Vol 55 No 2

Navigating Parental Leave

“As more companies offer their employees attractive leave benefits, law firms are following suit by offering their attorneys robust parental leave benefits,” Ogletree Deakins notes in a recent newsletter.1 Promoting a work-life balance, including flexible hours and leave, is key as a new generation ascends, requiring and expecting this culture of balance. Here is one person’s story:

Debbie Zimmerle Boudreaux, 33, has been a lawyer since 2011 and a mother since 2014. Her son Jack was born during her third year of practice, and daughter Mary came along 15 months later in November 2016. Daughter Lucy was born last October.

Boudreaux works in Lewisburg at the Law Office of David McKenzie, a small firm with offices located in Lewisburg and Fayetteville, providing services to clients including personal injury, criminal defense and general civil litigation. She focuses primarily on family law matters. Her husband Ross is also an attorney.

read more »

Full Court Press: How Pat Summitt, a High School Basketball Player, and a Legal Team Changed the Game

About 25 years ago when coaching my daughter’s 3rd grade basketball team, I unexpectedly was brought to tears when she got a defensive rebound, dribbled down the floor and scored. In other words, she went coast to coast … and with that hustle, she glowed.

That’s why I welcomed the opportunity to review Full Court Press, which tells the story of how Tennessee went from a six-on-six, half-court basketball game for women with rules to “protect us” to the five player full-court game for men.      

read more »

Powers of Attorney for Seniors Are Different

Meet the Journal’s new elder law columnists! This column replaces “Senior Moments,” by Monica J. Franklin, which was published here from 2009 to 2018.

Are you drafting Powers of Attorney for financial decisions with language that is different for seniors than the ones you draft for younger clients? Or, are you referencing the powers enumerated in Tenn. Code Ann. §34-6-109 and relying on those provisions to create a complete document? Perhaps you’ve created a form over the years that you believe works for any adult. The world of finances, government assistance benefits and medical care can change dramatically once people enter their senior years. In fact, the authority given in Tenn. Code Ann. §34-6-109, sections (6) (supporting others) and (15) (paying club dues), may actually work against your senior client if the possibility of applying for means-tested benefits is on the horizon.

It is extremely important that Powers of Attorney are written to address the issues often faced by seniors. Following are typical provisions for dealing with specific issues.

read more »

The Public Employee Political Freedom Act 

Free Speech Protections Beyond the First Amendment

We’ve just completed another election cycle with politics — for better or worse — dominating the news, advertisements and general discourse. Our mailboxes, inboxes and airwaves have been flooded with election propaganda. While this can be overwhelming, even exhausting, these elections (and the publicity that precedes them) ensure that our republic remains a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Axiomatic in the concept of representative democracy is that “the people” — the constituents, those electing these governing officials — must have the ability to communicate with their local, state and national elected officials. Without the ability to communicate their views and concerns, citizens are left powerless to influence those in the governing bodies. But what about when a public employer takes umbrage when an employee exercises this right? What happens when communicating with a public official impacts one’s job?

read more »

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.

read more »

The Closer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Delivering the Perfect Closing Pitch

Closing argument is surely one of the highlights of any trial lawyer’s practice. While closing argument is undoubtedly thrilling, it is also very challenging. This article will introduce you to the most important aspects of giving a closing argument and provide sufficient information to give you confidence to do your first closing argument and give you a rudimentary framework upon which you may build your own confident and winning style of summation for future trials.

read more »

Licensure & Discipline


Hamilton County attorney Katrina Akers Davis was reinstated to the practice of law effective Nov. 28, 2018. The Tennessee Supreme Court noted that Davis had been placed on inactive status in February 1996 but had filed a petition for reinstatement this past November. The Board of Professional Responsibility stated that the petition for reinstatement was satisfactory and met the requirements of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9. The court issued the order on Dec. 7, 2018.

Davidson County lawyer Allyn Rubright Gibson was reinstated to the practice of law effective Nov. 19, 2018. The Tennessee Supreme Court noted that Gibson had been placed on inactive status in October 2013 but had filed a petition for reinstatement this past November. The Board of Professional Responsibility stated that the petition for reinstatement was satisfactory and met the requirements of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9. The court issued the order on Dec. 3, 2018.

read more »


New Tennessee assistant attorneys general recently were sworn in by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins in the state Capitol’s Old Supreme Court Chamber. The annual ceremony recognizes attorneys hired by the Attorney General’s office in the last 12 months. Back row, from left: Matthew Jones, Garrett Ward, Rainey Lankford, Patrick Riley, Kyle Mallinak, David Wood.  Front row, from left: Chief Justice Jeff Bivins, Jeffrey Ridner, David Rudolph, Amber Seymour, Gabrielle Mees, Dianna Shew, Matthew Gaske, Matthew Cloutier, Attorney General Herbert Slatery. Brian Mauk is not pictured.

read more »


TBA Board Adopts Changes to Bylaws

Pursuant to the notice provided Dec. 19, 2018, the Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors held a specially set meeting on Jan. 2 to vote on the proposed changes to the bylaws as published on Nov. 7, 2018. The Board rejected the proposed change to Section 38 related to the term of the TBA treasurer and voted to leave that section unchanged. All other changes published in the Nov. 7 notice were approved. Pursuant to the bylaw change, the individuals appointed to positions in Districts 7 and 8 shall serve the remainder of the terms to which they were appointed and will not run in 2019 to retain those seats. Thus, only Districts 1 and 4 will be subject to election this year and petitions for these positions are still due no later than Feb. 15, 2019. Learn more at www.tba.org/node/105100.

read more »

Letters of the Law

A Long History of Judicial Robes

In regard to the discussion in the Tennessee Bar Journal on judicial robes, I wanted to note that simple black robes have a long history and strong defenses. The first U.S. Supreme Court justices wore black and crimson robes and long wigs similar to those of their British counterparts. They abandoned the wigs and crimson after being followed by small boys in the street shouting, “Lobsters! Lobsters!” Plain black robes and no wigs became the norm for the court. And even though Tennessee judges did not commonly wear robes until the early 20th century, there is an account of Andrew Jackson doing so while conducting trials on circuit as a judge of Tennessee’s Superior Court in the 1790s.

read more »