News

House Speaker Casada Asks Judge to Relieve Him of Alimony Obligations

Outgoing House Speaker Glen Casada has asked a judge to relieve him of obligations to pay alimony to his ex-wife, saying he no longer has the income to keep up with his obligations, NewsChannel5 reports. The filing blames the loss of Casada's job with Merck pharmaceuticals, a position he claimed he voluntarily resigned from earlier this year amidst the same scandal that led to him stepping down as House Speaker. "Due to his advanced age and the circumstances of his unemployment, it is highly unlikely that Mr. Casada will be able to secure comparable employment," Casada's attorney Sarah Richter Perky wrote in a motion.
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Fastcase 7 New Features

A new Fastcase 7 update provides highlighting for your search terms when viewing the full text of a document. Each term is highlighted with a different color so that you can see the occurrence of each item separately. You can also turn off the highlighting function for both, and each term individually by choosing the highlight dropdown option, then selecting the ‘x’ across from the term. See this and all new features of TBA’s member benefit Fastcase 7 here.

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6th Circuit Rules That Nashville Family's Lawsuit Against Amazon Can Proceed

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a Nashville family’s lawsuit against Amazon, regarding a hoverboard sold by the company that caught fire and ultimately burned down their home, can proceed. The fire left two children injured as they were forced to break windows and fling themselves from the second floor. Evidence shows that Amazon was aware of complaints that the hoverboards were catching fire and exploding, and even launched an investigation that led the company to cease selling the model in question. The court affirmed that Amazon was in violation of the Tennessee Products Liability Act and Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. A trial date has not been set.
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Report: TennCare Dropped At Least 220,000 Kids Due to Incomplete or Errant Paperwork

Between January 2016 and December 2018, at least 220,000 Tennessee children lost or are slated to lose health insurance because of late, incomplete or unreturned TennCare eligibility forms, The Tennessean reports. Most participants in TennCare are automatically renewed for coverage each year; however, when important plan changes or updates are necessary, the organization until recently required families to mail hard copy forms in lieu of filing or updating their information online. Some families maintain that the process was needlessly confusing and hard to navigate, with research by the Tennessean showing that TennCare representatives were rarely able to determine if the children even qualified using the now replaced model. TennCare Commissioner Gabe Roberts said that the numbers also reflect families who likely did not complete the paperwork because they are no longer eligible for the program.

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New Director Sought for Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program

The Tennessee Supreme Court is seeking an experienced and qualified person to lead the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP). TLAP was established to provide assistance to Tennessee lawyers, judges, bar applicants and law students (the legal profession) who suffer from physical or mental disabilities that result from disease, disorder, trauma or age and that impair their ability to practice or serve. The opening was created by the recent resignation of Executive Director Ted Rice. Find out more and learn how to apply on the Administrative Office of the Courts' website.
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Judge Further Delays Law Banning Sex Offenders from Living with Their Children

A federal judge has further delayed the implementation of a new law in Tennessee that would have prohibited convicted sex offenders from staying overnight in the same homes as their children, the Tennessean reports. Judge William Campbell Jr. issued an order extending the temporary restraining order that halted the new law, which was set for enactment on July 1. The legislation made it a felony for anyone convicted of a sex offense against a child younger than 12 years old to reside, spend the night or be alone with the person’s own child.
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Applications Now Open for 2019 Public Service Academy

The TBA is now accepting applications for its second annual Public Service Academy, a bipartisan training fellowship to provide attorneys with the tools to run for local political office. It takes place over the course of two weekends in the fall, during which fellows will hear speakers discuss topics like strategy, campaign finance, work-life balance and more. The 2019 co-chairs of the program are Tasha Blakney, of Knoxville, and Joel Wallace, of Clarksville. In 2018, the TBA launched the program and trained its inaugural class. Applications are due August 7.
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Judge Says New Law for Online Ordination Raises 'Serious Constitutional Issues'

Chief District Judge Waverly Crenshaw said today that a lawsuit challenging a new law that bans ministers ordained online from performing marriages raised "serious constitutional issues" that should be considered at trial by the end of the year, the Tennessean reports. Until then, Crenshaw said, ministers ordained online could continue to perform legal marriages. The Universal Life Church Monastery, a ministry that ordains ministers online, sued Tennessee over the law last month, saying it violated religious protections of the First Amendment among other things. The law was set to go into effect Monday, but Crenshaw intervened with an order to maintain the status quo.
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TBA House of Delegates Seeks to Fill 13 Open Positions

In accordance with Article 29 of the TBA Bylaws, the officers of the House of Delegates will fill 13 open positions in the House. If you would like to be considered for one of these positions, please submit a declaration of candidacy that includes your name, principal place of law practice, district of interest and contact information to TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson by July 15. Read a list of open positions here.
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Lower Your Student Loan Interest Rates in 2 Minutes

Lower your interest rate or reduce your monthly payment. TBA Members can compare prequalified rates from multiple, vetted lenders in two minutes. Get your final offer in as little as one business day. Checking your rates won't affect your credit score and receive a $50 bonus for refinancing. Start your savings now.

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TBA Debuts New Podcast Network

The Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network launched today with the premiere of two shows-- Sidebar and BarBuzz. Sidebar is a magazine podcast featuring compelling stories from attorneys across the state. BarBuzz is a monthly rundown of TBA news and upcoming events at the local and state bar levels. Both shows are now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and the TBA's website. Simply search the show title or "Tennessee Bar Association" wherever you listen to podcasts. Do you have a story lead you'd like to submit for a future episode? Submit your ideas here!

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Use Your Prepaid TBA CLE Credits Before Monday!

TBA members have until June 30 to use the 2018-2019 CLE credits that come with their memberships. Use the credits now to register for any TBA course taking place this summer or fall, or any online course, as long as you register by June 30. Don’t let these valuable credits go to waste! Find more information on how to use your credits, and if you haven’t done so already, remember to renew your TBA membership for the upcoming year to get more CLE credits.
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Church Sues State Over New Law Barring Online Marriage Officiants

The Universal Life Church Monastery is suing Tennessee and four county clerks in an effort to block a new state law that, beginning on July 1, bars any minister who receives an online ordination from solemnizing marriage ceremonies, the Times Free Press reports. The suit asserts that certain provisions of the new law are in direct violation of the First and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution in addition to Article 1, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution. The lawsuit names Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery and four county clerks whose offices issue marriage licenses, in their official capacities.
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Full Upgrade to Fastcase 7 Coming July 22

The TBA will be upgrading to Fastcase 7 — the latest in legal research technology — on July 22. Start the transition by reviewing the helpful resource page to learn new and advanced research tools and view training videos and reference guides. Did you know that as a member benefit Fastcase also offers research assistance? Use the LiveChat feature located on the Fastcase website, email support@fastcase.com or call 866-773-2782, Option 2, to speak with a research attorney. 
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Agencies Take on Misleading Advertising by Unlicensed Caregivers

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS), Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery and the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) are collaborating to address misleading advertising by unlicensed child care operations, the Cleveland Daily Banner reports. These providers can use websites to peddle services — sometimes deceptively describing an operation as licensed — with the onus on the parents to determine whether the provider is in fact legit. After an industry-wide investigation by TDHS, DCA and the AG's office, it was ascertained that the current model for care referral websites is inadequate and the agencies have asked one major player, Care.com, to assist in vetting providers. Regarding the move, Slatery said “We have reached out to Care.com, Inc., to seek their help addressing the growing problem of child injuries and fatalities at child care facilities that falsely claim to be state licensed … Care.com has responded with a willingness to work with us to confront this issue.”  

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Senators Place YouTube on Notice Regarding Feature Abused by Pedophiles

Following an article in the New York Times last week, several U.S. senators are calling for YouTube to address concerns over pedophiles using the platform to exploit minors. The issue stems from the company’s recommendation system that steers users to content based on videos previously viewed, and how the algorithm can drive them to similar content watched by other users to sexualize children. Senators Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, sent a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki addressing these concerns and requesting the company respond to six specific questions regarding how the it intends to combat illicit use. U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, has taken it a step further, announcing his plans to advance legislation dubbed the Protecting Children from Online Predators Act, which seeks to ban video-hosting websites from recommending videos featuring children entirely. Blackburn and Blumenthal have given YouTube until June 25 to respond to their letter.

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Sen. Alexander to Receive TBA President's Award

The TBA this week will bestow the President’s Award to retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in honor of his decades of public service to our state. The presentation will be made at the Lawyers Luncheon on Friday during the TBA Annual Convention in Nashville. The veteran Republican senator will also be recognized by the Tennessee Judicial Conference at the same event, where he will make brief remarks. To reserve your spot at Convention, visit the TBA website.
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Hamilton County to Consider Tax Relief Program for Seniors

Facing a tax hike for Hamilton County residents, Commissioner David Sharpe plans to propose an initiative to soften the blow to seniors on a fixed income, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The program will supplement the state’s existing Property Tax Relief Program of 2018 that aids elderly homeowners, disabled homeowners, disabled veteran homeowners and widows of disabled veteran homeowners. Early estimates show that the program will cost the county about $360,000 annually.

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Parents Sue Unlicensed Daycare Operator After Toddlers Drowning

The parents of twin toddlers who drowned in a West Knox County swimming pool last year are suing the babysitter who was in charge of watching the children, Knoxnews reports. The lawsuit claims Jennifer Salley, a 34-year-old who was operating an unlicensed daycare, left the toddlers unattended long enough that they were able to get out of a bedroom, move around inside the house, go outside, get onto the deck, pass through one or more gates into the backyard and fall into the swimming pool. The parents are seeking damages that total more than $50 million.
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Rule 19 Amended to Reflect Previously Adopted Changes to Rule 7

The Tennessee Supreme Court in March adopted amendments to Rule 7 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court. In light of these amendments, the references to Rule 7, section 5.01(g) in Rule 19 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court should be changed to Rule 7, section 10.07. Accordingly, the court has amended Rule 19 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
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Gov. Lee Announces Criminal Justice Task Force

Gov. Bill Lee has announced the team that will lead his criminal justice task force, the Tennessean reports. Lee made the issue a focal point of his campaign, later appointing Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Brandon Gibson to his Senior Advisor role and tasking her with leading the charge on the initiative. The plan includes cooperation with the courts, former inmates and various agencies, such as the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland, Department of Children’s Services, Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. In a statement regarding the plan, Lee said he intends to “improve public safety and reentry in our state.”
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Online Officiants No Longer Allowed to Perform Marriage Ceremonies

Starting July 1, individuals who become ordained online may no longer perform marriages in Tennessee, Knoxnews reports. Previously, the law didn't specifically address online officiants. Current law states ordination or designation is required to be via "a considered, deliberate, and responsible act." That, according to a 2015 Tennessee attorney general's opinion, disqualified online ordained officiants. "Other than the click of a mouse," the 2015 opinion reads, the online ordination was not a "considered, deliberate, and responsible act."
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June TBJ: Murder, Divorce and Fiction (Not All in the Same Story)

In the June Tennessee Bar Journal, you’ll read about a famous 1908 murder that happened in downtown Nashville that set off a series of events that reshaped the political landscape in Tennessee. Russell Fowler tells the story. There’s also a guide on Social Security benefit strategies for divorcing spouses, by Miles Mason. The TBJ’s 3rd annual Fiction Contest winning entry, by Melissa Brodhag, is featured. And don't miss Jason Pannu's last presidential column, where he urges those who are not active in the association to get involved in the many sections, committees and other areas of interest. With this column, we also say goodbye to "Pannu's Pairings," the interesting sidebar he has included every month about various wines of the world. Read these stories and more!
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Several States Add a Nonbinary Designation on State Issued IDs

Several states now offer the option to have a nonbinary designation on driver’s licenses and state-issued IDs, The New York Times reports. Individuals in California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Washington D.C. can now specify their sex as “X” in addition to the traditional “M” and “F.” Colloquially known as Gender X, the recent movement has also unearthed a little-known Arkansas law that has allowed “X” as an option on driver’s licenses since 2010. Hawaii is also considering similar legislation that would omit the designation of sex completely in certain cases.

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Colorado Bans Conversion Therapy

The state of Colorado kicked off Pride Month by banning conversion therapy for minors, ABC News reports. The practice, which is intended to turn a gay person straight through cognitive conditioning, is opposed by The American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and has been banned in 18 states to date. The legislation was signed into law by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who is the first openly gay politician ever elected governor in the United States, on Friday.

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