Posted by: News Sources on Mar 1, 2020

Journal Issue Date: March 2020

Journal Name: Vol 56 No 3

A gathering of current and former female Tennessee Supreme Court justices: From left,  the Hon. Holly Kirby; the Hon. Martha Craig Daughtrey; the Hon. Connie Clark; TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stephenson, who moderated the program; the Hon. Sharon Lee; the Hon. Janice Holder; and the Hon. Penny White. Photo by Kate Prince.

Tennessee’s Female Justices Honor Women’s Suffrage

Tennessee Supreme Court Justices Cornelia Clark, Holly Kirby and Sharon Lee and former Justices Martha Craig Daughtrey, Janice Holder and Penny White spoke to a full house Feb. 10 during Lipscomb University’s Fred D. Gray Dinner. 

The “Women of the Tennessee Supreme Court” panel paid tribute to 100 years of women’s suffrage in Tennessee and was moderated by TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson. One story that drew laughs from the crowd was former Justice White recounting a time she was pulled over for speeding. Noticing her judicial license plate, the officer asked White, “Honey, are you in a hurry to get home and see the judge?” to which White responded, “No honey, I am the judge!” 

All proceeds from the ticketed dinner go toward the Fred D. Gray Scholarship given to up to four Lipscomb University students majoring in Law, Justice and Society. 

In June, the Tennessee Bar Association’s Convention will also highlight women’s suffrage and the state’s role in gaining the right to vote for women.


Voting for TBA Vice President Begins March 2  Tennessee Bar Association members will begin voting March 2 for candidates who have qualified to run for vice president of the TBA. 

Knoxville attorneys Tasha Blakney and Shelly Wilson will face off in the race for vice president. The winner will ascend to the office of TBA president in 2022. 

Find a complete list of other candidates who have been certified for election because they did not draw opposition, at 

Additional information on voting, including candidate profiles, will be distributed in advance of the voting period, which runs through April 1.

One of only five community courts in the country, the General Sessions Music City Community Court, recently opened in Nashville, with Judge Rachel Bell presiding. The court found its permanent home at the Bordeaux-North Community Justice Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Assisting in the ribbon-cutting were, from left, Judge Dianne Turner, General Sessions judge, Division 5; Civil Court Clerk Richard Rooker; Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry; Cornelius A. Hill; Bell;  State Senator Brenda Gilmore; General Sessions Judge Allegra Walker; Alisha Haddox, with McGruder Family Resource Center & Catholic Charities. Submitted photo.



901 Legal Connect Site to Aid Low-Income Residents  The Memphis Bar Foundation, Community Legal Center and Memphis Area Legal Services announced  in February an initiative that will allow low-income residents to access legal aid on civil matters through an online shop, the Daily Memphian reported. 

The 901 Legal Connect website will help residents of Fayette, Lauderdale, Shelby and Tipton counties determine whether they qualify for free or reduced-cost legal aid. The three legal aid agencies applied for and received grant money to fund the project through the Tennessee Bar Foundation’s Legal Initiative Fund.  

Group Launches Legal Services for Reporters, Seeks to Hire Attorneys  The Local Legal Initiative, a project of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, provides local news organizations with the direct legal services they need to gather and report the news, gain access to public records and court proceedings, and hold state and local government agencies and officials accountable. 

Starting this year, attorneys with the program will be based in Tennessee along with Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania. In Tennessee, the group found that reporters experience excessive delays in accessing public records, challenges in accessing body camera video and challenges overcoming overly broad applications of law enforcement exemptions. The Reporters Committee also announced that it is accepting applications for attorneys to work in these states.

The Hon. Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Tennessee Diane Vescovo was honored Jan. 23 by the Association of Women Attorneys in Memphis at its 40th annual banquet. Vescovo is flanked by her two sons: Stephen, left, a Memphis business owner, and Nic, an attorney at Lewis Thomason. Vescovo, is the 31st recipient of the Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award for outstanding achievement in the legal profession. Appointed in 1995,  she was the first female federal magistrate judge in the district. Submitted photo.



Court: Disbarment to Be Permanent  The Tennessee Supreme Court  in January adopted amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, sections 8, 12 and 30, regarding Types of Discipline. Under the amended rules, individuals disbarred on or after July 1, 2020, are not eligible for reinstatement. 

The court had entered an order soliciting public comments on Sept. 8, 2019, with a deadline of  Dec. 17, 2019. The court received written comments during that period from the Tennessee Bar Association, the Knoxville Bar Association, the Board of Professional Responsibility, David Steele and Elliott J. Schuchardt. The amendments took effect immediately.

Supreme Court Clarifies Appellate Review Standard The Supreme Court in January reversed a decision from the Court of Appeals in a wrongful death case and reinstated the trial court’s pre-trial dismissal for lack of proof. The court explained that the standard appellate courts use to review motions to amend a judgment is called “abuse of discretion.” When those decisions are appealed, appellate courts may only reverse if the trial judge “abused” his or her discretion. In this case, the court found that the Court of Appeals had substituted its judgment for that of the trial court and reinstated the trial court’s decision after finding it was not outside the “range of reasonableness.”

Workers’ Comp Appeals Board Releases New Appeal Form  The Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board released a new form lawyers can use to initiate an appeal of an opinion from the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims to the board. Two current forms — Compensation Hearing Notice of Appeal-LB-1103 and Expedited Hearing Notice of Appeal-LB-1099 — are being retired. 

The new form will be used for all appeals to the board with the appealing party indicating what type of order is being appealed (e.g., an expedited hearing order, motion order, compensation order or other order). 

Court Adopts Amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure  The Tennessee Supreme Court in January adopted several amendments to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure that will become effective on July 1, subject to approval by resolution of the General Assembly. Amended are: Rule 5, relating to service and filing of pleadings and other papers; Rule 5B, relating to electronic filing, signing, verification and service; Rule 33, relating to interrogatories to parties; and Rule 34, relating to production of documents and things and entry upon land for inspection and other purposes. 

General Assembly
TBA Members

Lobby for Repeal of Professional Privilege Tax  The TBA joined with several professional organizations Feb. 11 for a “Day on the Hill” to encourage the Tennessee General Assembly to repeal or reduce the Professional Privilege Tax. The group was addressed by several lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossvillle, both of whom are in support of a repeal. Gov. Bill Lee proposed a $200 reduction in the tax in last week’s State of the State address, while some administration officials and legislative leaders left the door open for further cuts, or to eliminate the tax altogether. The repeal or reduction of the tax remains a top legislative priority for TBA in 2020, and members can still help by contacting their elected officials through TBA Impact. 


Top 16 Schools’Law ReviewEditors-in-Chief Are Women  The top spot on the mastheads at the best law reviews in the country all belong to women this year, Above the Law reports. For the first time, the law reviews at the top 16 law schools — as defined by U.S. News & World Report — have all elected women to lead the publications. 

Of note, Vanderbilt University Law School is ranked #18 in this year’s list and its law review editor-in-chief is Hannah H. Miller.

Memphis Law Ranks 13th in Nation for African Americans  The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law was ranked as 13th best school in the nation for African Americans by preLaw magazine. The school also received an A- for its trial advocacy program and was recognized for its out-of-state tuition reduction. 

The magazine cited the school’s first-year classes, which are consistently 30% diverse, overall African American enrollment, percentage of minority faculty and services provided to minority students.