Tag Archives: attorneys

Killian resigns as U.S. Attorney for East TN

News release from U.S. Attorney’s Office, East Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – William C Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, has submitted his resignation to President Barack Obama effective Dec. 5, 2015. He is joining a national law firm.

Mr. Killian was sworn into office Oct. 4, 2010, after nomination by President Barack Obama and unanimous confirmation by the United States Senate. He served on the following subcommittees of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee: Terrorism and National Security, Civil Rights and Healthcare Fraud Working Group.

“U.S. Attorney Bill Killian has served the people of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and all Americans, with extraordinary distinction,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “Under Bill’s outstanding leadership, his office secured landmark settlements in corporate and healthcare fraud cases; worked tirelessly to curb the illegal distribution of prescription drugs; joined local partners in combatting violent crime; and took aggressive action against illegal firearms. In guiding these and many other actions, Bill displayed impeccable judgment, impressive skill, and an unerring sense of fairness. Thanks to his dedicated service, the United States is a safer and more just place. I commend him on a job well done, and wish him the best as he begins the next chapter of his career.”
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On the funeral for George ‘Citizen’ Barrett

Excerpt from the Tennessean’s report on George Barrett’s funeral:

Celebrating the life of a man who worked well into his 80s to give voice to the voiceless, civil rights attorney George Barrett’s family, friends and admirers filled Cathedral of the Incarnation on Saturday for a tearful but often joyful funeral.

Barrett, who died Tuesday of acute pancreatitis at the age of 86, sued every Tennessee governor at least once after he started practicing law in 1957, he noted in a 2013 commencement speech that son-in-law Mark Brewer read to the congregation. But former Gov. Phil Bredesen was among the hundreds sitting in the pews, as were former U.S. Sen. Jim Sasser, former Mayor Richard Fulton, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, civil rights leader Charles Kimbrough, State Comptroller Justin Wilson, ACLU leader Hedy Weinberg, Police Chief Steve Anderson and many other prominent Nashville residents.

Many of them had gathered in the same church just 47 days earlier for the funeral of Tennessean Chairman Emeritus John Seigenthaler, Barrett’s high school classmate, lifelong friend and fellow champion of progressive causes. Their deaths have led some people to lament the end of an era in Nashville.

But those who are still living have to continue the work that kept Barrett going to the office six days a week until he fell ill three weeks ago, law partner Jerry Martin said.

Supremes relying on lawyers for financial, GOTV support in escalating fight

Tennessee lawyers are forming a bedrock of support for three state Supreme Court justices striving to win new terms, recently adding get-out-the-vote efforts to financial support, as court critics escalate attempts to convince conservative Republican voters that the judges are liberal Democrats.

Combined spending on TV ads by both sides in the campaign has now passed $500,000, according to figures collected Friday by Justice at Stake, a national organization that tracks state judicial elections. The biggest chunk of that — $246,475 — has been spent by Tennessee Forum, one of groups opposing retention.

So far uncounted is spending on direct mail advertising by both sides along with the radio ads and automatic phone messages, also known as robo calls, being employed by the justices’ critics.

A review of financial disclosures available shows that much of the money used by the judges has come from lawyers and law firms. The biggest reported donation so far is $25,000 from the American Board of Trial Advocates to Tennesseans for Fair Courts, a pro-retention organization that recently began TV ads attacking court critics.

Tennesseans for Fair Court, the justices’ campaigns and Tennessee Forum have registered with state’s campaign finance agency and thus eventually will be reporting sources of their funding, although some not until after the election. Some of the groups attacking the court, on the other hand, are set up so that donor disclosure can be avoided — funding that a Supreme Court campaign spokeswoman and others call “dark money” from outside the state.
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Supreme Court rejects challenge to TN lawyer discipline process

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. ­– The Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the professional discipline of a public censure upon Clarksville-based attorney Fletcher Whaley Long and rejected his constitutional challenges to the Court’s disciplinary enforcement rule.

A hearing panel had determined that Mr. Long violated four provisions of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct that arose over his failure to provide an accounting of his fees, deposit a retainer fee in his trust account, refund unearned fees, and adhere to disciplinary rules. The Montgomery County Chancery Court affirmed the hearing panel’s decision and the public censure for Mr. Long.

On appeal, Mr. Long challenged the constitutionality of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, governing disciplinary enforcement of attorneys. Mr. Long contended in part that the Rule violated due process, because it combines investigative, enforcement, and adjudicative authority in the same agency, the Board of Professional Responsibility.

The Tennessee Supreme Court rejected Mr. Long’s constitutional challenges, including his due-process argument. Justice Sharon G. Lee explained in the opinion that the Board’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel investigates allegations and institutes disciplinary proceedings if necessary. However, hearing panels composed of independent attorneys appointed by the Board then adjudicate the proceedings.

“Because the investigatory/enforcement responsibilities and the adjudicative responsibilities are functionally separate within the Board, Rule 9 does not violate due process principles,” wrote Justice Lee.

To read the opinion in Long v. Board of Professional Responsibility, authored by Justice Lee, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.

TN Supreme Court overhauls attorney discipline rules

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. ­– The Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted substantial changes to the rule that governs the discipline of attorneys in this state.

Supreme Court Rule 9 is one of nearly 60 rules that the Court enforces regarding everything from how court records are kept to rules of professional conduct. The revisions to Rule 9 come about after more than two years of work that included input from attorneys and professional organizations from throughout the state.

The changes are so substantial that the Court is adopting a new 56-page rule in its entirety, rather than amending portions of the previous rule, which is the customary practice.

Some of the most extensive changes to the rule concern procedures for reinstatement of a law license after an attorney is suspended from practice. Reinstatement from all attorney suspensions, regardless of the type, now requires an order of the Supreme Court, and administrative suspensions also require payment of a reinstatement fee.

The new rule also spells out more clearly provisions regarding confidentiality of documents related to disciplinary proceedings. In addition, the selection process for board members and recusal standards for both disciplinary hearing panel members and board members have been clarified in the new rule.

What the new rule does not change is grounds for attorney discipline and the forms of discipline that attorneys are subject to, such as private reprimand, public censure, suspension, and disbarment.

The rule regarding administration of discipline to attorneys was last revised in 2006. The new Supreme Court Rule 9 goes into effect January 1, 2014.

More details regarding the changes to the rule can be found on the Supreme Court’s website. Click here to read a copy of the Court’s Order and the new rule in its entirety.

DAs Target Child Abusers in 2013 Legislative Package

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, which represents the state’s 31 DAs, has issued the organization’s 2013 legislative agenda, reports the Commercial Appeal. Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich is quoted.
“In 2013, we’re focused on continuing our push to protect our kids, strengthen sentencing guidelines and fight drugs,” Weirich said. “If the legislature approves these proposed changes, I’m confident we will be able to accomplish these goals and more.”
The district attorneys are asking lawmakers to require people convicted of aggravated child neglect to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before they are eligible for parole — the same as for aggravated child-abuse cases — rather than the current 30 percent minimum.
“Right now, there are individuals who are convicted of extremely serious child neglect — cases in which children suffer as much as those who are victims of physical abuse — who end up serving very short sentences. We need to change that to send a message that the state takes all offenses against children seriously, even if they fall short of the legal definition of abuse,” said Guy Jones, deputy director of the conference and its chief lobbyist.
DAs also want changes in state law that would allow them to prosecute a serial child-sexual abuser with a single trial even if the abuses occurred in multiple judicial districts. Currently, a defendant charged with multiple counts of child-sexual abuse involving different victims in different Tennessee jurisdictions must be tried separately in each of those jurisdictions.

Note: See also the Kingsport Times-News, quoting Sullivan County DA Barry Staubus.

Haslam, DAs Focus on Meth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam and state prosecutors are redoubling their efforts to combat the use of methamphetamine in Tennessee.
The Republican governor on Wednesday joined Tennessee’s district attorneys and members of their staffs at an annual training conference to start the initiative, named Meth Destroys.
Officials unveiled an educational DVD that has been distributed to public middle and high schools across the state. The initiative is an extension of an anti-meth campaign launched by the state several years ago.
The latest campaign is part of an ongoing partnership between the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference and the Tennessee Department of Education.
Said Haslam about meth: “It’s a serious enough problem that we all need to constantly evaluate.”

AG Cooper Working With Counterparts, Feds on Financial Fraud

State attorneys general have gathered in Washington this week, reports the Chattanooga TFP, for a round of collaborating with their counterparts from across the country, exchanging ideas with Justice Department officials, and hearing an earful from angry citizens.
As the conference got under way a group of sign-waving protesters crowded outside the downtown hotel where the AG’s are meeting, demanding criminal charges be brought against bankers who helped fan the subprime mortgage crisis.
Attorneys general from all 50 states are collectively investigating banks over their subprime lending practices, but they haven’t announced any plans to criminally prosecute bankers.
…Some reports have leaked that AGs are offering the banks a settlement of $20 billion. Members of the crowd said that amount is too low, and the AGs refused to comment on the report.
“Obviously there are a lot of people frustrated about the situation in the housing market. It continues to be a problem,” said Tennessee’s top prosecutor, Robert E. Cooper Jr.
He said he’s committed to investigating wrongdoing by the nation’s largest financial firms, but he wouldn’t say if he thought criminal charges were warranted.
In the wake of the economic slump, Cooper said one of the most important areas where his office is working with federal officials is on financial fraud.
“Because of the financial downturn we’ve seen more of that,” he said. “Ponzi schemes rely on good times to keep going and when the economy takes a downturn, then those tend to get exposed.”