TBALL Class Selects Bowe for Wilks Award

Members of the 2012 TBA Leadership Law class choose Chattanooga attorney Curtis Bowe as the first recipient of the Larry Dean Wilks Leadership Award. Created to honor the former TBA president and Leadership Law chair who died this past year, the award recognizes the classmate who exhibited “exceptional leadership qualities that enhanced the Leadership Law experience for all class members.” Bowe, a Vanderbilt Law School graduate, heads the Bowe & Associates PLLC law firm in Chattanooga.

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
01 - 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 Supreme Court

CORRECTIONS ARE AS FOLLOW: Page 10, 2nd paragraph - changed "(Miss. 2005)" to "(Miss. Ct. App. 2005)"; Page 13, 7th line from top of page - changed "App 2006" to "App. 2006"; Page 13, 2nd paragraph - changed "Dortch v. State, 705 S.W.2d 687, 689 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1985)" to "Dortch, 705 S.W.2d at 689".

Court: TN Supreme Court


William Louis Ricker, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stephen Bernard Wlodarz.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Gordon W. Smith, Solicitor General; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and J. Douglas Goodbee, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

The petitioner, charged with first degree premeditated murder and other crimes, entered best interest guilty pleas and received an effective sentence of life without parole. After an unsuccessful petition for post-conviction relief challenging the effectiveness of his trial counsel, he filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis alleging newly discovered, exculpatory ballistic evidence. The trial court denied the petition, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. Wlodarz v. State, No. E2008-02179-CCA-R3-CO, 2010 WL 1998766 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 19, 2010). We granted the application for permission to appeal to consider whether a petitioner who has entered guilty pleas may challenge his convictions by writ of error coram nobis pursuant to the terms of our statute. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-26- 105(b) (2006). While we have determined that the petitioner did not forfeit the procedural remedy of writ of error coram nobis based on newly discovered evidence by entering the guilty pleas, the evidence in this instance does not qualify as newly discovered. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


TeShaun Moore, Cordova, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronald Butcher.

Lee Ann Pafford Dobson, Germantown, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mary Butcher.


Husband appeals the trial court’s division of property in this divorce action. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dale M. Quillen and Kenneth Quillen, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Stoney R. Anderson, II.

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


The Defendant-Appellant, Stoney R. Anderson, II, pled guilty in the Hickman County Circuit Court to possession of more than half an ounce of marijuana with intent to sell, a Class E felony. He was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to two years’ probation. Pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, Anderson reserved the following certified question of law: “[w]hether the warrantless search of the Defendant’s bag is supported by exigent circumstances.” Upon review, we reverse and vacate the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the case.

Please note that the above-styled opinion has been corrected. The original opinion incorrectly referred to the trial Judge, Dee David Gay, as Judge Dee David Gray.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


John Pellegrin, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jacob Aaron Faulkner.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Lawrence Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; William G. Lamberth, II, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Jacob Aaron Faulkner, pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI), first offense. Under the terms of the agreement, he received a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days in the county jail, suspended to probation following the service of forty-eight hours. As part of the plea agreement, the Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence resulting from his traffic stop: whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to believe he violated the “move over law.” After our review of the record, we dismiss the appeal because the Defendant failed to file a timely notice of appeal and there is no reason justifying waiver of the filing requirement.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Harriet Forrest.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; Brian Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Harriet Robertson Forrest, was indicted on nine counts of identity theft, a Class D felony. The Defendant pleaded guilty to all nine counts. As part of the plea agreement, the Defendant received a four-year sentence for each conviction as a Range II multiple offender with the sentences to run concurrently. The plea agreement provided that the manner of service would be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve her effective four-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by denying her request for an alternative sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Troy Fuller, Pro Se, Whiteville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Appellant, Troy Fuller, was convicted by a Madison County jury of rape, aggravated criminal trespass, and violation of an order of protection. The trial court sentenced Appellant to an effective sentence of twelve years. On appeal, Appellant complains that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, the length of his sentence was excessive, that the jury was not instructed on the offense of assault and that his wife’s car was illegally searched. On appeal, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions; he has waived any issue regrading his sentence because he failed to include a copy of the presentence report in the record; Appellant has waived any issue regarding an assault instruction because he failed to request one; and his constitutional rights were not violated by the search of the car because the knife, which was recovered from the search, was not presented as evidence at trial. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; James Dunn, District Attorney General; and Barry A. Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Edward C. Miller, Dandridge, Tennessee for the appellee, Christopher Kennedy.


The Defendant, Christopher Kennedy, pled guilty to aggravated sexual battery in exchange for a sentence of nine years to be served at 100%, followed by community supervision for life. After his release for that conviction, the Defendant was indicted for violating a condition of his community supervision. The Defendant filed a motion to declare Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-13-524 through 526 unconstitutional “and/or” seek habeas corpus relief. After hearing the motion, the trial court granted relief, finding that Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-13-524 through 526 violate double jeopardy protections. The State filed a timely notice of appealed. The Defendant cross appeals, asserting: (1) the community supervision for life statute is unconstitutional; and (2) the conditions for lifetime supervision established by the Board of Probation and Parole are void as the conditions are not enacted pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. Upon a review of the record, we conclude that the trial court improperly declared Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-13-524 through 526 unconstitutional and that the trial court properly dismissed the remaining issues. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the trial court in part and affirm in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James E. Lanier, District Public Defender, and H. Tod Taylor, Assistant District Public Defender, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Raymond Thomas.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; and Karen Burns, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Raymond Thomas (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of one count of selling less than .5 grams of cocaine, a Class C felony. After a hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to three years of incarceration. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence consecutively to a previous sentence. The Defendant now appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and the consecutive service of his sentence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Guy T. Wilkinson, District Public Defender; Gary J. Swayne, Assistant Public Defender, Camden, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Channon Lee Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel Jay McCadams, District Attorney General and James E. Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendant-Appellant, Channon Lee Williams, appeals from the Benton County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation. He was originally convicted for the initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine, a Class B felony. He received a sentence of eight years, which was to be served on community corrections after one year’s imprisonment. On appeal, Williams argues that the trial court erred in revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the sentence in confinement. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford Commission Votes to Appeal Mosque Ruling

Rutherford County planners voted 6-1 Monday to appeal a court ruling that declared their approval of a mosque void for not providing adequate public notice. “In my opinion, he was asking us to discriminate,” Rutherford County Regional Planning Commissioner Mike Kusch said of Chancellor Robert Corlew III's ruling. Another commissioner agreed, saying the ruling asked the county to discriminate by telling it to treat the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in a different way than how it approved construction plans for Grace Baptist Church next door. The Tennessean has the story

Anderson Clerk Retiring After 40 Years

Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk Barry Pelizzari will retire Sept. 30 after more than 40 years of service, The Oak Ridger reports. The Anderson County Commission will appoint a clerk to fill the last two years of his four-year term, he said. Chief Deputy Clerk Darline Loy, who has held that position for more than 25 years, has said she is interested in the appointment to fill out Pelizzari’s term.

Court May Take Second Look at Campaign Financing Case

At their private conference, the justices of the Supreme Court are scheduled to decide Thursday whether and how to take a second look at the Citizens United campaign finance decision. Observers believe that it's a sure bet that the court will look at it. The justices have already temporarily blocked a lower court decision in the case. In that decision, the Montana Supreme Court seemed to defy the higher court by saying that a state law regulating corporate political spending was constitutional notwithstanding Citizens United. The main question on Thursday, then, will be how the court will reverse the Montana decision. It could call for briefs, set the case down for argument in the fall and issue a decision months later. Or it could use a favorite tool of the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — the summary reversal. Read more in The New York Times

Juvenile Cases Increase, Judge Asks for More Help

Sumner County Juvenile Court Judge Barry Brown says that he and part-time magistrate David Howard face so many cases that they can't keep them moving through the system fast enough, The Tennessean reports. “DCS (Department of Children’s Services) is filing at least five cases a week where they have to remove children,” Brown told members of the County Budget Committee June 4. “We’re now setting cases going into November and December. That’s just too long in a kid’s life." Brown is asking the county to make Howard's position full-time to help move cases faster. The additional hours with benefits included would add $79,000 to the General Sessions II budget. The Tennessean reports

Rep. Curry Todd Indicted

State Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, has been indicted by a Davidson County grand jury on charges of driving under the influence and possession of a handgun while under the influence stemming from his October 2011 arrest, The Tennessean reports. Todd, a chief proponent of a 2010 law that allowed permit holders to carry guns into places that serve alcohol, was arrested after officers found a loaded handgun in his vehicle during a traffic stop. Despite the arrest, Todd, who is a retired police officer, does not face opposition for his House seat. Speaker of the House Beth Harwell said Monday that the indictments will make it “difficult if not impossible” for Todd to be restored to his powerful post as chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee from which he resigned after his arrest.

6th Congressional District Race a Rematch from 2010

The nasty primary between U.S. Rep. Diane Black and tea party activist Lou Ann Zelenik two years ago is being repeated this summer as the two face off in August for the Republican nomination to represent Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. The battle also could help shape the character of the Tennessee Republican Party for years to come — offering voters a straight-up choice between a firebrand activist and a veteran Republican lawmaker who differ in style more than they differ on policy. Read more in the Tennessean

Lawyers, Judges Among Most Likely to Gain Weight

A recent survey of more than 5,700 workers found that lawyers and judges are among those most likely to report a weight gain at their current job. Among all workers who added pounds, 54 percent said it was because of sitting at their desk most of the day; 56 percent said they also ate their lunch at their desk. Other reasons included eating because of stress (reported by 37 percent) and eating out regularly (reported by 23 percent). ABAJournal.com connects you to the survey

Rogersville Race to Benefit CASA for Kids

The 6th annual CASA Road Race to benefit CASA for Kids will be June 23 at Crockett Spring Park in Rogersville. CASA for Kids advocates for abused and neglected children in Hawkins County. The running events will include an 8K, Kids’ Mile and Open Mile. The event is part of the 2012 Skelton Law Racing Series, directed by Rogersville attorney Mark A. Skelton. Download the race application

Knoxville Attorney Disbarred

The Tennessee Supreme Court has disbarred Knoxville attorney John Threadgill and ordered restitution of more than $266,000 to seven former clients. A Hearing Panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility found he misappropriated client funds; neglected client matters; failed to communicate with clients; engaged in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and commingled client, personal and business funds. Threadgill’s actions violate Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1 (competence), 1.3 (diligence), 1.5 (fees), 1.15 (safeguarding funds), 1.16 (terminating representation) and 8.4 (misconduct). Download the BPR release

Two Lawyers Temporarily Suspended

Two lawyers were temporarily suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 11. Knoxville lawyer Vanessa Lynn Lemons was suspended pursuant to Section 4.3 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, for her failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct. Nashville lawyer Dana L. Nero was suspended pursuant to Section 4.3 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, for failure to substantially comply with her Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) Monitoring Agreement. Effective June 11, Lemons and Nero are precluded from accepting any new cases and must cease representing existing clients by July 11. After that date they may not use any indicia of lawyer, legal assistant, or law clerk nor maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. Download the BPR's release for Lemons and Nero


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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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