Memphis NBA Chapter Hosts MLK Programming on Feb. 23

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association is hosting a day of programming at the Fogelman Business Center in Memphis. The event, starting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 23, will focus on the protest movement in its current state as well as provide updated information on the law surrounding assembly, protest and municipal responsibility. Speakers include local historical figures who worked with Dr. King, representatives of the media, City of Memphis, local activists, attorneys and judges. Contact Florence Johnson, 901-725-7520, for more information.
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The Protest Movement as a Tool for Social Change: Fifty Years Post-King

The Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association presents a dynamic day of programming in recognition of 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis. This program explores the protest that brought Dr. King to Memphis in 1968 and the legacy that his untimely death has left on the fabric of the city. The event will focus on the protest movement in its current state as well as provide updated information on the law surrounding assembly, protest and municipal responsibility.
The program features local historical figures who worked with Dr. King, representatives of the media, City of Memphis, local activists, attorneys and judges.
Speakers and producers include:
  • Barbara Arnwine, Esq., CEO and Founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition, Washington, D.C. 
  • Judge Earnestine Hunt Dorse, Municipal Court Judge, Memphis
  • Bill Cody, Burch, Porter and Johnson, Memphis
  • Earle Schwartz, Memphis Bar Association President, Memphis
  • Judge Bernice Bouie Donald, United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis
When: Feb. 23, 9 a.m. CST
Where: Fogleman Business Center, First Floor Amphitheater, 330 Innovation Dr., Memphis, Tennessee 38152
Contact Florence Johnson by email or call her at 901-725-7520 for more information.
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Don't Forget: Winter CLE Blast Tomorrow!

Need CLE hours fast? We can help! The annual Winter CLE Blast is less than a day away. With this program, you can complete up to 11 hours of Dual CLE credit on your own time. Our registration desk will be open from 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Feb. 21, providing you the flexibility to create your own schedule and take as many or as few hours as you need. Payment will be determined at checkout depending on the number of hours you attend. 


  • Flexible to your schedule
  • Up to 11 Hours of CLE
  • Ethics Credits
  • Compliance CLE
  • Live Credit Hours

When: Feb. 21, registration begins at 7 a.m., CST

Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 4th Ave N., Nashville, TN 37219


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Low Number of Female, Minority U.S. Attorney Candidates a Concern to ABA

American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass told Attorney General Jeff Sessions she is concerned with the low percentage of women and minority candidates appointed to U.S. attorney positions, the ABA Journal reports. Of 57 U.S. attorney candidates proposed by the Trump administration so far, one was black and three were women. “A justice system that is not representative of the diverse community it serves risks losing its legitimacy in the eyes of those who come before it,” Bass wrote in a letter to Sessions.
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New TBJ: How the 38-Year 'Geier' Case Changed Higher Education

Follow the 38-year legal battle to secure educational opportunity for African-Americans in Tennessee's public colleges and universities, in this issue. Written by C.A. Gonzalez, who was the mediator and court's monitor in the case, the article explains all the twists, turns and intrigue of the famous Geier case that changed everything. Also, TBA President Lucian T. Pera explains what he sees as a market failure for lawyers as well as what the solutions could be. In a feature article, Tennessee's 1865 Constitution and "the return of civil government" is examined by former TBA President Sam D. Elliott. Read the December Tennessee Bar Journal.

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Black Farmers Association Calls on Trump to Accept Ruling in USDA Suit

The Memphis-based Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association called on President Donald Trump to accept a court ruling that could lead to payouts over $1 billion to growers who were denied assistance based on race, The Commercial Appeal reports. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., last week issued an order denying a USDA ruling that would have thrown out the claims of 15,000 black farmers. The case was originally brought by Earnest Lee Boyland, a farmer from Mason, Tennessee.
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Alexander, Corker, Haslam Favor Moving Forrest Bust from Capitol

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker both support moving a bust of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Tennessee Capitol and relocating it to a museum, Humphrey on the Hill reports. In a statement, Gov. Bill Haslam concurred, saying he strongly encouraged the Capitol Commission and Historical Commission to act. “My position on this issue has not changed — I do not believe Nathan Bedford Forrest should be one of the individuals we honor at the Capitol,” he said, the Times Free Press reports. Tennessee’s gubernatorial candidates are split, however, with only the two Democratic candidates supporting the statue’s removal.
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Memphis to Sue State to Remove Confederate Statues

The city of Memphis is prepared to sue the state of Tennessee to remove confederate statues from city owned land, Fox 13 reports. “There is no place in the city of Memphis for signs or symbols of hatred, bigotry or racism,” said City Council Chairman Berlin Boyd. The city must get approval from the Tennessee Historical Commission before a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest can be removed. That issue is currently being taken up in court, but a second statue of Jefferson Davis has not yet been addressed. City Attorney Bruce McMullen said the city will add him to the list of statues they want down on an amended waiver adding if that is denied, “We are prepared to go all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court on this issue.”
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Law Firm Mourns Loss of Legal Assistant Killed in White Supremacist Attack

The Miller Law Group in Charlottesville, Virginia, described legal assistant Heather Heyer as “empathetic,” “conscientious” and with a good sense of humor, memorializing her just days after she was killed in a white supremacist attack. reports that Heyer, who was killed when a man drove his car into a group of people who were protesting a white nationalist rally, had worked at the firm for five years. “I’m going to miss her,” said firm attorney Larry Miller. “It’s a small firm. It’s like family.”
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ABA President Condemns Charlottesville Violence

American Bar Association President Linda Klein responded yesterday to weekend violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one protester and two officers dead. “The ABA knows the principles that govern our country – respect for the rule of law, tolerance for the beliefs and freedoms of others, and a deep dedication to uphold the Constitution – are strong and will prevail over the forces of hate and racism," she said.
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City Boosts Grants to Strike-era Sanitation Workers

The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday to increase the honorary grants going to city workers who participated in the 1968 sanitation strike, the Commercial Appeal reports. The 10 retirees and four active employees will get $70,000 grants, with all taxes paid by the city. Earlier the council had passed Mayor Jim Strickland's proposal to give the strikers all-taxes-paid $50,000 grants.

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City Pledges $900k to Living Memphis Sanitation Strikers

In honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr., the city of Memphis will give $50,000 to each of the 14 living sanitation workers who staged strikes over working conditions in the 1960’s, The Commercial Appeal reports. "It's a major step toward the financial security they deserve," said Mayor Jim Strickland of the proposal. The city will cover the cost of the tax-free grants with money from its reserves. 
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Website Shows America's Brutal Lynching History

Two years ago, a groundbreaking study on lynching documented the brutal mob violence that forced many African Americans to flee the south. With help from Google, now the Equal Justice Initiative that published the study has transformed Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror into an interactive digital platform that combines historical data and personal stories so people can explore one of the darkest passages in the nation's history. has the USAToday story.

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Big Law Sees Small Gains in Diversity, but None for African-Americans

Large law firms saw a small increase in diversity last year, but the gains did not extend to African-American lawyers, the ABA Journal reports. Minorities now make up 15.6 percent of the lawyers at the nation’s top 250 firms, up from 15 percent last year, and the percentage of minority partners increased 0.4 percentage points, to 8.6 percent. The percentage of African-Americans, however, did not change from the previous year. According to the American Lawyers's  diversity scorecard, Asian-American and Hispanic lawyers did expericnce gains in both number of lawyers and partners.  
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Attorney-Author Seeks Info on Early African-American Lawyers

Nashville attorney Lewis Laska is collecting information for a book he is writing about African-American lawyers in Tennessee (1868-1968). He seeks information regarding experiences, anecdotes, documents, cases and memoirs regarding black lawyers during this era. Although he has already identified 206 names, he does not want to leave anyone or anything out and therefore requests any other available information. Contact him at P. O. Box 252, Madison, TN 37116, (615) 491-2928 or at

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ABA Launches Diverse Speakers Directory

The American Bar Association is looking for attorneys from underrepresented groups to join the new Diverse Speakers Directory, a initiative designed to give opportunities to speakers from diverse backgrounds and also help CLE planners connect with those individuals. ABA and non-ABA members are invited to sign up for the directory, which would be used by more than 3,500 ABA entities looking for speakers for their events or experts in a subject matter. 
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Crockett County to Remember Man Lynched by Mob in 1929

The Crockett County NAACP and the Equal Justice Initiative are sponsoring a ceremony to remember Joe Boxley, a man lynched by a mob in 1929. The ceremony will feature a dedication of soil from the site where he was killed for permanent display in the Equal Justice Initiative museum. Speakers will include District Attorney Garry A. Brown, Tennessee History for Kids Founder Bill Carey, a Boxley family member and a representative of the Equal Justice Initiative.The dedication will be in the Crockett County Courthouse in Alamo at 10 a.m. on June 10.

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House Members Spar After Accidentally Honoring Klan Leader

Tennessee House members sparred yesterday after they unwittingly voted in favor of a resolution honoring the achievements of Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Tennessean reports. Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Smyra), apologized to members of the black caucus after sponsoring the resolution to honor Shane Kastler, the author of a book about Forrest. “I passed this not trying to hurt anybody's feelings,” Sparks said. Rep. Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar) said he thought Sparks “pulled a fast one,” adding that he would take his vote back if he could.
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Many Pledge to 'Stand Against Racism' at YWCA Event

Several hundred people gathered in Nashville's Public Square Park today for the YWCA's annual Stand Against Racism event. The programming was led by Mayor Megan Barry and featured several lawyers and others speaking on the theme "Women of Color Leading Change." Among the speakers were Ana Escobar, with the Davidson County District Attorney General's Office; civil rights attorney Abby Rubenfeld; and Sharon Roberson, president and CEO of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee. Melody Fowler-Green, with the Metro Human Relations Commission, and Beverly Watts, who serves on the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commisson, led the crowd in committing to the pledge. See photos from the event.

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Voter ID Law

A federal judge ruled today that a voter ID law passed in Texas in 2011 was enacted with the intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters, the New York Times reports. The judge had previously made a similar ruling, but the state of Texas appealed her decision and a federal appellate court instructed her to review the issue again.
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Learn the Neuroscience of Decision-Making at the TBA Convention

At the TBA Convention in Kingsport, a special joint Bench/Bar CLE will examine the role neuroscience plays in our decision-making skills and judgment. The session will include exercises, tools and specific strategies for increasing impartiality and integrity in decision-making. The course will identify ways to increase fairness guided by science. The convention will be June 14-17 at the MeadowView Marriott Resort.
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Former Nashville Employee Claims Firing Violated Civil Rights

A former Metro Nashville worker filed suit against the city in federal court today, claiming her civil rights were violated in her firing, the Tennessean reports. Danyelle Bennett is seeking $2 million in damages over her termination, which she said was tied to a November Facebook post in which she posted a graphic in support of President Donald Trump’s victory. In comments about the post, Bennett’s response to one statement included the use of a racial expletive.
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DOJ Changes Course in Voting Rights Case

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday dropped a claim that a strict voter ID law in Texas was enacted with discriminatory intent, according to the ABA Journal. Opponents had argued the restrictions on which IDs were acceptable were intended to benefit Republicans and white voters who tend to support them.The Justice Department said it was dropping the claim to allow time for Texas lawmakers to consider a bill that would allow more types of IDs. A lawyer representing one of the plaintiffs in the case, Danielle Lang, said that the dropped claim "is a complete 180-degree turn."

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Memphis BLSA Raises $100K for Scholarships at Banquet

The Benjamin L. Hooks Chapter of the Black Law Students Association hosted an awards banquet last night that raised more than $100,000 for scholarships. Billed as the Inaugural Unity in Diversity Banquet, the event was established to create more opportunities for diverse students to pursue a legal education.
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Napier-Looby Bar Foundation Hosts Awards Banquet

The Napier-Looby Bar Foundation’s 13th Annual Barrister’s Banquet and Awards Program will be held Thursday evening. This year’s program will honor Richard Manson with the Z. Alexander Looby Lifetime Achievement Award, Mercedes Mynor-Faulcon with the Justice A. A. Birch Outstanding Service Award and Charles K. Grant and Joycelyn Stevenson with the J. C. Napier Trailblazer Award. The night’s events will be held at the Music City Center in Nashville, and begin with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.
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