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Posted by: Journal News on Jan 1, 2018

Journal Issue Date: Jan 2018

Journal Name: January 2018 - Vol. 54, No. 1

Supreme Court Soliciting Comments on Proposed Changes to Rule 8

November 22, 2017

The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility and the TBA last week filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to amend Rule 8, RPC 8.4 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court by adopting a new RPC 8.4(g). The court is now soliciting written comments from the bench, the bar and the public. The deadline for submissions is March 21, 2018. Written comments may be emailed or mailed to James M. Hivner, Clerk, Re: Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 9, section 32 Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Avenue North, Nashville, Tennessee 37219-1407. Read the proposed amendments here.

Low Number of Female, Minority U.S. Attorney Candidates a Concern to ABA

December 11, 2017

American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass told Attorney General Jeff Sessions she is concerned with the low percentage of women and minority candidates appointed to U.S. attorney positions, the ABA Journal reports. Of 57 U.S. attorney candidates proposed by the Trump administration so far, one was black and three were women. “A justice system that is not representative of the diverse community it serves risks losing its legitimacy in the eyes of those who come before it,” Bass wrote in a letter to Sessions.

Haslam Appoints Hedrick to 11th District Bench

December 11, 2017

Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Kyle E. Hedrick of Chattanooga as Circuit Court Judge for the 11th Judicial District. He replaces Judge W. Neil Thomas III, who has retired. The 11th Judicial District serves Hamilton County. Hedrick currently practices with Ramer and Hedrick, a firm he founded with Glenna Ramer in 2001. He is a 1987 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Juvenile Task Force Reports Findings, Recommendations

December 8, 2017

A special task force on juvenile justice today presented state leaders with a set of data-driven policy recommendations. The Joint Ad-hoc Blue Ribbon task force – composed of leaders from the executive, legislative and judicial branches – made recommendations that focused on 1) how to focus resources on the highest-risk youth; 2) how to prevent deeper juvenile justice system involvement of lower-level youth through early response; and 3) how to sustain effective practices through continued oversight and reinvestment in a stronger continuum of evidence-based services. Read more details on the recommendations from the Tennessee Courts website.

Erin Palmer Polly Elected 2018 NBA President

December 8, 2017

Erin Palmer Polly, a commercial litigation attorney at Butler Snow LLP, was elected president of the Nashville Bar Association at its December board of directors meeting. Polly previously served as the NBA’s YLD president in 2014, and has been a recipient of the Legal Aid Society Volunteer Lawyer’s Program Pro Bono Award. Laura Smith was elected presidet-elect, Jackie Dixon was named first vice president-elect, Wendy Longmire was elected second vice president-elect, Mary Taylor Gallagher was elected secretary and Jeff Gibson named treasurer. Tera Rica Murdock was elected president of the NBA YLD, and Lela Hollabaugh was named general counsel.

ABA Ethics Opinion: Judges Using Internet to Search for Facts Poses Ethical Problems

December 8, 2017

A new American Bar Association ethics opinion finds that while judges may conduct legal research online for cases not cited by the parties, using the internet to find facts concerning the parties or subject matter of a case poses ethical problems, the ABA Journal reports. Finding “adjudicative facts” about a case is already generally banned by the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, but an exception allows judges to go online for facts that are subject to judicial notice because they are generally known and not subject to reasonable dispute. The opinion also offers guidelines for judges to conduct independent factual research.

Court Clarifies Law on Ownership of Funds Withdrawn from Joint Account

December 6, 2017

The Tennessee Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that, when one spouse unilaterally withdraws money from a married couple’s joint bank account and places it in a certificate of deposit, the money is no longer joint property and belongs to the spouse to whom the certificate of deposit was issued. The opinion in In Re Estate of Calvert Hugh Fletcher was authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee.

New Edition of Ethics Rule Book Now Available From TBA

December 6, 2017

The 2018 edition of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct is now available from the Tennessee Bar Association. Thanks to the efforts of the TBA's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, this new edition includes all amendments as of and through Oct. 31, 2017. It is available for purchase in a spiral-bound format for $30 or free in PDF format or in Word document format.

2018 Mock Trial Problem Released

December 4, 2017

The problem and exhibits for the 2018 Tennessee State High School Mock Trial competition was released on Friday evening. This year’s problem, a civil case, revolves around a sports fan’s protest held during the Tennessee eclipse. This year’s competition will be held in Nashville on March 23-24. Chairing the YLD Mock Trial Committee this year is Rob Sands, with Vice Chair Kati Goodner.

Noel Named Chair of Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments

December 4, 2017

Gov. Bill Haslam has named Randall D. Noel as the new chair of the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments. The Council for Judicial Appointments interviews applicants and makes recommendations to the governor when there are vacancies on the appellate courts. Noel is a partner at Butler Snow LLP in Memphis engaged in civil practice, with a focus on commercial, banking, antitrust, data security and products liability matters. He is a former president of the TBA.

Tennessee Supreme Court Rules on Required Notice for Enhanced Sentence

November 30, 2017

The Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated a life sentence without the possibility of parole that defendant Kevin Patterson received under Tennessee’s three strikes law. The defendant argued the state did not provide him with the required pre-trial notice that it planned to use his prior convictions to obtain an enhanced sentence. The Supreme Court held that while the notice was imperfect, the defendant was not prejudiced by the errors. The unanimous opinion was authored by Justice Cornelia A. Clark.

Tennessee Supreme Court Amends Rule 7

November 28, 2017

The Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted amendments to Rule 7 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners petitioned for changes in August. After review, the court amended Rule 7, with changes going into effect immediately.

Tennessee Supreme Court Amends Rule 12

November 28, 2017

On Sept.13, the Tennessee Supreme Court filed an order soliciting written comments concerning proposed amendments to Rule 12, section 1, and the First-Degree Murder Report which is appended to Rule 12. The deadline for submitting written comments was Oct 13, and the Court received no written comments during that period. The amendments were adopted and take effect immediately.

LSAT Test Takers Up Significantly from 2016

November 21, 2017

The number of students taking the Law School Admissions Test has risen significantly since last year, the ABA Journal reports. The increase in test takers was 5.4 percent in February, 19.8 percent in June and 10.7 percent in September. As of Oct. 30, the number of registrations for the December test is 21.4 percent above the total at the same time last year.

New Design Released for Nashville Courthouse; Work to Start in Early '18

November 20, 2017

The U.S. government has released new designs for the Nashville courthouse to be built and named after late U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The government plans to award the development contract for the project early next year. Three companies have made the shortlist for the project: Clark Construction Group out of Washington, D.C., W.G. Yates and Sons Construction from Philadelphia and Hensel Phelps of Colorado. The project is expected to cost $194.5 million and will be located at 719 Church Street.

Haslam Appoints Dalton as Davidson County Criminal Court Judge

November 20, 2017

Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Angelita Blackshear Dalton as Criminal Court Judge for the 20th District, replacing retiring Judge J. Randall Wyatt. Dalton has served as Davidson County General Sessions Judge for Division III since 2006. She was selected by her peers as presiding judge in 2010 and again in 2017. Dalton earned her law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law in 1997 and has served on the Tennessee Domestic Violence State Coordinating Council since 2008.

White County Judge Reprimanded for Sterilization Measure

November 20, 2017

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct has issued a reprimand for White County Judge Sam Benningfield for his role in reducing the jail sentences of inmates who agreed to receive vasectomies or other forms of birth control, The Tennessean reports. The Nov. 15 letter stated that Benningfield acted in a way that threatened public confidence in the judicial system. Two lawsuits have been filed against Benningfield and White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe alleging they carried out a "modern day eugenics scheme."