(Notes posted in the order they were received, with the newest posts on top.)
Henry Martin, immediately following law school, practiced on his own for a year, with a partner for six years, and for almost three years worked for George Barrett. In 1985 he was appointed to a four year term as the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Tennessee. In July of 2017 he starts his ninth four year term. He has held leadership positions with state and national bar associations, and was the founding president of the National Association of Federal Defenders. He has taught hundreds of incoming assistant federal defenders and thousands of private attorneys across the country, those of who accept appointments in federal criminal cases. He has been involved in the creation and management of national resources to insure that persons charged with, or convicted of, capital crimes have quality representation. Hal states that he has learned much since graduation in the spring of 1974, but it all rests on the foundation laid by Professors Hartman, Covington, Daughtrey, Hall and others, for which he is thankful. Posted 8.17.17
John L. Ryder has been named the 2016 Republican Lawyer of the Year by the national Republican National Lawyers Association. This award recognizes one lawyer each year for outstanding professional accomplishments and service to the Republican Party. John is a member at Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh in Memphis and also teaches Election law as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt. Posted 10.17.16
Jack A. Childers Jr. of Memphis died October 3. Jack graduated with distinction from Rhodes College (then Southwestern at Memphis) with B.A. in English Literature in 1974 before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. He had a deep love of art, art history, literature, music and sports memorabilia. These interests came together in the creation of The Yellow House on Union, which he owned jointly with his wife, Emma. Jack practiced law in Memphis for more than 40 years. He is survived by Emma, and two sons, Christopher and Patrick. Posted 10.17.16
James M. Dedman III, with co-author George R. Deckle Sr, wrote The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case: A Critical Analysis of the Trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann. The book is a critical analysis of the trial that followed the case of the kidnapping and murder of Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. This book “seeks to remedy that omission with an investigation and evaluation of the marshalling, presentation, and arguing of the evidence, and a study of the post-conviction litigation”. A release date is set for September 2016. James taught theory-based trial advocacy for the National College of District Attorneys for twenty-eight years at the University of Houston Law Center and the University of South Carolina National Advocacy Center. Posted 7.28.16
David A. Kozlowski is now the director of advocacy for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. Dave is also the managing attorney of the group’s Columbia, TN office. Posted 4.5.16
Lynn Schleusener Decker died October 26, 2014. After earning her law degree from Vanderbilt, she returned to her home in Ohio, where she served as a prosecutor in Lake County, Ohio and as an attorney in private practice. More recently she worked in local real estate sales. She is survived by her mother and brother. Posted 12.7.15
Robert M. Erickson died August 25, 2015. He was 66. He is survived by his wife, two children, brother, two grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. Posted 12.7.15
Horace Michael Bennett (BA’71) died October 11. He was 66. Mike grew up in the Joelton, Tennessee community. He earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Vanderbilt and achieved a master of divinity degree at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was a partner at Schulman, LeRoy & Bennett from 1974 to 1997 before embarking up mission work in Venezuela. He is survived by his wife Janice; his son and daughter; and his granddaughter. Posted 11.3.15
James M. Barton II has been reappointed by the Florida Supreme Court to a three-year term on the board of directors of The Florida Bar Foundation, a statewide charitable organization whose mission is to provide greater access to justice. Jim is a retired judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit and resides in Tampa, Florida. Posted 7.17.15
Robert C. Watson (BA'67) was included on the “Best of the Bar” awards list by the Nashville Business Journal. Bob is the senior vice president and chief legal officer for the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority in Nashville, Tennessee. Posted 5.17.15
Russell J. Overby was included on the 2015 “Best of the Bar” awards list by the Nashville Business Journal. Russ is the lead attorney for health and benefits with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands in the group’s Nashville, Tennessee office. Posted 5.15.15
D. Craig Nordlund delivered the baccalaureate address for Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. The school also granted Craig an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Posted 5.15.15
C. Michael Norton died February 21. He was 66. Michael earned his law degree from Vanderbilt in 1974 and went on to become one of the founders of Bone McAllester Norton. He worked primarily in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, municipal bonds, corporate law, securities, and state and local taxes. He is survived by his wife and four children. Posted 3.24.15
Jay S. Bowen has joined the Dallas-based entertainment law firm Shackelford Zumwalt & Hayes. Jay specializes in complex litigation with a concentration in entertainment, intellectual property, First Amendment, and business issues. Posted 1.26.15
Charles H. Montgomery received the North Carolina Bar Association's 2014 Citizen Lawyer Award, which recognizes lawyers who engage in public service, including military service, nonprofit or political work, and work with youth sports or religious organizations. Chuck is a senior partner at Montgomery Family Law. Posted 7.18.2014
Victor S. Johnson III, district attorney general of Davidson County, Tennessee, has announced that he will not seek reelection after his term ends on August 31 of this year. Torry has been the district attorney general since 1987. Posted 1.20.14
Robert M. Bastress Jr., John W. Fisher, II, Professor of Law at West Virginia University College of Law since 2002, was the keynote speaker, as voted by the school's class of 2013, for the school's hooding and commencement ceremony on May 18. Posted 6.11.13
John L. Ryder has been appointed general counsel of the Republican National Committee subject to approval at a meeting in April. John will advise RNC Chairman Ryan Reince Priebus and oversee legal staff. As part of his responsibilities, he will also help the RNC review presidential primaries and campaign finance laws. He is currently employed at Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh, where his focus is bankruptcy and commercial litigation. Posted 03.01.13
Robert E. Jones, age 63, died April 17 following an 18-month battle with lung cancer, despite being a non-smoker. Bob earned his BA from Wheaton College, before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School. After law school, Bob moved to Wheaton, Illinois, where he led the litigation department of DuPage County's largest law firm, Huck Bouma. He was a member of the Federal Trial Bar, the American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and the American Trial Lawyers Association. Bob was instrumental in starting the DuPage Chapter of the American Inns of Court.
Bob learned of his terminal illness 18 months ago, but continued to inspire people with his words and experiences. Shortly after learning about his condition, he made arrangements to speak to a small group of about 30 people during a luncheon. Over 300 lawyers and judges showed up. “It was an extraordinary examination of the law from the perspective of a man facing the end of life after 37 years of practice,” said friend and colleague David Meyer. “The presentation, laced with humor, wisdom, grace and courage, was extremely well received by everyone in attendance, including a large number of judges from Illinois federal, supreme and appellate courts.”
Bob is survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Lynn; daughter, Jamie, and son Jay; and many nieces and nephews. Posted 09.24.12
Andrew M. Kaufman, a professor at Vanderbilt Law School and formerly a senior transactional partner and now of counsel in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, has been appointed executive director of the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law. Posted 04.18.12
John Reid Tait died of causes related to a brain tumor on February 1 in Lewiston, Idaho. He was 65. John was a graduate of Columbia College, where as a reporter he interviewed Martin Luther King Jr. After graduating from Columbia, John enlisted in the U.S. Army, graduating from Army Military Intelligence School. During his service he received a top secret security clearance and served as a Counterintelligence Special Agent. John earned his law degree following his honorable discharge from the Army. He practiced law as a partner at Paul Keeton at Keeton & Tait for 35 years. He was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court for Idaho, all Idaho state courts, and the Nez Perce and Coeur d'Alene tribal courts. John served as Clearwater Bar president, member and chairman of the Idaho State Bar Ethics Committee, and board member of the Worker's Compensation Section of the Idaho State Bar, serving as chair for 2004 and 2005. He served for many years on the Board of the Idaho Trial Lawyers and for 25 years on the State Board of Idaho Legal Aid Services. He is survived by his wife, Christina Bjornstad; two daughters; and a granddaughter. Posted 03.29.12
James Dedman was recently presented with the National District Attorneys Association Staff Award for exemplary career contributions to the prosecution profession. Dedman recently retired after conducting continuing legal education courses for the NDAA for twenty-six years and previously serving as the Assistant District Attorney General in Memphis, TN. Posted 01.11.12
James Strong Hereford Jr. (BA '68) of Fayetteville, Tennessee passed away on January 8, 2012. A longtime Fayetteville attorney, he had served as City Attorney since 2008. He was also a former Fayetteville alderman and former Lincoln County commissioner. A Lincoln County native, he was son of the late James S. Hereford, Sr. and Nell Cowley Hereford. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie Carter Hereford; brother, Rufus (Margaret) Hereford; mother-in-law, Margaret Carter; sister-in-law, Julia Carter (Butch) West; and several nieces and nephews. He was a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a veteran of the U. S. Army, and a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, American Legion Post 42, Vietnam Veterans of America, Fayetteville Rotary Club, Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, Fayetteville/Lincoln County Bar Association, Tennessee Bar Association, and Joseph Greer Chapter SAR. Posted 01.11.12
Eric L. Ison, a member in the Louisville office of Greenebaum Doll & McDonald, has been re-appointed chairman of the Kentucky Board of Bar Examiners by the Kentucky Supreme Court. Posted 01.11.12
Lee Maddux has joined the law firm Adams & Reese as special counsel in their Nashville office. Formerly, Lee was a litigation attorney with Chambliss Bahner & Stophel, following his time as special counsel for the City of Chattanooga. Lee focuses his practice on litigation involving professional liability, product liability, personal injury, health care, long-term care, medical malpractice and business disputes. Posted 07.15.11
James Michael Franks died December 14th, 2010. He was 61. Michael was born in Chattanooga, TN and grew up in Sheffield, AL. After graduating from The McCallie School ('67), he entered Vanderbilt University ('71) where he majored in philosophy and minored in Latin. He also founded Versus Magazine and was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Michael then earned his J.D. He joined Manier & Herod and worked there for over thirty-five years, where he held various positions, including managing partner, until his retirement. He was a director of the Surety Claims Institute and a former director of the Southern Surety & Fidelity Claims Association, as well as the Mid-South Commercial Law Institute. He was author and co-author of numerous publications on surety and construction law. Michael was a member of the English Speaking Union, the University Club of Nashville, and Christ Church. He is preceded in death by his parents and brother. He is survived by his wife, Alma Alexander Franks; his children, a brother, sister-in-law, and nieces and a nephew. Posted 12.16.10
Dot Dobbins lost her husband of 30 years, Paul Schrag, on November 6, 2008. Paul had suffered from symptoms of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a rare, non treatable neurological disease, for six years before his death. Dot continues to practice law with Dobbins & Venick in Nashville, with Irwin Venick, '75, and two other partners. Her daughter, Nan, is a nurse practitioner living in Nashville.
Walter Robert "Bob" Thompson passed away at his home on January 14, 2009. Bob graduated from Vanderbilt Law School at age 42 with no undergraduate degree, one of only two persons to have done so. In addition to satisfying another goal, that of following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Judge Walter Benjamin Thompson, his law degree allowed Bob to continue to serve one of his great loves, music and the composers who create it. Before law school, Bob had a significant background in the production and marketing of music, working with Dave Brubeck, Barbra Streisand, Andy Williams, Robert Goulet, and Bill Watrous. Two albums he produced are included in the permanent collection of Contemporary Jazz at the Smithsonian. Once having attained to the practice of law, his love for the creators of music led him to a legal career exemplified by the defense and protection of the intellectual property rights of those creators, including Otis Redding, Roger Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and others. Additional achievements include the Associated Press Citation of Merit for his role leading the broadcast of the 1956 Soviet Invasion of Hungary for Armed Forces Radio, serving as President of SESAC Music, Inc., lecturing on Leadership Ethics at the Pentagon, chairing the Tennessee State Film, Music and Entertainment Commission, and providing his children with opportunities very different from those available to him as a young man. Bob is survived by his mother, Ruth Thompson; his three children, Philip, Carolyn and Bo, their spouses and eight grandchildren, and he now joins his wife Adrianne who passed away almost 14 years ago. After retiring from his legal career, Bob taught Ethics at Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Business. Bob served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean Conflict.
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