Feature Story

Social Security Benefits: Strategies for Divorcing Spouses

Family law attorneys should anticipate and plan for the impact that divorce will have on their clients’ Social Security benefits, a key source of retirement income for most people. Although more retirement options are available to married couples, important choices are also available to single and divorced individuals.

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TBJ's 3rd Annual Fiction Contest Winner: The Mistrial

“We’ll dynamite ‘em!” he said as he pounded his fist on his desk. His green banker’s lamp shook, and the Tennessee Code shelved neatly behind him seemed to shudder. He placed his right index finger into his pattern jury instruction book to save the charge he wanted and quickly rose from his mahogany swivel chair.

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A New Concept

Enforceable Post-adoption Contact Agreements Come to Tennessee

In 2018, the Tennessee legislature passed and then-Gov. Bill Haslam signed a legislative package that brought significant changes to Tennessee’s adoption code.1 The 2018 legislation is referred to by adoption practitioners as the “First in Adoption Act” (FIAA). In 2019, the Tennessee Bar Association Adoption Section proposed two new adoption bills. The first bill was principally a corrections bill supplementing FIAA.2

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Judicial Warfare and the Triumph of Equity

Courtney v. Glanvil (1615)

The High Court of Chancery was born in the Middle Ages to provide relief from the inflexibility of the common law courts, which could only act upon property, or in rem, usually through the award of a money judgment for compensation. Chancery’s body of jurisprudence, “equity,” was forged to remedy frauds, mistakes and various hardships the law courts could not adequately address, often remedied by Chancery acting directly upon the person through subpoena, injunction and contempt powers.

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Ethical Issues Arising in Estate Law

By Alison A. Cave

Many different ethical issues can arise when a lawyer is an estate planning practitioner. Generally, clients tend to be older, financially established and perhaps have a blended family. Clients will often request the lawyer to prepare documents for multiple members of the family or even a family business. Sometimes, the clients rely heavily on someone else to communicate information to the lawyer. These types of scenarios lead to numerous ethical issues.

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Medical Examiners and ‘Manner of Death’

How Is a Suicide Determination Made?

By Dr. Amy Hawes and Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan

Medical examiners understand that a family may disagree with a manner of death determination.1 We are also acutely aware of the perceived stigma of a suicide manner of death determination.  Some medical examiners may allow a suspicion of suicide to be overridden by reluctance to impose that stigma.2 However, it is important to emphasize that cause and manner of death opinions are best offered in an unbiased manner free of undue influence from societal, legal or political pressures.3 This article addresses the need to balance medical examiner investigative independence with a family’s right to due process in challenging a manner of death.

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Comparative Fault and ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ Cards

A recent decision of the Tennessee Court of Appeals reminds us of the interaction between our law of comparative fault and the legislature’s gift of “get out of jail free cards” (immunity and partial immunity) to certain special interest groups.

Edna Green was hurt on a church-sponsored bus ride to a local farm. The bus, driven by a fellow parishioner, hit some berms on the farm road causing severe injury to Ms. Green. Ms. Green sued her church, and the church asked in its answer to the complaint that fault be assigned against the farm. Ms. Green elected not to sue the farm, and went to trial only against her church.1

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Lawyers Honored with Public Service Awards

Each year the Tennessee Bar Association recognizes outstanding service by attorneys and law students who have dedicated their time to helping others. The awards given are the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year, the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year and the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. Read the stories of those recognized here.

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‘A Greater Fool’

Pro Bono Experiences, Opportunities, Vision

In the 2012 HBO series The Newsroom, we begin to get to know the main character, Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, when we see him on a panel discussion on a college campus. In the first episode, a young woman from the business school asks the panel why America is the greatest country on earth? The other panelists say freedom, diversity and opportunity. After a pregnant pause, Will says he doesn’t believe America is the greatest country on earth. He embarks upon an abusive rant which cites illiteracy, low rankings for math and science, falling life expectancy, rising infant mortality, and incarceration per capita, to name a few. The rant lands Will in a good deal of trouble with the public and with his cable news network where he anchors the evening news.

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The Man Behind the Robe

Edward Terry Sanford

In the sweltering heat of September 1934, when the last thing anyone probably wanted to think about was wearing an additional layer of clothing, a movement began among Knoxville Bar Association’s members to get Knox County judges to adopt the custom of wearing robes while on the bench.1

The supporters of the movement “point[ed] to the fact that the late Justice Edward Terry Sanford, of the United States Supreme Court, a Knoxvillian, introduced the custom in Tennessee” while he was a federal district court judge2 and cited “the added dignity that the wearing of the black robes brings to the bench, the robe being the symbol of the judiciary, which is in turn the embodiment of the people’s majesty as applied to the settlement of legal controversies.”3

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