Category Archives: Uncategorized

February 2017 Tennessee Bar Results: Vanderbilt 100%, NSL 36%, Others Hover around 50%

It’s that time of year again, and the February 2017 bar exam results are out.  378 law school graduates took the February 2017 exam, which had an overall passage rate of 47%.  Applicants from Tennessee’s law schools[1] fared as follows:

Vanderbilt remained on top with a 100% passage rate for both first-time takers and re-takers.  By contrast, Nashville School of Law brought up the rear again with an overall passage rate of just 36% (a respectable 55% of NSL’s first-time takers passed the exam, but 76% of NSL’s re-takers failed it).  Belmont, Memphis, and UT boasted overall passage rates of 58%, 54%, and 50%, respectively.  Complete results from the February 2017 exam appear below.

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[1]  Because only one Duncan student took the exam, Duncan is omitted from this analysis, but Duncan’s only taker was unsuccessful.

 

New in the February 2017 Tennessee Bar Journal: Safeguarding Crime Victims’ Private Records Following The Tennessean v. Metro

By Daniel Horwitz:

In March 2016, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled 4–1 that law enforcement’s investigative files are categorically exempt from public disclosure under the Tennessee Public Records Act (TPRA) throughout the pendency of a criminal case. The underlying lawsuit pitted a vast media coalition spearheaded by The Tennessean against both law enforcement officials and a rape victim who intervened to protect her privacy interests under the pseudonym “Jane Doe.” Ultimately, the court’s majority opinion represented a resounding victory for law enforcement and a significant setback for Tennessee’s news media, which lost on every substantive claim presented. At present, however, how the court’s ruling will affect crime victims’ ability to protect their private records from public disclosure after criminal proceedings have concluded is uncertain.

Continue reading New in the February 2017 Tennessee Bar Journal: Safeguarding Crime Victims’ Private Records Following The Tennessean v. Metro

July 2016 Tennessee Bar Results: 5 out of 6 Tennessee Law Schools Exceed 70%, Nashville School of Law Musters Just 28%

The July 2016 bar exam results are out!  Vanderbilt remains on top with a 92.68% passage rate (100% for those re-taking the exam), but fully five out of six Tennessee law schools boasted an impressive overall passage rate exceeding 70%.  The outlying school, unfortunately, was Nashville School of Law (NSL), which mustered an overall passage rate of just 28.46% (only 21.43% for re-takers).  july-2016-bar-statistics

Regrettably, NSL’s poor performance represents an even further decline from its already troubling performance on the February 2016 bar exam.  This is also the fourth poor result for Nashville School of Law in a row since the school attained new leadership and pledged to boost its passage rate above what was then 65%-70%.

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Tennessee’s February 2016 Bar Results Released: Vanderbilt Reclaims Top Spot, Nashville School of Law Performs Poorly Again

The results of the February 2016 Tennessee bar exam are out.  Following a July 2015 exam that saw Belmont University post the highest passage rate of all Tennessee law schools, Vanderbilt Law School has reclaimed its fairly consistent place on top of the pile with a 92.31% overall passage rate and a 100% passage rate for first-time takers.  Among re-takers, four of five Vanderbilt graduates passed the February 2016 exam, good for an 80% passage rate among those taking the test for a second time or more.

On the other side of the coin, Nashville School of Law registered its second abysmal performance in a row, posting only a 30.08% overall passage rate and a frighteningly low 17.1% passage rate among re-takers.  First-time NSL graduates performed slightly better, however, registering a cumulative passage rate of 47.1%.

Overall, Tennessee’s passage rate for all takers from all law schools combined was just 51.06%, reflecting both a bar exam that has become more difficult in recent years and a decrease in the quality of recent law school graduates.  Driven by a rapid decrease in law school applicants over the past several years (the total number of law school applicants has declined precipitously since 2010, falling from a high of 87,900 to a low of 54,130 in 2015), the academic credentials of incoming law students have measurably decreased.  Controversially, many law schools have responded to this problem (and the corresponding loss of revenue) by decreasing their admissions standards, which has predictably resulted in lower bar passage rates post-graduation.

The complete bar passage results from Tennessee’s February 2016 bar exam, available at the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners’ website, are copied below.

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School Stats

Summary of Stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

AGREEMENT REACHED IN MASS EXPUNGEMENT LAWSUIT

Nashville citizens win the right to file expungement petitions offsite.

More than 128,000 Nashville residents stand to benefit from an agreement reached late Wednesday afternoon in a lawsuit that sought to help citizens who were arrested but never convicted of a crime clear their names.  The lawsuit aimed to ease filing requirements for criminal record expungement, which is a legal process that results in a person’s public criminal records being removed and destroyed.

Among other things, the expungement process allows people who have been wrongfully arrested to avoid being subjected to legalized discrimination in employment, housing, and educational opportunities.  “Consequences for criminal activity should be reserved for those who are guilty,” Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk has explained.  Once an expungement petition has been processed, expunged records no longer appear on a public background check.

Currently, Tennessee law provides that anyone who has been arrested for a crime but never found guilty of it is eligible to have his or her arrest records expunged free of charge.  However, a persistent problem for many poor people who are eligible for expungement is that they are physically required to come down to the clerk’s office and file the necessary paperwork in person.  Unfortunately, for those who lack access to transportation, who can’t afford to take a day off of work, or who live out of town, this requirement has effectively become an insurmountable burden.  For example, in just a single court in Nashville in a single decade alone, more than 128,000 people with a combined 350,000 separate case records that were either dismissed or never prosecuted in the first place have not had their statutory right to expungement vindicated.

In September 2015, attorneys Daniel Horwitz and James Danly filed a lawsuit on behalf of three petitioners seeking to ease requirements for filing expungement petitions.  Among their demands was that eligible individuals be permitted to file expungement petitions by mail, rather than having to do so in person.

On Wednesday, attorneys representing state and local government agencies agreed to allow this reform to be implemented.  “This common sense reform will finally allow thousands of innocent people to access a legal right that has remained frustratingly out of reach for those without means,” said Horwitz.  Once Wednesday’s reform takes effect, eligible individuals will be permitted to file for expungement by mailing a notarized expungement petition to the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk.

The reform also comes shortly after two bills modeled after the petitioners’ lawsuit that would expand access to the expungement process statewide were introduced in the state legislature.  The first bill, sponsored by Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) and Representative Harold Love (D-Nashville), would require courts to order that all dismissed case records be expunged “without further action by the person charged” within two years of the date of dismissal.  The second bill, sponsored by Senator Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) and Representative Jason Powell (D-Nashville), would further ease filing requirements by permitting eligible individuals to file expungement petitions online.

“Our efforts to ensure that poor Tennesseans enjoy meaningful access to the expungement process took a very important step forward today,” said Horwitz.   “We’re extremely encouraged by the overwhelming, bipartisan support for reform that this lawsuit has generated, and we’ll continue fighting to ensure that the expungement process becomes accessible to the hundreds of thousands of people who have previously been allowed to fall through its cracks.”

Additional information about the expungement process can be found at: www.ExpungementNashville.com

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Can Rep. Womick Impeach Governor Haslam and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, Kennedy and Sotomayor over the same-sex marriage ruling?

Can Rep. Womick impeach Governor Haslam and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, Kennedy and Sotomayor over the same-sex marriage ruling?

In a word:  No.

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