New Judicial Conduct Board Commences

The newly established Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct will hold an organizational meeting Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Administrative Office of the Courts, 511 Union St., Suite 600 in Nashville. Members of the public are invited to attend. The board replaces the old Tennessee Court of the Judiciary, whose members were appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Legislation enacted this year calls for appointments by the leaders of both houses of the legislature as well as the governor. Among those appointed to date are Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft, Tennessee Appeals Court Judge Holly Kirby of Memphis, Madison County General Sessions Court Judge Christy R. Little of Jackson and Miles Burdine, president and chief executive officer of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce. Look for a complete list of members to come. The Memphis Daily News 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.

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

LYNETTE ROONEY (POLLAN) v. EDWARD S. POLLAN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Russ Heldman and Joanie Abernathy, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lynette Rooney (Pollan).

Donald Capparella, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Edward Simon Pollan.

Judge: CLEMENT

Wife appeals the trial court’s division of marital property and award of alimony among other issues. The trial court granted Wife a divorce on the ground of Husband’s inappropriate marital conduct. Wife was awarded 51% of the marital assets and Husband received 49%. Wife was awarded $5,000 month in alimony in futuro until she reached the age of 65, at which time the amount would be reduced to $2,000 until Wife’s death or remarriage. Wife contends that the trial court erred in its determination as to the division of marital property, its award of alimony, its denial of her request for an additional $170,000 as alimony in solido due to Husband’s alleged dissipation of assets, its denial of Wife’s request that Husband pay her medical insurance following the end of an eight-year employment agreement with Husband’s company, and its denial of her request for attorney’s fees and expert witness fees in the amount of $115,528.88. For his part, Husband contends the trial court made a mathematical error regarding the parties’ 2010 tax liability. We affirm the trial court in all respects except for the tax liability and remand the issue of the parties’ 2010 tax liability. Although Wife does not challenge this issue, we are unable to determine the correct amount; thus, we remand this issue for the court to determine whether a mathematical error exists and, if so, to modify the decree accordingly.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

BRUCE ALEXANDER TUCK v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

John M. Miles, Union City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bruce Alexander Tuck.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; and Thomas A. Thomas, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The Weakley County Grand Jury indicted the petitioner, Bruce Alexander Tuck, in three separate cases. In each case, the petitioner was indicted for aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and various other related offenses. The petitioner pled guilty in each case, agreeing to serve three, consecutive twenty-year sentences at 100 percent, resulting in an effective sentence of sixty years. No direct appeal was filed. The petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his guilty pleas were not entered voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. He claims that when he entered his pleas, he was mentally ill and subject to mistreatment and threats in an attempt to induce him to plead guilty. He also alleges that his trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to discuss the facts and circumstances underlying each of the indictments charging the petitioner; (2) failing to review the audio and visual recordings of the petitioner’s first statement to police; (3) failing to file a motion to suppress the petitioner’s confession; and (4) failing to discuss with the petitioner the possibility of withdrawing his pleas. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court concluded that the petitioner did not prove his assertions. Based upon our review, we conclude that the evidence does not preponderate against the findings of the post-conviction court. Therefore, we affirm the denial of the petitioner’s petition for postconviction relief.


CBA Releases Judicial Poll Results

The Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA) on Tuesday released results of its biennial judicial poll, which asks members to rate area judges in five categories — objective and unbiased, legal ability, good moral character, diligence and judicial temperament. Attorneys had four responses to choose from for each category — superior, satisfactory, unsatisfactory or no opinion. Read about the results in the Times Free Press


Judge Rejects Widow's Settlement Transfer as 'Shocking'

A 66-year-old Anderson County widow would have wound up with just $1,621.16 in exchange for an annuity valued at $65,400 under a proposed transfer of a structured settlement agreement. The payout would have been $3,821.16, but the firm handling the matter was proposing to hold out $2,200 in fees. The transfer was denied in a scathing order issued by Anderson County Circuit Court Judge Don Elledge. "The Court has never seen a proposal submitted as outrageous and shocking as this one is," Elledge wrote in his June 29 order. The judge ruled it wouldn't be in the client’s best interest for the transfer to be approved. The News Sentinel has the story


Vanderbilt Professor Influences SCOTUS Health Care Decision

States that decline to participate in the coming vast expansion of Medicaid have a Vanderbilt Law School professor to thank for that option. An amicus brief filed by James F. Blumstein, professor of constitutional law and health law and policy, provided the legal argument cited by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in his decision that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid mandate on states was unenforceable. As a result of that decision, states may opt into the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program but also may opt out without placing their existing Medicaid programs and funding in jeopardy. Read more about Blumstein’s role


FBI Acknowledges Withers Was Informant

The FBI admitted for the first time this week that the late Memphis photographer Ernest Withers had served as an informant, confirming a 14-year relationship between the noted civil rights photographer and the agency. In an affidavit filed in federal court in Washington, the FBI formally acknowledged Withers was an FBI confidential informant and that the bureau withheld Withers' file from The Commercial Appeal, which first asked for it four years ago.


Greer Elected West Tenn. TAJ VP

Memphis lawyer Thomas Greer, a partner in Bailey & Greer PLLC, has been elected vice president of the West Tennessee division of the Tennessee Association for Justice (TAJ). Greer practices in the areas of medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, premises liability and police brutality. In an interview with the Memphis Daily News, Greer reflects on shifting trends in the legal profession and how TAJ is responding. “There’s a declining trend for the number of cases that go to trial," he says. "One of the missions of our association is to keep the courthouse open and level the playing field for the ordinary Tennessean. To try to make sure that future generations have the same constitutional rights that we grew up with and that we’ve had.”


Hamilton County Lawyer Suspended

The Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended the law license of Hamilton County lawyer Jeffrey Andrew Stinnett on June 29 for his failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct. Effective June 29, Stinnett is precluded from accepting any new cases and must cease representing existing clients by July 29. Download the BPR notice


16 Lawyers Suspended for Fee and IOLTA Violations

The Tennessee Supreme Court last week issued two new orders suspending Tennessee-licensed attorneys who did not pay their 2012 registration fee to the Board of Professional Responsibility and/or did not file a mandatory compliance statement that eligible client funds are held in accounts participating in the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. The lists reflect lawyers not in compliance as of their May birthdates. Those who have been reinstated are noted as such. Previous orders covered lawyers with birthdates in January through April. See the updated lists and download the orders


Dyersburg Attorney, Former State AG Dies

Randolph Alexander “Ray” Ashley Jr, the first West Tennessee attorney appointed outside of Memphis to be Tennessee attorney general, passed away Monday (July 2) at the age of 84. Ashley graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law and followed in his father's footsteps – joining the family’s Dyersburg law firm of Ashley, Ashley & Arnold in 1952. From 1974-1976, Ashley served as Tennessee Attorney General. Under his leadership, the AG’s office was instrumental in halting plans for a Hartsville nuclear plant and a proposed Clinch River Breeder Reactor. He also reformed the Tennessee Claims Commission to make it more consumer-friendly.  A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. July 9 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Chruch in Dyersburg. Visitation will follow the service. The State Gazette has more on his life.


 
 

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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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