Marc Tahiry Recaps Pro Bono Fellowship Experience Assisting Court with Eviction Proceedings During COVID-19 Pandemic

At the end of November 2020, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Marc Tahiry completed a three-month fellowship with the General Sessions Court of Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County. He was appointed by the court to serve as a specialized law clerk for eviction proceedings. The fellowship arose in direct response to the surge of eviction filings caused by the loss of jobs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for more resources to help the court address these cases fully and fairly. Initially conceived to provide support to presiding judges navigating the CARES Act and its application to state evictions, the position evolved as new federal moratoria on evictions became effective and rent relief assistance became available to litigants.

Marc’s presence in the courtroom and support for the judges helped create a consistent application of the various restrictions applicable to evictions as judges cycled through the eviction docket on a weekly basis. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moratorium became effective, Marc’s role expanded to include educating both landlords and tenants in eviction proceedings about the requirements and effects of the CDC moratorium. While the CDC moratorium kept people housed temporarily, it was not in itself a solution to the surge of evictions and in most cases simply postponed evictions until the moratoria expired. As rental payment assistance became available through the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center, there was an opportunity to resolve landlord and tenant disputes and help clear the court’s dockets. Marc helped connect landlords and tenants to the rent relief assistance and Nashville Conflict Resolution Center distributed approximately $1.2 million dollars during the course of the fellowship.

Looking forward, Marc is encouraged by various efforts to combat the housing crisis, including the creation of a Housing Court and Housing Resource Center, a diversionary court for eviction matters, and revisions to the detainer forms used in General Sessions Court to detail pleadings in straightforward language.

About the Bass, Berry & Sims Pro Bono Program

Marc’s service to the court is part of Bass, Berry & Sims’ Pro Bono Fellowship program, which allows attorneys to be paid their full compensation and benefits while working for up to six months full-time in a pro bono capacity within the community. In April 2019, Bass, Berry & Sims launched a comprehensive Pro Bono Program to provide opportunities and incentives for the firm’s attorneys to give back to the community. In addition to the Pro Bono Fellowship, the program allows for increased hours or credit for all attorneys to dedicate to pro bono activities. The Program also created a Pro Bono Member position – to which David Esquivel was appointed to dedicate half of his work to pro bono activities and administration of the firm’s program. Read more about the firm’s Pro Bono Program here.

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