News

ATJ Commission to Hold Family Law Summits Across Tennessee

The Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission is sponsoring a series of Regional Family Law Summits. The summits will bring together judges, court clerks, lawyers, mediators, law students, educators, and anyone interested in innovative ways to help Tennesseans with family law issues. West Tennessee's will be held Sept. 24 at the Benjamin L. Hooks Public Library in Memphis from 2 - 5:30 p.m. Middle Tennessee's will be held Sept. 25 at Nashville School of Law from 1:30 - 5 p.m. East Tennessee's will be held at the United Way in Knoxville from 1:30 - 5 p.m.
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Attorney Volunteers Needed for ‘Become a Citizen’ Workshop

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Hillcrest United Methodist Church and the Nashville Mayor’s Office of New Americans are seeking attorney volunteers for their “Become a Citizen Now!” workshop, held on Sept. 22 in honor of National Citizenship Day. Local families who are legal permanent residents will receive assistance in applying for naturalization at the event, which will take place from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Interested attorneys should complete this form to take part.
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LAS to Host Open House for New Nashville Office

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will host an open house for its new office on Thursday. The Sweet Soiree Open House will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at 1321 Murfreesboro Pike, Suite 400. RSVP here.

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TBA Seeking Public Service Award Nominations

The TBA is seeking nominations for three prestigious access-to-justice-related awards. The TBA Public Service Awards recognize service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization providing indigent legal representation; pro bono work performed by a private attorney; and pro bono commitment demonstrated by a law student volunteer. Nominations for the Public Service Awards are due Sept. 21. Awards will be presented at TBA’s Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon on Jan. 19. For more information about these awards, contact Access to Justice Director Liz Todaro.

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Lipscomb Seeking Volunteers for Free Legal Clinic Next Week

Lipscomb University's Fred D. Gray Institute for Law, Justice & Society will host a free legal clinic in Nashville at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Schrader Lane Church of Christ, 1234 Schrader Lane, Nashville, 37208. It will be an advice-only clinic with no expectation that volunteers take on continuing representation. For more information or to volunteer, contact Randy Spivey, 615-966-2503.

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Outgoing Nashville Public Defender Plans New Project

Outgoing Metro Nashville Public Defender Dawn Deaner is embarking on a new mission with a new project – the Choosing Justice Initiative. The Nashville Scene reports that the program will see Deaner taking on clients who can’t afford an attorney but can’t get a public defender either. In an effort to give poor defendants more say in the process, Deaner says she’ll seek to be appointed to cases after clients choose her to represent them. Deaner served in the Public Defender's Office for more than 20 years. Martesha Johnson was sworn-in as her replacement last week.
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ATJ Community Gathers to Learn and Honor Leaders for Service

More than 200 lawyers, law students and advocates gathered this week for the 2018 Equal Justice University (EJU) in Murfreesboro. The conference is sponsored by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and TBA is an event co-sponsor. TBA President Jason Pannu today spoke to those gathered for EJU via videotaped remarks. Pannu thanked the legal service staff and volunteers for their role as first responders, providing life-changing assistance to Tennesseans in need, and also acknowledging the strong collaborations that make this work possible. TBA YLD President Christian Barker introduced Pannu’s video by expressing appreciation for the access to justice community and sharing his own experience with an opportunity for unexpected pro bono service. See pictures and more here.
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Equal Justice University Kicks Off Tomorrow in Murfreesboro

The 2018 Equal Justice University Conference begins Wednesday in Murfreesboro. The three-day event, hosted by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and co-sponsored by the TBA, is an annual gathering of 200 lawyers, advocates, social work professionals and pro bono attorneys involved in providing civil legal assistance across the state. Speakers this year include Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins, Rhodes College Professor Charles McKinney, TBA President Jason Pannu and TBA YLD President Christian Barker. Session topics include the opioid epidemic, immigration relief, legal support for veterans and legal technology innovations. 
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Equal Justice Initiative Founder Delivers MTSU Convocation Speech

Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, spoke in Murfreesboro on Saturday as a part of the 17th Middle Tennessee State University Convocation, The Daily New Journal reports. Stevenson addressed the incoming and returning students with a message calling to promote social justice. He also authored “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” which served as the Class of 2022’s summer reading assignment.
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Memphis CLC to Host ‘Jam for Justice’ Fundraiser

The Community Legal Center in Memphis will host the second annual “Jam for Justice” concert fundraiser on Sept. 29. The event will kick off at 6 p.m. at Railgarten, 2166 Central Ave. It’s free to attend but donations of any amount are accepted. 
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Grant to be Legal Aid President Through 2020

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has named Charles K. Grant as its new board president, The Tennessee Tribune reports. Grant succeeds Bob Martineau Jr., who served as president since 2016. Grant, a Nashville litigator with Baker Donelson, was first vice president of the Legal Aid board. His term as president lasts through 2020.
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Volunteers Needed for Legal Clinic Nashville

Lipscomb University's monthly legal clinic at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 600 28th Avenue North, will be held Aug. 21 at 5:30 p.m. Volunteers are needed. It will be an advice-only clinic with no expectation that you take on continuing representation. An informational packet that addresses common legal clinic questions will be provided. If you are interested, contact Randy Spivey.
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LAET to Host Tri-Cities Pro Bono Awards Event

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host its annual Tri-Cities Celebration of Pro Bono Service on Aug. 23 at the Tipton Haynes Historical Site, 2620 South Roan Street, Johnson City. The Heritage of Justice Jubilee begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. with the awards presentation to follow. The celebration includes live music, barbecue, a silent auction and a cash bar. Reservations are $35 per person. For more information, or to make reservations, call (423) 794 2487 or visit www.laet.org.
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Former Hamilton County Chancellor Howell Peoples Dies at 75

Howell Peoples, who served as Hamilton County chancellor for 32 years, died Friday, The Times Free Press reports. He was 75. Legal Aid of East Tennessee released this statement on Peoples' passing: "Chancellor Peoples was inducted into the Legal Aid of East Tennessee Pro Bono Hall of Fame in 2016 for his dedication to pro bono work and for being the first legal aid lawyer funded by LSC in Chattanooga, paving the way for quality legal services for our low income and vulnerable neighbors. He was a pillar in the legal community and will be missed." The TBA will post updates as arrangement details are made available.
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Volunteers Needed for Expungement Clinic in Nashville

The TBA Young Lawyers Division is seeking volunteers for an expungement clinic Aug. 18 in Nashville. The clinic will be held at New Covenant Christian Church, 2201 Osage Street. Sign-in for the pre-registered participants begins at 9 a.m. and the clinic will start at 10:15 a.m., running until noon. All volunteer attorneys are asked to arrive at 9:30 a.m. for orientation and the run of the day. The Criminal Court Clerk’s office will have computers and the ability to process the expungement paperwork right on the spot. Those available to help should contact Amber Floyd.
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UTK Law Launches Pro Bono License Reinstatement Project

The University of Tennessee College of Law Pro Bono and Legal Clinic are working together to assist Tennessee drivers whose licenses have been suspended, following a federal court decision that deemed unconstitutional Tennessee’s practice of revoking driver’s licenses for failure to pay court costs. The License Reinstatement Project includes a hotline and a website which people utilize for information or help with the process of getting their license reinstated.
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TALS Announces Access to Justice Award Winners

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) has announced the winners of its 2018 Access to Justice Awards. Justice Frank Drowota III will be honored posthumously with the Janice M. Holder Award for his career of service and legacy to the access to justice community, alongside Amber Floyd of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs in Memphis for her work spearheading statewide expungement clinics. Other award winners include past TBA president and immediate past chair of Tennessee's Access to Justice Commission Marcy Eason along with former executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands Gary Housepian, who are joint recipients of the B. Riney Green Award. Vanessa Bullock of West Tennessee Legal Services will be recognized as the New Advocate of the Year. The honorees will be celebrated during TALS’ Equal Justice University Conference Aug. 29 in Murfreesboro. 

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Legal Aid Names New Family Law Leader

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands attorney Shaina Thompson has been promoted to lead attorney of the family law section of the organization's Nashville office. She will help victims of domestic violence gain independence from abusive situations. Beyond Orders of Protection and divorces, this includes helping victims with issues like denial of benefits, food stamps and/or housing.

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Tennessee to Appeal Ruling on Driver's License Suspensions

Tennessee is appealing a federal court decision that earlier this month opened the door to the state reinstating driver's licenses for potentially more than 150,000 residents, the Tennessean reports. U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger had ruled it is unconstitutional for Tennessee to revoke someone's driver's license if they could not pay court costs. Today, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey formally filed a notice of appeal.

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Tennessee Senior Law Alliance Expands Legal Help for Seniors

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, in cooperation with several legal aid providers, is taking a coordinated approach to assisting Tennessee seniors facing legal problems, according to a press release on its website. The Tennessee Senior Law Alliance will partner with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Memphis Area Legal Services and West Tennessee Legal Services in effort to reach all 95 Tennessee counties, helping seniors identify and resolve core legal issues such as wrongfully reduced or denied access to benefits and health care; illegal barriers to obtaining and maintaining safe and secure housing; physical, emotional and financial abuse and exploitation; and a lack of help with basic estate planning such as creating wills, advance directives and powers of attorney. You can learn more about the program using this link.

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ABA SCOTUS Brief Seeks to Preseve Cy Pres Awards for Legal Aid Organizations

The American Bar Association on Monday filed an amicus brief telling the U.S. Supreme Court that class-action cy pres awards are often appropriate when paid to legal service groups that help provide access to justice, the ABA Journal reports. Cy pres awards — paid to outside groups rather than class-action plaintiffs — provide an average of $15.5 million annually to legal services organizations, according to the ABA brief. A broad ruling imposing constitutional restrictions on cy pres awards would “potentially deprive legal services organizations of critical funding and low-income residents of legal representation,” the brief said.
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Council of Economic Advisers Releases Report on Work Requirements for Social Programs

The Council of Economic Advisers recently released a report titled "Expanding Work Requirements in Non-Cash Welfare Programs," that addresses controversial work requirement issues according to a Whitehouse press release. In April, President Trump signed an executive order giving states more autonomy over their Medicaid programs, allowing them to request waivers to add stipulations such as work requirements. Kentucky was the first state to try and implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients, however, a federal judge vacated the approval, sending the state’s program back to the federal Department of Health and Human Services for further review. So far, four states' applications have been approved by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services: Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky and New Hampshire, while seven other states have applications pending: Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Utah, Ohio and Wisconsin. You can read the full report here.

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UT Names New Legal Clinic Director

The University of Tennessee College of Law recently named Joy Radice, a tenured associate professor at the College of Law, as director of the UT Legal Clinic. She succeeds Interim Director Penny White, who has led the clinic since 2015. Radice will oversee nine clinics that operate through the UT Legal Clinic, which is the oldest continuously operating legal clinic of its kind in the United States. Radice has been with UT since 2012. Her areas of expertise and scholarship focus on criminal law, criminal procedure, prisoner reentry, and expanding civil legal services to fill the access to justice gap.
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CLC Memphis to Host ‘Cocktails for a Cause’

The Community Legal Center in Memphis will host “Cocktails for a Cause” on Aug. 3, for which all proceeds will go towards benefiting the CLC. The event will take place at 1509 Peabody Ave. from 5 to 7 p.m. Organizers promise “no speeches, no agenda” for the evening, just a fundraiser for a good cause.
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TALS Access to Justice Award Nominations Due Thursday

Time is running out to nominate someone for a 2018 Access to Justice Award. Nominations and any supporting documents must be submitted to TALS by July 5. TALS is now accepting nominations for three different awards: the Janice M. Holder Award, the B. Riney Green Award and the New Advocate of the Year Award. Read more about the awards here.

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