TBA Programs Named Best in State

Two Tennessee Bar Association programs were named the best in the state by the Tennessee Society of Association Executives (TNSAE) today at a luncheon and award ceremony in Nashville. The Tennessee Bar Journal -– the TBA’s flagship publication -- was named best magazine for the third time. In addition, the TBA Young Lawyers Division was recognized for its Judicial Internship Program, which matches Tennessee law students with trial judges across the state for summer internships. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur was on hand to accept the awards.

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
01 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Catheryne L. Grant, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Behlen Manufacturing Company, Inc.

R. Dale Thomas and Joshua B. Dougan, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Ricky Sullivan.


In this workers’ compensation case, the employee suffered a compensable back injury. The trial court awarded 80% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. His employer appealed, asserting that the trial court erred by basing its award on the impairment rating of the employee’s evaluating physician, by accepting the employee’s testimony concerning his limitations in light of questions concerning his credibility, and by making an excessive award. We affirm the judgment.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael Stevison, Mountain City, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter, and Lee Pope, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights and Claims Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Michael Stevison (“the Claimant”), an inmate in the custody of the Department of Correction, filed a breach of contract claim against the State of Tennessee. His claim was assigned to the small claims docket of the Claims Commission. The State filed a “Motion to Dismiss and/or Motion for Summary Judgment,” both of which were granted by the Commission. The Claimant filed a notice of appeal seeking to appeal the adverse decision to this Court. The State filed a motion to dismiss the appeal based upon its argument that the relevant statutory scheme prohibits appeals from decisions on claims “appearing on the small claims docket.” Since we have no jurisdiction to hear this appeal, it is dismissed.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robin Ruben Flores, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gabriel Demon Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; Brian Finlay and Matthew Rogers, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Gabriel Demon Williams, pled guilty to aggravated burglary, and the trial court sentenced him to five years of split confinement, with eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served in jail followed by intensive probation. The Defendant’s probation officer filed a probation violation warrant that alleged that the Defendant had violated the terms of his probation by being arrested for aggravated assault and driving on a suspended license. After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered the Defendant to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court improperly considered hearsay evidence during the revocation hearing and that its revocation order is contrary to the evidence. After reviewing the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Today's News

Additional Lawyer Candidates Identified

Following publication of a story in yesterday’s issue of TBA Today, two additional lawyers running for public office have been identified. They are state Sen. Tim Barnes of Adams, who is seeking reelection in the 22nd District, and Bristol lawyer Thomas M. Gray III, who is seeking the District 4 House seat currently occupied by Rep. Kent Williams. That brings to 24 the number of lawyers running for legislative office this year. See the full list

Interim Judge Ends Tenure Early

Davidson County General Sessions Judge Mike Jameson has stepped down from the bench, taking an unpaid leave of absence through the Aug. 2 election to assist his former law partner Phillip North in his bid for the state Senate. Jameson lost to Rachel Bell in March primary, and although he pledged to serve through August, he now says his allegiance is with his former colleague. Read more in The Tennessean

ACLU Launches Immigrants Rights Campaign

In response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision on Arizona’s “show me your papers” law, the ACLU of Tennessee has launched an initiative designed to help immigrants understand their rights in the justice system. The centerpiece of the effort is an online “Immigrant Rights Resource Center,” with bilingual information on how to prepare for interactions with law enforcement. ACLU-TN is publicizing the center with the distribution of posters in Spanish and English to social service agencies, businesses and churches across the state. Read more from the group

Recusal Expected in Domestic Assault Case

A domestic assault case against the 23-year-old daughter of General Sessions Court judge candidate Gary Starnes is set to come before current judge, David Norton, on Monday, but Norton is expected to recuse himself. Such a move would lead to the appointment of an outside judge and prosecutor in the case. And while it will increase the workload for the remaining judges, they say they can handle it. Chattanoogan.com reports

Zelenik Faces Contempt Charge

Republican congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik -– who is seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Diane Black -– is facing a contempt charge after not showing up for a deposition. Earlier this month, Zelenik was subpoenaed to give a deposition in a case involving State Rep. Mae Beavers and the Macon County Chronicle. The lawyer who issued the subpoena says Zelenik cancelled at the last minute, saying she was too busy campaigning. Zelenik’s lawyer, however, says the postponement was agreed upon. A hearing on the charges was set for September. WSMV reports

State Grant Helps Children of Prisoners

State prison officials awarded a $250,000 grant today to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Amachi initiative, which provides mentors for the children of incarcerated parents. According to a news release from the Tennessee Department of Correction, the initiative is designed to break the intergenerational cycle of crime and incarceration and give an often forgotten group of children the chance to reach their highest potential. Memphis Daily News has more

Justice Wade on Hand for Community Celebration

Local and state dignitaries gathered at the Sevierville Community Center this week to mark the 30th anniversary of the building of the facility. Among those in attendance was Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, who was a driving force in obtaining funding to build the center. In honor of his support, the street in front of the center was named Gary Wade Boulevard. The Sevier County News reports

Franklin Leader Honored for Drug Task Force Work

Gayle Moyer Harris was named the 2012 Anne T. Rutherford Award Winner by Franklin Tomorrow for more than 30 years of community service, first as a county commissioner, then with Williamson County Economic Development and Leadership Franklin, and then for her work founding the 21st Judicial District Drug Task Force. The nomination came from Judge Tim Easter, who wrote that Harris “possesses the heart of a servant.” Read more in the Columbia Daily Herald

Two Lawyers Censured Thursday

Two Tennessee-licensed attorneys received public censures from the Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR) on July 19. Marshall County lawyer Thomas Andre Davidson was censured for mishandling the estate of a client. Among his actions, Davidson failed to review a prenuptial agreement and failed to disclose a third codicil to the will – even informing the client’s wife that the codicil had been revoked. In addition, Crossville attorney Margaret Jane Powers was censured for endorsing a client’s name on a check and depositing the money in her account. In handling a client’s divorce, Powers received a check made out to the client from the opposing party. She asked the client if she could apply the check to the outstanding bill owed. When the client refused, Powers held the check for 18 months, and then asked the client again. When the client did not respond, Powers deposited the check, though she later refunded the money.

Disability Removed for Shelby County Lawyer

The Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an order on July 19 removing Shelby County lawyer William T. Maxwell Jr. from disability inactive status. Download the BPR notice

Two Lawyers Disciplined Friday

Knox County lawyer C. Coulter “Bud” Gilbert received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on July 20 for practicing law for two months while his license was suspended for CLE noncompliance. Also, today, the board released notice that Memphis lawyer Michelle L. Betserai was suspended from the practice of law on July 18 for failing to diligently represent clients, failing to file pleadings in a timely manner, making misrepresentations during testimony as an expert witness, and abandoning her law practice. In addition to imposing the suspension, the Supreme Court ordered her to pay restitution to four clients.


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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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