TBA Law Blog


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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

Earlier this month, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announced there was an apparent compromise of the federal judiciary’s case management/electronic filing system. The potential breach seems to have been related to the SolarWinds hack that infiltrated more than half a dozen federal agencies. As a result of the apparent hack, the office is now requiring all “highly sensitive documents” be filed in paper form or through a secure electronic device. While it is not yet clear what documents may have been compromised, Bloomberg News reports they could include a variety of sensitive materials, from companies’ sales figures, contracts and product plans, to psychiatric, financial or medical information in criminal cases, and healthcare information for litigants in ongoing cases.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

Legal experts, survivors and advocates will explore the legal issues surrounding the “troubled teen industry” in a free webinar series from the American Bar Association. The first program in the series, “Youth in Congregate Care: Far from Home, Far from Safe,” will take place Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. EST. The series is designed to shed light on regulatory failures, current initiatives and survivor stories. Learn more or register here.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

Gov. Bill Lee has released the package of bills to be taken up by lawmakers in a special session scheduled to begin on Tuesday. In a release yesterday, Lee identified three bills to be considered in the special session, which is dedicated to “addressing K-12 student learning loss and the adverse effects on Tennessee students’ proficiency in reading and math after extended time away from the classroom due to COVID-19.” The bills are SB 7002 “Intervening to Stop Learning Loss,” SB 7003 “Building Better Readers with Phonics” and SB 7001 “Accountability to Inform.”

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

The fall out continues for those who were present at a rally last week or part of a group that breached the U.S. Capitol. Greene County Assistant District Attorney General David Baker removed posts from his Facebook page, dodged questions and — through local attorney Jonathan Cave — threatened to sue the Knoxville News Sentinel before acknowledging he was at the rally, the paper reports. Baker said through his attorney that he did not enter the capitol and called the actions of those who did “shameful.” In California, Chapman University law professor John Eastman, who assisted in filing several lawsuits challenging presidential election results and spoke at the rally, has left the law school, Law.com reports. He reached an agreement to immediately retire amid criticism of his role in stoking the attack. Finally, two Tennesseans who were present at the capitol have been arrested. Eric Gavelek Munchel, known as “zip-tie guy” was arrested in Nashville. He appears in photographs “running wild in the Senate chamber carrying zip-tie restraints with a holster on his hip,” Tennessee Lookout reports. Matthew Bledsoe of Memphis was arrested and charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct, the Commercial Appeal reports.

In related news, inspectors general for four federal departments today launched a sweeping review of how the FBI, the Pentagon and other law enforcement agencies responded to the attack at the capitol, including whether there were failures in information sharing and other preparations that left the building vulnerable. The AP has more on the probe.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

The Nashville School of Law is hosting a virtual legal clinic to produce wills for new Habitat for Humanity homeowners. An upper-level law student team goes through the intake process with the client so volunteer attorneys are only needed to conduct the client meeting and provide guidance as the will is completed. Clinics, which will be conducted via Zoom, are scheduled for Jan. 19, March 16 and April 20. Each will held from 6 to 8 p.m. CST. Lawyers who are interested in volunteering should contact Ryan Harris with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

The federal government last night executed Corey Johnson, who was convicted of drug trafficking and seven murders in 1992, National Public Radio reports. His attorneys argued that Johnson had an intellectual disability and that moving forward with the execution would be "cruel and usual punishment" because of his recent COVID-19 infection. Johnson is the 12th person to be executed by the federal government since the Trump administration restarted federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. Dustin Higgins is the last person scheduled to be executed before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. He is scheduled to die today. Biden has indicated he may seek to abolish federal executions.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

The Tennessee Senate yesterday approved a modified block grant Medicaid program by a vote of 25-6, Tennessee Lookout reports. Supporters of the block grant argued that the state will be able to use “shared savings” in TennCare to increase services to some 1.5 million recipients, mainly pregnant women with children and the state’s neediest elderly and disabled residents. Opponents argued that Medicaid block grants are illegal and can be approved only by congressional action, not by federal regulators. The legislative action comes after federal officials approved the state’s plan. Today, the House passed the plan. The Nashville Post reports on that action. In related news, Tennessee Lookout reports that U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, has urged the Biden administration to rescind approval for the plan.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

Virtual swearing-in ceremonies for new lawyers are continuing today after five were held yesterday. TBA President Michelle Greenway Sellers introduced several new lawyers to the court. Next week on Thursday, leaders of the TBA Young Lawyers Division will meet with new admittees for a virtual celebration to congratulate them on their success and answer questions common to those beginning their practice.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

The Tennessee Supreme Court is seeking comments on proposed changes to CLE rules recently submitted by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education. The commission's petition asks the court to consider amendments to Rule 21 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Among the proposed changes are provisions allowing partial year waivers of CLE requirements, allowing issuance of regulations related to granting exceptional relief, reversing a 2019 rules change granting three hours of credit for those serving on the Board of Professional Responsibility, adjusting the types of activities that receive discretionary CLE credit or public service credit, and revising deadlines for reporting CLE attendance. Comments should be submitted by May 17 to Clerk James Hivner, Tennessee Supreme Court, 401 7th Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37219.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order extending the judicial state of emergency and suspension of jury trials and in-person court proceedings through March 31. The court said the move was being taken “in light of the continued record number of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations and deaths in Tennessee and the governor’s issuance of Executive Order 73." Exceptions to the suspension of jury trials may be granted by the chief justice on a case-by-case basis. Suspension of in-person proceedings is subject to exceptions enumerated in the paragraph 3 of the court’s Dec. 22, 2020, order. Today’s order applies to all state and local courts, including municipal, juvenile, general sessions, trial and appellate courts, as well as court clerk offices. It does not apply to administrative courts within the executive branch or federal courts in the state.


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