Editorial: Judicial Selection Process Works, Support It

The Knoxville News Sentinel is calling for legislators to support the proposal from Gov. Bill Haslam that would affirm by constitutional amendment the state's method of selecting justices for the Tennessee Supreme Court and appeals courts. In an editorial, the newspaper says  that some lawmakers who "can't resist trying to fix things that are not really broken" should listen to the proposal's top supporters: Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell. "There are good reasons the Founding Fathers of our nation and the writers of many state constitutions focused on separation of powers and checks and balances to make republican government work," the editorial says. "In making decisions from the bench, justices must consider the law before them, not the special interests that bankrolled their election."

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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joseph C. Clark, Jonathan L. May, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rodney Heaton and Margaret Heaton.

William M. Jeter, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Loeb Properties, Inc.


The parties entered into a Contract for the sale and purchase of commercial real estate, and the purchaser deposited $50,000.00 earnest money. The purchaser terminated the Contract, citing the economic downturn and the purchaser’s resulting inability to secure retail tenants for its planned development. The parties disputed whether such termination was appropriate under the Contract, and thus, whether the purchaser was entitled to a return of its earnest money. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the purchaser and further awarded the purchaser its attorney fees and expenses. We find the economic downturn did not provide an appropriate basis for termination of the Contract. Thus, we reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the purchaser, and we enter summary judgment in favor of the sellers. The sellers shall be awarded the $44,362.57 remaining in the escrow account, and the purchaser shall pay the sellers an additional $5,637.43, for a total of $50,000.00. Additionally, pursuant to the Contract, the sellers are awarded attorney fees and expenses incurred in both the trial court and in this Court, and we remand for a determination of such award.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Timothy M. Gibbons, John B. Critchfield and Amanda N. Ray, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects, PLLC.

James T. Williams, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Chattanooga Bank Associates and LTE Corp.


Plaintiff brought this action claiming, inter alia, that it was entitled to a mechanics' lien on the subject property. Defendant filed Motions to Dismiss, one ground being that the Complaint failed to state a cause of action. The Trial Court subsequently ruled that the Complaint did not establish a cause of action to entitle plaintiff to a lien on the property. Plaintiff has appealed and we hold that upon review of the Complaint, and applying the rules governing the test of the sufficiency of the allegations in the Complaint, that the Complaint states a cause of action. We vacate the Trial Court's Judgment and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Danny C. Garland, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ruth Cummins.

N. David Roberts, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Terry Christopher Epling and Pamela Diane Epling.


Petitioners petitioned the Trial Court to adopt three children. The Trial Court, upon hearing the evidence, held that the adoptive parents had met all the legal requirements to adopt the children and that it was in the best interest of the children for the petitioners to adopt them. Following the adoption order, one of the children's grandmother filed a motion in the Trial Court seeking Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60 relief. The Trial Court overruled the grandmother's motion and the grandmother appealed to this Court. We hold the grandmother was not a necessary party at the proceedings, did not seek to intervene in the adoption proceedings, and was not entitled to seek relief under the Rule 60 motion. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Marc Murdaugh and Gregory W. Minton, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Stoots.

Crystal Stoots, Trenton, Tennessee, pro se.


Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Lawren B. Lassiter, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brian Dewayne Brewington.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; L. Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; Sallie Wade Brown, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Brian Dewayne Brewington (“the Petitioner”) filed for post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of aggravated child neglect, two counts of child neglect, and the resulting sentence of twenty-five years. He alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and at sentencing. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal followed. Upon our careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Russell E. Edwards, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William A. Osborne.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; L. Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; Lytle Anthony James, Assistant District Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Sumner County jury convicted the Defendant, William A. Osborne, of three counts of facilitation of aggravated burglary, one count of facilitation of theft of property between $500 and $1000, one count of theft of property between $500 and $1000, and one count of theft of property between $1000 and $10,000. The trial court sentenced him as a career offender to an effective sentence of thirty-six years, to be served at 60%. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant’s motion to suppress; (2) the trial court erred when it allowed the jury to find the Defendant guilty on Count 1 after the jury had previously announced it could not unanimously agree as to Count 1; (3) the trial court erred when it failed to declare a mistrial following prejudicial statements made by the State’s witnesses; (4) the evidence at trial was insufficient to sustain his convictions; and (5) the trial court erred in sentencing the Defendant. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we conclude that there exists no error in the judgments of the trial court, and we affirm those judgments.

More Lawyers Doing Pro Bono in Tougher Economy

The number of cases taken on by the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and Cumberlands and the Nashville Pro Bono Program has increased 11 percent since 2007. “We saw a big jump in need as the economy worsened,” said Lucinda Smith, director of the Nashville Pro Bono Program. Lawyers are responding to the need. Last year, 810 lawyers volunteered their time through the pro bono program and nearly 60 more are helping out this year to meet the need, Smith said. The Tennessean has this story

TBA National Finalist for Webcasting Award

The Tennessee Bar Association’s webcasting program has again been selected as a finalist in the national Rich Media Impact Awards competition. The TBA earned the top award for associations last year for providing timely educational programming following the 2010 flood that devastated much of Tennessee. This year, the TBA is being recognized for its new All Access Video Network, which provides free online mentoring for lawyers. The network now offers three channels of programming: Practice Points, Going Solo and Professional Development. The winner of this year’s competition will be announced in May at the Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite Users Conference.

Tennessee's Take on Strip Searches

Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court gave the OK for jailers to strip search anyone who’s arrested — regardless of how minor their offense — the sheriff in Tipton County decided that every incoming detainee will be strip searched, the Tennessean reports. In Nashville, Sheriff Daron Hall says they do not strip search routinely, but have people change out of their street clothes behind a curtain turn their clothes over to officials. He says his department is not going to change its policy as a result of the court’s ruling, but said there does "need to be a consistent application of how you search, when you search." The City Paper has more

Editorial: High Court Should Allow Cameras

In an editorial, the Times Free Press explains why the U.S. Supreme Court should adopt a policy that provides reasonable and accessible TV coverage of its proceedings.

Fewer Law Jobs in March

The legal sector lost 1,300 jobs last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The legal sector had gained jobs in January and February. The total number of legal sector jobs in March stood at 1,116,400, compared to highs of 1,180,000 before the recession, the Am Law Daily says.

Renew Your TBA Membership Today

The Tennessee Bar Association membership renewal program for 2012-2013 is now open online. Visit the TBA Online Membership page today to make sure you don’t miss a day of TBA member services or benefits. When you renew online, you not only save time, you also save your association the cost of printing and mailing your renewal statement -- and you save the trees that would go into making all of that paper. It's quick, and it's easy! Renew now and relax; your membership will be assured for another year.

Elizabethton Lawyer To Run for House

Thom Gray has formally announced his candidacy for State Representative from the Fourth District, representing Carter and Unicoi counties. The Elizabethton lawyer will seek the Republican nomination in the Aug. 2 primary election. The Elizabethton Star has more

6 Qualify for Circuit Court Election

Six candidates qualified by last week's deadline to run in the Aug. 2 race to fill the 26th Judicial District Circuit Court position left vacant when Judge Roger Page was appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals. The district serves Madison, Henderson and Chester counties. The qualifying candidates are Kyle Carter Atkins, Dale Conder Jr., Edward Martindale, Mark Patey, Nathan Pride and Lloyd Tatum. Read more about them in the Jackson Sun

7 in Race for Judge Moon's Seat; 10 Vie for Soddy Daisy Judge

Seven candidates have qualified to run for an open General Sessions Court judge seat in the Aug. 2 election. The seat was left open by the death of Judge Bob Moon. The seven  are Joe G. DeGaetano, Patricia Best Vital, Ron Powers, Gary Starnes, Valerie Epstein and Yolanda Mitchell and David Norton. Norton was the longtime judge at Soddy Daisy, but gave up that position when he was named by the County Commission to fill the General Sessions Court post until the election. There are 10 candidates in the running for the Soddy Daisy job: Bob Davis, Marty Lasley, Mike Little, Chris Lanier, J. Chad Hogue, Mitchell Meeks, John McDougal, Bryan Hoss, Mike Acuff and John Meldorf. Chattanoogan.com has more

Editorial: Governor Should Sign Diversion Bill

In an editorial, the Jackson Sun urges Gov. Bill Haslam to sign legislation on his desk that makes state public officials ineligible for pretrial diversion for criminal acts committed in their official capacity. "Gov. Haslam can raise the ethics bar and improve the image and the reputation of Tennessee public officials by signing this legislation into law," the paper says.

Two CASA Fundraisers on Tap for Nashville Area

Two Nashville-area CASA agencies have fundraisers scheduled in the next few weeks. On April 21, CASA of Nashville will host its 13th annual Red Shoe Party at the Pinnacle at Symphony Place. This year's event begins at 7 p.m. and features a silent auction, live music and food from Margaritaville. Tickets are available online www.casa-nashville.org or by calling (615) 425-2383. Then on May 1, Williamson County CASA will hold a benefit concert featuring Wynonna Judd at the Franklin Theatre. A silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. The concert will follow at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at FranklinTheatre.com. Read more about the event in The Tennessean


Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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.

© Copyright 2012 Tennessee Bar Association