TBA Law Blog


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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Aug 7, 2020

Federal District Court Judge Sheryl H. Lipman has denied the release of "medically vulnerable" detainees awaiting trial inside the Shelby County jail, the Commercial Appeal reports. The ruling recognized "grave areas of concern” at the jail but found that problems could be “cured." Based on that finding, Lipman declined to rule whether detainees' rights had been violated by the county. The suit was brought by detainees over age 55 and those with chronic conditions. In June, a court-appointed inspector said procedures at the jail were "inadequate to protect the vulnerable inmates." The county says its response is "evolving." The ACLU represented the plaintiffs and had this response.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Aug 7, 2020

The Metro Nashville Police Department issued its first citation for a mask violation in the city’s entertainment district on Wednesday night, but they did not cite any of the young honky tonk-goers crowding the sidewalks. Instead, they cited and arrested a 61-year-old homeless man, WPLN reports. Court records show Joseph Bryant was booked on a $500 bail but charges were dropped at a hearing the next day. The Nashville Community Bail Fund criticized the police decision to single out a homeless person while hundreds of mask-less revelers frequent Lower Broadway each night with impunity. The group paid Bryant’s bail.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Aug 7, 2020

Earlier this week, the American Bar Association's House of Delegates voted 256-146 in favor of a resolution urging states to find alternatives to in-person bar exams amid the pandemic. The alternative arrangements suggested included supervised practice program, remote bar exams and emergency diploma privilege. The resolution was among the most controversial during the two-day House of Delegates meeting, the ABA Journal reports. Supporters argued special arrangements are necessary in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. Opponents, including the National Conference of Bar Examiners, said the resolution could open the door for graduates of non-ABA-accredited law schools to practice without taking the bar exam, including those who previously had failed the exam.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Aug 5, 2020

The American Bar Association recently announced the launch of a new website that will serve as a clearinghouse of information and resources to support and advance the practice of law and the judicial system amid expected long-term changes due to COVID-19. The “Practice Forward” website is designed to “get ahead of the changes that are occurring in the delivery of legal services,” according to the Coordinating Group on Practice Forward, which was created to coordinate pandemic-responsive resources to address law practice management, the practice of law and professional development.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Aug 4, 2020

Gov. Bill Lee today said his administration is working on a plan that would allow schools to share data on the number of COVID-19 cases in their facilities, the Tennessean reports. After the release of Lee’s school reopening plan last week, state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said Tennessee had no plans to provide the public with such data, saying that decision should be left up to individual school districts. A spokesperson later cited patient privacy as a priority while defending that decision. But, during his weekly press conference today, Lee reversed course, saying he believes “that we have to protect privacy but we also have to be transparent.” Lee said within the next week, his administration will present a plan aimed at "being more transparent" on the school data. His administration has faced criticisms in recent months for refusing to release certain information, including county-level deaths and cases at nursing homes.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Aug 3, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has fueled an outbreak of lawsuits challenging public health policies, but the U.S. Supreme Court has been a dead end for most, according to a review by USA Today. In April, the court refused to extend absentee voting in Wisconsin beyond the primary election date. In May, it turned down a California church's challenge to state reopening guidelines, which imposed tighter restrictions on churches than other establishments. In June, the court declined to order the move of more than 800 inmates from an Ohio prison experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. And in July, it turned down an effort to make it easier to vote by absentee ballot in Alabama, and denied petitions from spiritual advisers seeking to delay executions until they could safely attend. Taken together, the high court's actions signal a desire to leave the pandemic in public officials’ hands, the paper concludes.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Aug 3, 2020

Applications for the Tennessee Community CARES Program are now open. The program, which includes $150 million in relief funds for Tennessee nonprofits, allows applicants to apply for relief for expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Groups can apply now through Aug. 15. View the full program description, application, requirements and frequently asked questions on the state Department of Human Resources website. Two informational session also will be held to help nonprofits understand the application process. Details are online. Grants will be administered by partner nonprofit organizations that will serve as grant administrators. Questions? Contact TN.CommunityCares@tn.gov.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jul 31, 2020

Shelby County Criminal Court judges yesterday ordered the indefinite suspension of criminal jury trials citing the impossibility of impaneling a jury that “would satisfy health and safety guidelines and comply with relevant constitutional provisions.” The order negates prior plans to lift the suspension in September, the Commercial Appeal reports. The judges said they will “continue to evaluate the current conditions and assess any updated guidance from health authorities to determine when jury trials can resume.” The Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers expressed concern about the decision saying judges should have considered the group’s input before moving forward. The court said it consulted with the public defender's office, district attorney's office and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jul 31, 2020

A ruling from U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. ended the hopes of limited-service restaurants in Memphis that wanted a reprieve from orders closing inside service, the Daily Memphian reports. The ruling mirrors one issued earlier in the week by U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla. While both judges recognized the closure has a profound economic impact on these businesses, they did not find sufficient reason to justify a temporary restraining order. As Fowlkes wrote, “The Court recognizes the many hardships imposed by Health Order No. 8. However, Defendants’ decision to temporarily close Plaintiffs is legally sound. What is legal may not always be fair, but legality must prevail over fairness.”

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jul 31, 2020

Husch Blackwell has opened its 21st office — a virtual space called The Link, comprised of 50 lawyers and staff from eight brick-and-mortar offices in a move that transforms the firm’s approach to how it uses technology and views office space. The managing partner of The Link said the experience of remote work may affect space planning and the firm's real estate commitment. Read more about the experiment from Law.com.


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