Tag Archives: bar

TN Bar Association Wants Changes in Conservatorship Law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state lawyers group is recommending changes in state law governing conservatorships.
Courts can appoint conservators to handle affairs of people a judge deems incapable of making their own decisions. Under a conservatorship, a person’s right to make health care, financial and other personal decisions can be stripped away.
The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/Uhuw6H) reported the Tennessee Bar Association met during the weekend and approved recommendations to the legislature. Among them is a provision for placing a person in a conservatorship on an emergency basis. The period of an emergency conservatorship would be no more than 60 days and a hearing would be held within five days.
The emergency plan is one of 16 recommendations approved by the bar.
The recommendations come after a series of hearings conducted by a panel of the bar association. At a Sept. 20 hearing in Nashville, several people testified all of their assets disappeared after conservatorships were established for them.
The bar group decided to make recommendations after the Legislature considered a series of changes to the law last session. Lawmakers passed two changes. One requires that a proposed conservator reveal whether he or she was a criminal record. The other requires disclosure of any relationship with the person being conserved.
The bar panel concluded there needs to be more public education about the conservatorship process.
Jackson attorney Pam Wright said the proposed changed would bring Tennessee statute into closer conformity with a national model law and include protecting rights of those being conserved.
“The existing law does not have enough specificity,” Wright said.
Among recommended changes are making it easier for a person being placed in a conservatorship to appeal the process and get separate legal representation.
Nashville resident Jewell Tinnon lost her home, her car and all her belongings in a contested conservatorship case.
She said she had not heard about the proposed changes, but had only one question about them.
“If they change it (the law), when will I get my stuff back?” she asked.
Tinnon lives in public housing not far from the house that was auctioned off to pay bills.

EBT Cards Used at Strip Club, Bar, Etc.

From a Beacon Center of Tennessee Watchdog Report:
Recipients of EBT cards in Chattanooga and Knoxville used their benefits at a strip club, a bar, a tobacco shop, malls, high-end clothing stores, hotels and other places where non-essential items are sold.
As it did with EBT transactions in Memphis, Tennessee Watchdog accessed state records and examined almost 22,000 EBT purchases in Chattanooga and Knoxville. These transactions took place in June 2012.
Of the transactions (available for viewing here), 13,566 took place in Knoxville, while 8,424 occurred in Chattanooga.
As was the case in Memphis, most of the transactions occurred at grocery stores– but a small number of transactions were at businesses that do not specialize in selling essential items.
According to state records, an EBT card was used to make three separate transactions at the Th’Katch Show Club in Knoxville (Photo courtesy of TreeHugger.com).
An EBT can offer two different types of benefits — the first being food products, commonly known as food stamps, and the second deriving from the Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF). Unlike food stamps, which are limited to certain food and related purchases, families on assistance through TANF receive as much as $500 per month in cash benefits and use them as they see fit.

Changes in Conservatorship Laws Eyed

Prompted by recent action in the General Assembly, the Tennessee Bar Association is set to begin a statewide series of hearings on possible reforms to the two-decades-old law governing conservatorships, reports The Tennessean.
Association President Jacqueline Dixon said the goal is to get a wide variety of opinions from the public.
“And not just lawyers. We hope to get some good evidence,” she said.
Among the items most likely to be addressed are measures to ensure that those placed in a conservatorship retain as many of their rights as possible.
In a conservatorship, a person’s right to control everything from his or her health care to finances is turned over to a court-appointed person.
The initial hearings are set for Thursday in Nashville, with other sessions set for Memphis, Chattanooga and a fourth site yet to be determined in the eastern part of the state.
The bar association’s efforts were prompted by state Rep. Gary Odom, who proposed a series of reforms after hearing of the case of Jewell Tinnon, the Nashville woman who lost her house, car and personal possessions during a conservatorship that was later dissolved. Tinnon filed suit against the agency that oversaw her conservatorship, but the suit was dropped after a dispute between Tinnon and her attorneys, including Rachel Odom, the legislator’s spouse.

New Judicial Ethics Rules Bar Political Contributions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — New ethics rules for judges were adopted Wednesday, barring them from making political contributions and requiring them to step aside in some cases involving their own campaign contributors.
The Tennessee Supreme Court set the rules against the backdrop of an upcoming battle in the legislature over the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary, an ethics panel for judges. Lawmakers have complained that the panel is not doing enough to police judges.
The rules, proposed by the state bar association, go into effect in July. They were in the works before lawmakers began considering making changes to the ethics panel that disciplines judges, Tennessee Bar Association executive director Allan Ramsaur said.
However, he said he hopes members of the General Assembly will take them into consideration.
“We’re hopeful that these comprehensive, clear and workable rules address the concerns that many lawmakers have had,” Ramsaur said.

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Lincoln Memorial University has levied charges of antitrust violations at the American Bar Association in a U.S. District Court lawsuit affter receiving an email from the organization denying the university’s law school accreditation.
More from the News Sentinel story:
The lawsuit claims the John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law in Knoxville met all the standards for accreditation but was denied approval by the bar association as a means of limiting the number of law schools and therefore the number of lawyers practicing across the country.
“If you, as an institution, meet the standards and they refuse to accredit us, the only logical inference is they’re trying to keep a law school out of competition,” said Sydney Beckman,vice president and dean of the law school.
The Harrogate-based university is asking the court to grant the school provisional accreditation and $3 million in damages, plus attorneys fees.
The school has also filed an emergency motion seeking a temporary restraining order requiring the bar association to remove the notice on its website informing the public of Lincoln Memorial’s denial and distribute a second notice that its accreditation is instead being held in abeyance until the court rules.
Officials at the American Bar Association declined to comment on the suit Thursday on advice from legal counsel, a spokeswoman said.