News

Hamilton Judge Clarence Shattuck to Retire After 36 Years On Bench

Hamilton County General Session Court Judge Clarence Shattuck announced today that he is retiring after 36 years on the bench, The Chattanoogan reports. His resignation is effective April 1. "I am honored and appreciate the opportunity the commission gave me over 36 years ago, and the citizens who have elected me on five occasions since. I have loved my job and have looked forward to coming to work every day and have tried to do my best for Hamilton County and its citizens," Shattuck said. It will be up to the Hamilton County Commission to name his replacement.
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Court of Appeals Hears Case on Removal of Confederate Statutes in Memphis

The Tennessee Court of Appeals today heard arguments over the removal of Confederate statues from former Memphis city parks, the Daily Memphian reports. The three-judge panel will likely issue a ruling in two to three months to decide whether the city acted legally by selling parks to the nonprofit Memphis Greenspace Inc., which removed monuments depicting Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, President Jefferson Davis and Capt. J. Harvey Mathes on Dec. 20, 2017. The panel also will decide the outcome of an injunction the trial court declined to grant preventing Greenspace from selling the statues but then allowed to stay in place until the appeal is done.
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Labor & Employment Forum – May 3

This program provides timely, specialized and practical information on a range of labor and employment law topics. Presented by esteemed leaders in the field, the CLE sessions will focus on mediation and employment cases, accommodations in the modern era, case law updates, and a unique, interactive ethics session focused on attorney well-being and the power of laughter. Finally, this program will include a judicial panel giving practitioners unique insight into the best presentation techniques for employment cases in federal court. This is the most in-depth employment-focused CLE in the state. Review the agenda, read the session descriptions and register to attend by clicking here.
 
When: Friday, May 3. Registration starts at 8 a.m.
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville
CLE Credits: 1 Dual, 5.5 Gen.
 
The program will feature presentations by Hon. Waverly Crenshaw Jr.Hon. Jon McCallaHon. Travis McDonoughJohn Bode of Miller & Martin PLLC, Celeste Bradley of Impark, Heather Collins of Collins & Hunter PLLC, Edmond Sims and Deborah Walker of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Stan Graham of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, Dan Norwood of Working Boomer Advocate, Debra Norwood of LaughterLawyerUSA and Michael Russell of Russell Dispute Resolution, PLLC.
 
Produced by Donna Mikel of Burnette, Dobson & Pinchak.

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Memphis Anti-Blight Lawsuits List Addresses as Defendants

Some of the defendants in a new batch of anti-blight lawsuits filed by the City of Memphis Thursday are the addresses of the properties, The Daily Memphian reports. The University of Memphis Law School Neighborhood Preservation Clinic filed 29 lawsuits with the General Sessions Court Clerk’s office on behalf of the city. Since many of the lots are vacant, the owners of the property are not the defendants — "we are literally suing the property," said Daniel Schaffzin, co-director of the clinic. That allows a receiver to be appointed for the property while the sometimes arduous process of finding the owner is undertaken.
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SCOTUS Rules Ban on Excessive Fines Applies to State, Local Governments

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the Constitution's ban on excessive fines applies to state and local governments, thus limiting their ability to use fines to raise revenue, NPR reports. The court's opinion came in the case of Tyson Timbs, whose $42,000 Land Rover was seized by the state of Indiana after he was arrested for selling a small amount of heroin to undercover agents for $400. The court's decision, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was announced by her on her second day back on the court following surgery late last year.
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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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Lawmakers and Advocates Push Back on Tennessee's Ban of Sanctuary Cities

Tennessee lawmakers and refugee rights proponents intend to advance legislation that will protect local governments over a state law prohibiting sanctuary cities, The Tennessean reports. Existing measures require local law enforcement officials conform to U.S. immigration policy or lose state economic development funds because of noncompliance. Bills introduced this year — SB507/HB558 and SB931/HB1110 — take aim at the law, requiring the state to reimburse localities for incurred expenses regarding compliance, and allow local police departments to take statements from victims and witnesses of crimes without asking their immigration status respectively.

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Chattanooga Man Sues City, Police Over Mistaken Arrest

A Chattanooga man who was arrested erroneously while starting on a family vacation has filed suit for $27 million, The Chattanoogan reports. George Harrison is suing the city for $5 million and Chattanooga Police officers Kaumar Hughes and Mathew Lynch for $1 million each in federal court. He is asking $20 million punitive damages in the complaint filed by attorney Clayton Whittaker. Harrison was taken into custody as he was attempting to board a plane to Iceland with his family. Harrison was mistakenly identified by a woman who said she was assaulted by her boyfriend.
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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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Why All Apartment Buildings in America Look the Same

Wood-framed balloon structures have become a ubiquitous part of our cityscapes, seemingly popping up overnight and changing the face of urban and suburban areas across America. No matter where you are, the buildings are ostensibly homogenous — blocky, colorful and three to seven stories tall. Bloomberg News examines the rise and controversy surrounding these ’stick framed’ structures, including why some municipalities seek to curb construction of the buildings in densely populated areas altogether.

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Local Government Forum on March 28

Government law is an ever-changing practice area with a unique blend of constitutional, statutory and case laws. The 2019 Local Government Forum will address intangibles of the practice area, along with topics such as ABC laws, government employment law, legal ethics in a government setting and more. A networking event will follow the program. Earn five hours of general CLE and one hour of dual.
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Springfield City Employee Files Federal Discrimination Lawsuit

An employee of the Springfield Water and Wastewater Department has filed a federal lawsuit against the city for racial discrimination, the Tennessean reports. Jordan Dickerson said co-workers racially harassed him on multiple occasions, including once when co-workers put a rope around his neck. The city disputes the rope incident occurred, but admitted that another incident involving a racist text message was true. Dickerson is asking for $500,000 and punitive damages.
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Nashville Police Oversight Board Holds First Meeting

Nashville’s new Community Oversight Board held its first meeting at the Metro courthouse last week to discuss leadership and staffing needs, The Tennessean reports. The board includes diverse members of the community, along with former police officers tasked with examining claims of racial bias and police misconduct in the city. Among the board members are former Davidson County Circuit Court Judge and Baker Donelson attorney Matt Sweeney and former Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper, who was elected secretary of the group. Voters overwhelmingly approved the establishment of the board in November 2018 despite opposition from Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson and the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police who expressed concerns that it may create a divide between law enforcement and the public. Chattanooga is also considering the adoption of a similar committee to oversee its police force.

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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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Your 3 PrePaid CLE Hours

TBA members receive three hours of free CLE programming. Members can use this credit to cover all or part of the cost of live programs at locations across the state, webcasts and any of our 300-plus online courses.

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Online Court Bonds Now Available from TBA Member Insurance Solutions

The new Court Bond Program from TBA Member Insurance Solutions offers a full range of court bonds – Civil Court Bonds, Probate and Fiduciary Bonds, Notary Bonds, Lost Instrument Bonds and Public Official Bonds. Bonds are underwritten by experienced, knowledgeable underwriters with a quick turnaround — typically 24-48 hours — and competitive rates. Start by registering here or get a quote today.
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Nashville Mayor's Order Recognizes LGBT-Owned Businesses

Nashville Mayor David Briley recently signed an executive order that recognizes LGBT-owned businesses as a category for Metro procurement and contracting, The Nashville Business Journal reports. Briley’s order aligns with recent changes announced by the Nashville Metro Council, which intends to address complaints that minority-owned businesses are not equally benefitting from the city’s economic growth. “It’s my job as mayor to make sure that everyone in our city, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has equal access to economic opportunities,” said Briley. “Today, we’ve taken an important step towards better equity for LGBT-owned businesses in Nashville.” Nashville will be the first city in the South to instill such a policy.
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Marshall Project, Journalist Sue Shelby Crime Commission Over Access to Records

The Marshall Project and Memphis journalist Wendi C. Thomas have filed a lawsuit against the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission over access to the agency’s records, The Daily Memphian reports. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Shelby County Chancery Court under the Tennessee public records act. The lawsuit states that after requesting multiple records from the Crime Commission, journalists repeatedly were denied access to the information by the organization.
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Nashville Court Clerk Accused of Sexual Assault

Davidson County Circuit Court Clerk Richard Rooker is being sued by an employee who says he repeatedly sexually assaulted her over a 12-year period beginning in 2006, the Tennessean reports today. The suit, which seeks at least $1.5 million in damages, says that Rooker forced her to have oral sex with him and also sexual intercourse. Rooker declined to comment and referred questions to his attorney, Hal Hardin.
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House Republicans File Legislation to Limit Nashville Police Oversight Board

A newly created civilian board tasked with overseeing the Metro Nashville Police Department could lose its subpoena powers, a move that would significantly hinder the panel's ability to investigate alleged officer misconduct, The Tennessean reports. Tennessee House Republican leaders announced yesterday that they have filed legislation to limit citizen boards' authority to compel witness testimony or issue subpoenas for documents, among other restrictions that would apply to any similar board around the state. The Metro Nashville Council last month elected its 11-member community oversight board, which voters approved by referendum in November through an amendment to the city charter.
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Lee: State Agencies Must Improve Serving Rural Tennessee

In his first executive order issued last week, Gov. Bill Lee is requiring all 22 executive departments in the state to submit a statement by May 31 explaining how they serve rural Tennesseans. NewsChannel 5 reports that the order also asks the agencies to submit recommendations to improve that service by June 30.
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Chattanooga Council to Vote on $46.5 Million Sewage Project

The Chattanooga City Council will vote Feb. 5 on whether to award a construction contract in what will be the costliest component of its ongoing sewage treatment cleanup, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The $46.5 million project calls for three 10-million-gallon storage tanks near the Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant, which has released millions of gallons of sewage into the Tennessee River. In 2013, Chattanooga leaders signed an agreement with federal and state environmental regulators to have the site — known as the West Bank Outfall — contained by July 2020 in order to comply with the Clean Water Act. The city has budgeted a total of $264 million to fix and upgrade its sewer infrastructures, which service around 400,000 customers in the area.

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TBA Weekly Legislative Update

The Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives are back in session and are referring newly introduced bills to the appropriate committees, which are primarily holding organizational meetings this week. The deadline for filing all legislation is Feb. 6, so there will be a flood of bills introduced over the next two weeks. The TBA Governmental Affairs Team will be reviewing all bills and begin the process of forwarding the legislation affecting the practice of law to the appropriate Section Executive Councils for review and feedback. Stay tuned for more info.
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Defendants Ask for Dismissal of Lawsuit Involving Stalking by Dickson Police

Defendants in a lawsuit in which two former Dickson Police Officers sued the city, alleging that they were “routinely followed and stalked” after being fired, are asking that the case be thrown out, The Tennessean reports. The dispute stems from the dismissal of Robert Peeler and Justin Walton, former officers with the department who were sacked for their handling of an altercation outside of a local restaurant and evidence tampering — for which they were ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor. The defendants, Dickson Police Assistant Chief Seth Lyles and Capt. Todd Christian, maintain that any observations of Peeler and Walton took place in public places and that no constitutional violation occurred because there was no “search,” therefore the plaintiff's claim of invasion of privacy is unsubstantiated. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and District Attorney's office in the 17th Judicial District investigated the allegations made by Peeler and Walton, and determined that there was no reason to pursue charges on the matter.
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