News

January TBA BarBuzz Podcast Now Streaming

This month's episode of the TBA BarBuzz podcast is now available. BarBuzz is a monthly show from the TBA Podcast Network that recaps legal happenings from across Tennessee, upcoming events at the bar, attorney shout outs and more. Other shows in the network include Sidebar, a podcast featuring human interest stories from Tennessee attorneys, HealthyBar, which focuses on attorney well being, and TBA YLD Presents: War Stories. All shows are available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and the TBA's website. Simply search the show's title or "Tennessee Bar Association" wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Estate Planning & Probate Forum 2020

The TBA’s highly regarded Estate Planning & Probate Forum will return to the Embassy Suites Cool Springs on Friday, Feb. 21. This annual staple for planning professionals will feature best practices and tips regarding timely topics such as:
 
  • Practical will and trust drafting, including basic forms
  • A panel discussion regarding administration of trusts
  • Testimonials regarding probate litigation and will contests
  • What Tennessee has done to to become a top trust jurisdiction
  • A probate panel with representatives from the three grand divisions
  • Legislative updates
  • Ethics for planners
  • And more
Attendees of the forum who wish to stay at the hotel will receive a discounted TBA rate. You can reserve your room at the TBA rate by using this link, or by calling 1-800-EMBASSY and referencing the group code EPF. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from seasoned practitioners and top players in the field while being a beneficiary of necessary CLE credits. Missing out is irrevocable.
 
When: Friday, Feb. 21, registration begins at 8 a.m., CST
Where: Embassy Suites Cool Springs, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
 
 
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Fiction Writing Group Starts at Belmont Law

Belmont University College of Law will soon add a new opportunity for a select group of students when Professor Kristi Wilcox Arth begins a spring semester legal fiction writing workshop. An extracurricular activity, the group of up to eight students will work on short stories with legal themes throughout the semester with the goal of submitting final versions to the American Bar Association's legal fiction competition in June. Along the way, students will attend an opening lecture on the short story form, engage in peer review, and turn in a draft for faculty review. Arth was the winner of the Tennessee Bar Journal's Fiction Contest in 2017. She teaches Legal Information and Communication I & II at Belmont. Before she joined the school's faculty, she was a partner with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.

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AG Praises New Federal Robocall Law

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III is praising a new federal law known as the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED), which the president signed into law on Dec. 30. The TRACED Act is the first federal law designed to combat the rampant problem of robocalls, which increased by more than 36% in 2018. The law will prioritize industry-wide implementation of call authentication protocols, a framework that will allow voice providers to adopt call-blocking technology and prevent spoofed calls at no additional cost to consumers. It also creates an interagency working group to take additional actions to reduce robocalls and hold telemarketers and robocallers accountable.

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Transactional Practice CLE Coming Next Week

The TBA Young Lawyers Division's annual Transactional Practice CLE is a six-hour seminar that provides lawyers with the information, tools and tips needed to successfully handle transactional, traditional business and regulatory matters. This year's program will take place Friday in Nashville and will offer insight into the new and developing practice area of hemp law, as well as mergers and acquisitions, and issues specific to advertising and media. The course offers five general and one dual credits.

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Longtime News Anchor Settles Lawsuit With WSMV

Nashville TV station WSMV has settled a lawsuit with former star anchor Demetria Kalodimos, the Tennessean reports. Kalodimos sued the station more than a year ago alleging age and gender discrimination after she was abruptly let go in 2017 after spending 33 years on-air. Details of the settlement were not made public, but WSMV owner Meredith Local Media Group and Kalodimos issued a joint statement today in which the news station apologized for Kalodimos’ dismissal, but did not directly address the accusations of discrimination. Former WSMV personalities Dennis Ferrier, Jennifer Johnson and Nancy Van Camp also filed a discrimination lawsuit against the station. That suit was settled in early 2019.

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Article Examines Communication Privacy in the Workplace

An article from Law.com this month examines employee privacy in the workplace and how the internet has transformed those protections. The article cites a 2017 American Management Association study that found nearly 80% of major companies monitor their employees' email and internet habits, with over 90% of firms in the financial industry saying they employed some type of surveillance. Generally, federal and state statutes support an employer's use of internet monitoring, but not all monitoring of a worker is sanctioned. However, no general privacy statutes at either the state or federal level exist. Law.com has the full article

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Senate Approves Bill to Combat Robocalls

A bill aiming to crack down on robocalls has cleared the U.S. Senate and now awaits President Donald Trump's signature, the AP reports. The bill, called the TRACED Act, would stiffen enforcements and require phone companies to offer free tools to consumers that would identify and block spam calls. It also gives the Federal Communications Commission more time to fine robocallers and allows the agency to fine offenders without issuing a warning. Trump is expected to sign the bill. 

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Tomorrow: Environmental Law Forum 2020

The TBA Environmental Law Forum will take place at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville tomorrow, Jan. 17. This annual event for environmental lawyers will present timely updates on legal issues involving the TVA Gallatin Fossil Plant lawsuit, the recent VW settlement, ethics in environmental law and more. Do not miss this opportunity to learn from seasoned practitioners while networking with top players in the field. Here are the key details:
 
When: Friday, Jan. 17, Registration at 10 a.m., CST
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville
 
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Applications Sought for 16th District Circuit Court Judge

The Trial Court Vacancy Commission is accepting applications for a circuit court judge in the 16th Judicial District, which covers Rutherford and Cannon Counties. The vacancy will be created with the retirement of Judge Royce Taylor on March 3, 2020. Applications should be submitted by noon CST on Jan. 7. The commission will hold a public hearing on Jan. 29 at 9 a.m. CST at the Historic Rutherford County Courthouse in Murfreesboro to consider the applicants. A vote to forward three names to the governor is expected to occur immediately following the hearing. Learn more online or download the notice.

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Supreme Court Seeks New Comments on Rules Changes

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Friday issued orders soliciting comments on three proposed amendments to its rules. In each case, the court had previously requested comments but made additional changes to the proposed amendments. The amendment to Rule 9 Section 10 addresses annual registration and payment requirements. The amendment to Rule 9 Section 26 addresses payment of the professional privilege tax. And the amendment to Rule 43 deals with interest on lawyers’ trust accounts. All comments are due by Jan. 30, 2020.

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Hearing Set for 15th District Circuit Court Applicants

The Tennessee Trial Court Vacancy Commission will consider six applicants for a vacancy on the 15th Judicial District circuit court on Jan. 8, the Administrative Office of the Courts announced today. The hearing will take place at 9 a.m. at the Wilson County Courthouse, 228 E. Main St., Lebanon 37087. The commission is expected to vote immediately after the interviews and forward three names to Gov. Bill Lee for consideration. The court vacancy was created by the retirement of Judge John D. Wootten Jr. The court serves Jackson, Macon, Smith, Trousdale and Wilson counties.

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AG Asks FTC to Strengthen Online Protections for Children

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has joined a bipartisan coalition of 24 state attorneys general in asking the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen its rules prohibiting websites, mobile applications and other digital marketing companies from collecting personal information from children under 13, and using that information to track children. The group is asking the agency to expand the definition of personal information to include faceprints used to unlock cellphones, health data from smart watches and genetic information, and pursue companies that embed code in children’s mobile applications that can track behavioral habits.

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Have Student Loans? TBA’s Credible Can Help

Do you know if you’re overpaying on your student loans? The TBA has partnered with Credible to help you find out. With Credible, you can check competitive loan options from their vetted lenders so you can pay off your student loans faster, lower your monthly payment — or both. It’s fast, it’s real and it’s private. Do it all online here or call Jackie at 866-540-6005 and let her know you are a TBA Member.

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Knox, Smith Schools Face Questions Over Religious Programs

Knox County parents are voicing concerns over a program that allows children to leave class to attend one hour of Bible instruction, WBIR reports. The program requires students to have parental consent to participate and must be conducted off public school property. The school board said it is drafting a policy to address religious programs. In related news, the ACLU of Tennessee recently filed a federal lawsuit against officials in the Smith County School System, alleging they engage in the widespread promotion of religion in district schools. News Channel 5 has a release from the group and an initial response from the district.

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Corporate Counsel ‘Knowledge Nibbles’ Includes CLE and Lunch

The TBA Corporate Counsel Section is hosting a one-hour CLE with lunch on Dec. 9 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Tennessee Bar Center. The course will focus on privacy laws with a discussion of the European Union’s EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

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Supreme Court: Fair Report Privilege Doesn’t Apply to Nonpublic Interviews

The state Supreme Court ruled today that nonpublic, one-on-one conversations between a newspaper reporter and sheriff’s department detective are not covered by the fair report privilege. That privilege shields persons and organizations that report on official acts from defamation claims, if the reports are fair and accurate. The decision arose from a defamation suit brought by Jeffrey Todd Burke against Sparta Newspapers. The newspaper published what Burke claimed were defamatory statements made by a sheriff’s department detective during a nonpublic, one-on-one conversation with a reporter. A trial court sided with the Sparta Newspapers and granted summary judgement based on the fair report privilege. The Court of Appeals reversed that decision and held that the conversation did not fall within the scope of the privilege. The Supreme Court sided with the appeals court, but granted Sparta Newspapers permission to appeal to define the scope of the privilege. The case was sent back to the trial court for further proceedings.

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Profile Looks at the Work of the Federal Public Defender’s Office

A piece in the Nashville Scene by Steven Hale looks at the work of Kelley Henry, the supervising assistant federal public defender based in Nashville, who has been representing death row prisoners for more than 20 years. In 2018, she led the challenge against the state’s three-drug lethal injection protocol. Now she is at the center of several high-profile cases, including those of Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman and Sedley Alley. Hale asked Henry how long she would continue to fight these battles. If the time ever came, she said, when one of the people she represented was executed and she did not cry, it would be time to quit. Hale was awarded the TBA’s 2019 Fourth Estate Award, which honors courageous journalism that enhances public understanding of the legal system and the law. He was recognized for his coverage of the executions of Billy Ray Irick, David Earl Miller and Edmund Zagorski, and capital punishment more generally in Tennessee.

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Gone in a Snap! Collecting and Preserving Evidence from Apps

Apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp claim that messages and photos sent through the apps disappear, raising the question of what to do when the apps may contain key evidence. The “Gone in a Snap” CLE on Dec. 11 will help lawyers identify which sources of electronic evidence to examine and how to try to collect and preserve the evidence before it's gone. Join us in Knoxville for lunch and a one-hour dual credit program produced by the TBA Law Tech Section.

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Supreme Court Hears Discrimination Case Against Comcast

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a discrimination case against Comcast by Byron Allen, the owner of Entertainment Studios Networks, The New York Times reports. The lawsuit claims the company’s decision not to carry programming from Allen’s network was determined in part by his race. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, says its decision was an ordinary business calculation and was due to insufficient demand for Entertainment Studio’s offerings. The case concerns a Reconstruction-era federal law that gives “all persons” the same right to “make and enforce contract” as “is enjoyed by white citizens."

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Corporate Counsel Knowledge Nibbles

Join the Corporate Counsel Section on Dec. 9 for lunch and the opportunity to earn an hour of CLE general credit. The course will focus on privacy laws. Our speaker will cover GDPR and CCPA.  She is also experienced in trademark and IP matters. 

Click HERE to register.

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Ethics Roadshow Coming to a City Near You

The TBA is bringing its Ethics Roadshow to a city near you on multiple days in December. The program will be in Knoxville on Dec. 4, Chattanooga on Dec. 5, Memphis on Dec. 9, Nashville on Dec. 10, Jackson on Dec. 16, and Johnson City on Dec. 18. Sign up today to reserve your spot for this annual event, guaranteed to meet your ethics requirements for the year and enhance your knowledge of crucial changes in the legal profession. The course also is always full of surprises and humor. Earn up to three hours of dual CLE credit. See the list of all courses.

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November TBJ: Wellness, Probate and Music Copyrights

"We are human beings in a difficult job," TBA President Sarah Y. Sheppeard writes in her November Tennessee Bar Journal column. She recounts a time early in her career when an older colleague took his own life — and she now urges lawyers to seek help through the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program or elsewhere. Also in this issue, Scott Pilkinton writes in the cover article about how to avoid probate potholes. We also look at the Music Modernization Act, with Monique Brown, a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, writing about how the law has addressed and incorporated new technology and industry trends into antiquated copyright laws. Read these articles and more in this month's issue of the Journal.

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Family of Man Killed by Knoxville Police Officer File Suit Alleging Suppression of Evidence

Attorneys for the family of a man killed by a Knoxville police officer have filed a lawsuit in Knox County Chancery Court alleging that city officials are withholding records regarding the incident, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Channara Tom “Philly” Pheap was shot in the back by Knoxville Police Officer Dylan Williams after an altercation in response to a hit-and-run call. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, Joshua Hedrick and Lance Baker, say they are being stonewalled in their quest for public records such as the final autopsy report, 911 recordings and police cruiser video. The suit named the city of Knoxville, Knox County and the Knox County Emergency Communications District as defendants.

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Court Weighs Unsealing of Lynching Records

The full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta is considering whether federal courts can order grand jury records unsealed in old cases of historical significance, the Johnson City Press reports. The case in question involves the 1946 deaths of two young black couples — Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey — at the hands of a white mob. A historian researching the case discovered transcripts of the grand jury proceedings, once thought to have been destroyed, in the National Archives. In 2017, a federal judge ordered the records unsealed. But the U.S. Department of Justice appealed, citing grand jury secrecy rules. A three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the lower court’s order, but the full court voted to rehear the case. Oral arguments before all 12 judges were held yesterday.

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