TBA Law Blog


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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

Gov. Bill Lee has released the package of bills to be taken up by lawmakers in a special session scheduled to begin on Tuesday. In a release yesterday, Lee identified three bills to be considered in the special session, which is dedicated to “addressing K-12 student learning loss and the adverse effects on Tennessee students’ proficiency in reading and math after extended time away from the classroom due to COVID-19.” The bills are SB 7002 “Intervening to Stop Learning Loss,” SB 7003 “Building Better Readers with Phonics” and SB 7001 “Accountability to Inform.”

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

The federal government last night executed Corey Johnson, who was convicted of drug trafficking and seven murders in 1992, National Public Radio reports. His attorneys argued that Johnson had an intellectual disability and that moving forward with the execution would be "cruel and usual punishment" because of his recent COVID-19 infection. Johnson is the 12th person to be executed by the federal government since the Trump administration restarted federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. Dustin Higgins is the last person scheduled to be executed before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. He is scheduled to die today. Biden has indicated he may seek to abolish federal executions.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 15, 2021

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order extending the judicial state of emergency and suspension of jury trials and in-person court proceedings through March 31. The court said the move was being taken “in light of the continued record number of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations and deaths in Tennessee and the governor’s issuance of Executive Order 73." Exceptions to the suspension of jury trials may be granted by the chief justice on a case-by-case basis. Suspension of in-person proceedings is subject to exceptions enumerated in the paragraph 3 of the court’s Dec. 22, 2020, order. Today’s order applies to all state and local courts, including municipal, juvenile, general sessions, trial and appellate courts, as well as court clerk offices. It does not apply to administrative courts within the executive branch or federal courts in the state.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Jan 14, 2021

American Bar Association President Patricia Lee Refo on Tuesday urged acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen to delay the federal executions scheduled for this week. Corey Johnson is scheduled to die by lethal injection this evening for his role in a gang implicated in 10 murders in 1992. Dustin Higgs is scheduled to be executed on Friday for kidnapping and killing three young women on federal land in 1996. Lisa Montgomery was executed on Tuesday. In her letter, Refo writes that the executions to be carried out in Terre Haute “create a substantial risk of COVID-19 case transmission at the prison and in the surrounding communities.”

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 13, 2021

The Nashville Metro Public Health Department has announced a new initiative to ensure no doses of COVID-19 vaccine are wasted, WSMV reports. The department currently offers vaccines by appointment only to those who fall into the current vaccine phase. The list has been created to ensure no doses are wasted. Just before the end of each day, nurses will determine if any doses will remain. If so, those doses will be distributed at random to individuals on the list. To add your name to the list, email COVID19VaccineStandby@nashville.gov each day you want to be considered. The Standby List began operations yesterday.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 8, 2021

The TBA’s Litigation Law Section is presenting a roundtable discussion Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon CST on COVID-19 in the Courtroom and What to Expect in 2021. The virtual event is open to all TBA members but registration is required. Three judges will join the discussion: Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Gina Higgins, Court of Appeals (Eastern Division) Judge Kristi Davis and Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle. Please register by 2 p.m. CST on Jan. 13 to receive the Zoom email invitation.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 8, 2021

The state expects to open an online COVID-19 vaccine appointment portal to bring more order and certainty to the large task of vaccinating people statewide, the Daily Memphian reports. The website is expected to be live next week. All vaccines administered by county health departments will be scheduled through the portal.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 8, 2021

Rep. David Byrd is unable to talk and continues to receive physical therapy after being on a ventilator for nearly a month, a family member posted on Facebook this week. The Republican state lawmaker from Waynesboro was hospitalized in December and went on a ventilator that month. He has stopped giving public updates on social media, but WPLN News obtained an update written by his sister: “His body [is] so weak…he can’t do anything without assistance,” she wrote. “As I’ve said before … David has a long and tough road ahead of him. He isn’t even aware that several of his friends, family and constituents are going through the same thing he is.”

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 7, 2021

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is currently in quarantine after learning last night that he had come into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, Chattanoogan.com reports. Fleischmann tweeted this morning that he is currently non-symptomatic, following CDC guidelines and remaining in contact with the capitol physician.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 7, 2021

Tennessee House Minority Leader Karen Camper is asking Gov. Bill Lee to order the legislature to hold its sessions online when the 112th General Assembly convenes, Tennessee Lookout reports. She also called on the governor to give his State of the State address virtually. Camper, one of several lawmakers who has tested positive for COVID-19, noted in her letter to the governor that Tennessee is the “epicenter” for COVID-19 infections, leading the world in cases per capita. The governor did not respond to questions about Camper’s requests. The General Assembly is set to convene Jan. 12 for the new session, but then will recess until Jan. 19 for a special session called by Gov. Lee to deal with education issues caused by the pandemic.


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