News

Court to Consider When 2nd Mortgage Can Be Void

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it will decide whether homeowners who declare bankruptcy can void a second mortgage if the home’s market value has dropped below the amount they owe on the first mortgage, the Memphis Daily News reports. The case involves Florida homeowners who were allowed to nullify second loans held by Bank of America. The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed both cases, but Bank of America says the rulings conflict with Supreme Court precedent and the rulings of other appellate courts that have considered the issue.

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Council Recommends 4 for Chattanooga Bankruptcy Judge

A merit selection panel of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Council has recommended four applicants to fill a bankruptcy judgeship in the Eastern District of Tennessee being vacated by John C. Cook. The four are: Judith Elkin, New York City; James D. Lane II, Tullahoma; Kimberly C. Swafford, Chattanooga; and Nicholas W. Whittenburg, Chattanooga. The council must now narrow the list to three recommended candidates. The final selection will be made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Written comments regarding the nominees will be accepted through Nov. 17. Learn more in this announcement from the court.

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Stair Praised at Retirement Ceremony

Dignitaries, friends and family on Friday packed a send-off ceremony for retiring U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Richard Stair Jr., Knoxnews reports. “But Stair seemed nonplussed by the bigwigs who turned out and, bucking tradition at such fetes, did not regale the crowd with highlights of his tenure,” according to the paper. Instead, he praised his mentors, law clerks, assistants, court staff and family. Others who spoke said Stair, who is leaving the bench after a 28-year-career, treated all who came before him with dignity and respect and was known for his wisdom, wit, insight and selflessness.

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6th Circuit Picks Bauknight as Next Bankruptcy Judge

Suzanne H. Bauknight, chief of the civil division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, is slated to be the next bankruptcy judge in the state, pending clearance by the FBI, Knoxnews reports. Bauknight was picked by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to succeed Richard Stair, who retires at the end of the month after 28 years.

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Judge Stair to be Honored at Retirement Reception

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee invites the legal community to a reception celebrating 28 years of distinguished service by Bankruptcy Judge Richard Stair Jr. The event will be held Sept. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Howard H. Baker Jr. U.S. Courthouse. Remarks will begin at 2:30 p.m. RSVP online or call (865) 329-4710 no later than Sept. 15. For information, contact Merilyn Dunn

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Court Upholds Suspension for Lawyer Who Criticized Judge in Email

The Tennessee Supreme Court today upheld a 30-day suspension for Nashville attorney William Caldwell Hancock for his conduct in a bankruptcy case, which included sending an email to the judge calling him “a bully and clown.” In 2011, a BPR hearing panel found that Hancock had violated five Rules of Professional Conduct and suspended his law license. Justice Cornelia A. Clark concurred with the court's decision to uphold the suspension, but wrote in a seperate opinion that the the record contained "substantial ... evidence" that Hancock sent an email disparaging the judge to a third party, which would be a sanctionable offense. Chief Justice Gary R. Wade disagreed with a portion of the Court’s decision, concluding in a separate opinion that Hancock’s misbehavior, although offensive, did not disrupt or interfere with the proceedings in the bankruptcy court because the email was sent more than nine months after the bankruptcy judge issued his ruling. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more.

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Deadline Extended for Eastern District Bankruptcy Judge Post

The Sixth Circuit Judicial Council has extended the deadline to apply for Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The position will become vacant upon the retirement of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John C. Cook effective March 31, 2015. Applications must be received by July 8.

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5 Considered for Bankruptcy Court Vacancy

A Sixth Circuit Merit Selection Panel has recommended five candidates for a bankruptcy judge vacancy in the Eastern District of Tennessee. The opening was created by the retirement of Judge Richard Stair. The candidates are Suzanne H. Bauknight, Mark S. Dessauer, Thomas H. Dickenson and Michael W. Ewell of Knoxville, and TBA President Cynthia R. Wyrick of Sevierville.  The Sixth Circuit Judicial Council must now narrow the list down to three and submit those names to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which will make a final selection. 

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Chattanooga Bankruptcy Judge to Retire

Chattanooga Senior Bankruptcy Judge John Cook is retiring effective March 31, 2015, and the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is seeking applicants for his replacement. The term of office is 14 years. Salary is $183,172. Interested individuals may obtain an online application from the court. Applications must be received by May 27. The Chattanoogan.com has more on the vacancy.

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TBA Files Comments on Federal Rules Amendments

The TBA today filed comments on two proposed amendments to federal rules. The first, which contained comments on proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, addresses issues such as time limit for service, discovery scope and limits, protective orders, depositions, interrogatories, requests for admission and preservation of discoverable information. The second, which contained comments on proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy, addresses issues such as notice, plan payments, length of plans, tax refunds, secured claims, trustee’s fees, non-priority unsecured claims, executory contracts, unexpired leases, vesting of property, nonstandard plan provisions and required signatures.

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If You Did It, Flaunt It With a TBJ Announcement

The Tennessee Bar Journal has a new opportunity for lawyers and firms to promote outstanding achievements, new associates, new partners, mergers, awards and any changes within the firm. Now, Professional Announcements are available at special, lower-rate pricing. You can tell more than 12,000 of your peers about your accomplishments by placing an announcement in the Journal. For information or to place an announcement, contact Debbie Taylor at 503-445-2231 or Debbie@llm.com. To have an announcement placed in the April issue, please contact her before Feb. 18.

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Apply Now for Knoxville-based Bankruptcy Judge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is soliciting applications from persons interested in appointment as bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville. The vacancy was created by the retirement of Judge Richard Stair Jr., effective Sept. 30, 2014. Applications must be received by Jan. 24, 2014. For more information on qualifications, download the court's notice.

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Comments Sought on 2 Bankruptcy Court Reappointments

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reports that current terms of U.S. Bankruptcy Judges David Stewart Kennedy and Keith M. Lundin will expire on Sept. 30, 2014, and that it is considering whether to reappoint the judges to new 14-year terms of office. Members of the bar and the public are invited to submit comments for the court’s consideration in the reappointment process. All comments are confidential and should be directed to Clarence Maddox, Circuit Executive, 503 Potter Stewart United States Courthouse, 100 E. Fifth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. All comments must be received by Feb. 5, 2014. For additional information contact the Office of the Circuit Executive at (513) 564-7200.

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Judge Stair to Retire in 2014

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Richard Stair Jr., whose time on the bench dates back to 1986, announced yesterday he would not seek reappointment when his term ends on Sept. 30, 2014. As required, Stair notified the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati of his intent, the News Sentinel reports. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Stair previously worked as a lawyer with his father, Richard Stair Sr. He was appointed to the bankruptcy bench in October 1986, and from 1993 to 2000 served as chief bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

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Deadline Set for Filing Meningitis Claims

A federal judge in Massachusetts has set Jan. 15, 2014, as the deadline for filing claims in the bankruptcy case against the New England Compounding Center. The order, signed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Henry Boroff, includes detailed instructions on the information victims or their survivors must provide to have their claims considered. Tennessee attorneys representing victims of the nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak said they were pleased that the order provides additional time to file a claim, The Tennessean reports. They note, however, that the deadline applies only to claims against the center. Claims filed against other entities such as hospitals and clinics are subject to a one-year limit in state law.

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Obama Endorses Corker’s Mortgage Plan

President Barack Obama has endorsed a bipartisan Senate effort Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker helped craft that seeks to strengthen America’s housing finance system and shield taxpayers from bearing the brunt of future economic meltdowns. Some five years after the mortgage crisis struck government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and required a $200 billion federal bailout, Obama said it’s time to reduce government’s risk in any future crisis. Corker told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that it gives him "hope that we actually deal with Fannie and Freddie before the political season begins this January and makes it very difficult for anything to occur.”

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Judge: Fed 'Inappropriately' Inflated Debit Card Fees

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on Wednesday struck down federal regulations on debit-card transaction fees, finding that the Federal Reserve adopted rules that "inappropriately" inflated fees by billions of dollars, the National Law Journal reports. The ruling won't change transaction fees just yet, though. Judge Leon ordered the Federal Reserve to vacate the rules, but simultaneously said he would stay that order to give the agency time to replace the problematic sections. 

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Investiture of Judge Croom Set for Next Week

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee will host the investiture of Judge Jimmy L. Croom on July 12 at 2 p.m. The event will take place in the Fourth Floor Courtroom at the U.S. Courthouse, 111 South Highland Ave., Jackson. To RSVP contact abby_little@tnwb.uscourts.gov or call (731) 421-9372.

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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.

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Know Your Bank Fraud History; Punch Up POA Forms

Nashville lawyer Katie Edge writes in the recent Tennessee Bar Journal about Tennessee's famous bank robbers -- with the spotlight on the Butcher brothers and other fraudsters. In her column, Knoxville lawyer Monica Franklin says to avoid the "plain Jane" durable financial power of attorney and gives tips to punch up the forms you use for DPOAs.

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Reception for New Bankruptcy Judge, June 7

The MBA Bankruptcy Section will host a reception honoring the newly appointed Judge Jimmy L. Croom on June 7 at 5 p.m. in the historic Reading Room on the 4th Floor of the University of Memphis School of Law. After the reception, the section will treat Judge Croom to a Redbirds game, beginning at 7:05 pm. To RSVP and for more information, contact Claire Reno at claire@renofirm.com or (901) 685 5646.

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Comments Sought on Reappointment of Bankruptcy Judge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is accepting comments on the reappointment of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marian F. Harrison in the Middle District of Tennessee. Harrison’s current 14-year term will end on Dec. 20. She is eligible for another 14-year term. All comments are due by May 8 and should be directed to Clarence Maddox, Circuit Executive, 503 Potter Stewart United States Courthouse, 100 East Fifth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. Download a copy of the court’s notice or contact the court at (513) 564-7200 for more information.

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Croom Appointed West District Bankruptcy Judge

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for West Tennessee James L. Croom was appointed Wednesday as a judge for the Western District's Bankruptcy Court, NWTN Today reports. Croom is a graduate of University of Tennessee at Martin and the Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law at what was formerly Memphis State University. Prior to becoming an assistant U.S. attorney, Croom served as an estate administrator for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District and later as an attorney/advisor in the office of the U.S. Trustee for Region Eight. A resident of Greenfield, Croom’s chambers and courtroom will be located in the district’s Jackson office.

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AG Announces Free Mortgage Hotline

Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper has announced that his office has partnered with the Homeownership Preservation Foundation to provide a free hotline to help distressed homeowners find mortgage relief programs. Residents in need of reliable information or referrals to foreclosure prevention counseling are encouraged to call the hotline at (855) 876-7283. Chattanoogan.com has more

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Judges Ruling Moves Beale Street Development Forward

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Jennie Latta ruled that Performa Entertainment Real Estate Inc., which has managed and developed city-owned properties since the renovated Beale Street Entertainment District opened in 1983, is not in default of its sublease with the Beale Street Development Corp. With the ruling, Performa can now reassign its lease to the city of Memphis. The Memphis Daily News has the story.

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