Using the term “Tennesentric” would probably be more efficient, but two items involving potential rule revisions relating to ethics and lawyering in Tennessee are worth briefly discussing. One of the two has gone out for public comment and has a deadline, while the other has just been filed with the Court and does not.
I’ve written at length in the past about Tennessee’s effort at cleaning up some problems with comity admission standards and the extended amnesty period for certain folks in need of getting properly registered as in-house counsel.
Our Board of Law Examiners has recently filed a petition, which the Court has put out for public comment, to further extend the dates and deadlines for folks to have gotten into compliance in these areas. Interestingly, the Petition seeks to extend the time period but not all the way up until the petition itself was filed, but rather has sought a cut-off period that would be December 31, 2016. If enacted, the impact of this rule change would appear to be to make amnesty available to in-house counsel who did not get into compliance by July 2016 but who would have if the deadline for compliance was December 31, 2016 and to afford the Board with the same flexibility in making rulings on comity applications that were filed as late as December 31, 2016 but for which the Board didn’t rule – for obvious reasons – before the end of the year. The deadline for public comments on that proposal is April 14, 2017.
The other proposal – which has not yet been put out for public comment — is a filing by our Board of Professional Responsibility to clarify in our Rule 9 itself that the hearing in a disciplinary proceeding is public, unless a protective order is obtained. This has long been the practice, but the rules presently do not exactly say that. If this petition is granted, the result would be that the rules would bless the traditional practice. But one even better benefit of this revision, if adopted, is important for cases of potential public and media interest, because this would make clear that the Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 30 Media Guidelines ought to govern media coverage of such proceedings. Such a clarification would be important so that hearing panels in Tennessee understand that the attorneys of record in a case are entitled to know of a request for media coverage so that counsel can then proceed to make a timely motion to seek to prohibit such coverage under the terms of Rule 30.
Suffice it to say, this does not always happen.
You can read the BPR Petition Filed to Amend Tenn Sup Ct R 9 § 32 at the link.