News

Wife of Former TBA President Dies at 90

Janet Graf Tate, the wife of former TBA President S. Shepherd "Shep" Tate, died Sunday (July 27) at 90. A native of Cincinnati, Janet met and married Tate while he was clerking for Judge John D. Martin in Cincinnati. The couple later moved to Memphis, where she was involved in a number of civic organizations and founded the Mental Health Society of Memphis and Shelby County. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the parish hall at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 1720 Peabody Ave., Memphis 38104. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Grace-St. Luke’s. Burial at Elmwood Cemetery will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to The Church Health Center, to Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church or to a charity of the donor’s choice. The Commercial Appeal has more.

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Mergers, 'Kaley' Ruling, Seersucker and More Covered in July TBJ

Kathryn Reed Edge gives the details of what a merger entails in the July issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal. Enjoy TBA Convention photos and stories in the printed version -- and read new TBA President Jonathan Steen's column, "If Not Us, Then Who?" Wade Davies explains the recent Kaley ruling about criminal defendants using their earnings to retain counsel (spoiler: they can't). And if you are wavering about buying a Seersucker suit this summer, read Bill Haltom's column for a nudge in favor of the cool, cotton ensemble.

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Opinion: Judicial Board’s Integrity Unfairly Attacked

In response to a June 7 article, immediate past president of the Tennessee Bar Association Cindy Wyrick denounces state Sen. Janice Bowling’s accusations that the Board of Judicial Conduct is “failing to do its job” and that members of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission were “pressured” into changing their votes. Wyrick defends the integrity of the board’s members, stating “In reviewing the performance of judges, the commission makes a preliminary finding. Fairness demands that judges have an opportunity for a hearing to offer an alternate viewpoint. Similarly, judges and lawyers who have experience with the judges being evaluated should, and did, come forward to recommend a different result. The implication that it was unusual or improper for those opinions to be offered to the commission is simply false. The idea that Commission members succumbed to ‘improper influence’ is equally incorrect and untrue.” She goes on to state that the board’s counsel found no misconduct, based on a careful reading of the Code of Judicial Conduct. “Inappropriate and unnecessary distractions that unfairly call into question the integrity of the ethics process should, therefore, be viewed in light of the fact that they conveniently come during an election year,” Wyrick concludes. The Tennessean has the full letter.

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President Steen Lays Out Plans for Coming Year

Newly sworn in TBA President Jonathan Steen outlined initiatives for the upcoming TBA membership year during his Lawyers Luncheon speech at the TBA Annual Convention in Gatlinburg (June 13). The Jackson attorney plans to carry on the association's work in responding to unjust criticism of our judges and provide educational materials on how to be informed voters. In addition, he wants the association to build on the mentoring and Solo-in-a-Box programs to help lawyers to succeed in the practice of law and deliver first-rate services to their clients. Steen also outlined plans for expanding civics education in schools and developing medical/legal partnerships across the state. Watch his presentation to learn more.

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Steen Lays Out Plans for Coming Year

Newly sworn in TBA President Jonathan Steen outlined initiatives for the upcoming TBA membership year during his Lawyers Luncheon speech at the TBA Annual Convention in Gatlinburg (June 13). The Jackson attorney plans to carry on the association's work in responding to unjust criticism of our judges and provide educational materials on how to be informed voters. In addition, he wants the association to build on the mentoring and Solo-in-a-Box programs to help lawyers to succeed in the practice of law and deliver first-rate services to their clients.

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Steen New TBA President, Lawyers Recognized

Jackson lawyer Jonathan Steen was installed today as president of the Tennessee Bar Association at the Lawyers Luncheon, part of the group's annual convention in Gatlinburg. "Our founders knew that a strong judicial branch is critical for the health of a democracy," Steen said, and "blatant partisan attacks of late undermine the public's confidence in the judiciary. Lawyers need to be informed and educate their family and friends about these important issues." Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade administered the oath of office to Steen, as well as the new members of the TBA Board of Governors. Nashville lawyer Bill Harbison is now president-elect and Knoxville lawyer Jason Long is vice president.

Also at the luncheon, Senior Counselors and these award winners were recognized: The TBA Young Lawyers Division Fellows William M. Leech Public Service Award was given to Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice M. Holder by Memphis lawyer Charlotte Knight Griffin. Two awards were given for the Justice Joseph Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing. First to Nashville lawyers Kimberly Stagg and John E. Anderson Sr. for their article published in the Tennessee Bar Journal. Second, a Lifetime Acheivement Award was given posthumously to Donald F. Paine for his continuous and important contributions to and shaping of the Journal. The Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award was given to Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade. Former Chief Justice Drowota was on hand to help present the award. You Tube Video Awards were presented and the winning videos shown. Three President's Awards were given: to Angelia Nystrom, Richard Johnson and Jeff Levy. TBA Sections and Committees Coordinator Lynn Pointer was honored on her retirement from the TBA. Read more and see pictures from the event.

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Steen Takes Office as President, Awards Given at Lawyers Lunch

Lawyers Luncheon 2014

Jackson lawyer Jonathan Steen takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Gary Wade, while a group of former TBA presidents look on.

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TBA Convention Kicks Off Today

The 133rd Annual Convention of the Tennessee Bar Association begins today in Gatlinburg, with meetings of the House of Delegates, a Section Chairs Roundtable and a Welcome Reception. Tomorrow kicks off with Law School Alumni Breakfasts and many hours of CLE, including a panel with Keel Hunt, Hal Hardin and John Seigenthaler discussing Hunt's book, COUP: The Day the Democrats Ousted Their Governor, Put Repubican Lamar Alexander in Office Early, and Stopped a Pardon Scandal. The annual Bench Bar Luncheon will feature Iowa Chief Justice Mark S. Cady. Follow and comment on happenings at the convention on Twitter using the hashtag #TBAannual.

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Reeves Lauded as 'Trailblazer' at Swearing-In Ceremony

Pamela L. Reeves was officially sworn in as the first female district judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee Friday. She was joined at the ceremony by fellow federal judges, Knoxville’s first female mayor Madeline Rogero and Gov. Bill Haslam, who delivered the keynote speech. Haslam pointed out the oddity of a Republican governor lauding an appointee of Democratic president but said, “I’m here because I love her story.” Noting that Reeves also was the first female president of the Tennessee Bar Association, current TBA President Cindy Wyrick said “Pam Reeves is a trailblazer” and “will be an outstanding judge who truly believes in equal justice for all.” Knoxnews has video comments from Reeves.

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Reeves Formally Installed as Federal Judge

Pamela L. Reeves was formally installed as the newest federal district court judge in a ceremony in Knoxville today. Reeves, a former TBA president, was appointed by President Obama to fill the lifetime post. The ceremony at Knoxville's Bijou Theatre was attended by more than 800 colleagues, friends and guests. Reeves' robing was done by her spouse Charles Swanson— also a former TBA president— and adult children Reedy and Amanda Swanson.

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Supreme Court Evaluation Poll Open Until June 9

The Tennessee Bar Association has launched a Tennessee Supreme Court Candidate Evaluation Poll, which will remain open until June 9. For the first time in its history, the TBA is polling its members for their views on the three justices facing retention votes in the August General Election. For each of the three – Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Cornelia Clark and Justice Sharon Lee – TBA members are being asked to select one of four options: (1) highly recommend retention, (2) recommend retention, (3) do not recommend retention or (4) do not have an informed opinion at this time. The TBA is using the SurveyMonkey platform to conduct the survey, which ensures the secrecy of votes. If you have not yet received an email to participate, please check your spam folder for an email from SurveyMonkey.com. Results will be released in mid June.

The TBA is taking this unprecedented step because it believes that lawyers are uniquely qualified to provide an informed opinion as to whether a justice should be retained, and by providing the collective view of the organized bar, it can help Tennessee voters educate themselves about the election. The poll is one part of TBA’s efforts to help ensure that the 2014 judicial elections maintain a fair, impartial and accountable judiciary. Learn more about other efforts at the TBA’s Judicial Selection Information Center.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Judicial Selection Amendment

Amendment #2 – November Elections

What is the Judicial Selection Amendment?

• The Judicial Selection Amendment, also known as Amendment 2, sets forth the way we select our judges who serve on our statewide appellate courts. The appellate court judges are the five Supreme Court justices, the twelve judges on the Court of Appeals and the twelve judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals.

• The Judicial Selection Amendment will be number two of four proposed amendments on the statewide ballot in November 2014.

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TBA President Joins in Yes on 2 Campaign Launch

TBA President Cindy Wyrick today joined Gov. Bill Haslam and Yes on 2 Honorary Co-Chairs former Gov. Phil Bredesen and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson for the Yes on 2 Campaign kickoff. The Yes on 2 Campaign is supported by a business coalition that hopes to raise the funds necessary for mass campaign activities, including television commercials urging the adoption of the amendment. “I was very pleased to be present for the launch of the Yes on 2 campaign, as the TBA shares the campaign’s very important goal of passing the Judicial Selection Amendment, or Amendment 2," Wyrick said. "The TBA believes that adoption of the amendment is the best way to ensure stability and consistency in our judicial system and to maintain our fair and impartial courts."  The TBA Board of Governors determined that it should favor adoption of the amendment with the advent of the Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments, because it is the best way to further the TBA’s long-standing policy of supporting merit selection for judges and the use of retention elections.

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Elliott: Lewis Shepherd's Colorful Career

Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA president Sam D. Elliott writes in the Times Free Press about "the best known lawyer in Chattanooga" around the turn of the century, Lewis Shepherd. His colorful career included being district attorney general and serving in the Tennessee General Assembly (resigning because he didn't enjoy "serving with men with less intelligence than his wife's mule"). He left a Circuit Court judgeship because he was "born to be an advocate, not a referee." He died in 1917 in the midst of trying a lawsuit. The Chattanooga Times observed that Shepherd's last wish was satisfied: "to go to his reward straight from the courtroom."

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Blaze, Eason Now Lead Access to Justice Commission

University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Douglas Blaze is the new chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, while Miller & Martin lawyer and former TBA President Marcy Eason is the new vice chair. Blaze replaces Memphis lawyer and former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis, a shareholder with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. During his time as chair, Lewis implemented a number of initiatives, including programs that utilize technology to help bridge the geographic and logistic barriers that prevent Tennesseans in need from accessing pro bono services. The statewide toll-free line 888-aLEGALz and web-based service Online Tennessee Justice now provide legal information and advice to a greater extent than available in any other state. The court also named Ann Jarvis Pruitt, executive director of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), as a new commission member. She fills the seat of Nashville business leader and human rights activist Francis Guess, who is rotating off the commission. See an updated roster of commission members.

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New TBA Section, Committee Chairs Gather for Orientation

Attorneys from across the state will gather in Nashville this weekend to learn more about the Tennessee Bar Association and how to be successful leaders of the sections and committees they will head during the 2014-2015 bar year. The group will hear from Executive Director Allan Ramsaur and other key staff, as well as from President-Elect Jonathan Steen. Steen and the new leaders will take office at the TBA Annual Meeting in June.

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Second Phase of TBA Balloting Underway

Tennessee Bar Association members in the East and Middle Grand Divisions who did not vote online should be receiving paper ballots this week to select representatives to the Board of Governors. Nashville attorney Jim Cartiglia of Waddey & Patterson PC is facing Franklin attorney David Veile of Schell & Davies LLC for Middle Grand Division Governor, Position 2. Knoxville attorney Sarah Sheppeard of Sheppeard & Mynatt PLC is facing Chattanooga attorney David McDowell of Gearhiser Peters Elliott & Cannon PLLC for East Grand Division Governor, Position 1. All paper ballots must be returned to the accounting firm tabulating results for the TBA by the end of the business day on April 1.

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Reeves Sworn In, Will Begin Work Immediately

Pam L. Reeves was sworn in Monday as the new judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan said Knoxville attorney Pamela Reeves was sworn in outside her new chambers in a private ceremony and expects to immediately begin hearing cases. The Senate voted 99-0 last week to confirm Reeves to the judicial post. She replaces U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Phillips, who retired last July. Reeves was the Tennessee Bar Association's first female president. Knoxnews.com has more.

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Online Voting in TBA Election to End Monday

Online voting in the Tennessee Bar Association election will end on Monday for members in the Middle and East Grand Divisions where there are contested races. After electronic voting ends, members who have not yet voted will receive a paper ballot in the mail. In the Middle Grand Division, Nashville attorney Jim Cartiglia of Waddey & Patterson PC is facing Franklin attorney David Veile of Schell & Davies LLC for Middle Grand Division Governor, Position 2. In the East, Knoxville attorney Sarah Sheppeard of Sheppeard & Mynatt PLC is facing Chattanooga attorney David McDowell of Gearhiser Peters Elliott & Cannon PLLC for East Grand Division Governor, Position 1.

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Online Voting Begins in TBA Elections

Online voting in the Tennessee Bar Association election is now open. Watch for an email with your voting information in the next 24 hours if you are in either the Middle or East Grand Divisions. Both areas have contested elections for Board of Governors seats. For Middle Grand Division Governor, Position 2, Nashville attorney Jim Cartiglia of Waddey & Patterson PC is facing Franklin attorney David Veile of Schell & Davies LLC. In the East, Knoxville attorney Sarah Sheppeard of Sheppeard & Mynatt PLC is facing Chattanooga attorney David McDowell of Gearhiser Peters Elliott & Cannon PLLC for East Grand Division Governor, Position 1. Online voting will continue through March 3. After that, members in the East and Middle Grand Divisions who did not vote online will receive a paper ballot.

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Long to Lead TBA in 2016-2017

Knoxville attorney Jason Long of Lowe, Yeager & Brown will be president of the Tennessee Bar Association in 2016-2017, according to election-qualifying results released today. No other candidate filed for the vice president position by the Feb. 15 deadline. After serving a year as vice president, Long will become president-elect in 2015-2016 before taking over the organization’s leadership in June 2016.

There will be a contested election for two TBA leadership posts this spring. For Middle Grand Division Governor, Position 2, Nashville attorney Jim Cartiglia of Waddey & Patterson PC will face Franklin attorney David Veile of Schell & Davies LLC. In the East, Knoxville attorney Sarah Sheppeard of Sheppeard & Mynatt PLC will face Chattanooga attorney David McDowell of Gearhiser Peters Elliott & Cannon PLLC for the East Grand Division Governor, Position 1 slot.

Candidates who filed for the following positions will take office at the June annual meeting as they did not draw opponents: Tasha Blakney, 2nd District Governor; Donna Pierce, 4th District Governor; Dan Berexa, 5th District Governor; Michelle Sellers, 7th District Governor; Lucian Pera, West Grand Division Governor, Position 1; Brian Faughnan, West Grand Division Governor, Position 2; Gary Shockley, Middle Grand Division Governor, Position 1; and Andy Roskind, East Grand Division Governor, Position 2. Also winning without opposition are three TBA delegates to the ABA House of Delegates: Buck Lewis, Position 2; John Tarpley, Position 4; and Paul Campbell III, Position 5.

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CBA to Hold Memorial Service

The Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA) will hold a memorial service on March 7 at 11 a.m. in the Hamilton County Courthouse. Those remembered will include the Hon. Edward A. “Butch” Synder, Ralph Russell Armstrong, former Tennessee Bar Association President Charles Gearhiser, Allan Geschwind, John Lee III, Ben Haden and J. Guy Beatty Jr.

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TBA Executive Director to be Honored at ABA Meeting

The TBA and several of Tennessee's law schools will host a reception during the annual ABA Midyear Meeting next week to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur. The "Tennessee Reception" has become a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. The winter reception will be held Feb. 8 at the Hyatt Regency Plaza Ballroom in Chicago from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Download the invitation for more information. 

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Leadership Conference Features Education, Honors

More than 100 Tennessee attorneys and law students packed the Tennessee Bar Center during Saturday's educational programming at the 2014 TBA Leadership Conference in Nashville. Those gathered heard a preview of the new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors developed by the TBA's Public Education Committee, a glimpse at the growing Tennessee Youth Court program and an update on legislation likely to come before the Tennessee legislature this session. The group then headed to the War Memorial Auditorium for the annual TBA Public Service Luncheon,  where Clarksville mayor, lawyer and former State Rep. Kim McMillan spoke to the nearly 200 people gathered (see video of the luncheon here). "I believed I could made a difference," she said about why she has run for public office seven times. "The thing that makes it important to live a life of public service is to ask 'If I don't do it, who will?' That's why I do what I do." Also at the lunch, the TBA Public Service Awards were presented. Those honored were Chattanooga lawyer Charles "Buz" Dooley, who was named the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year; Johnson City attorney Deborah Yeomans, who earned the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year award; and Belmont University law student Katie Blankenship, who was named the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. Five firms were also recognized at the event for adopting formal pro bono policies.

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Legal Leaders Gather in Nashville for TBA Conference

More than 100 Tennessee attorneys and law students packed the Tennessee Bar Center during Saturday's educational programming at the 2014 TBA Leadership Conference. Those gathered heard a preview of the new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors developed by the TBA's Public Education Committee, a glimpse at the growing Tennessee Youth Court program and an update on legislation likely to come before the Tennessee legislature this session.

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