Segregation Suit Gains Class-Action Status

The lawsuit against Metro Nashville over allegations of racial re-segregation has taken on class-action status, with plaintiffs now including all African-American students affected by the school district’s controversial 2008 student assignment plan. U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp granted the plaintiffs’ request for class certification Friday in advance of the 3-year-old suit -- now known as Spurlock et al. v. Fox -- reappearing in federal court on Tuesday. The City Paper reports that a number of Metro officials could take the stand as witnesses in the case, including Mayor Karl Dean who plaintiffs subpoenaed.

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

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TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Art Crews and P. Allen Phillips, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant Maytag Corporation d/b/a Maytag Jackson Dishwashing Products.

Steve Taylor, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Randall Norwood.


In this workers’ compensation action, the employee contended that he struck his head against the casing of a conveyor belt, causing permanent and total disability due to a resulting cervical strain and mental injury. His employer denied that he sustained any permanent disability as a result of the incident. The trial court awarded 95% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding. We affirm the judgment.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Wilton Marble, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Debbie D.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and, Lindsey O. Appiah, Assistant Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.

Lynn Perry, Guardian Ad Litem.


The Juvenile Court for Bradley County (“the Juvenile Court”), upon a petition by the State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) and following a trial, terminated the parental rights of Debbie D. (“Mother”) to the minor child Roni M.H. (“the Child”) pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113 (g)(1) and Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113 (g)(3) (2010). Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. We find and hold that clear and convincing evidence existed to terminate Mother’s parental rights pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113 (g)(1) and Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113 (g)(3), and that clear and convincing evidence existed that the termination was in the Child’s best interest. We, therefore, affirm the Juvenile Court’s order terminating Mother’s parental rights to the Child.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lawrence Fred Slagle.

Randal R. Boston and Kevin D. Poore, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Priscilla Lee Slagle.


This is a divorce case. The parties are Priscilla Lee Slagle (“Wife”) and Lawrence Fred Slagle (“Husband”). They were married for more than thirty years and, prior to the entry of the divorce judgment, they shared the custody of their adopted grandson (“the Child”). Wife sued for divorce on the grounds of inappropriate marital conduct and irreconcilable differences. Husband filed a counterclaim on the same grounds. At a pre-trial hearing, the court held Husband in contempt for violating the statutorily-mandated1 injunction prohibiting, among other things, the transferring of or the borrowing against “any marital property.” Following the trial, the court additionally found Husband in contempt (1) for failing to comply with discovery requests and (2) for dissipating marital assets. Husband left the country and did not appear at trial. The court granted Wife a divorce predicated on Husband’s inappropriate marital conduct; designated Wife as the Child’s primary residential parent; and prohibited any contact between Husband and the Child until he had purged himself of contempt. The court classified and divided the parties’ assets, awarded Wife $5,000 a month in alimony in futuro, and set Husband’s child support obligation. Husband appeals. He challenges the contempt findings and some financial aspects of the court’s decree. We reverse that part of the judgment barring contact between Husband and the child and downwardly adjust the award of alimony to $3,200 per month. In all other respects, the judgment is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Callie A. West and M. Adam West, Knoxville, Tennessee, appellants, pro se.

James M. Cornelius, Jr., and James P. Moneyhun, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, H. Jewell Tindell.

No appearance by or on behalf of appellee Sandra Stallings.


A dispute over the extent of lawn being mowed and the manner in which it was being mowed escalated into this action filed by H. Jewell Tindell against her neighbors, Callie A. West and husband, M. Adam West (collectively “the Defendants”). The Plaintiff asked that the boundary line between the neighboring lots be established and demanded compensatory and punitive damages. The Defendants filed a third-party complaint against their predecessor in title, Sandra Stallings, based upon her alleged misrepresentation in her disclosure to them. After a bench trial, the court awarded the Plaintiff a judgment establishing the boundary according to one of her two surveys, and awarded her the cost of her surveys as damages. The court also ordered the Defendants to remove all encroachments. The court found that Ms. Stallings failed to disclose known encroachments and held her liable to the Defendants for one-half of the cost of the surveys. The Defendants appeal. We reverse that part of the judgment awarding as damages the cost of the surveys. In all other respects, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Milton Lee Cooper, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Milton Lee Cooper, appeals the Johnson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. In this appeal, petitioner claims entitlement to habeas corpus relief because of alleged jurisdictional defects in the indictment. He also contends that the trial court constructively amended the indictment by its jury instructions. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert Wilson Jones, District Public Defender; Harry E. Sayle, III, Assistant Public Defender; and Timothy J. Albers, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronald Duckett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; Theresa McCusker, Assistant District Attorney General; and Kirby May, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Ronald Duckett, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for two counts of first degree premeditated murder. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged and sentenced by the trial court to serve two concurrent life sentences. In this direct appeal, Defendant asserts that: 1) the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury as to voluntary intoxication; 2) the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his convictions; and 3) the trial court erred by reconvening the jury to alter its verdict after the jury had been discharged. Finding no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paul J. Springer, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sean Higgins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Edie Sellers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury found the appellant, Sean Higgins, guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless driving. The appellant received a total effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the trial court’s allowing the State to question the appellant regarding “the whereabouts of his witnesses and why they were not present to testify on his behalf” shifted the burden of proof to the appellant. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Roy Allen Scott, Pikeville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Roy Allen Scott, appeals the Morgan County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. He claims entitlement to habeas corpus relief because the trial court for the underlying convictions was without jurisdiction to enter his conviction for aggravated assault. In addition, he contends that his convictions for driving under the influence and vehicular assault violate double jeopardy principles. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

General Assembly Scrambles to Finish Amid Tensions

Lawmakers in the General Assembly say they hope to have the session wrapped up by tonight. They had also hoped to end last week, but a provision in the state budget that would close a youth detention center led to a mini rebellion among Democrats and rank and file Republicans. It was a fight that exposed division between the two houses in the legislature and among Republican lawmakers. Listen to the story from WPLN

GOP Arrives at Difficult Budget Accord

Republican legislative leaders on Friday night mended a rift that had emerged between House and Senate lawmakers over local “pork barrel spending.” They agreed on about $1 million worth of additional reductions in a rarely called budget “conference committee."  TNReport has more

Law Calls for Tougher Sentences for Repeat Abusers

The Partnership for Families, Children and Adults in Chattanooga has spent years working to help domestic violence victims navigate the often-confusing world of General Sessions and Circuit courts. Now a tougher sentencing measure for domestic violence, meant to deter abusers and protect these victims, is awaiting Gov. Bill Haslam's signature. The new sentencing law will, for the first time in Tennessee, require that a repeat domestic assault offender serve mandatory jail time. As many as 2,500 abusers statewide could face mandatory jail time in the first year alone, according to estimates. reported in  The Times Free Press.

Tennessee Won't Say 'Don't Say Gay'

The so-called "Don't Say Gay bill," will not be put to a final vote needed for passage, the measure's House sponsor said Sunday. The decision by Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, means that SB49 will die with the adjournment of the 107th General Assembly. The News Sentinel reports

Editorial: Shelby Juvenile System Needs Retraining, Oversight

Citing the recent damning report from the Department of Justice about disparities in treatment of African-American children in the Shelby County Juvenile system, the Commercial Appeal in an editoriral says that although Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person has worked to fix the "insular, fraternal culture," it has been a century in the making and complicated to change. The paper says that what is needed now is "a major re-education and re-training of the court's staff, along with strong oversight by the Justice Department that includes community participation" Read the editorial

Gaylord to Sue Corps for Negligence in 2010 Flood

Gaylord Entertainment and Ashland City manufacturer A.O. Smith plan to file a lawsuit today against the federal government, alleging U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Weather Service negligence led to major damage to its luxury hotel during the Cumberland River flood two years ago. Gaylord wants $250 million for damages to its Gaylord Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry House, and A.O. Smith will seek $76 million because of damage to its water heater plant in Ashland City, said Nashville lawyer Bob Patterson, who is overseeing the legal action. The Tennessean has more

Child-Porn Sentences Under Scrutiny

Child-pornography offenders are the focus of an intense debate as to whether the federal sentences they face have become too severe, the Associated Press reports. The U.S. Sentencing Commission plans to release a report this year that is likely to propose changes to the sentencing guidelines that it oversees. Some federal judges and public defenders say Congress has skewed the guidelines to the point where offenders who possess and distribute child pornography can go to prison for longer than those who actually rape or sexually abuse a child. Others oppose any push for leniency.

Women Clear Favorites for Clemons Jury Demographic

Columnist Bryan Haas speculates about the two juries selected in the last year -- neither of which got to deliberate -- to determine whether or not Roger Clemens is guilty of any crime.  During both trials the jury was filled with mostly women, and Haas wants to know why. has his column

ABA Offers Alternate Approaches to LSAT Requirement

An American Bar Association committee has tentatively agreed on two alternative approaches to the current requirement that all law school applicants must take a valid and reliable admissions test. The first approach to altering the Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools would keep a pared-down version of the current requirement in the standards. The second would eliminate the requirement altogether. Learn more from the ABA

Court: Church Cannot Disassociate from Diocese

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has upheld a state trial court ruling in favor of the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Tennessee, a case that stems from Nashville-based St. Andrews Parish’s efforts to break away from the diocese. In her ruling, Judge Patricia Cottrell said the Episcopal Church is hierarchal and, as such, individual churches hold property in trust for the diocese and, as such, are not in a position to disassociate themselves from the governing body. has more

Herbert is New Metro Zoning Administrator

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean today named veteran attorney Bill Herbert to succeed the late Sonny West as Metropolitan Zoning Administrator in the Department of Codes and Building Safety. Herbert is with Johnson & Herbert in Nashville and serves as attorney for Cheatham County. has the story

Judge Stotts’ Portrait Unveiling Friday

A portrait of Judge Rita Stotts will be unveiled during ceremonies Friday at 2 p.m. in the south hallway of the Shelby County Courthouse, 140 Adams Ave. A reception will follow the ceremony. Judge Stotts was on the Circuit Court, Division IV, from May 2000 until her death in January 2009. All members of the legal community are invited to attend.

Memphis Bar to Hold Memorial Service

The Memphis Bar Association will hold its annual memorial service on Wednesday at noon at Calvary Episcopal Church. The service honors members of the bar who passed away during the last year. See the list of lawyers who will be honored.


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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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