Court: TV Story May Have Presented Judge in False Light

The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that two issues stemming from Davidson County General Sessions Court Judge Dan Eisenstein’s lawsuit against NewsChannel5 and reporter Phil Williams should be remanded back to the trial court. Eisenstein sued the station and Williams for libel and false light claims after two critical stories about him aired. The Davidson County Circuit Court originally dismissed all claims. The appeals court cleared the station and reporter of most charges but directed the lower court to reconsider two “false light” charges with regard to the second story. Writing for the court, Judge Andy Bennett suggested that the story implied Eisenstein lied to the Department of Justice and was uncooperative or evasive in answering the reporter’s questions, despite indications to the contrary. The Nashville City Paper has the story

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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
07 - 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

DANA AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS GROUP, LLC ET AL. v. LARRY EVANS

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey P. Boyd and Laura Ann E. Bailey, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry Evans.

William F. Kendall, III, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellees, Dana Automotive Systems, LLC, and Hartford Casualty Insurance Company.

Judge: HOLDER

An employee developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Before receiving medical treatment for that condition, he accepted an offer from his employer to resign in exchange for a lump sum payment of his retirement benefits. The offer was unrelated to the work injury. The trial court granted the employer’s motion for partial summary judgment, finding that Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(A) (2008) limited the employee’s award of benefits to one and one-half times the anatomical impairment in light of his voluntary retirement. On the date scheduled for trial, the trial court declined to hear evidence or permit an offer of proof concerning the voluntariness of his retirement and the extent of his vocational disability. Judgment was entered awarding permanent partial disability of one and one-half times the medical impairment. The employee has appealed. We vacate the judgment and remand the case to the trial court for a determination on the merits of the case.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MATTHEW KINNARD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

John Phillip Parsons, Cookeville, Tennessee for the appellant, Matthew Kinnard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Beth Willis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

A Putnam County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Matthew Kinnard, charging him with one count of aggravated child abuse. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of the lesser-included offense of reckless aggravated assault. He received a sentence of three years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his request for probation or some other form of alternative sentence. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SANDERS LEE MADEWELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

David A. Collins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sanders Lee Madewell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Sanders Lee Madewell, was convicted of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony, and criminal impersonation, a Class B misdemeanor, and was sentenced to seventeen years and six months, respectively, to be served concurrently in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for especially aggravated robbery. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TERRY NEAL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William A. Cameron, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terry Neal.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Beth Willis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

After a trial by jury, the defendant was found guilty of four counts of rape, Class B felonies, and three counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, Class C felonies. The defendant was sentenced to a total effective sentence of twenty years. On appeal, the defendant claims that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, that the prosecution committed misconduct during closing argument, and that the trial court erred by ordering him to serve his sentence on a single rape count consecutive to his remaining concurrent sentences. After carefully reviewing the record and the arguments of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


MIKE DWAYNE RAHMING v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mike Dwayne Rahming, Pro Se, Oakdale, Louisiana, appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Camerson L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Tory Johnson, District Attorney General; and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Mike Dwayne Rahming, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summarily dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief as time-barred. The petitioner pled guilty to Class D felony burglary and received a two-year probated sentence in 2007. In 2011, he filed the instant petition for relief asserting ineffective assistance of counsel. On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court’s summary dismissal resulted in a violation of his due process rights. Because the petitioner has failed to establish that the petition was timely filed or that a recognized exception to the statute of limitation applies, we find no error in the post-conviction court’s dismissal.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. NICOLE STARCHER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender; and Robert C. Edwards, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Nicole Starcher.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Eugene Nichols, District Attorney General; and C. Leon Franks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Nicole Starcher, pled guilty to one count of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony, and three counts of passing a worthless check, a Class A misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-14-103, -105, -121. Following a sentencing hearing, at which the trial court denied judicial diversion, the Defendant was sentenced to three years enhanced probation. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying her application for judicial diversion. Because the trial court failed to adequately state upon the record the basis for its denial of the Defendant’s application for judicial diversion, we vacate the Defendant’s sentences and remand this matter for a new sentencing hearing and correction of the judgments.


DARRYL THOMPSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Darryl Thompson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Tory Johnson, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Darryl Thompson, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner, pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, pled guilty to second degree murder, a Class A felony, and was sentenced as a Range II offender to a term of forty years. On appeal, he contends that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered due to the ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, the petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to properly advise him of the consequences of pleading outside his range. Following careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Tennessee Regulatory Authority

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-07-13

Opinion Number: 71


“In Lieu of” Tax Payments on Gas System in Charter County

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-07-18

Opinion Number: 72


Shelby County Ordinance Creating Private Right of Action for Civil Rights Violations

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-07-19

Opinion Number: 73


Lewis County Highway Advisory Commission

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-07-19

Opinion Number: 74


The Other Post-Employment Benefit Investment Trust Act of 2006

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-07-19

Opinion Number: 75


Exclusion of Public Officials from Pretrial or Judicial Diversion

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-07-25

Opinion Number: 76


Part-time Officers as Licensed Security Guards

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-07-25

Opinion Number: 77


Court Upholds Statewide Voting for Appellate Judges

John Jay Hooker, known for repeated challenges to the state's judicial retention election system, is pursuing yet another Supreme Court review of the issue. His latest challenge, which will be heard by a special court, questions whether the current system is constitutional but also raises the issue of whether it is constitutional for appellate judges to be elected statewide. Since each judge is assigned to one of the state’s three grand divisions, Hooker claims that voting should be limited to those residing in each division. Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Hamilton Gayden Jr. recently rejected all but this element of Hooker’s suit. Last week, the Court of Appeals overruled him on that point. Writing for the court, Judge Herschel P. Frank said that state laws establishing the Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals “defined the entire state of Tennessee as the district to which the intermediate court judges are assigned" so "their election by a statewide retention election” is constitutional. Hooker has appealed to the Supreme Court. The Memphis Daily News reports


Seven Apply for 30th District Criminal Court

Seven attorneys have applied to fill the criminal court vacancy in the 30th Judicial District, which serves Shelby County. The vacancy was created by the appointment of Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. as U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Tennessee. The Judicial Nominating Commission will hold a public meeting Aug. 24 at 9 a.m. CDT at the University of Memphis School of Law to interview the following candidates: Assistant District Attorney Glenda Adams; Deputy District Attorney John W. Campbell; Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean Thomas DeCandia; Municipal Judge Robert Price Harris; federal prosecutor Lawrence J. Laurenzi; Assistant District Attorney Michael R. McCusker; and Assistant District Attorney Kevin Russell Rardin. Learn more about the applicants from the AOC


AOC Announces Grants to Help Pro Se Litigants

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) announced today that it has approximately $200,000 in grant funding available for the development or continuation of initiatives that aid self-represented litigants with child support issues. The funding is made possible through the Access and Visitation Grant. To receive funding, programs must address the needs of divorced or never-married parents and focus on cases involving child support, parenting or visitation issues. Proposals must be received by Sept. 14. Learn more or download an application


Husch Blackwell Increases Starting Associate Salaries

After a comprehensive review of salaries firm wide, Husch Blackwell LLP says it will raise starting associates’ salaries effective Sept. 1. The raise applies to associates in eight cities, including Chattanooga, where the new rate will be $95,000. In addition to starting salary increases, existing associate compensation is being evaluated. The firm rolled back starting salaries in 2009 in four markets and froze levels at other offices in response to recessionary pressures.  The Chattanoogan reports


Nashville Lawyer Leaving After Winning Big Case

Friday was a big day for Kevin Klein, a lawyer for the city of Nashville, as he successfully defended a 2008 school rezoning plan against claims that it violated equal-protection rights. But it also was one of his last days on the job. Klein, who has been with the Metro Law Department for nearly nine years, is leaving later this week to start his own firm. The Klein Law Office will focus on federal litigation, emphasizing employment law and municipal defense, reports the Tennessean.


ABA Meeting Features Justice Ginsburg, Sen. Graham

The Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association kicks off tomorrow with a keynote address by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is expected to talk about how the practice of law can be enhanced by an appreciation for opera. Later in the day, she will join Israeli Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran and M. Cherif Bassiouni, president emeritus of the International Human Rights Institute at DePaul University College of Law, for a program comparing constitutional law in North America and the Middle East. Also on the agenda is a keynote speech by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, who will address the Opening Assembly. The meeting will wrap up with the ABA’s first ever battle of the bands featuring five groups of lawyers from across the country, and the oath of office for Chicago native Laurel G. Bellows, who will be installed as the group’s new president. Read more about the meeting


Court Allows Campaign Donations by Judges

In January, the Tennessee Supreme Court adopted an overhauled code of conduct for judges in the state, but days before the new rules were to take effect the court issued an order reversing one of the reforms. With that change, judges may continue making political contributions, though they may not endorse candidates. According to a story in the Tennessean, the change was prompted by concerns that prohibiting donations infringed on judges’ free speech rights. The TBA supported the move. Executive Director Allan Ramsaur explains: “The courts have held that money is speech” so unless there is a compelling reason to override First Amendment rights, donation restrictions “are pretty much frowned upon.”


Watch for Election Results Friday

Look for tomorrow’s issue of TBA Today to provide a wrap up of election news from across the state, including results from judicial races and primary contests.


Shelby Co. Working Hard to Ensure Correct Ballots

In an effort to make sure all voters receive the proper ballot today, the Shelby County Election Commission added an extra step that could slow voting. After it appeared that 3,163 voters were given incorrect ballots during early voting due to a computer glitch, the county planned to take steps today to identify potential victims of the glitch and double check the ballots they are given. Despite working around the clock, county and state election officials have not been able to fix the problem. After the election, state officials will conduct an audit of the county's processes and systems. In addition, local officials have promised a thorough review. The Commercial Appeal has more


DA Suggests Moving Early Voting from Courthouse

Early voting should be moved out of the Roane County Courthouse to avoid potential problems about campaign boundaries and uniformed officers near polling places, Roane County District Attorney General Russell Johnson says. He told the county election commission that his recommendation stems from a complaint alleging that an incumbent was stumping for re-election from her office front door while voters picked up ballots across the hall at the Election Commission. Johnson says this situation "provides what is perceived as an unfair advantage" to courthouse officeholders. He also expressed concern that placing voting booths in the courthouse foyer puts uniformed officers running metal detectors and screening equipment near a polling place – a violation of state law. Learn more in the News Sentinel


Memphis Lawyer Suspended

Memphis lawyer Vanessa Gale Keeler was suspended from the practice of law for three years on Aug. 1. She also was ordered to pay restitution to nine clients, be evaluated by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program or equivalent program, and pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding. The state Supreme Court took action based on six complaints of misconduct. It found that Keeler evidenced a pattern of failing to communicate with clients, failed to provide her clients with copies of pleadings she prepared on their behalf, failed to exercise appropriate diligence and failed to handle cases in a timely manner. Download the BPR notice


'Journal' Features Chief Justices, Says Goodbye to Columnist

The spotlight has been on Chief Justice John Roberts this summer, but in this month's Tennessee Bar Journal you will see that the 17 occupants of his position have had a history of making history. Also, Taylor J. Phillips looks at how to respond to government procedures. TBA President Jackie Dixon urges you in her column to remember someone who helped you when you first started practicing law, and to do the same for a new lawyer now. Columnist Kathryn Reed Edge explains the different worries that bankers and bank lawyers have, Don Paine explains writ of error coram nobis, while Bill Haltom exposes the gaffes of news reporters who rushed to judgment when the Supreme Court went public with its recent Affordable Care Act decision. He also gives readers his secret on how to read an opinion quickly and correctly. Also in this issue, Dan W. Holbrook wraps up nearly 12 years as a TBJ columnist with information on how to manage gift tax. Holbrook passes the torch to his colleague, Knoxville lawyer Eddy R. Smith, who will begin writing the estate column this fall. Look for the August Journal in your mailbox, or read it online


 
 

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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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