Day 2: ACA Arguments Put Obama Lawyers on Defensive

On the second day of arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Supreme Court conservative justices put the Obama administration's top lawyer on the defensive, possibly forecasting a closer-than-expected Supreme Court decision, the Blog of Legal Times says. The justices appeared split on whether the federal government can force people to buy health insurance, according to National Public Radio. The court's conservatives appeared skeptical and unmoved by the government's arguments in favor of the mandate that requires just about everyone in the U.S. to have health insurance starting in 2014.

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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

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 Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


Ronald S. Range, Jr., Johnson City, Tennessee, and Gary C. Shockley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Discover Bank.

Jennifer L. Chadwell, for the Appellee, Joy A. Morgan.

Judge: CLARK

In this consumer protection case, we must determine which Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure applies to a motion that seeks relief from a default judgment of liability on a counter-complaint, where the motion has been filed within thirty days of entry of the default, the trial court has not expressly directed the entry of judgment on the counter-complaint pursuant to Rule 54.02, and neither liability on the original complaint nor damages on the counter-complaint have been determined. We hold that Rule 54.02, rather than Rule 60.02, applies in this situation; however, we also hold that the same test applies to motions seeking relief from default judgment, under either rule, on the basis of “excusable neglect.” We also hold that actual damages are recoverable for loss of available credit under Tennessee Code Annotated section 47-18-109(a) (2001) of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act where the plaintiff suffers a demonstrable loss of credit, proximately caused by the defendant, resulting in actual harm. For these reasons, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals upholding the default judgment, vacating the award of damages, and remanding the case to the trial court for a new hearing on the amount of damages.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jon Steven Jablonski, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Samuel Amezcua.

Tyree B. Harris, IV, and Katherine Anne Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Maria Amezcua.


In this post-divorce proceeding, Father appeals a judgment for child support arrearages and award of attorney’s fees to Mother. Finding that the court erred in its determination of the amount of arrearages, we reverse the judgment and remand for further proceedings. The award of attorney’s fees is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James Edward Bassham, Wartburg, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Mark A. Hudson, Senior Counsel, for the State of Tennessee, Department of Correction, and Gayle Ray, Commissioner.


Petitioner, an inmate in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction, housed at Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tennessee, filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Wayne County Chancery Court seeking review of the prison disciplinary proceedings for his conviction for the disciplinary offense of “violation of state law” while incarcerated at South Central Correctional Center in Clifton, Tennessee. Based upon the filing of an Inmate Affidavit filed pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 41-21-801 et seq., a certified copy of his Inmate Trust Fund Account and a Uniform Civil Affidavit of Indigency, the trial court filed an Order allowing filing on pauper’s oath. Upon motion of respondents, the court was advised that Petitioner falsely stated that he had no income from any source. Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 41-21-804, the trial court dismissed the petition upon the finding that the inmate’s affidavit of indigency was false. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joseph Y. Longmire, Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kristi Michelle Carman.

Betty Lou Taylor, Hartsville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Michael Andrew Carman.


This is a post-divorce parental relocation case. The mother seeks to relocate to Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada, with the parties’ seven (7) minor children, in order to reside with her new husband, a Canadian citizen she met on the internet. The father opposes the relocation. The mother spends substantially more time with the children, thus Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6- 108(d) applies. Finding there was no reasonable purpose for moving to Canada, that the move would pose a threat of specific and serious harm to the children, and that the move is not in the best interests of the children, the trial court denied the request to relocate. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William L.A. Church, Helena, Oklahoma, pro se.

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

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, William L.A. Church, challenges the trial court’s denial of his petitions for writ of error coram nobis relief from his convictions for passing a forged check and aggravated assault, alleging that newly discovered evidence warrants relief. Upon review, we conclude that the petitioner failed to allege any “newly discovered evidence” and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Tommy Earl Jones, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Tommy Earl Jones, appeals from the trial court’s dismissal of his petition for postconviction relief based upon its finding that the petition was filed after the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the trial court’s denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. We find the State’s motion has merit. Accordingly, the motion is granted and the judgment of the Circuit Court is affirmed pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joshua L. Brand, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tarina Simmons.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Ben Ford and Janice Norman Ware, Assistant District Attorney Generals, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Tarina Simmons, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner, pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, entered best-interest guilty pleas to two counts of second degree murder and was sentenced to concurrent sentences of thirty-five years. Thereafter, she filed a post-conviction petition alleging that her guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered based upon the ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, she contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to adequately consult with her about the plea process and review the evidence against her; (2) overemphasizing the possible number of years the petitioner could receive in jail, resulting in the pleas being coerced; and (3) allowing the petitioner to proceed when her mental state was not stable enough to allow her to properly participate in the process. Following review of the record, we find no error and affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

ABA to High Court: Arizona Immigration Law Illegal

The American Bar Association is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that four provisions of Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration law, known as S.B. 1070, are unconstitutional because they are pre-empted by federal immigration law. The four provisions were enjoined by lower federal court rulings before the law went into effect. In an amicus brief filed late Monday in State of Arizona et al. v. United States of America, the ABA urges affirmance of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, stating that none of these provisions can be implemented by Arizona without inevitably conflicting with the federal system of statutes and regulations that is carried out by federal agencies and specialized courts. The ABA has more

Tatum in Race for Circuit Court Seat

In qualifying for the race to fill the 26th district Circuit Court Judge position, Chester County attorney Lloyd Tatum says he’s a strong candidate because of his experience in criminal, domestic and personal injury cases. “As a small-town lawyer, we have to do everything,” he said. The seat was left vacant when Judge Roger Page was appointed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The Jackson Sun reports

Supreme Court Says No to Human Gene Patents

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out a lower court ruling allowing human genes to be patented, a topic of enormous interest to cancer researchers, patients and drug makers. The court overturned patents belonging to Myriad Genetics Inc. of Salt Lake City on two genes linked to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The Daily News has the AP story

Appointed Attorneys Get Paid More Often in Greene Co.

Greene County leads the state in fees collected from defendants who are assigned court-appointed lawyers, the Greeneville Sun reports. General Sessions Court Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. said he and Criminal Court Judge John Dugger Jr. make sure that defendants pay their fair share and do not burden taxpayers. "I feel like especially if people can find the money to bond out of jail, they need to find the money to pay for their appointed attorney," Bailey said.

Shelby Redistricting Probably Headed to Court

The Shelby County Commission was unable to reach agreement on Monday in the months-old redistricting debate about district maps for the 2014 commission elections and beyond. The next significant steps will likely come in Chancery Court, the Commercial Appeal reports.

Former Athens Lawyer Suspended

Lance W. Parr, formerly of Athens, was suspended on March 23 for one year by the Tennessee Supreme Court. He must also be evaluated by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) and comply with all TLAP’s recommendations as a condition to any reinstatement. Among other actions, Parr represented a client in a divorce with whom he was having an affair, and he failed to adequately advise the client of the conflict or obtain a waiver of the conflict. A hearing panel determined that his actions violated Rule 1.7 (conflicts); 3.1 (meritorious claims); 3.3 (candor toward the tribunal); and 8.4 (misconduct). Download the release from the BPR

Carter to Run for New House District 29

Mike Carter announced Monday he will run for Tennessee's newly redrawn House District 29. JoAnne Favor, who is now running for the newly redrawn District 28, held the seat before. News 12 reports

House Approves, Bills Now Ready for Governor's Signature

With approval by the House on Monday, legislation now headed to Gov. Haslam's desk for his signature include an anti-crime package, a bill that would allow public buildings to display "historically significant documents" including the 10 Commandments, and a bill that would encourage classroom debate over evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning.

'Guns in Trunks' Bill Moves to Full Senate

A measure that would prevent employers and landowners from prohibiting individuals licensed to carry guns from storing them in locked, personal vehicles is headed for a full Senate vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-1 today (Tuesday) to advance the bill after Chairwoman Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, refused a request to hear from representatives of FedEx Corp. or other large employers that oppose the bill. "I don't know that any more testimony is going to change anybody's mind," Beaver said. The News Sentinel has the story

License Surrender Not a Disciplinary Action

An item in the March 15, 2011, issue of TBAToday reported that four attorneys – John Standafer, Pauline Anne Weaver, Paul A. Brantley and Richard Ayres Counts -- had filed petitions to surrender their licenses to practice law in Tennessee. This item was mistakenly placed under the Disciplinary Actions news heading. No disciplinary actions were involved in their petitions or in the orders issued by the Tennessee Supreme Court, which granted their requests.


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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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