News

Shelby Juvenile Court Puts Focus on Serious Offenders

A Shelby County program for keeping kids out of the Juvenile Court system is gaining national recognition, WMC Action News 5 reports. Judge Dan Michael said in the past five years, his court has been working with schools and local law enforcement to only bring kids to court on major offenses. In 2012, he said 6,900 kids were detained and charged in juvenile court. The latest numbers from last year show only 890 kids were brought in. 

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Shelby Officials Ask for Relief from Juvenile Court Oversight

Shelby County officials are asking for relief from federal oversight of its Juvenile Court after two new reports show the county has made progress in meeting requirements set forth in a 2012 Department of Justice memorandum, WMC Action News 5 reports. County Mayor Mark Luttrell was joined by the juvenile judge and county sheriff in an eight-page letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking for relief. Several outside experts disagree, saying big inequalities still exist and more improvement is needed.

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New Reports Show Progress at Shelby Juvenile Court

Two new reports have been released concerning the Shelby County Juvenile Court’s efforts to comply with a U.S. Department of Justice agreement reached in 2012, The Commercial Appeal reports. The agreement was originally reached to address confinement conditions at the juvenile court detention center and its administration of justice. The DOJ reports shows that the Shelby County Juvenile Court has maintained compliance for the past year, and several sections will no longer be under review going forward.
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Memphis Juvenile Justice Summit Focuses on Improving Outcomes for Youth

The second annual Juvenile Justice Summit was held yesterday in Memphis at Hickory Ridge Mall, and advocates discussed new programs in the pipeline, the Memphis Daily News reports. One such project on the horizon is the Juvenile Assessment Center, touted by Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael as a way to “divert every child from juvenile court for assessment on the front end before they ever get to court.” Shelby County Schools were represented at the Summit as well, citing a 13 percent reduction in disciplinary incidents this this school year versus the previous one.
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Man Mistakenly Arrested, Jailed for 4 Days

After a grand jury declined to indict him, authorities arrested Quentin Brown and booked him into Shelby County Jail and held him for four days, The Commercial Appeal reports. A grand jury returned a “not true bill” on May 18, but Brown was still arrested and booked on a charge of aggravated child abuse on June 8. Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Bobby Carter ordered Brown’s release after attorney Blake Ballin showed the court Brown hadn’t been charged. Brown will speak with civil lawyers before speaking publicly, his lawyer said.  
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Due to Judicial Vacancies, DCS Will Stay Under Federal Oversight for at Least 2 More Weeks

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services will stay under federal oversight for a few more weeks after U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw asked for more time to catch up on the nearly 600 filings in the case, The Tennessean reports. The backlog is due to two judicial vacancies in the Middle District of Tennessee, one of which was created by the retirement of U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell, who oversaw the case for years. The DCS case was filed in 2000 by a child advocacy organization on behalf of a 9-year-old boy who spent months facing poor conditions in a shelter with little access to education. That triggered federal agents to come in and monitor the department.
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Tennessee CASA Launches Major Volunteer Recruitment Campaign

Tennessee Court Appointed Special Advocates (TN CASA) was recently profiled by The Tennessean to highlight the launch of its new volunteer recruitment campaign and website, BeForTheChild.org. The organization is hoping that with more volunteers, it can serve 15,000 more children who do not currently have an advocate due to lack of volunteers. That would quadruple its reach. The new site will direct volunteers to their local branch of CASA and connect them to get involved. In order to become a CASA advocate, volunteers must undergo 30 hours of training and pass security tests.
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Tennessee CASA Launches Major Volunteer Recruitment Campaign

Tennessee Court Appointed Special Advocates (TN CASA) was recently profiled by The Tennessean to highlight the launch of its new volunteer recruitment campaign and website, BeForTheChild.org. The organization is hoping that with more volunteers, it can serve 15,000 more children who do not currently have an advocate due to lack of volunteers. That would quadruple its reach. The new site will direct volunteers to their local branch of CASA and connect them to get involved. In order to become a CASA advocate, volunteers must undergo 30 hours of training and pass security tests.
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Youth Courts ‘Giving Day’ is Next Thursday

The Tennessee Youth Courts’ “Giving Day” is June 15. Tennessee Youth Courts supports youth courts across the state, which allow teen volunteers to decide sentencing for other teens who have admitted to committing low-level offenses. Volunteers learn about court procedures, sentencing options, trial techniques, structure of the justice system, the meaning of justice and relationships between rights and responsibilities. Donations to Tennessee Youth Courts go towards informing and educating young people about the role of law in our democracy and about their role as active citizens.
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Legislature Announces Task Force on Juvenile Justice

Members of the Tennessee legislature announced this week the formation of a new task force focusing on the state’s juvenile justice system. Called the Joint Ad Hoc Tennessee Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice, it will be chaired by Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville. The task force will “undertake a comprehensive review” of the juvenile justice system and develop policy recommendations. 
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Man Not Guilty by Insanity for Threatening Judge

A man was found not guilty by insanity yesterday for making threatening statements about Madison County Juvenile and Probate Court Judge Christy Little, The Jackson Sun reports. Omar Ahmad must now undergo mandatory treatment at Pathways Behavioral Services. He may not leave the county without a responsible adult and his social media accounts will be monitored for potential infractions. He was also ordered to stay off the campus of the University School of Jackson, after he was charged with disrupting an assembly in 2014 for Facebook threats that caused the school to go on lockdown.
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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/.

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Foundation to Host Event During Convention

The A Step Ahead Foundation will host a get together during the TBA Annual Convention in Kingsport to spread the word on how the organization is helping prevent unplanned pregnancies in five Tennessee cities – Jackson, Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis. Former Shelby County Juvenile Court Judicial Magistrate Claudia Haltom will lead the event, which is also being hosted by Jimmie Carpenter Miller, Dr. Leigh Johnson, TBA President Jason Long, Tennessee Lawyers' Association for Women President Ramona DeSalvo, Wellmont Health System’s Terry Eads, Kristi M. Bennett, Jane Van Deren Pera, Lucian Pera, Sarah Sheppeard and Judge Duane Slone. The event will be held in Salon A at the Meadowview Marriott Conference Resort on June 14 from 4 to 5 p.m.

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Sentenced to Debt: When You Can't Pay Your Fines

In the current issue of the Journal, Nashville lawyer Vidhi S. Joshi looks into what happens within the criminal justice system in Tennessee when a person cannot pay their fines. Read the feature “Sentenced to Debt.” Columns this month include "Redefining Relocation," by Marlene Moses and Benjamin Russ; John Day writing about "Mothers, Minors and Medical Bills"; and Bill Haltom following the saga of where the bodies of President and Mrs. James K. Polk will land for eternity.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Judge Says Rutherford County Must Stop Holding Juveniles in Solitary

A federal judge ordered Rutherford County to cease holding juveniles in solitary confinement as an ACLU-backed case challenging the practice proceeds, the Tennessean reports. The suit was filed on behalf of a 15-year-old boy who was held in solitary for five days last year, and it seeks to permanently stop the use of solitary confinement in Tennessee. 
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Mistrial Declared in Former Deputy’s Child Rape Case

A Knox County Criminal Court jury announced today that it was deadlocked in the case of Dennis Mills Jr., a former sheriff’s deputy accused of child rape, Knoxnews reports. Judge Scott Green was forced to declare a mistrial, setting an April 21 status hearing to see if Assistant District Attorney General Joanie Stewart wishes to try Mills again.
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Proposed Amended Rules for DCS Administrative Hearings and Other Due Process Procedures

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) is seeking comments and questions regarding proposed amended rules for DCS administrative hearings and other due process procedures (related to the release of abuse/neglect records to employers, etc)/  The proposed amended rules have been posted and a hearing will take place on March 17, 2017.

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Children's Advocacy Days 2017: Launching the Next Generation

This year's theme of Children's Advocacy Days is "Launching the Next Generation" and envisions a world where children have unlimited opportunity.

To learn more about this year's program, sponsored by the Tennessee Commission on Children & Youth, please click here

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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
 
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
 
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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Joint Task Force On Children's Justice/Child Sexual Abuse State Plan Released

The Joint Task Force on Children’s Justice/Child Sexual Abuse fulfils state and federal mandates, specifically Tennessee Code Annotated 37-1-603 and the Children’s Justice Act, 42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq. This group’s role is to advise and assist the state departments, including the departments of Children’s Services, Education, Health, Mental Health/Development Disabilities and Human Services; child advocates; service providers; law enforcement; and the judiciary in carrying out their duties related to child protection and responding to child abuse and neglect.

The Joint Task Force has released the 2017 Tennessee Joint Task Force On Children's Justice/Child Sexual Abuse State Plan, which identifies areas of concern pertaining to child sexual abuse and other child welfare issues along with proposed action steps to address those concerns.

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Nashville Woman Gets 15 Years for Murder of Teen

Antwana Smith today pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 14-year-old Treyonta Burleson, and was sentenced to 15 years by a Nashville court, the Tennessean reports. Burleson was the youngest victim of gun violence in 2015, a year that was notable for the highest death rate among young people in a decade. Burleson's death was one of the catalysts for Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's youth violence initiative.
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‘State of Juvenile Court’ Focuses on Family Trauma

At the second annual State of the Juvenile Court Address today, Shelby County Judge Dan Michael said the court is making significant progress on reforms mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice. He also called on the community to help break the cycle of trauma that lands young people in state custody. “I’m a juvenile court judge. I’m not the parent of these children. If I have a good parent or parents, I rarely see their children in court,” he said. WMC News 5 has the story.

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