Story Highlights Legal Assistance for Artists

A recent story in the Nashville Ledger highlights the work of Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts – a Nashville-based organization that provides pro bono legal services to artists and emerging arts nonprofits. All services are offered free to qualified low-income artists and emerging nonprofit arts organizations with annual operating budgets of $1 million or less. More than 250 lawyers and 30 business professionals (accountants, marketers, and public relations and human resources managers) are volunteering with the program, which has served more than 1,000 artists and 300 arts nonprofits, and provided more than $1 million in free services.

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
02 - 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 Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Kent Booher, Lenoir City, Tennessee for Plaintiff/Appellants John Van Zyll and Ann Furlong.

Joe Costner, Maryville, Tennessee for Defendant/Appellee Phil Mitchell.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves a dispute between neighbors. Plaintiffs live in a home next door to the defendant neighbor. The defendant neighbor embarked on a campaign of harassment that included, among other things, blasting an air horn in the wee hours on intermittent nights. The air horn blasts occurred on over forty nights. The plaintiffs filed the instant lawsuit against the noisome neighbor, seeking injunctive relief and compensatory damages. Summonses were issued on two occasions, but no return of summons was filed with the trial court. The defendant neighbor wrote a pro se letter to the trial court, acknowledging receipt of a notice of hearing, but no other papers, and stating that he would not appear at the hearing. After the hearing, the trial court issued an injunction and awarded a default judgment for compensatory damages to the plaintiffs. The defendant neighbor then filed a Rule 60.02 motion to set aside the judgment, based on failure to serve process. This motion was granted. Pursuant to the defendant neighbor’s motion, the trial court then dismissed the complaint. The plaintiffs now appeal, arguing that the defendant neighbor’s pro se letter constituted an appearance and that the trial court erred in setting aside the default judgment and dismissing the complaint. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael C. Skouteris, Milton E. Magee, Jr., and Donnie A. Snow, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Dixie A. Willis and Bernard Willis.

Hurbert B. Jones, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellee, David A. West, D.O.


The trial court denied Plaintiffs’ Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 motion to set aside a second order of voluntary nonsuit in this medical malpractice action. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Terita Hewlett Riley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randy Boxley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jose Leon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Randy Boxley, was convicted of robbery, a Class C felony, and sentenced as a multiple offender to eight years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the identification evidence was faulty, and without this, the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ryan C. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lawrence Brown.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Debbie Housel and Leticia Alexander, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Lawrence Brown (“the Defendant”) was convicted of two counts of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I standard offender to twelve years’ incarceration. In doing so, the trial court enhanced the Defendant’s sentence based upon the following factors: (1) the Defendant has a previous history of criminal convictions or criminal behavior; (2) the offense involved more than one victim; and (3) the Defendant had no hesitation about committing a crime when the risk to human life was high. The Defendant argues on appeal that the trial court erred when it enhanced his sentence based upon his prior convictions, which were misdemeanor traffic offenses. Because we are not permitted to assess the weight given by the trial court to enhancement factors, we conclude that the Defendant is not entitled to relief on this issue. However, because we also determine that the trial court erred in its application of the other two enhancement factors, under the particular facts of this case, we conclude that it is necessary to vacate the judgments of the trial court and remand for resentencing.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Travis N. Meeks, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, David M. Jones.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; John Carney, District Attorney General; and Helen Young, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


David M. Jones (“the Defendant”) pled guilty to one count of attempted second degree murder, with no agreement as to sentence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to twelve years’ incarceration, consecutive to a prior conviction. The Defendant has appealed the length of his sentence. Upon our thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael J. Collins, Assistant Public Defender, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, David Wayne Phillips.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Charles Crawford, District Attorney General; Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


David Wayne Phillips (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to twenty-six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after a computer that he gave someone was discovered to contain child pornography. Nineteen of the counts were for possessing in excess of one hundred images of a minor, all Class B felonies, and the remaining seven counts were for possessing images of a minor, all Class D felonies. The guilty plea agreement did not include an agreement with the State as to sentencing. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve an effective thirty-five year sentence and ordered the sentence to run consecutively to the Defendant’s prior twenty-five year sentence. The Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by: (1) failing to merge the Defendant’s twenty-six convictions into a single Class B felony; and (2) imposing an excessive sentence. After a careful review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

LMU Appears Ready to File Second ABA Appeal

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Lincoln Memorial University appears poised to file a second appeal for accreditation for its law school from the American Bar Association (ABA). Last week, the school asked a judge to continue a hold on a lawsuit it filed against the ABA until August 15, presumably to allow a second appeal.

Cookeville Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Stealing from Clients

Cookeville lawyer Gary Vandever pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing more than $60,000 from two clients. He also waived his right to a trial and appeal. Vandever's attorney Jack Lowery Jr. said his client used the money to start a construction business but that he was “very remorseful” about his actions. Vandever turned himself into the Wilson County Jail at noon yesterday. He'll remain in custody until April 2013, after which he will spend nine years on probation. At that time he must begin paying $400 per month until he pays off the entire settlement. News Channel 5 has the story

Yale Offers New Law PhD

Amidst a competitive market for those entering legal academia and an expectation that even entry-level law professors will have significant scholarly credentials, Yale Law School has announced a new PhD degree program. Geared toward those who have already earned a law degree from an American law school and want to work as a law professor, the new program is billed as the first of its kind in the United States. The program will begin accepting applications in the fall of 2012 and start enrolling students in the fall of 2013. Learn more from the school

Civil Rights Lawyer to Receive ABA Medal

The American Bar Association (ABA) will present its highest award, the ABA Medal, to Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, when the group meets next month in Chicago. In announcing the news, ABA President Bill Robinson said Dees is an outstanding example of a lawyer who has moved the country toward tolerance and equality. He is known for winning cases that helped integrate government and public institutions and for fighting white supremacist hate groups. WKRN reports

Harwell’s COS Moving to Industry Job

Gregory Gleaves, chief of staff to Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and former executive director of the Tennessee GOP, will leave government service next month to join the public relations firm of Hall Strategies. Beginning Aug. 6, Gleaves will lead the firm's campaign practice as director of grassroots campaigns. The Knoxville News Sentinel has more

Local GOP Claim Haslam Lacks Conservative Values

A number of county chapters of the Tennessee Republican Party have passed resolutions criticizing Gov. Bill Haslam for showing "a consistent lack of conservative values,' The Tennessean reports today. As many as eight county chapters have called on state Republican leaders to sanction Haslam for policies including the hiring of homosexuals, Democrats and a Muslim attorney. 

Sumner County Attorney Disbarred

Sumner County attorney John Pierce Brownlee Jr. was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on July 12 after being convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and endeavor to interfere with the administration of Internal Revenue laws. The court determined that his actions violated Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8, Section 8.4. It also ordered him to pay the expenses and costs of the disciplinary proceeding. Download the BPR notice

Murfreesboro Lawyer Suspended

The Supreme Court of Tennessee suspended Murfreesboro lawyer Derek A. Artrip from the practice of law on July 13 after finding that he failed to respond to a complaint of misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court. Download the BPR notice

7 Lawyers Reinstated After Administrative Suspension

Five Tennessee-licensed lawyers have been reinstated after being administratively suspended for failure to file their 2012 registration fee and IOLTA report, while one lawyer has been reinstated after failing to file his registration fee and IOLTA report for the last three years. In addition, one lawyer has been reinstated after being suspended for CLE noncompliance in 2010. See updated lists at the links above.


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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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