TBA Law Blog


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Posted by: Kate Prince on Jul 9, 2020

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued a statewide order requiring all those entering a courthouse for court-related business to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth. That covering should be worn at all times while in the building. “The recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths required the Court to reconsider how to best keep the public, court staff, and judiciary safe while keeping courts as open and accessible as possible,” Chief Justice Jeff Bivins said. The requirement is consistent with directives from the Centers for Disease Control, the Tennessee Department of Health and several Tennessee county mayors. Exceptions to the order include those under the age of 12 and those with a bona fide medical reason. Courthouses are also coordinating with local Tennessee Emergency Management Agency offices to have masks available.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Jul 9, 2020

A book co-authored by Knoxville attorney Jack H. “Nick” McCall titled The East Tennessee Veterans Memorial, A Pictorial History of the Names on the Wall, Their Service, and Their Sacrifice has recently been published by the University of Tennessee Press. The book tells the stories of more than 300 service members whose names are among the 6,200 inscribed on 32 markers that serve to commemorate the tradition of military service in East Tennessee. Readers will find the accounts of each of East Tennessee’s 14 Medal of Honor recipients, along with tales of a variety of other veterans from World War I to the present, people whose lives and deaths together form a microcosm of the armed forces. Illustrated with historical photographs, the book gives a compelling history of individual lives, but also a broader sense of military history in the region and a contribution to the scholarship on the value of monuments as a means to honor the past.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Jul 9, 2020

Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern University are suing the Trump administration over an order that would force international students to transfer or leave the U.S. if their courses are taught only online, Business Insider reports. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday morning against the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and comes after new guidance from ICE that says students on F-1 visas cannot stay in the U.S. unless they have in-person classes to attend. Many college campuses are not planning a mass return of students in the fall due the COVID-19 pandemic. Among its arguments, Harvard said attending online classes would be impossible for many students, including those who live in countries like Syria, where there is a civil war, or Ethiopia, which is under an internet blackout.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Jul 9, 2020

Tennessee Elections Coordinator Mark Goins confirmed yesterday that all 95 counties in the state have updated their websites or written materials to reflect a judge’s order to expand absentee voting, the Associated Press reports. Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle last month ordered Goins to tell counties to update their information after plaintiffs attorneys named 20 counties with absentee request forms or other website mentions that didn’t correctly reference COVID-19 as a reason to vote absentee.  Earlier this week, Lyle said it was “still unknown” whether counties were complying and ordered an update from Goins, which he provided in a court filing on Wednesday.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Jul 9, 2020

A July 4 protest outside the home of Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich could result in felony charges for some individuals, the Commercial Appeal reports. The protest happened late in the afternoon on Saturday when at least a dozen cars and roughly 40 protestors arrived at Weirich’s residence, yelling for her to come outside and chanting to end the money bail system within Shelby County. A video showed protestors firing Roman Candles towards Weirich's roof, which did not catch fire, removing flags from Weirch's yard, crossing a physical property line and subsequently setting those flags and another, larger flag, on fire. In an approved subpoena request, the Memphis Police Department asked for photographs from the Commercial Appeal, which it believes would help identify those who participated in the “attempted arson, arson, and theft of property.”   

Posted by: Kate Prince on Jul 9, 2020

Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld, who initiated the Tennessee marriage equality case Tanco v. Haslam in 2013, is being honored by the National LGBT Bar with the Leading Family Law Practitioner Award. That award is given each year to an individual who is in the private practice of law and has improved the lives of members of LGBTQ+ families, parents or children through outstanding legal work, demonstrated by a longstanding commitment to providing legal services of a high quality to the LGBTQ+ community. Rubenfeld started the Rubenfeld Law Office PC in 1979 and has been widely praised for her work in LGBTQ+ and AIDS-related issues and civil rights cases, all including an emphasis on family law. Rubenfeld will be honored during the virtual awards program on Aug. 12 during the 2020 Lavendar Law Conference and Career Fair.  

Posted by: Kate Prince on Jul 9, 2020

The Knoxville Bar Association will host the 19th Amendment at 100: Bold Women Change History virtual program on Aug. 19 from 11 a.m. – noon CDT. The event features a panel of noteworthy female lawyers and lawmakers, including TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson, Knox County District Attorney General Charme P. Allen, State Sen. Becky Duncan, Justice Sharon G. Lee and Wanda Sobieski of Messer & Elledge. The panel is part of the KBA’s Law Day celebration and will focus on the history of the 19th Amendment, the contributions of trailblazing women and what happens when we break down barriers. Find out more and register online.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Jul 9, 2020

Private prison company CoreCivic on Monday informed Nashville-Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall that it will no longer try to keep running a jail in Nashville, the Associated Press reports. For nearly three decades CoreCivic has run a facility that houses state inmates under a contract with the Tennessee Department of Correction. The CEO of CoreCivic wrote a letter to Hall on Monday telling him the company would be providing a 90-day transition plan for the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility and would no longer allow “political opportunists” to use it as a “punching bag.” That letter comes on the heels of Metro Council’s announcement last week that it would be renewing efforts to end the contract with CoreCivic. Hall said he had hoped for a six-month transition period, and is now working with officials to see what options exist.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Jul 9, 2020

The State Capitol Commission today voted to remove the controversial bust of Nathan Bedford Forest from outside House and Senate chambers and relocate it to the Tennessee State Museum, the Tennessean reports. The group had originally intended to only vote on the Forrest bust, but ultimately voted 9-2 to remove two additional busts of U.S. Admiral David Farragut and U.S. Admiral Albert Gleaves from the second floor of the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, and House Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough both said they were representing the preferences of their chambers by voting against the removal. According to WPLN, the petition will now go to the Tennessee Historical Commission for a final vote, but it will not be considered for at least three months and the process could take as long as a year.

Posted by: Barry Kolar on Jul 8, 2020

An item in Tuesday’s TBAToday was unclear in its reference to a form that attorneys may use to remit unidentified trust funds in an IOLTA account to the Tennessee Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection (TLFCP). Development of the form follows the Tennessee Supreme Court’s adoption of RPC 1.15(f). The Board of Professional Responsibility and the Tennessee Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection (TLFCP) had jointly petitioned the Tennessee Supreme Court to adopt the new rule. This amendment has been adopted in several jurisdictions as a practical solution for attorneys with unidentified trust funds in an IOLTA account after having unsuccessfully attempted to ascertain ownership of the fund for 12 months. An attorney who remits funds in error may later file a claim for return of the funds subject to TLFCP verification. The unidentified funds form is NOT a new reporting form for the IOLTA program.


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