House Committee Passes Merit Selection Measure

A constitutional amendment, HJR 753, passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 9-6 vote today and is now on its way to the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee. The measure would specifically place a merit-selection system in the state’s constitution for appellate judges in the state. Gavel Grab has details, including a video from the hearing

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.

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









You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) 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.


TN Court of Appeals

CASEY E. BEVANS v. RHONDA BURGESS ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

James David Nave, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Casey E. Bevans.

Teresa Reall Ricks, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Rhonda Burgess and Southern Living Realty Partners. Rebecca A. Martin a/k/a Rebecca Casner, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Pro Se. Billy Adkins, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Pro Se. Virginia Adkins, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Judge: BENNETT

Prospective buyer who signed real estate sales contract sued seller, seller’s real estate agent and broker, and the actual buyers for breach of contract, violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, and specific performance. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the ground that there was no enforceable contract. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

JOHNNY WAYNE BEARD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Andrea D. Sipes, Jackson, Tennessee (on appeal); and Mark E. Davidson, Covington, Tennessee (at hearing), for the appellant, Johnny Wayne Beard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Jason Poyner, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Johnny Wayne Beard, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his rape of a child conviction, arguing he received the ineffective assistance of counsel which caused him to enter an unknowing and involuntary guilty plea. After review, we affirm the lower court’s denial of post-conviction relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GRETA COOPER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

D. Brent Gray, Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Greta Cooper.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; William P. Phillips, District Attorney General; and Michael O. Ripley, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Greta Cooper, was indicted along with two codefendents for multiple counts of theft of property and forgery. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of eight counts of theft of property valued over $500, three counts of theft of property valued over $1,000, one count of theft of property valued over $10,000, and twelve counts of forgery. 1 As a result of the convictions, Appellant was sentenced to an effect sentence of three years, to be served as six months in confinement followed by six years on probation. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant appealed. On appeal, she asserts that the trial court improperly excluded a statement made by the victim to law enforcement that he gave Appellant the money which was the subject of her theft convictions. We determine that Appellant failed to properly raise the issue in a motion for new trial. Therefore, the issue is waived absent a showing of plain error. After a review of the record, we decline to review the issue for plain error because the trial court did not breach a clear and unequivocal rule of law. Specifically, we agree with the trial court’s determination that the statement made by Lonzia Taylor was not admissible as a statement against interest because it was made under circumstances which render it unreliable. Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DARIUS J. HUNT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender; John Halstead, Assistant Public Defender, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Darius J. Hunt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General and Phillip H. Morton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

Defendant-Appellant, Darius J. Hunt, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s order revoking his probation. Hunt pled guilty to one count of possession of half a gram or more of cocaine with intent to sell. He received a suspended sentence of eight years following one year of confinement. On appeal, Hunt claims that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his probation and in ordering him to serve the sentence in confinement. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GREGORY KEITH WIGGINS AND ROBERT BROWN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kent K. Stanley, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gregory K. Wiggins.

Steven M. Garner, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Brown. Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Mary Katharine White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HARRIS

The Defendant, Gregory Keith Wiggins, pled guilty to theft of property valued over $500, a Class E felony, evading arrest creating a risk of death or injury, a Class D felony, and driving on a revoked license, eleventh offense, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced as a Range II multiple offender to concurrent terms of three years’ confinement for theft and four years’ confinement for evading arrest. He was sentenced to a consecutive term of eleven months, twenty-nine days’ confinement for driving on a revoked license for an effective sentence of four years, eleven months, twenty-nine days. The Defendant, Robert Brown, pled guilty to theft of property valued under $500, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days’ confinement. Each Defendant reserved a certified question of law related to their seizure by law enforcement officers. The Defendant Wiggins also appeals the trial court’s sentencing determinations. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Human Resource Agency Board Member Conflict of Interest

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-03-19

Opinion Number: 37


Collecting Sheriff's Fee for Bail Bond

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-03-19

Opinion Number: 38


Former Chancellor Kilcrease Dies

Irvin H. Kilcrease Jr., a former Davidson County chancery court judge who served on the bench for more than two decades and was one of the Nashville School of Law’s first African-American graduates, died Monday night. He was 80. Kilcrease was appointed to the bench in 1980 and served until his retirement in 2003. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Nashville and worked in private practice and as a public defender. Arrangements were not complete at press time. The Tennessean reports on his life.


Memphis Lawyer is New Chair of Federal Reserve Branch

Charles S. Blatteis, managing member of the Memphis-based Blatteis Law Firm PLLC, has been designated chairman of the board of directors of the Memphis Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He is currently serving a three-year term on the board, ending Dec. 31, 2013. Learn more here


Number of LSAT Takers Declines

About 22,000 people took the Law School Admission Test in February, the lowest number for a February exam since 2001, according to data from the Law School Admission Council. The number of people taking the test in June, October, December and February—129,925—dropped by 16 percent from the prior cycle and is also at an 11-year low point. An analysis of tuition increases for the 2011-2012 academic year published by the Am Law Daily suggests that the declining numbers are having an effect on law schools and their tuition. ABAJournal.com reports


Requirement to Report Graduate Salaries Rejected

The American Bar Association's Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar on March 17 gave preliminary approval to a new accreditation standard that would require law schools to report additional details about their scholarship retention rates and the jobs that their graduates land. But the council rejected a recommendation that it require law schools to report school-specific salary data. Transparency advocates said the omission would leave prospective students without important information about their earning prospects. Law.com has the story


Editorial: Judge Correct, But Animal Cruelty Laws Do Need Strengthening

An animal abuse case has the Johnson City Press defending the women who wore a message on their T-shirts into court, as well as defending the judge who admonished them. Criminal Court Judge Bob Cupp told the women he was “offended” by the message, “Justice for Honey,” and said he did not need them to remind him of his responsibilities as a jurist. Honey is the name of the dog that died in a recent aggravated animal cruelty case. “As a criminal court judge, Cupp is indeed responsible for seeing that all defendants are treated fairly under the law, regardless of what they have been charged with,” the editorial says. “Justice is not dependent on public opinion, nor should it ever be swayed by the passions of the masses.” The paper then points out that experts say those who abuse animals are also likely to do the same to spouses, children and other family members. “That is why this crime should be treated more severely than it is now under Tennessee law.” 
Read the editorial


Hurley Surprised to Learn Dogs Not Allowed in the Courthouse

Rep. Julia Hurley, R-Lenoir City, was asked to leave the Roane County Courthouse last week because she had a dog with her. Hurley, who says she simply didn't know dogs weren't allowed in the courthouse, says the 11-pound dog is a service animal and therefore permitted in public places according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The dog was already registered as a service dog when she adopted it, she points out, saying that's why she got the dog so she could take it to the hospital to visit cancer patients. WATE reports


Rep. Hawk's Account Differs From Wife's in Domestic Dispute

Rep. David Hawk returned to the state legislature on Monday afternoon, just hours after his first court appearance on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence resulted in an order for the Greeneville Republican to have no contact with his wife. In a statement to reporters, he said that his wife, lawyer Crystal Goan Hawk, “had a gun and told me that she was going to put a bullet in my head while I was holding my baby.” This is contrary to the criminal complaint obtained by The Greeneville Sun, which describes Crystal Hawk saying her husband grabbed her by the arm, struck her in the face and knocked her to ground in an altercation at their home. The Tennessean reports


'Evolution Bill' Passes Senate

A proposal that would protect teachers who allow students to criticize scientific theories like evolution, SB 893, was approved 24-8 in the Senate on Monday evening. A similar version passed the House 70-23 last year. The bill's Senate sponsor, Bo Watson, R-Hixon, says the legislation is necessary to help teachers know how to respond to questions about such subjects. TriCities.com has more


Deadline to Apply for Assistant U.S. Attorney This Friday

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee is seeking an assistant U.S. attorney for its Criminal Division in Memphis. Resumes must be received by 5 p.m. Central on March 23. Learn more about the position and the application process


Memphis Lawyer Censured

Memphis lawyer Homer L. Cody was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on March 16 for representing two parties in the same action that had adverse interests against one another. Both the Tennessee Court of Appeals and the trial court ordered Cody to refrain from representation of either party, but he continued to provide legal services to one of the parties. The Supreme Court determined that the representation caused a direct conflict of interest and violated Rule 1.7 (conflict of interest), 3.1 (meritorious claims and contentions) and 8.4 (misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Download the BPR's release


Montgomery County Lawyer Censured

Montgomery County lawyer Christopher Wayne Barber received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court on March 19 for practicing law while his license was suspended, charging an unreasonable fee, and failing to notify his client that his license to practice law had been suspended. The court found these actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 (diligence), 1.4 (communication), 1.5 (fees), 5.5 (unauthorized practice of law), and 8.1(b) (bar admission and disciplinary matters). Download the BPR release


Nashville Lawyer Transferred to Disability Inactive Status

By order of the Tennessee Supreme Court entered March 16, the law license of Nashville lawyer James A. Hewitt was transferred to disability inactive status pursuant to Section 21 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9. Download the BPR release


 
 

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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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