Governor Signs Bill Requiring Civics Education

Legislation that calls for a new emphasis on civics education in Tennessee was among bills signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam this week. House Bill 2114, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, requires civics education to be included in the public school curriculum assessed by local educational agencies. The legislation drew praise from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor, who wrote the sponsors of the law last week, saying, “This important legislation will help make sure that every Tennessee student receives the civil learning that is so vital to their becoming an informed and engaged citizen.” The reports

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.

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

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TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, and Pamela S. Lorch, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Derrick D. Schofield, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Correction; 1 Candice Whisman, Director, Sentence Calculation/Sentence Information Department; Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole; William Parsons, Director, Parole Hearings; and Charles Traughber, Chairperson, Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole.

James O. Martin, III, for the Appellee, Danny A. Stewart.

Judge: CLARK

We accepted this appeal to clarify the procedures an inmate must follow to dispute the determination of parole eligibility when the inmate is serving consecutive determinate sentences imposed pursuant to the Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1989 (“1989 Act”). See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 40-35-101 to -505 (2010 & Supp. 2011). We clarify that the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (“UAPA”) governs an inmate’s challenge to the Tennessee Department of Correction’s (“TDOC”) calculation of a release eligibility date. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 4-5-101 to -325 (2011). Under the UAPA, an inmate must request a declaratory order from TDOC before filing a declaratory action in court. Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-225(b). Petitioner failed to seek a declaratory order from TDOC; thus, the trial court properly dismissed his petition for common law writ of certiorari naming TDOC and TDOC officials. The UAPA does not govern an inmate’s challenge to a decision of the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole (“Board”) concerning parole. Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-106(c). Rather, the petition for common law writ of certiorari is the procedural vehicle for bringing such challenges. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-8-101 (2000). While Petitioner also named the Board and Board officials in his petition for common law writ of certiorari, the trial court properly granted their motions to dismiss because the allegations of the petition fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted. The method for calculating release eligibility and custodial parole discussed in Howell v. State, 569 S.W.2d 428 (Tenn. 1978) is not applicable to inmates sentenced pursuant to the 1989 Act and serving consecutive determinate sentences for parole-eligible offenses. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the judgment of the chancery court dismissing the petition is reinstated.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Stacie Odeneal, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Rebecca B.

Teresa P. Martin, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Donald B.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Joshua Davis Baker, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


In this appeal, the Mother and Father of three children appeal the termination of their parental rights on the ground of abandonment by failure to visit and failure to support. We reverse the termination of parental rights on the ground of abandonment by failure to support; in all other respects, we affirm the judgment.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


J. Timothy Crenshaw, James D. Anderson, Nashville, Tennessee; David S. Byrd, Morristown, TN, for the appellant, Lake Developers, II, LLC

H. Scott Reams, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellee, Michael J. D’Alessandro


In 2005, Plaintiff purchased a subdivision lot believing it could later be traded toward the purchase of a condominium. Because no condominiums had been built by 2010, Plaintiff filed suit, seeking to rescind the sale and to recover damages. The trial court rescinded the warranty deed and awarded Plaintiff a return of the purchase price, plus city and county taxes paid and prejudgment interest from the filing of his complaint. Finding no failure of consideration, we reverse the trial court’s rescission of the warranty deed and its damage awards. We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, promissory fraud, and Tennessee Consumer Protection Act claims. All remaining issues are deemed either waived or pretermitted.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Samuel J. Harris, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James W.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Marcie E. Greene, Assistant Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.

Rebecca E. Brady, Cookeville, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem.


Upon petition by the State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and following a trial, the Putnam County Juvenile Court terminated father’s parental rights to his three minor children. We affirm because there was clear and convincing evidence to support the trial court’s decision and because there was clear and convincing evidence that termination was in the children’s best interest.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Samuel K. Robinson, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Arthur Crownover II, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, Candace Whisman.


Former inmate challenged the calculation of his prison sentence, contending the Tennessee Department of Correction erred in failing to award him pretrial jail credit. The orders of judgment TDOC relied upon to calculate the prison sentence apparently did not indicate the inmate had earned pretrial jail credit. The former inmate filed a complaint against individuals employed by the prison and TDOC, contending they violated his constitutional rights and were liable to him for damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3). The trial court dismissed the former inmate’s complaint because the defendants calculated the former inmate’s sentence based on the judgments as they were required to do by statute. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen Mills, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal), and Roger Eric Nell, District Public Defender; and Charles S. Bloodworth, Assistant Public Defender, Clarksville, Tennessee (at trial) and for the appellant, Antonio Dwayne Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and John Finklea, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, the State of Tennessee


A Montgomery County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Antonio Dwayne Johnson, for six counts of selling .5 grams or more of cocaine and six counts of delivering .5 grams or more of cocaine. Following a jury trial on counts nine and ten of the indictment (alternate theories of selling and delivering .5 grams of cocaine on August 22, 2008) Defendant was found guilty of selling more than .5 grams of cocaine. The remaining counts of the indictment were apparently tried separately. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a Multiple Offender to twelve years at 35% 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.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Keith E. Haas, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brenda Whitesides.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; James Dunn, District Attorney General; and Brownlow Marsh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Brenda Whitesides, pled guilty to violating the habitual motor vehicle offender law, driving on a revoked license, and violation of the financial responsibility law. The trial court merged the Defendant’s convictions for driving on a revoked license and violating the habitual motor vehicle offender law and then sentenced her to five years of probation. The Defendant’s probation officer filed a probation violation warrant that alleged that she had violated the terms of her probation by failing to report and by moving out of the State. After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered that she serve her sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court improperly based its revocation finding on considerations that were not presented by the warrant or supported by the facts adduced at the hearing. After reviewing the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Humane Society Asks Attorney General to Investigate Horse-Soring

The Humane Society of the United States asked Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper in a letter received Thursday to investigate the role horse show management plays in allowing sored horses to compete. Soring, an abusive practice aimed at producing a higher gait among Tennessee Walking Horses, is illegal under federal and state law. The letter said the case of trainer Jackie L. McConnell proves the need for more action. McConnell was secretly filmed by the Humane Association abusing several horses, which led to his guilty plea in federal court this week to felony conspiracy to violating the federal Horse Protection Act. A spokesperson for Cooper said the office will review the Humane Society’s letter and determine what actions to take. The Tennessean has more

Court Clerks Prepare to Enforce License Revocation Law

East Tennessee court clerks are gearing up to enforce a mandatory license revocation law that went into effect last July. The law gave defendants owing court costs from criminal cases one year to comply or lose their drivers' licenses. Clerks have mixed feelings, saying the law will result in many more defendants driving illegally on revoked licenses, require a lot more record-keeping, but also gives them another enforcement tool in collecting court costs. Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge doesn't seem to be looking forward to it: "It's going to be a huge mess," he says. The News Sentinel has the story

'Forced' Retirement May Bring Discrimination Case Against UT

Knoxville lawyer David Burkhalter has asked the University of Tennessee to preserve all documents and e-mails concerning Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations Debby Jennings as she considers a possible discrimination/retaliation action. Jennings says she was forced to retire last week when the university's men's and women's athletic departments were combined. Jennings has worked with the Lady Vols and Pat Summitt for 35 years. WBIR reports

High Court: Families Cannot Sue Quicken Loans Over Fee

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that three families cannot sue a mortgage company for allegedly charging them a loan discount fee without giving them a lower interest rate. The high court's decision tosses out lawsuits filed in 2008 against Quicken Loans Inc. in Louisiana. The Times-News has this AP story

Court 'No Shows' Slow Down Wheels of Justice

Washington County Circuit Court Clerk Karen Guinn says failing to show up for court is a common practice for many defendants and it not only impacts the victims, it slows the court down because of the extra paperwork when the defendant is arrested again. Guinn says that of the 685 defendants scheduled to appear in Sessions Court in the last eight days, 78 were no shows. Every time someone fails to appear, Judge Robert Lincoln says he issues a bench warrant for their arrest and the process starts again, but with higher stakes for the accused. has this story

TBA Closed for Memorial Day

The Tennessee Bar Association offices will be closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. The TBA will reopen on Tuesday.

Shelby DA Candidates Talk About Juvenile Court

The race for Shelby County District Attorney General is tightly contested, with Republican incumbent Amy Weirich and Democrat Carol Chumney, a former state representative, going head-to-head in the August election. Both women say they will be focusing their attention on children's rights, especially the juvenile court system in light of a recent scathing Department of Justice report. In related news, local Democratic chairman Van Turner held a joint press conference with Chumney to show the party's support of her candidacy after a recent opinion column in the Commercial Appeal questioned both’s Chumney level of campaigning and the party’s commitment to her candidacy. WMC-TV interviews both candidates

Judge: Breeding Cannot Run in Knox County

Hamilton County Chancellor Frank Brown ruled Thursday that Shelley Breeding is not a Knox County resident and therefore cannot run for office in the county. Breeding had filed to run as a Democrat for West Knox County's new District 89 seat in the state House. Breeding claimed the county boundaries were not accurate, and that she served on jury duty, works, votes and registers her car in Knox County. Knox County Law Director Joe Jarret argued that Breeding pays her property taxes in Anderson County. Breeding's lawyer, Jon Cope, said an appeal will be filed with the Tennessee Court of Appeals, as well as a motion to expedite the case. WATE has more

KBA Seeking Auction Items for LAET Fundraiser

The Knoxville Bar Association is still collecting donations for the silent auction at its upcoming "Cheers for Charity" benefit for Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The wine tasting event has sold out, but the KBA is seeking items such as an elegant dinner hosted by a Tennessee attorney, an assortment of fine wines or a basket that includes donations from restaurants or liquor stores for the silent auction. All proceeds from the silent auction will be donated to LAET, and donors will be recognized during the event and in all follow-up publicity.  Contact KBA Executive Director Marsha Wilson at 865-522-6522 for more information.

Nashville Lawyer Reinstated

Nashville lawyer Parrish B. Stanton has been reinstated to the practice of law by order of the Tennessee Supreme Court entered May 22. He was suspended on Oct. 14, 2010, for 18 months, retroactive to 2009. The reinstatement maintains that he must attend support groups with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program twice a month for one year; attend 10 of the required continuing legal education hours in the subject area of criminal law; and engage a practice monitor for one year. Download the BPR release

Knoxville Lawyer Censured

Knoxville lawyer Lisa Anne Temple was publicly censured today by Supreme Court of Tennessee. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a Petition for Discipline against her based on a complaint that she accepted representation of a client while she was suspended from practicing law, which violates Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4 (communication), 1.5 (fees); 5.5 (unauthorized practice of law); 8.1 (disciplinary matters) and 8.4(a)(c) and (d) (misconduct). Download the BPR release

Nashville Lawyer Censured

Nashville lawyer Colin Michael Daly was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on May 22 for practicing law while his license was administratively suspended for failing to timely pay his annual registration fees. The court determined that his actions violated Rule 5.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Download the BPR release

D.C. Lawyer Suspended

The Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended the law license of Mark Kelley Braswell on May 22 for his failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct. Braswell is licensed in Tennessee but maintains an office in Washington, D.C. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court. Download the BPR release


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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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