TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Aug 28, 2019

Journal Issue Date: Sep 2019

Journal Name: Vol 55 No 9

For the Record

TBA Board approves bylaws change to accommodate new benefits

The TBA Board of Governors voted on proposed revisions to the organization’s bylaws after a 21-day period for members to review the proposal. The vote took place in late August. One of the revisions creates a category of nonvoting, law firm, employer-level membership. Any law firm in which 100 percent of its Tennessee-based attorneys are members of the TBA will be eligible to become a law firm member of the association under rules established by the Board of Governors.
The bylaws change will accommodate future benefits including a new health insurance plan that the TBA would like to offer its members this fall. The future health plan will offer coverage to a variety of employer members including solo practitioners with at least one qualifying W-2 employee.

Revisions to the bylaws can be viewed at www.tba.org/sites/default/files/proposed_tba_bylaws_073019.pdf. This includes corrections to existing typographical errors in the current bylaws.
 If you are interested in receiving updates on health insurance coverage through the TBA, please sign up at tbams@tnbar.org. 


An investiture ceremony was held July 19 in Savannah for new Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Carma Dennis McGee. The event took place at Hardin County High School and featured remarks from Justice Roger Page, Gov. Bill Lee and others. TBA President-elect Michelle Greenway Sellers presented McGee with a gavel. From left: Sellers, McGee, Page, Lee and TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson. Photo: Administrative Office of the Courts.

Supreme Court Seeks Comment on Proposed Amendments

 The Tennessee Supreme Court is seeking written comments concerning recommended amendments from the Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, which met this summer to complete its 2018-2019 term. The commission made recommendations to Rule 5 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 26, Rule 33 and Rule 37. Written comments may either be submitted by email to appellatecourtclerk@tncourts.gov or by mail addressed to James Hivner, clerk,100 Supreme Court Building 401 7th Ave., North, Nashville 37219-1407. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 13.

Court Abandons Doctrine of Abatement Ab Initio

The Tennessee Supreme Court in August ruled unanimously that the Court of Criminal Appeals should no longer vacate convictions when criminal defendants die during an appeal guaranteed by law, known as an appeal as of right from the conviction. In State v. Mutory, the court unanimously concluded that, because of changes in the public policy of Tennessee in the arena of victims’ rights, the doctrine of abatement ab initio should be abandoned. The court majority referred the issue to the Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure for further study and, if appropriate, for a recommendation of a procedure to replace the doctrine.

Grants to Assist in Child Support Cases Available 

Money is now available from the Administrative Office of the Courts for developing or continuing programs that address the needs of
never-married, self-represented litigants and focus on services to help them resolve any or all issues concerning parenting and visitation in child support cases or cases involving child support issues. These initiatives may include efforts such as mediation programs, self-help centers, legal clinics and unbundled legal services.

Report: Lack of Diversity Among State Supreme Court

A recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice highlights a “critical but under-scrutinized” problem: the lack of racial, ethnic and gender diversity among state supreme courts. Twenty-four states currently have all-white supreme courts, and only 15 percent of seats on state supreme court benches are filled by people of color. Women currently hold 36 percent of state supreme court seats, though in Tennessee women now hold three of the five seats. Tennessee, however, has not had a justice of color since the retirement of A. A. Birch Jr. in 2006.

Law School Applications See Modest Increase 

The number of people applying to law school increased 3.3 percent for the 2019-20 admission cycle, according to the Law School Admission Council. The ABA Journal reports that last year, there was an 8.1 percent increase in law school applicants, with a total of 60,401 applying. For the 2020-21 admission cycle it’s likely that the number of people applying to law school will again increase, but modestly, and not like the 2018-19 admission cycle, according to LSAC officials.

Legal Sports Betting Likely Won’t Be Ready for Football Season 

Though the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill this year to legalize sports betting in the state, gamblers still might not be able to place wagers come football season, the Nashville Post reports. Senate Speaker Randy McNally told reporters in August that he would prefer that the full gambling regulatory body be seated before the group begins setting up rules for sports betting in the state. Gov. Lee opposed the sports betting proposal and allowed it to become law without his signature.
Learn more about the new law in the recent July Tennessee Bar Journal, “Sports Gambling: Tennessee’s Sports Gaming Act Begins July 1,” by Alex Hall.

AGs Urge Limited Tobacco Use in Streaming Content

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III joined a bipartisan coalition of 43 attorneys general in August in urging the streaming industry to limit tobacco use in their video content. Because of the growing use of tobacco products among teens, the attorneys general urged the streaming industry to take proactive steps to protect the lives of young viewers.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes rose from 2.1 million in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018.

Past TBA President John Tarpley shares a laugh with the newly installed president of the American Bar Association, Judy Perry Martinez of New Orleans, during a breakfast for Tennessee leaders during the ABA annual meeting. Photos by Barry Kolar.
Ruth Kleinfeld, left, and Sarah and Max Bahner enjoy the Tennessee Reception during the ABA annual meeting. Mr. Bahner is a past TBA president.
Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law students Checovoia
Fosterbruce and Megan Noble were student delegates to the ABA meetin


TBA Represents at ABA Meeting, Lewis Honored  At the American Bar Association’s annual conference in San Francisco in August, the TBA hosted the Tennessee delegation breakfast, which drew a number of ABA leaders, including current President Robert Carlson, President-elect Judy Perry Martinez, Treasurer Michelle Behnke and House of Delegates Chair William Bay.
Former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis presided over the 2019 ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards on Saturday as chair of the ABA Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. Lewis has chaired the committee the past three years. Prior to the start of the program, ABA President Bob Carlson surprised Lewis with a Presidential Citation honoring his years of service and dedication to the cause of access to justice. The Pro Bono Publico Awards Ceremony honored attorneys and law firms from across the country who have dedicated significant time and resources to pro bono work.

Law Day 2020 to Commemorate 100 Years of the 19th Amendment 

The ABA’s theme for Law Day 2020 is “Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: The 19th Amendment at 100.” In 2019-2020, the United States is commemorating the centennial of the transformative constitutional amendment that guaranteed the right of citizens to vote would not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.


An item in the August TBJ gave the incorrect amount of a grant from the Tennessee Legal Initiatives Fund awarded to Legal Aid of East Tennessee. LAET was awarded $91,000, according to LAET’s Debra L. House. The amount listed was the total amount to all grantees. The Journal regrets the error.