Welfare Drug Testing May Face Constitutional Hurdles

New legislation to test welfare recipients for drugs, which Gov. Haslam has said he will sign, may still face constitutional challenges. Laws passed in Michigan and Florida that allowed tests without any prior suspicion were either deemed unconstitutional or challenged in court after federal judges said the tests lacked the proper cause for conducting a search, as required by the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. Previous versions of the Tennessee legislation faced similar questions from state Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr., who issued two opinions questioning the bill’s legality. The final bill was updated to ensure drug tests would be suspicion-based, which addressed the attorney general’s written concerns, a spokesperson said. Cooper has yet to weigh in formally on the current bill, but others say the new law might not withstand a constitutional challenge. The Tennessean 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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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

VICKI MARSH v. FARRAR HOLLIMAN AND MEDLEY ET AL.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Joshua Davis Baker, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Second Injury Fund.

John W. Barringer and Michael L. Haynie, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Farrar Holliman & Medley and Companion Property and Casualty Insurance Company.

B. Keith Williams and James R. Stocker, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Vicki Marsh.

Judge: KURTZ

The only issue before the trial court was the apportionment of liability between the employer and the Second Injury Fund. The employee had two compensable injuries prior to the injury that rendered her permanently and totally disabled. The trial court found that those injuries had caused 85% permanent partial disability. Based on that finding, it held the employer liable for 15% of the award and the Second Injury Fund liable for 85% of the award. We find that the trial court incorrectly applied Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6- 208(a)(1)(2008), and modify the award accordingly.


TN Court of Appeals

ANN CLAUDIA SHORT BOWERS V. FREDERICK ALLEN BOWERS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Joshua H. Jenne, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Frederick Allen Bowers.

L. Caesar Stair, III, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Ann Claudia Short Bowers.

Judge: MCCLARTY

This post-divorce appeal concerns the classification and division of property, namely a house Wife owned prior to the marriage and a house purchased during the marriage. Following the grant of Wife’s request for divorce, the trial court classified the pre-marital house as Wife’s separate property and the house purchased during the marriage as marital property. The court ruled that Husband had dissipated the proceeds from the sale of the pre-marital house and ordered Husband to reimburse Wife. The court awarded Wife two-thirds of the equity in the marital house, leaving one-third of the equity to Husband. Husband appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


JAMES H. HARRIS, III v. EDWARD K. WHITE, III

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Edward K. White, III, Franklin, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Darrell Gene Townsend, J. Thomas Martin, and Richard L. Wommack, II, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, James H. Harris, III.

Judge: BENNETT

This is a dispute between two attorneys. Attorney 1 hired attorney 2 to represent him. Attorney 2 sued attorney 1 for attorney fees, and attorney 1 counterclaimed for legal malpractice. The trial court granted attorney 2 summary judgment on the attorney fee claim, and a jury found in favor of attorney 2 on the legal malpractice claim. On appeal, attorney 1 challenges both decisions on multiple grounds. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.


SHANDRA KAY HATTAWAY v. KEVIN TODD HATTAWAY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Martin Stephen Sir and April Nicole Watkins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kevin Todd Hattaway.

Charles R. Bobbitt, Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Shandra Kay Hattaway.

Judge: BENNETT

In this divorce appeal, Husband challenges the trial court’s division of marital property, alimony award, permanent parenting plan, award of discretionary costs, and award of attorney fees to Wife. We have determined that the trial court erred in requiring Husband to pay more rehabilitative alimony than he can afford, in awarding him only 28 days a year in parenting time, and in awarding discretionary costs for expert fees for case preparation. In all other respects, we affirm the decision of the trial court.


IN RE: ESTATE OF GEORGE H. STEIL, II

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Bradley Joseph Eldridge-Smith, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christine Ann Burns.

Jerre Michael Hood, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellee, Vicki Lee Steil.

Judge: COTTRELL

The only issue in this case is whether a divorced wife was entitled to continue to receive alimony after the untimely death of her former husband. The wife argued that the support award was in the nature of alimony in solido, which is for a fixed total amount that does not abate upon the death of the obligor. She relies upon an Agreed Interim Order that provided that the husband would pay the wife “spousal support in the amount of $500 per month for a period of three years. . . .” The executrix of her former husband’s estate contended that the terms of the Agreed Interim Order were irrelevant, because the order was superseded by the Marital Dissolution Agreement (MDA), which was incorporated into the final decree of divorce. The MDA included the $500 per month alimony provision, but provided that the husband’s alimony obligation would end if the wife remarried, and it did not mention the three year period or any other time limitation. The executrix accordingly argued that the MDA award was in the nature of alimony in futuro, which abates upon the death of the obligor by operation of law. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121(f)(1). The trial court found that the omission of the three year period from the MDA was an inadvertent oversight, that the parties intended the alimony award to be in solido, and that the wife was accordingly entitled to receive support from her former husband’s estate. We reverse, because the MDA establishes the award and provided for alimony in futuro.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RICARDO DAVIDSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ronald G. Freemon, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ricardo Davidson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Brent A. Cooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Maury County jury convicted the Defendant, Ricardo Davidson, of possession of more than 300 grams of cocaine with intent to sell within a Drug Free School Zone, possession of over ten pounds of marijuana with intent to sell within a Drug Free School Zone, conspiracy to possess over 300 grams of cocaine within a Drug Free School Zone, and conspiracy to possess and deliver over ten pounds of marijuana in a Drug Free School Zone. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence that he says was obtained pursuant to an invalid search warrant. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. LEROY DOWDY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William B. Lockhart III and Drew W. Taylor, Ashland City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leroy Dowdy.

William B. Lockhart III and Drew W. Taylor, Ashland City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leroy Dowdy.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant, Leroy Dowdy, pled guilty to vehicular homicide by recklessness, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and driving on a revoked license. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to five years and six months for the vehicular homicide conviction, two years for the leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death conviction, and six months for the driving on a revoked license conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences to run consecutively, for an effective sentence of eight years. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court’s sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. NELSON KEITH FOSTER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; Andrew J. Gibbons, Assistant Public Defender, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nelson Keith Foster.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; Julie R. Canter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVENS

Nelson Keith Foster (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of driving on a revoked or suspended license and driving on a revoked or suspended license, second offense. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days, suspended upon serving thirty days’ incarceration. The Defendant appeals, asserting that: (1) the trial court erred in denying a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during an illegal traffic stop; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; (3) the trial court erred in denying defense counsel’s motions for withdrawal; and (4) the trial court erred in denying a motion to recuse. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MONTE HULL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Neil Umsted, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Monte Hull.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Neal Oldham, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, the State of Tennessee

Judge: WOODALL

A Shelby County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Monte Hull, and Co- Defendant, Johnny Williams, charging them with aggravated robbery. Following a consolidated jury trial, Defendant and Co-Defendant Williams were convicted of the offense. However, Co-Defendant Williams is not part of this appeal. Defendant received a sentence of eight years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


CHARLES E. THOMPSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles E. Thompson, Wartburg, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Katrina Earley, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Charles Thompson, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his three separate petitions for post-conviction relief in case numbers P-24665, -22149, and -27258. Petitioner was convicted, following guilty pleas, of the first degree murder of Eddie Johnson and attempted first degree murder of Brenda Hampton. Following jury trials, he was convicted for the aggravated assault, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated kidnapping of Paloy Finnie, see State v. Derrick M. Vernon, et al., No. W1998- 00612-CCA-R3-CD, 2000 WL 490718 at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Jackson, filed Apr. 25, 2000), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 16, 2001); and the first degree murder of Dedrick Taylor, see State v. Charles Thompson, No. W1998-00351-CCA-R10-CD, 2001 WL 912715 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Jackson, filed Aug. 9, 2001), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 31, 2001). In his brief, Petitioner asserts that the indictments in the three cases above were defective. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MATTHEW EDWIN THOMPSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Justin G. Woodward, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Matthew Edwin Thompson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Brian Finlay, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Matthew Edwin Thompson, pled guilty to two counts of theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103, -105 (2010). He was sentenced as a Range III, persistent offender to eight years’ confinement for each conviction, to be served concurrently. On appeal, the Defendant contends that his sentences are excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Man Confesses to Plan to Murder Judge

Kenneth Wade Jr. this week confessed to a charge of threatening to kill Social Security Administrative Law Judge K. Dickson Grissom after the judge denied Wade Social Security benefits. Wade now says he armed himself with a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol in February and waited outside Grissom's Knoxville office "so that he could shoot him, but the judge did not come out." The News Sentinel reports


Tennessee AG Integral to Skechers Settlement

The $45 million agreement reached between the Federal Trade Commission and shoemaker Skechers USA Inc., has a major Tennessee component, NashvillePost.com reports. The Tennessee Attorney General Office, joined by its peer AG office in Ohio, spearheaded the effort for 42 states and the District of Columbia. The company is accused of deceptive advertising related to claims of improved health and appearance. Under the settlement agreement, Skechers will pay $40 million, to be refunded to consumers who purchased Shape-Ups, Tone-Ups, and the Skechers Resistance Runners. The Blog of Legal Times has more


Court Reviewing Rule on Disciplinary Enforcement

The Tennessee Supreme Court has begun a review of Supreme Court Rule 9: Disciplinary Enforcement. If there are any proposed changes, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports, there will be an announcement and a time for public comment set.


Foreclosure Funds Being Diverted to General Budget Use

As part of the $25 billion settlement negotiated between states and five major banks over abuses in their mortgage and foreclosure processes, the states received $2.5 billion to help homeowners and mitigate the effects of the foreclosure surge. A new report from a housing group, however, found that only 27 states have devoted all their funds to housing programs, while 15 states say they will use all or most of the money for other purposes. Read more in The New York Times


New Firm Opens in Spring Hill

David A. Bates has opened a new firm in Spring Hill. Bates is a 2000 graduate of UT College of Law, and his primary practice has been the defense of businesses and professionals involved in a wide variety of civil litigation, the Columbia Daily Herald reports.


1st Amendment Rights Take Front Seat in Terrorism Ruling

A federal judge in Manhattan yesterday invoked the First Amendment’s protections of free speech and freedom of association to strike down part of a new law that she said went too far in legalizing such detentions. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, ruling in Hedges v. Obama, said a provision of the law permitting detention of U.S. citizens has a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights.” The First Amendment Center analyzes the move


State Gets Funds for Health Care Plan While Awaiting Court Decision

Tennessee accepted an additional $4.3 million in federal funds on Wednesday to establish a state-based health insurance exchange, bringing the total the state has received to more than $9 million. However, lawmakers adjourned their session earlier this month without passing legislation to implement an exchange where consumers can shop for health insurance. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the grant Wednesday as part of $181 million awarded to six states. "No one wants to invest a lot of money in a concept when we're not sure, that come July 1, after the Supreme Court has made its decision, whether we have to deal with it or not," Sen. Bo Watson said. The Times Free Press has the story


Hotel Deadline Extended at Peabody

Good news! The Peabody has extended its deadline for offering a special rate for attorneys attending the 2012 TBA Annual Convention, June 6-9 in Memphis. Make your reservations now to ensure you get this rate. If you haven’t completed your registration for the convention, you can do so now online.


Pride Campaigns for 26th District Circuit Seat

Jackson attorney Nathan Pride on Tuesday kicked off his campaign for Circuit Court judge, Division III, in Tennessee’s 26th District, citing his 29 years of experience in law and "a full range of courtroom experience" that includes trying both civil and criminal cases, serving as assistant district attorney -- and grading the Tennessee Bar Exam.  Read more in the Jackson Sun


Jurisdiction Issue to be Resolved First in Breeding Case

At the start of Wednesday's hearing on Shelley Breeding's qualification to run for the new 89th House District seat in Knox County, Hamilton County Chancellor W. Frank Brown gave lawyers copies of a Tennessee Supreme Court decision that raises a question of jurisdiction. Breeding's lawyer, Bill Stokes, said the jurisdictional issue is if a judge can rule on a local election commission matter that the commission has not voted on. The News Sentinel reports


 
 

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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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