Links for February 2017

Court Adopts 2017 Rules Package

December 21, 2016
The Tennessee Supreme Court today published the 2017 amendments to its rules of procedure and evidence. Proposals include changing the place for filing a notice of appeal to the appellate clerk’s office, requiring payment of fees and taxes to the appellate court clerk at the time of initiation of an appeal, and other changes to the rules of appellate procedure, civil procedure, criminal procedure and juvenile procedure, as well as the rules of evidence. Six TBA sections – Appellate Practice, Litigation, Tort and Insurance Law, Criminal Justice, Family Law, and Juvenile and Children’s Law reviewed the rules when proposed and either found no objections or supported the changes. The proposals now go to the legislature for ratification before becoming effective on July 1.

Court Amends Pro Se Divorce Forms

December 22, 2016
The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order revising pro se forms to be used in uncontested divorce cases with minor children. The court reports that its Access to Justice Commission requested the change to make it clear that spouses with orders of protection may use the forms. The documents released today replace the forms published by the court in October. The forms can be used beginning Jan. 1.

Nashville Chancery Court Adopts E-Filing Rules

December 16, 2016
The Davidson County Chancery Court has adopted interim electronic filing rules that will go into effect on Jan. 1. Final rules are expected to be implemented early in 2017. Get the rules here.


New Laws Take Effect Jan. 1
December 19, 2016
A number of new state laws will go into effect on Jan. 1. Get a list of bills, organized by public chapter, that are included in that group.

No Probation for Drunk Drivers Who Kill
January 5, 2017
A new state law that took effect Jan. 1 mandates that drunk drivers who kill someone must get jail time, WRCB-TV reports. The law, championed by Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, was supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which said it was important to take probation off the table as a possible sentence for a drunk driving vehicular homicide. Tom Kimball of the Tennessee District Attorney General Conference also praised the law, saying it is good news for victims’ families.

New Law Requires Mandatory Minimum Sentences
January 4, 2017
A new Tennessee state law means people who are convicted of three or more domestic violence crimes will be charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor, and those found guilty of a third felony burglary or drug charge will face a mandatory minimum sentence. The law also sets the mandatory minimum period of time to be served to at least 85 percent of time sentenced. With the state prison system at 90 percent capacity, the law may pose challenges for some facilities. News Channel 9 looks at several, however, that claim they will not be affected.

Federal Funding Approved for Wildfire Legal Hotline
January 9, 2017
A toll-free legal assistance hotline, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is now available for those in Sevier County who need wildfire-related legal assistance but are unable to afford an attorney. The toll-free line is "piggy backing" on TALS’ existing legal help line 1-844-HELP4TN (1-844-435-7486). Callers may leave a message between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CST and receive a return call from a volunteer attorney. A press release from the TBA and a number of legal partners highlights the type of assistance available, as well as limitations on assistance; details for an upcoming legal clinic on Jan. 23; and instructions for registering with FEMA and applying for federal and state disaster aid.

Report: Law Firm Diversity Slow to Change
January 6, 2017
A new report by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) indicates that diversity in law firms is moving at an “incredibly slow pace of change.” A review of the report by the ABA Journal indicates that the percentage of female and black associates at law firms increased slightly in 2016, though the representation is still below 2009 levels. The report also found increases in the percentage of female and black partners, as well as increases in Asian and Hispanic lawyers at the partner and associate levels. In releasing the report, NALP Executive Director James Leipold said, “While it is encouraging to see small gains in most areas this year, the incredibly slow pace of change continues to be discouraging.”

Female Law Students Outnumber Males for 1st Time
December 19, 2016
For the first time since data on the issue has been collected, women now outnumber men as law students, according to Deborah Merritt, a professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law. Merritt calculated the slight lead of 50.32 percent based on reports released last week by the nation’s law schools. Her research, however, indicates that on average, higher ranking law schools still have significantly smaller percentages of female students. According to other analysts, the reports show that 80 percent of ABA-accredited law schools have experienced double-digit percentage decreases in students admitted and total 2016 law school enrollment is the lowest it has been since 1974. The ABA Journal has links to a number of analyses.

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