TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Jan 1, 2014

Journal Issue Date: Jan 2014

Journal Name: January 2014 - Vol. 50, No. 1

Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Tennessee Bar Association conducted a multi-city panel discussion series on the issue of Civil Right to Counsel last fall. This year is the 50th anniversary of Gideon v Wainwright, which established the right to counsel in criminal cases. There has been a great deal of discussion nationally about the lack of a right to counsel in critical civil cases where the risk of harm is greater than that in many criminal cases, including domestic violence, custody and foreclosure.

Each of the sessions began with videos featuring Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade and Tennessee Bar Association President Cindy Wyrick. The events, all in November, were held at Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law, Memorial Park Community Center in Johnson City and the University of Tennessee Chattanooga campus.

Deadline Is March 20 Comment on CLE Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court filed an order last fall soliciting comments on amendments to Supreme Court Rule 21, which have been proposed by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Education. Comments should be filed by March 20, 2014. The order, petition and appendix are available online.


TBA Launches New Health Insurance Exchange
The Tennessee Bar Association has a new benefit to help members navigate the complicated health insurance market. Launched in early December, the TBA Health Insurance Exchange allows members to quickly and easily obtain quotes from insurance plans that are available on either public or private health insurance exchanges.

The TBA Health Insurance Exchange is operated through JLBG Health. It will help you assess your situation to find out if you are eligible for subsidies, shop for plans that are on either public or private health insurance exchanges, and apply for the health plan of your choice with or without subsidies. You will be able to shop from multiple quality carriers such as Blue Cross, Aetna, Assurant, Cigna, Humana and many others. To use the exchange, go to www.tbahealthinsuranceexchange.com/ and fill out a short form to get a quote or call (866) 907-2763. No medical questions will be asked and all pre-existing conditions are covered.

Death Tax Chart Updated for 2014
In a 2011 Tennessee Bar Journal column on estate planning, Dan Holbrook wrote about federal estate tax, with an accompanying chart on Combined Federal and Tennessee Death Tax. Holbrook has updated the chart to incorporate the 2014 indexed federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemptions, announced by the IRS to be $5,340,000. The updated chart is available at http://tinyurl.com/k9jh685

Guardian Ad Litem Roles Subject of Ethics Opinion
A formal ethics opinion released Dec. 12, 2013,  by the Board of Professional Responsibility addresses the question of whether it is a conflict of interest for a lawyer who was appointed guardian ad litem to subsequently represent another interest in a matter regarding the child for whom the lawyer was appointed guardian ad litem. The opinion states in part that an attorney who was appointed guardian ad litem for a child may represent another party’s interest as long as it is consistent with the interests of the child and does not violate professional conduct rules. To insure that the subsequent representation of another interest is not inconsistent with the interest of the child, it would be advisable to secure consent or permission from the judge who had appointed the lawyer as GAL to represent the other party.

Bill Young Joins AOC as Director
Former Tennessee Solicitor General Bill Young started work in December as administrative director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. Young was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court in September to succeed Libby Sykes, who held the position for seven years before retiring. He will direct an office of about 75 people who provide administrative support to the trial and appellate judges and courts across the state.

ABA Accepting Nominations for Appointments
The American Bar Association (ABA) is accepting applications and nominations for 2014-2015 presidential appointments to ABA standing committees, special committees, commissions and other entities and initiatives. The online application process is available until Feb. 28.

Judiciary Museum Launches New Exhibits, Website
The Tennessee Judiciary Museum launched several new exhibits and a website in December to celebrate its one-year anniversary. The exhibits detail several historic cases, divided by alcoves that show examples from all levels of Tennessee courts — trial courts, appellate courts and the Tennessee Supreme Court. The museum also launched its own website, tennesseejudiciarymuseum.org, to provide information to prospective visitors about the museum and offer lesson plans and other information for educators. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Admission is free.

Survey: People Want a Lawyer Who Is Confident, Realistic
A recent survey by the attorney rating company Avvo Inc. says that consumers want a lawyer who is confident and realistic, but reality show fans want lawyers who are aggressive and attractive. The three lowest-ranking characteristics people want in their lawyers are ambitious (12 percent), friendly (15 percent) and reassuring (18 percent). The Nashville Business Journal notes that responsiveness was the top factor, cited by 92 percent of respondents, followed by track record (80 percent).

Mock Trial Case About Song-Writing Infringement
The problem and rules for the 2014 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition are now available. This year’s problem involves allegations that a hit song climbing the country charts violates the copyright of a song penned by struggling singer-songwriter Jessie Jameson. The infringement suit claims that the hit song is substantially similar to Jameson’s and that the author had access to the work. The defense argues that similarities between the songs are merely scenes à faire — common themes, language and expressions that appear frequently in country songs — and that the defendant did not have access to the work. Witnesses such as Dr. Doe Raymie and Jordan “Catnip” Evergreen, and two songs written and recorded just for the competition, make this year’s case entertaining as well as educational.

Updated Trust Article Online
Tennessee’s trust law underwent sweeping changes in 2013, with the goal of making Tennessee a leading contender in the national race for trust business. Tennessee practitioners learned the top 10 changes, as outlined by the lawyers of Knoxville’s Holbrook Peterson Smith PLLC, in last month’s Journal. The printed version of the article contained minor formatting issues, but the online version is correct. Read the text version at https://www.tba.org/journal/big-changes-to-tennessee-s-uniform-trust-code or download a pdf at https://www.tba.org/ sites/default/files/UniformTrustCodeArticle_Updated_0.pdf.

33 Attorneys Selected for 2014 TBA Leadership Law Class
Thirty-three lawyers from across the state were selected for the TBA’s 2014 Leadership Law program. Now in its 11th year, Leadership Law is designed to equip Tennessee lawyers with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in their profession and local communities. See the list at www.tba.org/press-release/tba-selects-attorneys-for-2014-leadership-law-class.