HMCBA Insurance Exciting News!!!
For a third year, our BCBS health insurance premiums will remain unchanged! Thank you to those who have enrolled with us and continue to grow this plan. Blue Cross Blue Shield has also announced a 20% one-time decrease in premiums for the month of November. Look for that decrease to be reflected in your November premium notice.
As a reminder, November is Open Enrollment! So, if you are a current HMCBA member needing health insurance, now is the tiime to enroll. Also, all Alabama State Bar members qualify to enroll in the HBA insurance plans through an Associate Membership.
Former HMCBA President, J. Mark Debro of Grace, Matthews & Debro was elected to the Alabama State Bar Board of Bar Commissioners for the 23rd Judicial Circuit, Place 1. We know Mark will represent the 23rd Judicial Circuit with hard work and dedication as he has done for the HMCBA locally. Best of luck Mark!
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Taze Shepard, senior partner at Sparkman, Shepard & Morris P.C. in Huntsville, was elected 2020-2021 President-Elect of the Alabama State Bar. His term officially began on June 26, 2020, and he will become President in July 2021.
Shepard has served two terms as a member of the Board of Bar Commissioners and was appointed vice-president of the Alabama State Bar in 2018-2019. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Alabama Law Foundation. From 2018 to 2020, Shepard chaired the Solo and Small Firm (SSF) Section of the Alabama State. In addition to organizing numerous free or low-cost CLE programs, he promoted a popular online forum where SSF attorneys around the State could share ideas and experiences with one another.
Shepard is also a former President of the Madison County Bar Association, a former President of the Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program and the current Vice President of the Legal Services Alabama Board of Directors.
“Serving in various leadership roles with the Alabama State Bar and my local bar, I have always found that I got a lot of satisfaction from helping people and being involved in something outside myself,” Shepard said.
Shepard is the grandson of two attorneys, including the late Morgan County jurist John Sparkman, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate from 1937 to 1979.
“One piece of advice from my grandfather that I’ve carried with me during my career is that in order to accomplish important goals, you have to set aside egos and serve,” said Shepard. “That’s what I intent to do as President-Elect and eventually President of the Alabama State Bar.”
Shepard earned his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College. He is also a former Adjunct Professor of Law for the University of Alabama School of Law.
Taze has practiced law in Huntsville for over 40 years and is a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee for the Northern District of Alabama. He represents businesses and individuals in complex bankruptcy and financial restructuring cases.
Locally, Shepard is a member of the Committee of 100, a graduate of Huntsville Leadership – Class 25 and Huntsville Rotary Club. He recently ended his second year as president of The Schools Foundation.
Taze is also a former elected member of the Alabama State Board of Education He has been appointed by various Alabama governors to the oversight boards of Athens State University, the Alabama Space Science Commission, and the Alabama Supercomputer Authority.
The Alabama State Bar named Taze the VLP Volunteer of the Year at its 2019 Annual Meeting.
Taze and his wife Pam live in Huntsville. Together they have five children and six grandchildren. His oldest son, Ty Shepard, practices law with him.
In addition to Taze, the following individuals will serve on the President Methvin’s 2020-2021 Alabama State Bar’s Executive Council:
By John Hightower, J.D., Law Librarian
Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne P.C., Huntsville
Pattern jury instructions, whether for criminal or civil cases, are important for the fair, proper, and efficient administration of justice. For quite a number of years, Alabama has had model instructions for both civil and criminal trials. Although the civil instructions are updated almost every year, the last full edition of the criminal instructions was in 1994.
But about 4 years ago, the Alabama Supreme Court’s committee on criminal pattern jury instructions began its work in earnest. And the committee has made a great deal of progress as you can easily see if you visit the Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library’s website.
As it completes them, the committee provides the instructions to the library for publication on its website. So far, there has been no interest in publishing the instructions in book form. Furthermore, web publication of the instructions means that updated instructions are more quickly available to courts and attorneys.
Circuit Judge Virginia Vinson of Birmingham is the current chair of the committee. She indicates that if the Alabama Legislature did not pass any new criminal statutes, the committee could probably finish its work in about 6 to 8 months. Since a complete cessation in legislative activity is not likely to occur any time soon and since all crimes have not yet been addressed by the instructions posted on the library’s website, Judge Vinson suggests that attorneys may still need to consult the 1994 edition of the criminal pattern jury instructions for crimes not addressed by the instructions on the library’s website.
Judge Vinson also indicated that the next big set of instructions to be released will concern theft. And she also expressed appreciation to former Montgomery County district attorney Ellen Brooks for her assistance to the committee in serving as its reporter. Judge Vinson will be stepping down as chair of the committee at the end of September 2017 when she retires.
Two important pointers about jury instructions from the Alabama Supreme Court
“It is the preferred practice to use the pattern jury instructions in a capital case.” Ex parte Hagood, 777 So.2d 214, 219 (Ala.1999), cited in Johnson v. State, 120 So. 3d 1130, 1182 (Ala. Crim. App. 2009).
“While most pattern jury instructions may be properly used in the majority of criminal and civil cases, there may be some instances when using those pattern charges would be misleading or erroneous. In those situations, trial courts should deviate from the pattern instructions and give a jury charge that correctly reflects the law to be applied to the circumstances of the case.” Ex parte Wood, 715 So. 2d 819, 824 (Ala. 1998).
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