Don Hall and Dianne Neal, '83, appointed to new Tennessee Ethics Commission

Professor Don Hall and VULS alumna Dianne Ferrell Neal, '83, have been named to a new, independent state ethics commission.

Hall and Neal are two of six members appointed the commission, which was created by an ethics reform bill signed into law by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen earlier this year stemming from the Tennessee Waltz case, an FBI and TBI sting operation that led to the arrest of nine people, including five current or former state lawmakers, on bribery and corruption charges.

After the Tennessee Waltz sting made headlines, many, including Gov. Bredesen, called on state legislators to impose tougher rules on lobbyists, reform campaign financing and establish an independent ethics commission with punitive power.

"There has been a sense for a number of years that the ethical requirements for lobbying and lobbyists in Tennessee were outdated," Hall said. "The new bill adopted this spring is a meaningful first step. I see serving on this commission as a great opportunity to have some impact on how this law takes shape and is actually applied, as the six members of the commission will hear and decide cases in which complaints have been filed against lobbyists and legislators. I'm truly honored the governor asked me to serve."

According to Neal, one of the commission's immediate responsibilities is to create and publish manuals outlining ethical guidelines based on current state law for use by members of state government, lobbyists and those who employ lobbyists. "The purpose of these manuals is to show people who are conducting business with or working for the state government where the bright line is," Neal said.

In addition to being a 35-year veteran of the Vanderbilt Law School faculty, Hall has served on previous gubernatorial commissions, including the Governor's Commission on Juvenile Justice Reform and the Task Force on the Use of Enhancement Factors in Criminal Sentencing.

Neal is former chief legal counsel to Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter and also served as state attorney general and as general counsel of the Public Service Commission, the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and the state Department of Correction over the course of her legal career.