Robinson: Lawyers Need to Speak Up on Court Fundiing

American Bar Association President Bill Robinson III implored members of the Chattanooga Bar Association to bring public awareness to a nationwide funding crisis in state courts, during his address at the group's annual Law Day lunch on Thursday. "We must stand up and speak out for our courts," he said, adding that 42 states had reduced their budgets for courts last year and no state contributes more than 5 percent of its budget to courts. Robinson said it's the responsibility of those in the legal profession to educate the public on the importance of the judicial branch. The Times Free Press has 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
13 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals

DELTA FAUCET COMPANY v. JEFFREY NOLES

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Arthur Crews, P. Allen Phillips and Hailey H. David, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Delta Faucet Company.

James R. Krenis and Laura Ann E. Bailey, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jeffrey Noles.

Judge: HOLDER

An employee alleged that he sustained a work-related injury to his elbow and that his work aggravated his pre-existing carpal tunnel syndrome. His employer denied the claims, asserting that the employee’s elbow problem was related to a prior injury and that his carpal tunnel syndrome was not caused or worsened by his work. The trial court awarded benefits for both injuries. The employer appealed, contending that the trial court erred in finding that the employee sustained a compensable injury to his elbow. The employer also contends that the trial court erred in finding that the employee’s carpal tunnel syndrome was compensable and that the employee gave proper notice of the carpal tunnel injury. The employer also appeals the trial court’s finding that the employee did not have a meaningful return to work, the award of temporary total disability benefits, and the amount of the award to the employee. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TN Court of Appeals

JEAN ANN FIORAZO BECK v. JAMES MARTIN BECK

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Kevin A. Snider, Germantown, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Martin Beck.

Justin K. Thomas, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jean Ann Fiorazo Beck.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a post-divorce action, concerning the Appellant Husband’s obligation to pay alimony in futuro to Appellee Wife. Husband and Wife entered into a marital dissolution agreement (“MDA”), which was incorporated and made part of the final decree of divorce. The MDA provided that both parties would exchange tax returns each year and that, if these returns were not proferred, then alimony would be suspended until they were. Wife provided her tax returns after redacting her personal information. Husband concluded that the redaction was a breach of contract and, without prior court approval, unilaterally stopped making alimony payments. Because the MDA provision for alimony in futuro lost its contractual nature upon being incorporated into the trial court’s order, and because Husband failed to obtain court approval before he suspended payments, we conclude that he lacked authority to stop those payments. Therefore, the award of arrears was proper. Affirmed and remanded.


MAHMOUD AWAD MOHAMMAD v. NAIRMAN FARAJ MERI

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Nick Rice, Memphis, Tennessee for Plaintiff/Appellant Mahmoud Awad Mohammad

Defendant/Appellee Nariman Faraj Meri, Cordova, Tennessee, pro se

Judge: KIRBY

This post-divorce appeal concerns a one-time, one-week extension of parenting time. The trial court granted the mother’s petition to extend her parenting time from one week to two weeks for a vacation with her family. After the mother’s vacation was over, the father filed this appeal. We dismiss the appeal on grounds of mootness.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEVIN JAMELLE BALDWIN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Thomas A. Thomas, District Attorney General; and James T. Cannon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Thomas A. Thomas, District Attorney General; and James T. Cannon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Kevin Jamelle Baldwin, was charged with possession with intent to sell between ten and seventy pounds of marijuana after the narcotics were discovered in the trunk of his car during a traffic stop. Thereafter, the defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the stop and search of his vehicle were unconstitutional. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the indictment. The State appeals the trial court’s grant of the defendant’s motion to suppress, and after review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CURTIS BLACKMON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Harry E. Sayle, III (on appeal) and Jennifer Johnson (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Curtis Blackmon.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Kate Edmands and Jose Leon, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Curtis Blackmon, was convicted in the Shelby County Criminal Court in case number 10-01211 of the November 18, 2009 unlawful sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, and possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver, and in case number 10-01212 of the November 19, 2009 unlawful sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, and possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver. The trial court subsequently merged counts two and three with the first count of the indictment in each case and sentenced the defendant to two concurrent terms of eight years. The sole issue the defendant raises on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BOBBY JOE CROOM

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Darlene Rebowe, Franklin, Tennessee (on appeal); and Susan B. Korsnes, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Bobby Joe Croom.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Jody S. Pickens, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Bobby Joe Croom, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of three counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and three counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. He was sentenced to an effective term of fifty years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in not requiring the State to elect the particular instances of rape and sexual battery it was relying on for conviction and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we reverse and remand in part, and reverse and dismiss in part.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TERRANCE DIXON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Harry E. Sayle, III (on appeal) and Jim N. Hale, Jr. (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Terrance Dixon.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Betsy Weintraub and Cavett Ostner, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Terrance Dixon, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of assault and criminal trespass, Class A and C misdemeanors, respectively, and sentenced to an effective term of six months to be served on probation after service of thirty days. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in allowing testimony of his prior bad acts and that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT KENNETH DUBOSE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Guy T. Wilkinson, District Public Defender, and Richard W. DeBerry, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Robert Kenneth Dubose.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Hansel Jay McCadams, District Attorney General; and Ed N. McDaniel, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Robert Kenneth Dubose, appeals the decision of the Hardin County Circuit Court revoking his probationary sentence. The defendant pled guilty to rape, a Class B felony, and received a sentence of eight years. The sentence was to be suspended to supervised probation following the service of one year. Subsequently, a violation warrant was issued charging the defendant with multiple violations of the terms and conditions of his probation. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked the defendant’s probation and ordered the balance of the sentence be served in the Department of Correction. Following review, we conclude that the defendant has failed to show that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the revocation or in imposing a sentence of confinement. Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GARY L. GRAHAM

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Matthew R. Armour, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gary L. Graham.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Matt Hooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Gary L. Graham, was convicted by a Fayette County Circuit Court jury of driving under the influence (“DUI”), and the court found the defendant guilty of DUI third offense and violation of the implied consent law. The court merged the DUI convictions and sentenced the defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days, suspended to misdemeanor probation upon service of 145 days at 75% in the county jail, and suspended the defendant’s driver’s license for two years as a result of his violation of the implied consent law. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence convicting him of DUI. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DEVARIES M. LOCKE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal) and Chase T. Smith (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Devaries M. Locke.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Jennifer McMillen, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Davidson County jury found appellant, Devaries M. Locke, guilty of possession of a firearm. The parties stipulated to his status as a felon, but the jury was not so informed. As a result of the jury’s decision and the stipulation, appellant was convicted of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a Class E felony. The trial court sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender, to three years of split confinement with one year to serve followed by two years of supervised probation. On appeal, appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction and argues that his sentence is excessive. After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RANDELL MURPHY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Sheila B. Stevenson, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randell Murphy.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Randell Murphy, appeals from his Madison County Circuit Court guiltypleaded convictions of burglary of an automobile; theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000; vandalism of property valued at $500 or more but less than $1,000; possession of burglary tools; and criminal impersonation. The defendant received an effective sentence of 21 and one-half years. In this appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by rejecting his plea agreement with the State, by denying his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, and by imposing an excessive sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. THORNE PETERS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James P. Rossitt IV (on appeal and elbow counsel at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Thorne Peters (pro se at trial).

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Michael McCusker, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Thorne Peters, of one count of simple possession of marijuana, see T.C.A. § 39-17-418, and the trial court imposed a sentence of 11 months and 29 days’ incarceration in the local workhouse; with respect to the manner of service, the judgment said,“[T]ime served.” On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction, the trial court’s granting the State’s motion to quash a subpoena of the former sheriff, and the trial court’s limitation of crossexamination of a witness. Discerning neither a paucity in the evidence nor reversible error committed by the trial court, we affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand for clarification of pretrial jail credit.


LARRY C. PITTMAN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Lee R. Sparks, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry C. Pittman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Al Earls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Larry C. Pittman, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRADLEY SCOTT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Barry W. Kuhn (on appeal and at trial) and R. Trent Hall (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Bradley Scott.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Alanda H. Dwyer and Abby Wallace, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

The defendant, Bradley Scott, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury, under two separate indictments, of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and two counts of aggravated rape and was sentenced to an effective term of life plus twenty-two years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motions to suppress DNA evidence and the statements given by him to the police; and (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DEARICK STOKES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert Brooks (on appeal); and Marvin Ballin and Gray Bartlett (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dearick Stokes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Lora Fowler and Kevin R. Rardin, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Dearick Stokes, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of felony murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery, for which he received concurrent terms of life imprisonment and nine years, respectively. In this direct appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his felony murder conviction because the proof showed that the killing of the victim occurred during an attempted aggravated robbery, rather than an aggravated robbery, as alleged in the indictment. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JEREMIAH L. WOODS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

George Morton Googe, District Public Defender, and Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Jeremiah L. Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Jeremiah L. Woods, was convicted by a Madison County jury of one count of premeditated first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant raises the single issue of sufficiency of the evidence. He contends that the evidence is insufficient only with regard to the element of premeditation. Following review of the record, we conclude that the evidence of premeditation in the record is overwhelming and, accordingly, affirm the conviction.


Bill Extends 30 Federal Bankruptcy Judgeships

Congress sent a bill to the White House on Thursday that would extend 30 temporary federal bankruptcy judgeships for another five years. The bill reauthorizes bankruptcy judgeships in 14 states and Puerto Rico that had already expired. Without the legislation, those districts would have lost a judgeship anytime a judge retired or left the bench for any reason, something that had already happened in two districts. The Blog of Legal Times has more


Witherspoon Family Drama in Court Today

Actress Reese Witherspoon and her parents appeared in a Davidson County courtroom this afternoon for an emergency hearing before Probate Judge Randy Kennedy. Earlier this week, her mother, Betty Witherspoon, filed a lawsuit saying that her husband John D. Witherspoon had married another woman even though they are still married. Betty Witherspoon accuses John Witherspoon and Patricia Taylor of bigamy and is seeking to have the new marriage annulled. In court documents, Betty Witherspoon has said she fears her husband suffers from early onset dementia and has a drinking problem. The Tennessean has the story


Commissioner Criticizes Judge Over DOJ Findings

Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks during a Thursday town hall meeting detailed the recent Department of Justice investigation into Shelby County Juvenile Court, which found "massive, egregious violations." Speaking to about 60 people, Brooks took repeated jabs at Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person, who has said that he disagrees with some aspects of the report. Brooks has long feuded with Person over issues at the court, including whether a second judge should be added. The Commercial Appeal reports


Victim's Friend Testifies in MTSU Murder Trial

Defense attorney Joe Brandon Jr. and District Attorney General Bill Whitesell continued with the second day of the trial of  Shanterrica Madden, accused of killing her roommate, MTSU basketball player Tina Stewart. Jurors heard a friend of Stewart's say she heard Madden pleading with Stewart to let her leave her bedroom moments before their argument turned deadly. The case is before Judge Don Ash in Murfreesboro. The Daily News Journal is following the trial


Pentagon Papers Was Original Wikileak

This opinion piece describes how Daniel Ellsberg's early-1970s actions were precursors to the Wikileak scandal, when he leaked a top-secret Defense Department report on the history and conduct of the war in South Vietnam, revealing a pattern of deceit by U.S. government officials. The reports came to be called the “Pentagon Papers.” The Tennessean has the column by Frank Daniels III


Tennessee Attorneys Prepare for TBA Leadership

Tennessee attorneys who are taking on leadership positions in the Tennessee Bar Association this coming year took part in an orientation program this afternoon. TBA President-Elect Jackie Dixon outlined some of her goals for the coming year, and TBA staff members joined Real Estate Section Chair Brooks Smith and former Labor and Employment Law Section Chair Stan Graham in presentations about the TBA and the resources available to its members.


Social Media at Center of Murder Accusations

Social media gets maligned in court sometimes, but yesterday transcripts of violent text messages aided in charges being dropped against a 20-year-old Chattanooga man who was accused of soliciting murder on Facebook. Gerald Webb, Carl Parks Jr.'s attorney, showed the text messages in which the alleged murder target had threatened to have Parks, his mother and cousins killed in retaliation for their break-up and a dispute over a money loan. Prosecutor Lila Statom then dropped a charge of solicitation of murder charge against Parks. The Times Free Press reports


DOJ Sues 'Toughest Sheriff' Over Immigration Patrols

Federal authorities have sued America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff, Joe Arpaio, a rare step after months of negotiations failed to yield an agreement to settle allegations that his department racially profiled Latinos in his trademark immigration patrols. The U.S. Department of Justice contends that the Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff's office engages in a "pattern or practice" of unlawful discriminatory conduct both in county jails and patrol operations and seeks new policies and training to correct the situation. The ABA Journal has the story


Edwards Case to Go Before Jury

Prosecutors rested their case against John Edwards on Thursday, and today U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles refused to throw out campaign corruption charges against him, meaning the former presidential hopeful will have to present his case to a jury. After two-and-a-half hours of arguments from prosecutors and the defense, the judge ruled immediately from the bench that there was enough evidence to let jurors decide.


Prescription Safety Act Signed by Governor

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law today a bill aimed at tightening restrictions on doctor-shopping and other forms of prescription-drug abuse. The Tennessee Prescription Safety Act of 2012, signed this morning on the steps of the Anderson County Courthouse, requires all prescribers and dispensers in the state to register with Tennessee's Controlled Substance Monitoring Database. The News Sentinel has more


Lawyer Who Helped With 'Brown v. Board' Dies

Louis H. Pollak, a federal judge who as a young lawyer helped work on the pivotal school-desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, and later served as dean of two Ivy League law schools, died Tuesday at 89. Read more about him from the AP


 
 

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