Roane County judge gets plea deal, resigns

A judge accused in court records of demanding as much as $100,000 in kickbacks in the past 10 years has struck a deal with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to three counts of extortion. Roane County General Sessions Court Judge Thomas Alva Austin, 57, has also agreed to give up his job effective March 31, according to a letter the judge sent to state judiciary officials. Read about it in the Knoxville News-Sentinel.,1406,KNS_347_4507417,00.html

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Legislative News
Legal News

Legislative News
Landslide of legislation hits Capitol Hill
With the legislative system finally beginning to digest the more than 1,000 bills introduced at cut off, Capitol Hill observers have been busy sorting through the proposals to see what might affect their clients. The TBA is no exception. Staff had identified several issues for the Governmental Affairs Committee to review and for lawyers to watch. Among the items of interest, the 59 bills on eminent domain, a bill to allow employers to assess a 5 percent fee for garnishments, and a bill to require lawyers who advertise to disclose their malpractice liability policy limits. Another bill drawing attention is a new medical professional liability bill that would apply the $250,000 non-economic damages cap and other limits on patient recovery and access not just to doctors but also to hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers. For more on any of these issues see the
TBA Bill Tracking Service.
Legal News
Gordon puts hat in ring for Supreme Court
J. Houston Gordon of Covington submitted the first application for two impending vacancies on the Tennessee Supreme Court today. The deadline to apply is March 31. Information on the vacancies and application process is available at the
AOC website
Pro bono efforts pay off for El Salvadorans, Esquivel
A Memphis retiree and former colonel in the El Salvadoran army was convicted last fall for failing to prevent torture and murder, thanks to the pro bono efforts of David Esquivel, a team from Bass, Berry & Sims and the Center for Justice and Accountability. The horrific case, and the lawyers' roles, are outlined this week in the Nashville Scene. Earlier this year, Esquivel was the winner of the TBA's Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award.
Nashville Scene
TALS launches new online magazine
The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) has launched a new online magazine as part of its efforts to streamline its communications. In the coming months, TALS will use this new e-zine to share information about task forces, information about the access to justice community, upcoming trainings, and other news. TALS hopes its new streamlined communications will build a closer access to justice community through the sharing of information.
Read the new TALS publication.
Jackson Criminal Justice Complex rededicated
The late County Mayor Alex Leech was saluted in Jackson for his years of public service Wednesday morning with a county government building renamed in his honor. The J. Alexander Leech Criminal Justice Complex on South Liberty Street was dedicated with about 100 people in attendance, including members of Leech's family and political leaders. Read about it in the
Jackson Sun.

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