TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Tba People on Sep 1, 2013

Journal Issue Date: Sep 2013

Journal Name: September 2013 - Vol. 49, No. 9

Josie Beets has joined the Tennessee Bar Association staff as public policy coordinator, after serving as a legal assistance attorney at the Fort Polk Office of the Staff Judge Advocate in Fort Polk, La. She has also been a staff attorney at Acadiana Legal Services Corporation in Lafayette, La., and in New Orleans in the the Louisiana State Bar Association's access to justice program. She is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School. The Public Policy Coordinator will be responsible for developing, nurturing and expanding grasstops relationships between lawyers and lawmakers in Tennessee and will assist TBA sections and committees in their legislative endeavors.

Memphis Criminal Court Judge Christopher Craft has received the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program’s first Judicial Volunteer of the Year Award. Craft was recognized for his participation in the Judicial Assistance Group — a network of Tennessee judges who volunteer their time to make sure consultation, intervention, expertise and assistance are available to judges and lawyers.

The Kansas City, Mo., based law firm Polsinelli has opened a regional office in Chattanooga to serve clients from Nashville to Atlanta in corporate, finance, mergers and acquisitions, and real estate matters. Gregory M. Leitner, formerly with Husch Blackwell, will lead the office. He will be joined by K. Chris Collins, Ralph M. Killebrew Jr. and Dustin J. Manning.

Shelbyville lawyer Forest A. Durard Jr. has been appointed 17th Judicial District Circuit Court judge. Durard has been a solo practitioner in private practice since 1992. Prior to that, he served in the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office. Durand received his law degree from Nashville School of Law in 1989.

Memphis attorney Ruby R. Wharton recently received the Bishop Carroll T. Dozier Award for Peace and Justice from Christian Brothers University. The award recognizes her commitment to justice and community activism. Wharton is a graduate of Boston College Law School. She has worked with the federal courts, the Neighborhood Legal Services Program and the Shelby County circuit, chancery and probate courts.

Chattanooga lawyer Wade Hinton has been named city attorney by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. Hinton, who had led Berke’s transition team, succeeds longtime city attorney Mike McMahan. Hinton previously was deputy general counsel for Volkswagen Group of America’s Chattanooga operations and an attorney with Miller & Martin. He is a graduate of the TBA Leadership Law Program and a former member of the TBA Young Lawyers Division Board. He graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law in 1999.

Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA President Sam D. Elliott is the editor of The Battles for Chattanooga, Volume 7 of Tennessee in the Civil War — a 12-volume series drawn from the best of almost 400 articles on the war published between 1942 and 2010 by the Tennessee Historical Quarterly. The series is an official project of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. The book, released in August, features 11 articles on various aspects of the battle and campaign for Chattanooga. Elliott, a member at Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon, is the author and editor of several other books and essays relating to Tennessee Civil War history. He also is chair of the Tennessee Historical Commission.

The Knoxville law firm of Wagner, Myers & Sanger has added three to its staff. John A. Lucas joins the firm as a member. He will focus on complex commercial and business litigation. Lucas previously was a partner at Merchant & Gould and spent 31 years in litigation practice at Hunton & Williams. Joining the firm as associates are Lane E. McCarty, whose practice focuses on commercial and business litigation, and Melissa C. Reinders, whose practice focuses on health law, including federal fraud and abuse cases and health information privacy and security. Both graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2009.

Nate Bailey recently joined the Nashville law firm of Waddey and Patterson where he will handle all aspects of patent and other intellectual property litigation. Prior to joining the firm, Bailey worked as a patent attorney at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Bailey also is a published writer, contributing articles to journals such as Today’s Engineer, Food and Drug Law Journal, and Engineering Management Review.

Marc Bussone recently joined the Nashville office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings as an associate and will serve in the firm’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group. Bussone, who is licensed in Tennessee and Georgia, previously was an assistant vice president at Aon Hewitt in Atlanta, where he managed a team that provided consulting, implementation and recordkeeping services for defined-contribution and nonqualified retirement plans and welfare programs. He earned his law degree in 2011 from Georgia State University College of Law.

Van P. East III has joined the Nashville office of Frost Brown Todd where he will handle commercial real estate, business transactions and legal matters affecting corporate, limited liability and other closely held business entities. East is a former chair of the TBA’s Business Law Section and a current member of the section’s executive council. He was active in the drafting of the Tennessee Revised Limited Liability Company Act, as well as other legislation involving business entities. East served on a joint committee of the Real Estate and Business Law sections, which prepared a report on Third Party Closing Opinions. Prior to joining Frost Brown Todd, East practiced with White & Reasor.

In other news from the firm, William T. “Bill” Robinson III, immediate past president of the American Bar Association, was presented with the National Center for State Courts’ Distinguished Service Award at the Conference of Chief Justices last month in Vermont. Robinson was recognized for his work supporting sufficient funding for federal and state courts. He is the member in charge of the Northern Kentucky offices of Frost Brown Todd.

The Swafford Law Firm in Franklin has hired a new associate. Elizabeth “Betsy” Hart will focus on general litigation and employment matters. Hart graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2011. She joins firm principal Tara L. Swafford.

Knoxville lawyer Esther Roberts Bell, CEO and founder of Global Intellectual Property Asset Management, was a finalist in the 29th annual YWCA Tribute to Women. The yearly event honors the contributions of women living and working in East Tennessee. This year’s award emphasized dedication to equality, empowerment and transformation.

Mid-South Commercial Law Institute recently announced the election of new officers and board members. TBA members among them are President Michael E. Collins with Manier & Herod in Nashville; President-Elect E. Brian Sellers with Winchester, Sellers, Foster & Steele in Knoxville; Michael T. “Mickey” Tabor in Jackson; Nicholas W. Whittenburg with Miller & Martin in Chattanooga; F. Scott Milligan with Litde & Milligan in Knoxville; and Allison Economy with Stites & Harbison in Nashville. The group will be hosting its annual seminar on commercial and bankruptcy law in conjunction with the TBA’s Bankruptcy Section Dec. 5-6.

Jatrean M. Sanders, an associate at Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan in Atlanta, has been honored by Lawyers of Color as one of 100 outstanding early- to mid-career minority attorneys under age 40 in the south. Sanders focuses her practice on general civil litigation and workers’ compensation matters. She graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2009 and is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and Georgia.

The Chattanooga law firm of Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams recently announced the election of William J. Rieder as a shareholder and the addition of two new associates, Kurt A. Schmissrauter Jr. and Cara E. Weiner. Rieder, a native of Tullahoma, joined the firm in 2007 and practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation, insurance defense and employment issues. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2007. Schmissrauter, a native of Chattanooga, will focus on general litigation. He graduated from the Cumberland School of Law in 2012. Weiner, who previously practiced in Atlanta, will handle medical malpractice defense and health care litigation. She earned her law degree from the Georgia State University College of Law.

Linda Rose has been appointed to serve on two committees of the American Immigration Lawyers Association: the Department of Labor Liaison Committee, which monitors and negotiates government procedures allowing U.S. employers to hire permanently foreign workers, and the Arts, Culture, Education and Sports/Sciences (ACES) Committee, which monitors visas for foreign workers in those occupations. Rose is the managing member of Rose Immigration Law Firm in Nashville.

Nashville attorneys Ramona P. DeSalvo and L. Kevin Levine have formed the firm of DeSalvo & Levine, which will handle entertainment, copyright and trademark law. DeSalvo, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, has been responsible for complex copyright litigation, including the multi-district case involving Napster. She also teaches entertainment law and intellectual property at the Nashville School of Law. Levine earned his law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law. A songwriter and active musician, he also holds a master of business degree from Marshall University. The firm is located at 1720 West End Ave., Suite 403, Nashville, TN 37203.

Knoxville attorney Joe Jarret has joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Public Policy and Administration as a full-time lecturer. He also recently published the article “Overcoming Volunteer Chaos in Times of Disaster” in Public Management Journal.

Memphis lawyer Claudia Swafford Haltom has released a new e-book, The Single Parent Referee Workbook. The book provides step-by-step guidance to help single parents find solutions to real-world problems and set positive goals for their future. Available at Amazon’s Kindle store, the book draws on Haltom’s many years as a family law practioner and juvenile court judge. Haltom now runs the Memphis nonprofit A Step Ahead, which she founded after leaving the bench.


Nashville attorney SAMUEL A. BARON died July 29 at the age of 62. A graduate of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Baron was licensed in 1977 and operated his own practice in the city’s historic Music Row neighborhood. He focused his work in the areas of tort, insurance and debtor-creditor law.

Knoxville lawyer EDWARD CALVIN MILLER JR. died June 25 at the age of 63. Miller earned his law degree in 1980 from the University of Memphis School of Law. He returned to Knoxville to practice in the areas of contract law and Social Security disability law. He was a principal at Miller & Drozdowski at the time of his death. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association or the charity of one’s choice.

Longtime Bristol municipal court judge SHELTON B. HILLMAN JR. died July 18. He was 69 years old. Hillman graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law and started practicing law in 1973. He maintained a solo practice for many years. He later took office as municipal court judge and served in that role for more than 30 years. After leaving the bench, Hillman returned to private practice and was the sole proprietor of Gore and Hillman at the time of his death. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bristol Police Department’s Benevolent Fund, P.O. Box 1189, Bristol, TN 37620; Emory and Henry College, P.O. Box 947, Emory, VA 24327; or Haynesfield Elementary PTA, 201 Bluff City Hwy., Bristol, TN 37620.

LOUIS P. GOKE of Germantown died June 22 at the age of 100. Originally from Wisconsin, Goke worked for the U.S. Forest Service first in Wisconsin and then in Illinois and Memphis. He later attended law school, graduating from the Southern University College of Law. Goke joined the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Pensacola during the battle of Okinawa. After the war, he returned to Memphis and worked for the Corps of Engineers. He retired as assistant district counsel in 1973. Memorial donations may be sent to the University of Wisconsin Platteville Foundation, College of Engineering, 1 University Plaza, Platteville, WI 53818; SASHA Ministry Inc., P.O. Box 38031, Germantown, TN 38183; or the charity of one’s choice.

Murfreesboro lawyer WILLIAM T. “BILL” SELLERS died July 9 at 91. Originally from Virginia, Sellers was serving as postmaster of Keene, Va., when he attended the University of Virginia Law School. He graduated in 1950 and married his classmate, Nancy Smith, on the same day they graduated. The pair began practicing law in Murfreesboro in 1950 and soon joined with Nancy’s father, Ewing Smith, to establish the law firm of Smith & Sellers. Sellers practiced law for 54 years and served as the Rutherford County attorney for 25 years. He also served as the attorney for the county’s Industrial Development Board and Health, Education & Facilities Board. He was preceded in death by his wife Nancy Smith Sellers and son William T. “Ted” Sellers Jr., who both practiced law in Murfreesboro. He is survived by his son Ewing T. Sellers, an attorney in Murfreesboro, and daughter Cynthia N. Sellers and son-in-law Thomas Forrester, both attorneys in Nashville. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro, 738 E. Castle St., Murfreesboro, TN 37130 or the charity of one’s choice.

Compiled by Linda Murphy and Stacey Shrader Joslin Tennessee Bar Association members may send information about job changes, awards and work-related news. Send it to PEOPLE, c/o The Journal at 221 Fourth Ave. N., Suite 400, Nashville, TN 37219-2198, or email to lmurphy@tnbar.org. Submissions are subject to editing. Pictures are used on a space-available basis and cannot be returned. Electronic photos must be saved as a tiff or jpeg (with no compression), minimum resolution 200 dpi, and at least 1"x1.5" or they will not be used.