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.

The Board of Professional Responsibility has reinstated a Texas attorney who was placed on inactive status more than five years ago. An order of reinstatement for Jacob D. Bashore, of Harker Heights, Texas, was filed on Oct. 12, upon the board finding that he had met all requirements for reinstatement. He was reinstated as of Oct. 4.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take on the case of whether the operator of a public-access TV channel is a state actor who can be sued by two producers for an alleged First Amendment violation, The ABA Journal reports. The case raises the broader question of whether private property can be a public forum. The producers argue that the Manhattan Neighborhood Network was a public forum, and their First Amendment rights were violated when it stopped airing their video. The network is owned by a private nonprofit, who claims the video included harassing and threatening language. 
The owners of 17 businesses that were closed during “Operation Candy Crush” have filed a federal lawsuit, The Daily News Journal reports. “Candy Crush” targeted stores for illegally selling CBD-based products. Charges in the case were eventually dropped, as CBD products are legal in Tennessee. The lawsuit, which names the town of Smyrna, Rutherford County and a host of local officials, claims that those executing the raids were intentionally preying on small businesses and expected them to take a plea in order to reopen their businesses.
The Tennessee Supreme Court has approved a proposed amendment to Rule 25 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court, following a period in which comments were solicited from the public and the profession. The Knoxville Bar Association, Chattanooga Bar Association and attorney Terry Cox all submitted comments. Read the order here and the amended rule here.
The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility is seeking an attorney for the position of Disciplinary Counsel - Litigation Section, Appeals. The duties and responsibilities include: investigate and conduct discovery related to complaints of attorney misconduct; prepare pleadings and appear in disciplinary hearings before hearing panels; represent the board in appellate proceedings before special judges in trial courts and before the Tennessee Supreme Court; prepare and present continuing legal education; and other duties as assigned. Applicants must be licensed in Tennessee and have a minimum of seven years experience in the practice of law and practice before the Tennessee Supreme Court is preferred. Read more about the position on TBA's JobLink portal.

The Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance, a project of the Tennessee Supreme Court, will be hosting its second annual statewide Pro Bono and Faith Days in October 2018. All houses of worship and faith-based partners are encouraged to provide information to their networks about the free legal resources available in Tennessee, including the website, and to participate in a form of pro bono work or an equal justice project during the month if possible. This year, #PBFDays will present 2018 Faith and Justice Universities in each grand division where attendees can learn about existing free legal resources in their community and how to get more involved. The 2018 Faith and Justice Universities will be held in Memphis on Oct. 16, Knoxville on Oct. 18 and Nashville on Oct. 23.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2019 class of the Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI), the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division's six-month training and development program for law students. Now in its ninth year, the DLI is designed to develop skills to succeed as an attorney, empower students to contribute to the legal community, match students to mentors in a diverse variety of practice areas and build relationships among students of diverse backgrounds. Interested applicants must be enrolled in a Tennessee law school and must be in their second, third or fourth year of study. To be accepted into the program, students must be TBA law student members.

The TBA’s Public Service Academy met for the first time this weekend, with a bipartisan coalition of 29 attorneys from across the state gathering to learn the basics of running for local elected office. On Friday, former state senator and current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Doug Overbey, spoke about his experiences campaigning and holding elected office. On Saturday, former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell spoke to the group about his life as a mayor and former legislator, as well as the importance of attorneys choosing a life of public service. The class heard further presentations about fundraising, building a campaign team, crafting their campaign message and more. They will reconvene again Nov. 9-10 in Nashville for another weekend training.
It’s back! The TBA's popular ethics program is coming to Knoxville on Dec. 5. This year’s theme, Back to Basics: Sailing the Five Cs of Ethical Lawyering, offers a look into the five “Cs” that make up the perfect recipe for ethical lawyering, no matter what kind of law you practice: Competence, Confidentiality, (Avoiding) Conflicts, Communication and Candor. Don’t miss your chance to fulfill your ethics requirements; offering 3 dual credits.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has referred ethics complaints filed against Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the ABA Journal reports. Roberts revealed the transfer of misconduct complaints in an Oct. 10 letter, reports the Washington Post, USA Today and Politico. The complaints question whether Kavanaugh was dishonest and lacked judicial temperament during the confirmation hearings, anonymous sources told the Post.

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host its annual Pro Bono celebration on Oct. 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Ironwood Studios in Knoxville. “Forging Justice” will honor attorneys and law firms who have made a significant impact in access to justice work. The highlight of the evening will be the induction of Harry Ogden into the Donald F. Paine Memorial Pro Bono Hall of Fame. Also honored will be Bill Coley and Ian Hennessey as Pro Bono Attorneys of the Year, Georgia Miller as Pro Bono Law Student of the Year, East Tennessee Children's Hospital as Pro Bono Community Partner of the Year, and Breeding Henry Baysan as Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year. 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be featured at the Southern Festival of Books this Saturday at 1 p.m. at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. She has released two new children’s books: Turning Pages: My Life Story and The Beloved World of Sotomayor. In Turning Pages, a picture book, the justice tells her life story from the Bronx to the highest court in the land. Beloved World is an adaptation of her story for middle-grade readers with a focus on the importance of determination and hard work and the promise that dreams can come true. The Nashville Scene talks with her.

Public comments are being sought on a proposal from the National Park Service that would overhaul rules for protests in front of the White House and at other iconic locations in Washington, D.C. The Hill reports that the proposal would close much of the sidewalk north of the White House to protests, limit the ability for groups to have spontaneous protests without permits in that area and on the National Mall, and would open the door to potentially charging some demonstrating groups fees. The NPS cites its mandate to protect land, saying that it wants to “provide greater clarity to the public about how and where demonstrations and special events may be conducted." Opponents say it is an attempt to limit free speech and that those spaces need to remain welcoming for the First-Amendment-guaranteed right to protest.

Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Andrew J. Gibbons of Kingsport as public defender for the Second Judicial District, which serves Sullivan County. Gibbons will replace Stephen Wallace, whose retirement is effective Nov. 1, according to the Times-News. Gibbons has been an assistant public defender in the district since 2001.

The Tennessean and The Nashville Scene follow the "legal whiplash" of this week when Edmund Zagorski was set to be executed. Gov. Haslam's reprieve, giving executioners time to prepare to use the electric chair, expires Oct. 21, at which point the state Supreme Court will have to set a new execution date. Shortly after the reprieve was announced Thursday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected all of Zagorski's requests. The court declined to hear the case over Tennessee's lethal injection protocol, and vacated the Sixth Circuit's stay. Zagorski's lawyer, Kelley Henry, who is a supervising assistant federal public defender, told the Scene that the earliest Zagorski could be executed is likely Oct. 29.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always had a following, but now her appeal has branched out. She has become a pop culture icon, the ABA Journal reports. "You can be an upper middle-class, a suburban stay-at-home mom, an urban graduate student who identifies as genderqueer / nonbinary or a rural America retiree who voted for Donald Trump and still admire Ginsburg, according to marketing experts, who say that her appeal with various groups is unique. And the attention the Me Too movement has brought to sexual harassment and rape has made many more people interested in speaking about gender discrimination publicly — issues Ginsburg has been addressing and fighting for decades."

Baker Donelson has elected Timothy M. Lupinacci to serve as its next chairman and chief executive officer, according to a firm press release. A shareholder in the firm's Birmingham office, Lupinacci is chair of the Financial Services Department, a member of the firm's board of directors and former managing shareholder of the Birmingham office. He will assume the new role in April 2019, when Ben C. Adams, who has served as the firm's chairman and CEO for the last 15 years, steps down. Adams will remain with Baker Donelson and will continue his practice focused on estate planning and corporate law.

Today the Tennessee Supreme Court modified a defendant’s sentence after ruling that the state did not provide proper pre-trial notice that it intended to use his prior convictions to obtain an enhanced sentence. With this ruling in State v. Williams, the court clarified the notice requirements for enhanced sentencing.

Memphis attorney Arthur "Art" Horne was sentenced on Thursday to 11 months and 29 days of probation and ordered to serve 30 days in jail on a misdemeanor assault conviction, after being found not guilty in August of rape and kidnapping accusations, the Commercial Appeal reports. Criminal Court Judge Jim Lammey said the jail time could be served on the weekends. Horne's attorney, Bill Massey, said they have not decided if they will appeal the ruling or file a motion for a new trial sentence.

The Supreme Court of Tennessee today entered an order suspending Campbell County lawyer Michael Glen Hatmaker from the practice of law for five years, with minimum of four years served as an active suspension and the remainder served on probation. Hatmaker executed a conditional guilty plea acknowledging he made material misrepresentations to clients and opposing counsel, failed to expedite litigation and diligently represent clients, failed to reasonably communicate with clients, and failed to properly maintain client funds in his trust account. Read the order from the Board of Professional Responsibility.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and according to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year. This month, the lawn display at the Franklin Police Headquarters symbolizes the Department’s commitment to helping victims. Learn more in the Williamson Source.

Davidson County Judge Dianne Turner has recused herself from presiding over the Daniel Hambrick officer-involved death hearing slated for later this month, Fox-17 reports. Turner referred the matter to Presiding Judge Melissa Blackburn for reassignment. No confirmed reason for the recusal has been given at this time. 

After more than a year of waiting, Bass Berry attorney Eli Richardson and state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris are set to be confirmed to federal district court judgeships in Tennessee, The Nashville Post reports. Senate Democrats agreed to confirm the two as a part of a package deal that would confirm three Circuit Court judges and 12 District Court judges in exchange for a recess. 
The Memphis Area Legal Services will host its annual Pro Bono Awards Luncheon on Oct. 15. The luncheon will take place at International Paper, 1740 International Drive, Tower 4, and will begin at 12:30 p.m. Find out more here
A portrait unveiling ceremony for recently retired Davidson County Chancellor Carol L. McCoy will be held on Nov. 1 in Nashville. The ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m., with a reception to follow, at the Metro Courthouse.