'Section Cup' Winners Named at TBA Convention

Recipients of the 2012 Section Cup were announced today at the Section Chairs Roundtable, kicking off the TBA Convention in Memphis. TBA President Danny Van Horn created the Section Cup to encourage service to section members. Over the past year, sections accumulated points for holding meetings and CLEs or providing new services to members. Sections of like size competed against each other for the honor. The TBA Appellate Practice Section was named the Section Cup recipient for smaller TBA sections, with Executive Council member Buck Lewis accepting the award on behalf of the section. The TBA Criminal Justice Section was named Section Cup recipient for mid-sized sections, with Executive Council member Joe Murphy accepting the award on behalf of the section. And the TBA Health Care Law Section was named Section Cup recipient for larger sections, with 2012 Section Chair Kim Looney accepting the award on behalf of the section.

In other convention news, members of TBASCUS met for lunch, and at the House of Delegates meeting, House Speaker Claudia Jack passed the gavel to Charlie Trotter, who will lead the body in the coming year. The Opening Reception for convention registrants is set for this evening. See more from these and other convention events

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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - 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 Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael Meise (on appeal), Dickson, Tennessee, and Richard Tennent (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Demance Beasley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Roger Moore and Deborah Housel, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Demance Beasley, of first degree felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of life in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for felony murder because the State’s witnesses provided inconsistent testimony and were not credible. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Juni S. Ganguli, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Britt.

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


A Shelby County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, James Britt, charging him with premeditated first degree murder. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of the offense and received a life sentence. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred in admitting two autopsy photographs. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Leslie M. Jeffress, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cleven Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; Ta Kisha M. Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Cleven Johnson, pled guilty to several charges that spanned six different cases: one count of attempting to sell more than .5 grams of cocaine within a drug-free zone; three counts of possession of a weapon in the commission of a felony; one count of evading arrest; two counts of driving on a suspended license; two counts of driving without insurance; one count of driving under the influence, first offense; one count of simple possession of marijuana; one count of possession of a weapon; two counts of aggravated burglary; six counts of attempted especially aggravated kidnapping; one count of aggravated robbery; two counts of aggravated assault; one count of attempted aggravated sexual battery; one count of especially aggravated burglary; and one count of attempted first degree murder. The plea agreement included a total effective sentence of forty years. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, and the postconviction court dismissed the petition after holding a hearing. On appeal, 1 the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s dismissal of his petition.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Patrick Dollar, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jason M. Justice.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zenter, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and James W. Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Jason M. Justice, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his petition for postconviction relief. Petitioner was convicted following a jury trial of first degree murder and sentenced by the trial court to life imprisonment. This Court affirmed Petitioner’s conviction on direct appeal. State v. Jason M. Justice, No. W2008-01009-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 1741398 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Jackson, June 15, 2009), perm. app. denied (Tenn., Nov. 23, 2009). An appellate summary of the facts underlying Petitioner’s conviction can be found at this Court’s opinion cited herein. In this appeal as of right, Petitioner asserts: 1) that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial; 2) that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at the post-conviction proceedings; and 3) the post-conviction court erred by denying Petitioner’s requests to have his post-conviction counsel relieved and the post-conviction hearing continued. After a careful review of the record, we find no error and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Where are Key Players in Blanton Scandal Now?

Thirty-one years ago this month, former Tennessee Gov. Ray Blanton was convicted of mail fraud, conspiracy and extortion for selling liquor licenses, which got him 22 months in a federal prison. Many of the players in that drama were lawyers. The Nashville Post looks at where some of them are now, including Blanton’s legal counsel T. Edward “Eddie” Sisk (selling mattresses in Nashville), then-U.S. Attorney Hal Hardin, and then-Deputy Attorney General William “Bill” Koch. The article is from an upcoming book by Keel Hunt, who was city editor of the Tennessean at that time. He recalls -- during what then-Lt. Gov. John Wilder famously called, “Impeachment, Tennessee style” -- how decisions were made and party lines faded into a cooperative effort to stabilize Tennessee politics.

New Trials Ordered in Torture Slayings, Despite Recusal Request

An order has been filed requiring new trials for the defendants in a January 2007 torture slaying, according to John Gill, special counsel to Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols, and reported by the News Sentinel. This comes despite a request from prosecutors that Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood recuse himself from the case, after he indicated last week he was ordering new trials without a hearing.

Police Sue to Keep Kurdish Gang Out of Park

Metro Nashville Police officials have filed a civil lawsuit to prevent gang meetings in the South Nashville area. The suit is meant to crack down on the Kurdish Pride Gang, which police say has been involved in vandalism, gun possession and witness intimidation dating back to 2007. This lawsuit targets two-dozen gang members and prevents them from holding gang meetings in a specific square mile, near a park in South Nashville. This is the first such legal action in Tennessee since a law allowing it passed the legislature in 2009. WPLN reports

Georgia Courthouse Cleared After Bomb Threat

The Cherokee County Justice Center and Historic Courthouse in Canton, Ga., reopened today after being closed for more than five hours on Tuesday while authorities searched the buildings and grounds for an alleged bomb. The evacuation follows two courthouse bomb threats in Tennessee in the last week, in Murfreesboro and Nashville. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the story

Adding a Judge Means Another Prosecutor, Office Space

Even though the Washington County commission agreed to hire a third General Sessions judge starting in January, Circuit Court Clerk Karen Guinn says there is no available room. District Attorney General Tony Clark says he's also out of office space but still needs another prosecutor to handle the new court. State standards say a Sessions Court prosecutor should handle up to 200 cases per week; right now they have close to double that amount. "We have to have people to prosecute these cases,” says Clark. “We are spending a minute to a minute-and-a-half on a case. People deserve more than that." Guinn says she plans to ask the county commission for two new employees and additional equipment for the third Sessions Court, which will cost close to $85,000. Money for a new prosecutor must come from the state budget, however. WCYB has the story

Clinton Confirms He Offered Cuomo Supreme Court Spot

Former President Bill Clinton confirmed Tuesday evening that he offered to nominate Mario Cuomo to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the New York governor didn’t want the job. Clinton said Cuomo didn’t want to give up the governorship. He then stayed in office, ran for re-election and lost. Clinton went on to tap Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the nomination. ABAJournal.com has more

9th Circuit Won't Hear Prop 8, Backers Look to Supreme Court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday denied Prop 8 backers' request for a rehearing before a larger en banc panel of the court. The next option for supporters of the ban on same sex marriage is the high court, which they've vowed to pursue. The order denying rehearing leaves in place the court's February ruling striking down the ban on equal protection grounds. However, some observers think a  challenge on the Defense of Marriage Act would be a more likely candidate for high court review since it's a challenge to a federal statute, not a state voter initiative, and since plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case are asking for a far more sweeping ruling — one declaring marriage a fundamental right. Read more about it on Law.com

Apply for Bankruptcy Seat in Jackson

The Sixth Circuit Judicial Council is soliciting applications from persons interested in appointment as United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Western District of Tennessee at Jackson. This position will become vacant upon the retirement of United States Bankruptcy Judge G. Harvey Boswell on July 8. Applications must be received by July 18. Download more information


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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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