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Register now for the TBA’s 131st Annual Convention. Scheduled for June 6-9 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, the event is packed with interesting programming and fun activities. Highlights include a visit to the famed Stax Records Museum of American Soul Music, a Bench/Bar luncheon featuring Bill Courtney, the dynamic coach at the center of the Academy Award winning documentary “Undefeated,” and high-quality CLE programming on the new Code of Judicial Conduct, tips for growing your practice and more.

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

MARINE ACCESSORIES CORPORATION v. EDWINA WOODS

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Anthony Farmer, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edwina Woods.

Timothy W. Connor and Adam F. Rust, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Marine Accessories Corporation.

Judge: LEE

In this workers’ compensation case, the employee sustained a compensable back injury for which he was prescribed medication. Approximately five weeks after his injury, the employee died from gastrointestinal bleeding. His widow sought workers’ compensation benefits, claiming that his death was compensable because it was caused by the medication he was prescribed for his work injury. The employer denied her claim, contending that the employee’s death was not caused by the medication, but was instead the result of esophageal varices caused by alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver. The trial court held that the widow did not sustain her burden of proof, and she appeals. We affirm.


TN Court of Appeals

IN RE ALESSA E. N., CASSONDRA N. A. N. and MOSES C. N.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Duncan Cates Cave, Greeneville, Tennessee, for appellants, Ronald Holder and Carolyn Holder.

Russ Veldman, Chuckey, Tennessee, for the appellee, Moses N.

Judge: PER CURIAM

A show cause order was entered in this case on March 23, 2012, directing the appellants to show cause why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The appellants have responded to the show cause order, but the argument presented in the response does not appear to present good cause for maintaining this case in this court. The review of the record reveals that the order to which the notice of appeal is directed is not “a final judgment adjudicating all the claims, rights, and liabilities of all parties” from which an appeal as of right would lie. See Tenn. R. App. P. 3(a). Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.


SHEILA SHULTS, ET AL. V. JOHNNY RICHARD TALLEY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Tony G. Lee, Jr., Greeneville, Tennessee, for appellant, Johnny Richard Talley.

Thomas V. Testerman, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellees, Sheila Shults and Neidre Shults.

Judge: PER CURIAM

A show cause order was entered in this case on April 13, 2012, directing the appellant to show cause why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The appellant has responded to the show cause order, but the argument presented in the response does not appear to present good cause for maintaining this case in this court. The review of the record reveals that the order to which the notice of appeal is directed is not “a final judgment adjudicating all the claims, rights, and liabilities of all parties” from which an appeal as of right would lie. See Tenn. R. App. P. 3(a). Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. PATRICIA ADKISSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

John P. Cauley (on appeal), Franklin, Tennessee; and Kenneth K. Crites (at trial), Centerville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Patricia Adkisson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; Terry Wood and Jay Fahey, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Patricia Adkisson, appeals her Hickman County Circuit Court jury convictions of 14 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, see T.C.A. § 39-14-212, 16 counts of cruelty to animals, see id. § 39-14-202(a)(2), one count of the unlawful sale or transportation of dogs or cats, see id. § 44-17-103(a), and one count of unlawful administration of rabies vaccination, see id. § 68-8-103(d), for which she received an effective sentence of five years’ probation to be supervised in a community corrections program, see id. § 40-36-106(f), followed by five years of traditional probation, see id. § 40- 35-303. On appeal, she contends that trial counsel committed ineffective assistance of counsel, that the State failed to provide exculpatory material, and that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHESNEY CHEYENNE BOWLING

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard A. Spivey, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chesney Cheyenne Bowling.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and Joseph E. Perrin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Chesney Cheyenne Bowling, was sentenced by agreement to consecutive sentences of three and one-half years and eleven months and twenty-nine days following her plea of guilty to various drug-related offenses. It is from the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing that the Defendant appeals. Specifically, the Defendant argues that the trial court attributed excessive weight to her criminal history while not attributing sufficient weight to proof she offered in mitigation. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DAVID INGRAM OWNBY, ALIAS
With Concurring Opinion

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Steven Oberman, Knoxville, Tennessee (at trial and on appeal); Sara Compher-Rice, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); and, Ann. C. Short, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); for the appellant, David Ingram Ownby, alias.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kenneth F. Irvine, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

Following the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence, the Defendant, David Ingram Ownby, alias, entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence (DUI), first offense. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to forty-eight hours incarceration, placed him on unsupervised probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days, and ordered the Defendant to pay a $350 fine. Pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Defendant reserved a two-part certified question of law challenging the legality of his seizure and subsequent arrest. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER EARL WATTS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal), J. Michael Engle (at trial), and Aisha McWeay (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Earl Watts.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Brian Holmgren, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Christopher Earl Watts, of four counts of aggravated child abuse, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and one count of child neglect. After a sentencing hearing, the appellant received an effective sentence of seventy-five years to be served at one hundred percent. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the trial court erred by denying his motion to sever the offenses; (2) the trial court erred by instructing the jury that the appellant’s co-defendant was an accomplice; (3) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; (4) the trial court erred by failing to merge the appellant’s aggravated child neglect convictions; and (5) his effective sentence is excessive. The State concedes that the trial court erred by failing to merge the appellant’s aggravated child neglect convictions. We conclude that the trial court erred by failing to grant the appellant’s motion to sever but that the error was harmless. We also conclude that the evidence is insufficient to support one of the appellant’s convictions for aggravated child abuse, one of his convictions for aggravated child neglect, and his conviction for child neglect. The appellant’s remaining convictions and effective seventy-five-year sentence are affirmed.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Charter Schools – Student Enrollment Capacity

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-05-02

Opinion Number: 49


MGLAW and Frost Brown Todd to Merge

Frost Brown Todd LLC announced today that it will merge with Nashville law firm MGLAW PLLC effective June 1. MGLAW's seven attorneys and staff will join Frost Brown Todd's 16-member Nashville office in its space on the 18th and 19th floors of the Pinnacle at Symphony Place. Frost Brown Todd has nearly 450 attorneys in nine offices throughout Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.


Survey: Would You Like the TBA to Offer CME Credits?

Providing continuing legal education (CLE) for lawyers by lawyers is a Tennessee Bar Association priority, and lately many of you have asked if continuing mediation credit (CME) could also be offered. What do you think? Please email TBA CLE Director Mindy Thomas-Fulks to  participate in a survey, which closes on May 7 at noon.


Williamson Volunteers to be Honored Friday

The Williamson County Bar Association will honor four legal figures at its Friday Law Day luncheon. The Legal Aid Society and Nashville Pro Bono Program will honor Clerk and Master of Chancery Court Elaine Beeler for her work in establishing the Volunteer Lawyer Program, and it will honor Bill Lane, Diane Crosier and Ben Papa as 2012 Pro Bono Volunteers of the Year, the Tennessean reports.


Memphis Bar Celebrates Law Week with Party, Memorial

Law week activities in Memphis closed out this yesterday when Chief Judge David Kennedy of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court addressed the crowd at the Memphis Bar Association's Annual Memorial Service at Calvary Episcopal Church. Thirty attorneys and judges who died this past year were honored. See photos and read the memorial statements about those honored. Law Week activities kicked off last Friday with the Law Week Launch Party in Court Square with barbecue and live music.


DOJ to Meet With Sullivan Officials Over Religious Freedom

Representatives of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice say they are going to Blountville next week to resolve complaints alleging violation of the religious freedoms of some county jail inmates. County Attorney Dan Street says DOJ officials have repeatedly said their intent is not an adversarial one, but simply to prompt compliance with federal law on inmates’ right to access religious texts and articles, the Times-News reports.


Legal Industry 'Woes' in Light of Dewey & LeBoeuf Collapse

One of the biggest law firms in the country, Dewey & LeBoeuf, is falling apart, while the whole industry, from law schools to lone lawyers, NPR's On Point says, are wondering what comes now. The radio program discusses "the business of law, in trouble."


Cuts Force Kentucky Judicial Employees to Take Unpaid Leave

Judicial employees in Kentucky will have to take unpaid furloughs for three days this year to deal with cuts to the court system's budget, Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. announced. The court system has reduced employment by 282 people since 2008 because of a shrinking budget. To generate cash, Minton said the judicial system will start charging schools $10 for criminal background checks that used to be done for free. The charge will increase from $15 to $20 for all others seeking background checks. WSMV has the AP story


Deadline for Child Support Form is June 1
The deadline for using the federal Income Withholding for Support form is June 1, the Office of Child Support Enforcement of the Administration for Children and Families reminds those who practice family law. All entities issuing child support income withholding orders must use this form. After this date, employers may begin returning non-compliant income withholding orders. Download more information from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Self-Surrender Program for Misdemeanors This Week

Nashville residents who have failed to comply with the booking requirements of state misdemeanor citations and who are now named in arrest orders are about to be given a second chance. The Metropolitan Police Department, in association with the General Sessions Courts, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Criminal Court Clerk and Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, will host a Failure to be Booked Self-Surrender Program this Friday and Saturday.


Dates Set for Forgery Charge Case

An Aug. 22 settlement date has been set in the case in which Chattanooga attorney Jeffrey A. Stinnett is charged with forging the name of former Chancellor Howell Peoples. Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern also set a possible trial date of Nov. 13. The Chattanoogan reports


Marble Repairs Begin on U.S. Supreme Court Building

Work is set to begin next week to repair and preserve the front exterior of the U.S. Supreme Court building, seven years after a chunk of marble fell 100 feet onto the stairs leading to the entrance. The project will take 21 months, but access to the building will not be affected. CNN reports


Chancellor to Decide Breeding's Eligibility to Run for 89th District Seat

Hamilton County Chancellor W. Frank Brown III will preside over the trial to determine whether Shelley Breeding qualifies as a Knox County candidate who can run for the new 89th District state House seat. A May 16 trial date has been set. Breeding wants to run as a Democrat for the seat, which lies wholly in Knox County near Anderson County. A map shows Breeding's house is in Anderson County, to which her property taxes are paid, but her driveway and mailbox are in Knox County. The News Sentinel has more


Lawyers Reinstated After Administrative Suspension

Four Tennessee-licensed lawyers have been reinstated after being administratively suspended for failure to file the 2012 registration fee and/or required IOLTA report, while two lawyers have been reinstated after being suspended for CLE noncompliance in 2011. See updated lists at the links above.


 
 

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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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