News

LAET to Host Tri-Cities Pro Bono Awards Event

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host its annual Tri-Cities Celebration of Pro Bono Service on Aug. 23 at the Tipton Haynes Historical Site, 2620 South Roan Street, Johnson City. The Heritage of Justice Jubilee begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. with the awards presentation to follow. The celebration includes live music, barbecue, a silent auction and a cash bar. Reservations are $35 per person. For more information, or to make reservations, call (423) 794 2487 or visit www.laet.org.
read more »

Former Hamilton County Chancellor Howell Peoples Dies at 75

Howell Peoples, who served as Hamilton County chancellor for 32 years, died Friday, The Times Free Press reports. He was 75. Legal Aid of East Tennessee released this statement on Peoples' passing: "Chancellor Peoples was inducted into the Legal Aid of East Tennessee Pro Bono Hall of Fame in 2016 for his dedication to pro bono work and for being the first legal aid lawyer funded by LSC in Chattanooga, paving the way for quality legal services for our low income and vulnerable neighbors. He was a pillar in the legal community and will be missed." The TBA will post updates as arrangement details are made available.
read more »

Volunteers Needed for Expungement Clinic in Nashville

The TBA Young Lawyers Division is seeking volunteers for an expungement clinic Aug. 18 in Nashville. The clinic will be held at New Covenant Christian Church, 2201 Osage Street. Sign-in for the pre-registered participants begins at 9 a.m. and the clinic will start at 10:15 a.m., running until noon. All volunteer attorneys are asked to arrive at 9:30 a.m. for orientation and the run of the day. The Criminal Court Clerk’s office will have computers and the ability to process the expungement paperwork right on the spot. Those available to help should contact Amber Floyd.
read more »

UTK Law Launches Pro Bono License Reinstatement Project

The University of Tennessee College of Law Pro Bono and Legal Clinic are working together to assist Tennessee drivers whose licenses have been suspended, following a federal court decision that deemed unconstitutional Tennessee’s practice of revoking driver’s licenses for failure to pay court costs. The License Reinstatement Project includes a hotline and a website which people utilize for information or help with the process of getting their license reinstated.
read more »

TALS Announces Access to Justice Award Winners

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) has announced the winners of its 2018 Access to Justice Awards. Justice Frank Drowota III will be honored posthumously with the Janice M. Holder Award for his career of service and legacy to the access to justice community, alongside Amber Floyd of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs in Memphis for her work spearheading statewide expungement clinics. Other award winners include past TBA president and immediate past chair of Tennessee's Access to Justice Commission Marcy Eason along with former executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands Gary Housepian, who are joint recipients of the B. Riney Green Award. Vanessa Bullock of West Tennessee Legal Services will be recognized as the New Advocate of the Year. The honorees will be celebrated during TALS’ Equal Justice University Conference Aug. 29 in Murfreesboro. 

read more »

Legal Aid Names New Family Law Leader

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands attorney Shaina Thompson has been promoted to lead attorney of the family law section of the organization's Nashville office. She will help victims of domestic violence gain independence from abusive situations. Beyond Orders of Protection and divorces, this includes helping victims with issues like denial of benefits, food stamps and/or housing.

read more »

Tennessee to Appeal Ruling on Driver's License Suspensions

Tennessee is appealing a federal court decision that earlier this month opened the door to the state reinstating driver's licenses for potentially more than 150,000 residents, the Tennessean reports. U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger had ruled it is unconstitutional for Tennessee to revoke someone's driver's license if they could not pay court costs. Today, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey formally filed a notice of appeal.

read more »

Tennessee Senior Law Alliance Expands Legal Help for Seniors

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, in cooperation with several legal aid providers, is taking a coordinated approach to assisting Tennessee seniors facing legal problems, according to a press release on its website. The Tennessee Senior Law Alliance will partner with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Memphis Area Legal Services and West Tennessee Legal Services in effort to reach all 95 Tennessee counties, helping seniors identify and resolve core legal issues such as wrongfully reduced or denied access to benefits and health care; illegal barriers to obtaining and maintaining safe and secure housing; physical, emotional and financial abuse and exploitation; and a lack of help with basic estate planning such as creating wills, advance directives and powers of attorney. You can learn more about the program using this link.

read more »

ABA SCOTUS Brief Seeks to Preseve Cy Pres Awards for Legal Aid Organizations

The American Bar Association on Monday filed an amicus brief telling the U.S. Supreme Court that class-action cy pres awards are often appropriate when paid to legal service groups that help provide access to justice, the ABA Journal reports. Cy pres awards — paid to outside groups rather than class-action plaintiffs — provide an average of $15.5 million annually to legal services organizations, according to the ABA brief. A broad ruling imposing constitutional restrictions on cy pres awards would “potentially deprive legal services organizations of critical funding and low-income residents of legal representation,” the brief said.
read more »

Council of Economic Advisers Releases Report on Work Requirements for Social Programs

The Council of Economic Advisers recently released a report titled "Expanding Work Requirements in Non-Cash Welfare Programs," that addresses controversial work requirement issues according to a Whitehouse press release. In April, President Trump signed an executive order giving states more autonomy over their Medicaid programs, allowing them to request waivers to add stipulations such as work requirements. Kentucky was the first state to try and implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients, however, a federal judge vacated the approval, sending the state’s program back to the federal Department of Health and Human Services for further review. So far, four states' applications have been approved by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services: Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky and New Hampshire, while seven other states have applications pending: Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Utah, Ohio and Wisconsin. You can read the full report here.

read more »

UT Names New Legal Clinic Director

The University of Tennessee College of Law recently named Joy Radice, a tenured associate professor at the College of Law, as director of the UT Legal Clinic. She succeeds Interim Director Penny White, who has led the clinic since 2015. Radice will oversee nine clinics that operate through the UT Legal Clinic, which is the oldest continuously operating legal clinic of its kind in the United States. Radice has been with UT since 2012. Her areas of expertise and scholarship focus on criminal law, criminal procedure, prisoner reentry, and expanding civil legal services to fill the access to justice gap.
read more »

CLC Memphis to Host ‘Cocktails for a Cause’

The Community Legal Center in Memphis will host “Cocktails for a Cause” on Aug. 3, for which all proceeds will go towards benefiting the CLC. The event will take place at 1509 Peabody Ave. from 5 to 7 p.m. Organizers promise “no speeches, no agenda” for the evening, just a fundraiser for a good cause.
read more »

TALS Access to Justice Award Nominations Due Thursday

Time is running out to nominate someone for a 2018 Access to Justice Award. Nominations and any supporting documents must be submitted to TALS by July 5. TALS is now accepting nominations for three different awards: the Janice M. Holder Award, the B. Riney Green Award and the New Advocate of the Year Award. Read more about the awards here.

read more »

Former West Tenn. Legal Services Executive Director Dies

J. Steven Xanthopoulos of Fredericksburg, Virginia, died Monday at 70. A graduate of Dickinson School of Law, Xanthopoulos dedicated his legal career to Legal Services, working across the country and eventually in Jackson, Tennessee. He began with housing advocacy, did immigration and other poverty law and retired after 29 years as West Tennessee Legal Services executive director. In 2005, he received the B. Riney Green award from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services "for his constant promotion of statewide programs to address significant client needs which have strengthened legal aid providers and improved the lives of thousands of low-income Tennesseans." Memorial contributions may be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association or to West Tennessee Legal Services.

read more »

TALS Now Accepting Nominations for Access to Justice Awards

Nominations for the 2018 Access to Justice Awards are now being accepted. Each year at TALS' Equal Justice University Conference three Access to Justice Awards are given to celebrate the outstanding work by members of the community. Nominations for the Janice M. Holder Award, the B. Riney Green Award and the New Advocate of the Year Award must be submitted to TALS by July 5. Read about the awards and the nomination process at the TALS website.
read more »

CLC Memphis to Host Theater Night Fundraiser

On June 14, the Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis will host a night at the theater in support of the organization with a performance of "Dreamgirls" at the Playhouse on the Square, presented by Gene and Carol Katz. Join the CLC for delicious food and beverages, an entertaining show and many ways to give to the Community Legal Center. Tickets are available for $45, or $100 for a VIP pass. A cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m. with showtime at 8 p.m.
read more »

Law in Real Life

What are some of the most common legal issues clients need assistance with and what do you need to know to work with them? On June 25, learn from experienced practitioners from across the state who help clients navigate these areas every day. Then put your knowledge into practice: After the program you will have three months to engage in a hands-on legal clinic, with options in Middle, East and West Tennessee. Learn now and then put your expertise to work helping a legal aid organization.

read more »

2 New Vandy Law Grads Named Gideon’s Promise Fellows

Kevin Coker and Sean Dowling, two graduates from Vanderbilt Law’s class of 2018, will serve as Gideon’s Promise Fellows for the next three years. Dowling will be posted at the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office and Coker will serve at the Metro Nashville Public Defender’s Office. The pair will also be a part of the organization’s three-year training program, after which they are expected to take positions as assistant public defenders. Gideon’s Promise is a national organization aimed at training and supporting public defenders to provide equal justice for marginalized communities.
read more »

ATJ Report Recognizes Collaborative Efforts to Serve Tennesseans in Need

A decade after the Tennessee Supreme Court made access to justice its top strategic priority, it has issued an extensive report recognizing the many organizations and individuals that have worked to improve access to justice in the state.“What we have learned in the past 10 years is that there is no single solution, no magic bullet to solve this issue,"  Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark said. "But, with all hands on deck, we are having an impact and are improving lives across the state.” Gail Vaughn Ashworth, chair of the commission for 2018-2020 and a past TBA President adds, “We have momentum and are really seeing access to justice issues become engrained in our state culture. The bench, the bar and our community organizations know we need to collaborate to make real progress. Tennessee is the Volunteer State and our state is also known as a nationwide leader in developing innovative programs and resources to help achieve access to justice for all.”

read more »

Tennessee Leaders Attend Equal Justice Conference

Over 20 members of the Tennessee legal community joined a record crowd at the 2018 Equal Justice Conference in San Diego this week. Those representing Tennessee include Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins, Access to Justice Commission liaison Justice Connie Clark, ATJ Commission Chair and past TBA President Gail Ashworth, TBA Vice President Sarah Sheppeard and TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson, as well as representatives from legal service organizations across the state. Past TBA President Buck Lewis welcomed conference attendees at the opening plenary and led a panel discussion about new developments for the ABA’s Free Legal Answers, which grew out of Online Tennessee Justice.

read more »

Bonnyman Named NLADA’s Kutak-Dodds Prize Winner

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association has named Nashville’s G. Gordon Bonnyman as the recipient of its 2018 Kutak-Dodds Civil Prize. The award honors the accomplishments of lawyers who are significantly contributing to the enhancement of human dignity and quality of life of those individuals who are unable to afford legal representation. Bonnyman was recognized primarily for his work fighting for improved access to healthcare for the poor and uninsured at the Tennessee Justice Center, of which he was a co-founder.
read more »

John Grisham Speaks on the Importance of Legal Aid in Rural Areas

Best-selling author John Grisham recently delivered the opening remarks at a Legal Services Corporation forum in Washington, D.C., speaking about the importance of legal aid to rural areas like his hometown of Southhaven, Mississippi. Medium.com reports that Grisham, who serves on the LSC Leaders Council, said “In the land of a million lawyers, there’s so many people who face eviction, disaster, loss of benefits, and more ... because they don’t have lawyers. And if we can’t protect them, we, as a society, are all diminished.”
read more »

LAS Honors 2 at Nashville Law Day Luncheon

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands announced the recipients of two awards to honor outstanding pro bono work. The Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year award was given to Chris Mayfield, assistant vice president of development for HCA Inc., and the Pro Bono Leadership Award was given to the Tennessee Office of the Attorney General & Reporter. Legal Aid Society Executive Director DarKenya Waller presented the awards today during the Nashville Bar Association’s annual Law Day lunch.
read more »

Ellis Honored with KBA's Law and Liberty Award

Attorney Kathryn Ellis was given the Knoxville Bar Association’s Law and Liberty Award at the organization’s annual Law Day Luncheon today. Chosen by the Barristers Executive Committee, the award is given to someone who strives to maintain good relationships between the legal profession and the community, sets an example of good citizenship, volunteers their time and expresses concern for the safeguard of personal, political, civil and religious liberties. Ellis serves as the Pro Bono Director for Legal Aid of East Tennessee.
read more »

TJC Honors Advocates for Children, Mothers at Luncheon

The Tennessee Justice Center today honored five Hall of Fame advocates during its First Annual Mother's Day Luncheon in Nashville. Among those honored at the event were the Hon. Sheila Calloway, Dr. Craig Anne Heflinger, Linda O’Neal, Russell J Overby and Rev. Kaki Friskics-Warren. For two decades, TJC has honored the strength and determination of its advocates with the Tennessee Justice Center "Mothers of the Year" Awards. This luncheon extended the recognition to those who have spent their lives championing mothers and their children.

read more »