TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on May 1, 2018

Journal Issue Date: May 2018

Journal Name: May 2018 - Vol. 54, No. 5

Fourth Estate Award Created to Honor Journalists

The Tennessee Bar Association is now accepting nominations for consideration for its first Fourth Estate Award, created to honor “courageous journalism that enhances public understanding of the legal system and the law.”

The winner will be a journalist or journalists from newspapers, TV, radio, digital media, book publishing or social media who have shown courage in exercising First Amendment rights in the promotion of public understanding of how the law and our legal system work.

The deadline for submissions is May 10. Nominations will be accepted for work published from Jan. 1, 2017, until the present. The award will be given during the TBA?Annual Convention in June in Memphis. Learn more in this month's President's Perspective and at https://www.tba.org/fourth-estate-award.

TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson addresses this year’s Diversity Leadership Institute class in Nashville at its kickoff meeting in March.
TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson addresses this year’s Diversity Leadership Institute class in Nashville at its kickoff meeting in March. The group is pictured at right. Photos by Liz Todaro and Katharine Heriges.

Law Students

DLI Kicks Off in Nashville 
After their first meeting in January was cancelled because of inclement weather, Tennessee Bar Association Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI) class members met for the first time in Nashville in March at the Tennessee Bar Center.

This year’s class includes four students from Nashville School of Law, three from Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law, six from the University of Tennessee College of Law, six from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, one from Belmont University School of Law and one from Vanderbilt School of Law.

Students participated in discussions and activities about leadership, diversity, the legal profession and the book Rebooting Justice. They participated in a service project and will reconvene in June at the TBA annual convention in Memphis.

National Bar Passage Rate Up 
The most recent class of law school graduates has improved upon first-time bar passages from the year prior, the ABA Journal reports. The class of 2017’s bar passage rate was 77.2 percent, an increase of 3 percent from 2016. The data comes from a report by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

While the 2017 passage rates in Tennessee also increased, the 2018 numbers are not as encouraging. Fewer applicants took the February exam this year than in 2017 — 378 vs. 281 — and the passage rate also dropped from the year before. Most were not taking the exam for the first time, but overall, just 35.6 percent passed compared to 46.8 percent last year.

ABA Committee: LMU Duncan Does Not Meet Standard 
The Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law is “significantly out of compliance” with certain accreditation standards, according to an April 5 letter released by the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The letter said that the Knoxville school was not in compliance with Standards 501 (a) and (b), which state that law schools should maintain “sound admissions policies and practices.”

Your Practice

Study: Lawyers Rank Highest on ‘Loneliness Scale’
In a recent survey, lawyers outranked all other professionals on a “loneliness scale” of more than 1,600 workers, the ABA Journal reports. Sixty-one percent of lawyers ranked above average on the scale, compared to 57 percent of engineers, 51 percent of workers in food service industry and 45 percent of workers in education services.

TBA Membership Renewal Now Open 
The Tennessee Bar Association’s online renewal program for 2018-2019 is now open. Renew your membership now and you will not have to worry about losing benefits or services for the next year. Membership includes three pre-paid CLE credits (a $150 value) plus discounts on courses, free online legal research (with an annual value of $995) and timely information through TBA Today, the TBA Law Blog and the Tennessee Bar Journal. Renew at tba.org or call (615) 383-7421.

Criminal Law

Website Dedicated to Capital Clemency 
The American Bar Association’s Capital Clemency Resource Initiative (CCRI) launched a website recently designed to improve the public’s understanding of clemency in death penalty cases and provide resources for lawyers and other stakeholders.

The ABA found that, despite clemency’s historic role as the criminal justice system’s “fail safe” to prevent unjust sentences from being carried out, access to accurate information on clemency in death penalty cases has long been inadequate.

“While our association does not take a position on the death penalty generally, we do believe that every stage of a capital case — from arrest to execution — should be carried out with the utmost care,” ABA President Hilarie Bass said.

Ella Seago of Agathos Classical School of Columbia addresses a witness during the final round of the Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition in Nashville, March 24. Agathos competed in the championship with St. Mary’s Episcopal of Memphis, seated at left. Judge Timothy Easter presided over the round, with scorers made up of YLD executive committee members and others, including TBA President Lucian Pera, YLD President Ahsaki Baptist and YLD President-elect Christian Barker. Photos by Liz Todaro.

Young Lawyers

State Mock Trial Championship a Success, Hundreds of Volunteers Help
Agathos Classical School of Columbia took home the top prize in the Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition in March in Nashville. The annual event is hosted by the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division and supported by hundreds of Tennessee lawyers and judges, with more than 375 volunteering.

St. Mary’s Episcopal School of Memphis competed against Agathos Classical in the final round and took second place. Earning third was Springfield High School of Springfield.

Agathos Classical’s attorney-coaches are Jason Whatley and Cory Ricci; St. Mary’s is Kimbrough Mullins; and Springfield’s are Suzanne Carr and Lisa Richter.

Judge Timothy Easter presided over the final round, with TBA President Lucian Pera and the executive committee of the Young Lawyers Division serving as scorers.

Fourteen teams from across the state qualified and competed this year. In addition to the top three, teams competing (and their attorney-coaches) were Unicoi High School of Erwin (Lois Shults-Davis and Sarah Shults), Farragut High School of Knoxville (Angela Fisher), Jefferson County High School of Dandridge, Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee Home Education Association of Chattanooga (Hon. Jeff Atherton), Signal Mountain High School of Signal Mountain (Charles Poss, James Brooks and Tracy Cox), Jackson Homeschool of Jackson (Alex McCarver), Beech High School of Hendersonville (Kee Bryant McCormick), Montgomery Bell Academy of Nashville (Wade Cowan), Harpeth Hall of Nashville (Christy Crider), Franklin High School of Franklin (Elizabeth Russell), and Memphis University School of Memphis (Rhea Clift and Erin Sarinoglu).

Individuals were also recognized for their performance. Students were recognized as team MVPs, Best Witnesses for the Defense, Best Witnesses for the Plaintiffs, Best Advocates for the Defense and Best Advocates for the Plaintiff.

Agathos Classical School will represent Tennessee at the national High School Mock Trial championships in Reno, Nevada, in May.