News

ABA Releases Opinion on Prosecutors’ Ethical Duties

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility today released Formal Opinion 467, which deals with the managerial and supervisory obligations of prosecutors under Model Ethics Rules 5.1 and 5.3. The opinion finds that (1) prosecutors with managerial authority must adopt reasonable policies and procedures to ensure all lawyers and non-lawyers in their office conform to model rules, (2) prosecutors with direct supervisory authority must make reasonable efforts to ensure all lawyers and non-lawyers they supervise conform to the rules, and (3) prosecutors with both managerial and supervisory authority may be required to fulfill both sets of obligations.

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New ABA President Calls for Innovation in Delivery of Legal Services

South Carolina lawyer William C. Hubbard accepted the gavel as the new president of the ABA and urged lawyers to join him in his signature effort: closing the legal services delivery gap for the poor. Hubbard outlined several ways to accomplish that goal, including connecting lawyers, judges and academics with technology innovators who are spending millions of dollars on finding new ways of providing legal services. “We must marry this creativity with our own justice system to provide greater access while protecting the public,” he said. He also noted that several specific issues “clamor for our attention and rational evidence-based solutions.” These include a criminal justice system that is breaking down fiscally, the continued imprisonment of low-level offenders, the number of mentally ill in prison, the need for more pro bono representation for domestic violence victims, and the balance between privacy and security. Read more about Hubbard’s goals for the year in the ABA Journal.

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ABA House of Delegates Acts on Range of Issues

The ABA Annual Meeting continued yesterday with a number of actions by the group’s House of Delegates. The body approved new standards and procedural rules to be used in the accreditation process for U.S. law schools and adopted resolutions urging:

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TBA Reception Honors Harrison McIver

The TBA will host a reception in honor of Memphis lawyer Harrison D. McIver on Saturday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. The Tennessee Reception is made possible through the generous support of the University of Tennessee College of Law, University of Memphis School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. McIver is executive director and CEO of Memphis Area Legal Services.

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ABA Meeting Kicks Off Friday in Boston

The ABA Annual Meeting kicks off tomorrow in Boston. Among the programs planned are a keynote address by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, screening of “The Case Against 8” and a presentation by David Boies and Theodore B. Olson on marriage equality, and a keynote speech by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts. The House of Delegates will meet Monday and Tuesday and consider a number of policy resolutions. At the conclusion of the meeting outgoing president James R. Silkenat of New York will hand the gavel to his successor William C. Hubbard of South Carolina. The ABA Journal provides an overview of the meeting.

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Roberts to Launch Magna Carta Celebration at Annual Meeting

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts will launch the ABA's yearlong, 800th anniversary commemoration of the Magna Carta during the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston this week. In his address to the House of Delegates, Roberts will talk about the historical and current significance of the document sealed by King John of England in 1215 in response to demands by landowning barons. A traveling exhibit curated by the Library of Congress, “Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015,” will be unveiled at the meeting and then move to cities around the country. Its travel will culminate with the ABA's London Sessions next June in England. The ABA Journal has more.

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Judge Donald to Receive ABA Pickering Award

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bernice Donald will receive the American Bar Association’s 2014 John H. Pickering Award of Achievement during the group’s Annual Meeting in Boston this August. Donald, a native of Mississippi, worked for Memphis Area Legal Services and the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office before being elected the first female African-American judge in Tennessee. She later moved from General Sessions court to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the U.S. District Court for western Tennessee. She was appointed to her current position in 2010. In nominating Donald, California attorney Pauline Weaver wrote, “Judge Donald represents the best of the profession. She has consistently demonstrated the kind of integrity, legal ability, access to justice and public service that would make John Pickering proud.”

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Chief Justice Roberts to Give Keynote at ABA Annual Meeting

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will be keynote speaker to the ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates during the group's Annual Meeting in Boston this August. Roberts will talk about the historical and present-day significance of the Magna Carta, kicking off the ABA’s commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the signing of the document in 1215. The ABA journal has more.

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Memphis Lawyer Honored with Public Service Award

Harrison D. McIver II, executive director/CEO of Memphis Area Legal Services, has been chosen to receive the 2014 Dorsey Award in recognition of exceptional work by a public defender or legal aid adviser. The American Bar Association established the award in honor of the late Charles H. Dorsey Jr., long-time executive director of Maryland's Legal Aid Bureau, and a champion of the poor and underprivileged. The award will be presented at the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston this August.

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Help Celebrate the Magna Carta's 800th Anniversary

In anticipation of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015, the ABA is planning a range of events to promote the historical and contemporary relevance of the document, including new publications, a London meeting for lawyers and a tour of Runnymede. In addition, the ABA is partnering with the Library of Congress to create a traveling and stationary exhibit. The traveling exhibit will launch in August and will travel across the country to law schools, courthouses, public libraries and other venues. Educational and commemorative events also are planned. Lawyers can get involved by helping to refurbish the ABA Memorial at Runnymede, promoting awareness of the charter and supporting events that mark the anniversary.

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ABA President Addresses Attorney-Client Privilege

American Bar Association President James R. Silkenat responded to a letter from National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander by saying, the ABA "looks forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the NSA to ensure that American lawyers and their clients have confidence that their privileged communications are appropriately protected." The exchange follows the ABA’s Feb. 20 questioning of the agency’s policies to protect the attorney-client privilege in the course of its intelligence mission.

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TBA Executive Honored at ABA Event

The Tennessee Bar Association and several of Tennessee's law schools joined together to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at a reception Saturday during the annual ABA Midyear Meeting in Chicago. The "Tennessee Reception" is a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. Ramsaur serves as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, representing the National Association of Bar Executives. See photos from the event at the link above.

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TBA Executive Honored for ABA Activities

The Tennessee Bar Association and several of Tennessee's law schools joined together to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at a reception Saturday during the annual ABA Midyear Meeting in Chicago. The "Tennessee Reception" is a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. Ramsaur serves as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, representing the National Association of Bar Executives.

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ABA Accepting Nominations for Appointments

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced it is accepting applications and nominations for 2014-2015 Presidential Appointments to ABA standing committees, special committees, commissions and other entities and initiatives. The online application process opened this week and is available until Feb. 28.

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Former TBA President Ashworth Honored at Reception

Attorneys from across the country joined their Tennessee colleagues at a reception honoring former TBA President Gail Vaughn Ashworth during the recent ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The event was hosted by the Tennessee Bar Association with generous support from the University of Tennessee College of Law, the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School and Belmont University College of Law. See photos from the event.

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YLD Brings Home Awards from ABA Meeting

The TBA YLD was recognized for a number of programs and activities at the ABA YLD Annual Meeting this past weekend in San Francisco. The YLD was awarded first place in the Minority Project category for its new invited guest program, which seeks to include the broadest range of perspectives and experiences on its governing board by inviting representatives from all specialty and minority bars in the state to attend meetings and participate in decision-making. It also received special recognition for its annual Mock Trial Competition and its overall member service and public service initiatives. Read more in a message from YLD President David McDowell.

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Tennessee Lawyers Selected for National Offices

Four Tennessee lawyers were selected for leadership positions in the ABA and other national organizations this past week: former TBA President and Memphis lawyer Danny Van Horn was named chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Membership; Knoxville lawyer Carole Lynch Worthington was elected to an at-large seat in the ABA House of Delegates; and Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper was named to another term as a delegate to the ABA House, representing the National Association of Attorneys General. In addition, former Nashville Bar Association President and TBA Delegate to the ABA Jonathan Cole was elected secretary of the National Conference of Bar Presidents -- a move that puts him in line to lead the group in several years. Cole is only the third Tennessean to hold that position, following in the footsteps of Memphis lawyer Shepherd Tate and Worthington.

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New York Lawyer Takes Office as ABA President

Accepting the presidential gavel today at the ABA Annual Meeting, New York lawyer James Silkenat laid out a series of initiatives he intends to focus on during his year in office. These include a renewed effort to improve access to justice, creating employment opportunities for new lawyers and addressing the public policy issues of gun violence, immigration and election law reform. The ABA Journal reports.

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Justice Kennedy, ABA House Address Human Trafficking

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy spoke out against human trafficking on Saturday after attendees at the ABA Annual Meeting had heard from Minh Dang, a victim of human slavery. In his keynote address, Kennedy recounted statistics indicating there are 27 million people being held as slaves around the world, with at least 100,000 of them in the United States. "Let's stop human trafficking," he said. "I urge you to continue to bring this to the world's attention." On Monday, the ABA House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved model legislation for states to use in adopting new prohibitions against human trafficking. In related news, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission announced it has begun using civil actions -- which require a lesser burden of proof than criminal actions -- against those who traffic or abuse employees, while a federal judge struck down a New Jersey law aimed at fighting the sexual trafficking of minors. The ABA Journal has more on these developments.

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Lewis Earns ABA Presidential Citation

Former TBA President and Memphis attorney George T. "Buck" Lewis today was awarded a Presidential Citation from ABA President Laurel Bellows at the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon in San Francisco. The presidential citation is a new award that allows the ABA president to recognize lawyers who have made "noteworthy contributions to the legal profession and the ABA," and who exhibit "outstanding leadership qualities." The luncheon was being held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting. See a photo from the event on the TBA's homepage.

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Holder, Clinton Address ABA House of Delegates

The ABA House of Delegates, meeting today and tomorrow in San Francisco, faces a full agenda of resolutions but “the early buzz [was] over two legal superstars" who addressed the House today, the ABA Journal reports. This morning, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder outlined a new crime and prison policy focusing on what the administration believes is an over-reliance on mandatory minimum sentences. Holder said the department would be directing the nation’s prosecutors to avoid these sentences for “low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or drug organizations.” Then this afternoon, Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared before the House to receive the ABA Medal, the association's highest award. The Washington Post has more on both of those stories.

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Nashville Lawyer to Lead ABA’s Environmental Law Section

Stites & Harbison attorney William L. Penny is the new chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, the Herald Online reports. A longtime Nashville resident, Penny is the first Tennessean to lead the group though he has served as vice chair, chair-elect and budget officer. Penny has practiced environmental law and litigation for more than 30 years and has served as general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation. He also was the first chair of the TBA’s Environmental Law Section and the first chair of the Nashville Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee.

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Lewis to Receive ABA Presidential Citation

Former TBA President and Memphis attorney George T. "Buck" Lewis will receive a Presidential Citation from ABA President Laurel Bellows at the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon Aug. 12 in San Francisco. The presidential citation is a new award that allows the ABA president to recognize lawyers who have made "noteworthy contributions to the legal profession and the ABA," and who exhibit "outstanding leadership qualities." The luncheon is being held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting. Representatives from the Tennessee legal community will be in attendance to celebrate Lewis' recognition.

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State Report: Trafficking Victims Need More Help

Tennessee ramped up criminal penalties for human traffickers this year, but rehabilitative services for survivors remain disjointed and reliable data remain elusive according to a new state study. The 97-page report, which has been in development for a year, found that communities do not have sufficient services, such as housing, relocation assistance, transportation and legal aid, to help trafficking victims. The report also calls for counseling victims within four hours of their discovery, relying on nonprofits to provide follow-up contact with survivors, creating a central data collection point for reporting trafficking incidents, creating four new staff positions in the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), and designating DHS and DCS as the point agencies for coordinating victim services. The Tennessean has more on the story.

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Former ABA President Honored with Service Award

William T. “Bill” Robinson III, immediate past president of the ABA, will be presented with the National Center for State Courts’ Distinguished Service Award at the Conference of Chief Justices next week in Vermont, the ABA reports. He is being recognized for his work supporting sufficient funding for federal and state courts. Robinson, member in charge of the Northern Kentucky offices of Frost Brown Todd, also is licensed in Tennessee and is a member of the TBA.

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