News

Trump Narrows Short List for SCOTUS Nominees to 3

President Trump has completed interviews with candidates for the upcoming nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court, and three have risen to the top of the list, Fox News reports. Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett, all federal appeals court judges, have been identified as frontrunners. Trump is expected to make an announcement about his selection on Monday.
read more »

Potential Trump SCOTUS Pick a Rhodes College Graduate

Amy Coney Barrett, one of the potential replacements for retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, has a Tennessee connection – she’s a Rhodes College graduate, The Commercial Appeal reports. Barrett is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, a seat she assumed after an appointment by Trump last October.
read more »

Justice Kennedy to Retire from U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced today that he is retiring, The Hill reports. His retirement on July 31 will end a career of more than 30 years on the court. Kennedy is the court’s longest-serving member and its second-oldest justice after Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, he has served as a pivotal swing vote on some of the court’s most impactful decisions of the past 30 years, including LGBT marriage equality and Citizens United.
read more »

Tennessee May Receive Increased Funding for Parks

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., recently gained Senate committee approval for a bill he sponsored — the National Park Restoration Act — that intends to allocate increased funding for the maintenance backlog at national parks, The Herald-News reports. The project will be funded using excess money from energy leases for onshore and offshore federal land to pay for the repairs. The bill is expected to have a great impact on Tennessee, providing money to restore campgrounds, trails and roads in the Smokies, Cherokee National Forest, and the Skinner Mountain Forest among others. The legislation is now ready for consideration by the full Senate.

read more »

Schedule Time to Read Email

A tip from the TBA Attorney Well-Being Committee

Rather than checking on every e-mail as it arrives, schedule time in your calendar for reading and managing e-mail (and leave e-mail notifications silent during the other times of the day). This will enable you to have focused time for given tasks without constant interruption and distraction.
read more »

Legal Battle Over North Carolina 'Bathroom Bill' Returns to Federal Court

The U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem on June 25 will hear pending motions in Carcaño, et al. v. Cooper, et al., regarding North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, which has been criticized as being discriminatory against gay and transgender people, reports The Winston-Salem Journal. The bill —repealed last year — was replaced with North Carolina House Bill 142, which omitted restroom, locker room and shower use requirements and prohibited local governments from putting forth any anti-discrimination ordinances through Dec. 1, 2020. You can view the complaint here.

read more »

Nursing Home Chain Settles in Columbia Medicare Fraud Case

Two former occupational therapists at a Columbia nursing home were whistleblowers in a Medicare fraud case that was settled this month for $30 million, The Columbia Daily Herald reports. Kristi Emerson and LeeAnn Holt tipped-off the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, providing documentation that showed the company pressured employees to perform unneeded therapy and manipulated therapist schedules to maximize profit. You can view the complaint here.

read more »

SCOTUS Overturns Process for SEC Administrative Judicial Appointments

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that administrative law judges must be appointed by the president, courts or heads of federal agencies, overturning the process currently used by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the ABA Journal reports. The SEC contended that the judges were employees, and therefore were subject to appointment by staff members. SEC judges were being selected by the chief judge and approved by the SEC personnel office.
read more »

Judge Tosses Kansas' Proof-of-Citizenship Voter Law, Rules that Attorney Must Take Extra CLE

A federal judge on Monday decided that Kansas cannot require people to prove their U.S. citizenship before they can vote, ruling the state's election law is unconstitutional, reports NPR. Chief District Judge Julie A. Robinson blasted Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — who led President Trump's voter fraud commission — over disclosure violations, stating the violations “document a pattern and practice by [Kobach] of flaunting disclosure and discovery rules that are designed to prevent prejudice and surprise at trial.” Kobach was ordered by the judge to take continuing legal education classes on the rules of evidence or procedure in addition to any other CLE education required by his law license. Kobach is running for governor of Kansas, reportedly locked in a tight Republican primary race against the incumbent. You can read the full opinion here.

read more »

No New Trial for Federal Inmate Who Couldn’t Prove Lawyer’s Racism Affected Trial

A federal court has denied an inmate’s request for a new trial in his murder case because he was unable to show that racism by his appointed lawyer affected the trial, the ABA Journal reports. Though numerous people including his own daughters testified that attorney Donald Ames behaved in a racist fashion towards African-Americans, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in its opinion that the court was bound by precedent stemming from a case involving the same lawyer.
read more »

SCOTUS Rules States Can Purge Voters Who Don’t Show Up to the Polls

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that it was OK for the state of Ohio to purge voters from registration lists if they haven’t voted in six years, USA Today reports. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, said that the Ohio law was valid because the voters who were purged also failed to respond to notices. The ruling protects similar laws on the books in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Oregon, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Montana.
read more »

NBA Addresses Proposed Changes to the Local Rules for the Middle District of Tennessee

Nashville lawyer Tricia Herzfeld outlines some of the more important alterations to the current Local Rules of Civil Procedure for the Middle District of Tennessee that should be considered when the draft Rules are published for public comment. As reported, the proposed changes will address existing ambiguities and better meet the needs of modern civil litigators. Read her outline in this Nashville Bar Association article.
read more »

Sen. Bob Corker Intends to Advance Legislation on Controversial Tariffs

Sen. Bob Corker on Wednesday morning told President Donald Trump that he plans to go through with his legislation that would stifle Trump's ability to impose controversial tariffs, CNBC reports. Trump said last week that he would not exempt Canada, Mexico and the European Union from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The affected nations responded swiftly, stating that they will explore retaliatory measures of their own. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he would not take up Corker's tariff bill as separate legislation, however, it may be added as an amendment to other legislation such as the National Defense Authorization Act.

read more »

A Wellness Tip from the Attorney Well-Being Committee

Consider waking 10 minutes earlier so you can incorporate a brief mindfulness meditation into your preparations for the day. Set a timer for 3-10 minutes (depending on how much time you feel you want to use). Begin by sitting in a relaxed and comfortable but dignified and upright position, with your spine and head aligned. Place both feet on the ground, with legs uncrossed, and rest your hands gently on your lap. Gently close your eyes and allow yourself to notice the sensation of sitting in the chair, of your feet on the ground, of your hands resting in your lap.

Gently bring your attention to your breath, slowly taking a deep breath in, pausing briefly, then slowly exhaling. Now repeat this twice and as you do so, observe your breath as it goes in your nostrils and as it exits your nostrils. Sense the flow of air as it moves in and out, and the space between breaths. You may notice the air feels cool as you inhale, but warmer as you exhale.

Return to your normal breathing. Don’t try to change your breath, just continue to observe it, with a sense of curiosity. Allow yourself to feel your body relax and yield to gravity as you sit quietly in your chair, focusing on your breath. Notice any tense areas in your body and with your next breath, imagine it as a cool breeze touching those areas holding tension and as you exhale, release the tension along with the breath. Continue observing your breath.

When thoughts or concerns arise – as they inevitably will – simply acknowledge their presence, without judgment or opinion, and let them pass by while you gently bring your attention back to your breath. There is no need to grab hold of any thought right now -- just allow your breath to guide you back to the present moment.

Our minds will wander, as intrusive thoughts are constantly vying for our attention. When you realize this has happened, simply observe without judgment and gently guide your attention back to your breath. You might find it helpful to label the thought – “worry” “laundry” “clients” – then let it go and return to your breath. Although thoughts and feelings will come and go in the background, you can prevent them from highjacking your attention by simply acknowledging them without judgment, then gently returning to the breath and this present moment.

Julie Sandine is a graduate of Wake Forest School of Law. She serves as the Chair of the TBA Attorney Well-Being Committee.

read more »

Trump Administration Unveils Medicaid Scorecard

The Trump Administration on Monday unveiled its initial version of a “scorecard” that compiles and publicizes data from states for both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), The Washington Post reports. The scorecard will make public government measures of performance such as how long both state and federal health officials take when states request “waivers” to deviate from Medicaid’s ordinary rules and detailed, state-by-state averages on specific demographics and procedures/benefits utilized. The scorecard’s initial information is based on states that voluntarily report a series of measures about the health of their Medicaid and CHIP enrollees. You can view more information on the scorecard here

read more »

Report: Federal Judges Have Responsibility to Report Harassing Behavior

A new report analyzing harassment in the federal courts system submitted to the Judicial Conference of the United States emphasized the judiciary’s role in addressing workplace misconduct, the ABA Journal reports. Judges have a “special responsibility” to promote appropriate behavior, and to report misconduct by others, including other judges, the report says. It also notes that confidentiality obligations don’t prevent an employee from revealing or reporting misconduct.
read more »

10 New U.S. Attorney Positions Coming to Tennessee

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today announced the appointment of 311 new assistant U.S. attorney positions, with 10 allocated across Tennessee’s three divisions. Seven of those will be violent crime prosecutors – three to the Eastern Division, three to the Middle Division and one to the Western Division. Each grand division will also see the appointment of one new prosecutor who will support the newly created Prescription Interdiction & Litigation Task Force, which targets the opioid crisis.
read more »

Investiture Ceremony Held for Judge William Campbell

An investiture ceremony was held today in Nashville for U.S. District Judge William L. Campbell Jr., with Judge Waverly Crenshaw presiding. The ceremony took place in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the United States District Court with a reception following. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and John Tarpley delivered remarks, and TBA President-elect Jason Pannu presented Campbell with a gavel. See photos from the ceremony here.

read more »

9th Circuit Reassigns Case Over Judge’s Anti-Government, Anti-Lawyer Views

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned two cases and reassigned one because of concerns about the trial judge’s expressed opinions about the federal government and lawyers, the ABA Journal reports. U.S. District Judge Robert Clive Jones of Nevada had told federal prosecutors that he was developing a policy of disallowing or debarring U.S. attorneys from Washington, D.C., because of “concerns about adherence to Nevada Bar standards and ethical standards.” The prosecutors noted they were from Idaho and Colorado, which briefly changed Jones’ mind, but he ultimately banned them.
read more »

New Bill Would Offer Police Federal Hate Crime Protections

A new bill in front of Congress would make it a crime to intentionally target a law enforcement officer based on his "actual or perceived status" as one, CNN reports. The Protect and Serve Act of 2018 intends to protect law enforcement officers from violence for simply being a police officer. The bill, modeled on federal hate crime statute, has the support of major law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations and the National Sheriffs' Association, which say law enforcement is facing increased attacks. 
 
Opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, say the bill wrongly extends protections to a group that does not need them because they are not vulnerable to bias or discrimination in the same manner as people of color and other historically marginalized communities. You can read the bill in its entirety here.
read more »

Share Your Thoughts on Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6

The Supreme Court recently requested comment on proposed amendments to TSC Rule 6 that would require new attorneys to complete a Tennessee Law Course within one year of admission to the Tennessee bar. The Tennessee Bar Association has a working group on this issue and will be drafting comments in response to the court's Order for Comment. To ensure this comment best reflects members’ views and positions, the groups is looking for your feedback. Share your thoughts about the proposed amendments through this form by June 8.
    read more »

    U.S. Senate Confirms Judge Over Home State Senator’s Objections

    In a rare move, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Milwaukee attorney Michael Brennan over the objections of one of his home-state senators, the Associated Press reports. The Senate traditionally gives lawmakers a “blue slip,” which allows them the chance to weigh in on a judicial nominee from their home state. Sen. Tammy Baldwin declined to return her blue slip, a sign of her disapproval of the nomination. Until this year, it had been almost 30 years since the Senate confirmed a judge without two positive blue slips. Brennan will serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
    read more »

    How Do Presidents Deal with Subpoenas?

    With special counsel Robert Mueller raising the prospect of subpoenaing President Donald Trump in connection to the investigation into Russian tampering with U.S. elections, NBC News looks at previous presidential subpoenas and how they were handled. Thomas Jefferson was subpoenaed for documents in the treason trial of his former vice president, Aaron Burr. He initially declined to comply but ultimately produced material in the case. President Richard Nixon failed to shield tape recordings from the prosecutor working the Watergate case; a court rejected his claim that the recordings were protected by executive privilege. The Supreme Court was also called on to rule when President Bill Clinton was subpoenaed, saying that he was not immune from a lawsuit filed by Paula Jones, who accused him of sexual harassment.
    read more »

    Federal Judge Chides Counsel on Manafort Investigation

    A federal judge in Virginia on Friday grilled lawyers from the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III about their motivations and authorization for bringing a fraud case against former President Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is accused of crimes related to his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, The Washington Post Reports. Manafort was seeking to have bank and tax fraud charges against him dismissed, with his lawyers arguing that the alleged crimes have nothing to do with the election or with President Trump. “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud… You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment,” Judge T.S. Ellis III said during a morning hearing. Ellis also requested an un-redacted version of an August 2017 memo from the Deputy Attorney General for the USDOJ Rod Rosenstein authorizing to investigate whether Manafort illegally coordinated with Russia in 2016.
     
    Michael Dreeben, a prosecutor with the special counsel’s office, responded that the Manafort investigation has expanded significantly since it was taken over by Mueller and the specific parameters of the special counsel investigation have not been publicly revealed because to do so would jeopardize ongoing probes and sensitive national security information. Manafort’s attorneys have requested the judge address a motion alleging leaks to reporters that conversations were intercepted between their client and Russian officials and other issues in a hearing on May 25.
    read more »

    U.S. Circuit Court Not Monkeying Around on Copyrights

    A federal appeals court ruled recently in a case over selfies taken by a monkey that U.S. copyright law does not allow lawsuits claiming animals have copyrights to photographs. To read more swing on over to the Mercury News for the whole story.

    read more »