People - Articles

All Content

Posted by: Sharon Ballinger and Stacey Shrader on Oct 23, 2009

Journal Issue Date: Nov 2009

Journal Name: November 2009 - Vol. 45, No. 11

TBA Task Force on Judicial Conduct Rules Named

Chattanooga lawyer Max Bahner, a shareholder at the law firm of Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel PC, has been named chair of the TBA Task Force on Judicial Conduct Rules. The task force and its members were appointed by TBA President Gail Vaughn Ashworth to study Tennessee's judicial ethics rules, last amended in 1997, to consider whether revisions are needed. Bahner, a senior member at the firm, practices in the litigation section. He is also an AAA arbitrator and a Rule 31 certified mediator. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a member of the Defense Research Institute, and the newly named chair of the American Bar Association's Senior Lawyers Division.  
Additional task force members are reporter Sarah Y. Sheppeard with Sheppeard, Swanson & Mynatt PLC in Knoxville; Albert C. Harvey with Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell PLLC in Memphis; Buck Lewis with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC in Memphis; Barbara Mendel Mayden with Young Mayden LLC in Nashville; Lucian Pera with Adams and Reese LLP in Memphis; and Judges Jerri S. Bryant of Athens, Angelita Dalton of Nashville, Thomas R. Frierson II of Morristown, Alan E. Glenn of Memphis,
Walter C. Kurtz of Nashville, Joe G. Riley of Ridgely and Thomas G. Stovall of Nashville.

Nashville lawyer William H. "Bill" Farmer has joined the law firm of Jones Hawkins & Farmer PLC as of counsel. Prior to joining the firm, Farmer was a member of Farmer & Luna, a member of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis PLLC, and a founding partner of Farmer Berry & Purcell. Before entering private practice, he served as state advocate general, an assistant U. S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, and the first federal public defender in the Middle District. He is certified as a trial advocacy instructor and has served as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School since 1985. Farmer was a charter member of the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission and served 15 years on the panel, including a term as chairman. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1974.

Nashville litigation and intellectual property attorney Horton Frank has joined the newly named Luna Law Group PLLC (formerly Farmer & Luna PLLC), which was restructured following the departure of partner William H. Farmer. The new firm now has four equity holders: J.W. Luna, Frank, Mike Pearigen and Jennifer Brundige. Since 2002, Frank had been a partner at Stewart, Estes & Donnell PLC, which was acquired by Dickinson Wright PLLC earlier this year. Prior to that, he practiced in several local law firms, including Frank & Frank PLLC, which he co-founded with his father Richard Frank Jr. He graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1980.

Memphis lawyer Stephen H. Biller recently announced the formation of The Biller Law Firm, where he intends to continue his labor and employment law and commercial/business litigation practice. The firm is located at 6000 Poplar Avenue, Suite 250, Memphis, Tennessee 38119.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has awarded Shelby County General Sessions Judge Larry E. Potter with the Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award. The award, given annually, recognizes individuals, organizations, local governments and companies that enhance the environment and natural resources. Judge Potter was selected as the 2009 recipient for his efforts establishing the first environmental court in Tennessee as well as his ongoing support for the work of the court. He earned his law degree from the University of Memphis School of Law in 1978.  

Knoxville lawyer Melinda Meador has joined the firm of Winchester, Sellers, Foster & Steele PC as of counsel. She will continue to practice in both state and federal trial and appellate courts, representing business clients in complex litigation. Prior to joining the firm she was a partner with Bass, Berry & Sims. She received her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1982.

Charles Edward Baker has joined the Memphis office of Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz PLC as an associate in its auto accident litigation group. Baker received his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 2005 and a master's degree in tax law from the University of Florida. Prior to joining the firm, Baker served as a judicial clerk for Judge Alan Highers on the Court of Appeals for the Western District of Tennessee and as an associate with Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan in Knoxville.

Jackson attorney Scott G. Kirk, recently with the Law Offices of George L. Morrison III, has opened his own office, the Law Offices of Scott G. Kirk. He will focus his practice in the areas of personal injury, social security disability, workers' compensation and divorce. He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1989.  

Rachel Park Hurt has joined the Knoxville law firm Arnett, Draper & Hagood as an associate, where she will focus on medical malpractice cases. Hurt previously clerked for Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark. She received her law degree in 2007 from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a master's degree in public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 2004. While in law school, Hurt was a legal extern for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, articles editor for the Tennessee Law Review, and two-time member of the constitutional law moot court team.  

Husch Blackwell Sanders lawyer Benjamin P. Harper was recently accredited as a LEED Green Associate by the Green Building Certification Institute. The credential denotes expertise and understanding of clients' needs in the areas of green development projects and green leasing. Harper works in the firm's Chattanooga office and focuses his practice in the areas of commercial real estate and business transactions. He also is active in the East Tennessee Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and volunteers on several committees charged with implementing Chattanooga's climate action plan.

Memphis attorney Steve McCleskey was recently appointed to the Shelby County Ethics Commission by county Mayor A C Wharton. The commission investigates ethics complaints lodged against elected officials and appointees to boards, commissions and authorities. McCleskey serves with the firm of Glankler Brown PLLC and focuses his practice in the areas of tax, estate planning, business succession planning, probate, business law, and mergers and acquisitions. He earned his law degree from the University of Memphis School of Law in 1981.  

Jefferson County Judge Ben Strand was awarded the McCain-Abernathy Memorial Award from the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges at the group's annual conference in August. The award recognized Strand for his legislative work on issues that impact the practice of law and the judiciary. Strand serves as general sessions, juvenile and probate judge. He also is a member of the TBA House of Delegates. He earned his law degree from Cumberland School of Law in 1967.  

Kevin C. Kennedy, senior attorney at the Kennedy Law Firm PLLC in Clarksville, recently received the key to the city in honor of the firm's 25th anniversary. The key was presented by the mayor during the firm's anniversary celebration in recognition for its many contributions to the Clarksville-Montgomery County community.  
The Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers recently elected new officers. TBA members among them are President Jerry P. Black with the University of Tennessee Law Clinic and Treasurer Stephen Ross Johnson with Ritchie, Dillard & Davies. Both are from Knoxville. Memphis attorney Lorna S. McClusky with Massey & McClusky now holds the position of past president.

A group of Tennessee attorneys completed a collaborative law training practice seminar Aug. 27-28 at Vanderbilt University Law School. The training, which was sponsored by the Midsouth Collaborative Divorce Alliance and the ADR Society of Vanderbilt Law School, taught practioners how to use collaborative law to settle divorce and separation issues in a nonadversarial way without contested court litigation. Among the attendees were 27 TBA members. Participants from Memphis included Lucie Brackin with the Landers Firm, Pat Chafetz, Laurie Christensen with Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, Scott Crosby with Burch, Porter & Johnson PLLC, Karen Hall with the Hall Law Firm PLC, Charlotte Prather Milton with Milton & Laumann, Caren Nichol with Evans Petree Bogatin PC, Cynthia Pensoneau with Shea Moskovitz & McGhee PLC, Tim Price and Linda Warren Seely with Memphis Area Legal Services. Nashville participants included Kristen Amonette with Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella PC, Caroline Beauchamp with McCarter & Beauchamp PLLC, Dot Dobbins with Dobbins & Venick, Amy Farrar with Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella PC, Irene Haude, Larry Hayes Jr. with Jackson, Kweller, McKinney, Warden & Hayes, Irwin Kuhn with Dobbins & Venick, Patricia McCarter with McCarter & Beauchamp PLLC, Teresa Webb Oglesby, Helen Rogers with Rogers & Associates, Marietta Shipley with The Mediation Group of Tennessee LLC and Jan Walden with A Better Way Mediation. Other attendees were Ann Barker with Barker Law & Mediation of Madisonville, Susan Castle with Susan Castle Law LLC of Franklin, Grant Glassford of Brentwood, Benjamin Papa with Papa & Roberts PLLC of Brentwood and Lisa Collins Werner with Consensus Mediation Group of Knoxville.  

Memphis lawyer Robert D. Meyers has been reappointed chair of the Defense Research Institute's Civil Rights Committee. The institute is an international organization of defense attorneys who focus on civil litigation. Meyers is a member of Kiesewetter Wise Kaplan Prather PLC, where he maintains a labor and employment practice. He also serves as a member of the Shelby County Election Commission. He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1986.

Chattanooga lawyer Nathaniel Goggans has been elected to the board of directors of the Tennessee Trucking Association, an independent, nonprofit trade association representing more than 400 trucking companies and industry vendors. Goggans is an associate attorney with Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel and serves in the firm's Litigation Practice Group. He also is a member of the Tennessee Ethics Commission and chair of the Legal Advisory Committee of the Tennessee China Chamber of Commerce. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2003.  

Paul C. Ney Jr., a Nashville attorney and former director of the Mayor's Office of Economic & Community Development for Metropolitan Nashville, recently was honored as "Volunteer of the Year for Administrative Services" by Catholic Charities. Ney was a member of Catholic Charities' board of directors from 2003 to 2009, during which time he served as vice president and president of the board, and a member of the Development Committee. He will continue to serve in an ad hoc capacity on the board's Committee for the Tennessee Office for Refugees.

The Sumner County Bar Association recently elected new officers. TBA members among them are President Lance A. Wray, Secretary Chad Long and Treasurer Jay Ingrum with Phillips & Ingrum in Gallatin. Wray and Long practice law in Hendersonville.

The Tennessee Bar Foundation recently elected three regional members to its board of trustees.
Representing Middle Tennessee is Spruell Driver Jr., an associate with Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis in Nashville. Driver is a former board member of the Nashville Bar Association and chair of its Minority Opportunities Committee. Representing West Tennessee is Irma Merrill Stratton of Memphis, who is a member of the Law Office of J. Houston Gordon in Covington. Stratton has served as president of the Memphis Bar Association and its Young Lawyers Division. She is a Certified Civil Trial Specialist by the Tennessee Commission on CLE and Specialization. Representing East Tennessee is Sevierville lawyer Cynthia R. Wyrick, a shareholder with the law firm of Ogle, Gass and Richardson PC. She previously served a three-year term as a member of the foundation's IOLTA Grant Review Committee. Wyrick also serves as East Tennessee governor on the TBA Board of Governors and is a past president of the association's Young Lawyers Division.  

Spicer Rudstrom member Shawn F. Kohl has announced he will take an extended leave of absence from the firm to join the International Justice Mission. Kohl and his family will be relocating to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to support the organization's mission of combating child trafficking.

Burr & Forman LLP has announced that two of its Nashville attorneys have been appointed to leadership positions in professional organizations. Partner David W. Houston IV has been named co-chair of the American Bankruptcy Institute's Southeast Bankruptcy Workshop for 2010-2011. Houston practices in the firm's Creditors' Rights and Bankruptcy Group, and focuses on commercial bankruptcy matters. He is chair of the TBA's Bankruptcy Section and past chair of the Nashville Bar Association's Bankruptcy Court Committee and Local Rules Subcommittee. Houston earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2000. In addition, counsel Julie Mix McPeak has been appointed to two positions with the American Bar Association's Tort and Insurance Practice Section. She is vice chair of the section's Insurance Regulation Committee and a member of the section's Federal Involvement in Insurance Regulation Modernization Task Force. McPeak, who has more than 12 years of legal and administrative experience in state government, serves in the firm's Insurance Practice Group. Prior to joining the firm she was general counsel and executive director for the Kentucky Office of Insurance and general counsel for the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet. McPeak earned her law degree from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1994.  

Nashville lawyer Jean Crowe, with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, was elected to the American Bar Association Family Law Section's governing council for a three-year term. Crowe, who has served on several ABA boards related to domestic violence and child support, has been with the Legal Aid Society for more than 20 years. She is the lead attorney for the society's family law section. In addition to a law degree from the University of Wisconsin, she holds a diploma from the Institute on International and Comparative Law in Paris.

Bass, Berry & Sims PLC member Leigh Walton has accepted an invitation to become a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Only one-third of one percent of attorneys in each state is honored with admissions to the fellows. Walton joins fellow firm members Lee Barfield and Julie Jones in this distinction. Walton is chair of the Committee on Mergers and Acquisitions of the ABA's Section of Business Law. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School.  


Nashville attorney JOHN CONNERS, the last survivor of the four founding members of Boult Cummings Conners & Berry, died Sept. 8 at the age of 89. Conners practiced law with the firm from 1948 until a few years ago when ill health limited his activities. While he spent many years as a defense lawyer in civil lawsuits, he changed his focus in the 1970s, taking on personal-injury and medical malpractice clients. Conners was active in the local and state bar serving on the Nashville Bar Association's Medico-Legal Committee and Circuit Court Committee, the Board of Professional Responsibility and as a fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation. On the national level, he served on the Federal Disciplinary Board and as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1948. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to Father Ryan High School, 700 Norwood Drive, Nashville, TN 37214; St. Henry Catholic Church, 6401 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205; or a charity of one's choice.

Giles County Commissioner ROBERT E. LEE JR., 87, died Aug. 12 following an extended illness. Known by many as "The Ole Judge," Lee served multiple terms as Giles County's general sessions and juvenile judge and recently had been elected to the county commission. He also served as the county's first elected roads superintendent. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1949. Lee was laid to rest in Maplewood Cemetery after a memorial service at First United Methodist Church of Pulaski. The family suggests memorial donations be made to Giles County Library, Senior Citizens or Veterans Alliance.

JAMES D. ROBINSON died Aug. 28 at the age of 76. Robinson earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1958 and practiced as a trial attorney in Chattanooga for more than 44 years. While he focused in the area of civil tort litigation, he perhaps was best known for defending physicians in medical malpractice lawsuits. He also served as a special judge in the Hamilton County Circuit Court and as an adjunct professor in criminal justice and the Legal Assistant Program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. At the time of his retirement, he was the senior partner in the law firm of Robinson, Smith & Wells. Robinson was active in the local bar, serving on the board of directors and as president of the Chattanooga Bar Association and as a fellow of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation. He also served as vice president of the Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association and as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Tennessee Bar Foundation. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to CADAS, 207 Spears Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37405 or to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of East Tennessee, 12 Oaks Executive Park, 5401 Kingston Pike, Suite 230, Knoxville, TN 37919.

After 55 years of practice, Memphis lawyer JOHN THOMAS WILKINSON JR. died Sept. 5 and was buried at Barbee Cemetery in Lula, Miss. He graduated from the University of Mississippi Law School and was licensed to practice in 1946. Memorials may be sent to King's Daughters and Sons Home in Bartlett or a charity of the donor's choice.