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TODAY'S OPINIONS: Wednesday, October 19, 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.

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

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Here's how you can obtain full-text version. We recommend you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer. Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view and save a plain-text version of the opinion. Browse the Opinion List area of TBALink. This option will allow you to download the original version of the opinion.

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

NICOLE PAYNE v. PML, INC.

Court: TWCA

Attorneys:

R. Stephen Doughty, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant Nicole Payne.

B. Duane Willis, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee PML, Inc.

Judge: WEATHERFORD

This workersā compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workersā Compensation Appeals Panel in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this case the employee, who had worked third shift for the employer, sustained extensive injuries from a one-car accident about twenty minutes after leaving the workplace. The employee contended that her exposure to the chemical toluene at work caused fatigue and drowsiness which led to her accident. The trial court found that the accident did not arise out of her employment and dismissed the case. For the reasons set out in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/2005/paynen101905.pdf


JAMES RAY BARTLETT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

R.H. Stovall, Assistant Public Defender, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Ray Bartlett.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; and Joel Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

The petitioner, James Ray Bartlett, appeals from the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. In this appeal as of right, the petitioner asserts that the judgments of conviction for aggravated assault and four counts of theft are void because the sentences are illegal. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/2005/bartlettj101905.pdf


BYRON LEWIS BLACK v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Donald E. Dawson, Nashville, Tennessee, and Catherine Y. Brockenborough, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Byron Lewis Black.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Michelle Chapman McIntire, Assistant Attorney General; and John Zimmerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

This appeal is before us following the reopening of Petitionerās post-conviction petition for the limited purpose of determining whether Petitioner is mentally retarded and thus ineligible for the death penalty pursuant to our supreme courtās decision in Van Tran v. State, 66 S.W.3d 790 (Tenn. 2001) and the United States Supreme Courtās decision in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 122 S. Ct. 2242 (2002). The post-conviction court ultimately determined that Petitioner had failed to prove that he was mentally retarded and that the weight of the proof was that he was not mentally retarded. Accordingly, the court denied Petitionerās request for a new trial and denied and dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief. In this appeal as of right, this court must determine the following issues: (1) whether Petitioner proved by a preponderance of the evidence that he is mentally retarded; (2) whether Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-203, as interpreted by the supreme court in Howell v. State, 151 S.W.3d 450 (Tenn. 2004), is constitutional in light of the principles outlined in Atkins v. Virginia; and (3) whether the absence of mental retardation is an element of capital murder requiring the State to bear the burden of proof and requiring submission of the issue to a jury. After review of the record and the applicable law, we find no errors of law requiring reversal. Accordingly, we affirm the post-conviction courtās denial of post-conviction relief.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/2005/blackb101905.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOSEPH GUNTER

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Martha J. Yoakum, District Public Defender, and Leif E. Jeffers, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Joseph Gunter.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General; John W. Galloway, Jr., Deputy District Attorney General; and Sarah H. West Davis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Joseph Gunter, was convicted by a Fentress County jury of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony, and was sentenced to concurrent terms of life without parole and twenty years, respectively. On appeal, he contends that the jury was exposed to extraneous prejudicial information about his case; the trial court erred in various of its evidentiary rulings and made improper commentary on the evidence; the State deprived him of potentially exculpatory evidence by failing to perform scientific testing on physical evidence recovered from the crime scene and by withholding new evidence discovered after the trial; and the cumulative effect of the various errors resulted in the denial of his right to a fair trial. The State argues, inter alia, that the defendantās appeal should be dismissed because his motion for a new trial was untimely. We agree with the State, and, accordingly, dismiss the appeal.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/2005/gunterj101905.pdf


JIMMY M. MILLICAN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Michael A. Colavecchio, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Jimmy M. Millican.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and James Sledge, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HAYES

The Appellant, Jimmy M. Millican, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Courtās denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, Millican argues that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel. After review, the judgment of the postconviction court is affirmed.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/2005/millicanj101905.pdf


TABATHA R. WHITE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Dwight E. Scott, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tabatha R. White.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Tabatha R. White, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court sentenced her to life imprisonment. Subsequently, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that (1) the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on circumstantial evidence and (2) that she received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel because her attorney failed to object to hearsay testimony, failed to request a circumstantial evidence instruction, failed to file pretrial motions requesting that the State reveal any plea bargain agreements it had made with the Stateās witnesses, and denied her the right to testify. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner now appeals. Upon review of the record and the partiesā briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/2005/whitet101905.pdf


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