks now.”
“We have thousands of unmet job needs in Tennessee right now. So this is an environment where people can go fairly easily and meet those qualifications," Haslam said.
The House voted 72-23 in favor of the measure. The Senate is expected to take up its version of the bill in the coming days.

–Here is a recent amendment to SB1728 /HB1551

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Nashville Public Defender Pleads for State Money for Underfunded Office

Speaking at a state budget hearing last Tuesday, Nashville Public Defender Dawn Deaner said her office was understaffed and overworked and requested an increase of $1.2 million in funding from the state, WPLN reports. Deaner said that while the Public Defender’s office serves primarily a state function, the city has been funding almost two-thirds of the expenses for the office. It is currently short a total of 23 staff members, making it difficult to appropriately represent clients.
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Harper Lee’s Estate Sues Over Broadway Version of ‘Mockingbird’

The estate of Harper Lee has filed suit in Alabama federal court over producer Scott Rudin and acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s depiction of Atticus Finch in the much-anticipated Broadway adaptation of novel To Kill A Mockingbird, reports The New York Times. The complaint asserts that Sorkin’s portrayal of the iconic Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel. 
The contract the parties signed states that “the Play shall not derogate or depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel nor alter its characters.” Tonja B. Carter, the lawyer Lee appointed to run her estate, met with Rudin to express “serious concerns about the script,” specifically that Finch is depicted as “rude and selfish” as well as “more confrontational and far less dignified.” “This Atticus,” Carter wrote, “is more like an edgy sitcom dad in the 21st Century than the iconic Atticus of the novel.” The Rudin team is arguing that while the producers must listen to the estate’s view, they are the final arbiters of whether the production is faithful to the novel.
"As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee's or Horton Foote's," Sorkin told New York Magazine. "He becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play, and while he's going along, he has a kind of running argument with Calpurnia, the housekeeper, which is a much bigger role in the play I just wrote. He is in denial about his neighbors and his friends and the world around him, that it is as racist as it is, that a Maycomb County jury could possibly put Tom Robinson in jail when it's so obvious what happened here. He becomes an apologist for these people” said Sorkin.
This production will be the first time To Kill A Mockingbird has been performed on Broadway. The play is scheduled to open on Dec. 13. Click here to read the complaint in its entirety.
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Tort and Appellate Forum Reception

The TBA Appellate and Tort & Insurance Practice sections will hold a cocktail reception immediately following their collaborative forum on March 29. Join friends and colleagues to relax and unwind after the program.
This event provides a great opportunity to meet leadership of the organization while networking with attorneys and professionals with a similar focus. Forum attendance is not required to attend the reception. Here’s the key info:
When: March 29, 4 p.m., CDT
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 5th Floor Terrace Room, 221 4th Ave N., Nashville, TN 37219
Contact Jarod Word with any questions.
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Store Owners Caught in 'Operation Candy Crush' Contemplate Legal Action

Store owners involved in the recent “Operation Candy Crush,” where Rutherford County law enforcement agencies raided and shuttered 23 businesses selling cannabidiol (CBD) candies, are contemplating legal action reports The Murfreesboro Post. Law enforcement action culminated on Feb. 12, when the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department and the Smyrna Police Department seized all merchandise containing CBD and padlocked the almost two dozen businesses, citing them as a public nuisance.
Proprietors argue that they broke no laws since CBD contains only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive element in illegal marijuana. Legal CBD products must be derived from industrial hemp and contain less than 0.3 percent THC. When isolated from the plant, CBD can be distilled into an oil and added to food and beverages to be sold. If derived from an industrial plant with a clear chain of command, the oil is not inherently illegal.
Defense attorney Tommy Santel, who is representing several store owners, argued that CBD and industrial hemp are not identified as controlled substances. "The state has failed to even plead a sufficient case," Santel said, when asking for the dismissal of all civil injunctions and the removal of the padlocks. "The state needed to go further, the state needed to say 'derivative of marijuana' or 'derivative of industrial hemp.”
All criminal and civil charges against the store owners in Rutherford County part of Operation Candy Crush will be dismissed and their records wiped clean.
Attorneys representing those business owners are discussing how to structure any legal action, which could involve “an overarching” state injunction by stores that took their items off of shelves because they feared prosecution, as well as the Rutherford County business owners who were arrested and lost days of business, according to Joe Kirkpatrick, president of the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association. 
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Succession Planning for Your Law Firm or Practice

Attorney Timothy Takacs will present a special CLE on succession planning for your law firm or law practice on March 27 in Nashville. Additional topics will include law practice management, best practices, client communication and life planning. Attendees will learn how to develop their own plan using a planning toolkit for lawyers.
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Crime, History and Humor Also in Special Issue on Evolving Legal Markets and Technology

The March Tennessee Bar Journal includes columns on criminal law, history and humor. Knoxville lawyer Wade Davies asks if a defendant should testify, looking into any research about it. Chattanooga lawyer Russell Fowler takes us back in time to the 1800s when William B. Turley, "the most brilliant judge we ever had," was on the Tennessee Supreme Court. Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom writes about an interaction that Sen. Howard Baker had with his father-in-law, Sen. Everett Dirksen. It is a lesson that is even more applicable today. This issue, the Special Issue on Evolving Legal Markets and Technology, is also packed with information examining the present and future of technology and how it affects law practice. You're going to need to know about what's happening now and what's coming.

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Powers of Attorney 2.0 Online CLE

In this online video, attorney Barbara Moss will talk about financial powers of attorney. She will also discuss the durable power of attorney act, appointment of conservator, effects of death, disability or incapacity, and gifting.

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Judge Rules That Homeless Man's Truck is His Home

A Seattle man won a recent legal dispute that could have implications on how municipalities across the country address the issue of homelessness, reports The Seattle Times. In 2016 Stephen Young returned from work to find his GMC pickup truck, that he had been living in since becoming homeless in 2014, had been towed because of an ordinance that requires vehicles to be moved every 72 hours. Officers responding to an unrelated call in the area found Young in his truck, which was inoperable and called a city parking enforcement officer who tagged it for impound. At the impound hearing, Long said the truck was his residence and the city waived the $44 ticket and reduced the towing and impound fees from more than $900 to $557.

With the help of Columbia Legal Services in Seattle, Long sued the city on the basis that he had no home for a time; he lost income because work tools he used for day labor jobs were in the truck, and he struggled to pay the fines because he makes between $300 and $600 a month. He lost the initial suit in Seattle Municipal Court, however, won the case on appeal in King County Superior Court last Friday, where Judge Catherine Shaffer ruled that the city’s impoundment of Long’s truck violated the state’s homestead act because he was using it as a home. Shaffer also ruled the fees the city required Long to pay to retrieve the truck were too high, violating constitutional protections against excessive fines and called Long “a poster child … for a lot of other people who are in this situation.”

“We believe this case has a lot of implications for other people using their vehicles as homes,” said Ali Bilow, one of Long’s attorneys with Columbia Legal Services. “I think Seattle municipal judges should follow this ruling and take a hard look when homeless individuals, who are living in their vehicles, are charged these really excessive fees.”

Assistant City Attorney Michael Ryan argued that police and parking-enforcement officers could now find themselves in a bind if they can’t definitively determine whether a vehicle is simply abandoned or is someone’s home. “Someone could park right here in front of the courthouse on Fifth Avenue, and we couldn’t tow them, or if we did tow them, we couldn’t put them in impound. We’d have to put them somewhere else and we couldn’t charge them at all for it because if we did, we’d violate the constitution if they were living in that vehicle,” said Ryan. The city attorney’s office is currently weighing whether to appeal the case.

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Tennessee House Panel, Gov. Haslam, Face Off on Opioid Prescription Limits

A House panel's action last week to move alternative legislation to Gov. Bill Haslam's opioid proposal is spurring intense discussions between administration officials and health providers who believe the governor's proposed prescription limits go too far, reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Haslam and top administration health officials argue the limits are necessary to combat Tennessee's opioid crisis. Detractors feel the proposed limits are too drastic and impede the authority of doctors, interfering with their patient relationships and prompt multiple visits.

The governor’s plan wants to limit prescriptions for new patients to just five days and with a second opioid prescription for 10 days in "exceptional cases." Doctors will have to justify and document the second prescription under the legislation and first seek non-opioid treatments. There are exceptions for patients suffering from cancer or who are in end-of-life hospice care. Existing patients suffering from chronic pain will not be impacted by the legislation should it become law.

The alternative bill, sponsored by Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, who chairs the House Health Committee seeks to mitigate some of the prescription limits, allowing doctors to continue prescribing initial doses of painkillers and provide discretion to pharmacists on how much to fill at one time.  "I think the administration's bill, we felt like, may be a little too burdensome on the patient and prescribers and tries to treat everyone the same even in the practice of medicine. What we felt like was we didn't have to intercede into the practice of medicine," said Sexton. "We thought we could go a little bit different route to achieve that same goal."

Republican senators appear to be more in line with Haslam's original legislation, which is scheduled to come up today in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Taken together, it would amount to some of the nation's strictest prescription limits. 

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Lawyer, Former Stripper Requests Pardon from Missouri Governor Because They Are Accused of Same Crime

A California lawyer, who is a former stripper, has requested a pardon from the embattled governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens, after Greitens was indicted under similar circumstances using the same law. Paul Henreid, who moonlighted as a stripper with the stage name Geno while in law school at Washington University in St. Louis, pleaded guilty of a felony for recording sexual acts with six women without their knowledge. He did this using a camera hidden in a clock-radio casing in his room, which he called "the Geno-cam."
"The law under which both the governor and my client have been charged is a law that has commonly been referred to as the 'peeping Tom' statute," Henreid's attorney Albert Watkins told The Washington Post. "It applies to people that would set up a nanny cam in a public bathroom or take photographs of people while they were in a locker room in a state of undress. The plain interpretation of the law, just based on how it's worded, doesn't correspond to the actions of my client. Now you have a sitting governor who is literally arguing the exact same legal rationale that was argued by us," said Watkins. 
The governor was indicted on Feb. 22 in connection with a compromising photo he is alleged to have taken, without consent, of his former hairstylist with whom he was having an affair. The woman claims Greitens told her that if she ever exposed their relationship, he would distribute the picture. The governor does not deny that the photo exists, but says the woman involved had no expectation of privacy when it was taken, sparking the question whether what Greitens allegedly did – photographing a semi-nude sweetheart without her permission during consensual sex – can be prosecuted under that law. 
Greitens' legal team insists it can't. "[The law] applies to situations such as voyeurs and peeping toms who take photographs in locations such as restrooms, tanning beds, changing rooms and bedrooms," Greitens' attorney, James F. Bennett said in a motion filed just hours after Greitens was indicted and booked. Bennett argues the same law was never meant to apply to situations "where individuals involved were jointly participating in sexual activity."
The judge in Henried's case sentenced him to 30 nights in jail saying "Even though [the victims] chose to voluntarily engage in sexual activity with you, they did not choose to have those moments captured on Kodak and to be exploited and have those moments shown to others and ultimately to become an exhibit in this courtroom." The judge continued, "I do not feel you should be allowed to engage in the occupation of attorney at law because you have shown no regard for that law or for the rights of others."
Gov. Greitens is currently under an impeachment probe and has a tentative trial date set for May 14.
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TBA Members Press for Support of Indigent Representation Reform

Tennessee state senators and representatives this week received several hundred emails from TBA members urging their support for Indigent Representation Reform and an increase in funding for attorneys providing the service. The action follows an alert the Tennessee Bar Association sent to members. Nearly 2,000 attorneys responded to the TBA IMPACT Action Alert. "Reform is crucial to make sure that our poorest and most vulnerable citizens and children are provided much-needed legal representation in an efficient and cost-effective way," TBA Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Berkley Schwarz said in the alert. Use the alert to express your support for reform today.

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Remington Declines to Say if Bankruptcy Will Put Existing Settlement at Risk

Remington, America's oldest gun manufacturer, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, sparking questions on how this will affect an agreement to repair millions of allegedly defective guns that resulted in a lawsuit. The suit began in 2010 when CNBC investigated allegations that for decades Remington covered up a deadly design defect that allows the guns to fire without the trigger being pulled. To this day, Remington denies the allegations and maintains the guns are safe.
The company said it was settling the case to avoid protracted litigation. An attorney for Remington refused to say whether the plan by America's oldest gun manufacturer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection will affect an agreement to repair millions of allegedly defective guns. "It is the company's position not to comment," said John Sherk, attorney for Remington.
An attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, J. Robert Ates, says the bankruptcy filing should be of no moment in terms of the class action case, particularly because the suit also named as a defendant E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, which owned Remington when the original trigger mechanism was developed. The company, which merged with Dow Chemical last year to form DowDuPont, recorded $24 billion in revenues 2016.
Under the proposed settlement - which Remington and plaintiffs have claimed could be worth upwards of $500 million - DuPont would fund only a tiny amount, covering product vouchers being offered to owners of some of the oldest Remington models. DuPont has also continuously maintained that the guns are safe.
Neither Remington nor its attorneys have indicated whether the company intends to abide by the agreement considering the bankruptcy filing. While the settlement includes a guarantee that the company will meet its financial obligations under the agreement, it does not address the possibility of a bankruptcy. The settlement is currently under appeal in the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
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Tennessee Infrastructure Needs $45 Billion for Next 5 Years

Tennessee's annual estimate of costs for needed roads, schools, parks and other infrastructure is now $45 billion in the five years between 2016 and 2021 reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press. This is an increase of about $2 billion, or 4.7 percent, from last year, according to the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, or TACIR, a research institution that explores solutions for state and local governments.
In its latest report issued Monday, TACIR hopes that the infrastructure inventory could help local communities to woo federal dollars under President Donald Trump's pending infrastructure plan. The report includes a statewide overview chapter with information by type of infrastructure, the condition and needs of our public-school facilities, the availability of funding to meet reported needs and a comparison of county-area need, including one-page summaries for each Tennessee county.
Costs for current infrastructure needs fall into six general categories:
  • Transportation and utilities: $24.8 billion
  • Education: $10.4 billion
  • Health, safety, and welfare: $6.9 billion
  • Recreation and culture: $1.8 billion
  • General government: $767 million
  • Economic development: $360 million
Preliminary discussions of Trump's infrastructure plan indicate states could receive rural infrastructure funds if they have plans for investing the money. The TACIR news release said the report "could provide a foundation for meeting this or similar requirements." The report in its entirety can be found here.
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The Protest Movement as a Tool for Social Change: Fifty Years Post-King

The Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association presents a dynamic day of programming in recognition of 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis. This program explores the protest that brought Dr. King to Memphis in 1968 and the legacy that his untimely death has left on the fabric of the city. The event will focus on the protest movement in its current state as well as provide updated information on the law surrounding assembly, protest and municipal responsibility.
The program features local historical figures who worked with Dr. King, representatives of the media, City of Memphis, local activists, attorneys and judges.
Speakers and producers include:
  • Barbara Arnwine, Esq., CEO and Founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition, Washington, D.C. 
  • Judge Earnestine Hunt Dorse, Municipal Court Judge, Memphis
  • Bill Cody, Burch, Porter and Johnson, Memphis
  • Earle Schwartz, Memphis Bar Association President, Memphis
  • Judge Bernice Bouie Donald, United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis
When: Feb. 23, 9 a.m. CST
Where: Fogleman Business Center, First Floor Amphitheater, 330 Innovation Dr., Memphis, Tennessee 38152
Contact Florence Johnson by email or call her at 901-725-7520 for more information.
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TBA General-Solo-Small Firm Practitioners Section Supports Legislation to End Professional License Suspension for Failure to Pay Student Loans

At their monthly meeting held Feb. 7, the Executive Council of the General-Solo-Small Firm Practitioners Section voted unanimously to support legislation to curtail the practice of regulatory boards suspending professional licenses for failure to repay student loans. The legislation, HB1487 / SB1766, was introduced in the House by Representatives McCormick and Powell and in the Senate by Senator Green. 
This has been a concern of this Section of the TBA for several years motivated by the huge investment of time and sacrifice it takes to obtain the education and licenses involved, coupled with the fact that it is sometimes hard to find employment that generates enough income that is required to meet basic living expenses and repay these kinds of debts. It makes no sense to further cripple the ability to repay the debt by revoking the very license that is supposed to provide a vehicle for getting that done.  
The Executive Committee urges its members to contact other lawyers and members of other regulated professions and to encourage them to call or write their legislators in support of this legislation.
—General-Solo-Small Firm Practitioners Section Chair Jim Romer can be contacted by email, or by phone at 931-879-8144.

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White Nationalist Claims He Can't Get a Lawyer, Wants Charlottesville Suit Tossed

Richard Spencer— white nationalist and president of the National Policy Institute, an "alt-right" think tank and lobbying group— has filed a pro se motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him as a result of the recent Charlottesville, VA protests over removal of controversial statues honoring Confederate generals which left one dead and dozens injured. The suit, filed in federal district court of Virginia in Oct. 2017, alleges the plaintiffs were injured, harassed, intimidated and assaulted by the white supremacist groups in the city.
In the motion, Spencer claims that the blame for violence falls on the anti-fascists, or Antifa, who showed up to protest he and his cohorts' ideas and on the police, who he says did too little to discourage the violence. "Harsh and bold words, as well as scuffles, are simply a reality of political protests, which are, by their very nature, contentious and controversial," Spencer wrote. "Free societies, not only in the United States but around the world, accept this as a cost of free assembly and maintaining a vibrant political culture."
According to the document, Spencer maintains that he is unable to find an attorney due to the controversial nature of the case despite "the supposed but apparently illusory ethical obligation lawyers have to represent unpopular clients and to assure at least a semblance of a fair trial." "The plaintiffs, in this case, have enormous resources at their disposal. Several major law firms, likely working pro bono, with probably dozens of attorneys and deep pockets for depositions and other discovery expenses are lined up to represent them." said Spencer.
The motion in its entirety can be read here.
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