ABA President Responds to Proposal Eliminating LSC

The U.S. House of Representatives Republican Study Committee recently released a budget proposal calling for elimination of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The group's proposal has been introduced in the House as H.Con.Res. 113. Responding to the plan, American Bar Association President Bill Robinson said the proposal is "remarkably shortsighted" and “ignores the overwhelming needs of struggling families for free legal advice.” Rather than eliminating the LSC, Robinson called on Congress to increase its investment in access to justice by appropriating $402 million for the agency next year. 
Read Robinson's full statement

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - 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 Court of Appeals

WENDY ANN BURTON v. ROBERT MARK MOONEYHAM

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Stanley Allen Kweller, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Mark Mooneyham.

David Scott Parsley, Joshua G. Strickland, and Michael K. Parsley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wendy Ann Burton.

Judge: BENNETT

In this divorce appeal, husband challenges the trial court’s valuation of his business, the division of marital assets, and the allocation of the debt on the marital residence. Husband also argues that the trial court erred in the amount and length of the alimony award and in awarding attorney fees to wife. We find that the trial court erred in changing its net valuation of the business, after a second hearing, from $200,000 to $280,000 based upon the updated status of Husband’s payments on the tax lien. As this change did not affect the trial court’s division of the marital estate or the alimony award, however, the error is harmless. In all other respects, we find no error in the trial court’s decision.


KRISTIE LYNN (MCCLANNAHAN) JENKINS v. WILLIAM CHARLES MCCLANNAHAN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph L. Hornick, Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Charles McClannahan.

Jennifer Davis Roberts, Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kristie Lynn (McClannahan) Jenkins.

Judge: CLEMENT

In this post-divorce action, the father appeals the entry of a default judgment modifying the parties’ parenting plan for their minor child and the denial of his Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 motion to set aside the default judgment. The father was personally served with the petition to modify the parenting plan at work but did not file an answer. He had changed residences after the divorce but did not provide the mother or the court with his new address after the petition was served. Over two months later, the mother filed a motion for default judgment, serving the father by mail at his last known address. The trial court granted the motion and entered a default judgment. Father filed a Rule 60.02 motion for relief, which was denied. This appeal followed. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm.


NEW LIFE MEN’S CLINIC, INC. v. DR. CHARLES BECK

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Timothy H. Nichols, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, New Life Men’s Clinic Inc.

Evalina C. Cheadle, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Dr. Charles Beck.

Judge: STAFFORD

Appellee was granted a default judgment against Appellant in the general sessions court. More than five months after the entry of the default judgment, Appellant filed a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 motion for relief from the general sessions court’s judgment. The general sessions court dismissed the motion on grounds that it was not timely filed and that the general sessions court, therefore, lacked jurisdiction to set aside its judgment. Appellant appealed to the circuit court. Thereafter, Appellant filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, which was dismissed sua sponte by the circuit court. Appellant appeals. Because the writ of error coram nobis has long been abolished in the civil law, this filing had no legal effect; consequently, the trial court did not err in dismissing the writ. Affirmed and remanded.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

JAMES ALTON CAMPBELL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul Cross, Monteagle, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Alton Campbell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsey Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steve Strain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, James Alton Campbell, appeals the partial denial of his petition for postconviction relief. In this appeal, the petitioner asserts that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.


FRANK WARREN CURRAH v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Andrew Jackson Dearing, III, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for appellant, Frank Warren Currah.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Hollynn Eubanks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Frank Warren Currah, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of sexual exploitation of a minor and aggravated stalking and resulting effective sentence of eight years in confinement. On appeal, the petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RODNEY K. GLOVER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Daniel A. Stephenson, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rodney K. Glover.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Robert J. Nash, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Montgomery County Circuit Court jury convicted the defendant, Rodney K. Glover, of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit theft of property valued at over $10,000 but less than $60,000, aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and theft of property valued at less than $500. At sentencing, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of 50 years’ incarceration. On appeal, the defendant challenges the trial court’s imposition of sentences as to both the length and alignment of service. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. HENRY T. JOHNSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gregory D. Smith (on appeal) and Joel Wallace (at trial), Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Henry T. Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and John Finklea and Arthur Bieber, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Montgomery County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Henry T. Johnson, of first degree premeditated murder and aggravated burglary. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction for the first degree murder conviction and three years for the aggravated burglary conviction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction for first degree murder, arguing that the State failed to prove premeditation. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


JEFFREY KLOCKO V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Cynthia M. Fort, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffrey Klocko.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; Brian Holmgren, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Jeffrey Klocko (“the Petitioner”) filed for post-conviction relief, challenging his convictions for aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery by an authority figure, and assault by offensive or provocative contact, which resulted in an effective sentence of thirteen years. As his basis for relief, he alleged numerous grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal followed. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that trial counsel failed to interview the Petitioner’s therapist or mother and failed to call either of them at trial, resulting in ineffective assistance. Upon a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BO W. PRENDERGAST

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Drew Justice, Franklin, Tennessee (on appeal); and LaShawn A. Williams, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Bo W. Prendergast.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Mary Katharine White, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Williamson County Circuit Court jury convicted the defendant, Bo W. Prendergast, of one count of theft of property valued at over $10,000 but less than $60,000, see T.C.A. §§ 39-14- 103, -105(4) (2006), and the trial court imposed a sentence of 15 years’ incarceration as a Range III, persistent offender to be served consecutively to a previously imposed sentence. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction and urges this court to conclude that the trial court committed plain error by excluding a State’s witness’s felony convictions for use as impeachment. Discerning neither a paucity in the evidence nor that substantial justice requires consideration of the alleged error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAWAD K. SALMAN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael B. Schwegler, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jawad K. Salman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; Dan M. Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; Sarah Wojnarowski, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Jawad Salman (“the Petitioner”) filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea for conspiracy to manufacture less than one hundred plants of marijuana, a D felony. The trial court denied the motion, and final judgment was entered. The Petitioner timely appealed, asserting that his guilty plea was void because of the failure to reduce the Petitioner’s guilty plea to a signed writing and that the trial court erred by not allowing the Petitioner to withdraw his guilty plea. We affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. STEVEN THACKER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Vanessa King and B. Jeffery Harmon, Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven Thacker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steven H. Strain, Assistant District Attorney, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Steven Thacker, appeals the revocation of his probation, claiming that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation and ordering execution of the original sentence. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Paper: Blackwood Planned to Release Baumgartner File

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports it has obtained a letter from Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) indicating he planned to make public the entire investigative file on former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, with a few exceptions to protect personal information. Two days later, however, Blackwood announced he would not release the file, saying he did not have authority to unseal it. The paper received the letter in response to a public records request filed with the TBI. Similar requests were filed with Blackwood, Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols and the Administrative Office of the Courts. The paper reports that Blackwood has agreed to honor the request but has not set a date for releasing the information, while Nichols has refused, citing the documents as work product in ongoing cases. The News Sentinel has more


County Considers Shopping Center for Courts Site

The Bedford County Financial Management Committee, which already was investigating the possibility of buying the Regions Bank building on the town square for use as additional courtroom space, reports it also wants to look into buying the Big Springs Shopping Center on Lane Parkway as a way to relieve overcrowding at existing courtroom facilities. Regardless of which option it decides to pursue, County Mayor Eugene Ray urged the committee to closely involve local judges in the discussion. Read more in the Shelbyville Times Gazette


Nashville Lawyers Receive Athena Awards

Nashville lawyer Ruth Johnson was honored with the 2012 Nashville Athena Award this week. Johnson, who was nominated by the Tennessee Women's Forum, was one of 29 nominees considered for the award, which recognizes women for outstanding business skills, leadership and community service. Johnson currently serves as associate vice president for advancement at Meharry Medical College. She previously served under Gov. Don Sundquist as the state's Commissioner of Revenue from 1995 to 2003. She earned her law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1975. Read more from the school

Another Nashville lawyer, Andrea Perry, was awarded the group's 2012 Young Professional Leadership Award earlier this month. The Nashville Post has more on her award.


Lawyer Announces for Judge Moon’s Seat

Chattanooga attorney Gary Starnes yesterday announced his candidacy for the Hamilton County General Sessions Court seat previously held by Judge Bob Moon. Starnes earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1986, and practiced with Spears, Moore, Rebman, & Williams for six years. In 1993, he started his own firm and has served as a special judge in the city courts and the county sessions court. Read more about his background and vision for the office on Chattanoogan.com


Two More Pursue Soddy Daisy Judgeship

Chattanoogan.com is reporting that two additional attorneys, Bryan Hoss and John McDougal, have picked up papers to run for Soddy Daisy judge on Aug. 2. That brings to seven the total number of interested individuals. Lawyers previously reported as expressing interest are Chris Lanier, Marty Lasley, J. Chad Hogue, Mike Little and Mitchell Meeks. The city’s former judge, David Norton, recently resigned after being named a judge in Hamilton County General Sessions Court.


Vandy Prof Authors 1 of 130 Briefs in Health Care Case

Vanderbilt University law professor James Blumstein is the only Tennessean to author and file his own amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case testing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Blumstein, who specializes in health care and constitutional law at the school, said he did not seek others to join him on the brief because he did not want it to become a political document. The Nashville Business Journal looks at his arguments and his thoughts about this week's oral arguments.


Malpractice Bill Criticized by TAJ

Legislation permitting health care providers to gain access to the medical records of anyone filing a medical malpractice claim was considered by the House Judiciary Committee this week. The bill, HB 2979, would supersede federal HIPAA laws and allow an attorney, representing a health care provider, to access a plaintiff's medical history, including mental health and past drug or alcohol abuse treatments, according to the Murfreesboro Post. The Tennessee Association for Justice called the bill an outrageous invasion of privacy and a tool for defense attorneys to intimidate victims of medical negligence and abuse. The Post has more


Effort to Repeal Voter ID Fails

A proposal to repeal Tennessee's new voter ID law was killed by a Senate panel on Tuesday. Members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee voted 3-6 against the measure sponsored by Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney of Jackson. Memphis Daily News has more


Gun Rights Bills Advance

Two gun rights bills advanced in the Senate this week with the Judiciary Committee passing SB 3002, which prohibits employers from banning the storage of firearms in cars on company lots, and the Commerce Committee passing SB 2992, which prohibits employment discrimination based ownership, storage, transportation or possession of a firearm. Both bills are sponsored by Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill. As expected, SB 3002 was amended to only cover gun carry permit holders. Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, further amended the bill to include licensed hunters over 21. Another amendment added exemptions for single-family homes, nuclear facilities and U.S. Department of Energy sites, such as one in Oak Ridge. TN Report has the story


Bill Allowing Municipal School Districts Approved

A subcommittee of the House Education Committee approved a bill yesterday to allow the creation of municipal school districts in Shelby County. A similar bill was approved last week by the Senate Education Committee. The legislation is designed to overturn rulings by the courts and the state’s attorney general that localities may not take action on municipal school districts until merger of the county’s two public school systems is complete. The Memphis Daily News reports


Bill Bans Nondiscrimination Policies at State Schools

The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved a bill yesterday that would prevent state schools from applying nondiscrimination rules to faith-based organizations. The bill, SB 3597, comes in response to a controversial policy at Vanderbilt University, which requires on-campus organizations to include any student who wants to be a member or leader of the group, even if they disagree over central beliefs. The committee briefly considered applying the rule to private schools but rejected that as an overreach of state authority. Learn more from WBIR


Bill Would Protect Religious Expression at School Events

Local school boards would be required to let students in leadership positions voluntarily express their religious viewpoints at football games, school assemblies and graduation ceremonies under a bill moving in the House. The bill, HB 3616, passed the House Education Committee this week on a voice vote after a motion to refer it to a summer study committee was tabled. The Times Free Press reports


KBA Hosts Community Law School

On Saturday, March 31, the Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) will hold its spring Community Law School from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Fellowship Church, 8000 Middlebrook Pike. The morning program (9 to 11 a.m.) will focus on wills and estate planning and will be presented by Tom Ramsey with Ramsey, Elmore, Stone & Caffey. The second part of the program (11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) will feature Mark Brown with Menefee & Brown discussing a range of issues, including identity theft, dealing with creditors, adjustable rate mortgages and structuring a payment plan with the IRS. The KBA has been holding these programs for 17 years and estimates more than 5,000 individuals have benefited from the training. Register online or by calling the KBA at (865) 522-6522.


Memphis Law Holding Open Houses for New Students

The University of Memphis School of Law will host its annual admitted student open houses throughout the state in April. Events are scheduled for April 4 in Knoxville, April 5 in Nashville and April 14 in Memphis. For details contact lawadmissions@memphis.edu


 
 

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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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