'Volunteer Attorney' Shows New Concept in Pro Bono

The spring 2012 edition of The Tennessee Volunteer Attorney provides news from across the state about the pro bono and legal aid work being done by you and your colleagues in the bar. This issue features a new concept in pro bono, the Pillar Firm Pro Bono Initiative, where law firms can choose a substantive area of law, train and develop expertise, and Legal Aid will direct those particular kinds of cases to them. For example in Nashville, Baker Donelson will focus on parenting plans in divorce cases; Bass Berry will focus on landlord tenant cases; Bradley Arant will focus on appeals of denials of Medicaid benefits; Miller & Martin will focus on divorces; Stites & Harbison will focus on appeals of the denial of unemployment benefits; and Waller will focus on debt clinics and debtor litigation. Download The Volunteer Attorney

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
03 - 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


Mark T. Freeman, Nashville, Tennessee, for appellants, Townsend, LLC., and E. William Henry,

Gregory Carlton Logue, Knoxville, Tennessee, for appellee, Branch Banking & Trust Company,


This Court issued a Show Cause Order on April 19, 2012 directing appellants to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The appellants have responded to this Order, but the explanation given in response which relied on a FAX notice of appeal, does not cure the failure to file a proper notice of appeal. The notice of appeal "shall not be filed in the Trial Court by Facsimile transmission". Tenn. R. Civ. P. Rule 5A.02(4)(e). Accordingly, this Court is without jurisdiction to entertain the appeal, and the appeal is dismissed. The cost of the appeal is assessed to Townsend, LLC., and E. William Henry.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Lori F. Fleishman and Thomas M. Leveille, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joyce Marie Byrnes.

Lauren G. Stange-Boston, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, John Leslie Byrnes.


The parties, John Leslie Byrnes (“Husband”) and Joyce Marie Byrnes (“Wife”), were divorced in 1998. Under the divorce judgment, they were to have equal parenting time with their two minor children. Some six years later, in 2004, Husband filed a petition to change the custody arrangement. The petition was granted ex parte on an “emergency” basis. The ex parte order temporarily placed sole custody of the children with Husband and required Mother to pay monthly child support of $652. For reasons that Wife blames on Husband and the trial court, and Husband blames on Wife, a hearing was not held on the custody and support issues until 2009, more than five years after Husband was named the sole custodian. Eventually, the court entered an order, to which Wife agreed, decreeing that Wife was liable to Husband for a child support arrearage of $20,874.24, a figure that includes interest and Wife’s share of medical expenses. In the same order, the court decreed that Husband was entitled to an award of attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined at a future hearing. That hearing was later scheduled for a date certain. Wife’s counsel did not appear at the hearing on attorney’s fees and the court proceeded, in counsel’s absence, to hold Wife liable for fees of $30,315. Wife filed a motion to set aside the award of attorney’s fees which the court denied. She appeals, challenging the child support arrearage and the denial of her motion to set aside the award of attorney’s fees. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jerry Scott, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Betty Jean Langford.

Ralph McBride, Jr., Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Robert S. Neill, Richard Scott Hargrove, Mary Ann Nelson, William Joseph Roberts, and Roy James Roberts.


Following appellant’s petition to eject from real property, appellees counterclaimed seeking a declaration of the boundaries between their properties and those of appellant, sole possession of their properties, a permanent injunction against appellant, and damages for libel or slander of title. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in favor of appellees and find this appeal to be frivolous.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Cynthia L. Wagner, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Raymond E. Lacy.

John A. Lucas, Alcoa, Tennessee, for the appellee, The Peoples Bank.


Plaintiff Bank brought this action to enforce a Loan Modification Agreement and promissory note. The Bank alleged that defendant had breached the Agreement and it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Defendant answered, arguing that the Bank had breached its contract with him and was not entitled to judgment. The Bank moved for summary judgment and the Trial Court determined there was no disputed issue of material fact under the Loan Modification Agreement and the amount owed on the note, granted partial summary judgment to the Bank and ruled the partial summary judgment was final pursuant to Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 54.02. On appeal, we affirm the Trial Court's Judgment and remand for trial on defendant's Counter-Claim.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


L. Braxton Felts, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Edward Durham.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Charles Edward Durham, was convicted in the Davidson County Criminal Court of possession of not less than one-half ounce but not more than ten pounds of marijuana in a school zone with the intent to sell and of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of three years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence that he alleges was discovered after he was illegally detained and the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his drug conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ardena J. Garth, District Public Defender; Richard K. Mabee, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); and Blake Murchison, Assistant Public Defender (at hearing), for the appellant, Garry Lee Nance.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Matthew Rogers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Garry Lee Nance, appeals from the trial court’s revocation of his probation and order that he serve part of his remaining sentences in confinement. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s judgments pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Donna L. Hargrove, District Public Defender; William J. Harold, Assistant District Public Defender, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edwin Dewan Reese.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Chuck Crawford, District Attorney General; Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Edwin Dewan Reese (“the Defendant”) pled guilty to (1) one count of driving after having been declared an habitual motor vehicle offender and (2) one count of failure to appear. There was no agreement as to the Defendant’s sentence. After a hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a standard offender to one year, six months on each offense. The trial court also ordered the Defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. The Defendant now appeals both the length and consecutive service of his sentences. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Haslam Signs 'Gateway Sex,' Anti-Abortion Bills into Law

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed legislation that adds the concept of “gateway sexual activity” to the state’s abstinence-first sex education curriculum. Other bills now law are the Life Defense Act of 2012, which requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital in the county where they perform an abortion or in a neighboring county; and a bill that will let prosecutors charge alleged assailants with a second count of assaulting or murdering an embryo after an attack on a pregnant woman. The Tennessean has the story

Jury Finds MTSU Roommate Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder

A jury convicted Shanterrica Madden, the roommate of slain MTSU basketball player Tina Stewart, of the lesser charge of second-degree murder after two hours of deliberation today. Prosecutors had argued for first-degree murder  Stewart was fatally stabbed in the chest March 2, 2011. NewsChannel 5 has more

Low Number of Judicial Nominations, Confirmations Fuel 'Emergency'

Since President Obama took office, he's had a chance to make nominations for 241 federal judgeships. Fifty-five of them  were vacant slots held over from the Bush administration. Obama has nominated 188 judges, and the Senate has approved 147 of them. That leaves a current total of 94 vacancies — 77 vacant slots and 17 held by judges who have said they plan to retire. Some law professors and advocacy groups say Obama could have had more judges confirmed to the bench had he simply made more nominations over his first three-plus years in office. The National Law Journal looks at what some are calling a judicial emergency.

Firm Simplifies Name: It's Just 'Waller' Now

Nashville-based firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis changes its name today, the firm reports. Now, the 100-year-old law firm will be known simply as Waller. See the news look on its redesigned website and read more about the change from the Nashville Business Journal

Groups Win Grants to Fight Teen Drug Use

The state Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services awarded grants to Dyer, Lauderdale and Tipton counties that will allow them to form coalitions to fight drug use among teens. The Tennessean reports

Drug Court Employees Understand Offenders

Workers in the Hamilton County Drug Court can empathize with participants because they have been in their shoes. The Times Free Press has this story

Legislators Now Can Focus on Election

Before general election races start in earnest, many legislators face primary challenges in newly drawn districts. While many Republicans across the state will face opposition from their political right, Republican-led redistricting has resulted in four Democratic primaries in which incumbents face each other. Read this analysis from The City Paper


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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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