Health Care Case Could Define Roberts’ Legacy

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr will begin presiding over an extraordinary three days of arguments in late March that will determine the fate of President Obama’s sweeping health care law. The case will also shape, if not define, Chief Justice Roberts’ legacy. The New York Times looks at the options Roberts will be weighing. Working on the case against the president’s health care overhaul is former Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, a law school classmate of Barack Obama. Clement used to argue for the federal government's power -- until he started arguing against it. The News Sentinel tells this story.

Today's Opinions

Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
02 - TN Court of Appeals
01 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
00 - TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders









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TN Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

TRACY ROSE BAKER v. JEFFREY D. BAKER
With concurring opinion.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

William Caldwell Hancock, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tracy Rose Baker.

D. Scott Parsley and Michael K. Parsley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jeffrey D. Baker.

Judge: CLEMENT

In this post-divorce dispute, the mother of the parties’ children appeals from an August 2010 order wherein the trial court revoked her probation for eighteen counts of criminal contempt and imposed the maximum sentence of 180 days. Pursuant to an April 2010 Agreed Order, Mother pled guilty to eighteen counts of criminal contempt and was sentenced to 180 days in jail; however, the entire sentence was suspended and she was placed on probation subject to revocation should she fail to comply with a plethora of conditions of probation. In July 2010, Father filed a Petition to revoke Mother’s probation. Following a hearing, the trial court found Mother in violation of her probation and ordered her to serve 180 days in jail. Mother appealed alleging that the Agreed Guilty Plea Order is void because the trial judge failed to conduct a hearing before accepting the guilty plea as required by Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 239 (1969) and Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(b). This is not a direct appeal of the Agreed Guilty Plea Order, but a collateral attack of that order and, although this modest record suggests that the trial court may not have engaged Mother with the in-person colloquy required by Boykin and Rule 11(b), the record fails to establish that important fact. Thus, the Agreed Guilty Plea Order is not void on its face. However, the August order, specifically the reasonableness of the sentence of 180 days in confinement for violating terms of probation, is on direct appeal. Considering the unique facts of this case, we find an effective sentence of 180 days is clearly excessive in relation to Mother’s acts and omissions while on probation and modify the sentence to provide for a total period of confinement of thirty (30) days.


E. JAY MOUNGER ET AL. v. CHARLES D. MOUNGER, JR. ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles D. Mounger, Jr., Kingston, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

Archie R. Carpenter, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, E. Jay Mounger and Katherine Mounger Lasater, Executors of the Estate of Katherine M. Mounger.

Judge: SUSANO

The plaintiffs, in their capacity as executors of their mother’s estate, filed this action against their brother alleging that he caused the estate to lose the sale of a valuable piece of lakefront property by maliciously asserting a meritless claim to a portion of the property. The defendant represented himself in a jury trial. The jury awarded the estate $6,000,000. The defendant appeals the judgment entered on the jury’s verdict. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RANDALL LEE BROWN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael L. West, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randall Lee Brown.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Bates W. Bryan, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Randall Lee Brown, was sentenced, as a Range III, persistent offender, to an effective sentence of eleven years incarceration following his guilty pleas to multiple offenses in Hamilton County. On appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence and erred by denying him an alternative sentence. However, we are unable to review the defendant’s issues because the record before us does not contain a transcript from the guilty plea hearing, which is needed for complete review. As such, we must presume that the trial court’s determinations were correct and, accordingly, affirm the sentences as imposed.


Bill on Religious Gatherings at School to be Reviewed This Week

A bill moving through the Tennessee General Assembly aims to restrict local school boards from prohibiting teachers and other school personnel from participating in student-led religious gatherings on school grounds, but it would have no effect on rules prohibiting such activities in Sumner County Schools should it become law. Sumner County Schools settled a case involving such activities in December, approving a consent decree that strictly spells out school personnel may not promote religious beliefs in class or in conjunction with a school event or participate in a religious service or activity while acting in official capacity. HB 3266 is sponsored by Rep. Phillip Johnson, R-Pegram, and co-sponsored by Hendersonville State Rep. Debra Maggart, passed 93-0 in the House on March 1. The companion bill, SB 3060, is expected to be reviewed in the Senate’s Education Committee March 14. The Tennessean has more.


Meeting Notices Sporadic, Even with Sunshine Law

According to an Associated Press analysis, the way officials post notices for public meetings is sporadic and often not prominently placed. Tennessee's Sunshine Law requires “adequate public notice” of government meetings, but it does not specify when or how that notice should be distributed. And there is no one in state government tasked with making sure the state’s various public bodies comply. Further, the report says, there is no penalty for violating the law, even intentionally. The only remedy if a panel takes an action at a secret meeting is for a citizen to sue to have that action overturned. Read more in the Tennessean.


Risks of Inmate Labor Cited as Reason for Justice Center Cleaning Contract

The Marion County Commission recently voted to award a one-year contract to a cleaning company to maintain the Justice Center, instead of relying on inmate labor. Commissioner Gene Hargis, who is also an investigator with the county’s Sheriff's Department, said the cost of having an inmate escape an unsecured area of the Justice Center certainly would make up the difference in cleaning costs. "Sometimes it's hard to find someone out of 80 people trustworthy enough to have a broom because," he said, "they'll make a meth lab out of it." The Times Free Press has the story.


Learn More About Child Abuse

A national media campaign to raise awareness about child abuse has come to Tennessee. "One with Courage" encourages children to report child sexual abuse to a trusted adult and to encourage adults to report child abuse to the authorities. "It is critical that we pay attention, listen to our children, and ask questions. In their own way children are trying to tell us about sexual abuse," Tennessee Chapter of Children's Advocacy Centers Executive Director Sharon De Boer said. Visit the One With Courage website to learn the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse. Read more in the Cannon Courier.


Councilman Presses On in Face of Soliciting Charge

Metro Nashville Councilman Brady Banks acknowledged that his attempt to solicit a prostitute last month was a strike against his credibility, but -- with his attorney Jonathan Farmer and his wife by his side -- he vowed to continue serving on the council. The Tennessean has video of his apology.


Stuffed Animal Donations Overwhelming; Now Consider Fostering

When Knox County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin asked the community before last Christmas to donate stuffed animals so that children who come to court could be comforted, he didn’t know what to expect. Now the toys fill bookcases and tables in the judge's office, and plastic bags loaded with animals line a hallway outside, as well as a space donated by an area moving company. Irwin says it started last summer when the Black Law Students organization at Lincoln Memorial University donated several bags of the toys to his court. Irwin said he accepted the donations, with no idea how powerful the stuffed animals would be. Irwin asks for the donations from the community to stop for now, but has another request. "We have a big-time need for people to open their hearts and their homes to be foster parents," he said. With so few foster homes available locally, Irwin said, he has been sending East Tennessee children to Memphis foster homes. The News Sentinel has the story.


Respect for the Law Makes System Work, PD Tells Students

Students from a Cleveland school recently visited court at the Bradley County Judicial Complex as part of their study on the American judicial system. Public Defender Richard Hughes explained that the U.S. judicial system is different from every other country’s system, and that it is respect for the law that makes it work. See a picture in the Cleveland Banner.


Highlander Builds on Civil Rights’ Past to Tackle New Issues

The Highlander Research and Education Center is best known for its role in the Civil Rights Movement and the help it gave to those integrate the South. For decades, Highlander has supported those fighting for justice, equality, sustainability through education, participatory research and cultural work. Now located in its 80th year, the center is still honoring that legacy but it is also tackling modern issues such as broadband access to the internet, immigration, global human rights, gay, lesbian and transgender rights as well as environmental issues such as mountain top removal mining. Learn more from the Citizen Tribune.


Former Vandy Administrator Joins Nashville Firm

John C. McCauley, a former Vanderbilt University assistant vice chancellor of risk and insurance management and associate general counsel, has joined  the Nashville firm of Wiseman Ashworth Law Group PLC, as of counsel, the firm announced today. He will work with the group on medical malpractice cases and advise the firm’s clients on risk management issues. NashvillePost.com has more.


Judge Haynes Reception March 29, Contribute to Portrait Fund

A reception honoring retired Circuit Court Judge Barbara Haynes will be March 29, 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Davidson County Courthouse. Contributions are also being accepted to procure a portrait of Judge Haynes, to be hung in the Third Circuit Courtroom. Download a reservation card.


 
 

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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.


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