News

Register Now: Communication Law Forum 2019

The TBA Communication Law Section will host its annual forum at the Tennessee Bar Center on May 9. This insightful program will focus on timely topics beneficial to lawyers of all areas seeking to up their game by staying on top of trends involving both federal laws and regulations on a local level.
 
This year’s pulled-from-the-headlines presentations will feature the intangibles of fourth estate framework for lawyers, including ethics rules governing lawyer speech, gag orders, record sealing and real world application of these measures. Don’t miss this opportunity to obtain necessary CLE credit while learning important new tools to add to your practice. Here’s the key info:
 
When: Friday, May 17, registration begins at 8:30 a.m., CDT
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219
CLE Credits: 2 General; 1 Dual
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Facebook to Create Privacy Committee Overseen by FTC

Facebook is negotiating with the Federal Trade Commission regarding a plan to instill a privacy committee that will be overseen by an FTC assessor in effort to strengthen its privacy measures, The New York Times reports. This stems from claims regarding violations of a 2011 privacy consent decree by the company, which could also cost Facebook around $5 billion. The report comes from two people with knowledge of the talks; however, both Facebook and a spokesman for the FTC declined to comment on the matter.

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Gov. Lee Holding Considerably Less Press Conferences as Signature Legislation is Debated

Gov. Bill Lee has become less available to reporters and has denied public record requests regarding his schedule, saying that those documents are exempt under the "deliberative process privilege," The Tennessean reports. The Associated Press reviewed Lee’s press schedules and noted that in February only one in 27 of Lee’s press appearances were designated as photo only; however, in April over half of his appearances received that designation. This comes at a time when debate surrounding his controversial school voucher plan comes to a head in the General Assembly. Lee's press secretary Laine Arnold said: "The governor has been focused on passing his legislative agenda and budget” and that it is “really more of a question of timing." 

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Former Knox County Employees Claim They Were Fired for Whistleblowing

Two Knox County employees claim in newly-filed lawsuits they were fired for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing while the alleged culprit was promoted, Knoxnews reports. David Ball and Teresa Ferguson claim in lawsuits filed in Knox County Chancery Court that then-coworker Zack Webb repeatedly used his county credit card to buy computer equipment and office furniture in 2017 and 2018. The duo contend in the lawsuits they suspected Webb and Knox County Finance Director Chris Caldwell of giving away the items “for political gain.” The lawsuits do not detail the alleged plot’s political beneficiary.

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Memphis Judge Under Fire for Facebook Post

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Jim Lammey is facing criticism for a Facebook post, in which he shared an article by a Holocaust denier calling Muslim immigrants “foreign mud,” the Commercial Appeal reports. Lammey faces immigrant felons in court and is the only Criminal Court judge in the county to regularly order some immigrants seeking probation to register with federal immigration authorities or stay in jail. When asked about the post, Lammey said, “I see where I said, ‘Interesting read. Some four-letter words, though.' I don’t know if that meant that I agreed with it all or if it was just a reason to have a good conversation."
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5 New Job Postings on TBA’s Joblink

See who is hiring in Tennessee. Recent job postings this month offer opportunities in litigation, real estate, health law and more. See full listings or post positions in your firm on TBA’s Joblink.
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April TBJ: Celebrating 20 Years of Help from TLAP

Help us celebrate with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) its 20 years of helping those in the legal profession who have experienced substance use disorders, stress or emotional health issues. Former Justice Janice Holder writes in the April Tennessee Bar Journal about the program’s history and how it continues to provide a lifeline. Russell Fowler explains how a case from 1615 pitted Chancery and Equity against each other, and TBA President Jason Pannu explains two new programs, the Reporters Workshop and one to help solo and small firm lawyers. Read all this and more in the April Journal.
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Registration Now Open for TBA Convention in Nashville, June 12-15

The TBA's annual Convention returns to downtown Nashville this summer! Mark your calendars for June 12-15 and prepare for four days of CLE, networking, entertainment and more at the Renaissance Hotel, 611 Commerce Street. Registration is officially open, with early bird rates available until April 30.
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Deadline to Apply for Reporters Workshop is Friday

The deadline to apply for the inaugural Reporters Workshop is fast approaching. The Tennessee Bar Association, its Communication Law Section and the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters launched the program, which is scheduled to take place in Nashville on May 17-18. Twelve print, online, television, and/or radio journalists will be selected to complete the training, which will focus on access to government information, defamation and privacy concerns in reporting, and other timely topics. Applications are due March 29. For additional information, contact TBA program coordinator Jennifer Vossler.
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Recognize Great Journalism with 4th Estate Award Nomination

The Tennessee Bar Association has opened the nomination period for the second annual Fourth Estate Award, which honors courageous reporting on justice and the law. Nominees must be Tennessee-based journalists who have shown exemplary courage in exercising First Amendment rights in the promotion of public understanding of how the law and our legal system works and how it should work as demonstrated by a story or series of related stories published in 2018. Nominations can be submitted on the TBA website and will be accepted until May 1.
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Application Deadline Approaches for TBA Reporters Workshop

The deadline for applications to the inaugural Reporters Workshop is fast approaching. Tennessee Bar Association, its Communication Law Section and the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters last month announced the creation of the program, which will take place in Nashville on May 17-18. Twelve print, online, television, and/or radio journalists will be selected to complete the training, which will focus on access to government information, defamation and privacy concerns in reporting, and other timely topics. Applications are due March 29. For additional information, contact TBA program coordinator Jennifer Vossler.
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Fiction Contest Wraps Up Friday

The submission period of the Tennessee Bar Journal's annual Fiction Contest is about to end — the deadline is tomorrow! Here are the details you need to get started. Your winning entry will be published in an upcoming issue, plus you will get a $100 gift card to your favorite local bookstore — and you'll have the admiration of your colleagues and friends. Send it in!

TSC Rules Media May Not Be Compelled to Disclose Protected Information

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that the fair report privilege provided to journalists cannot be defeated by either express or actual malice. The decision came in an appeal arising out of a defamation action that Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk filed against Scripps Media Inc. and Nashville reporter Phil Williams. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings to determine if the reports were fair and accurate and whether the information was obtained from an official action or proceeding. Justice Cornelia Clark authored the court's opinion.
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Fox New's Wallace Chides DNC Decision to Exclude Network from Debate Coverage

Fox News reporter Chris Wallace criticized the recent decision by the DNC to ban the news station from airing its 2020 primary debates, calling the move “shortsighted,” The New York Times reports. The DNC decided to exclude Fox News from coverage following a New Yorker article which alleges an inappropriate relationship between the network and President Trump. “There are a lot of voters that a Democrat is going to need to get elected president who watch Fox News. People in the Rust Belt states, the rural areas that Hillary Clinton lost. They would have been able to see the Democratic candidates make their arguments about why they’re better able to represent their interests,” said Wallace regarding the boycott. Wallace also alluded to what he described as “a visceral antipathy to Fox News” by the left as motivation for the network’s exclusion.

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This Month: Communication Law Section to Host First Annual Reporter's Workshop

The Tennessee Bar Association’s Communication Law Section, in cooperation with the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, will hold the inaugural Reporters Workshop at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville on May 17-18. Twelve print, online, television and radio journalists will be selected to complete the training, which will focus on access to government information, defamation and privacy concerns in reporting and other timely, ripped from the headlines topics. Applications for the workshop are due by March 29. For additional information, contact TBA program coordinator Jennifer Vossler.

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Snopes Takes on PAC-Funded 'News Outlets'

The fact-finders at Snopes.com on Monday published details of its research into PAC-connected ‘local news’ outlets, including a questionable new upstart The Tennessee Star, which debuted last February. The site highlights an investigation by Politico that uncovered The Tennessee Star was the mouthpiece of conservative, Tea Party activists Christina Botteri, Michael Patrick Leahy and Nashville radio host and political commentator Steve Gill. The paper touts itself as being a “most reliable” news source, however, detractors maintain that it is purely a platform for wealthy mega-donors to promote their agendas. The trio has replicated the Star’s model in Minnesota and Ohio, with plans to expand in key battleground states before the 2020 presidential election.

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Man Accuses Chattanooga Police Department of a Cover-Up Regarding Beating

A lawsuit was filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court on Monday accusing the Chattanooga Police Department of a cover-up regarding the beating of a man last year during a traffic stop, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Benjamin Piazza pulled over Fredrico Wolfe for speeding and said that Wolfe tossed bags of drugs from his car, then struggled as he was being arrested. Wolfe’s attorney, Robin Flores, maintains that footage of the incident does not match Piazza's story, stating that "in his attempt to cover-up his criminal and unconstitutional conduct, later wrote false claims in an affidavit of complaint, which he swore under oath, in order to bring [now-dismissed] charges against the plaintiff,” and that the department suppressed knowledge of body camera footage on the incident. City Attorney Phil Noblett told the paper that he had been served a copy of the complaint this week but had not yet read the claims. The plaintiff is seeking $3 million in damages

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Write It! Last Weekend Before Fiction Contest Deadline

The submission period of the Tennessee Bar Journal's annual Fiction Contest is about to end, but there is still time to perfect that story -- this weekend is your time! Deadline for submissions is March 15. Here are the details you need to get started. Your winning entry will be published in an upcoming issue, plus you will get a $100 gift card to your favorite local bookstore — and you'll have the admiration of your colleagues and friends. Send it in!
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Man Arrested for 46-Year-Old Monroe County Murder Seeks Bond, Name of Accuser

The lawyer for a Monroe County man arrested last month for the 1973 killing of John Raymond Constant has asked that a bond is set for his client and that the state release the name of its secret witness, arguing that his client has the right to face his accuser, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Max Benson Calhoun is accused of killing Constant — who was a rumored runner for the “Dixie Mafia" — leaving his truck riddled with bullet holes and shooting him at least 17 times with a high-powered rifle or machine gun. There was previously an arrest regarding the case in 1982 after a witness provided testimony under hypnosis, which did not materialize in court and the charges were subsequently dismissed. No trial date has yet been set in Calhoun’s case.

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Attorneys for Rep. Byrd Ask Federal Court to Drop Free Speech Lawsuit

State Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit in which a Wayne County High School student alleged that the lawmaker and school officials violated free speech rights by telling students to wear shirts advertising Byrd’s campaign, The Nashville Post reports. The defendants alleged in a Thursday court filing that the anonymous student was not on the field trip last year. Byrd’s attorneys argued that prior to the student’s “voluntary decision to forego attending the field trip” he was told there was “no requirement whatsoever” that the student wear the t-shirt.
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TBA Launches Reporters Workshop

The Tennessee Bar Association, its Communication Law Section and the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters have announced the inaugural Reporters Workshop in Nashville on May 17-18. Twelve print, online, television, and/or radio journalists will be selected to complete the training, which will focus on access to government information, defamation and privacy concerns in reporting, and other timely topics. Applications are due March 29. For additional information, contact TBA program coordinator Jennifer Vossler.
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TBA Local Government Forum 2019

The TBA Local Government Forum 2019 will take place at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville on April 11. This forum remains the preeminent event for Tennessee municipality leaders, offering updates and timely topics affecting this practice area which has a unique blend of constitutional, statutory, and case law. The program will address the intangibles, with topics such as ABC laws, government employment law, legal ethics in a government setting and more. A networking event at the new Tennessee State Museum will follow the program. Here are the key details:
 
When: Thursday, April 11, Registration begins at 8 a.m., CST
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N, Nashville
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General Assembly Will Consider Changes to Open Record Laws

The General Assembly will consider legislation seeking to limit certain government record requests, despite pushback from open government advocates, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. One such bill — HB0335/SB0386, Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisburg — requires recordings of any emergency communications only be used for "public safety purposes and as necessary for law enforcement, fire, medical, rescue, dispatching, or other emergency services," a move Tillis contends will protect callers from news organizations using them in reporting, but detractors argue might obscure problems with investigations and limit government official accountability. Another bill — HB1107/ SB1346, Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville — builds on this, prohibiting personally identifying information including names and contact information from entering public record in motor vehicle accident reports. When asked about the measures, Senate chairman of the joint committee on open records Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga said: "We're trying to streamline the process and make it a more open dialogue on these exemptions to open record laws and (will) have a process of review after five years on any new ones that come along."

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Gov. Lee Provides Avenue for Public Feedback on Legislation

Gov. Bill Lee has taken an additional step in his commitment to “an open and transparent government,” creating a webpage for the public to view and provide feedback on legislation that has been submitted to him for consideration. Lee maintains that involving Tennesseans into the process more directly will increase accountability in how laws are made. The site will be updated regularly, as bills pass the Legislature and land on his desk.

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TBA to Introduce Legal Document Generation

The TBA will soon launch a new subscription-based product for Tennessee lawyers — automated legal forms. The initiative will use HotDocs, a custom documentation generator that creates form templates and speeds up the preparation process based on client and case data. In order to provide this valuable resource to our members, we hope to obtain your comments and ideas on forms you deem beneficial for replication. With across-the-board participation, we can comprise a substantive, comprehensive database where subscribers will have access to forms submitted by all TBA sections. Please send suggestions and comments to TBA Membership Director Mindy Fulks.

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