Pilot Program Will Test Contract Representation

The Tennessee Supreme Court has authorized a one-year pilot program for contract representation of indigent defendants accused of child support violations in Davidson County Juvenile Court. The program begins July 1 and is authorized for FY 2012-2013. The court had been considering whether to implement a broader program using contract representation for a range of civil cases but decided against amending Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13 at this time.  Download the court's order

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
07 - 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

IN THE MATTER OF MICHAEL R.O., JR.,

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Neil Thompson, Huntington, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael O.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mary Byrd Ferrara, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.

Gail Webb West, Huntington, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem for the minor child, Michael R.O.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a termination of parental rights case. Father/Appellant appeals the trial court’s termination of his parental rights to the minor child at issue. The trial court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Father had committed severe child abuse, had been sentenced to prison for the child abuse, and had been sentenced to confinement for more than ten years. The trial court also found that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. Affirmed.


JAMES R. OLIPHANT v. THE STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

James R. Oliphant, Tiptonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, pro se.

James Lee Pope, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: STAFFORD

This common law writ of certiorari was filed by an inmate, who asserted that the parole board violated his rights by returning him to jail for violating his parole. The trial court dismissed the case without prejudice because the inmate failed to pay any portion of the initial filing fee or to issue a summons to the parole board. Affirmed.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANTONIO D. ALEXANDER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Barry R. Tidwell, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Antonio D. Alexander.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and J. Paul Newman and Trevor H. Lynch, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Antonio D. Alexander, was convicted by a Rutherford County jury of attempted aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, second degree murder, first degree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and reckless endangerment committed with a deadly weapon. The jury sentenced Alexander to life without the possibility of parole for the first degree felony murder conviction, and the trial court sentenced him to a consecutive ninety-year sentence for the remaining convictions. On appeal, Alexander argues: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the jury erred in unanimously finding the State had proven beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of the aggravating circumstance that “[t]he defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to two (2) or more persons, other than the victim murdered, during the act of murder”; and (3) the trial court erred in imposing an excessive sentence. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


RANDY BRAY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Norman D. Lipton, South Pittsburg, Tennessee for the Petitioner-Appellant, Randy Bray.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; Steve Strain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The petitioner, Randy Bray, appeals from the Grundy County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. After trial, a jury convicted him of two counts of first degree premeditated murder. In this appeal, Bray argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel based on a failure to file motions to suppress (1) a shotgun, (2) his statement to police, and (3) a 911 call. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEVIN L. BUFORD, SR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender, and Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), Jonathan F. Wing, and Sunny Marie Eaton (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Kevin L. Buford, Sr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Kathy Morante and Amy Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Kevin L. Buford, Sr., was found guilty after a jury trial of facilitation of felony murder, a Class A felony, and attempted especially aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. On appeal, he raises numerous challenges to his convictions and sentencing, including claims that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred by failing to suppress his pretrial statements to police; (3) his two convictions should have been merged; and (4) the trial court erred at sentencing by finding him to be a Range II offender, by imposing consecutive sentences, and by giving him excessive sentences on both counts. After a careful review of the record and the arguments of the parties, we conclude that the testimony given by one of the defendant’s accomplices is sufficient to support his convictions and that this testimony is sufficiently corroborated by other evidence. We conclude that the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress because any police misconduct that may have occurred was unintentional and because the statements the defendant made to police were given after the defendant received repeated Miranda warnings and occurred several hours after he was taken into custody. We conclude that double jeopardy principles do not require the merger of the defendant’s two convictions because the statutes under which the defendant was convicted include different elements and therefore punish distinct offenses. Finally, after engaging in de novo review of the defendant’s sentencing, we conclude that the defendant was properly sentenced as a Range II offender, the sentences imposed by the trial court were not excessive, and that the trial court did not err by ordering them to be served consecutively. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. REBECCA DRAPER and J. C. DRAPER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James W. Brooks, Jr., Wartburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rebecca Draper.

C. Brad Neff, Jamestown, Tennessee, for the appellant, J. C. Draper.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Frank A. Harvey, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendants, Rebecca and J. C. Draper, were each indicted for one count of manufacture of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine, a Class B felony, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §1 § 39-17-417(a)(1), - 425(a)(1). The Defendants filed a motion to suppress the evidence discovered as a result of a search of their manufactured home and backyard. The trial court denied the Defendants’ motion. The Defendants then entered into a plea agreement with the State and reserved a certified question of law for appellate review pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2). Defendant Rebecca Draper pled nolo contendere to one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days on probation. Defendant J. C. Draper pled guilty to one count of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, a Class D felony, and was sentenced to three years on probation. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-433. In this appeal, the Defendants contend that the trial court erred by denying their motion to suppress the evidence against them. Following our review, we reverse, vacate the judgments of the trial court, and dismiss the charges.


TONEY JASON HALE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Trisha A. Bohlen, Bell Buckle, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Toney Jason Hale.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; Charles F. Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

In 2004, the petitioner, Toney Jason Hale, pled guilty before the Bedford County Circuit Court to three counts of automobile burglary, a Class E felony. He received an effective sentence of three years as a Range I, standard offender, to be served consecutively to a previously imposed Marshall County sentence. Seven years later, in 2011, the petitioner filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging that his convictions violated double jeopardy protections. The coram nobis court dismissed the petition after a hearing. The petitioner argues on appeal that the court erred in denying him relief. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ERIC A. MARTIN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

B. Jeffery Harmon, District Public Defender, and Robert G. Morgan, Assistant District Public Defender, Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric A. Martin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and William B. Copeland, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A police sergeant stopped a vehicle driven by appellant, Eric A. Martin, for violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-4-110(b), the statute requiring a vehicle license plate to be maintained free from foreign materials and in a clearly legible condition. He then determined that appellant was driving with a revoked driver’s license. A grand jury indicted appellant for driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license and driving on a cancelled, suspended or revoked license, seventh offense. Appellant pled guilty to driving on a revoked license, fifth offense. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced appellant to eleven months twenty-nine days and revoked his driver’s license for one year. The trial court suspended all of the sentence except for twenty days and placed appellant on probation. As a condition of the plea agreement, appellant attempted to reserve the right to appeal a certified question of law challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-4-110(b). Following our review, we conclude that appellant failed to certify a question of law that is dispositive of the case. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JUSTIN PARLIMENT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Gregory Burlison, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Justin Parliment.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Sean Bernard Duddy, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Justin Parliment, appeals from his Hickman County Circuit Court jury conviction of possession of a controlled substance in a penal institution, see T.C.A. § 39-16- 201(b)(2) (2006), claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury, that the State failed to establish a proper chain of custody for the marijuana introduced into evidence, that the fine imposed by the jury is excessive, and that the sentence imposed by the trial court is excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Today's News

Court Vacates Order for New Trials in Baumgartner Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court today vacated an order granting new trials for three defendants convicted of first-degree murder in trials presided over by former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, saying that defendants had not shown that Baumgartner's misconduct outside the courtroom had affected their trials. The court directed the trial court to "expeditiously reconsider the defendants' motions for new trial under the legal standards" clarified by the high court. Download the order or read a story about the decision from WATE News 5


Reminder: Lawyers' Professional Tax Due June 1

Attorneys are among the professionals required to pay an annual $400 Professional Privilege Tax, which is due June 1. Tenn. Code Ann., Section 67-4-1701, imposes the tax for the privilege of holding an active license or registration, without regard to whether the profession is actually practiced in the State of Tennessee. Get more information and pay online


Court Clerk Pleads Guilty, Avoids Jail Time

Former Sevier County Court Clerk Joe Thomas Keener, who admitted stealing nearly $100,000 from the county, avoided jail time Wednesday by pleading guilty to theft and official misconduct charges. He received a suspended 10-year prison sentence that he'll serve on supervised probation. He also is required to repay $14,109 in restitution for an audit conducted by Sevier County and complete 500 hours of community service. Keener, who has already repaid all of the money he stole from the county, resigned in August 2010 after holding the elected position for more than 18 years, the News Sentinel reports.


Lawyers Raising Funds for Judicial Portraits

Chattanooga lawyers Stan Lanzo and Lee Davis are raising money to finance the painting of portraits of the late judges Starlan Richard Holcomb Jr. and Robert "Bob" L. Moon Jr. The lawyers say the portraits will hang in the public courtrooms where the men "dedicated so much of their professional life." Given the longevity of the judges' service and visibility in the community, Lanzo and Davis said they would accept contributions from the general public as well as the bar. Contributions are tax deductible and may be sent to Chattanooga Bar Foundation c/o Davis & Hoss PC, 508 East 5th St., Chattanooga 37403. Chattanoogan.com has more


Memphis Names Lawyer 2012 Distinguished Alumnus

N. Richard Glassman, managing shareholder of Glassman, Edwards, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox PC, will be honored June 2 with the University of Memphis' 2012 Centennial Distinguished Alumni Award -- the highest honor from the school. Glassman graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law in 1972, and has served as president and board member of the university’s alumni association. Now a certified civil trial specialist, he founded the Glassman firm in 1972 and has maintained a civil litigation practice focusing on professional malpractice defense, tort defense, plaintiff medical malpractice, business, real estate and general civil litigation. The black-tie ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. at The Fountain on the University of Memphis campus.  Learn more from the school


Opinions Vary on New Expungement Law

Beginning July 1, certain nonviolent ex-offenders in Tennessee can apply to have their records expunged after paying a $350 fee. A story in the Commercial Appeal shows that reaction has been mixed. Frank Cantrell, general counsel for Memphis Area Legal Services, is quoted as saying "I think most people in the legal aid community would say we needed a bill like this" since prior to its passage, "it was nearly impossible to get a conviction expunged in Tennessee, even a misdemeanor." But he adds, "The one thing that bothers me right off the bat is the $350 fee." By contrast, assistant public defender Josh Spickler says people will find the money to make it happen: "If you've qualified for this, $350 is easy. You find the $350 to get this off your record."


BPR Upgrades Data Management System

The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR) recently partnered with LBMC Technologies to create and implement a new attorney data management system. "We needed a new IT platform to manage our database of more than 21,000 licensed attorneys across the state," said Nancy S. Jones, chief disciplinary counsel. Jones said the system has improved operations and streamlined registration and payments. In the next phase of implementation, the agency reports it will be better equipped to track ethical complaints. Read more about the improvements


Haslam Signs Bill Restructuring TRA, Other Boards

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed two bills from his 2012 legislative agenda that make structural changes to the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and 21 boards, commissions and licensing programs. Haslam had announced a review of state boards and commissions during his 2011 State of the State address and worked with the legislature throughout the year to implement many of the review's recommendations. Learn more on Chattanoogan.com


AWA Hosts First Annual Golf Tournament

The Association of Women Attorneys will host its first annual golf tournament fundraiser June 1 at Mirimichi Championship Course in Millington. There will be a shotgun start at 1 p.m. In addition, supporters are invited to join an environmental tour of the course, which is the nation’s first to receive Audubon Classic Sanctuary Certified status. Learn more online


 
 

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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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