Opinion FlashJune 15, 2004
Volume 10 Number 115
Following this index are summaries of each case, including its name, first paragraph, author's name, and the names of attorneys for the parties of each opinion.This Issue (IN THIS ORDER):
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Howard H. Vogel
GARY BAKER v. ROANE STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE, ET AL. Court:TCA Attorneys: Larry D. Woods, Nashville, TN, for Appellant Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter, Eugene B. Whitesell, Senior Counsel, Nashville, TN, for Appellees Judge: HIGHERS First Paragraph: This case involves the timeliness of a grievance filed by Appellant, an employee of Roane State Community College. The hearing officer determined that such grievance was not filed within the limitations period. Appellant appealed this decision to the Chancery Court of Davidson County, which affirmed the decision of the hearing officer. Appellant now appeals to this Court and we affirm. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/bakergary.wpd
STEPHANIE THURMAN HARTMAN (WALLACE) v. DARYL O'BRIEN HARTMAN Court:TCA Attorneys: Lucy C. Wright, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for appellant, Stephanie Ann Thurman Hartman (Wallace). Mechelle Story, Spring City, Tennessee, for appellee, Daryl O'Brien Hartman. Judge: INMNA First Paragraph: The divorce judgment approved a MDA which provided that the minor children would reside with their father in Rhea County while mother was working in Atlanta. When not working, mother had custody. Two years after the divorce, father petitioned for custody, alleging that at the time of the divorce it was contemplated that mother would return to Tennessee and share equal parenting time. Mother counter-claimed for custody. Father was awarded primary custody. The judgment is vacated and the case is remanded for a hearing on the comparative fitness of each parent. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/hartmanst.wpd
CAROL KNITTIG HAZEN v. JOHN THURSTON HAZEN Court:TCA Attorneys: Charles W. McGhee, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Thurston Hazen. Charles E. Hodum, Collierville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Carol Knittig Hazen. Judge: FARMER First Paragraph: Wife filed the present divorce action seeking, inter alia, alimony. The trial court awarded Wife alimony in futuro based upon a perceived need rather than a demonstrative need. For the following reasons, we reverse http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/hazencarolk.wpd
TAMMY KAY JOINER v. JAMES ALDEN GRIFFITH Court:TCA Attorneys: Rodger N. Bowman and Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Alden Griffith. Steven C. Girsky and Ralph H. McCoy, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tammy K. Joiner. Judge: CLEMENT First Paragraph: This appeal involves a child support and visitation dispute. Mother and Father, never married, have two minor children. The parties lived together from 1997 until March 2001, when Father was arrested for domestic assault. Father moved out of the residence. Mother filed a complaint seeking to be the primary residential parent, requested child support and arrearages and asked for temporary support and attorney fees. The juvenile court placed primary custody of the children with Mother, set visitation, and ordered Father to pay $4,000 a month in child support plus $31,586 in arrearages. Father appealed, taking issue with visitation, child support, arrearages, and the court's failure to make findings of fact regarding the alleged domestic assault. Mother appealed claiming the court erred by rejecting most of her claim for her attorney fees. We affirm the trial court's determinations concerning child support and visitation, modify the offset against the arrearage owed for child support, and reverse and remand Mother's request for attorney fees. Further, we find that the trial court is not required to make written findings of fact concerning the domestic abuse charge because the alleged domestic assault was not against a minor. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/joinertammy.wpd
ANNA MILLER v. EDUARDO MILLER Court:TCA Attorneys: Jeff Mueller, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eduardo Miller. Linda Sesson Taylor, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Anna Miller. Judge: FARMER First Paragraph: This appeal arises from a divorce action. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/milleranna.wpd
JENNIFER DAWN WHITLEY v. RICHARD KEITH WHITLEY Court:TCA Attorneys: Bobby W. Sands, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Richard Keith Whitley. Timothy P. Underwood and Joe W. Henry, Jr., Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jennifer Dawn Whitley. Judge: GLENN First Paragraph: This is a divorce case involving the classification and division of property in a marriage of relatively short duration. Prior to marriage, the parties lived for a few months with the husband's parents before moving to a farm purchased by the husband with a down payment provided by his parents. The wife gave birth to the parties' child a few months after the move, and the parties subsequently married. Twenty-two months later, the wife filed for divorce. Both before and during the marriage, the wife assisted the husband with his cattle farming operation as well as with improvements to the property. The trial court found the farm to be marital property under the doctrine of transmutation, assigned it a value of $100,000, and awarded it to the husband. The trial court awarded most of the farm equipment and forty-eight head of cattle to the husband as his separate property and divided the marital property between the parties, with the husband awarded the remainder of the farm machinery and all but eleven head of cattle, and the wife awarded a 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier, the remaining cattle, and a cash judgment of $27,000 for her "substantial contributions to the farm and farming operation." The husband was assigned sole responsibility for the marital debt. The husband appeals, arguing that the trial court improperly classified, valued, and distributed the property. We conclude that the trial court correctly found that the farm was marital property, but erred in its valuation of the farm and in its distribution of the marital property. Accordingly, we modify the trial court's cash judgment to the wife to $11,886.50, which represents one-half of the equity in the farm at the time of the divorce and one-half of the unaccounted-for proceeds from the husband's sale of cattle in violation of an automatic injunction in the case. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/whitleyjenniferd.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL B. LASTER Court:TCCA Attorneys: Richard A. Tate, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael B. Laster. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and J. Lewis Combs, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: OGLE First Paragraph: The appellant, Michael B. Laster, entered pleas of no contest in the Sullivan County Criminal Court to theft of property over $1,000, operating a motor vehicle in violation of the Motor Vehicle Habitual Offenders Act, resisting arrest, and felony failure to appear. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the appellant received an effective four year sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the appellant's request for alternative sentencing in the form of community corrections, and the appellant timely appealed. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/lastermb.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GEORGE E. RATLIFF Court:TCCA Attorneys: Steve McEwen, Mountain City, Tennessee (on appeal); David F. Bautista, District Public Defender; and Jeffery C. Kelly and Deborah Huskins, Assistant District Public Defenders (at trial), for the appellant, George E. Ratliff. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth B. Marney, Assistant Attorney General; Joe C. Crumley, Jr., District Attorney General; and Frank A. Harvey, Assistant District Attorney General Pro Tem, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: GLENN First Paragraph: In 1998, the defendant, George E. Ratliff, was convicted of rape of a child, a Class A felony, for raping his six-year-old daughter and was sentenced to twenty-four years in the Department of Correction. He subsequently filed a direct appeal and a petition for writ of error coram nobis based on the victim's recantation of her testimony. The trial court summarily dismissed the petition as untimely, and the defendant appealed. The direct appeal and the error coram nobis appeal were consolidated, and this court reversed the trial court's dismissal of the petition, remanded the matter for a hearing, and stayed the direct appeal pending the trial court's ruling on the error coram nobis petition. See State v. Ratliff, 71 S.W.3d 291, 293 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2001), perm. to appeal denied (Tenn. 2002). On remand, the trial court denied the petition, and the defendant appeals. In his direct appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a new trial based upon newly discovered evidence, in denying his request for individual voir dire of two prospective jurors, and in ruling that the amount of time that lapsed between the victim's complaint and his arrest was irrelevant. Additionally, he argues that his sentence is excessive. Following our review, we affirm the defendant's conviction and sentence and affirm the trial court's denial of the petition for writ of error coram nobis. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/ratliffgeorge.wpd
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