TBA Law Blog


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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

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

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

Middle Tennessee State University recently hosted a panel discussion on the impact of racial justice protests across the country. Ryan Haas with Oregon Public Broadcasting, who has been in the middle of Portland protests, told attendees he sees “a lot more people opening up to this idea that America has not fulfilled what our founding documents say, and we should include more of those voices who have historically been marginalized.” Ken Paulson, director of MTSU’s Free Speech Center, said America is “in a place we’ve never been before” but emphasized the importance of protecting constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and redress of grievances. Read more from the Tennessee Tribune.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 28, 2020

Above the Law has released its Top 50 Law Schools for 2020 with Vanderbilt University Law School moving up two spots to 11th place and the University of Tennessee College of Law debuting on the list for the first time at 41st place. The rankings are based on employment success — both for those who sought jobs outside the region where their school is located and those who did not graduate at the top of their class — for the class of 2019. See the full list.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Sep 25, 2020

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle today ruled that the state Registry of Election Finance violated Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act with a secret email vote in early April approving a civil penalty settlement with state Rep. Joe Towns, the Daily Memphian reports. Lyle denied the request from the Attorney General’s Office to dismiss the case, ruling that while the Registry “cured” its violation by voting on the matter in a public meeting held in July, that action did not make the lawsuit moot.  The lawsuit was filed in April by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which claimed that state law required the board to file notice in advance of the meeting and to hold the vote in public. The Attorney General’s Office argued that the email vote taken was “incidental” and not an official meeting by the Registry, thus did not violate the Open Meetings Act. Lyle disagreed, finding that the Registry made a “consequential decision” that qualified as a meeting. She opted against monitoring the Registry but said its action would be considered on a case-by-case basis. She ruled the reporters’ group would recover its costs.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Sep 25, 2020

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the Department of Commerce & Insurance, today announced it has joined the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and 29 other states to file a complaint alleging Metals.com has been running a fraudulent precious metals scheme that has solicited more than $185 million from seniors and other investors across the United States.  According to the complaint, Metals.com is accused of targeting elderly investors through traditional and social media, providing unregistered investment advisory services designed to “instill fear in elderly and retirement-aged investors and build trust with investors based on representations of political or religious affinity.” Read the full complaint and statutory restraining order here.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Sep 25, 2020

Attorney General Herbert Slatery has joined a coalition of 31 states in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to support states’ authority to enforce price gouging regulations that protect consumers during emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition is asking the appellate court to overturn the district court’s preliminary injunction that prevented Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron from enforcing price gouging regulations against retailers selling products on Amazon. In its filing, the coalition emphasizes how important state price gouging laws are in ensuring that essential items are fairly allocated among residents. Read the full release from the AG’s office.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Sep 25, 2020

The Raybin Tennessee Supreme Court Hot List analyzes cases that have recently been granted review by the state Supreme Court. Three new cases were posted to the hot list this week on the issues of res judicata, juvenile life sentences and parental right termination.

Posted by: Elizabeth Todaro on Sep 25, 2020

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) have launched a new tool to help individuals navigate the workers’ compensation process, WGNS reports. The new tool, “WC Bot,” provides document filing assistance for self-represented workers who have experienced on-the-job injuries. “WC Bot,” along with many other legal and social service resources, is available to the public online at HELP4TN. “Fairness and equal justice under the law are core values in our legal system," said Ann Pruitt, TALS’ Executive Director. "This collaborative project is an example of how we can use technology to help level the playing field for self-represented litigants.” The project is funded by a Tennessee Legal Initiatives Fund Grant from the Tennessee Bar Foundation.


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