December 4, 2001
What follows is the case style or name, first paragraph, author's name, and the names of attorneys for the parties of each opinion released eletronically today to TBALink.
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Howard H. Vogel
HECK VAN TRAN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE Court:TSC Attorneys: Brock Mehler, Nashville, Tennessee, and William D. Massey, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Heck Van Tran. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Alice B. Lustre and Jennifer L. Smith, Assistant Attorneys General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: ANDERSON First Paragraph: We granted this appeal to determine whether the trial court and the Court of Criminal Appeals erred by denying the petitioner's motion to reopen his post-conviction petition. In his motion, the petitioner asserted that new evidence establishes that he is mentally retarded and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty under Tenn. Code Ann. S 39-13-203, which prohibits the execution of the mentally retarded. The petitioner also argued on appeal that the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, S 16 of the Tennessee Constitution prohibit the execution of mentally retarded individuals. After careful consideration, we conclude that the General Assembly did not clearly intend to apply Tenn. Code Ann. S 39-13-203 retroactively and that the statute therefore provides no basis to reopen a post-conviction suit for a petitioner who was sentenced before its effective date. We also conclude, however, that the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, S 16 of the Tennessee Constitution prohibit the execution of mentally retarded individuals because such executions violate evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society, are grossly disproportionate, and serve no valid penological purpose in any case. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/vantran_opn.wpd
BARKER AND HOLDER CONCURRING AND DISSENTING http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/vantran_dis.wpd
WILLIAM WARRICK v. CHEATHAM COUNTY HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT Court:TSC Attorneys: Stacy A. Turner, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Warrick. D. Brett Burrow, Gordon C. Aulgur, and Mike Vetter, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Cheatham County Highway Department. Judge: DROWOTA First Paragraph: In this workers' compensation case the deceased employee, William Warrick, has appealed from a judgment of the Chancery Court of Cheatham County denying his claim for benefits filed against the employer, the Cheatham County Highway Department. The employee, who filed a claim for benefits after sustaining a work-related shoulder injury, died prior to trial from a heart attack unrelated to his employment. The trial court granted summary judgment to the employer on the basis that unadjudicated claims for benefits do not survive the nonwork-related death of the employee. The employee's appeal was argued before the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. S 50-6-225(e)(3), but was transferred to the full Supreme Court prior to the Panel issuing its decision. The sole issue before this Court is whether an unadjudicated claim for benefits survives the nonwork-related death of the worker. After careful consideration, we hold that a worker's personal representative may recover benefits on behalf of the deceased employee from the time of injury to the time of death, even though the worker's death was unrelated to the employment. Thus, workers' compensation claims do not terminate upon the nonwork-related death of the employee merely because the claim has not been adjudicated prior to the worker's death. If the employee is able to furnish enough evidence to satisfy the requisite burden of proof establishing the claim, then benefits may be awarded until the time of death. The judgment of the trial court is therefore reversed and the case remanded. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/warrickw.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DONALD R. EADY, JR. Court:TCCA Attorneys: Eric S. Armstrong, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donald R. Eady, Jr. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry N. Estes, District Attorney General; and Shari Lynn Tayloe, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: WEDEMEYER First Paragraph: The Defendant was convicted by a Bradley County jury of second degree murder. The trial court sentenced him as a Range I standard offender to twenty-five years' incarceration. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant argues (1) that insufficient evidence was presented at trial to support his conviction; (2) that the trial court erred by failing to suppress his statement to police; (3) that the trial court erred by allowing into evidence autopsy photographs of the victim; (4) that the jury considered extraneous facts during deliberation and that the trial court erred in the manner in which it conducted a post-trial voir dire of the jury concerning this matter; and (5) that he was improperly sentenced. Having reviewed the record, we conclude (1) that sufficient evidence was presented to support the Defendant's conviction for second degree murder; (2) that the trial court did not err by allowing the Defendant's statement into evidence; (3) that the trial court did not err by admitting into evidence autopsy photographs of the victim; (4) that the record does not support the Defendant's allegation that jurors in his case were influenced by extraneous information and that the manner in which the trial court conducted a post-trial voir dire of the jurors concerning this matter was not improper; and (5) that the Defendant was properly sentenced. We thus affirm the judgment of the trial court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/eadydr.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GARLAND GODSEY Court:TCCA Attorneys: Robert L. Marlow, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Garland Godsey. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth B. Marney, Assistant Attorney General; William E. Gibson, District Attorney General; Anthony J. Craighead, Assistant District Attorney General; and Ben Fann, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: WITT First Paragraph: The defendant was tried and convicted of second degree murder in the Cumberland County Criminal Court in connection with an aggravated assault of a bar patron who died approximately one month later. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a violent offender to 25 years incarceration in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant takes issue with the trial court's failure to instruct the jury on "diminished capacity" and with the length of the sentence he received. Based upon our review, we affirm the judgment below. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/godseyg.wpd
TOMMY WAYNE SIMPSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE, et al. Court:TCCA Attorneys: Joe H. Walker, District Public Defender, and Walter B. Johnson, II, Assistant Public Defender, for the defendant, Tommy Wayne Simpson. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Assistant Attorney General; J. Scott McCluen, District Attorney General; and Daryl Roger Delp, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: WILLIAMS First Paragraph: Defendant appeals from the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. We conclude that the State of Tennessee never surrendered jurisdiction over defendant and that defendant's sentence did not expire. We accordingly affirm the judgment from the trial court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/simpsontw.wpd
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