Court Issues New Rules for Language Access Services

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued new rules to provide Limited English Proficient (LEP) Tennesseans with more meaningful access to court hearings. The new rules go into effect on July 1. According to the court, an additional $2 million in funding and new rules will help judges better communicate with parties in civil and criminal cases and will enable LEP persons to more fully participate in court proceedings and understand what is expected of them. Before the new funding, interpreter costs were paid for by the state only in certain cases where a person was entitled to but could not afford to pay for an attorney. The new rules will provide qualified interpreters for all hearings if an interpreter is needed. Learn more about the new rules or about interpreter services on the AOC website.

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
03 - 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

LORI ANN BATES v. STEPHEN LEE BATES

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Douglas Thompson Bates, IV, Centerville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Stephen Lee Bates.

Jennifer Fleming Franks, Columbia, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Lori Ann Bates.

Judge: DINKINS

In this divorce proceeding, Husband appeals the trial court’s classification and division of marital property. Wife appeals the trial court’s ruling regarding the admissibility of certain expert testimony and the grant of Husband’s Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 motion to vacate the award of alimony. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court in all respects.


DALE GRIMES D/B/A MADISON STREET MOTORS v. WILLIAM H. HANCOCK

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Joshua G. Offutt, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William H. Hancock.

W. Timothy Harvey, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Dale Grimes d/b/a Madison Street Motors.

Judge: CANTRELL

The defendant ran off the road and struck an expensive vehicle on a used car lot. The lot owner sued the defendant for the damages to the vehicle plus the lost profits he would have made with the proceeds of the sale if the accident had not happened. The trial Court awarded the plaintiff $10,482.12, plus prejudgment interest at 5% per year from the date the vehicle was sold at wholesale in a damaged condition. The Court did not make any findings as to the basis for the award. The defendant asserts on appeal that the plaintiff failed to mitigate his damages. The plaintiff assigns as error the trial Court’s failure to award him more damages for his lost profits. We hold that the plaintiff did not make a case for lost profits or the before and after retail value of the automobile. We reduce the award to $4,766.47, the estimated cost of repairs to the vehicle and we reverse the award of prejudgment interest.


IN RE NATHAN A-W

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Trudy L. Bloodworth and Nicholas William Utter, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Stephanie Cooksey.

Jessie Ray Akers, Jr. and David Matthew Dolan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Jeremy Woodruff.

This appeal arises out of a change of custody petition filed by the father of a minor child. The Juvenile Court magistrate found a material change of circumstances but retained the mother as primary residential parent. Father filed a request for rehearing before the Juvenile Court judge. Before the rehearing could be held, the guardian ad litem filed a motion requesting that the magistrate review the parenting plan and stay its prior order based on the mother’s drug use, domestic abuse, and marital problems. Thereafter, the magistrate entered an order staying its prior order and naming father the primary residential parent. The Juvenile Court judge held a trial de novo and entered an order finding that a material change in circumstance had occurred and that it was in the child’s best interest for the father to be designated the primary residential parent. The mother was ordered to pay the father’s attorney fees and a portion of the guardian ad litem’s fees. The mother appeals. We affirm the court’s decision to designate the father as the primary residential parent, its award of attorney fees to the father, and the award of fees to the guardian ad litem. We remand for determination of the amount of attorney fees to be awarded.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

RICHARD FRANK D’ANTONIO v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

David M. Hopkins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Richard Frank D’Antonio.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Thomas B. Thurman and Kathy Maronte, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Richard Frank D’Antonio, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his first degree murder conviction and resulting life sentence. He contends that the trial court erred in determining that he received effective assistance of trial counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRIAN JERMAINE DODSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Hershell D. Koger, Pulaski, Tennessee (on appeal); and Stanley K. Pierchoski, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Brian Jermaine Dodson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Kimberly Cooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Brian Jermaine Dodson, was convicted by a Maury County Circuit Court jury of first degree premeditated murder, attempted first degree murder, and aggravated assault and sentenced to an effective term of life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the trial court erred in allowing the State to amend counts two and three of the indictment over his objection; (2) the trial court erred in allowing a State witness, Adrian Walker, to testify concerning gang activity and in failing to grant his motion in limine regarding Walker’s testimony; (3) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (4) the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on alibi; (5) the trial court erred in allowing the defendant’s prior convictions to be introduced during trial; (6) newly discovered evidence could have affected the outcome of the trial; and (7) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by using perjured testimony and an improper closing argument, the cumulative effect of which deprived him of a fair trial. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES EVERETT FERRELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James Everett Ferrell, Morrison, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Assistant Attorney General; and William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

After a bench trial, the Cannon County Circuit Court convicted the appellant, James Everett Ferrell, of violating the seatbelt law, second offense, and fined him twenty dollars. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the court tried his case without a warrant and because the citing officer did not file an affidavit of complaint. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARTIN DEAN GIBBS
With Concurring Opinion

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), Melissa Harrison (at trial and on appeal), and J. Michael Engle (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for appellant, Martin Dean Gibbs.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Sharon Reddick and Rob McGuire, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Martin Dean Gibbs, of four counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and eight counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him to concurrent sentences of twenty-five years for each rape of a child conviction and ten years for each aggravated sexual battery conviction for a total effective sentence of twenty-five years in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the trial court erred by allowing a social worker to testify about the victim’s allegations pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 803(4), the medical diagnosis and treatment exception to the hearsay rule; (2) the trial court erred by allowing the victim’s mother to testify about the victim’s allegations as prior consistent statements; (3) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions in counts 7 and 11; and (4) his convictions in counts 1 and 9, 2 and 10, and 3 and 11 violate protections against double jeopardy. The State concedes that the evidence is insufficient as to count 11. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we agree that the evidence is insufficient to support the appellant’s rape of a child conviction in count 11. Therefore, that conviction is reversed, and the charge is dismissed. The appellant’s remaining convictions are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KIMBERLY JOHNSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; Andrew J. Gibbons, Assistant Public Defender, Blountville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Kimberly Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy E. Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and James F. Goodwin, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Kimberly Johnson, was charged by presentment with three counts of the sale of a Schedule II controlled substance and three counts of the delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance. Johnson subsequently entered guilty pleas to the charges in the Sullivan County Circuit Court. Pursuant to the terms of her plea agreement, Johnson was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender, she was required to pay a $6,000 fine, and her delivery convictions were merged with her sale convictions for an effective sentence of four years, with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court denied all forms of alternative sentencing and imposed a sentence of confinement in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Johnson argues that the trial court erred in denying an alternative sentence. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


REGINALD C. MALONE, SR. V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kirk D. Catron (on appeal) and Derek Ray Howard (at hearing), Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Reginald C. Malone, Sr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; and William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Reginald C. Malone, Sr. (“the Petitioner”) filed for post-conviction relief, challenging his conviction for the sale of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine, which resulted in a sentence of eight years in confinement. As his bases for relief, he alleged several grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, a Brady violation, illegal evidence, and malicious prosecution. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal followed. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to challenge the discrepancy in the reports of the weight of the cocaine through either a motion to suppress the cocaine or cross-examination as to its chain of custody. Additionally, the Petitioner argues that trial counsel failed to file a timely motion for new trial. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we remand the case for the trial court to grant the Petitioner leave to file a motion for new trial.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROGER VINES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William M. Harris, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee (on appeal), and W. Andrew Yarbrough, Waynesboro, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Roger Vines.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Joel Douglas Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Roger Vines, was convicted by a Wayne County jury for one count of selling .5 grams or more of methamphetamine, a Class B felony, and sentenced to a term of ten year’s incarceration. On appeal, the defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction; (2) the ten-year sentence is excessive; and (3) the court erred in denying probation. Following review of the record, we find no error and affirm the judgment of conviction and resulting sentence as imposed.


Planning Begins for E-filing in Shelby Co. Criminal Courts

Before he was elected Shelby County Criminal Court clerk in 2010, Kevin Key worked on an e-filing system in circuit court that made its debut this week. Now Key is working toward an e-filing system for the criminal court. Requests for proposals are set to go out soon for vendors to tie all the different criminal justice systems into a central hub. Key’s part of the system includes the ability to file court documents by computer or scan them into the system. Anticipating the task ahead, he says, “It’s going to be the largest single computer system ever implemented by Shelby County government.” The Memphis Daily News reports


Cooper Staffer Seeks to Replace Arriola

While a handful of names have been bandied about as potential successors to Davidson County clerk John Arriola, the one getting the most play so far is that of Brenda Wynn, a fixture in Nashville government and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s office, according to the Tennessean’s In Session Blog. Wynn is vying for the temporary appointment by the Metro Council in August, and said she would run for the Democratic nomination when voters elect the clerk on a more permanent basis in November. Wynn was the first director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods under then-Mayor Bill Purcell and has been Cooper’s director of community outreach since he took office in 2003.


Smith to Return to Bench Next Week

Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jerry Lynn Smith, who pleaded guilty to drunken driving on Monday, will return to duty next week. Smith, who works out of Nashville, pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 48 hours in jail. He also lost his driver's license for a year -- the standard punishment for a first-time DUI offender. In a statement Smith apologized to his family, friends and "the people of Tennessee" for his behavior and assured it would not happen again. Read more from News Channel 5


Healthcare Decision Puts SCOTUSblog in the Spotlight

Come Thursday morning about 10 a.m. Eastern time, SCOTUSblog.com will be blogging the court's decisions in real time. On Tuesday, when court watchers thought a decision might be announced in the healthcare case, the blog crashed after being overwhelmed by visitors.  For tomorrow's release of the decision, the site has created a back up site to handle any technical problems. SCOTUSblog founders Tom Goldstein and Amy Howe expect at least 250,000 visitors to follow the proceedings tomorrow – a record for the site. The blog, which began as a side business for the two, is quickly becoming the “go-to” site for news about the Supreme Court. NPR looks at the origins and impact of SCOTUSblog.


Haslam: State Ready for Supreme Court Ruling

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says the state is ready for Thursday’s expected Supreme Court ruling on the federal healthcare overhaul, no matter what the court decides. That’s because the state has been carefully keeping its options open for the last year, according to the Nashville Public Radio. If the law stands, the state’s main responsibility would be setting up an insurance exchange. Haslam says the state has been using federal grants to pay for planning its exchange, so it will be ready to meet the law’s requirements.


Possible Outcomes in Health Care Case

The Chattanooga Times Free Press has this article from the Associated Press looking at six possible outcomes in tomorrow’s likely healthcare decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Check it out here


Court Grants Cert in Key Class Action Case

Potentially lost in the flurry of news coverage about the Supreme Court's upcoming  healthcare decision was the court's action on Monday granting certiorarii in 11 cases. Among those to be considered during the next term is one that could make it more difficult for plaintiffs to bring class actions in federal courts, according to the ABA Journal. "The issue here," according to one observer, "is whether the plaintiffs have to show at the class-certification stage that they have a method of proving damages that is admissible at trial and common for all plaintiffs." Antitrust lawyer Ankur Kapoor says this could “be the big one” and "whatever the [court] says about this, the legal journals will be writing about it for years."  SCOTUSBlog has the list of all petitions granted.


Talks Fail to Resolve Contempt Issue

White House officials and House Republicans met yesterday but failed to resolve a document dispute that could lead to a precedent-setting contempt of Congress vote Thursday against Attorney General Eric Holder. A congressional official said the White House and Justice Department shared 30 documents related to the botched Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation and promised to provide hundreds of pages of documents if Republicans agreed to drop the contempt effort and end their investigation. That offer was rejected. The Bristol Herald Courier has this AP story.


Obama Prepping Lawyers for Election

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has recruited a legion of lawyers to be on standby for this year’s election as legal disputes surrounding the voting process are expected.Thousands of attorneys and support staffers have agreed to aid in the effort, providing a mass of legal support that appears to be unrivaled. Obama’s campaign says it is particularly concerned about the implementation of new voter ID laws, the possibility of anti-fraud activists challenging legitimate voters and the handling of voter registrations in the most competitive states. The Columbia Daily Herald has this AP report


 
 

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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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