News

Haslam Signs ‘Safekeeping Bill,’ Keeping Juvenile Safekeepers Out of Adult Prison

The state’s “safekeeping” statute officially has new restrictions after Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law today a measure that would provide some key updates to the law, The Tennessean reports. Under the new regulations, juvenile safekeepers – individuals without convictions who are housed in a state prison due to overcrowding in their local jail – will not be allowed to be sent to adult prisons. Additionally, judges must review all safekeeping orders every 30 days, a provision intended to keep safekeepers from languishing in solitary confinement. 
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Did Tennessee’s Juvenile Justice Reform Measure Come Up Short?

Though the Juvenile Justice Reform Act passed Tennessee’s General Assembly this year, some of the architects of the bill say that changes made prior to its approval have left the measure “gutted,” WPLN reports. The goal of the law was to keep juveniles from being locked up for minor offenses like truancy, but the final version of the bill turned many of its strictest provisions into guidelines. The bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, blamed the changes on juvenile court judges, who would have lost power under the law in its original form.
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Connecticut is Recruiting LGBT Families to Adopt and Foster Kids

Connecticut’s child welfare agency has launched an initiative to actively recruit members of the state’s LGBT community to become foster and adoptive parents, PBS reports. Governor Dannel P. Malloy said on Thursday that Connecticut wants to be known as a state that welcomes and embraces the LGBT community. This comes as states such as Kansas and Oklahoma have passed legislation allowing the denial of adoptions to LGBT families by faith-based organizations. Connecticut has around 4,300 children in state care, with about half unexpected to return to their biological families.

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Metro Nashville Legal Under Fire for Behavior in Teen Sex Abuse Case

Metro Nashville’s legal department is facing scrutiny from the Metro Council over the actions of an attorney who deposed a mother of a teen girl who claimed she was sexually abused at school, The Tennessean reports. The girl and her mother are suing the city in federal court accusing negligence on the part of Metro Nashville Public Schools, and in the deposition of the girl’s mother, an attorney asked questions about the girl’s sexual history, birth control usage and menstrual cycle. “Our youth and their families deserve better treatment,” said Councilmember Angie Henderson.
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Share Your Thoughts on Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6

The Supreme Court recently requested comment on proposed amendments to TSC Rule 6 that would require new attorneys to complete a Tennessee Law Course within one year of admission to the Tennessee bar. The Tennessee Bar Association has a working group on this issue and will be drafting comments in response to the court's Order for Comment. To ensure this comment best reflects members’ views and positions, the groups is looking for your feedback. Share your thoughts about the proposed amendments through this form by June 8.
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    TSC Issues Notice of 2018 Rules Package

    The Tennessee Supreme Court issued notice today that the 2018 rules package will go into effect July 1. Included in the package were revisions to the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure (Senate Resolution No. 165 adopted February 26; House Resolution No. 200 adopted March 5) Rules of Civil Procedure (Senate Resolution No.163 adopted February 26; House Resolution No. 202 adopted March 5) Rules of Criminal Procedure (Senate Resolution No.166 adopted March 1; House Resolution No. 207 adopted March 19) Rules of Evidence (Senate Resolution No. 164 adopted April 11; House Resolution No. 201 adopted March 5) and Rules of Juvenile Procedure (Senate Resolution No. 167 adopted February 26; House Resolution No. 208 adopted March 19), which have been ratified and approved by the General Assembly.
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    Kansas Bill Allowing Groups to Refuse Adoption to LGBT Couples Will Become Law

    A bill that ensures faith-based adoption agencies can turn away gay and lesbian couples based on religious beliefs will be signed into law by Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, The Wichita Eagle reports. Lawmakers passed the legislation last Friday, with one lawmaker suggesting that the need for the legislation proves the existence of the “homosexual agenda.” Opponents call the Kansas legislation needless and discriminatory
     
    The Kansas Department for Children and Families has supported the bill, saying it would provide an opportunity for some organizations that have had concerns in the past. A network of companies that includes Apple, Google, Amazon and other tech firms sent a letter to Republican leaders opposing the bill. The adoption bill is among several that states across the nation have passed or are considering. Oklahoma lawmakers approved similar legislation last Thursday.
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    Family Court and Football Clash

    A father's concerns over his son's participation in football has landed in family court. The New York Times takes a look at the dangers of football and the rights of parents to prohibit their child from playing it.

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    NACC Conference

    The 41st National Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, and Family Law Conference is set for San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 23 – 25.

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    Revised Juvenile Justice Reform Bill Passes House, Senate

    The Tennessee House and Senate have each passed Gov. Bill Haslam’s Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018, though Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro called the approved version “significantly watered down,” Humphrey on the Hill reports. The final version includes a provision authorizing the expansion of treatment programs in areas that currently don’t offer them, but it nixed a number of proposals from the introduced bill, such as limits on the time a juvenile could be placed in state custody for offenses like skipping school or drinking alcohol.
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    SURVEY: Proposed Amendment to Supreme Court Rule 31, Relative to Alternative Dispute Resolution

    As you may know, the Supreme Court issued a notice requesting comment on amendments to TSC Rule 31. The Tennessee Bar Association will be filing a comment in response to the proposed amendments and we need your help in drafting our response to ensure that it best reflects our members’ views and positions. Completing this brief survey will assist us in determining specific sections' positions on the proposed changes. After completion, the survey will be sent to your section's executive council, who will review the received responses, determine the section's position and relay the final comments to the TBA.
      
    The TBA has generally summarized the proposed changes, but please read the order and proposed amendments, which are provided below, for more detailed information. Please provide your responses by Monday, April 30. Thanks for your help in this endeavor.

    TAKE THE SURVEY

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    In Depth look at the effects of ICE Raid on TNReady Scores

    The New Yorker's Jonathan Blitzer takes an in depth look at the ripple effects of an ICE raid on a small East Tennessee towns children. Blitzer looks at unintended consequences on TN Ready scores. For more click here.

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    Advocates Seek to Keep Juveniles Out of Shelby County Adult Jails

    Community advocates will go before the Shelby County Board of Commissioners next week to request a moratorium on the transfer of juveniles to adult jails, the Memphis Flyer reports. Those supporting the measure say that because juveniles must be kept separate from adults in such facilities that they are kept in solitary confinement and face a high risk of abuse. Nine states and Washington, D.C., so far have passed laws to keep youth out of adult prisons in the past three years.
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    Middlebrooks Named as Sue Shelton White Honoree in Jackson

    Jackson lawyer Mary Jo Middlebrooks has been chosen as the recipient of the 2018 Sue Shelton White Award, presented by The Jackson Sun and the Jackson Area Business and Professional Women. The honor, which was announced at the Sterling Awards on April 11, is given annually to an outstanding attorney in West Tennessee who is a community activist working to create or change legislation to improve the lives of women and children across the state.
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    April TBJ: Hospital Lien Law, Hope for the Practice of Law

    Hospital liens have become a focus of significant litigation in recent years, with the West case muddying the waters, but Stuart Burkhalter explains in this month's Tennessee Bar Journal how Dedmon clarifies the confusion about use of medical bills and upholding the collateral source rule. President Lucian Pera is hopeful about the practice of law among all the change and uncertainty that is happening. He writes in his column that no single result is inevitable, and "that should give us hope.” Rachel Roberson writes about recent evidence regarding nonparent visitation when it comes to the child’s best interests in divorce cases. Read the April issue.

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    Section Chair Odeneal Testifies on Foster Care Bill

    TBA Juvenile and Children’s Law Section Chair Stacie Odeneal today testified before the House Civil Justice Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Foster Care Support and Continuity Act (HB2019/SB1931), sponsored by Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, and Sen. Becky Massey, R-Knoxville. Odeneal said she appreciated the sponsors’ support of foster parents but had concerns about provisions in the bill. Both committees rolled consideration of the bills until next week. Odeneal committed to working with the sponsors and the Tennessee Department of Children Services on amending the bills.
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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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    Catch up on CLE

    Did you miss the annual Juvenile Law CLE Forum this year? Do you need a few more CLE hours. Catch up with everything you missed. Get updates on the expunction of records, severe abuse, infant mental health, case law, and much more with this 1-Click CLE program.

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    AOC Accepting Grant Applications for 2 Grant Programs

    The Administrative Office of the Courts is now accepting grant applications for the Parent Education and Mediation Fund and the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The grants for the 2018 – 2019 fiscal year will run from July 1 through June 30, 2019. Funding awards are dependent upon the availability of state appropriated funding. Applications are available on the AOC's website, and are due no later than April 20.
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    Bill Would Allow Parole for Juvenile Murder Convicts

    A new piece of legislation in Tennessee that would allow juveniles convicted of murder to get a parole hearing after serving 30 years, even if they were given a life sentence, is causing controversy in a community still scarred by a 20-year-old case, the Greeneville Sun reports. Third Judicial District Attorney General Dan Armstrong is leading a charge against the measure, as it could lead to the eventual release of some of the perpetrators of the 1997 Greene County Lillelid murders. In that case, a family was kidnapped and murdered by six young people, two of which were underage.
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    House Committee Approves In-State Tuition for Immigrants

    The Tennessee House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee today approved a bill that would grant in-state tuition to undocumented and immigrant students, The Tennessean reports. Last year, the bill failed in the same committee by a 7-6 vote. Gov. Bill Haslam has expressed support for the measure, and even took photos with students who came to the Capitol to rally for the bill’s passage.
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    GOP Stalls Child Marriage Bill, Citing Connection to Gay Marriage Case

    House Republicans effectively killed a bill Wednesday that would prohibit child marriages in Tennessee, citing an obscure legal theory that passing the bill could deter a conservative lawyer's case against gay marriage. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, calls for the state to outlaw marriages where one of the parties is under 18 years of age. The Times Free Press reports that House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, cited an email he received from attorney and former state Sen. David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, arguing that passing Jernigan's bill could interfere with a lawsuit he is mounting to counter the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage.

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    Putnam County Approves New Service for Domestic Violence Victims

    The Putnam County Commission yesterday approved a request from General Sessions Court judges to appoint Candie Cooper, a youth services officer in the juvenile court system, as a judicial commissioner and have her serve at the Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center, the Herald-Citizen reports. It will simply the process for victims of domestic violence to obtain orders of protection. The Family Justice Center provides services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse.
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    Lawmakers Push for Study of Juvenile Homicides, Prostitution

    Two lawmakers have introduced legislation to create a fund for the study of juveniles involved in homicides and prostitution, The Tennessean reports. Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, and Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, said the bill aims to decrease youth violence. In 2017 in Nashville alone, nearly one fourth of homicide victims were teenage or younger, a trend Stewart referred to as a “civic emergency.” 
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