News

Eastern District Adds User-Friendly Website to Civics Education Efforts

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee has a new website called "Connections," designed to bring more information to the community about everything from naturalization ceremonies, courthouse tours, available speakers, resources for educators and more. Coordinated by Magistrate Judge Cliff Corker in Greeneville, the site also includes significant cases from the district, information about essay and art contests, as well as a Teachers Law School. The site is part of a larger effort by the court to bring civics education to the public, according to the Hamilton County Herald.
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TSC Historical Society, YMCA Partner for Essay Contest Named for Justice Drowota

The Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society has partnered with the Tennessee YMCA Center for Civic Engagement to sponsor an essay contest for high school students who participate in the judicial component of the YMCA’s Youth in Government program. The Justice Frank F. Drowota III essay contest, named for the late Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice, asks students to submit a 1,500 word essay on a legal topic of historic significance. This year’s topic was the Scopes Monkey Trial. The winning student received a commemorative plaque, a letter from the TSCHS, and $250. Matthew Goodbred, a student at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, was announced as the inaugural winner of the essay contest at a special ceremony during the Youth in Government conference in Nashville.
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Law Day Events Set for This Week

Law Day 2019 is Wednesday, and there are several events scheduled across Tennessee to celebrate. The Knoxville Bar Association will present "Leadership Lessons for An Angry Age, ‘Crossing the Aisle: How Bipartisanship Brought Tennessee to the 21st Century and Could Save America,’" featuring author and columnist Keel Hunt. The event will be Wednesday 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the Knoxville Hilton Downtown. The Nashville Bar Association plans to celebrate with a luncheon on Friday. The event’s keynote speaker will be Judge Martha Craig “Cissy” Daughtrey, and the Jack Norman Sr. and Liberty Bell awards will be given to Mariah Wooten and Judge Joe P. Binkley Jr., respectively. This year’s theme is Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society
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Volunteer Now for Tennessee Youth Court Program

The Tennessee Youth Court program is seeking attorneys to volunteer in its peer court program in communities across the state. Through the Youth Court programs, teenagers take part in court proceedings to decide the sentences for other teens who have committed juvenile offenses. To learn more, visit the Tennessee Youth Court’s website or contact Executive Director Denise Bentley.

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Tenn. Secretary of State Begins Annual Student Essay Contest

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office is kicking off its third annual civics essay contest for students. The goal is to encourage students to be actively engaged citizens by recognizing their important roles as citizens of Tennessee. The theme of this year’s essay contest is leadership. Student winners will receive a TNStars 529 Program College Savings scholarship of $100, $250, or $500, in addition to a trip to the State Capitol.
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Volunteers Needed for YMCA Model United Nations and Youth in Government Programs

The Tennessee Bar Association's Public Education Committee is partnering with the YMCA to help mentor future lawyers in the Model United Nations and Youth in Government programs. The programs are designed to allow students ages 11-19 to experience the processes of government in a hands-on way. Model United Nations conferences occur in the Fall and Youth in Government conferences happen in the Spring. The YMCA is always in need of volunteers to help our young lawyers argue their cases well and to help our youth justices deliberate wisely. The Public Education Committee seeks volunteers for programs all across the state. Volunteers are welcome help serve for one, two or three days during the conferences. Each conference runs a similar program, just with different students from across Tennessee attending each weekend. For more information about the program, please visit the YMCA's website or contact Elise Dugger

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Law Day 2019 Theme Announced

The American Bar Association has announced the theme for Law Day 2019: "Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society." The theme focuses on questions such as: Should all speech be free? What is the role of government in regulating or protecting the press? Should speech or the press be constrained through laws or norms? Can a free society exist without free speech and free press? Law Day 2019 offers the opportunity to explore the freedom of speech and freedom of the press by probing their history and considering their future.
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Volunteer for High School Law Camp

The TBA’s Public Education Committee is seeking volunteers for the 2018 Lipscomb Law Camp, which will be held on the Lipscomb University campus June 11-15. Each year, Lipscomb University’s Institute for Law, Justice and Society hosts a class of high school students from across the country and educates them in matters of law and government. This year’s theme is “Power and Empowerment in Your Community,” which will examine federalism and shared powers, separation of powers, checks and balances, and ideals and realities of political power. Volunteer attorneys are needed to lead sessions on June 11-14. Materials and suggested lesson plans will be provided. Contact Public Education Coordinator Stephanie Vonnahme to sign up or receive more information.

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New TBJ: How the 38-Year 'Geier' Case Changed Higher Education

Follow the 38-year legal battle to secure educational opportunity for African-Americans in Tennessee's public colleges and universities, in this issue. Written by C.A. Gonzalez, who was the mediator and court's monitor in the case, the article explains all the twists, turns and intrigue of the famous Geier case that changed everything. Also, TBA President Lucian T. Pera explains what he sees as a market failure for lawyers as well as what the solutions could be. In a feature article, Tennessee's 1865 Constitution and "the return of civil government" is examined by former TBA President Sam D. Elliott. Read the December Tennessee Bar Journal.

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Volunteer for High School Law Camp

The TBA’s Public Education Committee is seeking volunteers for the 2017 Lipscomb Law Camp, which will be held on the Lipscomb University campus June 12-16. Each year, Lipscomb University’s Institute for Law, Justice and Society hosts a class of high school students from across the country and educates them in matters of law and government. This year’s theme is “Constitutions and Constitutionalism,” and volunteer attorneys are needed to lead sessions June 12-15. Materials and suggested lesson plans will be provided. Contact Public Education Coordinator Lauren Hopper Lee, (615) 277-3217.
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14th Amendment Theme of 2017 ABA Law Day

In recognition of Law Day on May 1, the American Bar Association will sponsor programming in Washington, D.C., and encourage celebrations across the country that highlight the rule of law. “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy” is the theme this year, and will be the subject of three public events in the nation’s capital: "The 15th Annual Leon Jaworski Public Program" and "A Law Day conversation with the D.C. Courts" on May 1, and the “Dialogue on the 14th Amendment” program for high school students on May 2.

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Inmates Graduate Higher Ed Program

Eighteen Tennessee inmates graduated on Thursday from a program run by Tennessee High Education Initiative, a nonprofit that works with the Tennessee Department of Corrections to bring higher education to prisoners. The Jackson Sun reports the graduates completed their 41-Hour General Education certificates, which denotes the completion of the core requirements of an associate’s and bachelor’s degree in Tennessee. The program currently includes 115 men at two prisons, Turney Center Industrial Complex and Northwest Correctional Complex, and boasts more than 300 graduates. 
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Statewide Student Civics Essay Winners Announced

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office has announced the winners of its 2016 Civics Essay Contest. Among them are high school winner David Lee of Germantown, who wrote about the difficulty of engaging young voters without proper civics education, middle school winner Ruby Jimenez of Moore County, who wrote about the importance of exercising one’s right to vote, and elementary school winners Isabella Balturshot of Sumner County and Katie Peachey of Madison County.
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Obama Honors Civil Rights Sites with Federal Designations

President Barack Obama signed an order yesterday designating three civil rights related sites as national monuments. They are: a downtown section of Birmingham, Alabama, that includes the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four black girls were killed in a Ku Klux Klan bombing; a bus station in Anniston, Alabama, where a group of “freedom riders” were attacked; and the site of a post-Civil War community of freed slaves near Beaufort County, South Carolina. The National Park Service will oversee these new areas as part of the federal park system, National Public Radio reports.

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Foundation Raising Funds for Harry Burn Statue

The East Tennessee Foundation’s Suffrage Coalition has announced a public fundraising effort to honor East Tennessee legislator Harry Burn, who cast the crucial vote to approve the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. A statue of Burn will be installed on the southeast corner of Clinch Ave. and Market St. in front of the East Tennessee History Center. Designed by Alan LeQuire, it will feature Rep. Burn and his mother, whose historic letter to her son inspired him to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of suffrage. With that vote, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment and make it law. The group hopes to raise $400,000. Learn more from Knoxnews.

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Court Plans SCALES Event for 2017

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hold its SCALES program next November at Lane College in Jackson. The program, which is designed to educate high school students about the judicial branch of government, has served more than 25,000 students from more than 460 high schools across the state. Lane College, founded in 1882 by one of the nation’s early African American church denominations, is a small, private, co-educational institution that provides a liberal arts curriculum.

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Williamson County School Hosts Mobile Court

Ravenwood High School’s government and criminal justice classes recently observed a civil motion docket in their own school’s auditorium. The Williamson County School System partnered with the county’s court system to set up the mobile court. The effort was designed to help students understand how the judicial branch operates on a local level, the Tennessean reports. Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley presided over the proceedings and stopped from time to time to explain court lingo for the students. “Local courtrooms are too small to accommodate most of our schools, so we decided to bring the court to the schools,” Social Studies Curriculum Specialist David Rector said.

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AOC Director Speaks to TISL Students

Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Director Deborah Taylor Tate recently joined more than 500 Tennessee college students for the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL) Day on the Hill. The TISL program offers college students the opportunity to learn about state government and the political process, while the Day on the Hill provides an opportunity for students to meet their legislators and learn about current policy issues. Tate recounted the number of state officials who are TISL graduates – including Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Treasurer David Lillard, Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins and Justice Holly Kirby, and eight other current and former judges – to challenge the students to take advantage of the opportunities they are given.

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TBA YLD Releases 2017 Mock Trial Case

The case for the 2017 Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition was released today by the TBA Young Lawyers Division’s Mock Trial Committee. This year’s problem is a criminal case, involving the death of a patient at a nursing home facility and a standout high school student employed there. This year’s state competition will take place March 17-18 at the Metro Courthouse in Downtown Nashville. The winning team will get a chance to take part in the National High School Mock Trial competition in Hartford, Connecticut, in May.

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KBA Offers LawTalk Events This Weekend

The Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) will offer its annual LawTalk sessions tomorrow and Saturday at two locations in Knoxville. On Friday, the sessions will be held at the O’Connor Senior Center, 611 Winona St. On Saturday, the presentations will take place at Fellowship Church, 8000 Middlebrook Pike. From 9 to 10:45 a.m. each day, lawyers will focus on wills and trusts, probate options and the importance of living wills and powers of attorney. Then from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., lawyers will discuss legal protections for the elderly, the disabled and their caregivers. The seminars are free and open to the public but registration is encouraged. Attendees can register for their preferred location at the links above. For more information call 865-522-6522.

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National Events Mark Free Speech Week

Free Speech Week will be celebrated next week with events across the country. The annual celebration is designed to raise public awareness of the importance of free speech in our democracy, and to celebrate that freedom. Get ideas for events, speeches and classroom presentations on the FSW website.

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September 27 is Voter Registration Day

Sept. 27 is National Voter Registration Day and hundreds of events are being planned across the country. A website dedicated to commemorating the day features a directory of events for prospective voters, information for those interested in volunteering, and voting and election resources for educators and lawyers to use in the classroom. Two other sites offer resources for the upcoming election, including the ABA Division for Public Education and the Brennan Center for Justice, which describes its election website as a “one-stop-shop for factual information on some of the most important topics of 2016.”

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Saturday is Constitution Day 2016

Constitution Day is an American federal observance that commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution. It is celebrated each year on Sept. 17. The TBA has a range of resources available for those who want to mark the day on Saturday. The ABA also has identified a theme for this year's Constitution Day. The focus spotlights the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution – known as the “Reconstruction Amendments” – and the role they played in helping to extend the guarantees of freedom to all Americans.

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Events This Week Mark Constitution Day

Constitution Day is recognized annually on Sept. 17, though local groups are hosting events over the next several days to mark the occasion. Middle Tennessee State University celebrated today with a public event featuring Nashville civil rights leader Diane Nash. Faculty and staff also read the U.S. Constitution out loud at various sites across the campus and voting rights groups hosted a voter registration drive, the Daily News Journal reports. Tomorrow, Motlow State Community College will host a panel discussion on elections and the Constitution. The forum will take place in Room 105 of the Marcum Technology Center from 10:50 a.m. to 12:05 p.m., the Shelbyville Times-Gazette reports.

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Federalist Society’s Memphis Chapters Host Constitutional Scholar

The Memphis Lawyers Chapter and the University of Memphis Student Chapter of the Federalist Society will hold a discussion with constitutional scholar Gordon Lloyd next Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the law school. Lloyd, a senior fellow at the Ashbrook Center and professor of public policy at Pepperdine University, has developed a number of online exhibits on the constitution for TeachingAmericanHistory.org. These exhibits focus on the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist-Antifederalist debate, ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. RSVP to Melanie Busch by this Friday.

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