News

Volunteer for High School Law Camp

The TBA’s Public Education Committee is seeking volunteers for the 2017 Lipscomb Law Camp, which will be held on the Lipscomb University campus June 12-16. Each year, Lipscomb University’s Institute for Law, Justice and Society hosts a class of high school students from across the country and educates them in matters of law and government. This year’s theme is “Constitutions and Constitutionalism,” and volunteer attorneys are needed to lead sessions June 12-15. Materials and suggested lesson plans will be provided. Contact Public Education Coordinator Lauren Hopper Lee, (615) 277-3217.
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14th Amendment Theme of 2017 ABA Law Day

In recognition of Law Day on May 1, the American Bar Association will sponsor programming in Washington, D.C., and encourage celebrations across the country that highlight the rule of law. “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy” is the theme this year, and will be the subject of three public events in the nation’s capital: "The 15th Annual Leon Jaworski Public Program" and "A Law Day conversation with the D.C. Courts" on May 1, and the “Dialogue on the 14th Amendment” program for high school students on May 2.

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Inmates Graduate Higher Ed Program

Eighteen Tennessee inmates graduated on Thursday from a program run by Tennessee High Education Initiative, a nonprofit that works with the Tennessee Department of Corrections to bring higher education to prisoners. The Jackson Sun reports the graduates completed their 41-Hour General Education certificates, which denotes the completion of the core requirements of an associate’s and bachelor’s degree in Tennessee. The program currently includes 115 men at two prisons, Turney Center Industrial Complex and Northwest Correctional Complex, and boasts more than 300 graduates. 
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Statewide Student Civics Essay Winners Announced

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office has announced the winners of its 2016 Civics Essay Contest. Among them are high school winner David Lee of Germantown, who wrote about the difficulty of engaging young voters without proper civics education, middle school winner Ruby Jimenez of Moore County, who wrote about the importance of exercising one’s right to vote, and elementary school winners Isabella Balturshot of Sumner County and Katie Peachey of Madison County.
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Obama Honors Civil Rights Sites with Federal Designations

President Barack Obama signed an order yesterday designating three civil rights related sites as national monuments. They are: a downtown section of Birmingham, Alabama, that includes the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four black girls were killed in a Ku Klux Klan bombing; a bus station in Anniston, Alabama, where a group of “freedom riders” were attacked; and the site of a post-Civil War community of freed slaves near Beaufort County, South Carolina. The National Park Service will oversee these new areas as part of the federal park system, National Public Radio reports.

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Foundation Raising Funds for Harry Burn Statue

The East Tennessee Foundation’s Suffrage Coalition has announced a public fundraising effort to honor East Tennessee legislator Harry Burn, who cast the crucial vote to approve the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. A statue of Burn will be installed on the southeast corner of Clinch Ave. and Market St. in front of the East Tennessee History Center. Designed by Alan LeQuire, it will feature Rep. Burn and his mother, whose historic letter to her son inspired him to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of suffrage. With that vote, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment and make it law. The group hopes to raise $400,000. Learn more from Knoxnews.

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Court Plans SCALES Event for 2017

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hold its SCALES program next November at Lane College in Jackson. The program, which is designed to educate high school students about the judicial branch of government, has served more than 25,000 students from more than 460 high schools across the state. Lane College, founded in 1882 by one of the nation’s early African American church denominations, is a small, private, co-educational institution that provides a liberal arts curriculum.

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Williamson County School Hosts Mobile Court

Ravenwood High School’s government and criminal justice classes recently observed a civil motion docket in their own school’s auditorium. The Williamson County School System partnered with the county’s court system to set up the mobile court. The effort was designed to help students understand how the judicial branch operates on a local level, the Tennessean reports. Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley presided over the proceedings and stopped from time to time to explain court lingo for the students. “Local courtrooms are too small to accommodate most of our schools, so we decided to bring the court to the schools,” Social Studies Curriculum Specialist David Rector said.

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AOC Director Speaks to TISL Students

Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Director Deborah Taylor Tate recently joined more than 500 Tennessee college students for the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL) Day on the Hill. The TISL program offers college students the opportunity to learn about state government and the political process, while the Day on the Hill provides an opportunity for students to meet their legislators and learn about current policy issues. Tate recounted the number of state officials who are TISL graduates – including Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Treasurer David Lillard, Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins and Justice Holly Kirby, and eight other current and former judges – to challenge the students to take advantage of the opportunities they are given.

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TBA YLD Releases 2017 Mock Trial Case

The case for the 2017 Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition was released today by the TBA Young Lawyers Division’s Mock Trial Committee. This year’s problem is a criminal case, involving the death of a patient at a nursing home facility and a standout high school student employed there. This year’s state competition will take place March 17-18 at the Metro Courthouse in Downtown Nashville. The winning team will get a chance to take part in the National High School Mock Trial competition in Hartford, Connecticut, in May.

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KBA Offers LawTalk Events This Weekend

The Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) will offer its annual LawTalk sessions tomorrow and Saturday at two locations in Knoxville. On Friday, the sessions will be held at the O’Connor Senior Center, 611 Winona St. On Saturday, the presentations will take place at Fellowship Church, 8000 Middlebrook Pike. From 9 to 10:45 a.m. each day, lawyers will focus on wills and trusts, probate options and the importance of living wills and powers of attorney. Then from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., lawyers will discuss legal protections for the elderly, the disabled and their caregivers. The seminars are free and open to the public but registration is encouraged. Attendees can register for their preferred location at the links above. For more information call 865-522-6522.

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National Events Mark Free Speech Week

Free Speech Week will be celebrated next week with events across the country. The annual celebration is designed to raise public awareness of the importance of free speech in our democracy, and to celebrate that freedom. Get ideas for events, speeches and classroom presentations on the FSW website.

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September 27 is Voter Registration Day

Sept. 27 is National Voter Registration Day and hundreds of events are being planned across the country. A website dedicated to commemorating the day features a directory of events for prospective voters, information for those interested in volunteering, and voting and election resources for educators and lawyers to use in the classroom. Two other sites offer resources for the upcoming election, including the ABA Division for Public Education and the Brennan Center for Justice, which describes its election website as a “one-stop-shop for factual information on some of the most important topics of 2016.”

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Saturday is Constitution Day 2016

Constitution Day is an American federal observance that commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution. It is celebrated each year on Sept. 17. The TBA has a range of resources available for those who want to mark the day on Saturday. The ABA also has identified a theme for this year's Constitution Day. The focus spotlights the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution – known as the “Reconstruction Amendments” – and the role they played in helping to extend the guarantees of freedom to all Americans.

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Events This Week Mark Constitution Day

Constitution Day is recognized annually on Sept. 17, though local groups are hosting events over the next several days to mark the occasion. Middle Tennessee State University celebrated today with a public event featuring Nashville civil rights leader Diane Nash. Faculty and staff also read the U.S. Constitution out loud at various sites across the campus and voting rights groups hosted a voter registration drive, the Daily News Journal reports. Tomorrow, Motlow State Community College will host a panel discussion on elections and the Constitution. The forum will take place in Room 105 of the Marcum Technology Center from 10:50 a.m. to 12:05 p.m., the Shelbyville Times-Gazette reports.

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Federalist Society’s Memphis Chapters Host Constitutional Scholar

The Memphis Lawyers Chapter and the University of Memphis Student Chapter of the Federalist Society will hold a discussion with constitutional scholar Gordon Lloyd next Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the law school. Lloyd, a senior fellow at the Ashbrook Center and professor of public policy at Pepperdine University, has developed a number of online exhibits on the constitution for TeachingAmericanHistory.org. These exhibits focus on the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist-Antifederalist debate, ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. RSVP to Melanie Busch by this Friday.

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Chief Justice Highlights Court’s Accomplishments

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee recently spoke to chief justices from across the country at a national conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Lee focused her remarks on accomplishments achieved during her tenure as chief justice. She steps down from that role at the end of the month. Lee praised the state legislature for funding the court’s new electronic filing system and raises for staff. She also talked about efforts to ensure consistency of process and procedures in the state’s juvenile courts and highlighted the Access to Justice Initiative, civics education through the SCALES program, a new business court, a new human trafficking court and an indigent representation task force. Read her full remarks and see a photo gallery of her time as chief justice.

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Reminder: Tennessee Suffrage Monument to be Unveiled Friday

A monument honoring women's suffrage and the suffragists of Tennessee will be unveiled at Nashville's Centennial Park this Friday. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Speakers will include Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillian, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, among others. The date was chosen to coincide with Women's Equality Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 19th Amendment into law. Visit the Tennessee Suffrage Monument or make a donation now.

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State Launches Student Essay Contest, Mock Election

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office is running the state’s first ever student mock election and reports the program is off to a great start. More than 170 schools across the state are registered to participate, meaning an estimated 76,000 students will cast a mock vote for president. Secretary of State Tre Hargett says his office is now rolling out an essay contest to encourage students to be engaged citizens. Essays should focus on a voting-related topic. Winners will receive a trip to the state capitol and a college scholarship. The office also has lesson plans to help teachers incorporate civic engagement and citizenship into their curriculum.

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New ABA President to Focus on Veterans, Election Issues

Atlanta lawyer Linda Klein, senior managing shareholder at Baker Donelson, was sworn in as president of the ABA yesterday and outlined her goals for the year, which include a focus on veterans’ legal needs, promotion of voting in the upcoming election and support for quality education. A new ABA Commission on Veterans’ Legal Services will provide resources for local legal groups to serve veterans and their families, and explore ways to provide legal services at VA medical facilities. Tennessee will be represented on the commission by TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur. The voting initiative, ABA Votes 2016, will provide a state-by-state summary of voter laws as well as resources lawyers can use to encourage participation. Finally, a new education commission will study ways to address substandard education in rural and inner city communities and improve opportunities for children with disabilities.

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Law Camp Participants Learn About Civics, Justice System

The Tennessee Bar Association recently partnered with Lipscomb University for its annual Law Camp, held in Nashville June 6-10. The law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings also sponsored the program.

Each summer, Lipscomb University’s Institute for Law, Justice & Society hosts high school students from across the country to participate in a week-long residential camp that exposes them to various aspects of the legal profession. This year’s camp focused on civics and justice, with special attention paid to the question, "What is justice?"

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Students Will Hear Oral Arguments in Cookeville

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hold oral arguments before 600 students next week at American Legion Boys State in Cookeville. The cases include a wage dispute lawsuit from Memphis and a first degree murder case.

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AG: Amendment Will Not Impact Equal Protection Provisions

A legal opinion from state Attorney General Herbert Slatery said a proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution regarding public school funding would not negatively impact the state's equal protection provisions. The Times Free Press reports Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, requested the opinion about his proposed amendment that would allow state lawmakers "to devote as much - or as little - funding as they wish to public education.” The proposed amendment, HJR 0493, comes after Hamilton County and other school systems have sued the state over the school funding formula. 

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TBA YLD Releases 2016 Mock Trial Case

The TBA YLD Mock Trial Committee has released the problem and rules for the 2016 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition. The list of district competition coordinators should be available later this week. This year’s case is a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of appliances for recreational vehicles. The suit is brought by a semi professional rodeo junkie and walking horse aficionado who claims a defective refrigerator is to blame for a fire that damages a high-end customized horse trailer. The manufacturer denies any liability, arguing that the owner intentionally altered the refrigerator’s cooling unit to cause the fire. High school students across the state will put their best arguments forward at local competitions in February, with district winners advancing to the state competition March 18-19 in Nashville. Follow along at @tnmocktrial or sign up to receive updates by email.

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Heriges Joins TBA Staff as YLD Coordinator

Young Lawyers Division Director Stacey Shrader Joslin will be leaving the TBA at the end of the month, concluding 11 years of service with the organization. Taking her place will be Katharine Heriges, who joined the staff on Nov. 16 and has been training under Shrader Joslin this week. Heriges comes to TBA after two years of working on local Nashville political races. Prior to that she worked as an English teacher abroad in Busan, South Korea. In addition to serving as coordinator for the YLD, Heriges will work with the TBA’s Public Education Committee. She can be reached at (615) 383-7421 or kheriges@tnbar.org.

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