Justice O'Connor criticizes campaign finance ruling

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said Tuesday that judicial independence in state courts will be severely compromised by last week's Supreme Court decision striking down bans on corporate campaign spending. With more than 80 percent of state judges running for office in competitive -- and often negative -- elections, and the ever-growing price tag for these races, O'Connor says the situation will only deteriorate with an influx of corporate funds. The end result, she concludes, will be an erosion of the impartiality of the judiciary and the public's perception of judicial independence. She suggested the best way to stop the damage is for states to move to a different system such as merit selection.

Read more of O'Connor's comments in this NPR story

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Court: TCA


Ronald D. Krelstein, Germantown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Susan L. Bowman.

Henry L. Klein, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Memphis.


The trial court dismissed Plaintiff's claim under the Governmental Tort Liability Act for damages arising from alleged malicious harassment under Tennessee Code Annotated sections 4-21-101 & 701 based on Plaintiff's failure to allege malicious harassment based on race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm.



Court: TCA


Douglas T. Jenkins, Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellants, John Robert Harrell, Mildred Harrell, John Harvey Harrell, and Donald Harrell and wife, Debbie Harrell, individually and as parents and next friends of Heather Harrell.

C. Christopher Raines, Jr., Mt. Carmel, Tennessee, for the appellee, Roma Harrell.

H. C. Harrell died testate in 1954; he was survived by his wife and three sons, Henry Clay Harrell, James Milton Harrell and John Robert Harrell. His will, prepared by his banker, made provision for his wife and just debts, and left his 152 acre farm to sons James and John "only so long as each shall live." The will further provides: "At the death of James Milton Harrell his share of the farm shall become the property of his children. At the death of John Robert Harrell his share of the farm shall become the property of his children." James and John divided the farm by partition deeds in 1975. Henry Clay Harrell died in 1990 without issue, survived only by his wife, Roma Harrell. When James Harrell died in 2007 without issue, survived only by his wife Elizabeth Barton Harrell, John Harrell brought this action against James' widow seeking a declaration that at James' death, his interest in the farm reverted to John. Alternatively, John asked that the court hold that the partition deeds converted each brother's interest in the farm to a fee simple interest. Roma Harrell, by order filed July 15, 2008, appeared and agreed to be bound by the court's disposition of any interest she had in the subject property, but declined to participate in the proceedings. The case was tried on stipulated facts. The trial court held that the will created a "contingent remainder . . . in favor of the 'children' of James Milton Harrell [which] failed, and the possibility of reverter passed to John Robert Harrell, James Milton Harrell, and Henry Clay Harrell, Jr. at the death of H.C. Harrell, Sr." John appeals. We affirm.


Tennessee Real Estate Commission Education Course Approval

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-01-27

Opinion Number: 10-09



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ABA launches Haiti resource
The ABA has assembled a collection of legal resources relevant to the Haiti earthquake for use by lawyers, bar associations and organizations helping those in need. The site provides information on the immigration status of Haitian nationals now in the U.S., the status of children identified as orphans, and new tax provisions affecting charitable donations. Links also are provided for lawyers, judges and court administrators who are interested in joining an anticipated legal reform project in the country. Suggestions for additions to the site can be sent to rhorowitz@staff.abanet.org.
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Bell trial continued to June
The Court of the Judiciary filed an order today continuing until June the trial of Judge John A. Bell, which previously had been scheduled for Feb. 17-29. According to the order, attorneys on both sides of the case indicated this week that they would be filing a number of motions that would need to be heard by presiding Judge Don Ash prior to trial. With Bell waiving his right to have the matter tried within 60 days, Ash granted the continuance. The trial now is scheduled for June 2-4 in Newport. Download the order or read other filings in the case.

Mock trial coach needed in Montgomery County
A high school in Montgomery County is looking for an attorney volunteer to help coach its student mock trial team. The school will compete in the local district competition in February, and if it progresses to the state competition, will compete in Nashville March 19-20. To volunteer or for more information please contact Nashville lawyer and Mock Trial Chair Marisa Combs at mcombs@lewisking.com or (615) 259-1366.

Napier Looby Bar elects officers
The Napier-Looby Bar Association and its foundation elected new officers and board members last night in Nashville. Solo practioner Will Stover was named president of the association, after serving as president-elect last year. Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz lawyer L. Nicole James was elected president-elect and will automatically assume the office of president in 2011. David E. Green with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, was elected treasurer and Shameak Belvitt with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, was elected secretary. Members now serving on the association's board of directors are: Cynthia Fitzgerald, Andrea Perry, Dumaka Shabazz, Brian Winfrey. The group also elected the following board members for the Napier-Looby Bar Foundation: Shameak Belvitt, Isaac Conner, Dawn Deaner, Patrick Norton, Kyle Parks, Charles Traughber, Rita Roberts-Turner and Kinika Young.

Memphis moot court teams advance
Two teams from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law have advanced to the national finals of competitions sponsored by the National Black Law Students Association. The Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team, coached by Glankler Brown attorney Andre Mathis, won the Southern Region championship round. The Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Team, coached by the university's associate counsel Melanie Murry, was the regional runner-up. Both teams will compete in the national championships in Boston in March.

AWA banquet a success
The Association for Women Attorneys (AWA) held its annual banquet Jan. 21 at the Racquet Club in Memphis. More than 160 members and supporters attended the event, which included several presentations. Memphis lawyer Linda Holmes made a presentation in honor of AWA founding member and legal maverick Grant Loring who died last January. The association presented its premier award, the Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award, to University of Memphis law professor Janet L. Richards -- the first woman to achieve professor status at the school. And several University of Memphis law students received scholarship awards. The evening wrapped up with the passing of the president's gavel to Michele Howard-Flynn and induction of new officers and committee chairs. Flynn announced that she would spend her year increasing mentoring opportunities for women attorneys. She also announced the association's first legal clinic of the year to be held Feb. 13 in Memphis.

The association's new officers are: President Michele Howard-Flynn with The Howard-Flynn Law Group; President-elect Lucie Brackin with The Landers Firm; Vice President Emily Taube with Adams and Reese; Immediate Past President Jennifer Hagerman with Burch, Porter & Johnson; Treasurer Brittan Webb with Stone, Higgs & Drexler; Secretary Jennifer Himes with Hale, Dewey & Knight; and Historian Ashley Martin with Harris, Shelton, Hanover Walsh. All are from Memphis.
See photos from the event on TBAConnect
Opinion: full-body scan reasonable under Constitution
Responding to questions about the constitutionality of full-body scans -- the latest proposal in airport security -- Nashville criminal defense lawyer David L. Raybin says he believes "non-intrusive body scan technology is constitutionally reasonable as an alternative to a physical pat-down search...". However, he argues that the practice "approaches the limit of what the Fourth Amendment recognizes as reasonable" and warns against a slippery slope that could lead to unconstitutional infringement on rights. His piece appeared in Tuesday's issue of the Tennessean.
Read it here
Legislative News
New bills on TBA's radar
The flood of legislative introductions in the run up to Thursday's deadline for filing bills in the Senate has begun, and the TBA already has identified and is tracking several proposals that would affect lawyers. The first bill -- SB2522 by Jack Johnson, D-Dickson, and HB2543 by Glen Casada, R-Franklin -- would make gross negligence the standard for medical malpractice actions in emergency rooms. The second bill, SB2770 by Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, would make false unsworn statements in "official proceedings" perjury and make perjury by a lawyer a Class E felony. The third bill -- SB2905 by Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and HB2983 by Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol -- would require the Court of the Judiciary to conduct its deliberations in public.

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The TBA Action List tracks bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in. This means it has either initiated the legislation, taken a postiion on the bill or has a policy on the issue. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.
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