News

Shelby Contracted for Tool to Track Details of Inmate Calls

Though the county said it has not used the tool, last year Shelby County entered into a contract to provide county investigators with a high-tech surveillance tool that would track and monitor all inmate calls, including the voice prints and cellphone locations of individuals who are not incarcerated. The Commercial Appeal reports that since the contract with prison phone provider GTL was signed last year, similar services offered by other companies have come under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.
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Law Tech Blast: Feb. 15, 2019

Discover the newest technology for your law practice and law office at this year's Law Tech Blast on Feb. 15! This is a free program available to all practicing lawyers. The flexible open house format allows you to create your own schedule. You can attend CLE sessions, enter to win prizes, network with attendees, visit with sponsors and interact with speakers. Take as many or as few CLE hours as you need. Only those seeking to be awarded CLE Credit will be charged. The registration desk will be open all day, so you can come and go for the hours you need when it is convenient for you. Attendees can earn up to 6.5 hours of Dual CLE credit.

FREE SIGN UP: Sign up now so we know you are coming.

  • You will only pay for the hours you wish to be awarded CLE credit.
  • Programming will be available throughout the day with dual credit hours available.
  • The registration desk will also be open all day.
CLE TOPICS:
  • GDPR, Cloud and Technological Competency
  • The Bill and Phil Tech Show
  • Best Practices: Information Security for Firms
  • Judicial Panel: Technology in the Courtroom
  • Preparing for eDiscovery Before Litigation 

ATTEND TO WIN: Attendees will have a chance to win prizes, including a hot, new tech product. The tech prize drawing will be held at the 10:30 a.m. break. Must be present to win.

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Nashville News Station Asks Supreme Court to Review Open Records Case

Attorneys for Nashville TV station NewsChannel5 have asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to take up the station’s appeal in a case that threatens to close some public records. The station had appealed a ruling by Davidson County Chancellor Anne C. Martin, who sided with arguments by state attorneys that records, such as travel expenditures, cease to be public once law enforcement officials develop a potential interest in them. Station lawyers argued in their motion that the state's highest court needs to "assume jurisdiction over this appeal and decide this important issue of public concern on an expedited basis."
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Give the Gift of TBA Membership

Give yourself (or a friend) the gift that keeps giving — one-year of unlimited access to professional development opportunities and a number of programs and services designed to help you become a better practitioner. Founded in 1881, the Tennessee Bar Association is dedicated to enhancing fellowship among members of the state's legal community. Oh, and did we mention some of the benefits? Earn three pre-paid credits to use on any live or online course featured in the 12-days of CLE. Join now!

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Amazon Announces Newly Developed Medical Record Mining Software

Amazon on Tuesday announced that it has launched a project to mine data from electronic medical records, allowing developers to “process unstructured medical text and identify information such as patient diagnosis, treatments, dosages, symptoms and signs, and more," CNBC reports. This is the latest move regarding Amazon’s foray into health care, after news in June that the company had been working on the ‘Hera’ project, developing software intended for insurance companies that can fill in gaps in data when doctors neglect to fully document an office visit. The company also confirmed another project in cooperation with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to use newly developed tools to analyze its data sets in efforts to prevent or cure cancer.

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Former Longtime Anchor Demetria Kalodimos Sues WSMV

Longtime Nashville news anchor Demetria Kalodimos filed suit last month against the owner of her former employer, WSMV-TV, The Nashville Scene reports. Kalodimos alleged that Meredith Corporation engaged in age discrimination when it fired her in December. This is the second such action taken by former employees of the station; Kalodimos’ suit also alleges that Meredith retaliated against her for being a witness in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed by the plaintiffs of the other lawsuit.
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Best Twitter Accounts for Legal Issues

Looking for some great social media follows? The American Bar Association is out with its list of best legal Twitter accounts of 2018. Included for the first time this year is @inspiredcat, the account of Vanderbilt Law School professor Cat Moon. Members can also always keep up locally with the TBA at our Twitter accounts, @TennesseeBar, @TennBarJournal or @TBAYLD.

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Former Pilot President Fights Unsealing of Court Documents

Convicted former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood is fighting an effort by the Knoxville News Sentinel to unseal a transcript of a behind-closed-doors hearing during his trial, a copy of a deal he struck with his former bosses, and notes jurors sent to a judge during deliberations, the newspaper reported on Tuesday. Attorney Richard Hollow last week filed a motion on behalf of the News Sentinel challenging Hazelwood’s bid to keep under seal records in his case involving a closed-door hearing, an employment contract that led Pilot Flying J to fund his defense, and notes jurors sent to U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier. The news outlet contends there is no legal basis to keep the records secret.
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December CLE in 6 Cities

TBA offers CLE in six locations during December. See offerings in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Johnson City and Jackson. Find last-minute by the hour through Dec. 31 or take any of the TBA's online CLE packages.
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Forbes: Facebook Files Algorithm Patent to Predict Who You Live With

A patent filed by Facebook in May was made public this week, Forbes reports. The patent uses an algorithm to determine who lives with whom based on tags, hashtags and facial recognition software. The article states the most important factor determining household data will be the use of a shared IP device in the household from multiple user sign-ins. The information will be used for ad targeting. Members of the same household will view the same ads, and advertisers will be able to track the performance of ads across households.

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Voice Command Phone App Facilitates New Interactions with Law Enforcement

More people are using phone apps to quickly record their interactions with law enforcement, which could be utilized as evidence in cases, WSMV reports. Using shortcuts, individuals can program their phone to begin recording by activating a virtual assistant, such as Siri, and informing it that an interaction with police is commencing. 
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TBJ: Social Media in Criminal Cases, the Constitution and Valparaiso

"Social media provides a fertile source for evidence in criminal cases," Wade Davies writes in his column this month in the Tennessee Bar Journal. "Suspects give prosecutors unbelievable gifts with incriminating, threatening and otherwise unbelievably stupid admissions posted online. On the other hand, defense counsel find impeachment gems on witnesses’ social media accounts — even the portions anyone can view." Russell Fowler covers an older topic, World War I and the Constitution, in his column. As you will learn, the subject is timeless. In his column, Bill Haltom writes about the debate leading to that decision against letting Valparaiso merge its law school with MTSU. Read all of the November issue.

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Governor-elect Lee Wants To Overhaul Public Records Law

Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced last week that he intends to overhaul public records and open meetings laws to reduce the number of public records exemptions and address fees and delays in fulfilling public records requests, WTVC reports. According to the Tennessee Comptroller's office the state currently has 538 open records exemptions, that is six time what existed 30 years ago. Tennessee hasn't made any significant changes to its public records law since 2008, when the law was amended to require government agencies to cite state law before they denied access to records.

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Mark Your Calendars!

Facebook Friendship No Reason to Disqualify Judge, Florida Court Says

A Facebook friendship with a lawyer doesn’t automatically disqualify a judge from hearing a case involving that lawyer, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a 4-3 decision. The ABA Journal reports the Florida court saying that in the most basic sense, a Facebook friendship is a digital connection between people, and they may or may not be friends in the traditional sense of the word. Facebook friendships are more casual and less permanent than traditional friendships, and the connection “may be as fleeting as the flick of a delete button,” the court said, quoting from another case.

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Wayne County Student Sues School for Requiring GOP Campaign Gear

A Wayne County High School student has sued a state representative and the school district after students were instructed to wear shirts advertising the representative’s campaign on a recent trip to the state Capitol, The Nashville Post reports. The student, who filed the suit anonymously in federal court this week, alleges that “the school’s requirement that students wear clothing espousing political opinions is unconstitutional.” Byrd, who earlier this year faced calls to resign his post from fellow Republicans over accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls he coached in basketball, easily won re-election last week.

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New Vandy Law Faculty Member to Launch First Amendment Clinic

Vanderbilt Law School recently hired a new assistant clinical professor of law who’s working to help people understand their First Amendment rights. Funded through a grant from The Stanton Foundation, Professor Gautam Hans is leading the launch of the First Amendment clinic, which aims to give students the opportunity to develop legal strategies and learn how to overcome challenges with diverse clients and cases. The program will launch this semester.
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Ex-Pilot President Denied Christmas Break Before Starting Fraud Sentence

A request from convicted Pilot Flying J former President Mark Hazelwood that he have until after Christmas to begin serving his 12 ½ years in prison for fraud has been denied, Knoxnews reports. "If the court attempted to set (prison) dates that did not conflict with any religious holidays, it would be unable to set any dates at all," U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier said. "Easter, the most important Christian religious holiday, would come just a few short months after Christmas." Hazelwood was convicted in a scheme to rip off small trucking companies of more than $50 million.

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Basic Tech Checklist for Firms

Law firms attempting to stay competitive and state-of-the-art need to consistently evaluate their use of technology. In addition to staying competitive, technological competency is required. In 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Rule 8 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility to include this obligation. Above the Law presents a simple and straightforward tech checklist for law firms or lawyers seeking guidance in this area.   

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SCOTUS Agrees to Review Public Access First Amendment Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take on the case of whether the operator of a public-access TV channel is a state actor who can be sued by two producers for an alleged First Amendment violation, The ABA Journal reports. The case raises the broader question of whether private property can be a public forum. The producers argue that the Manhattan Neighborhood Network was a public forum, and their First Amendment rights were violated when it stopped airing their video. The network is owned by a private nonprofit, who claims the video included harassing and threatening language. 
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Park Service Proposes New Rules for Protests

Public comments are being sought on a proposal from the National Park Service that would overhaul rules for protests in front of the White House and at other iconic locations in Washington, D.C. The Hill reports that the proposal would close much of the sidewalk north of the White House to protests, limit the ability for groups to have spontaneous protests without permits in that area and on the National Mall, and would open the door to potentially charging some demonstrating groups fees. The NPS cites its mandate to protect land, saying that it wants to “provide greater clarity to the public about how and where demonstrations and special events may be conducted." Opponents say it is an attempt to limit free speech and that those spaces need to remain welcoming for the First-Amendment-guaranteed right to protest.

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Supreme Court Hears Dispute in Reporter Libel Suit

Tennessee Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments in a $200 million libel case brought against reporter Phil Williams by Nashville’s district attorney, the Tennessean reports. At issue was whether Williams must provide District Attorney Glenn Funk the notes, information and other documents gathered when reporting on the stories involving Funk in order to prove Williams acted with malice. Funk filed the libel case against Williams and the station’s parent company, Scripps Media, in February 2016, following two stories by Williams pertaining to a deal Funk struck with Nashville developer David Chase.

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S.E.C. Sues Tesla CEO Elon Musk

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit in New York Federal Court accusing Tesla CEO Elon Musk of committing fraud by making false public statements on Twitter that had the potential to hurt investors, the New York Times reports. The suit aims to bar Musk from serving as an executive or director of publicly traded companies, such as Tesla; this type of punishment is one of the harshest that the S.E.C. can impose on corporate executives. In the Aug. 7 tweet, Musk said he was considering taking Tesla private and that the financing for this possible conversion was "secured." However, neither Tesla nor Musk had actually secured financing beyond initial conversations with investors. A 2013 S.E.C. policy permits companies to disclose market-moving information via Twitter, provided investors are given advance notice that the corporation may do so. Tesla had given investors notice that Musk’s Twitter account is one venue the company may deliver significant announcements.

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The Final Frontier: Ethics and the Malpractice Risks of Protecting Electronic Information – Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis

Just in time for the end-of-the-year CLE rush, the TBA has a variety of ethics CLE options across the state. As quickly as client information and case management technology evolves, so too does the legal profession’s duty to safeguard it. Join us in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis on Oct. 23, 24, and 25 for this annual event, with three hours of dual CLE, guiding attendees through malpractice risks and how to prevent them from happening in the ever-changing electronic age.

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AOC Director Honored by Women in Numbers

Administrative Office of the Courts Director Deborah Taylor Tate was recently honored at a reception held by Women in Numbers, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to supporting women in public office. Tate was recognized for her many years of leadership in public service, which has included three-and-a-half years at the AOC, a term as an FCC commissioner, and a term as president of the Court Appointed Special Advocates board, among many other accomplishments.
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