Tag Archives: justice

Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder to Retire

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Memphis, Tenn. – After more than 17 years and many firsts, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice M. Holder will make August 31, 2014, her last day with the state’s highest court.
Justice Holder announced that she is retiring at the end of her current term and will not seek re-election in the August 2014 judicial retention election. She notified Gov. Bill Haslam by letter today.
“It has been my privilege to serve the people of Tennessee as a trial judge and Supreme Court justice – and an honor to have been selected by my fellow justices as the first female chief justice in our state’s history,” Justice Holder said.
Justice Holder, the third woman to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court, was the first woman to serve as chief justice, a role she held from September 2008 through August 2010. During the Court’s current term, the position of chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court has rotated, each chief justice serving a two-year term.

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Report Says 19 Percent of Youths in TN Juvenile Corrections ‘Sexually Victimized’

A recent U.S. Department of Justice report says that youths in Tennessee juvenile correction facilities are at greater risk of being sexually victimized than the national average, reports the Tennessean.
The report estimates that 9.5 percent of youths in state and private correctional facilities across the nation, or just more than 1,700 youths, were sexually victimized in 2011-12. The rate for Tennessee facilities was 13 percent.
The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics compiled the numbers through surveys of 326 facilities across the country. Nearly 8,700 youths responded to the sexual victimization part of the survey.
The report defines sexual victimization as forced sexual activity between youths and all sexual activity involving youths and staff.
Of the four Tennessee facilities surveyed, John S. Wilder Youth Development Center in Somerville had the highest rate of estimated sexual victimization, at 19.5 percent, up from 16.3 percent in 2010, when the bureau published a similar study. Three years ago, the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center had one of the highest rates in the county, at 26 percent.

Johnson Succeeds Bonnyman at TN Justice Center

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Michele Johnson has been named the new executive director of a Nashville group that supports greater access to Medicaid.
Johnson will succeed Gordon Bonnyman at the Tennessee Justice Center at the end of the year.
Bonnyman and Johnson co-founded the organization 17 years ago to advocate for Tennessee’s vulnerable population, particularly those struggling to find access to health care.
Johnson is nationally known for her legal work with children who have special health care needs.

Clergy for Justice: Ag Gag Bill ‘Is Evil and Against God’s Will’

News release from Clergy for Justice:
Clergy for Justice Tennessee, a grassroots organization of religious leaders across Tennessee committed to seeking justice in public policy, hand-delivered a letter from its members and supporters to Governor Haslam’s office, urging the Governor to veto a bill designed to prevent the exposure of animal abuse in horse stables and agriculture facilities.
Over 300 clergy members and people of faith have added their voices to the chorus of groups across the state, urging Governor Bill Haslam to veto Tennessee’s notorious “ag gag” bill. Senate Bill 1248, which would criminalize the investigation of animal cruelty and other illegal or unethical activity at agriculture operations while shielding animal agribusiness from public scrutiny, narrowly passed the Legislature. It is now on its way to Governor Bill Haslam’s office to be vetoed or signed into law.
“Genesis 1 tells us that everything on the earth has been created by God, and that God has commanded humans to care for the animals,” said Kathy Chambers, Director of Clergy for Justice Tennessee. “Far too often they are subject to abuse which causes unthinkable suffering, clearly violating that mandate. As people of faith, we are called to speak out against injustice and cruelty in whatever forms they might take. Thus, we urge Governor Haslam to stand with people of faith across the state and veto this bill.”
In 2011, an undercover investigation into renowned Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell’s stable in Collierville, Tennessee revealed egregious cruelty to horses. A whistleblower documented horses being whipped, kicked, shocked, and subjected to painful soring using caustic chemicals on their legs.

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Justice Dept. to Monitor Shelby, Davidson Voting

U.S. Justice Department officials will monitor the polls in Nashville and Memphis during Tuesday’s election, the department announced Friday.
From the Tennessean:
Davidson and Shelby counties are two of 51 jurisdictions in 23 states where the nation’s top law-enforcement agency plans to station more than 780 federal observers and department personnel.
The Justice Department news release does not say why Davidson was chosen. Davidson County Election Administrator Albert Tieche said it was related to the training poll workers received last month — first reported by The Tennessean — on how to challenge the voting rights of people they believe may not be U.S. citizens.
Asked if he had instructed poll workers to be more careful about applying the law that allows for such challenges, Tieche said, “No, because they’ve never applied it before in the past.”
Tennessee also is in its first year of requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Thursday that voters in Shelby County, where Memphis is located, can use city-issued library cards as a valid photo ID. That ruling applies to Shelby County only
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Gary Wade to Become Chief Justice of State Supreme Court

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – Justice Gary R. Wade is to be sworn in as the 29th chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Sevier County Courthouse. He will succeed Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark, who has served as chief justice since Sept. 1, 2010. On Sept. 5, Governor Bill Haslam will administer the ceremonial oath to Chief Justice Wade at the Knoxville Bar Association’s annual dinner honoring the Supreme Court.
Justice Wade was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2006 by Governor Phil Bredesen. Prior to his appointment, Justice Wade served on the Court of Criminal Appeals for 19 years and was elected by his colleagues to serve as Presiding Judge from 1998 to 2006. Justice Wade previously served as president of the Tennessee Judicial Conference in 1995-96 and was named Tennessee Appellate Judge of the Year in 2004. He is the founder of the Tennessee Judicial Conference Bar Foundation, an organization that provides need-based scholarships to law students at each of the state’s law schools.

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More Lawyers Working for Free

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Board of Professional Responsibility released data showing that more than 46 percent of Tennessee attorneys reported performing free (“pro bono”) legal work for deserving Tennesseans, an increase of six percent from last year.
This is the highest percentage of pro bono reporting since attorneys began to voluntarily report pro bono in 2009 and more than twice the level of reporting during the initial year. The figure released does not include attorneys who that have yet to renew their licenses and report hours.

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Lawyers Group: Bill Would Give Emergency Room Doctors ‘Unfair’ Immunity

News release from Tennessee Association for Justice
Nashville ― A bill introduced in the Tennessee legislature specifically allows hospitals and doctors to provide negligent medical care in Tennessee emergency rooms. Unless a patient could prove gross negligence, a standard just short of criminal behavior, there would be no accountability or protection. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson, both from College Grove.
“For example, if you go to the ER with chest pains and the doctor carelessly misdiagnoses you with bronchitis and you go home and have a massive heart attack and die, under the proposed legislation there is no recourse for this kind of sloppiness,” stated Keith Williams, President, Tennessee Association for Justice. “In effect, a doctor would have no responsibility for careless errors that could ultimately cost you your life.”
The current standard for medical negligence already affords protections to ER doctors. ER doctors are protected as long as they deliver care consistent with standards set by their peers–other ER doctors. Only if they fail to meet those standards and harm a patient will they rightfully be held accountable under the present law.
The immunity goes one step further and covers doctors in surgery and the OB unit if the patient is admitted through the ER. This means a patient who goes to the ER will have very little, if any protection from negligence during their entire hospital stay.
This legislation has an unfair impact on pregnant women, children and low-income families since they are more likely to use the ER. Kids in sports go to the ER for injuries, pregnant women often go to the ER whey they are in labor, and the elderly frequently rely on the ER for respiratory illnesses. These vulnerable citizens would be without any protection when seeking needed medical care.
HB 174/SB 360 also places a financial burden on the taxpayers. If recipients of TennCare, Medicare and the uninsured are harmed due to carelessness in the ER, Tennesseans will end up paying the bill for a person’s medical care and treatment resulting from the doctor’s careless error. Medical errors cost the Nation approximately $37.6 billion per year, and this legislation would only add to that cost.
“Should a law be passed allowing ER doctors to commit negligent acts on patients in Tennessee? That’s exactly what this bill does.” said Williams. “With 98,000 people dying each year from medical errors, clearly the answer is NO. The focus should be on improving the quality of care – not on lobbyists seeking to pass a license to harm patients.”

Judge Dismisses TennCare Lawsuit, Age 14

U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Wiseman Jr. ruled Tuesday that TennCare now meets its coverage obligations to children, dismissing a 14-year-old class-action lawsuit filed by the Tennessee Justice Center.
From The Tennessean’s report:
The legal advocacy organization said it will appeal the judge’s decision.
Wiseman in his opinion wrote that TennCare had met the requirements of a 1998 consent agreement between it and the Tennessee Justice Center. That agreement required TennCare to do early and periodic screening of 750,000 Medicaid-eligible children and to provide them with needed treatments.
The goal under the agreement was to make sure that 80 percent of the children got regular checkups and dental care. Doctors who were witnesses for the Tennessee Justice Center shared stories of children not receiving adequate access to care, but the judge based his decision largely on the state’s documentation and numbers.
“This testimony, while interesting and even compelling from a policy perspective, was for the most part not directly related to the decision of whether the state is in substantial compliance with the consent decree,” Wiseman wrote.
The state’s screening rate for Medicaid-eligible children exceeded 90 percent, he noted — 10 percentage points beyond the goal set in the consent requirement.

Supremes Have a New Website

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court launched a new website this week to provide the public with valuable resources to help navigate the court system. The new site, JusticeForAllTN.com, is intended to assist people with civil legal issues who cannot afford legal representation.
The Justice for All website includes downloadable court forms, resources for representing yourself in court, information about common legal issues and an interactive map with resources for each of the state’s 95 counties. Thanks to a partnership with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association, the site also gives visitors the ability to email a volunteer attorney with questions.
“We view the Justice For All website as a clearinghouse of information and legal resources for Tennesseans facing civil legal issues without the assistance of an attorney,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark. “We hope this site can make the legal system more accessible for all Tennesseans, regardless of income level.”
The Justice For All website also features a dedicated section for attorneys, business leaders and community members who wish to offer their assistance to the access to justice effort. This section of the site includes tools for attorneys to create their own pro bono clinic and links to various volunteer opportunities with legal aid organizations and bar associations across the state.
“Attorneys and community members are valuable partners in our efforts to improve access to justice in Tennessee,” Clark said. “We hope this site provides them with the tools and resources they need to continue the great work they are doing to offer pro bono assistance in their communities.”
Earlier this year, the Tennessee Court system also launched a redesigned version of its website, TNCourts.gov, to provide improved access to court information. The redesigned site features an interactive map of court contact information for each for the 95 counties in the state, an enhanced appellate court opinion search, a c alendar with appellate court dockets and a robust site-wide search. The site also allows visitors to sign up to receive appellate court opinions or news releases through an RSS feed or via email.
Visitors can also sign up to follow the Court system on Twitter to receive updates about court opinions and other court news throughout the state. Tennessee was of the first court systems in the country to start using Twitter more than two years ago. More than 2,000 people currently receive updates from the Court system via Twitter.
“We believe that using social media offers a great way to reach an expanded audience who may not otherwise seek information about the courts,” Clark said.
About the Access to Justice Initiative
In response to the growing civil legal needs gap in Tennessee, the Supreme Court made access to justice its number one strategic priority in 2008. The Court formally announced the Access to Justice Initiative in December 2008 and formed the Access to Justice Commission in April 2009. The Access to Justice Commission was tasked with creating a strategic plan, which was submitted to the Court on April 1, 2010, and unveiled to the public in June 2010. Since then, the Court hosted a pro bono summit in January 2011 and recently launched its new access to justice website.