Filter Content

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.

A man who fled the country after child rape accusations in 1994 is now free on bond, Knoxnews reports. Jahangir John Shafighi, who was accused of raping an 11-year-old girl in 1992 while attending graduate school at the University of Tennessee, was captured last year in Atlanta and nailed with a passport fraud charge, but was released on bond. Knox County Assistant District Attorney Joanie Stewart has fought to keep Shafighi behind bars to guarantee he will show up at trial in the rape case.
The city of Memphis made public Friday a list of people requiring police escorts when they are in City Hall, an act that may have violated a 1978 federal consent decree banning political surveillance, the Commercial Appeal reports. The list is comprised mostly of prominent political activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. The American Civil Liberties Union is currently looking into the case.
James Harrison Bostick Jr. died Wednesday (Feb. 15). He was 89. He graduated from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and had a more than 50-year career in legal practice. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. A funeral was held today at 10 a.m. at Memphis Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or to the charity of the donor's choice.
Michael Louis Frayser died Tuesday (Feb. 14) in Memphis. He was 68. A graduate of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Frayser enjoyed a 28-year career as an investment banker before switching careers to become a civil litigator. He had served as a Marine in the Vietnam War and earned several medals, including the Purple Heart. Visitation was today at St. Louis Catholic Church. A private military honors ceremony will take place tomorrow.
The American Bar Association’s first Washington Letter chart for 2017 has been released and has updates on bills in Congress that the ABA has championed or opposed during the previous congressional session. Updates include information regarding the ABA’s support of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and the ABA’s support of adequate funding for the Legal Services Corporation. Read the full chart here.
The family of a man who died while in the custody of the Bradley County Jail is suing for $30 million, the Times Free Press reports. Hershel Dover died after being arrested for a probation violation and falling ill. The lawsuit is against Bradley County government and Gabe Thomas, the captain of the jail at the time. The suit claims Dover required insulin three times a day, but doctors at the hospital where he was treated found elevated amounts of glucose in his blood and no food or medications in his stomach.
Tennessee attorneys should be on the lookout for an email check scam that at least one Nashville firm has reported encountering. The deception involves an overseas caller or emailer claiming to be a real person and asking about a breach of contract issue. A preliminary web search about the "client" would likely return real results, creating the appearance of validity. The North Carolina Bar Association has more information and examples of materials likely used by the scammer. The NCBA advises caution when dealing with any debt collection case initiated by an overseas “client.”
Several positions for the TBA's Young Lawyers Division 2017-2018 bar year were certified last week via uncontested election results, including that of Vice President. Troy Weston was deemed elected for that office, and will serve as TBA YLD president for the 2019-2020 bar year. Electronic voting will begin March 1 for offices in contested races. See a complete list of TBA winners and contested races.
In addition to Sarah Sheppeard’s election as Vice President, several other key positions for the 2017-2018 bar year were certified yesterday via uncontested election results. Electronic voting will begin March 1 for offices in contested races. For a complete list of TBA winners and contested races, visit the TBA website
A Clarksville man was sentenced this week to life in prison plus 20 years in the 2013 murder of Miles Hendrick, the Leaf Chronicle reports. Joseph Graham was found guilty of first-degree felony murder, especially aggravated burglary, seven counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and five counts of especially aggravated attempted robbery. Graham was among a group of men that broke into a home and tied up seven victims with the intention of robbing them. Some of the victims broke free of their restraints to fight back, and Hendrick was shot in the ensuing struggle. 
The Tennessee Ledger profiles the Tennessee Justice Center’s fight to protect Tennessean’s access to health care. For 21 years the TJC has been working for all Tennesseans to have access to health care, and now that Congress is considering repealing or replace the Affordable Care Act, the TJC sees this as a time in which many people could soon be without care. “When you get sick and go to the hospital, you’re not a Democrat, you’re not a Republican,” said TJC co-founder Gordon Bonnyman. “You’re a person who needs care.”
Hamilton County attorney Randall Lee Nelson was transferred to disability inactive status today. Nelson may not practice law until the showing of clear and convincing evidence to the Tennessee Supreme Court that the disability has been removed, and he is fit to resume the practice of law.
Sammons Order Struck Down
February 17, 2017

Campbell County Judge Amanda Sammons is again under fire, this time for asking the Department of Children Services to drug test citizens in court bathrooms, Knoxnews reports. That action was appealed to 8th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge John McAfee, who struck down Sammons' drug-testing order, saying she "has no authority to enter a blanket order purporting to bind a non-party to a non-case." Sammons is currently on probation following an ethics investigation into accusations of misconduct in the courtroom. 

Nashville lawyer Michael G. Kaplan died on Wednesday. He was 70. Kaplan was a Vanderbilt Law School graduate originally hailing from Pasco, Washington. He practiced tax and estate planning law with Sherrard, Roe, Voigt and Harbison. His opinion on tax issues was often sought by writers from the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune and Money. Visitation with the family will be held from 5 - 7 p.m. on Sunday at Congregation Micah, 2001 Old Hickory Boulevard. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Tennessee Golf Foundation's First Tee Program, Vanderbilt University, Congregation Micah, or a charity of the donor's choice.
Former state House Rep. Mark Lovell was found to have violated the legislature’s sexual harassment policy, the Tennessean reports. The specific details were not included in the investigation memo, but a special House subcommittee determined Lovell was in violation of the policy. Because he resigned on Tuesday, House Ethics Committee Chairman Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, said that they could not level any punishment.
State House Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, paid two traffic camera tickets with Monopoly money today in order to raise awareness for new legislation regulating the cameras, the Jackson Sun reports. The legislation would require all unmanned traffic cameras to be used only from a marked police car and would mandate any suspects be pulled over by a law enforcement officer operating the camera. Holt broadcast his protest via a Facebook live video.
Knoxville attorney Sarah Sheppeard, shareholder with Lewis Thomason, will take the office of Tennessee Bar Association President in 2019, according to election-qualifying results released today. No other candidate filed for the vice president position by the Feb. 15 deadline. Sheppeard will assume the office of vice president this summer at the TBA Convention in Kingsport. She will become president-elect during the 2018-2019 bar year prior to assuming her presidency. Troy Weston, of Eldridge and Blakney in Knoxville, was elected to the office of vice president of the Young Lawyers Division, and will serve as YLD President for the 2019-2020 bar year. More election results and a list of contested races will be released tomorrow.
More than one-third of Tennessee House lawmakers failed to complete a mandatory 22-minute sexual harassment training video before the Jan. 31 deadline, the Tennessean reports. The video was made a requirement for lawmakers as a part of a new sexual harassment policy instituted last year following the Jeremy Durham scandal. Harassment at the legislature was put back in the headlines when Rep. Mark Lowell resigned this week after allegations of sexual misconduct.
The fear of law firm data breaches has led some in-house lawyers to use encrypted emails to communicate with their firms on important matters like mergers and high-stakes litigation, the ABA Journal reports. Encryption allows for sensitive documents to be locked with passwords. Current users of the technology say that once an information technology specialist sets the system up, it becomes “invisible” to the user.
Robert Doggart, the Sequatchie County man who was accused of plotting to attack a Muslim community in New York, was found guilty of all charges by Chattanooga’s U.S. District Court today, the Times Free Press reports. The former engineer at the Tennessee Valley Authority faced federal charges including one count of solicitation to commit a civil rights violation, one count to commit arson of a building and two counts of threats in interstate commerce. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 31.
Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk said today that all future officer involved fatal shootings in Nashville will be investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessean reports. The new policy comes after the shooting death of Jocques Clemmons by a Metro police officer last week. Funk said that Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson was aware of this plan, though he was not in attendance at the press conference announcing the change.
Perry March, the Nashville man serving a 56-year prison term for multiple crimes including the murder of his wife and the plot to kill her parents, filed a more than 200-page lawsuit this month over the quality of his prison food, the Tennessean reports. March claims that the quality of the kosher diet he receives is poor and is a veiled attempt to force him to break from his Jewish faith. He is currently incarcerated at Morgan County Correctional Complex in Oak Ridge.
Vanderbilt Law Professor Sean B. Seymore was profiled by the Vanderbilt Hustler for his research in patent law, in which he looks into how the law should progress to keep up with advances in science and technology. Seymore grew up with a passion for science and even worked as a chemistry professor before changing careers. His current work involves researching how much an inventor should have to disclose to obtain a patent.
Two new reports show there were more lawyers but lower demand for legal services in 2016, leading to a slump in productivity, the ABA Journal reports. The reports come from the Citi Private Bank and the Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor Economic Index, and also show widespread associate salary hikes. Law firm revenue, however, grew 3.8 percent, despite the decrease in overall productivity. 
Need a Few CLE Hours?
February 15, 2017

The TBA Mid-Winter CLE Blast is offering programs from 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, giving you the possibility of completing up to 11 hours of dual CLE course work. You can create your own schedule and take as many or as few hours as you need. The registration desk will be open all day.