TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Sep 1, 2016

Journal Issue Date: Sep 2016

Journal Name: September 2016 - Vol. 52, No. 9

TBA Accepting Nominations for Public Service Awards

August 15, 2016

The TBA each year recognizes lawyers and law students who have shown exceptional commitment to increasing access to justice for individuals and communities through its Public Service Awards. The awards recognize pro bono service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization primarily involved in providing legal representation to the indigent, work performed by a private attorney and work performed by a law student volunteer. The nomination period for 2016 honorees is now open. Nominations may be submitted via the TBA website or by email to Liz Todaro. Nominations are due no later than Sept. 9. Submissions should include a narrative of the individual’s accomplishments, the nominator’s reasons for selecting the individual and a description of how the nominee meets the award criteria. Awards are presented at the Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon in January.

ABA Diversity Commission Reveals Results

August 12, 2016

A new website features the final work product of the ABA’s Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission. The group, established by past president Paulette Brown, studied ways to improve diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Available materials include policies, online tools, videos, surveys and templates that can be used by bar groups, schools and communities. Some of the group's recommendations called for implicit bias training for jurors, diversity training in CLE programs and a survey of local law firm diversity. The ABA unveiled the commission’s work at its Annual Meeting in San Fransisco last week.

ABA Meeting Opens, Includes Diversity Commission Findings

August 4, 2016

The American Bar Association kicks off its annual meeting today in San Francisco with topics to be explored including national security at the U.S. border and in the cyber realm, the impact of new voting laws on the upcoming fall elections and the integration of transgendered soldiers in the U.S. military. On Saturday, the ABA Diversity and Inclusion Commission, formed by outgoing ABA President Paulette Brown, will unveil the results of its work. The group spent months reviewing and analyzing the state of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, the judicial system and the ABA, with the aim of formulating methods, policies, standards and practices to “move the needle” and advance diversity and inclusion. “The legal profession is the best, but we can do better," Brown said. "It can no longer be acceptable for us to be the least diverse of all comparable professions.” Learn more from the ABA's Diversity and Inclusion Portal.

Tennessee Judicial Salaries Rank High in New Survey

August 12, 2016

Tennessee judges are among the better paid in the country, according to a new Survey of Judicial Salaries published by the National Center on State Courts. The survey found that salaries of Tennessee Supreme Court justices ranked 12th in the nation, while those for intermediate appellate courts and general jurisdiction courts ranked ninth. The survey also includes data on state-by-state differences in defined benefit retirement programs, retirement ages and employment benefits for judges.

Indigent Representation Task Force Hears Problems, Proposals

July 29, 2016

Members of the Supreme Court's Indigent Representation Task Force today heard from a full slate of speakers during the listening session at the Nashville School of Law. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur led off the session, presenting solid data on the needs for additional resources for indigent representation and urging the task force to set its sights high and not just settle for piecemeal solutions. Ramsaur outlined a proposal the TBA – along with the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the State District Defenders Conference and the Post Conviction Defender – put forth in 2004 that would have created the Tennessee Indigent Representation System (TIRS). “We do think the TIRS proposal… offers the best hope for a sustained effort to be adequate, effective, comprehensive and accountable and practical, leading to a solution of which we can be proud.” The commission also heard from 13 other speakers and a presentation from the Administrative Office of the Courts. The final stop on the Task Force’s listening tour will be Aug. 11 in Franklin.


Law School Council to Stop Certifying LSAT Scores

August 9, 2016

The Law School Admission Council, which certifies LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA data submitted by law schools for ABA accreditation, announced last week that it intends to suspend that service. The organization’s letter cites consideration by the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar to allow use of the GRE exam instead of the LSAT for law school admission. “Our board believes that certifying LSAT scores when other scores are not certified could lead to more confusion for applicants and for law schools,” the council’s chair said. The ABA Journal has more.

AG Opinion on Traffic Cameras Reported Incorrectly

August 8, 2016

A story in TBAToday in July that also was published in the Tennessee Bar Journal's August issue incorrectly quoted Attorney General Opinion 16-24. The opinion did not contain the language used in quotation marks within the stories, thereby misrepresenting the position of the Attorney General. The opinion addressed the question whetherTenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-198(b)(1) permits “employees of private traffic camera companies who are neither law enforcement officers nor residents of Tennessee to review video footage from unmanned traffic cameras and determine whether there is a traffic violation before the private employees submit the footage to law enforcement officers for their review and final determination of a violation.” The opinion found that review of the footage by these companies’ employees is permitted and does not violate state law, but “only POST-certified or state-commissioned law enforcement officers — and no one else — has authority to review traffic camera evidence and determine, based on that review, whether a traffic violation has occurred.”

'Attorneys for Justice' Program Application Deadline Extended

August 5, 2016

Attorneys, law students and law offices that wish to be recognized in the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Attorneys for Justice program now have until Sept. 30 to submit their applications. Attorneys meeting the court’s minimum goal of 50 pro bono hours annually are eligible to receive the recognition. The program is entirely voluntary and based on self-reporting. More information and a copy of the application can be found at the Tennessee State Courts website.

Voters Retain Judges, Choose Most Incumbents in Primary

August 5, 2016

Tennessee voters elected to retain Supreme Court Justices Jeffrey Bivins, Holly Kirby and Roger Page as well as all seven appeals judges on the ballot Thursday, amid an election day with few surprises. Most incumbents facing primary challengers were victorious with a few notable exceptions. In the Tennessee General Assembly, Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, was defeated by challenger Sam Whitson, following months of media reports and an investigation of alleged misconduct toward multiple women. Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, who also faced scandal in recent days after being videotaped stealing campaign signs, lost his primary to Mark Lovell. The Secretary of State's GoVoteTN site has full results.

Nashville Attorney to Chair ABA Section

August 4, 2016

Lawyers Donate $76,000 to Access to Justice Efforts

August 3, 2016

More than $76,000 has been donated by Tennessee attorneys to organizations that serve low-income individuals in need of legal assistance, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. The donations come as part of the annual licensing registration process. Starting in 2015, attorneys were given the option to donate to an Access to Justice Fund when renewing their licenses. Organizations receiving funds this year are the Community Legal Center, Disability Rights Tennessee, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Legal Aid Society, Memphis Area Legal Services, Southeast Tennessee Legal Services, Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, Tennessee Justice Center, Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts, and West Tennessee Legal Services.

Survey Ranks Tennessee in Top 10 for Court Access

July 25, 2016

The state of Tennessee ranks ninth in the United States and first in the southeast for providing access to its courts according to the 2016 Justice Index, a nationwide study published by the National Center for Access to Justice. The center ranks states on their ability to provide access to the civil legal system regardless of the ability to afford a lawyer, speak and understand English, or navigate the legal system without an accommodation. The Tennessee Supreme Court credits the formation of an Access to Justice Commission, launch of the JusticeforallTN.com website, development of plain language forms for self-represented litigants and increased court interpreter availability. The study did note a need to increase the number of civil legal aid attorneys. In Tennessee, there are 27 legal aid attorneys per 10,000 people compared to the national average of 40.

TAJ Takes Back Trial Lawyers Name, Elects New Board

July 22, 2016

The Tennessee Association for Justice (TAJ) changed its name back to the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association during its annual convention last week. The group also elected new officers and board members. Memphis attorney Thomas Greer was named president for the 2016-2017 year. He replaces Eric Buchanan of Chattanooga. Bruce Fox of Clinton moved into the position of president-elect. See a complete list of board members in this Chattanoogan.com story.

'Journal' Named Top Magazine; Honored for 50th Coverage

July 19, 2016

The Tennessee Bar Journal was today named the best association magazine in the state by the Tennessee Society of Association Executives at its awards luncheon in Nashville. The publication was honored for its coverage in 2015 of its 50th Birthday Celebration, which included feature stories every month showing how the Journal has reflected the changes in the legal world since 1965. You can read back through the articles that covered areas such as technology, women’s issues, continuing legal education, race relations, access to justice, columnists, conventions, awards and the courts.