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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.

After the Legal Services Corporation was included in a “hit list” of programs named by the White House budget office, American Bar Association President Linda Klein issued a statement to express her staunch support of the program, The ABA Journal reports. Klein said that “our nation’s core values are reflected in the LSC’s work in securing housing for veterans, freeing seniors from scams, serving rural areas when others won’t, protecting battered women, helping disaster survivors back to their feet, and many others.”
East Tennessee lawmakers are pushing for Gov. Bill Haslam to include at least $25 million of the $1 billion in state surplus money to go to Gatlinburg wildfire relief, Knoxnews reports. Rep. Haslam said much of the surplus money is already targeted for other initiatives, but is looking at other options. A bill providing property tax relief to victims of the fires cleared a House committee today.
Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, has changed the nickname of the proposed “Milo bill” after video surfaced of the legislation's namesake appearing to condone pedophilia, the Tennessean reports. Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, held a press conference asking Daniel to withdraw the bill after Milo Yiannopoulos’s comments came to light. Daniel did not pull the bill and instead renamed it the “Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, & the MLK Jr.” bill.
Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland is taking a temporary leave from some of his work amid an ongoing judicial conduct investigation questioning how he runs his courtroom, the Tennessean reports. Moreland will continue hearing criminal cases, but will step back from his duties overseeing a drug court program as well as Cherished Hearts, an intervention court to help women involved in trafficking.
Memphis Police Department Director Michael Rallings denied that 81 people singled out for police escort in City Hall where targeted because of their political views, the Commercial Appeal reports. The American Civil Liberties Union confirmed in a statement today that it was investigating the list of names, which includes many local political activists, to determine whether it violates a 1978 federal decree forbidding political surveillance. Rallings said the list was created strictly for safety purposes.
Tennessee music producer T Bone Burnett said that federal laws governing music piracy are insufficient and “threaten to destroy” the music industry, the Tennessean reports. Burnett is joining others in providing comments that will be sent to the U.S. Copyright Office, which is reviewing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Burnett said that there are loopholes in the law that make it difficult for artists and those in the industry to stop piracy.
The February Bar exam is being administered today and tomorrow in Tennessee. The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners offices will be closed until Friday. 
The Napier-Looby Bar Foundation’s 13th Annual Barrister’s Banquet and Awards Program will be held Thursday evening. This year’s program will honor Richard Manson with the Z. Alexander Looby Lifetime Achievement Award, Mercedes Mynor-Faulcon with the Justice A. A. Birch Outstanding Service Award and Charles K. Grant and Joycelyn Stevenson with the J. C. Napier Trailblazer Award. The night’s events will be held at the Music City Center in Nashville, and begin with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.
Legislation to impose non-partisan elections for judges and clerks in Davidson and Shelby counties was deferred two weeks by its Senate sponsor today. The TBA opposes the bill, and has said "the TBA opposes the imposition of any election process on selective counties, whether by removal of the current local option or by establishing a new method different from that generally applicable to other counties. The TBA favors statewide uniformity as to the authority of local jurisdictions to prescribe the methods of filling state trial court judgeships, county judicial offices and judicial clerk offices." The Nashville Post today also cited opposition to the bill from the Nashville Bar Association.
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.