Celebrate Pro Bono Month numbers show big impact

Reports from across the state show that Celebrate Pro Bono Month activities were successful in meeting three important goals: offering free legal assistance to those in need, providing attorneys with educational programs on pro bono and Interest On Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) issues, and celebrating the history of good work that lawyers across the state have performed. During the month, volunteers from the TBA and its Young Lawyers Division, local bar groups, and legal aid organizations hosted almost 20 legal clinics across Tennessee, with more than 200 lawyers assisting more than 400 clients on topics ranging from domestic violence protection to estate planning. Another 200 lawyers participated in live and web cast CLE programs, learning about new IOLTA rules as well as practical skills for assisting clients in need of pro bono legal help. The final portion of the program -- celebrating the good work lawyers do in our society -- also drew more than 200 participants. Four cities -- Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville -- hosted programs celebrating the 25-year history of lawyer contributions through the IOLTA program, while Memphis and Nashville pro bono organizations hosted receptions honoring attorneys and paralegals who have participated in and supported pro bono activities.

See photos from Celebrate Pro Bono Month activities

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Court: TWCA


Allison E. Roman, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tullahoma City Schools a/k/a Tullahoma Board of Education.

Russell D. Hedges, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for the appellee, Delorris Bates.


This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court found that the employee, who was over sixty years of age at the time of her permanent injury, was not subject to the cap set forth at Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(A), which limits disability benefits to one and one-half times the medical impairment rating and that she had proved three of the four elements in Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-242 and could therefore exceed the six-fold medical impairment cap set forth at Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(b). The court further found that the employee was not totally and permanently disabled and awarded ninety-eight percent permanent partial disability to both arms, a scheduled injury under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-207(3)(A)(ii)(w). The trial court also ordered that the entire award of benefits in the amount of $108,587.92 be paid as a lump sum. The employer contends the trial court erred when it failed to find that the employee was permanently and totally disabled and when it awarded the benefits to be paid as a lump sum. We affirm the trial court judgement.



Court: TWCA


Colin M. McCaffrey, Nashville, Tennessee for the appellant, Ford Motor Credit Company.

Robert P. Gritton, Murfreesboro, Tennessee for the appellee, Judy Minutella.


This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Employee sought post-judgment medical care for a knee injury after the trial court approved a settlement agreement wherein Employer agreed that it would be responsible for medical expenses related to the injury. Employer declined to authorize the original treating physician to provide additional care and instead offered Employee a choice from a panel of three physicians. The first physician Employee chose declined her as a patient. The second physician she chose opined that her need for treatment was unrelated to her work injury and did not treat her. Employee then sought and received further treatment from her original treating physician. At the same time, Employee petitioned the trial court for an order authorizing Employee's original physician to act as her treating physician, requesting that Employer be held in contempt for failing to comply with the order of settlement, and requiring that Employer pay for all of Employee's past and future medical treatment for her injury, along with all attorney fees and costs. The trial court ordered that Employer pay only a portion of Employee's attorney fees, denied Employee's request that Employer be held in contempt, and otherwise granted Employee's petition in full. We reverse the judgment of the trial court as to the award of attorney fees and remand for further proceedings in that regard but otherwise affirm the judgment in full.



Court: TCA


Justin S. Gilbert, Michael L. Russell, Jackson, TN, for Appellant.

John D. Burleson, Dale Conder, Jr., Jackson, TN, for Appellee.


The defendant-city required applicants for its vacant firefighter position to complete a physical agility exam as part of its hiring process. The plaintiff, a female, applied for the position but was eliminated from consideration based upon her performance on the physical agility exam. She sued the city under the Tennessee Human Rights Act, claiming that the physical agility exam had a disparate impact on females. Following a one-day bench trial, the trial court ruled in favor of the city and dismissed the plaintiff's complaint. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.



Court: TCCA


J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), and Mack Garner, District Public Defender (at hearing), for the appellant, Roderick Dean Hughes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Michael Flynn, District Attorney General; and Stephen Ogle, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Roderick Dean Hughes, appeals from the Blount County Circuit Court's revocation of his probation and order of incarceration. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Gerald L. Melton, District Public Defender; John P. Driver and S. Ray White, Assistant Public Defenders, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Keith Lindsey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Melissa Roberge, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Laural Hemenway, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Keith Lindsey ("Lindsey"), was convicted by a Rutherford County jury of incest, sexual battery by an authority figure, and two counts of rape. He received an effective sentence of eleven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues: (1) the trial court erred by not allowing the defense to re-open its proof; and (2) the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


John P. Partin, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Pam Ooley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa S. Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; and Mark E. Tribble, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Pam Ooley, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted second degree murder, see T.C.A. sections 39-12-101; 39-13-210 (2006), and two counts of aggravated assault, see id. sections 39-13-102(a)(1)(B). After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced her to serve an effective 10-year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The defendant appeals, claiming that the trial court erred in denying split-confinement or other alternative sentencing. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Michael Colavecchio (at trial) Nashville, Tennessee; J. Chase Gober (on appeal) Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Cyrus Randy Whitson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Bell, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Jennifer Stribbling and Sarah Davis, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Cyrus Randy Whitson ("the defendant"), was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues: (1) the insufficiency of the evidence; (2) the trial court erred by not declaring a mistrial when a State's witness revealed to the jury that the defendant had been in jail; (3) the trial court erred by allowing a State's witness to testify as to the contents of a statement given by the defendant that was not provided to the defendant in discovery; (4) the trial court erred by not determining the defendant's competency before trial; and (5) the trial court erred by finding the defendant guilty based upon a defective indictment. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Legal News
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Legal News
Nashville lawyers form new Music Row firm
Nashville lawyers Scott Safford, Jonathan Motley and Jeff Colvin announced today they have created the law firm of Safford, Motley & Colvin PLC to be located on Music Row at 1204 17th Ave South. The firm's practice will include general entertainment and employment law, as well as immigration matters related to foreign performing artists and company executives working in the U.S. Motley recently left Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, where he was a partner. Safford and Colvin previously had been sole practitioners with Music Row offices. Safford left the legal staff of Sony BMG Nashville to go out on his own in 2007. The Nashville Post reported the news.

MALS hires new development director
Liz Conway has joined Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) as director of development. Her duties will include coordinating MALS' annual fundraising campaign and coordinating the organization's 40th anniversary commemoration in 2010. Conway previously worked as marketing director for several oncology research and support organizations and has 13 years of experience in the non-profit world. While she says she regrets not having gone to law school, she is enjoying a master's degree program in executive leadership at Christian Brothers University.
Read more about Conway in the Memphis Daily News
Chattanooga firm exposes students to legal work
The Chattanooga law firm of Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel hosted a workshop today for Brainerd High School students to work alongside local attorneys and other legal professionals in mock court case scenarios. The event was the final session of an educational series designed by the nonprofit organization Street Law Inc. and was offered to students on the school's criminal justice career track as part of the organization's Law Firm Diversity Pipeline Program.
Read more on Chattanoogan.com
ABA ramps up lobbying on law student debt relief
The American Bar Association is lobbying Congress and the Obama administration for greater student loan debt relief for struggling law graduates. The move comes as the new ABA Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Profession and Legal Needs finds that many unemployed graduates would benefit from having private educational debt converted to government loans -- a move that would allow graduates to defer debt for up to three years. According to the ABA, public law school graduates have an average of $60,000 in educational debt, while those who attended private law schools have close to $90,000 in loans.
Learn more about the commission and its work
Lawyer fights red-light cameras
Clarksville attorney Greg Smith says red-light cameras are illegal because they act as mini-private investigators and under Tennessee law require a license to operate -- which they do not have. It's a position that has been upheld in both Texas and Louisiana. Smith is representing three clients who were caught by the cameras in an intersection after the traffic light turned red.
WSMV-TV News Channel 4 reports
Prof calls for better law school rankings
Indiana University law professor William Henderson says prospective law students would be better served if the following information were available to them when evaluating schools: passage rates for the Multistate Bar Exam, employment outcomes (i.e., where graduates are working) and graduates' debt load. Henderson has advocated better legal employment information in law school comparisons for some time but now is calling on the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar to begin collecting that information along with data on bar passage rates and debt load.
Read more on Legal Profession Blog
City allowed to switch sides in Lee suit
A local judge has ruled that the city of Memphis can switch sides in a lawsuit against former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president Joseph Lee to try to recoup money it paid to settle a previous suit. Lee had sued the city to recoup attorneys fees he claimed he was owed after federal prosecutors indicted, but failed to try, him. During former Mayor Willie Herenton's term, the city settled the case and paid Lee the fees. With a change in leadership at city hall, the city now wants to recoup the funds.
The Memphis Daily News has more
Memphis reporter banned from courtroom for texting
An Arkansas judge yesterday banned a Memphis television reporter from his courtroom in advance of a high-profile verdict announcement because the reporter sent text messages during proceedings. The judge also said he would have considered holding the reporter, Jill Monier of television station WHBQ, in contempt but there was no one available to detain her on the Veteran's Day holiday.
The Associated Press has more
Early voting starts today in two legislative races
Early voting began today in the general election contest between Republican Brian Kelsey and Democrat Adrienne Pakis-Gillon for state Senate District 31. Neither candidate faced opposition in the primary where Kelsey got 854 more votes in the predominantly Republican district. The other election on the ballot is for state House District 83 -- the seat Kelsey is giving up to run for the Senate. Memphis attorney Guthrie Castle is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. In the Republican primary, three are vying for the nomination. The winner will face Castle in a Jan. 12 special election.
The Memphis Daily News has more
Congressional staff headline public policy forum
Four veteran congressional staffers will discuss policy-making and bipartisanship in the nation's capital at a free public forum on Nov. 16. Beecher Frasier, chief of staff to Rep. Lincoln Davis; Tom Ingram, former chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander; Linda Peek Schacht, longtime White House and Capitol Hill communications official; and Lisa Quigley, chief of staff to Rep. Jim Cooper will be at Lipscomb University for the event beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Shamblin Theater. The presentation is part of the university's "Pizza and Politics" series. For more information contact Lipscomb's Department of Communication at (615) 966-6072.
See the announcement
Disciplinary Actions
Knoxville lawyer reinstated
Knoxville lawyer Stephen James Lusk has been reinstated to the practice of law after complying with CLE requirements. He was suspended on Sept. 24, 2003.

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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