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TODAY'S OPINIONS: Thursday, October 06, 2005
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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR

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Howard H. Vogel
Knoxville, Tennessee
Editor-in-Chief, TBALink

IN RE C.K.G., C.A.G., & C.L.G.

Court: TSC


Robert L. Jackson and Larry Hayes, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal to the Supreme Court),and P. Edward Schell, Franklin, Tennessee (at trial and on appeal to the Court of Appeals), for the appellant, Dr. Charles K. G.

Pamela M. Spicer, Brentwood, Tennessee (on appeal), and W. Allen Barrett, Nashville,Tennessee (at trial), for the appellee, Ms. Cindy C.


This controversy involves a maternity dispute. An unmarried, heterosexual couple had threechildren by obtaining eggs donated from an anonymous third-party female, fertilizing the eggs in vitro with the manās sperm, and implanting the fertilized eggs in the womanās uterus. Thecouple intended to rear the children together as father and mother. When the coupleās relationship deteriorated, the woman filed a parentage action seeking custody and child support.In response, the man claimed that the woman had no standing as a parent because, lacking genetic connection to the children, she failed to qualify as a parent under Tennesseeās parentagestatutes. On this basis, the man sought sole and exclusive custody. Employing a broadly-framed test that looks to the partiesā pre-conception intent to determine maternity, both the juvenile courtand the Court of Appeals held that the woman was the childrenās legal mother. Alternatively, the Court of Appeals held that the man, based on his representations and conduct which induceddetrimental reliance by the woman, is estopped to deny the womanās status as mother. We vacate the adoption of the intent test by the court below and also vacate the holding of the Courtof Appeals that the man is estopped to deny the womanās maternal status. However, we affirm on separate grounds the holding of the courts below that the woman is the childrenās legalmother with all the rights and responsibilities of parenthood. Our holding in this regard is based on the following factors: (1) prior to the childrenās birth, both the woman as gestator and the manas the genetic father voluntarily demonstrated the bona fide intent that the woman would be the childrenās legal mother and agreed that she would accept the legal responsibility as well as thelegal rights of parenthood; (2) the woman became pregnant, carried to term, and gave birth to the children as her own; and (3) this case does not involve a controversy between a gestator and afemale genetic progenitor where the genetic and gestative roles have been separated and distributed among two women, nor does this case involve a controversy between a traditional orgestational surrogate and a genetically-unrelated intended mother. Our holding today is tailored narrowly to the specific controversy now before us. Having concluded that the woman is thechildrenās legal mother, we also affirm in full the judgments of the juvenile court and Court of Appeals concerning comparative fitness, custody, child support, and visitation.




Court: TCA


D. Scott Parsley and Joshua G. Strickland, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, JudiRichardson.

Joseph Y. Longmire, Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellee, George Kevin Spanos.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves a dispute between the parents of an eleven-year-old boy over child supportand private school tuition. The childās mother filed a petition in the Circuit Court for Sumner County seeking to obtain an increase in child support and to hold the father in contempt forfailing to pay medical bills. The father responded by filing a petition seeking a deduction in child support because of reduced earnings. Following a bench trial, the trial court reduced thefatherās child support and denied the motherās request to require the father to pay the childās private school tuition. The childās mother has appealed. We have concluded that the trial courtproperly decreased the fatherās base child support obligation because of his reduced income. However, we have also concluded that the trial court erred by failing to require the father to paya reasonable portion of the childās private school tuition.



Court: TCCA


Joshua Spickler and Autumn Chastain, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nakomis Jones

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Blind Akrawi, Assistant Attorney General;William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Robert Carter and Paul Hagerman, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the appellant, Nakomis Jones, of two counts offirst degree felony murder, one count of second degree murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, and three counts of being a felon in possession of a weapon. The trialcourt merged the murder convictions, merged the especially aggravated kidnapping convictions, and merged the convictions for being a felon in the possession of a weapon and sentenced theappellant to consecutive sentences of life, thirty-five years, and three years, respectively. In this appeal, the appellant claims (1) that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions, (2)that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to impeach a victim to show bias; (3) that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to impeach a victim with prior bad acts; and (4) that thetrial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing. Based upon the record and the partiesā briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Joseph P. Atnip, District Public Defender, Dresden, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Bobby Lee.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General;and James T. Cannon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HAYES

The Appellant, Bobby Lee, appeals the Obion County Circuit Courtās denial of his petition forpost-conviction relief. Lee was convicted of attempted first degree murder and received a sixtyyear Department of Correction sentence as a career offender. On appeal, Lee contends that trialcounselās failure to call favorable witnesses denied him his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel. After review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.



Court: TCCA


Ardena J. Garth and Donna Robinson Miller, Chattanooga, Tennessee (on appeal) and Philip L. Duval, Chattanooga, Tennessee (at trial) for the Appellant, Halbert Varnell.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox III., District Attorney General; and Jay Woods, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Hamilton County jury convicted the Defendant, Halbert Varnell, of driving under the influence (ćDUIä). The Defendant admitted that he had three previous DUI convictions, and the trial court sentenced him for DUI, fourth offense, a Class E felony. The Defendant now appeals, contending that: (1) insufficient evidence was presented at trial to support his DUI conviction; and (2) the trial court erred by permitting improper closing argument by the State. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Constitutionality of Requiring Public Officers and Employees Who Accept Re-Election, ReAppointment, Promotion, or a Change in Classification to Forfeit State Pension Benefits upon a Felony Conviction

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2020-00-05

Opinion Number: 05-152


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