News

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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TBA Leaders Gather in Nashville for Annual Conference

Tennessee Bar Association leaders are meeting in Nashville this weekend as part of the annual TBA Leadership Conference. In addition to meetings of the House of Delegates, Board of Governors and several committees, there is also educational programming and the annual Public Service Luncheon, which on Saturday honors the public service committment of lawyers across the state. Watch for coverage from the events next week.

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Memphis Lawyer, Former TBA Governor Dies at 67

Memphis lawyer and former TBA Board of Governors member Fred Moseley Acuff Jr. died Friday (Dec. 6) at the age of 67. Acuff earned his law degree from the University of Alabama in 1971 and began his legal career with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. In 1973, he moved to Memphis to begin private practice, and from 1979 to 2004, he was a partner with the law firm of Humphreys Dunlap Wellford Acuff & Stanton. After the firm merged with Farris Bobango, Acuff remained a partner and was working there at the time of his death. Acuff also served as chair of the TBA Litigation Section and was a member of the board of governors in the late 1990s. He also was active in the Memphis Bar Association, serving for seven years as board chair of Memphis Legal Placement. Visitation will be Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Canale Funeral Directors, 2700 Union Ave. Extended, Memphis 38112. Funeral services will be Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Grace St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 1720 Peabody Ave., Memphis 38104. Memorials may be sent to the church or to Wesley Senior Ministries Foundation, 1615 Appling Rd., Cordova, TN 38016.

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TJC Foundation Seeks Donations for Paine Scholarship

In honor of the late Don Paine, the Tennessee Judicial Conference Foundation is accepting donations for the Donald Franklin Paine Scholarship. The scholarship is the organization’s largest endowment and rotates annually among students at each of the law schools in Tennessee. In a recent email, foundation president and retired judge Eddie Beckner encouraged Tennessee judges and lawyers to honor Paine's memory with a contribution to the fund. Those wishing to donate, should make checks payable to the Tennessee Judicial Conference Foundation and mail them to the attention of Suzanne Keith, Treasurer, 1903 Division St., Nashville, TN 37203.

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7 Tenn. Lawyers Admitted to U.S. Supreme Court

Seven Tennessee lawyers were admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court during admission ceremonies last week in Washington, D.C. The annual event, known as TBA Academy, is two-day program that includes continuing legal education seminars, a tour of the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol, and the swearing in ceremony. Lawyers admitted were Daniel Berexa, Molly Glover, Gregory Groth, Angela Bolton Rauber, TBA President-elect Jonathan O. Steen, David Veile and District Attorney General Randy York. See photos from the event.

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Visitation for Paine Set for Sunday Afternoon

Friends of Donald F. Paine will be received at Mann Heritage Chapel, 6200 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919, on Sunday (Nov. 24), from 2 to 4 p.m. Burial will be at a private service at Old Gray Cemetery. Paine died early Monday morning (Nov. 18) at the age of 74. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Legal Aid of East Tennessee, 502 S. Gay St., Suite 404, Knoxville 37902. Read more about Paine's life in this press release from his firm, Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers, or read remembrances from those who worked with him, learned from him, served under his leadership at the TBA in 1986-1987, or benefited from his friendship.

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Knoxville Lawyer Don Paine Dies

Knoxville attorney Donald F. Paine died early Monday morning (Nov. 18). He was 74. A former president of both the Knoxville and Tennessee Bar Associations, Paine also was a founder of the Tennessee Law Institute and a well-known speaker and author. He was a founding member of the Tennessee Bar Journal Editorial Board and wrote a monthly column for the magazine, "Paine on Procedure," since 1989. A graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Paine was of counsel with the firm of Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers LLP. Among awards he had received were the Knoxville Bar Barristers Law and Liberty Award, the Knoxville Bar Association Pro Bono Award, the Tennessee Bar Association Pro Bono Award and the Chancellor's Award from the University of Tennessee. He is the only adjunct faculty member to receive that award.

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TBA Votes to Support Constitutional Amendment on Judicial Selection; Merit Selection to Be Made Part of the Process by Executive Order

Following a complete review of the TBA policy on judicial selection, the TBA Board of Governors on Oct. 12 reaffirmed its commitment to merit selection to fill judicial vacancies and voted to support the Constitutional amendment, which provides for gubernatorial appointment, legislative confirmation and retention elections for judges. The Board did so because of assurances that Governor Bill Haslam would include merit in the process via an Executive Order, if the amendment is adopted. The amendment will be on the ballot in the state’s November 2014 general election.

The TBA leadership has worked closely with Governor Haslam’s Administration in the weeks prior to the release of the Governor’s executive order of Oct. 17, which, when viewed in conjunction with the notice and application instructions, sets in place a commission and protocol for judicial appointments very much like the former Judicial Nominating Commission.

TBA President Cindy Wyrick, in announcing the TBA’s support for the constitutional amendment, said “the TBA will support the constitutional amendment because we have been assured that the Governor will implement a merit selection process to appoint qualified judges. We applaud Governor Haslam for his recent executive order, which demonstrates his continuing commitment to filling vacancies with qualified judges through use of a merit selection process.”

TBA support for merit selection and retention elections goes back almost 50 years. This year’s policy review began with discussions and votes in the association's Governmental Affairs committee and its policy making House of Delegates. Final approval came as the Board met for its quarterly meeting.

“The advantage to the constitutional amendment, from our perspective, is that it puts retention elections squarely in the constitution,“ said Wyrick. The TBA maintains that retention elections, under current law, are constitutional as decided by three separate courts. “The combination of merit selection and retention elections is the best way to bring fairness, impartiality, stability, consistency, and clarity to our legal system. These are the values we believe in,” said Wyrick.

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'Father of Pro Bono' Featured for Pro Bono Month

October is Pro Bono Month, a good time to learn about one of Tennessee's "fathers of pro bono," Pleasant Miller. Read about him and his 19th century colleagues in this Tennessee Bar Journal article by Legal Aid of East Tennessee's Russell Fowler. Don't miss TBA President Cindy Wyrick's column, in which she dreams big about her hope for the profession.

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Lewis to Receive UT Alumni Service Award

Memphis lawyer and former TBA President George T. "Buck" Lewis has been selected to receive the University of Tennessee’s Alumni Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service to the school. Lewis, a shareholder with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, earned his undergraduate, business and law degrees from the university, and has remained engaged with alumni and development activities. Lewis “gives generously of his time as one of the university's most ardent and influential advocates in West Tennessee,” said Dr. Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee System. Douglas A. Blaze, dean of the College of Law, added, "Buck is an extraordinary individual who has devoted his career to serving his clients, his alma mater, his profession and his state. He represents all that is great about the University of Tennessee and the legal profession." Read more on the Baker Donelson website.

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U.S. Attorney Sued to Remove Supreme Court ... in 1870

In this month's issue, Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA president Sam Elliott looks back into history and tells the surprising story of when the U.S. attorney sued to remove half the Tennessee Supreme Court. Another former TBA president, Knoxville lawyer Don Paine, gives practical advice for collecting a judgment. Read these and more in the August Tennessee Bar Journal.

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TBA Board Fills 3 Vacancies at Saturday Meeting

The TBA Board of Governors, meeting Saturday in Nashville, named three lawyers to fill vacancies on the body. They are: Jackson lawyer Michelle Sellers with Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell, who was named West Tennessee Grand Division Governor (Position 1); Memphis lawyer Brian Faughnan with Thomason Hendrix Harvey Johnson Mitchell, who was named West Tennessee Grand Division Governor (Position 2); and Sewanee lawyer Donna Pierce with The University of the South, who was named 4th District Governor.

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Chattanooga Lawyer, Former TBA President Dead at 74

Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA President Charles J. Gearhiser died Monday (June 17) at 74. A 1961 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Gearhiser was an original founder of the firm of Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon PLLC, where he practiced until his death. Early in his career, Gearhiser was law clerk to U.S. District Judge Frank W. Wilson, and served in that position during the historic Jimmy Hoffa trial in 1964. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Tennessee, and then as a part-time U.S. Magistrate. While in private practice, Gearhiser made a name for himself as a prolific litigator, trying over 100 cases before Tennessee juries. His areas of expertise included federal criminal defense, professional liability defense, and product liability, personal injury, commercial and business cases. Gearhiser also has worked to improve the profession, serving as president of the Chattanooga Bar Association, chair of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation, member of the Judicial Performance Program Committee and a charter member of the Tennessee chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He served as president of the TBA from 2001-2002 after serving on the association’s board of governors from 1999 to 2001 and during two earlier stints in 1992 and 1994.

Visitation will be held Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 E. Brainerd Rd., Chattanooga 37421. A service honoring his life will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Gearhiser’s late wife, Joy. Donations may be sent to 7625 Hamilton Park Dr., Suite 22, Chattanooga, TN 37421.

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President Cindy Wyrick's Address to TBA Members

Speech at Lawyer's Luncheon Sets Forth Theme for 2013-2014


Below are comments given to Tennessee Bar Association members by TBA President Cindy Wyrick following her installation as president of the organization during the 2013 TBA Convention, June 14 in Nashville.

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Reeves to be Nominated for Federal District Court

President Barack Obama today announced his intention to nominate Knoxville attorney and former TBA President Pamela Reeves for the federal district court seat currently held by U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips, who plans to retire July 3. Reeves practices with Reeves, Herbert & Murrian PA focusing on commercial litigation, labor and employment law and dispute resolution. She is known statewide for her work as a Rule 31 registered mediator and as an approved mediator for the Eastern and Middle district federal courts. Reeves was the first female to serve as TBA president. She currently serves on the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission and on the Board of Judicial Conduct. She also writes a monthly column on business law for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Reeves earned her law degree in 1979 from the University of Tennessee College of Law. She is married to Charles Swanson, another former TBA president, who serves as Knoxville city attorney.

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