News

Charlie McDaniel Named LAET Director of Operations

Legal Aid of East Tennessee named Charlie McDaniel as director of operations for its nine offices across the Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Johnson City areas, the Hamilton County Herald reports. The areas include two Family Justice Centers and a Medical-Legal Partnership with Erlanger Health System. McDaniel serves on the Pro Bono Committee of the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, as well as the TBA’s Access to Justice Committee. He is also an associate member of the Justices Ray L. Brock Jr. and Robert E. Cooper American Inn of Court. 

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Indigent Representation Task Force Kicks Off Listening Tour

The Indigent Representation Task Force's statewide listening tour began yesterday in Memphis and continued today in Trenton, located in Gibson County. In Memphis, Shelby County Chief Defender Stephen C. Bush and Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law Dean Peter Letsou spoke to the panel. Private lawyers shared their issues and experiences as they are faced with the cap on compensation with juvenile cases. The next stops on the task force's listening tour are May 19 in Johnson City and May 20 in Knoxville. If you would like to speak at the upcoming hearings, you may sign up online or email Brenda Gadd, TBA Public Policy Coordinator. 

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Indigent Task Force Changes Venues for Thursday's Memphis Stop

The location for the Indigent Representation Task Force's statewide listening tour stop tomorrow in Memphis has been moved to the Vasco Smith Building, Shelby County Commission's Chambers, 1st floor, located at 160 North Main. The task force’s next stop is planned for Friday in Trenton. View a full listening tour schedule

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Jackson Attorney Wright Honored as Top Influential Woman

Jackson attorney Pam Ford Wright was recently honored with the Sterling Award as one of West Tennessee’s 20 Most Influential Women. She received the award for her focus on improving access to health services, elder care and caregiver support while working as a public interest attorney. Wright, owner of the Wright Law Firm PLLC and member of the TBA Elder Law Section Executive Council, was an attorney with West Tennessee Legal Services for many years.

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Education Program for Pro Se Litigants in Coffee County

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands launched a new education program with the Coffee County General Sessions Court to support pro se litigants. A Legal Aid Society staff member from the Tullahoma office will provide a free, monthly presentation to self represented litigants while the General Sessions Court is in recess from its civil docket. The program will begin by focusing on detainer actions and may expand to include presentations for other case types. The Legal Aid Society representative will provide educational materials, explain court procedures and clarify the legal rights and responsibilities of renters and landlords.  

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Indigent Task Force Listening Tour to Begin in West Tennessee

The Indigent Representation Task Force announced the first two stops on its statewide listening tour will be next week in West Tennessee. The first tour stop is planned for April 28, 3-6 p.m. in Memphis at the Criminal Justice Center Auditorium. The next day (April 29), the task force will hold a session from 3-6 p.m. in Trenton at The Chancery Building. View other scheduled tour stops and more information

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LSC to Launch 'Legal Portals'

The Legal Services Corp. (LSC) will develop online “legal portals” to help people who need civil legal help find the most appropriate forms of assistance, the ABA Journal reports. In an announcement today, LSC said Microsoft will provide at least $1 million and provide technical support for the project, which will begin with pilot portals in one or two states, according to a press release. States will be invited to compete for the opportunity to develop the pilot portals.

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Updated Dates for Indigent Task Force Tour

The state Supreme Court's Indigent Representation Task Force announced a statewide hearing tour on Friday. Some dates have been changed on the TBA website since Friday. 

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OTJ Celebrates 5 Years of Free Legal Advice

Online TN Justice celebrates five years of service today. The first question was posted to the site April 14, 2011. Since then, OTJ has answered over 11,000 questions received, and more than 500 Tennessee attorneys have registered to volunteer. The site has become the model for the national site, ABA Free Legal Answers. In March 2015, OTJ reached its highest monthly total of questions posted at 250. More information, as well registration to volunteer with OTJ, is available online.   

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Legal Community Promotes Access to Expungements

Sen. Steven Dickerson, R-Nashville, and Rep. Harold M. Love Jr., D-Nashville, along with leaders in the judicial and legal communities, today announced an initiative to improve awareness of and access to expungements in Tennessee. Under the initiative, a webpage has been launched to provide details on eligibility for expungements, links to local information and resources to help people get started. The initiative will include training for judges and court clerks as well as providing resources for them and the legal community.

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Tapas for Justice Set for April 21 in Nashville

Tapas for Justice, an event to benefit Justice For Our Neighbors, is planned for April 21, 5:30 p.m., at Bone McAllester Norton, 511 Union Ave. Suite #1600 in Nashville. Contributions may be given online to RSVP. The cost is $100 to host, $200 per couple and a $50 suggested contribution to attend.

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TBA Earns Top National Award for MLP Program

INDIANAPOLIS, April 7, 2016 — The TBA today received the 2016 ABA Outstanding Pro Bono Advocacy Award in Medical-Legal Partnership from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.

The Award was presented in recognition of the TBA’s outstanding leadership in promoting medical-legal partnerships to the legal community, engaging volunteer lawyers and identifying and building relationships within the medical profession, in part through the  formation of a Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group.

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TBA Earns Top Pro Bono Award for Medical-Leadership Partnership

The TBA today received a Pro Bono Advocacy Award in Medical-Legal Partnership from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. The award was presented in recognition of the TBA’s outstanding leadership in promoting medical-legal partnerships to the legal community, engaging volunteer lawyers and identifying and building relationships within the medical profession, in part through the formation of a Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group. Past TBA President Jonathan Steen and MLP Working Group Chair Charlie McDaniel today accepted the award during the annual MLP Summit, this year held in Indianapolis. 

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PBI Founder Esther F. Lardent Dies

The Pro Bono Institute announced its founder, Esther F. Lardent, has died. Lardent established the PBI in 1996 as a nonprofit organization to administer the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, a peer-to-peer effort she launched to increase the amount of pro bono services to individuals of limited means and organizations serving them. There are now 137 law firm signatories to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® and 145 law department signatories to the initiative.

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LAET Attorney to Serve on Domestic Violence Task Force

Legal Aid of East Tennessee staff attorney Kathryn Ellis was elected co-chair of the Blount County Task Force against Domestic Violence. The volunteer task force is an Action Team of the Blount County Community Health Initiative, focusing on domestic violence prevention and reduction, bullying prevention education in schools, and training for law enforcement.

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Artificial Intelligence Could Improve Access to Justice, Professor Says

Larry W. Bridgesmith, coordinator of the Program on Law and Innovation at Vanderbilt Law School, writes for The Tennessean on how the legal profession may be transformed by the capabilities of artificial intelligence. "Improving efficiency and reliability could result in more appropriate justice for more people, especially those who are most in need of adequate legal representation in civil and criminal matters,” he writes.

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PD Group Seeks to Fill Retiring Executive Director Position

The Tennessee Public Defender’s Conference announces an upcoming vacancy for executive director. The position is currently held by Jeff Henry, who in February announced his retirement effective at the end of his current term in June. Interested parties should address resumes and any other documents to search committee chair Tom Marshall at 127 N. Main Street, Clinton, TN 37716, and to conference president Jeff Harmon at P.O. Box 220, Jasper, TN 37347. The deadline to apply is April 22.

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LAET Names Director of Litigation and Advocacy

Russell Fowler was named director of litigation and advocacy for the Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Fowler teaches constitutional law at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and writes the “History’s Verdict” column for the Tennessee Bar Journal. He is a member of the executive council of the TBA Litigation Law Section.

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2017 LSC Grant Fund RFPs Available April 11

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announces the availability of grant funds to provide civil legal services to eligible clients during 2017. A request for proposals and other information pertaining to the LSC grants process will be available during the week of April 11. LSC is the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income residents in the U.S. and U.S. territories. The organizations LSC funds help people who live in households with annual incomes at or below 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Get the information from the LSC.

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LAS Creates Director of Advocacy, Names Kozlowski to Position

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands announced David Kozlowski, managing attorney of Legal Aid Society’s Columbia office, will also assume the newly created role of director of advocacy. Kozlowski will now lead and coordinate the non-profit firm’s advocacy work throughout its eight offices and entire 48-county service area. “This will be a chance for me to work with the lawyers and advocates in each of our offices as we work together to address the most significant problems — domestic violence, healthcare, housing, consumer and financial maintenance,” Kozlowski said.

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'Public Defense Day' Marks Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright

March 18 marks the anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that recognized that people who are charged with crimes are entitled to legal counsel even if they cannot afford to pay for it themselves. The day has now been dubbed Public Defense Day. Kira Fonteneau, an Alabama public defender, writes on Al.com about the importance of ensuring all defendants receive a fair trial. “Justice is only possible when it is extended to all parties in the criminal system,” she writes.

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TFJA to Host Volunteer Attorney Training in Knoxville

Registration is still available for the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance Attorney Training on March 31, 10 a.m. – 4:15 p.m., at the University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville. The training will focus on debt collection, expungements, landlord/tenant law, family law and civil general session issues in an effort to help attorneys offer free legal support to low income Tennesseans. Lunch will be provided.

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Technology's Use in Expanding Access to Justice

William Hubbard, former president of the American Bar Association, shared at the ABA Techshow how technology can help close the access-to-justice gap in the United States. Online dispute resolution, do-it-yourself court kiosks and virtual courthouses are some of the ways Hubbard mentioned technology is currently being used to help millions of Americans who cannot afford representation. Read more from the ABA Journal.

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Memphis Fundraiser to Help Expunge Criminal Records

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland will host a fundraiser March 21 at the Hattiloo Theater to benefit people who cannot afford to have their criminal records expunged, The Commercial Appeal reports. A 2012 law allows people convicted of specific nonviolent crimes in Tennessee to have their records expunged for a $450 fee. "There are many people in Memphis who want to find a job or a better job and their records are being held against them," Strickland said. The event is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. There is a suggested $25 donation.

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Legal Aid Society Launches 2016 Campaign at Luncheon

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands launched its 2016 Campaign for Equal Justice at a luncheon today in Nashville. Campaign Chair Trey Harwell of Neal and Harwell PLC announced that the campaign will seek to raise $827,000 to support free legal assistance across the region. The luncheon included a panel with Margaret Behm, principal at Dodson, Parker, Behm & Capparella, Judy Bond-McKissack, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Education, Judge Juliet Griffin, retired from the U.S. District Court, Middle District and Chancellor Carol McCoy, 20th Judicial District, Part II. Forty seven law firms are already supporting the campaign.

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