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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.

Howell Peoples, who served as Hamilton County chancellor for 32 years, died Friday, The Times Free Press reports. He was 75. Legal Aid of East Tennessee released this statement on Peoples' passing: "Chancellor Peoples was inducted into the Legal Aid of East Tennessee Pro Bono Hall of Fame in 2016 for his dedication to pro bono work and for being the first legal aid lawyer funded by LSC in Chattanooga, paving the way for quality legal services for our low income and vulnerable neighbors. He was a pillar in the legal community and will be missed." The TBA will post updates as arrangement details are made available.

A man convicted of a 2010 murder claimed that he made a confession after being beaten by a detective and held for over 13 hours while handcuffed behind his back, reports. Unjolee Moore is now asking Judge Don Poole to grant him a new trial. Moore's attorney said he was able to obtain a jail medical record showing Moore had lacerations around the hands and swelling at the left eye after the encounter with law enforcement.

U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla ruled Friday that the Memphis Police Department engaged in political intelligence of protesters both at their protests and online, violating a federal court decree from 1978, WMC Action News 5 reports. The police department issued a statement following the ruling, saying in part that its "monitoring of social media for protests and counter protests is non-partisan. The City has an obligation to provide public safety and to anticipate threats to public safety."
A new report about the opioid crisis in America has been released from the American Bar Association’s Senior Lawyers Division recent Opioid Summit in Chicago. The report makes nine recommendations and suggests 45 action items, including recommending more education and training opportunities to leverage existing policies that protect people dealing with substance misuse and providing treatment for the under- and uninsured. Read the full list of recommendations here.
The Tennessee Supreme Court has affirmed the 2014 60-day suspension of Brentwood attorney Michael Gibbs Sheppard from the practice of law. Sheppard’s suspension was based on his failure, over a four-year period, to maintain and monitor client funds in his law firm’s trust account. On appeal, the Williamson Chancery Court modified the hearing panel’s decision by increasing the periods of suspension and probation and by imposing additional conditions of probation. The court reversed the Chancery Court’s judgment modifying the sanction and affirmed the original suspension of Sheppard from the practice of law, as well as the 2-year probation period and 15 hours of continuing legal education requirement recommended by the hearing panel.
Metro Nashville recently publicized private information, including Social Security numbers, of an undisclosed number of private citizens, The Tennessean reports. Officials say some criminal affidavits attached to publicly available arrest warrants inappropriately included the confidential information. The city is offering one year of credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to those affected, who will be notified within 45 days that their information was publicly disclosed.
The annual Creditors Practice Forum will be held at the Tennessee Bar Center on Sept. 26. This year's program will provide new information on stay violations, charging orders and theories of successor liability. Other topics include a discussion of bankruptcy focusing on preference issues and dischargeability and an ethics session about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  

A Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department was forced to resign after testing positive for cannabinoids due to CBD-containing products she uses to treat her anxiety, the Daily News Journal reports. Even though CBD products — derived from the hemp plant — are legal in Tennessee, they contained a trace amount of THC in the capsules she was taking, violating the city’s regulations to be a Drug-Free Workplace. Though hemp-derived CBD oil has minimal amounts of THC, standard drug tests can’t tell the difference between hemp products and marijuana.

The annual LGBT Law Forum will be held at the Tennessee Bar Center on Sept. 21. This year's annual forum will focus on hot topics affecting the LGBT community, including domestic law considerations for LGBT families, behind the scenes, procedural process on legislative issues affecting LGBT persons and much more.   
Former acting Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Jason Locke committed no crime after allegations of misuse of state funds, a grand jury determined this week, The Tennessean reports. According to the Davidson County District Attorney's office, the grand jury has decided that neither former acting director Jason Locke nor Sejal West, former deputy commissioner for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse "committed a violation of any criminal statute." The two were allegedly engaged in an affair.

Chancellor Walter Evans dismissed a petition against the proposed rezoning of the Cordova Triangle in Germantown on Thursday in Shelby County Chancery Court, The Commercial Appeal reports. The city of Germantown may now proceed with its proposed rezoning of the area from urban to residential. The Jack Owen Revocable Trust, which owns a tract in the Triangle, filed a petition against the city after the Germantown Planning Commission voted in favor of the rezoning during its July 10 meeting.
Voters across Montgomery County will decide on Nov. 6 if they want the Clarksville city and county government to consolidate, The Leaf Chronicle reports. A 15-member charter commission produced an 88-page charter, which was delivered to the county clerk’s office yesterday afternoon. Previous attempts at a consolidated government in Montgomery County, in 1980 and 1996, were voted down.
The Jackson City Council on Tuesday approved plans to build a new city court building near the Jackson Police Department headquarters, The Jackson Sun reports. The budget was set at $2.62 million with a goal of being completed by next summer. “The new building will have more room for everybody, and it will move court out of downtown and clear up that building for new business and be good for everybody involved,” said Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist.
The state of Tennessee executed Billy Ray Irick last night, The Nashville Scene reports. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery released a statement, saying in part “I hope tonight’s lawful execution in some way eases the heartache (victim Paula Dyer’s) family has lived with and brings a degree of closure to a chapter of their lives that has been indescribably difficult.” The Scene reported that Irick did appear to react physically to the drug, moving and making noises akin to coughing and choking, signs that Federal Public Defender Kelley Henry said pointed to concerns expressed in a lawsuit filed by more than 30 death row inmates.
The Trial Court Vacancy Commission is accepting applications for a Circuit Court judge in the 22nd Judicial District, which covers Giles, Lawrence, Maury and Wayne Counties. This vacancy was created by the upcoming retirement of the Hon. Robert L. Jones, who will end his service effective Oct. 31. Qualified applicants must be licensed attorneys who are at least 30 years of age, have been residents of the state for five years, and are residents of the 22nd Judicial District. Interested applicants must complete the Trial Court Vacancy Commission Application and submit it to the Administrative Office of the Courts by noon on Aug. 30.
Two women have filed suit against Uber, claiming that a Chattanooga driver sexually assaulted one of them and exposed himself to the other, reports. John Kyle Lane was eventually indicted by the Hamilton County Grand Jury, charged with sexual battery in connection with a July 22, 2017, incident and another incident 15 days later. The lawsuit said Uber "acted with deliberate disregard for the safety of the public" in allowing Lane to continue as one of its drivers. 
Shelby County commissioners approved an ordinance Wednesday that would bar the county attorney from representing county government in civil litigation in which the county mayor or another county government entity is suing the commission, the Memphis Daily News reports. The ordinance also requires commission approval for the county attorney to hire outside or special counsel, unless the county attorney certifies to the commission chairman that the matter those attorneys are hired for will not go over $50,000 in hourly rates or contingent fees.
Walter Carroll Drake of Cookeville died on Aug. 1 at the age of 89. Drake received his law degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1957. He practiced law for several years in Jackson before being named a U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee. He was elected as City Judge in Jackson, and served for 17 years. In 1996, he moved back home to Cookeville and practiced law alongside his daughter until his retirement in 2003. Memorial contributions may be made to Happy Haven Children's Home, 2311 Wakefield Drive, Cookeville, 38501, or West Tennessee Children's Home, 170 Frank Lathem Rd, Pinson, 38366.
Is it harder to be a trial lawyer if you are a woman? The Atlantic took a look into the question, examining personal stories, history and statistics about gender in the legal profession. One suggested cause for the difficulties faced by female lawyers was the lack of women in positions of power in the courtroom: women currently make up only 33 percent of federal trial-court judges.

Starting next year, The Common Application - the country’s most widely used college application form - will stop asking prospective students about whether they have a criminal record, WHYY reports. Advocates claimed the question was discouraging and discriminatory against prospective students who have a criminal history. “A lot of students with criminal records may feel like disclosing their record will be held against them in the admissions process and get discouraged from applying,” said Caitlin Brown, a spokeswoman with Community Legal Services, a nonprofit in Philadelphia.

The ABA House of Delegates on Monday voted in favor of amending Rule 7 of ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which addresses lawyer advertising, the ABA Journal reports. Lucian Pera told delegates that in the decades since the 1977 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona allowed for lawyers to advertise their services, there’s been a “breathtaking variation in advertising rules” among states. He said the amendments were necessary to clarify and simplify these rules.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not intervene in the execution of Billy Ray Irick, which is set to take place tonight at 7 p.m., Knoxnews reports. While Justice Elena Kagan denied the request, Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a sharp dissent
TBA Mentoring Program
August 9, 2018
The TBA Mentoring Program is designed to foster mutually beneficial relationships between participating attorneys and connect members with resources and tools. Mentoring opportunities include events, programs and access to practice area resources. Sign up to be a mentor or apply for mentoring opportunities.

The Association for Legal Professionals, Nashville Chapter (NALS) will host its 6th Annual NALS After Hours Silent Auction on Aug. 16. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Tennessee Justice Center. Those who would like to donate an item for the auction or volunteer at the event should contact Dranda Whaley at 615-255-0332 or

The Tennessee Department of Correction moved Billy Ray Irick to death watch on Monday night, Knoxnews reports. He is scheduled to die tomorrow by lethal injection for the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in 1985. His execution is controversial due to the ongoing legal battle surrounding the state’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail, which has been criticized as amounting to “torture” by some advocates.