May 2016 - Vol. 52, No. 5



Tennessee’s only full-time ABFDE-certified full-time document examiner. Formerly with U.S. Postal Inspection Service Crime Laboratory. Certified by American Board of Forensic Document Examiners. American Society of Questioned Document Examiners. Substantial civil, criminal and trial experience. Thomas Vastrick, 6025 Stage Road, Suite 42-182, Memphis, TN 38134; (901) 383-9282.

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Judicial Finality and Legal Malpractice

For Whom Montgomery Bell Tolls … Not for Tennessee Lawyers

Montgomery Bell was an antebellum Tennessee industrialist who began his remarkable career at the age of 16 as a tanner’s apprentice and then a hatter. He soon broadened his activities from selling to manufacturing hats at his factory at Lexington, Kentucky, where he employed 20 workers. By 1802 he had relocated to Tennessee and purchased James Robertson’s interest in Cumberland Iron Works 20 miles south of Clarksville.

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Letters of the Law

Readers React to ‘We’re All Going to Die’

I really enjoyed Eddy Smith’s article about the magic age of 50 [“We’re All Going to Die (and Other Happy Thoughts of an Estate Planner Turning 50,” April 2016 Tenn. Bar Journal]. I recall that some time in the distant past I, too, turned 50. It can often be a time of reflection and self-assessment, but the most important thing is the achievement itself.

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The Tennessee Supreme Court appointed former judge and Williamson County attorney Robert E. Lee Davies to the position of senior judge. Davies practices family law, personal injury and business litigation and also teaches family law at Nashville School of Law. He previously served from 2000 to 2008 as a circuit court judge in the 21st Judicial District. Senior judges are employed by the Supreme Court to hear cases in which other judges cannot serve because of a conflict, or in courts where there is a vacancy.

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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

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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.

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TBA Earns Top Pro Bono Award for MLP

The Tennessee Bar Association on April 7 was awarded the Pro Bono Advocacy Award in Medical-Legal Partnership from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. The award was presented in recognition of the TBA’s outstanding leadership in promoting medical-legal partnerships to the legal community, engaging volunteer lawyers and identifying and building relationships within the medical profession, in part through the formation of a Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group.

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Retired Maryville attorney ROY D. CRAWFORD died March 20. He was 94. Following service in World War II, Crawford graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1948. He practiced in Maryville until 2000, when he retired at age 79. Crawford also represented Blount County in the Tennessee Senate from 1961 to 1966.

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This Mentor Relationship Withstood the Test of Time

The subject of mentor relationships between older and younger lawyers is a staple for bar associations. I was fortunate to have a number of experienced lawyers as mentors and role models when I started practicing. Now that I am a bit older myself, I enjoy interacting with younger lawyers. As I noted in an earlier column, we both have things to teach one another.

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