Mid-state Under Water; Lawyers Galvanize to Help - Articles

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Posted by: Journal News on May 24, 2010

Journal Issue Date: Jun 2010

Journal Name: June 2010 - Vol. 46, No. 6

The Flood and How We Responded

The 'volunteer spirit' was never more evident than in West and Middle Tennessee in the days and weeks following the May 1-2 storms that dumped flood-level water on the state. The Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), and many other organizations quickly became a clearinghouse for services, legal and otherwise, for attorneys needing help and information. In fact, TALS was flooded out of their offices and set up shop in the Tennessee Bar Center with the TBA for a while.

Lawyers volunteered at many disaster service centers, even as fellow lawyers were flooded out of their offices and closing their doors for days. A toll-free legal assistance line was established [(888) 395-9297] that allowed callers to be matched with Tennessee lawyers who had volunteered to provide free legal help.

A disaster services manual was also put up on the TBA Web site for lawyers to use in helping clients, and a free webcast, "Providing Pro Bono Legal Services After a Disaster," was aired less than two weeks after the flood. A second webcast followed: "FEMA: Facts, Forms and Follow-up." Both courses are now available for free viewing, with CLE credit, for the next year.

Take a look at the resources, which are still in use, at www.tba.org/volunteer.


Tweed Award goes to TBA for increasing legal services to poor
The Tennessee Bar Association will be honored with a major national award for helping bring legal services to the poor as the 2010 recipient of the Harrison Tweed Award. The award is given jointly by the American Bar Association and the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association to honor "extraordinary achievements" in increasing access to civil legal services for the poor. The award will be presented at the ABA Annual Meeting in August. In selecting the TBA for the award, the judges cited Tennessee's 4ALL Campaign, which included the 4/4 Pro Bono Public Service Day, as well as legal clinics and events held during October 2009's Celebrate Pro Bono Month. The work was launched under the leadership of TBA Immediate Past President Buck Lewis and was continued under the guidance of current TBA President Gail Vaughn Ashworth.

To learn more about the award and the TBA programs that won it, visit www.tba.org/journal_links.

Court seeks comments on proposed fee hike
The Tennessee Supreme Court has solicited comments on a proposed rules amendment that would increase the hourly rate paid appointed counsel of indigent defendants. The Supreme Court order seeks comment on a petition to amend the Court's Rule 13 that was filed by the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (TACDL). The deadline for submitting written comments is Dec. 31, 2010.

Download the order and the petition for amendment through www.tba.org/journal_links.

Judicial candidates sign Code of Conduct
Most of the Tennessee judicial candidates standing for election this year have signed a campaign code aimed at preserving public faith in the integrity of the justice system. The Tennessee Bar Association also is making available judicial evaluation information about appellate court candidates and providing a guide to factors that voters should consider before casting a ballot in a retention election.

See the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct and a list of candidates who have signed it at

'StopFraud.gov' new service
The new Financial Fraud Enforcement Task has launched StopFraud.gov, a one-stop shop for the American people to learn how to protect themselves from fraud and to report it wherever and however it occurs. It will also serve as a hub of information about the task force's work.

Go to www.stopfraud.gov.

TBA recognized for advocacy on behalf of profession
In April, the American Bar Association recognized the Tennessee Bar Association for its effectiveness in lobbying Congress on behalf of issues of concern to the justice system. In presenting the ABA Day Grassroots Award, the national association specifically referenced TBA's work educating its congressional delegation on the need to improve and modernize funding for the Legal Services Corporation. The award was given in conjunction with ABA Day, a series of events in Washington, D.C., designed to bring together lawyers and lawmakers. TBA President Gail Vaughn Ashworth and Executive Director Allan F. Ramsaur accepted the award.

See a picture and learn more through www.tba.org/journal_links.

New database gives stats on trial judges
The Tennessee court system has a database of trial judge statistics on its Web site. While the courts have long shared filing and disposition data by judicial district, this is the first time the court system has published statistical information by individual judges. This statistical database allows Web site visitors to see the number of cases disposed or appealed by individual judge or by judicial district during the 2008-09 fiscal year. The database provides the docket numbers for the cases that have been appealed and also offers a link to the site's searchable opinion database, allowing visitors to see easily the appellate court opinions that have been filed for those cases.

Access the Trial Judge Case Statistics database at www.tncourts.gov/JudgeStats.

Volunteers plant 100+ trees
Tennessee Bar Association volunteers planted more than 100 trees in Chattanooga in celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day in April. The trees " donated by the Tennessee Valley Authority " were planted at the Clifton Hills Elementary School. Additional plantings took place in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. Taking part in the Chattanooga planting project were TBA President Gail Vaughn Ashworth, TBA President-elect Sam Elliott, TBA Environmental Law Section Chair David Higney, Chattanooga attorneys John Grant, Alicia Oliver, Yousef Hamaden, Jason Isaacson, Katie Giannasi, Chris Varner and Bobby Dan, and TBA staffers Angie Bianchi and Britt Simonson.

See photos from the event on TBAConnect at www.tbaconnect.org.

Honors awarded in environmental law writing competition
Nicholas C. Christiansen, a second-year student at The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, was awarded first place and $800 in the Tennessee Bar Association Environmental Law Section's 2010 Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition. Eliot D. Kerner, a third-year law student at the University of Tennessee College of Law, won second place and $400 for his article.