Jackie Dixon Takes Office as 130th TBA President

Nashville lawyer Jacqueline B. Dixon took office as the Tennessee Bar Association's 130th president at the association's annual convention in Memphis today. After being sworn into office by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Connie Clark, Dixon laid out her vision for the year, which will include a focus on civics education, civility in the profession, pro bono efforts and working to preserve an impartial judiciary. "I love our profession and I love being a lawyer," she said, adding that when she started practicing she didn't have to worry about school debt and finding a job like recent graduates do. She introduced a mentoring initiative that will coordinate with programs already available and encouraged lawyers to consider reaching out to a new lawyer. She also said she would work to help improve the image of lawyers "by making us visible. It will take all of us to change how people see us."

Taking office along with Dixon was President-Elect Cynthia Richardson Wyrick of Sevierville and Vice President Jonathan O. Steen of Jackson. Stepping down from his year as president was Memphis lawyer Danny Van Horn. American Bar Association President Bill Robinson talked briefly to the crowd, pledging his association's support for the "sacred responsibility to stand up and speak for the independence of our courts" as the TBA faces the challenge to keep merit selection in the state.

Awards presented at the lunch were:

The TBA Young Lawyers Fellows' William M. Leech Public Service Award was given posthumously to Larry Wilks, a former TBA president who died last year, which was accepted by his widow, Jan Wilks.

The Justice Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award was given to Memphis Circuit Court Judge Robert L. Childers for his work with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP), and for his leadership with lawyers' assistance programs nationally.

The Justice Joe Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing was given to two writers this year, Nashville lawyer Andrée S. Blumstein and Knoxville lawyer Scott Griswold.

• Three President's Awards, to Knoxville lawyer Deborah Stevens for her work with the Task Force on Women in the Profession; Nashville lawyer B. Riney Green for his work as chair of the Tennessee Business Corporation Act Revision Committee; and TBA staff member Lynn Pointer, for her work in implementing the TBA's first Diversity Job Fair last fall.

• Winners of the TBA's YouTube Video Contest middle schooler Ben Panak of Murfreesboro and high school senior Vivian Hughbanks of Signal Mountain.

The convention continues tonight with a Tennessee Justice Center reception, YLD Fellows Board meeting, TBA Leadership Law graduation, Diversity Leadership Institute graduation and service project. On Saturday, the convention concludes with the meetig of the Board of Governors. See pictures from today's 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
02 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
04 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Spencer R. Barnes, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, James R. Gardner.

Amber E. Luttrell and Hailey H. David, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Marvin Windows of Tennessee, Inc.


The employee was injured in 2007 and returned to work for his pre-injury employer. The employee’s claim was settled in November 2007 and was subject to the one and one-half times impairment cap set out in Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(A). In July 2009, the employee was diagnosed with cancer, and he took a medical leave of absence. The employee remained on leave for over one year. The employer’s policy permitted one year of medical leave. When the employee was unable to return to work in July 2010, he was terminated pursuant to that policy. The employee then sought reconsideration of the November 2007 settlement. The trial court found that the employee was not eligible for reconsideration. The employee has appealed, contending that the trial court’s ruling was erroneous. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Stephen K. Heard and Adam O. Knight, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roadway Express, Inc.

Robert G. Norred, Jr., Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sammy T. Robertson.


Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee injured his lower back on August 22, 2005. The trial court approved a settlement of his workers’ compensation claim in 2008. The order approving the workers’ compensation settlement provided for future authorized medical treatment in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6- 204. In January 2011, the employee’s treating physician recommended a surgical procedure. The employer’s medical utilization review provider determined that the medical necessity of the procedure was not documented, and the employer denied approval for the procedure. The employee appealed the decision to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“the Department”), and the Department’s medical director did not overturn the utilization review decision. The employee then filed a petition in the trial court, seeking an order requiring the employer to authorize the surgery. The trial court granted the petition but denied the employee’s application for attorney’s fees. The employer has appealed, contending that the trial court erred by granting the petition, that the employee failed to exhaust his administrative remedy, and that the petition is barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel. The employee has appealed from the denial of an award of attorney’s fees. We vacate the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the case without reaching the merits of the appeal.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael R. Jennings, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Wilson County, Tennessee.

Timothy A. Davis, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, James Lewis Jackson.

Lawrence Alan Poindexter, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellees, John N. Jewell and Janice B. Jewell.


Wilson County appeals from the trial court’s denial of its Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 motion to set aside an agreed order of compromise and settlement based upon its contention that the agreement would violate a policy of the Wilson County Road Commission and that it “forgot” the policy when entering into the agreed order. The county also appeals from the trial court’s finding that it was in contempt of the agreed order and must comply with the order within six months, the trial court’s denial of its request to stay the judgment, and the trial court’s award of $750 in attorney’s fees to the plaintiff. Finding the trial court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm the trial court in all respects.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James Lafayette Moore, Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Joseph F. Whalen, Associate Solicitor General; and Lee Pope, Office of the Attorney General General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


This is a certiorari proceeding in which an inmate seeks review of a disciplinary board proceeding that found him guilty of assault on another inmate. Petitioner asserts that the manner in which the disciplinary proceeding was conducted violated Tennessee Department of Correction policies. Finding no error, we affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Shawn Patrick Sirgo, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellants, Ray Lamar Paschall and Naomi Paschall

William Bryan Jakes, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Patrick Srebnick, Melinda Srebnick, Residential Engineering, and BJK Inspections, Inc.


Plaintiffs, who voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit, appeal the trial court’s award of discretionary costs to the defendants. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Deborah Chandler Russell, Greenbrier, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Donald N. Capparella, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Household Mortgage Services and Household Financial Services.


Homeowner challenges the trial court’s dismissal at the summary judgment stage of all of her claims against lenders. We reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment with respect to the homeowner’s claims for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and violation of the Truth-In-Lending Act. We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of her claim under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ricky Lee Morgan.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Sarah Davis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

Much aggrieved by his convictions of aggravated rape and robbery and resulting 23-year sentence of imprisonment, the petitioner, Ricky Lee Morgan, filed a timely petition for post- conviction relief alleging that his guilty pleas were involuntarily and unknowingly entered due to the ineffective assistance of counsel. Following the appointment of counsel and an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the post-conviction court’s order.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael J. Flanagan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Troy Lee McDonald.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Michael Jay Fahey, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

After a bench trial, the Hickman County Circuit Court convicted the appellant, Troy Lee McDonald, of sexual battery, a Class E felony. The trial court sentenced him to two years to be served as thirty days in confinement and the remainder on supervised probation. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court should have granted his request for full probation. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


M. Keith Davis, Dunlap, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robbie E. Pickett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Julia Veal, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Robbie E. Pickett, pleaded nolo contendere to one count of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury, see T.C.A. § 55-10-101. At sentencing, the trial court imposed a sentence of 11 months and 29 days’ confinement to be served at 75 percent before reaching release eligibility. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court improperly considered as enhancement its opinion that the facts of the case supported a greater charge and that the sentence is excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James Kevin Cartwright (on appeal); Roger Eric Nell, District Public Defender; and Crystal L. Myers, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial), Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cornelius O. Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Robert J. Nash, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Cornelius O. Williams, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas. Appellant pled guilty to one count of rape of a child, two counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of aggravated sexual battery. He received an effective thirty-three year sentence to be served in confinement. The State raises an issue regarding appellant’s untimely notice of appeal. After considering the merits, we hold that the trial court properly denied appellant’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Service Project and Graduation Wrap Up Law Student Leadership Class

Law students participating in the TBA Young Lawyers Division's Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI) met today in Memphis for a final program and graduation. The class attended the annual Lawyers Lunch and then spent the afternoon at the National Civil Rights Museum learning about the role the city of Memphis played in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. On Saturday, the group will hear from a panel of young lawyers discussing what they wish they had known when transitioning from law school to law practice and will have the opportunity to do some “speed networking.” Later in the day, the class will participate in a cleanup and painting project at a local Boys and Girls Club. The class graduation ceremony also will take place this weekend in conjunction with the TBA’s annual convention. Learn more about the DLI

Employment for Law Grads Hits 18-Year Low

The law school class of 2011 has more depressing news as employment hit an 18-year low, according to data released yesterday by NALP. Nine months after graduation, 85.6 percent had jobs, but not quite 66 percent of them had jobs that required a law degree. This is down 9 percent since 2008. Only 12.5 percent had jobs that preferred but did not require a law degree, up from 10.7 percent for the class of 2010. The National Law Journal has more

Judge Won't Overturn Red Light Camera Law

Two red light traffic camera vendors sought to overturn a state law barring tickets involving right turns on red, but Knox County Chancellor Michael W. Moyers would not declare the law unconstitutional. "The challenged law does not in any way amend or modify the rules regarding making right turns at a red light," Moyers ruled. The News Sentinel has the story

Governor Signs 3 Anti-Crime Bills

Gov. Bill Haslam signed three anti-crime measures into law earlier this week. The laws include an increase in mandatory jail time for repeat domestic violence offenders; an increase in sentences for convicted felons with guns that include some specific circumstances for longer sentences; and making aggravated assault, robbery and aggravated burglary a higher class of felony with a longer sentence when committed by groups of three or more people. The Daily News Journal reports

Editorial: Make the Courthouse Safe

In an editorial, the Daily News Journal asks if the Rutherford County Judicial Building has a good plan in place for clearing the building in emergencies, in light of the confustion during a recent bomb threat there when the public address system did not work. The paper urges county officials to make the building as safe as possible. "That means coming up with an efficient evacuation plan that deals with every type of emergency, from bomb threats and fires to natural disasters." the paper says. "Each threat must be taken seriously."

Cohen Asks Holder to Look into Anti-Trust Issues in Memphis

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis testified in front of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, raising concerns of monopolistic practices by Delta Airlines and Kroger and asking Holder to investigate. Cohen said in the House Judiciary Committee hearing that after Delta merged with Northwest, and after Kroger took over former Schnucks stores, Memphians have been stuck with higher prices and fewer choices. Holder said, “That’s inappropriate under our anti-trust laws, so that’s the kind of thing that would have impact on consumers, and we would aggressively pursue.” WREG 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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