TBA Law Blog

Posted by: TBA News on Jan 29, 2019

Journal Issue Date: Feb 2019

Journal Name: Vol 55 No 2

New Tennessee assistant attorneys general recently were sworn in by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins in the state Capitol’s Old Supreme Court Chamber. The annual ceremony recognizes attorneys hired by the Attorney General’s office in the last 12 months. Back row, from left: Matthew Jones, Garrett Ward, Rainey Lankford, Patrick Riley, Kyle Mallinak, David Wood.  Front row, from left: Chief Justice Jeff Bivins, Jeffrey Ridner, David Rudolph, Amber Seymour, Gabrielle Mees, Dianna Shew, Matthew Gaske, Matthew Cloutier, Attorney General Herbert Slatery. Brian Mauk is not pictured.

Kramer Rayson has named Betsy J. Beck its new managing partner effective Jan. 1. Beck, who has been with the firm for 15 years, focuses her practice on employment law matters for clients in a variety of industries. She earned her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2003.


Memphis attorney and former Juvenile Court Judicial Magistrate Claudia Haltom was nominated as the 2018 Memphis Person of the Year for her work on behalf of women and their families. Haltom founded A Step Ahead Foundation in 2011 to improve educational, economic and health outcomes for women and children in Shelby County by increasing access to long-acting reversible contraception. Haltom says her 17 years of experience on the bench inspired her to help women be emotionally, physically and financially prepared to provide for their children, plan for their futures and achieve their full potential.


Memphis lawyer Amy J. Amundsen, a partner with Rice Amundsen & Caperton, was recently honored at the Memphis Bar Association’s annual meeting with the association’s highest award, the Judge Jerome Turner Lawyer’s Lawyer Award. The award is given to a member of the association who has practiced law for more than 15 years and who exemplifies qualities of professional courtesy and conduct. Also at the meeting, the gavel was officially passed to new MBA president Annie Christoff and new board members were installed. Christoff works at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee.

Nashville corporate and securities attorney Lori B. Metrock has returned to Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz as a shareholder after a short stint at Nelson Mullins. Before moving to Nelson Mullins, Metrock had spent more than a decade at Baker Donelson. She will continue focusing her work on public and private securities offerings, corporate governance, regulatory compliance and Exchange Act compliance.


Matthew R. Muenzen was recently named assistant city attorney for the city of Franklin. He previously was an associate attorney with the Nashville firm of Freeman & Fuson and a lawyer with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. He also served as a police officer in New Jersey for six years. He holds a graduate degree in human resources management and training from Seton Hall University and a law degree from Pace University in New York.

Sarah E. Smith has been named an associate at Burch, Porter & Johnson. She will focus her practice on commercial and business litigation. Prior to joining the firm, she served as a law clerk to Judge Bernice B. Donald of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Judge Sheryl H. Lipman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. She also worked with the criminal justice reform organization Just City to launch the Memphis and Nashville Community Bail Fund program.

Labor and employment lawyer P. Maxwell “Max” Smith has joined the Nashville office of FordHarrison as counsel. Smith previously was an associate with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. He will represent management in a broad array of industries on employment law matters, federal and state litigation, and day-to-day counsel.

The Nashville Bar Association has elected a new slate of officers for 2019. Nashville Electric Service General Counsel Laura Smith is president of the organization. Laura Baker, a shareholder in the Law Offices of John Day, is president-elect. And Brant Phillips, chair of Bass Berry’s litigation group, was chosen first vice president-elect. The association also awarded its John C. Tune Public Service Award to Hal Hardin, a former judge and prosecutor, at its annual meeting.

Jonathan T. Skrmetti has joined the Tennessee Attorney General’s office as chief deputy. In his new role, Skrmetti will coordinate and oversee the legal work of all five sections of the office. He previously was a partner with Butler Snow, an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis School of Law and an assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. He has experience handling complex civil disputes, civil rights crimes and criminal matters. He also is an expert in Cyberlaw and data security.

Former U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III has been named an independent monitor of the Memphis Police Department. Stanton will review the steps the department is taking to end surveillance of protesters after it violated a consent decree barring such surveillance, and report his findings to U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla. Stanton served as the federal prosecutor for the Western District of Tennessee from 2010 to 2017. He now practices in the Memphis office of Butler Snow where he handles government relations and civil rights matters and leads the Commercial Litigation Group.

Derek W. Mullins has joined the Chattanooga office of Carr Allison where he will focus on commercial litigation, insurance, premises liability, transportation and other general litigation matters. He is admitted to practice in all Tennessee state courts and before the U.S. District Courts for the Middle and Eastern Districts of Tennessee. He previously practiced with Brewer, Krause, Brooks & Chastain in Nashville.

Nashville’s Music Row law firm Milom Horsnell Crow Kelley has added two named partners and changed its name. Matthew Beckett has joined the firm and Molly Shehan has been elevated from associate. The firm now will be known as Milom Horsnell Crow Kelley Beckett Shehan. Beckett was a recording engineer and production assistant on multiple Grammy-nominated albums before attending law school and setting up a solo entertainment practice. Shehan has been an associate at the firm since graduating from Belmont University College of Law in 2014.

The Chattanooga law firm of Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison has named two new directors. Brittany Thomas Faith, a member of the Immigration Group, focuses her practice on family- and employment-based petitions and humanitarian relief. She is vice chair of the America Immigration Lawyers’ Association Midsouth Chapter and a board member for La Paz of Chattanooga and Midsouth Immigration Advocates. She also serves as East Tennessee Governor for the TBA Young Lawyers Division. Cody M. Roebuck handles governmental and administrative law matters, labor and employment cases, personal injury and wrongful death cases, and real estate law. He has litigated a wide variety of cases in state and federal courts throughout the region.

Chattanooga attorney Nancy Cogar recently received the Bruce Bailey Volunteer Lawyer of the Year Award from Legal Aid of East Tennessee for her work establishing the Chattanooga Gospel Justice Initiative. Through the effort, Cogar works to provide pro bono legal clinics throughout Chattanooga at places of worship. The concept is based on the belief that many individuals first turn to leaders of their local houses of worship when facing legal issues. The initiative relies on the partnership of local attorneys, the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council, the Christian Legal Society, Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (a project of the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission).

Stites & Harbison recently welcomed two new attorneys to its Nashville office. Jamie Little will serve as counsel to the firm in the Construction Service Group. Her practice focuses on contract drafting, negotiation and disputes, as well as payment disputes and lien enforcement. She also has extensive alternative dispute resolution experience. Prior to joining the firm, she practiced in Nashville, as well as in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  Michael Schweggler has joined the Real Estate & Banking Service Group as a member of the firm. He represents lenders, creditors and businesses in commercial and consumer lending and litigation matters. He also has experience in real estate and bankruptcy matters. Prior to joining the firm, he practiced with a small Nashville firm and was an assistant attorney general for the state.

Bristol attorneys Randy M. Kennedy and Stephanie E. Stuart have formed the new law firm of Kennedy & Stuart Attorneys and Counselors at Law. The firm is located at 625 Anderson St., Bristol 37620. The firm can be reached at 423-764-7162 or online at kennedystuart.com.

Jackson lawyer Matthew R. West has joined Rainey Kizer Reviere & Bell where he will practice in the areas of estate planning, trusts, real estate, conservatorship/guardianship, and business. A past president of the Jackson Madison County Bar Association, West also has is a member of the Howell Edmunds Jackson American Inns of Court. Most recently, he was named a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He earned his law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.


The Association for Women Attorneys (AWA) presented its Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award to Memphis lawyer Jocelyn Dan Wurzburg at its annual meeting in January. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the legal profession. In the 1960s, Wurzburg worked to facilitate racial reconciliation in the city following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Those efforts led to appointment to the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, where she was instrumental in drafting Tennessee’s first anti-discrimination law. She then attended and graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law and formed her own firm, becoming Memphis’s first professional mediator. Wurzburg was a founding member of the AWA and a past president of the Memphis Bar Association. She retired in 2005, but continues to mediate select cases. Her recently released book, Jocie: Southern Jewish American Princess, Civil RightsActivist, recounts many of her life experiences.        

Also at the AWA meeting, Laura Deakins of Lewis Thomason took office as president. A graduate of the University of Memphis School of Law, Deakins began her career as a judicial law clerk for the Hon. Holly Kirby on both the Tennessee Court of Appeals and Tennessee Supreme Court. She joined Lewis Thomas in 2015 where she focuses on medical malpractice and insurance defense. She is a hearing committee member for the Board of Professional Responsibility, member of the Leo Bearman Sr. American Inns of Court and recruitment chair for the Memphis Bar Association’s Annual Bench Bar Conference.

The Tennessee Association of Recovery Court Professionals recently presented its 2018 “Making a Difference Award” to Eighth Judicial District Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton and 13th Judicial District General Sessions Court Judge Bratten Cook. The pair were recognized for their leadership in addressing substance abuse among defendants in their courts. Judge Sexton started his district’s recovery court in September 2005 and personally works with defendants referred to the court. Judge Cook has instituted numerous programs to help juveniles and adults with substance abuse issues since 1998. In 2002, he co-founded the DeKalb County Juvenile Drug Court, and in 2005, he began a recovery court for adults.

Four Bradley Arant Boult Cummings attorneys have been recognized for their leadership roles in the Nashville Bar Association (NBA). Senior attorney Jeffrey L. Allen and associate Timothy L. Capria each received the President’s Award. Allen, a member of Bradley’s Intellectual Property and Media and Entertainment practice groups, was honored for his leadership as co-chair of the NBA Entertainment, Sports & Media Law Committee. Capria, a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property Practice Group, was recognized for his role as chair of the Diversity Summit. Associates Casey L. Miller and Tara S. Sarosiek both received the NBA Young Lawyers’ Division Enterprise Award for their leadership as co-chairs of the Davidson County Mock Trial Competition. Miller is a member of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group while Sarosiek is a member of the Government Enforcement and Investigations Practice Group.

The Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has named Sam Keen as a new mediator in its Nashville office. Keen previously worked as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, where he defended low- and moderate-income renters and homeowners facing eviction or foreclosure. Keen also served as Legal Aid’s equal employment officer and limited
English proficiency coordinator.

Butler Snow recently added two new attorneys to its Memphis office. Scott M. McLeod will practice with the Finance, Real Estate and Restructuring Group. He previously represented publicly traded real estate investment trusts, commercial real estate developers and private businesses in commercial real estate transactions. Shanell L. Tyler will practice with the Commercial Litigation Group. She focuses her work in the areas of litigation, labor and employment law, governmental relations and municipal law.




Longtime Chattanooga attorney and Signal Mountain resident THOMAS ALLISON CALDWELL Jr. died Dec. 12, 2018, at the age of 94. A U.S. Navy veteran, Caldwell served in Guam and Okinawa during World War II. He was discharged in 1946 and entered Harvard Law School. Following graduation he began working for the Marshall Plan in France, Indonesia, the Netherlands and Slovenia, and later in the general counsel’s office in Washington, D.C. He returned to Chattanooga in 1953 to work at the law firms of Witt, Gaither, Abernathy & Finlay and Stophel, Caldwell & Heggie, which through a series of mergers became Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. He primarily practiced in the areas of corporate, tax and estate planning. Caldwell was the first president of the Chattanooga Legal Aid Society, a member of the Chattanooga Bar Association Board of Governors and a fellow of the Chattanooga and Tennessee bar foundations. He received the Chattanooga Bar Association’s Ralph Kelley Humanitarian Award and just this past year was named a “Colonel Aide de Camp” by Gov. Bill Haslam. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Tom Caldwell Society of the Orange Grove Center or to CADAS, a nonprofit alcohol and drug treatment facility in Chattanooga.

Former Circuit Court Judge SAMUEL HOUSTON PAYNE died Dec. 31, 2018, at the age of 85. A native of Chattanooga, Payne was a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean War, flying more than 25 combat missions. Following the war, he returned home to earn his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law. He first practiced with the law firm of Kefauver, Duggan & McDonald and then with Bean, Payne and Phillips. In 1966, he joined with Judge Clarence Shattuck to form the firm of Shattuck & Payne, where he practiced until his election as 11th Judicial District circuit court judge in 1974. Payne served on the bench for 32 years until his retirement in 2006. He was active in the Chattanooga Bar Association, receiving the group’s Ralph Kelley Humanitarian Award for service to the community, and the Chattanooga Legal Aid Society, serving as a member of the original board of trustees. Services were held in January at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Chattanooga. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to CADAS, Episcopal Relief & Development, Metropolitan Ministries or the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga.

Robertson County lawyer and child support magistrate LISA SHERRILL RICHTER died Dec. 19, 2018, at the age of 49. A 1994 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Richter practiced for more than two decades in the Springfield area, including a number of years in the office of former TBA president and late attorney Larry Wilks. Her last position was serving as the 19th Judicial District Child Support Magistrate in Clarksville. Richter became active in the TBA as a young lawyer and held a number of leadership positions, including serving as president of the group from 2006 to 2007 and as president of the YLD Fellows from 2016 to 2017. In addition to bar work, Richter was an active volunteer and served as a coach for the Springfield High School mock trial team in Robertson County for many years. A Celebration of LIfe service was to be held Feb. 2, at 1 p.m. at Springfield First United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Springfield First United Methodist Church/My Father’s House, 521 S Oak St., Springfield 37172 or Springfield High School Mock Trial, 5240 Hwy 76E, Springfield 37172.

Greeneville attorney JOHN TERRY MILBURN ROGERS died Dec. 21, 2018. He was 69. A 1974 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Rogers founded the John Rogers Law Group and practiced personal injury and criminal defense for more than four decades. In 1996, Rogers helped found the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution at the University of Tennessee College of Law and served on its board of directors for 22 years. He also served as president of countless legal organizations, including the Greeneville Bar Association, and gave back to the community as coach of the Greeneville High School mock trial team for more than 14 years. A memorial service was held in December at First Presbyterian Church of Greeneville with burial following at the Historic Bethesda Cemetery in Morristown. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis or the Alzheimer’s Association National Headquarters in Chicago.