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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.

Few attorneys, and even fewer laypersons, know about the Tennessee Claims Commission. The commission, although not titled as a court by statute, functions as a court for the purpose of adjudicating monetary lawsuits against the State of Tennessee. Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, the Claims Commissioners conducted 459 hearings and 16 regular docket trials. As of Dec. 31, 2016, there were 18 Claims Commission cases pending before the appellate courts of Tennessee.

Figuring Out Fees
March 1, 2017

On June 16, 2016, the Supreme Court decided that a court, in considering whether to award a reasonable attorney’s fee pursuant to the Copyright Act, “should give substantial weight to the objective reasonableness of the losing party’s position.”[1] The court further clarified its decision, holding that “the court must also give due consideration to all other circumstances relevant to granting fees; and it retains discretion, in light of those factors, to make an award even when the losing party advanced a reasonable claim or defense.”[2] The decision should guide courts in exercising discre

Voting for TBA offices will begin tomorrow via electronic ballot. All members of the TBA's Young Lawyers Division, as well as TBA members in a district or Grand Division with a contested race, will receive an email with a link to the ballot. Voting will continue throughout the month of March.

The committee formed to find a new executive director for the Tennessee Bar Association has hired a national legal search and consulting firm to assist in the effort. Young Mayden LLC today launched the recruting effort, which will include advertising through state, regional and national organizations. With offices in Charlotte, Nashville and Dallas, Young Mayden has facilitated searches for executive directors for the American Bar Association, Uniform Law Commission, New York State Bar Association, North Carolina Bar Association and the State Bar of Wisconsin, as well as working with practicing lawyers, firms, and companies.

The Tennessee Bar Association is soliciting applications for the position of Executive Director. The Executive Director oversees the TBA’s 25-person staff operation in Nashville, and is responsible for leading, managing and executing the affairs of the association and implementing its policies to the overall benefit of the organization and its membership.

Several Tennessee attorneys are among the inaugural class selected for Emerge Tennessee, a campaign training program for Democratic women interested in running for elective office. Those chosen include Jamie Ballinger-Holden, with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC in Knoxville; Hallie McFadden of Signal Mountain; Martesha Johnson, an assistant public defender and supervising attorney for Metro Nashville; and Carrie Russell, the director of pre-law advising at Vanderbilt University. Also selected was Katharine Heriges, who serves as communications coordinator for the Tennessee Bar Association.

More than 150 general sessions judges from across Tennessee have gathered in Nashville this week to attend the annual General Sessions Judges Conference. At the conference, judges are attending workshops and continuing legal education events.

In the wake of the Jeremy Durham audit, the Tennessee Senate approved a bill yesterday to put more restrictions on the investments legislators can make with campaign funds, Humphrey on the Hill reports. Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, introduced the bill that would require campaign funds to be deposited and maintained in a traditional bank account insured by the FDIC. The bill received near-unanimous support in the Senate, with Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, casting the only no vote.
Tennessee House Democrats unveiled a legislative package yesterday that they called the "People’s Bill of Rights," a list of dozens of bills including legislation to increase expunction for non-violent crimes, lessen sentencing for marijuana possession, increase the minimum wage, eliminate taxes on food, increase penalties for domestic violence crimes, eliminate voter ID laws and more. Access the full document to read more at the Nashville Post.
A resolution to condemn California’s ban on state-funded travel to Tennessee has passed a state Senate panel, the Times Free Press reports. The resolution requests Gov. Bill Haslam and the legislature to retaliate in kind. California instituted the state-funded travel ban against states with laws that were deemed discriminatory towards LGBT persons. The Tennessee resolution, sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, received criticism from fellow Republicans for what it could mean for economic development with the Golden State, which boasts the world's seventh largest economy.

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new sentencing hearing for former Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks, who entered an Alford plea for making a false entry on an election document, the Commercial Appeal reports. A trial court had previously denied Brooks’ request for diversion, but the appellate court reversed the decision and ordered a new sentencing hearing. Brooks was accused of listing a false address on a petition to run for Juvenile Court clerk.
Two Tennesseans have been indicted on federal charges for conspiring to buy votes to influence the 2014 primary election for U.S. Senate, the Tennessean reports. Betty Jane Best of Monroe County and Brian Keith Hodge of Loudon County were arraigned Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley, where they were charged for conspiring to buy votes in a primary that would ultimately leave U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander as the Republican candidate and attorney Gordon Ball as the Democratic candidate. The court record does not indicate the candidate for whom the votes were bought.

Yesterday's edition of TBAToday included an obituary for the late TBA Executive Director Gil Campbell, with information for a Knoxville memorial service on Saturday. There will be a second service for Campbell in Nashville, a celebration of life, on Thursday at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 4815 Franklin Pike, with a reception following.

Former Executive Director of the Tennessee Bar Association Gil Campbell died on Friday in Nashville. He was 84. An East Tennessee native, Campbell worked as the Executive Director of the Decatur/DeKalb Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta for 20 years prior to beginning his tenure at the TBA in 1983. He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, a captain in the U.S. Army and a fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation and the Tennessee Bar Foundation. There will be two services in his honor. A celebration of life will be held in Nashville on Thursday at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Nashville, 4815 Franklin Pike, with a reception following. A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Knoxville, 620 State Street, at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Memorial donations can be made in his name to the University of Tennessee College of Law.
A coalition of law professors from across the country filed a misconduct claim against White House counselor Kellyanne Conway seeking her disbarment, Business Insider reports. The group of 15 professors claim Conway has engaged in conduct “involving dishonesty, fraud, decit or misrepresentation.”

Nashville firm Neal and Harwell recently welcomed more than 400 guests to its new offices at 1201 Demonbreun for an open house. The 15-story, 285,000-square-foot mixed-use building overlooks downtown Nashville with floor-to-ceiling glass. Read more and see photos at the Nashville Post.

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force reviewed and discussed its draft recommendation report Friday at the Nashville School of Law, coming to a consensus on recommending an increase in the compensation rate. The recommendation to be included in its final report calls for increasing the compensation rate in the range of $75-100 per hour, removing caps and removing the difference between in court and out of court billable hour rates. This would apply to criminal defense and juvenile indigent representation. Read the working draft report here.

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced his plans yesterday to run for governor of Tennessee, the Tennessean reports. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, stopped short of declaring a formal intention to challenge Dean in a Democratic primary, but confirmed he is “leaning toward running.”
The Memphis Business Journal has named Albert C. Harvey, senior shareholder at the Memphis offices of Lewis Thomason, as the Best of the Bar Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2017. Harvey is a recently retired Major General with the Marine Corps Reserve and a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. The former TBA president will be honored at a ceremony on March 7 at Opera Memphis.
 
Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, has begun posting a list of legislative pre-meetings on the legislature’s website after receiving scrutiny for allowing lawmakers to hold the meetings without notifying the public. The Tennessean reports that the change occurred on Friday. Pre-meetings are usually held in legislative conference rooms and allow lawmakers to discuss a bill prior to its appearance in committee.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of Andrew Thomas in his death penalty appeal for the 1997 killing of an armored truck guard, the Commercial Appeal reports. The court agreed with Thomas’s claim that the state of Maryland violated his rights and suppressed evidence in his case. Thomas is currently incarcerated at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, where he still maintains his innocence in the crime.
The Benjamin L. Hooks Chapter of the Black Law Students Association hosted an awards banquet last night that raised more than $100,000 for scholarships. Billed as the Inaugural Unity in Diversity Banquet, the event was established to create more opportunities for diverse students to pursue a legal education.
Join your colleagues March 3 for the 2017 Corporate Counsel Forum, with topics ranging from technology's influence on the modern law practice to recent developments in employment law. Speakers will address cyber security and privacy, as well as productivity tools for the present-day corporate counsel. Another session covers the EEOC's new rules on what incentives employers may provide to employees who provide medical information as part of a wellness program under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
An item in yesterday's TBAToday contained dated information about 10 attorneys joining Bass Berry and Sims. The Business Journal story announcing the move was actually originally published last year when the activity occurred.
The law license of Virgil Duane Parker was transferred to disability inactive status by the Board of Professional Responsibility yesterday. Parker cannot practice law while on disability inactive status until he has shown clear evidence that the disability has been removed.