News

Memphis Reevaluates Its Pre-trial Bonding Process

The city of Memphis is evaluating changes to its bail bond system, The Commercial Appeal reports. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) received a MacArthur Foundation grant last year to help reduce jail overcrowding, especially related to pre-trial detention. SCSO will use a portion of the grant to update the Pre-Trial Services process, used for everyone brought in by law enforcement. The new system will focus on specific risk factors based on the individual's arrest record and likelihood that they will come to court, replacing current questions that focus on factors that may preference affluent suspects. The new screening process is expected to reduce the number of people jailed by 25 percent or more.

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Former Knoxville Utilities Board Confesses to Embezzling from Law Firm

A former chair of the Knoxville Utilities Board pleaded guilty last Friday to pocketing more than $100,000 from his former law firm, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. John Thomas "Tom" Jones was a senior partner at Jones, Meadows & Wall when he embezzled the money between 2010 and 2015. Jones’ sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 31.

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Williamson Family Sues Schools for Denying Disability Access

The family of a child with Down syndrome is suing Williamson County Schools after their child was turned away three times from an after-school care program, The Tennessean reports. The school district claims it could not accept the child because it can’t hire a one-on-one aide who is needed to accommodate the child. The parents are asking for a judgment requiring the district to hire a trained aide for their child and reimburse the cost incurred by the parents while they sent their child to more expensive, private after school care.
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Lawsuit Claims Knox Commissioner Abused Special Needs Student

A lawsuit filed just before the school year claims that Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill physically and psychologically abused a student with special needs in 2017, Knoxnews reports. The student’s parents are suing Gill, Knox County, the Knox County Board of Education, Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas and the South-Doyle Middle School Principal Andrew Brown. An attorney representing the family said each party has "agreed to stay the proceedings pending a mediation to explore a resolution of all claims."
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7 New Job Postings for October on TBA JobLink

New job postings have been added to TBA’s employment portal. Postings include Consumer Law, Disability Rights, Environmental Law, Litigation and Associate positions. JobLink helps Tennessee legal employers post jobs and TBA members connect with job opportunities.
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Former Franklin Assistant DA to Serve Probation for Pot Operation

Former Franklin assistant district attorney Georgia Felner will serve two years of supervised probation for felony drug charges brought against her and another attorney earlier this year, The Tennessean reports. Felner was indicted on charges of sale of a schedule VI controlled substance and delivery of a schedule VI controlled substance, while her accomplice, Franklin attorney Sandra Wells, was also charged with two felonies. Wells worked with Franklin Police as an informant, leading to Felner’s arrest. Felner sold Wells concentrated THC oil and other cannabis-infused items.
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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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Tomorrow: Fall FastTrack Program Helps You Fulfill All of Your CLE Requirements for the Year

The TBA General–Solo Section will present its annual Fall FastTrack program tomorrow in Nashville. Produced by Jane Powers and Jim Romer of the section's executive council, this CLE opportunity is designed to provide you with up-to-date information on a diverse range of topics while allowing you to customize your learning to your schedule and fulfill all your Tennessee CLE requirements for the year. Topics and speakers for the Fall FastTrack program include:

  • Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins discussing sentencing reform.
  • Judge Brandon Gibson presenting appellate practice tips.
  • Judge Sheila Calloway discussing representing clients in juvenile court.
  • Joanna McCracken on well-being and mindfulness for lawyers
  • Sean Martin offering information on essential legal technology for solo and small firm practitioners
  • A representative for Clio discussing document automation
  • And more

General–Solo–Small Firm Section members receive a discount to attend. You can register for the program here.

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UT Study Seeks to Determine if Fracking May Lead to Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes

A University of Tennessee professor is studying the effects of fracking and how it can affect regional water health, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Terry Hazen, the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Lab Governor's Chair for Environmental Biotechnology, has joined a team in Pennsylvania to test fracking wastewater in the state to determine if prolonged use of biocides in fracking fluid could lead to antibiotic-resistant microbes. The three-year study is funded by an $80,000 grant given through the National Science Foundation.

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Don't Miss Out: The Administrative Law Annual Forum is Tomorrow!

It's not too late to register; the Administrative Law Annual Forum is tomorrow! This year’s program will tackle hot button issues, such as recent changes regarding appeals of UAPA cases. We will also hold a session focused on the often-byzantine process of dealing with state regulatory boards. For a dual credit opportunity, we will be joined by an attorney from the Board of Professional Responsibility discussing the ethics surrounding zealous advocacy. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. in the Tennessee Bar Center. A networking lunch will follow the program. You can find additional details and register for the program here!

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Memphis Group Sues to Keep Issues Off Ballot

A Memphis citizens group is suing the Shelby County Election Commission and the city of Memphis to remove an item on the Nov. 6 ballot that would repeal instant runoff or ranked-choice voting in city elections, the Daily Memphian reports. The lawsuit also seeks to remove a ballot question that would eliminate the city runoff provision in the seven single-member council districts it currently applies to, and asks Chancellor Jim Kyle to order the city to rewrite a third ballot question that would extend to three the number consecutive terms city council members and the Memphis mayor could serve.

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Shelby Mayor, Commissioners Continue to Pursue Changes at Juvenile Court

Commissioners and new Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris this week continued their move to change the course of the county’s Juvenile Court, the Commercial Appeal reports. In addition to replacing Judge Paul Summers as coordinator of Department of Justice oversight of the court, commissioners are considering a resolution that would rescind the previous mayor’s request that the DOJ end its oversight of the court.

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New Knox Mayor Puts Himself in Middle of Pension Dispute

Newly elected Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs this week put himself in the middle of a months-long legal battle between the county and its pension board, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. His action didn’t win the support of Knox County Law Director Bud Armstrong, who argued Tuesday that the mayor and county commission don’t have legal standing to create a settlement.

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Pension Board Recalculates Earnings of Officer Who Had Affair with Mayor

The Metro Benefits Board has recalculated the earnings of former Sgt. Robert Forrest, the 31-year police force veteran who was involved in an extramarital affair with Nashville’s former mayor when he was head of her security detail, Nashville Public Radio reports. The board subtracted $10,780 in overtime that Forrest improperly earned guarding the mayor. That means a cut of more than $1,000 to Forrest’s annual pension — which will likely end up around $73,000.

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Nashville Puts Brakes on Development Incentive Program

Nashville leaders have placed a moratorium on issuing new development incentives known as tax-increment financing over the next year as part of a compromise with the Metro Council where the development tool is under scrutiny, the Tennessean reports. Nashville attorney and At-large Councilman Bob Mendes has led a legislative attempt to overhaul Nashville's TIF system.

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Vanderbilt, University of Tennessee Collaborate on a 'Value-Based' Health Care network

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of Tennessee Medical Center have formed a partnership to improve the quality of and reduce costs for health care across the state, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The partnership will include teaching hospitals, with 87 practices and more than 1,000 providers in University Health Network, plus the 13 health systems, 67 hospitals, more than 350 practices and more than 5,000 providers in the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network. The collaboration will function on a ‘value-based’ model where hospitals, doctors and other providers are paid based on the outcomes of their patients.

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Nashville Government Seeking Attorney to Fill Director Position

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville is accepting applications to fill the position of the Director of the Office of Conservatorship Management. The director reports to Trial Court Administrator or designee and performs legal and administrative work relating to the review and management of conservatorships within the Metro area. Applicants must be licensed to practice in Tennessee and have at least five years of professional legal experience.
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Hamilton County Commissioners to Vote on New Wastewater Plant

Hamilton County commissioners will vote Wednesday on a proposal to buy land for a new wastewater treatment plant, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The county intends to pay $3 million for the 150-acre site, with the plant expected to cost another $45 million. Funding for the project will come from $125 million in bonds the county sold after a property tax increase last year.

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Goodlettsville Creates Programs to Assist in Senior Well-Being

The City of Goodlettsville has created three new programs and hosted a resource fair to assist seniors, The Tennessean reports. The city incorporated its Tax Freeze and the Tax Relief programs that freeze property taxes at the current rate and provides a tax credit to seniors, respectively. Goodlettsville also established a new program called Operation Good Morning Sunshine, where someone from the city will call seniors periodically to check on them.

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Coffee County Taxpayers on Hook for $1 Million in Employment Case

The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled in favor last week of a former Coffee County employee who claimed she was dismissed inappropriately by the county, and now residents are on the hook for more than $1 million in damages and attorney fees, The Manchester Times reports. County litigation insurance doesn’t cover this type of claim, so the money to pay Melinda Keeling’s damages and her attorney fees will come from the county’s general fund. Nonetheless, Coffee County Attorney Robert Huskey said the case would likely continue, as he would recommend the county file an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. 
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Your 3 PrePaid CLE Hours

TBA members receive three hours of free CLE programming. Members can use this credit to cover all or part of the cost of live programs at locations across the state on legal topics, trends and skills, webcasts and any of the 300-plus online courses.
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Police Union’s Lawsuit Over Nashville Community Oversight Referendum Dismissed

Judge Kelvin Jones has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Fraternal Order of Police that attempted to derail a charter referendum creating a civilian oversight board to review complaints against Nashville police, The Tennessean reports. The lawsuit hinged on a technicality related to which election should be used to determine how many signatures are needed on a petition to qualify a measure for the November ballot. Jones found that while the FOP did have standing to sue, the advocacy group responsible for gathering signatures had satisfied the requirement. He found that the “preceding general election,” used to determine how many signatures are needed, occurred on Aug. 4, 2016.  
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Shelby County Mayor Signals New Juvenile Justice Approach with Appointment

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced yesterday that attorney Herman Morris will serve as the county’s new settlement coordinator, a sign that Harris will take a new approach to juvenile justice than previous administrations. The Associated Press reports that Morris replaces Paul Summers, who was criticized for a May report that said there was no race problem in “Shelby County, Washington, D.C. or Chicago.” Shelby County has been fighting to end federal oversight of its juvenile justice system that began in 2012 after a report found multiple failings, including discrimination. 
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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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After Vote to Sack Magistrate, Hamilton County Commission Seeking Replacement

The Hamilton County Commission voted yesterday to fire Magistrate Stuart Brown and will soon begin seeking applications for his replacement, Chattanoogan.com reports. The move was made at the recommendation of Chief Magistrate Lorrie Miller, who said Brown made many mistakes including some that could be “catastrophic.” Those interested in the position may apply starting Sept. 20, with the commission making a decision on Oct. 3.
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