Supreme Court launches Access to Justice campaign

The Tennessee Supreme Court today announced its multifaceted campaign to help address what was characterized as a "profound civil legal needs crisis." The announcement came at a press conference attended by more than 100 leaders from the bench, bar groups, court agencies, lawmakers, public officials, and business and civic communities. Speaking for the Court, Chief Justice Janice Holder said that the court was committed "to finding innovative, effective and efficient ways to address the very real gap in civil legal services in this state."

The campaign will include:
-- programs to educate community leaders about the problem
-- promotion of innovative involvement by judges like preferential docketing of cases where clients are receiving pro bono representation
-- recognition of law firms that adopt pro bono policies
-- support for the TBA's 4/4 Public Service Day on April 4, 2009

The court also announced it will be forming a new Access to Justice Commission to study access issues, develop a strategic access plan and take steps to implement the plan.

Read Justice Holder's full remarks

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Court: TCA


David R. Huggins, Memphis, TN, for Appellant.

Mitchell D. Moskovitz, Memphis, TN, Karen B. Hall, Cordova, TN, for Appellee.


In this appeal, we are asked to determine whether the trial court erred: (1) in modifying the Parties' Final Decree of Divorce absent proof of a material change in circumstances affecting the best interest of the Parties' child; (2) in making temporary modifications to the Final Decree of divorce absent clear and convincing proof that the child was being harmed or would be harmed in the situation that existed when the modifications were made; and (3) in finding that Father's motives for relocating were vindictive, and in its concerns about Father's willingness to comply with future court orders or to provide for the child. We affirm.

PEDRO AND GRISELDA VALADEZ, Individuals and as parents and next Friends of FATIMA VALADEZ, a minor v. NEWSTART, LLC, ET AL.

CORRECTED OPINION: The first full sentence and the following sentence on page 6 have been combined for one sentence.

Court: TCA


Tim Edwards, Memphis, TN, for Appellants.

Darrell E. Baker, Jr., Peter B. Winterburn, Memphis, TN, for Appellees Newstart, LLC, and Carl Pean, M.D. Jerry E. Mitchell, Justin E. Mitchell, Memphis, TN, for Appellee Ericka Lee Gunn-Hill, M.D.


In this appeal we are asked to reverse the trial court's grants of summary judgment to Appellees and adopt a loss of chance theory of recovery, thus allowing Appellants to recover for Appellees' alleged failure to timely notify them that their unborn child was afflicted with spina bifida such that they could participate in a clinical trial. Because our supreme court has expressly stated that Tennessee does not recognize a cause of action for loss of chance, we affirm.


Court: TCCA


Daniel Lee Draper, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; and H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Daniel Lee Draper, appeals from the Sullivan County Criminal Court's dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree murder and aggravated child abuse. The trial court found that the petition (1) was filed outside the statute of limitations and (2) raised issues that had been previously determined. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee; Raymond Mack Garner, District Public Defender; and Stacey D. Nordquist, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Lisa Gay Wilson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Rocky H. Young, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Lisa Gay Wilson, appeals the sentencing decision of the Blount County Circuit Court ordering that the defendant's sentence be served in confinement. Pursuant to a guilty plea agreement, the defendant pled guilty to theft over $60,000, a Class B felony, and received an agreed upon eight-year sentence, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the court ordered that the sentence be served in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant raises the single issue of whether the trial court erred in denying an alternative sentence. After review of the record before us, we affirm the sentence as imposed.


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Legal News
NBA honors Daughtrey; installs new officers
The Nashville Bar Association honored Judge Martha Craig "Cissy" Daughtrey with its highest and most prestigious award, the John C. Tune Award, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Nashville area and the legal community at large. The presentation came during the NBA's Annual Meeting & Banquet Thursday night. In addition to award presentations, the NBA also installed Aubrey B. Harwell III of Neal & Harwell as its new president; Jonathan Cole of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC as president elect; Davidson County General Sessions Judge Angelita Dalton as first vice president; Appellate Courts Clerk Mike Catalano as second vice president; Nashville Electric Service attorney Laura Smith Tidwell as secretary; and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation attorney Rich Littlehale as treasurer.

Nashville lawyer, firm recognized for pro bono work
The Nashville Pro Bono Program recognized the work of an attorney and a law firm during the annual Nashville Bar Banquet. Meg Mazzone, vice president and legal counsel with the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, was named the Joseph G. Cummings Sr. Volunteer Attorney of the Year, and Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry was named the first recipient of the Pro Bono Leadership Award.
Read more about the award recipients
Candidates line up for constitutional offices
The combined Republican Caucuses of the Tennessee State House and State Senate this afternoon released a list of applicants who met their 4:30 p.m. deadline to be considered for Tennessee's constitutional offices -- secretary of state, comptroller of the treasury, and state treasurer. Here is the list reported in the Nashville Post:

Applicants for Secretary of State -- William Baird (Jacksboro), Jim Bryson (Franklin), Tre Hargett (Hendersonville), James M. Rollins (Clarksville), Jerry Scott (Murfreesboro), Larry Scroggs (Germantown), David Shirley (Memphis) and Randy Stamps (Hendersonville).

Applicants for Comptroller of the Treasury -- Justin Wilson (Nashville)

Applicants for Treasurer -- Ira Brody (Murfreesboro), Vance Cheek (Johnson City), Barry Davis (Alcoa), David Lillard (Germantown), Bill McGaughey (Germantown) and Bill Watkins (Germantown).

Tennessee Plan helps keep politics out of courts, justice says
Tennessee's newest state Supreme Court justice, Sharon Lee, on Thursday told the Sunrise Rotary Club of Cleveland that she supports the state's process of selecting appellate and Supreme Court judges, known as the Tennessee Plan. Replacing the Tennessee Plan, as some state legislators are proposing, brings politics and the judiciary closer together, she said.
Read more in from the Chattanooga Times Free Pres
Legal employment down in 2008
The number of people working in legal services has dropped by nearly 12,000 in the last year, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.
Read more from the ABA's Online Journal
Appeal seeks to stop English-only vote
An appeal seeking to stop Metro Nashville's Jan. 22 English-only election before it begins was filed with the Supreme Court of Tennessee this afternoon. The essential questions raised in the appeal are whether the English-only proposal is constitutional and whether a court can stop an unconstitutional measure from being put to voters.
Read more in the Tennessean
An item in Thursday's TBA Today incorrectly identified a man attacked in Chief Justice Janice Holder's Memphis condo building. The man attacked was not Patrick Wrenn, who is Holder's Karate instructor. He was merely interviewed for the article, which did not disclose the victim's name.

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CLE Ski at Snowmass: Great skiing, great programs
Get great skiing and great CLE all in one package. The TBA's CLE Ski program returns for its 24th year with a week-long program in beautiful Snowmass, Colo., central to four remarkable ski areas: Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk. Sign up now. CLE Ski will run from Jan. 31 through Feb. 7, with a total of 15 hours of CLE programming in the morning and afternoon and plenty of time during the day to conquer the slopes.
Register today or find out more
Disciplinary Actions
Wilson County lawyer temporarily suspended
The Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 1 temporarily suspended Gary Wayne Vandever from the practice of law after finding that he had failed to respond to the Board regarding a complaint of misconduct.
Read the full BPR release
Mississippi lawyer disbarred
Timothy R. Balducci of New Albany, Miss., was disbarred by Order of the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 1, following his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery of an elected state official.
Read the full BPR release
TBA Member Services
CompuPay offers deals for TBA members
CompuPay is proud to serve as the official payroll services provider for the Tennessee Bar Association. To serve Tennessee attorneys the company is offering two months of free payroll processing for all TBA members and waiving set up fees for members with up to 99 employees.
Learn more about CompuPay's benefits

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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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