Election Puts Fewer Lawyers in Senate, More in House - Articles

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Posted by: Journal News on Dec 1, 2012

Journal Issue Date: Dec 2012

Journal Name: December 2012 - Vol. 48, No. 12

When the Tennessee General Assembly convenes in January, the State Senate will have eight lawyers, five fewer than the last session. The only lawyer winning in a seriously contested general election race was John Stevens (R-Huntingdon), who will take over the District 24 seat vacated by lawyer Roy Herron (D-Dresden).

The 33-member body numbered 13 lawyers among its membership when the session opened in 2010. Following the early-session resignation of Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville) and the retirement of Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga), Mike Faulk (R- Church Hill) and Joe Haynes (D-Goodlettsville), only two incumbent lawyers faced election during this cycle. Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) was unopposed in the general election, and Tim Barnes (D-Clarksville) was defeated by physician Mark Green (R- Clarksville). Nashville lawyer Phillip North made a bid for Haynes’ substantially redrawn seat, but was defeated by physician Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville).

In the State House, wins by Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville), Mike Carter (R-Chattanooga), William Lamberth (R-Portland) and Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) mean that the House will have a net gain of three lawyers. Along with Vance Dennis, lawyers in the Republican Caucus will increase from two to five. Three Democrats, Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley), Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) and John Mark Windle (D-Livingston), round out the eight lawyers who will serve in the House this session.

Across Nation, Voters Affirm Merit Selection

Voters across the country rejected changes to judicial merit selection plans and gave their support to sitting justices who faced expensive ouster attempts.

Ballot measures in Florida, New Hampshire, Missouri and Arizona that would have changed judicial selection procedures all went down in defeat. And in Florida and Iowa, where well-financed campaigns were launched to defeat sitting justices in retention elections, all survived. In both states, lawyers and legal groups were actively involved in the campaigns.

Two other states had closely watched judicial elections. In Michigan, the GOP held on to control of the state’s Supreme Court, with Republican candidates holding on to two contested seats in partisan elections. And in Alabama, the state’s former chief justice – Roy Moore – was returned to office. He had been ousted from the position in 2003 after refusing to remove a monument of the 10 Commandments from the state judicial building in Montgomery.


Judges: Be Careful with Facebook, Other Social Media
Although no instances have been reported in Tennessee of judges misusing their social media accounts, a recent advisory opinion from the Tennessee Judicial Ethics Committee seeks to head off such awkward situations before they arise. Tennessee judges who use Facebook or Myspace are being advised to choose their social media friends, well, judiciously. What you want to avoid, the committee says, is a situation like the city judge in Philadelphia who last year came under scrutiny after prosecutors learned he was Facebook friends with a drunken-driving defendant who got key parts of his case thrown out by the judge.

Legal Sector Jobs Steadily Increasing
According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal sector has added jobs for the second straight month. The American Law Daily reports that 600 people joined the industry’s work force in October and 1,300 in September. The industry now employs 6,600 more people than it did in October 2011.

However,  a new study from the National Association of Women Lawyers found that female attorneys continue to lag behind their male colleagues in salary and leadership roles at firms  The study showed that compensation for women is lower at all levels, but especially in equity partner ranks, where women earn about 89 percent of what men make.

Applications Now Available for Summer Internship Program
Application materials for the 2013 Summer Judicial Internship Program are now available from the TBA Young Lawyers Division. The program matches first- and second-year law students with Tennessee appellate and trial judges for six- or 12-week internships. More than 40 law students served with trial court judges last summer, and the Membership & Law School Outreach Committee, which administers the program, hopes the number will grow in 2013. Applications must be received in the TBA office by Feb. 4, 2013.

Mentors Needed for Diversity Program
As the YLD Diversity Committee begins preparations for the third annual Diversity Leadership Institute, it is asking attorneys across the state to volunteer to serve as mentors for law student participants. Each member of the DLI class will be assigned to an attorney mentor and will be required to interact with their mentor at least twice during the six-month program. The class will kick off in January at the TBA Leadership Conference in Nashville. If you are willing to serve as a mentor, please contact Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist at (901) 537-1123 or abaptist@wyattfirm.com.

New Lawyers Join the Profession
There are 342 new lawyers in Tennessee this fall who were sworn in by the Tennessee Supreme Court in admission ceremonies across the state.

Knoxville Law School Drops Suit Against ABA, Dean Steps Down
Duncan School of Law in Knoxville has dropped its federal antitrust suit against the American Bar Association (ABA) over the denial of its bid for provisional accreditation and will file a new application for provisional accreditation, according to a jointly stipulated order of dismissal filed in October in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. The ABA Journal reports that the school will also withdraw its appeal of an earlier decision from an ABA appeal panel.

The school’s dean, Sydney Beckman, had stepped down before this action, returning to teaching.

Forum Covers Civility, Tension with Free Speech

The Tennessee Bar Association  is sponsoring a series of three forums across the state designed to encourage a public conversation about the tensions between civility and free speech.

At the first event, the TBA and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law focused on the issue of free speech and civility in the public square and how these issues play out in public policy debates — especially those with cross-cultural implications. Panelists were Kenya Bradshaw, executive director, Stand for Children; University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Associate Professor of Law Daniel Kiel; and Christine Richards, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, FedEx Corporation.

The second forum focused on civility and the court. Former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyle Reid, who was a panelist, said that although he is concerned about our legal system and how we choose judges, “merit selection is about as good a compromise between accountability and independence as we can get.” Reid joined two others on the panel —  former Tennessean editor Frank Sutherland and Phyllis Hildreth, academic director at the Institute for Conflict Management and adjunctprofessor at Lipscomb University. The event was held in October at Lipscomb University in Nashville.

The final forum, scheduled in Knoxville on Feb. 21, 2013, will focus on civility and effective governance, using the model emulated by former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to Japan Howard H. Baker Jr. The event is being sponsored by the TBA and the University of Tennessee. It will be held at the university’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

The forums are moderated by Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom.

A Life Well-Lived and Documented

In his new book, Wartrace, Tenn., lawyer Allen Shoffner, 86, gives readers a taste of what it was like growing up on a local farm during the Great Depression and his work in the courtroom for more than 56 years.

“Grazing the legal landscape in Nashville for legal business had not been very productive,” he writes in The Adventures of a Tennessee Farm Boy: A Journey From the Farm to the Courtroom. “During my first full year of practice my total gross income was $600. … I was always glad to take in on my fee sacks of sausage, ham, roasting corn, turnip greens, and anything I could eat. I decided to try grazing the legal landscape in Bedford County, so I folded my tent and headed home.”

“If I don't accomplish anything else in my life,” he told the Shelbyville Times-Gazette recently, “I want to appreciate those who influenced me, taught me right from wrong, the value of hard work.”

Feb. 15, 2013, deadline

Run for Office in the Tennessee Bar Association

During 2013, the following officers, governors and delegates of the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) will be elected as set forth in the association’s bylaws:

TBA Officers and Board of Governors
A vice president (from the Middle Tennessee Grand Division — elected by the association’s membership-at-large). The vice president automatically assumes the office of president-elect in 2015 and president in 2016.

District Governors
District Governors in the 1st, 4th and 7th districts will be elected to three-year terms. There will also be an election for the newly created 5th District (Position 1).  For this one time only, this election will be for a two-year term so as to transition in and rotate with the existing 5th District (Position 2). These governors are elected by the members in their respective districts.

Those who currently hold those positions are: Frank Johnstone (1st) and Bobby Hibbett (4th). Frank Johnstone and Bobby Hibbett are ineligible for re-election as district governors because of term limits. There is no incumbent in the newly created 5th District (Position 1).

Grand Division Governors
TBA Grand Division Governors are elected for one-year terms by the membership in each grand division.

  • Two East Tennessee governors from the 1st, 2nd or 3rd district.
  • Two Middle Tennessee governors from the 4th, 5th or 6th district.
  • Two West Tennessee governors from the 7th or 8th district.

To qualify, the position must specify whether the candidate is seeking a particular seat denominated Grand Division (Position 1) or (Position 2).

Those who currently hold those positions are: Jason Long (E), James Crumlin (M) and Michelle Sellers (W).   Jason Long and Michelle Sellers are eligible for re-election. James Crumlin is ineligible for re-election as a Grand Division Governor due to term limits.  There is no incumbent in the newly created second Grand Division Governor seat for the three Grand Divisions.  The current seats will be designated Position 1 and the new seats Position 2.

TBA Delegates to the ABA House of Delegates
Two members to represent the TBA in the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates will be elected for two-year terms by the TBA membership in 2013. The positions are designated positions 1 and 3 (Young Lawyer).

Those who currently hold those positions are Jonathan Cole (1) and Lee Bowles (3).  Both are eligible for re-election.

Qualifying, Balloting & Elections
The officers, governors and delegates to the ABA are elected by the membership as provided by election procedures with petitions due Feb. 15, 2013.

To qualify for any of these offices, a candidate must file a nominating petition with the executive director of the TBA. The petition must contain the names of 25 members of the association in good standing. The petition must be received at the TBA office on or before Feb. 15, 2013.

The Board of Governors has authorized an electronic balloting system supervised by auditors selected by the Board. After electronic balloting, mail ballots are also distributed. To be counted, these mail ballots must be received at the office of the TBA auditors.  If there is only one duly-qualified candidate for an office by Feb. 15, 2013, that candidate will automatically be declared elected.

TBA House of Delegates
Members of the TBA House of Delegates are elected in odd-numbered years.  One member of the TBA House of Delegates from each Judicial District and one additional delegate from the 6th (Knox County), 11th (Hamilton County), 20th (Davidson County) and 30th (Shelby County) are to be elected in 2013. The following is a list of the current members of the House from each district (and one young lawyer delegate from each grand division) whose terms expire this year:
1st District – VACANT
2nd District – Michael Forrester
3rd District – Dwaine Evans
4th District – VACANT
5th District – Steve Ogle
6th District – Ginny Schwamm and Shelly Wilson
7th District – Neil McBride
8th District – James Romer
9th District – Loren Plemmons
10th District – Marcia McMurray
11th District – Alicia Oliver and Arnold Stulce
12th District – Graham Swafford
13th District – Jane Powers
14th District – John LaBar
15th District – Jody Aulds
16th District – Ewing Sellers
17th District – VACANT
18th District – Tim Takacs
19th District – VACANT
20th District – Charlie High and Bryan Williams
21st District – David Peluso
22nd District – Tony Edwards
23rd District – John Lee Williams
24th District – Charlie Trotter
25th District – Drew Johnston
26th District – VACANT
27th District – Paul Hutcherson
28th District – Jerry Flippin
29th District – Karen Burns
30th District – Randy Womack and Chad Dickson
31st District – Keith Smartt
YLD-East – Chris McCarty
YLD-Middle – Marisa Combs
YLD-West – Shon Johnson

TBA House of Delegates Qualifying, Balloting & Elections
To qualify as a candidate for the TBA House of Delegates a TBA member must file a declaration of candidacy with the executive director of the TBA at the TBA office on or before Feb. 15, 2013.

This notice is in accordance with bylaws of the TBA §15 and 40 through 46.

For more information on running for any of these offices, visit the TBA’s web site at https://www.tba.org/election-guidelines or call 615-383-7421 for an election handbook.