Taylor Suspended, Agrees to Resign

Hawkins County General Sessions Judge James F. "Jay" Taylor reached an agreement with the Court of the Judiciary today that he will be suspended immediately and resign effective May 1. Earlier this week, Taylor invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to a request for information about the possible misuse of  funds. In February, he invoked his right against self-incrimination in response to four theft-related charges. Taylor had been scheduled to stand trial on April 25. Download the order

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.

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00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
04 - TN Court of Appeals
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TN Court of Appeals

SHANNON WAYNE BROWN v. LISA DENISE BROWN (CHURCH)

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

William A. Cameron, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lisa Denise Brown (Church).

Brett A. York, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Shannon Wayne Brown.

Judge: MCCLARTY

This post-divorce appeal arises from an action to modify the parties’ marital dissolution agreement, permanent parenting plan, and to award child support. The permanent parenting plan provided that the father’s child support obligation would not become effective until certain real property was sold; however, because the property had not been sold, the father never started making child support payments. Several hearings were conducted; at the final one, the mother also sought permission to move out-of-state with the minor children. The trial court denied the relief sought by the mother. The father was named the primary residential parent, and the mother was ordered to pay child support. The mother appeals. We affirm.


BETTY L. McCOLLOM v. GRAHAM N. McCOLLOM

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Sue A. Sheldon, Senior Counsel, for the intervenor/appellant, Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Timothy L. Takacs and Barbara Boone McGinnis, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Betty L. McCollom.

Gary A. Hain, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the respondent/appellee, Graham N. McCollom.

Judge: CLEMENT

This appeal arises from the filing of a Petition in the Chancery Court requesting relief pursuant to the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396r-5, to increase the community spouse’s Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance and Community Spouse Resource Allowance. The trial court made the finding that the community spouse had not demonstrated “exceptional circumstances resulting in significant financial duress;” nevertheless, the court granted the community spouse the requested relief and awarded her the entirety of her husband’s income and the couple’s assets. The Tennessee Department of Human Services appealed contending the community spouse must demonstrate “exceptional circumstances resulting in significant financial duress” as a condition precedent to being entitled to the relief. We agree. Finding that the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard in granting the relief, we reverse.


AUNDREY MEALS, as Natural Parent, Guardian, and Next Friend of WILLIAM MEALS v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY
With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Randolph Bibb, Jr., and Ryan N. Clark, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ford Motor Company.

J. Houston Gordon, Covington, Tennessee, for the appellee, Aundrey Meals, as natural parent, guardian and next friend of Williams Meals.

Judge: FARMER

Following a seven week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff in this products liability action. The jury awarded compensatory damages in excess of $43 million, and assessed 15 percent fault against Defendant car manufacturer. Defendant appeals. We affirm the jury verdict with respect to liability but remand with a suggestion of remittitur.


OUTDOOR RESORTS AT GATLINBURG, INC. v. UTILITY MANAGEMENT REVIEW BOARD ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

L. Marshall Albritton and Jessica Van Dyke, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Outdoor Resorts at Gatlinburg, Inc.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Ann Louise Vix, Senior Counsel; and Joe Shirley, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Utility Management Review Board.

James L. Gass and Matthew L. Fink, Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Webb Creek Utility District.

Judge: SUSANO

Webb Creek Utility District (“WCUD”) is a public utility district that, for the most part, furnishes potable water to its customers and processes their sewage. One of its customers is the plaintiff, Outdoor Resorts at Gatlinburg, Inc., the operator of a large campground for campers and recreational vehicles (“RVs”). Outdoor is somewhat unique in that it has its own water supply. It is a “sewer only” customer. From 1985 until 2008, the rate WCUD charged Outdoor was set by contract, which either party could terminate with sufficient notice. In 2008, WCUD terminated the contract and notified Outdoor that it would be charged based upon the number of campsites multiplied by a standard minimum rate per campsite. Outdoor objected to the rate. WCUD held a hearing and adopted the proposed rate over Outdoor’s objection. Outdoor asked for a hearing before the Utility Management Review Board (“the UMRB”). While the matter was pending before the UMRB, WCUD conducted a rate study, following which it proposed still another rate for Outdoor that was less than the objected-to rate, but more than the rate Outdoor had been paying under the terminated contract. The UMRB approved the new rate. Outdoor demanded a refund of overpayments made by it under the higher rate; the UMRB denied Outdoor’s request, stating that it lacked authority to order a refund. Outdoor also asked the UMRB to compel the individual who prepared the rate study to appear for a deposition. The UMRB denied the discovery request upon concluding that it did not have the authority to order such a deposition. Outdoor sought review in the trial court by way of a common law writ of certiorari on several grounds, including lack of material evidence to support the new rate, denial of due process in not compelling a deposition, and its characterization of UMRB’s action as illegal and arbitrary. The trial court allowed Outdoor to take the deposition of the author of the rate study; the court later admitted the deposition testimony into evidence. Nevertheless, the court concluded that the UMRB’s decision was supported by material evidence and dismissed Outdoor’s complaint. Outdoor appeals. We hold that Outdoor was not denied due process, but we vacate the trial court’s judgment because we hold that neither the first post-contract rate established by WCUD nor the newly adopted rate approved by the UMRB is supported by material evidence. Further, we conclude that the UMRB had authority to order a refund of the overpayments.


Senate Takes 'Test Vote' on Judicial Selection

The state Senate took a test vote on Thursday to see who likes what method of appointing judges, WPLN reports. A proposal much like the current system got one vote more than a measure that would put a federal-type, appoint-and-confirm system in place. To be eligible to go on the next referendum ballot (November 2014) bills must pass both houses by a simple majority this year, then pass in the next General Assembly by a two-thirds vote. Although the resolutions have been “read” in the Senate, almost a ceremonial step, no votes on the measures themselves have been taken. The earliest that could happen is Monday.


Haslam's Legislative Priorities See Action

The state House of Representatives voted to cut sales and estate taxes, and the state Senate gave final approval to civil service reforms, dealing Gov. Bill Haslam three legislative victories Thursday. State representatives voted to cut the state’s tax on food by a quarter of a percentage point, and to gradually eliminate inheritance taxes by 2016. Meanwhile, Haslam signed a measure allowing teachers and school workers to participate in prayer groups and other religious activities on school grounds. He also signed a proposal that could be used as a tool to crack down on gang violence. Earlier this week, Haslam said he would allow a bill that encourages classroom debate over evolution to become law without his signature, a symbolic move that signaled his opposition without derailing the bill.


Bar Exam Results Now Available

Results from the February Tennessee bar examination are now available. View the list of successful candidates


Blackwood: Jayson Bailey to Get New Trial

"I am sincerely sorry everybody is going to have to go through this again," Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood said Thursday when he ordered that Jayson Bailey, previously convicted of raping his stepdaughter, get a new trial. This case is one of many upended in the fallout from former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner's abuse of prescription painkillers and related crimes. "If the allegations are true, it breaks my heart (for the girl). If the allegations are not true, this man is falsely incarcerated," Blackwood said. The News Sentinel has more


Pike Fights Conviction of Prison Attack

Tennessee’s only woman on death row was in Davidson County Criminal Court on Thursday, not about the conviction that put her there, but to challenge her 2004 conviction for nearly strangling inmate Patricia Jones with a shoestring. The two were housed in the Tennessee Prison for Women when Christa Gail Pike attacked Jones in 2001. Her current lawyer, Graham Prichard, argued that her trial lawyers at the time were ineffective and that the evidence was insufficient to convict her. Judge Randall Wyatt said he would release a written order in the case in the next two to three weeks. The Tennessean has the story


Dean May Testify in Redistricting Suit

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean may be called to testify next month in a Metro Nashville schools redistricting lawsuit now that federal Judge Kevin Sharp has ruled that attorneys suing the school district may call him and various Metro officials to the stand. Three years ago, Jeffrey and Frances Spurlock sued the school district, claiming its 2009 rezoning plan was meant to move black students from the Hillwood and Hillsboro zones to the predominantly black Pearl-Cohn cluster “to make white families more comfortable.” They plan to introduce as evidence charter school enrollment, suspension rates by race and advanced programs in racially isolated schools compared to more diverse ones. The Tennessean has the story


CLC Celebrates 20 Years

Memphis's Community Legal Center celebrates a birthday this year -- 20 years of providing legal services to the poor. “We’re a small organization -- an independent legal service,” Executive Director Meg Jones says. The center has three part-time staff attorneys, one with a general focus, one who does family law and one who is an immigration attorney. There are also about 200 attorneys who help by taking cases on a pro bono basis. And the center has a translator, in addition to several volunteers. Read this profile in the Daily News Journal


Experts: 2nd-Degree Murder Tough to Get in Trayvon Case

Prosecutors face steep hurdles to win a second-degree murder conviction against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, experts say. Prosecutor Angela Corey chose a tough route with the murder charge, they say, which could send Zimmerman to prison for life if he's convicted, over manslaughter, which usually carries 15-year prison terms and covers reckless or negligent killings. The Johnson City Press carried this AP story


Supreme Court Women Honor O'Connor

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor joined with the three women currently on the court to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of her trailblazing service. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor recounted the inspiration they drew from O'Connor's nomination by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Then a young prosecutor in New York City, Sotomayor said O'Connor's rise to the high court showed women that they would have greater opportunities in the legal system. Tri-Cities.com has this historic photo and story from AP


9 Lawyers Reinstated After Administrative Suspension

Five Tennessee-licensed lawyers have been reinstated after being administratively suspended for failure to file the 2012 registration fee and IOLTA report, while two lawyers have been reinstated after CLE noncompliance in 2010, one lawyer has been reinstated after CLE noncompliance in 2009, and one lawyer has been reinstated after CLE noncompliance in 2008. See updated lists at the links above.


Washington County 5K Part of Crime Victims Week

The First Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office are hosting a 5K run/walk, "Justice in Motion," April 28 in Jonesborough as part of National Crime Victims Rights Week. More than 300 victims from the district, local runners and walkers have been invited. Get details here


 
 

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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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