TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Jan 29, 2019

Journal Issue Date: Feb 2019

Journal Name: Vol 55 No 2

TBA Board Adopts Changes to Bylaws

Pursuant to the notice provided Dec. 19, 2018, the Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors held a specially set meeting on Jan. 2 to vote on the proposed changes to the bylaws as published on Nov. 7, 2018. The Board rejected the proposed change to Section 38 related to the term of the TBA treasurer and voted to leave that section unchanged. All other changes published in the Nov. 7 notice were approved. Pursuant to the bylaw change, the individuals appointed to positions in Districts 7 and 8 shall serve the remainder of the terms to which they were appointed and will not run in 2019 to retain those seats. Thus, only Districts 1 and 4 will be subject to election this year and petitions for these positions are still due no later than Feb. 15, 2019. Learn more at www.tba.org/node/105100.



31 New Faces at Capitol as Legislature Set to Begin Session 

The 111th Tennessee General Assembly began Jan. 8, with 31 new members and without several longtime leaders. Former House Speaker Beth Harwell and former House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh are among those gone, paving the way for new leadership. 

In early January, new committee chairs were named in the House and Senate to oversee judiciary and legal matters. In the Senate, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, will chair the Judiciary Committee, with vice chairs Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, and Sen. Dawn White, R-Murfreesboro. House Speaker Glen Casada named Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, with Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, serving as vice chair. Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, will chair the Civil Justice Subcommittee; Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, will chair the Children & Families Subcommittee; Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, will chair the Criminal Justice Subcommittee; and Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, will chair the Constitutional Protections & Sentencing Subcommittee. Comptroller of the Treasury Justin Wilson and Tennessee State Treasurer David Lillard Jr. were reelected. They will continue to serve in those positions for at least two more years.


SCOTUS to Consider Hot-Button Issues in 2019During the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018-2019 term the court is likely to hear a number of high-profile cases that will be divisive. Issues before the court may include separation of church and state, citizenship questions related to the 2020 Census, power of executive agencies, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the military ban against transgender individuals and partisan gerrymandering.

Calls for Comment on New System for Judicial Discipline

The Tennessee Supreme Court has requested comment on a proposed new system and procedure for disciplinary enforcement with respect to judges, as the Board of Judicial Conduct will cease to exist on June 30, 2019. A draft of a new Supreme Court Rule 10C is available for review on the court’s website.

The deadline for submitting written comments is March 29. Comments may be sent to appellatecourtclerk@tncourts.gov or mailed to James M. Hivner, Clerk, Re: Supreme Court Rule 10C, Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Avenue North, Nashville 37219.

Death Sentences Down for 4th Straight Year 
A recent report shows that for the fourth year in a row, U.S. courts imposed fewer than 50 new death sentences and states performed fewer than 30 executions in 2018, the ABA Journal reports.
This year the death-row population reached a 25-year low, and Washington became the 20th state to abolish the death penalty. Tennessee executed three men in 2018 and has four scheduled to die this year.

Memphis Attorneys Provide Clothes for Clients Who Cannot Afford Dress Attire
The Shelby County Public Defender’s Office has taken a novel approach to criminal defense, maintaining a closet of clothing for defendants who cannot afford dress attire to wear in court, The Commercial Appeal reports. On whether what a defendant wears to court matters, attorney and supervisor for Shelby County Public Defender’s Office Gregg Carman said that “it probably shouldn’t. But jurors can’t always set aside appearance. As soon as a client walks into a courtroom with a jury, that jury is making judgments about them from the way they present themselves, whether it’s their demeanor, their attitude, their walk, or their clothing, their hairstyle.” The story reports that the Shelby County District Attorney General's office also has a clothes closet, for victims and witnesses.


ABA Data Shows Law School Enrollment Up 

New data from the American Bar Association shows that enrollment of first-year students at accredited law schools is up 2.9 percent, the ABA Journal reports. An even greater bump came in non-JD
enrollment — there was an 8.2 percent increase in individuals signing up for LLMs, masters and certificate programs.


TBA YLD Accepting Applications for 2019-2020 Board Positions

The TBA Young Lawyers Division is accepting applications for appointed board positions for the 2019-2020 bar year, serving with future TBA YLD President Troy Weston. To be eligible to submit an application, you must be 36 or younger on June 14, 2019, or be in the first five years of your practice. Attorneys appointed to positions will be required to attend all mandatory meetings. Submissions are due by Feb. 28. Read more and view the full application at www.tba.org/node/104560.

2019 Diversity Leadership Institute Class Selected

The TBA Young Lawyers Division Diversity Committee recently selected 13 law students for the 2019 Diversity Leadership Institute, a six-month leadership and mentoring program for law students.

Now in its ninth year, the program is designed to help law students develop skills to succeed both as students and attorneys, and empower them to contribute more to the legal community. It also matches students with mentors in a diverse variety of practice areas and helps them build relationships among students of diverse backgrounds.

Leadership Law Opens for 16th Year
The TBA Leadership Law (TBALL) Class of 2019 kicked off in January with a three-day opening retreat at Montgomery Bell State Park. Now in its 16th year, the six-month program is designed to equip participants with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in the profession and in the community as a whole. The select group of 35 lawyers come from across the state, representing diverse practice areas and backgrounds.

During the weekend retreat, class members heard presentations from a variety of prominent Tennessee lawyers including Nashville School of Law Dean William Koch, TBA President Jason Pannu, Abby Rubenfeld, Gordon Bonnyman and others. The group’s next session, “Issues in Policy & Politics,” will take place in Nashville in February.