TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Mar 1, 2014

Journal Issue Date: Mar 2014

Journal Name: March 2014 - Vol. 50, No. 3

Nearly 150 Judicial Candidates Sign Code of Conduct

Nearly 150 judicial candidates running for election this year have signed the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct. In doing so, they have agreed not to comment during the campaign on legal issues that might come before them as a judge, and if elected, to conduct themselves in a fair and impartial manner and recuse themselves from issues on which they already have announced how they would rule. The list, released Jan. 27, includes justices and judges facing retention elections, as well as judges and challengers in contested elections. The program, which is aimed at preserving public faith in the integrity of the justice system, is overseen by the Judicial Campaign Code Committee. Learn more about the code and see the list of those who have agreed to abide by it on the TBA's online Judicial Selection Information Center. Judicial candidates who have not yet signed the pledge but desire to do so should email or call TBA staff member Karen Belcher, (615) 383-7421.


LSC Gets Funding Increase, New Pro Bono Program

The $1.1 trillion dollar federal spending bill recently signed into law increases funding for the Legal Services Corporation(LSC) by $25 million in fiscal year 2014 — a seven percent increase from last year and the first increase in four years. The final bill also includes $2.5 million for a new Pro Bono Innovation Fund, which will support new and innovative pro bono projects across the country. The final spending bill provides $365 million for the agency. Of that, $335 million is for basic field grants, a six percent increase from last year. Learn more on the LSC website.

Informed Voters Project Garners Judges' Support

The Conference of Chief Justices unanimously voted in favor of a resolution supporting the National Association of Women Judges' (NAWJ) Informed Voters Project last week during its mid-year meeting. According to a press release, the resolution applauds the effort noting that “voters casting a ballot for judges rarely have available relevant, accurate, and easy to access information on individual candidates or on the role of the judiciary.” The non-partisan voter education project is focused on increasing public awareness about the judicial system, informing voters that politics and special interest attacks have no place in the courts and providing voters with the tools they need to cast an informed vote. Tennessee is just one of a few states participating in a pilot program of the project this year.

Appellate Court Clerk to Become Full-time Deacon

Clerk of the Appellate Courts Mike Catalano announced today he will retire in June to become an ordained deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, pursuing his ministry on a full-time basis. Catalano has served the state of Tennessee for more than 35 years in a variety of roles. He was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court to be the appellate court clerk for a six-year term starting in January 2004 and was reappointed for a second term starting in January 2010. “Mike Catalano is the consummate professional — a public servant of the first order. As a valued leader within the office of the attorney general and as clerk of all of our appellate courts, he has performed his duties in an exemplary fashion — with class, dignity, and courtesy," Chief Justice Gary R. Wade said in a press release. “That he has chosen to spend the balance of his career in service to the highest authority is the best reflection of his true character. Our courts will sincerely miss this good man.”


Leadership Conference Features Education, Honors

More than 100 Tennessee attorneys and law students packed the Tennessee Bar Center during Saturday's educational programming at the 2014 TBA Leadership Conference in Nashville. Those gathered heard a preview of the new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors developed by the TBA's Public Education Committee, a glimpse at the growing Tennessee Youth Court program and an update on legislation likely to come before the Tennessee legislature this session. The group then headed to the War Memorial Auditorium for the annual TBA Public Service Luncheon, where Clarksville mayor, lawyer and former State Rep. Kim McMillan spoke to the nearly 200 people gathered (see video of the luncheon here). "I believed I could made a difference," she said about why she has run for public office seven times. "The thing that makes it important to live a life of public service is to ask 'If I don't do it, who will?' That's why I do what I do." Also at the lunch, the TBA Public Service Awards were presented. Those honored were Chattanooga lawyer Charles "Buz" Dooley, who was named the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year; Johnson City attorney Deborah Yeomans, who earned the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year award; and Belmont University law student Katie Blankenship, who was named the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. Five firms were also recognized at the event for adopting formal pro bono policies.

Comments Sought on Proposal to Change Certification of Specialization

The Tennessee Supreme Court filed an order today soliciting public comments to proposed amendments to Supreme Court Rule 21, Section 10 and 1.01 and Rule 8. The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization had earlier filed a petition seeking changes to the process for certifying Tennessee lawyers as specialists. Under its proposal, the commisison would no longer certify Tennessee lawyers, but would maintain and publish a roster of lawyers who have obtained certification from an ABA-accredited organization. The deadline for submitting written comments is May 21.

Access to Justice Project Wins Frist Grant

Legal Needs Study to Help Identify Gaps in Service
The Frist Foundation has approved a grant requested by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission to support a comprehensive, statewide study of the legal needs of low-income and homeless Tennesseans.


TBA Executive Honored at ABA Event

The Tennessee Bar Association and several of Tennessee's law schools joined together to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at a reception Saturday during the annual ABA Midyear Meeting in Chicago. The "Tennessee Reception" is a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. Ramsaur serves as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, representing the National Association of Bar Executives. See photos from the event at the link above.

Supreme Court Building Nominated for Historic Status

The Tennessee Supreme Court building in Nashville was one of eight sites nominated from across the state this year to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 77-page application celebrates the court’s important civic standing and its significance as a New Deal project partially funded by the Public Works Administration. The Tennessean notes that four-story building, completed in 1937 features limestone mined in quarries near Knoxville that is known as “Tennessee Marble” because of how it can be polished. The building was featured in the Journal’s November 2012 issue at its 50th anniversary. https://www.tba.org/journal/archive/2012-11

TBA’s First Mentoring Class Kicks Off Today

The first class of the TBA Mentoring Program kicked off today. Those participating in the program will engage in a formal mentoring relationship for one year. Mentors and mentees will meet face-to-face at least once a month during the year and will cover a variety of curriculum topics. The program, which was launched in January, is open to TBA members in their first three years of practice. Mentors must have at least eight years of legal practice experience. TBA members interested in participating in the next class should visit the TBA’s mentoring website for more information and application materials. The site also includes links to other mentoring programs across the state for lawyers. Questions about the program should be directed to Mentoring Coordinator Christy Gibson, (615) 383-7421.


New Legislative Tool Keeps TBA Members Up-to-Date

The TBA is expanding its legislative advocacy efforts through TBAImpact, a tool to make sure your voice is heard in the halls of the General Assembly on issues important to sustaining and improving the practice of law. The TBA has a long tradition of advocating on behalf of its members in the General Assembly. TBAImpact will enhance these efforts, giving you an opportunity to weigh in on issues important to the profession. TBAImpact also will connect you with your legislators on key issues in the legislature. Log in to your TBA account, then click on the TBAImpact tab to make sure your voice and the profession is heard in the General Assembly.