TBA Law Blog


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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

Tri-Cities lawyer Thomas H. Torbett died Saturday at Holston Valley Community Hospital in Kingsport at the age of 82. Torbett earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and joined his father in 1964 to establish Torbett & Torbett Attorneys at Law. He continued practicing law for 55 years, retiring in 2019. Torbett also worked with law students, serving as a judge for moot court competitions and passing on his many years of legal experience. He was active in his church, where he volunteered on the board of trustees and coached the girls basketball team, and enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities. According to his wishes, his body was donated to East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to First Broad Street United Methodist Church, 100 East Church Circle, Kingsport, TN 37660; or Petworks, 2141 Idle Hour Rd., Kingsport, TN 37660.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

Parsons lawyer and TBA House of Delegates member Edwin C. Townsend died Saturday. He was 66. Originally from Jackson, Townsend earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Following graduation, he joined his father’s law practice, where they worked together for more than 20 years. Townsend was active in the Tennessee Bar Association, first serving in the Young Lawyers Division and later in the House of Delegates, where he was the current 24th District Delegate. He also was a charter member of the Young Lawyers Division Fellows and later served as its president. Townsend was also active in the University of Tennessee’s National Alumni Association, serving as its president in 1989-1990. A graveside service will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. CDT at the Parsons Cemetery. A celebration of life will be scheduled when gatherings are possible. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band Scholarship Fund or the College of Law Scholarship Fund (search for “Law College Scholarship Fund” under fund selection).

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request from Carroll County lawyer Benjamin Dempsey to “supplement, complete and correct the record” in the matter of his suspension from the practice of law. The court suspended Dempsey for five years on Aug. 21, with three years to be served on active suspension and the remainder on conditional probation, after he agreed to a conditional guilty plea. The court made the suspension retroactive to Aug. 16, 2018, the date of his temporary suspension. On Sept. 4, Dempsey filed the motion to correct the record, which the Board of Professional Conduct opposed. The court said it reviewed all materials before rejecting Dempsey’s motion.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

The Tennessee Supreme Court is seeking comments on a petition from the Nashville Bar Association that the court amend Rule 21 section 3.01(a) to require that two hours of the continuing education required annually be dedicated to diversity topics. The NBA filed the petition with the court on Aug. 28. Comments should be submitted by Dec. 30. The court reports that it has already received comments in support of the petition from the Tennessee Employment Lawyers Association and the Center for Excellence in Decision-Making.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

The Shelby County Criminal Court plans to start holding jury trials again beginning Oct. 1, the Commercial Appeal reports. The court had suspended jury trials in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now preparing to allow a limited number of trials using social distancing and masks. "We're prioritizing those who have been in custody the longest and the most severe offenses," said Criminal Court Judge John W. Campbell, who signed the order allowing cases to restart. According to the order, individual judges have the discretion to choose which cases to move forward based on case characteristics and public health guidelines. Meanwhile, the U.S. Court for the Western District of Tennessee restarted trials at its Jackson location last week and plans to restart trials at its Memphis location in October. That court is also using face shields and plexiglass barriers for additional protection, the court clerk reports.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear four cases on Wednesday and will livestream oral arguments to its YouTube channel. The cases are In re Neveah M, an expedited appeal that examines the grounds for termination of parental rights; Snake Steel Inc. v. Holladay Construction Group LLC, which involves retainage fees and statutory penalties under Tennessee’s Prompt Pay Act; State of Tennessee v. Shalonda Weems, in which the state is appealing a Court of Criminal Appeal’s decision to set aside a jury conviction for aggravated child neglect; and State of Tennessee v. Samantha Grissom Scott, in which the defendant is seeking to invalidate a search warrant and evidence obtained during the search, arguing that her consent to search the home was involuntary.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

A federal judge on Sunday postponed a Trump administration order that would have banned the video sharing app TikTok from app stores, the Associated Press reports. The ruling followed an emergency hearing at which TikTok lawyers argued that the ban would infringe on First Amendment rights and do irreparable harm to the business. U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols did not explain his reasoning publicly, instead filing his judicial opinion under seal. A more comprehensive ban on usage by those who have the app on their phones remains scheduled to take effect in November. Nichols did not delay that deadline.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

President Donald Trump announced Saturday he will nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Washington Post reports. Barrett, 48, would fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said yesterday that confirmation hearings will start Oct. 12 with opening statements by committee members, followed by two days of questioning on Oct. 13 and 14. The committee would then begin its deliberations on Oct. 15 with a vote on the nominee coming as early as Oct. 22. Barrett, who clerked for former justice Antonin Scalia, has already been through one confirmation hearing. President Trump nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 2017. She won Senate confirmation to that seat by a vote of 55 to 43, with three Democrats supporting her appointment.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

A proposed amendment to the Nashville Metro Charter is tying local officials in knots, the Nashville Post reports. The Davidson County Election Commission is trying to decide whether the amendment, which gained the required signatures to appear on the ballot, is valid and must be put to voters. The proposal, spearheaded by attorney Jim Roberts, would require a countywide referendum whenever the city seeks to raise property taxes by more than 2% or issue more than $15 million in bonds for a project. Both requirements would be retroactive to Jan. 1. On Friday, the commission identified several potential problems with the amendment’s language and decided to ask the local chancery court for input.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

Criminal defense attorney Carter H. Schoolfield, 84, died Wednesday at his home on Signal Mountain. A graduate of the Cumberland School of Law at Samford, Schoolfield built his law practice in Chattanooga and came to be known as a fierce trial attorney. He also was an avid outdoorsman and later owned one of area’s premier marine dealerships. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A private celebration of life will be held for family and close friends.


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