Cover Story

Coolidge: Humble Advocate for the Law

His Presidency Advanced the Rule of Law, Judicial Independence, Civil Rights


With another peaceful transfer of power under the American constitutional system, it is a fitting time to recall one of the most humble yet dramatic inaugurations and the remarkable administration it commenced: the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, a presidency committed to the rule of law.

read more »

Your Expertise Makes Pro Bono Work

Specialized Knowledge Can Help Those in Need

There may be a perception that the primary opportunities for pro bono legal service are only for lawyers with an expertise in family law, housing, debt or other issues that are most common for underserved or low-income clients. While there are many opportunities in those areas, there are also countless other ways to provide pro bono service that utilize specialty areas, from intellectual property and immigration law to estate planning and appellate practice.

read more »

Is Your Client Information Safe?

Data Security Is Your Responsibility Even if You Don’t Understand How it Works

In April 2016, hundreds of media outlets published articles revealing the use of offshore corporations by public figures around the world. The reports derived from an anonymous source that acquired data from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. They exposed sensitive and confidential client information to the public. Already, this breach has affected senior government leaders, celebrities and family members of prominent citizens. Shortly after the start of coverage of the Panama Papers, as they would come to be known, the Prime Minister of Iceland was forced to resign.

read more »

Just Breathe: How Mindfulness & Meditation Can Ease Stress in Your Life and Law Practice

 “The practice of law is stressful,” writes Murfreesboro lawyer Pat Blankenship. “Lawyers get paid to enter into the fray of conflict, to expect and prepare for the worst case scenario. We are under great pressure to bill more hours, to work more, relax less. Technology keeps us constantly tuned in. There are myriad ways to mess it up, break a rule, miss a deadline, or fail to be as persuasive as we must. We seek and expect perfection of ourselves, and so do our clients.

read more »

Pardon Me

How Executive Clemency Works in Tennessee (and How It Doesn’t)

“How can I get a pardon?” is one of the most common questions I am asked as a criminal defense attorney. In many situations the conviction at issue was the person’s only legal transgression, resulted in no one getting hurt, and is decades old. Nonetheless, my answer always begins with a piece of advice: circle January 2019 on your calendar, because that is the soonest you can reasonably hope for any chance of relief.

read more »

A State of Confusion and a Need for Clarity

The Fallout from Culbertson I and II

In Tennessee, trial courts have a duty to protect the best interests of children.[1] As early as 1918, the Tennessee Supreme Court acknowledged that the state has a right “paramount to any parental or other claim[] to dispose of such children as their best interests require” and that “the legal rights of a parent are very gravely considered[] but are not enforced to the disadvantage of the child.”[2] Thus, in any proceeding requiring the court to make a custody determination, trial courts must make such determinations according to the best interests of the child.[3] This statutory requireme

read more »

Confusion/Clarity

In the ongoing efforts to protect the children of a divorce, much conflict has arisen in the law regarding the handling of parents’ mental health records in their litigation.  Among lawyers and mental health professionals, two strong camps of thought exist on the topic:  The first is that the counseling and mental health records of a parent are sacrosanct and should be protected and held confidential at all costs, and the second is that the confidentiality of those records should be set aside when litigating the best interest of a child.

read more »

Culbertson – The Court of Appeals Got It Right

The issues faced by the Court of Appeals in addressing parents’ mental health records are complex. Our courts do have a duty to protect the best interest of children.[1] Important as this may be, this is not the only duty that the courts have. They must also take into account a need to respect patient privacy, encourage individuals to seek treatment, focus on a parent’s actual current ability to care for his or her children and not retroactively withdraw promises of confidentiality.

read more »

Who Asks the Questions Around Here?

Why It’s Important That Defense Counsel, Rather Than the Trial Court, Question a Defendant During a 'Momon' Hearing

For the past 16 years, a hearing to question a criminal defendant regarding his or her decision not to testify at trial has become a common feature of criminal trials in Tennessee. This procedure was adopted by our supreme court in Momon v. State.[1] In Momon, the Tennessee Supreme Court established “a prophylactic procedure designed to ensure that a defendant’s waiver of the fundamental right to testify is voluntary, knowing and intelligent.”[2] The case arose because Mr.

read more »

On the Record

Best Practices for Using Depositions at Trial

The law favors the presentation of live witness testimony at trial. Just because a party takes a deposition does not mean it can be used at trial, and even if it can be used it may be only for limited purposes, or under certain circumstances. The purpose of this article is to discuss the many ways that depositions can be used in the trial of a civil case, including uses for proof, impeachment, to refresh recollection, with unavailable witnesses, experts, adverse parties, for completeness and offers of proof.

read more »