Providing Legal Services to Persons with Disabilities? New Video Can Help

A short video is now available to help lawyers when they provide pro bono legal services to persons with disabilities. The project from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission --  Providing Legal Services to Persons with Disabilities -- raises awareness and reduces the barriers that persons with disabilities face when seeking legal services. The 12-minute video provides general etiquette tips on interacting with individuals with disabilities and highlights specific examples of common scenarios that people with disabilities encounter when seeking legal services. The Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee developed the video with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Learn more from the AOC

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
06 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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


Christopher P. Capps, Morristown, Tennessee; Howard O. Mann, Corbin, Kentucky; Max Picklesimer, Nicholasville, Kentucky; and Jay M. Goldstein, Charlotte, North Carolina, for the appellants, Griffith Services, LLC and Lexington Insurance Company.

W. Bryan Brooks, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Arrow Gas & Oil, Inc.


This appeal is from an order of the trial court entered February 23, 2012, which order denied the motion of the plaintiffs below, as later supplemented, seeking to amend, alter or set aside a prior order of the trial court dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint. The order appealed from is not a final order. Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ appeal is hereby dismissed.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Stephen T. Greer, Dunlap, Tennessee, for the appellants, Thomas Brothers Construction Company, Inc., and American Motorist Insurance Company.

Ronald D. Wells, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, J.M. Hanner Construction Company, Inc.


The plaintiff filed suit against the defendants to recover monies alleged to be due the plaintiff on two construction projections. The first complaint was involuntarily dismissed. The defendants averred that the plaintiff’s claims against them in the second complaint are barred by the doctrine of res judicata. The trial court found that the involuntary dismissal was not an adjudication on the merits. The defendants pursued this interlocutory appeal. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Darrell J. O’Neal, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Deborah Mason Hawkins, As Administrator of the Estate of Wayne Hawkins, Deceased, and Deborah Mason Hawkins, Individually.

J. Kimbrough Johnson and Elizabeth T. Collins, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Rodney A. Martin, M.D.

Brett A. Hughes and Kannon C. Conway, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Baptist Memorial Hospital.


The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss in this medical malpractice action where Plaintiff failed to attach a HIPPA compliant medical authorization to her notice to Defendants prior to filing her complaint as required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26- 121. Plaintiff appeals. We vacate and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert W. White and Joe Nicholson, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Charles Raymond Loveday and Virginia Hope Loveday.

Robert N. Goddard, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Blount County, Tennessee, and Blount County School Board.


Charles Raymond Loveday and his wife, Virginia Hope Loveday (collectively “the Plaintiffs”), filed this action in January 2011 against Blount County and the Blount County School Board (collectively “the Defendants”) to recover for flood damage to their property allegedly caused by the construction of a new school next to the Plaintiffs’ property. The school was built in 2007. The Plaintiffs allegedly sustained “permanent” damage in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss asserting that the action was barred by the statute of limitations for a taking. The trial court granted the motion. The Plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Andrew F. Tucker, Dayton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terry Mullins.

Justin C. Angel, Pikeville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Alfred L. Locke, Sidney W. Locke, and William D. Gillespie and wife, Kimberly Gillespie.


Terry Mullins (“the Plaintiff”) filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction to prohibit landowners (collectively “the Defendants”) to his south from using a driveway they constructed across his property. Following a bench trial,1 the court dismissed the Plaintiff’s complaint. The court held that the proof established that the Defendants had a prescriptive easement over the Plaintiff’s property. The Plaintiff appeals. We remand to the trial court for the purpose of allowing that court to correct a defect in the record.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Whitney Durand, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellants, Mark L. Holton and Cathy S. Holton.

Misty Smith Kelley, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General; and Derek C. Jumper, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendants filed a notice of appeal in the trial court seeking to appeal the court’s order of May 11, 2012. That order is not a final judgment. Accordingly, the defendants’ putative appeal is hereby dismissed.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William Caldwell Hancock, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tracy Rose Baker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Ray Whitley, District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


The Appellant, Tracy Rose Baker, appeals the post-conviction court’s dismissal of her petition for post-conviction relief. The Appellant asserts that her guilty plea to criminal contempt charges is void due to constitutional infirmities stemming from the chancery court’s failure to conduct an in-court guilty plea acceptance hearing at the time of her guilty plea. Because we conclude that the Post-Conviction Procedure Act is not applicable to the Petitioner’s criminal contempt convictions, we affirm the post-conviction court’s dismissal of the Appellant’s petition.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Phedrek Davis, Only, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Dan Hamm, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Phedrek Davis, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. In this appeal as of right, the Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred by summarily dismissing his petition. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


David L. Stewart, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tommy Lee Pendleton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steven M. Blount, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Tommy Lee Pendleton, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual battery and received concurrent sentences of fourteen years. He filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to file a bill of particulars, by failing to obtain an expert witness to review the statements of the child victim, and by failing to spend adequate time investigating the case and preparing for trial. He further contends that his guilty pleas were involuntary because trial counsel’s errors tainted the plea process. Finally, he claims that the trial court should not have accepted his plea in light of his hesitance during the guilty plea hearing. Discerning no error in the proceedings, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Signal Mountain Attorney Joe Wagner Dies at 97

Signal Mountain attorney Joseph Church Wagner died July 19, at the age of 97. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1940, then joined his father in law practice. After leaving to serve as an FBI special agent he rejoined his father, becoming the senior partner of Wagner, Nelson and Weeks, and later practicing with sons Richard and Michael until the day of his death. Mr. Wagner was proud of having the privilege of making motions before the Tennessee Supreme Court to accept his two sons and one granddaughter to the practice of law in Tennessee. He served as the attorney for the Town of Signal Mountain, retiring after 50 years, and continued to serve as Back Tax Attorney until his death. Funeral services were Monday, with burial at Mount Olivet Cemetery, East Ridge. Memorial contributions may be made to Walden's Ridge Emergency Service, P.O. Box 215, Signal Mountain, TN 37377, or your favorite charity. Read his obituary

Survivor of Colorado Shooting to Sue Theater, Studio, Doctors

A lawyer told reporters Tuesday he will bring suit against multiple parties on behalf of a survivor of Friday's mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. Beverly Hills-based attorney Donald Karpel told TMZ he will file on behalf of Torrence Brown Jr., who attended the midnight showing where the massacre took place. He plans to sue the Century Aurora 16 movie theater, Warner Bros. Entertainment and the doctors for alleged Colorado gunman James Eagan Holmes. WMC has the story

U.S. Attorney Stanton Advises Lane Graduates

U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III delivered the address at Lane College’s summer commencement convocation on Sunday in Jackson, telling the 78 graduates "You have to know where you want to go and who you want to be. You have the tools. You just need the vision in order to succeed.” Stanton was nominated by President Barack Obama for the Western District position in 2010. Read more from Lane College

Job Prospects for Bilingual Lawyers Good

Lawyers who speak a second language are a hot commodity, though the jobs they are snagging are usually temporary. Patent and automotive litigation are improving the employment picture for lawyers who speak Asian languages. Also popular are lawyers who can help translate language for deals and documents in emerging economies such as Brazil and India. has the details

Execution Stayed to Hear Single-Drug Challenge

The Georgia Supreme Court stayed Monday's scheduled execution of a man convicted of killing a fellow prison inmate, saying it would consider a defense challenge to the state's recent adoption of a single-drug injection method. The court also said it declined to review a separate defense appeal that claimed Warren Lee Hill is mentally disabled and shouldn't be executed for that reason. The Associated Press reports

Knox Commissioners Approve Written Prayer Policy

Knox County commissioners on Monday approved a written policy for how prayers are conducted in its public meetings. Commissioners voted 10-1 for the policy, which solidifies a long-standing practice to hold a brief prayer before the start of commission meetings. "You don't have to pray to our God if you don't [want] to, but this [is] our choice, and I'll defend that to my dying day," Commissioner Mike Brown said during the discussion. The policy has drawn criticism from groups like the Knoxville Jewish Alliance, which sent a letter to commissioners. "We're not trying to quash prayer in public," said Jeff Gubitz, with the alliance. "We just think prayer is personal and need not to be invoked to in order to bring decisions in government." WATE reports

Maury Republicans Pile on Against Haslam Appointment

Joining other GOP groups across the state, Maury County Republicans have signed a resolution opposing Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent appointment of a Muslim woman to a state board, alleging she is an adherent of Sharia Law. The resolution mirrors a document signed in Williamson County last week, bringing the number to at least eight county party organizations that have passed resolutions seeking some sort of action by the state party. Samar Ali, a Vanderbilt University Law School graduate who is of the Muslim faith, was selected by Gov. Haslam in May to serve as the Department of Economic and Community Development’s international director. The Columbia Daily Herald has more on the resolution, while an editorial in the News Sentinel says Ali is extremely qualified and calls for a stop to "hate-filled intolerance," "bigotry" and "fear-fueled accusations."

Candidate Won't Be Punished for Contempt if She Cooperates

Lou Ann Zelenik may not have to face a contempt of court citation if she testifies in a state senator's lawsuit before Aug. 8. The ruling came down Monday from Wilson County Judge C.K. Smith who said in the order he's "not inclined to punish" the Republican Congressional candidate if she were to give her deposition by the August date. Zelenik was accused last week of criminal contempt for not appearing for a July 12 court deposition. She was subpoenaed in an ongoing lawsuit brought by State Senator Mae Beavers and her husband Jerry against a Macon County newspaper. WKRN reports

Knox County Lawyer Censured

Knoxville lawyer Lisa Belle Hatfield received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court today. Her license was suspended for continuing legal education noncompliance and she practiced law for two months while her license was suspended, which constitutes the unauthorized practice of law. Her license was later reinstated when she fulfilled her CLE requirements. Download the BPR release


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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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