VOL. 124 | NO. 163 | Thursday, August 20, 2009
Carter Takes Helm of U of M’s Law Alumni Board
By Rebekah Hearn
Position: Director, Shareholder
Firm: Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston PC
Basics: Carter in July took office as president of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law’s Alumni board of directors.
Richard Carter, director and shareholder of the Memphis law firm of Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston PC, in July took office as president of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law’s Alumni board of directors, which works with its members and area clubs to support and advance the mission of the law school.
Carter received his bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy, where he was one of four regimental commanders. In 1977, he was selected for the Army’s Funded Legal Education Program and was assigned to the Memphis State law school, where he was editor-in-chief of the Law Review and in 1980 received his juris doctorate. After law school, Carter served as a Judge Advocate General prosecutor and senior defense counsel trying criminal cases in the Washington area.
In 1984, he returned to Memphis to join Martin Tate. Carter is certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and the Tennessee Board of Specialization in the area of Civil Trial Advocacy. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for several years and has been selected as one of the Best Lawyers in Tennessee in the area of intellectual property. Carter has lectured extensively in the area of trial practice and has handled intellectual property cases, construction disputes, accounting defense, legal malpractice defense and claims of wrongful death as well as white-collar criminal cases.
Q: As the president of the Law Alumni Board, what will be your principal duties?
A: I will be leading an exceptionally talented group of University of Memphis law alumni as we conduct scholarship programs, continuing legal education programs, the annual judicial reception and other alumni-sponsored events.
Q: What will be the most significant event for the board during your tenure?
A: On Jan. 11, 2010, the law school will start classes in its new home on Front Street in the center of Downtown. This move from the current location on Central Avenue is the product of a long collaborative effort of (U of M) President Shirley Raines, University of Memphis officials, federal, state and local officials, other local leaders and the Alumni Board (prior presidents Bob Dinkelspiel, Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo, Amy Amundsen, Gary Smith and John Bobango) to acquire and completely refurbish the 180,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that will house our new law school. On Jan. 16, 2010, the Law Alumni Association will sponsor the Grand Opening Gala at the new law school to celebrate this hallmark event. The significance of this move cannot be overstated.
Q: What area of the law do you practice in mostly?
A: I have always been a trial attorney, though the subject areas involved in the disputes have varied – from patent and copyright litigation to wrongful death actions to white-collar criminal defense. I have been drawn to trial practice by the search for the facts and the intellectual challenge of applying legal principles to the facts to represent my clients. For the past few years, I, along with other members of my firm, have worked on several patent and copyright matters where the law and the procedures are highly complex.
Q: You have conducted civil and criminal trials. What is the biggest difference in the way you argue a civil case versus a criminal case?
A: The biggest differences between civil and criminal cases are what is at stake in the case and the standard of proof to be applied by the jury. Life and liberty are at stake in criminal cases and, therefore, the jury must determine the issues beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a very high standard. Consequently, criminal defendants always argue reasonable doubt. By contrast, juries in civil cases are normally instructed that the plaintiff must prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that the plaintiff’s assertions are more likely true. Arguments in civil cases do not address reasonable doubt.
Q: What types of cases did you handle as a prosecutor/senior prosecutor in the U.S. Army?
A: As an Army prosecutor and later as defense counsel, I handled a broad spectrum of cases involving assault and battery, robbery, conspiracy, drug sales and murder. By far my most interesting cases, however, involved claims of breaches of national security defending military personnel assigned to the National Security Agency and the Army Intelligence Command.
Q: Are you involved in any community organizations?
A: Martin Tate has always encouraged civic involvement. It is part of our firm’s culture. Consequently, I have had my firm’s support in my activities with the Law Alumni Board, Independent Presbyterian Church and other civic and professional organizations.
Q: Last year, you received a Pro Bono award from Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. What did that case involve?
A: Our pro bono client was a not-for-profit corporation that provided affordable housing to disabled persons. With the help of other firm members, I was able to obtain the dismissal of a lawsuit that had been filed against our client in an attempt to seize its apartment complex. The dismissal allowed our client to keep the apartment complex and continue providing housing to the disabled.