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TBA Law Blog          

Stay up to date with legal news in Tennessee by following the TBA Law Blog, featuring stories produced by the Tennessee Bar Association or collected from news sources.

John Partin has been elected president of the Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference for 2018-2019. Partin is the elected public defender for Tennessee’s 31st Judicial District, which includes Warren and Van Buren counties. He succeeds outgoing president Donna Hargrove, the current elected public defender for the 17th District. The conference represents public defenders in all of Tennessee’s 31 judicial districts.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that police generally need a search warrant to review cell phone data, ABC News reports. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that the government is obligated to get a warrant before compelling a wireless company to provide data such as a user’s location and other records. “The fact that such information is gathered by a third party does not make it any less deserving of Fourth Amendment protection,” Roberts wrote.
On July 19, the annual Federal Practice Seminar will be held at the Bar Center. Highlights of this year’s CLE include best practices for presenting a case in federal court, analysis of key Local Rules for the three federal districts in Tennessee, best practices for e-discovery, and an update on Federal Probation Office policies and procedures. 
On June 21, the Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended Jennifer Lynn Mayham from the practice of law upon finding that Mayham poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Section 12.3 of Supreme Court Rule 9 provides for the immediate summary suspension of an attorney’s license to practice law if an attorney poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Mayham is immediately precluded from accepting any new cases, and she must cease representing existing clients by July 21.
Nashville-based TailGate Beer filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on Tuesday against Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co. over allegedly copying the former beer maker’s logo, the Nashville Post reports. TailGate’s logo – that of a pickup truck with beer in the bed – was trademarked in 2013, while Boulevard recently added a similar image to the label of its pale ale. The lawsuit argues that Boulevard committed willful infringement, noting that the company ran an ad campaign featuring the slogan “Why just tailgate when you could Palegate?” Boulevard has denied the claims and says the image was not knowingly taken from TailGate.
On June 13, 2017, the Tennessee Bar Association filed a petition seeking to amend the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court to add a new rule which would address the practice of "Collaborative Family Law." On August 27, 2017, the court solicited written public comments and it received written public comments from the Board of Professional Responsibility, the Nashville Bar Association, the Knoxville Bar Association, the Middle Tennessee Collaborative Alliance, individual attorneys, and individual non-attorneys. The TBA responded to those comments, and now the court directs the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission to formally comment on this proposed new rule. The comments shall be submitted on or before Monday, August 6, and may be e-mailed to or mailed to James M. Hivner, Clerk, Re: Collaborative Family Law Tennessee Appellate Courts 100 Supreme Court Building 401 7th Avenue North Nashville, TN 37219-1407.
Joseph Ray Daniels, the father charged with murdering his 5-year-old son Joe Clyde, will undergo a forensic mental health exam to determine his ability to stand trial, The Tennessean reports. Dickson County Circuit Court Judge David Wolfe ordered the exam, which according to Daniels’ public defender will also attempt to ascertain what his mental health state was at the time of the alleged crime. Daniels was indicted on counts of first degree murder, felony murder, aggravated child abuse, filing a false report and tampering with evidence.
The Tennessee Supreme Court concluded the state’s waiver of sovereign immunity for claims brought against it under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), a federal law intended to provide job security for veterans, does not apply to cases that arose before July 1, 2014, when the waiver became effective. Read the unanimous opinion in David R. Smith v. The Tennessee National Guard, authored by Justice Cornelia A. Clark, at the website.

Two former occupational therapists at a Columbia nursing home were whistleblowers in a Medicare fraud case that was settled this month for $30 million, The Columbia Daily Herald reports. Kristi Emerson and LeeAnn Holt tipped-off the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, providing documentation that showed the company pressured employees to perform unneeded therapy and manipulated therapist schedules to maximize profit. You can view the complaint here.

The Justice Department today sought permission from a federal judge to detain immigrant families longer than 20 days in order to keep children with their parents, CBS News reports. The move comes after President Donald Trump signed an order to stop the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents. The administration’s zero-tolerance policy will remain, but families will be kept together in detention.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that states may force online retailers to collect sales tax, CBS News reports. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said the ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair was “welcome” news. “Tennessee joined a multi-state amicus brief in support of South Dakota that highlighted the importance of this source of revenue for the states and the unfairness of the previous rule to our local retailers,” Slatery said in a statement.
After expressing interest in replacing the resigning Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, yesterday, Robin Smith has confirmed that she will run for the Republican nomination for State House District 26, the Times Free Press reports. Smith, a former chair of the state Republican Party, will run with the support of Tony Sanders and Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Martin, who also expressed interest yesterday but agreed that only one would submit their name for consideration. McCormick made the surprise announcement that he would resign on Oct. 1 and drop his name from the primary ballot earlier this week.
Two men who were ejected from the Nashville Pride Festival in 2015 while protesting the event have appealed their case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Nashville Post reports. John McGlone and Jeremy Peters claim their First Amendment rights were violated when they were asked to leave and later threatened with arrest while they yelled at festival-goers with bullhorns. An attorney for Metro told the court that the decision to move the preachers across the street was a “reasonable time, place and manner restriction.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that administrative law judges must be appointed by the president, courts or heads of federal agencies, overturning the process currently used by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the ABA Journal reports. The SEC contended that the judges were employees, and therefore were subject to appointment by staff members. SEC judges were being selected by the chief judge and approved by the SEC personnel office.
John P. Franklin Jr., a Chattanooga icon who holds the distinction of being the first African-American elected official in the city, died this week, the Times Free Press reports. He was 96. Franklin was first elected to the old Chattanooga City Commission in 1971 and served five terms, including as vice mayor. He was a teacher and principal, and operated a family funeral home business.
In a candidate forum for the Republican gubernatorial hopefuls held this week, only House Speaker Beth Harwell voiced support for sports betting, WPLN reports. Sports betting has been a hot topic since a federal court ruling allowed for states to legalize the practice. Harwell said that while she didn’t personally support the state lottery, she appreciated the revenue it generates for education, so she would not veto a bill legalizing sports betting. Her opponents Randy Boyd, Rep. Diane Black and Bill Lee all said they would oppose such a law.
On June 20, the Supreme Court of Tennessee reinstated Timothy Paul Webb to the practice of law, effective immediately. Webb had been suspended by the Supreme Court of Tennessee for five years on September 26, 2016, with two years active suspension and the remainder on probation with conditions. Webb filed a petition for reinstatement to the practice of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 30.4. A hearing panel found that Webb complied with the terms and conditions of his suspension, and further found that he had demonstrated the moral qualifications, competency and learning in the law required for the practice of law, and that his resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the integrity or standing of the bar or administration of justice, or subversive to the public interest.

The Federal Election Commission has dismissed two competing claims of campaign finance misconduct against Jimmy Matlock and Tim Burchett, both running for the Republican nomination for the 2nd Congressional District seat, Knoxnews reports. Knox County resident Lee Dunlap filed the complaint against Matlock, claiming that the campaign took two $500 contributions from corporations, which the campaign later refunded. Loudon County Commissioner Van Shaver filed the complaint against Burchett, making similar allegations. The Burchett campaign did not refund their donations because, as the FEC dismissal noted, they were not improper.
On July 13, the Elder Law Forum will be held at the AT&T Building in downtown Nashville. Sessions will cover succession planning, Medicaid appeals, VA applications, conservatorships, ethics and more. The annual forum is a great time to connect with practitioners from across the state and catch up on the latest developments for this practice area.  
Following state Rep. Gerald McCormick’s announcement that he would drop his name from the primary ballot and retire from the legislature, three Republicans have expressed interest in running to replace him, but all agreed that only one should appear on the ballot, the Nashville Post reports. Tony Sanders, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commissioner, Robin Smith, former Tennessee Republican Party chair, and Greg Martin, a Hamilton County Commissioner, all said they wanted the job. They have until June 28 to decide which of the three will pursue the seat officially.
Two dancers at a Knoxville strip club have filed a lawsuit against the club’s owners for taking cash paid for certain services, billing dancers a “performance” fee and taking cuts of their tips, Knoxnews reports. The women are claiming that the environment constitutes exploitive business practices, while the club owners don’t deny any of the allegations, but claim instead that dancers aren’t employees with rights to wages and labor protections.
Three Tennessee attorneys were named on the American Bar Association’s Top 40 Young Lawyers On the Rise list for 2018. Caldwell G. Collins, of Baker Donelson, Daniel Horwitz, of the Law Office of Daniel Horwitz, and John Spragens, of Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein, LLP, made this year’s list of honorees. All three of the recognized attorneys are based in Nashville.
The TBA has updated its website with a Legislative Update from the 110th General Assembly, highlighting TBA initiatives and legislation important to Tennessee lawyers. A list of all laws that go into effect July 1 can be found here.
In a new article in the ABA Journal, an attorney with the American Bar Association’s South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project describes representing families arrested at the border. Kimi Jackson talks about federal policy changes, en masse hearings and representing underage clients in the piece.
Twenty-eight attorneys from across the state graduated from the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law (TBALL) program during the association's annual convention in Memphis last week. The group spent the last six months learning about leadership in the legal profession, issues in the courts, policymaking in state government and the importance of community service.