Grants Available for Courtroom Technology

Judges and court clerks are eligible to apply for some of the $100,000 grant the Administrative Office of the Courts has received to enhance courtroom technology throughout the state. The one-time funds are from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant. Applications are due on Sept. 15. Learn more here

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.

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

DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

ARI, INC. v. JAMES G. NEELEY, COMMISSIONER OF THE TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Boston, Mark W. Peters, and Michael Thomas Harmon, Nashville, Tennessee; Arthur M. Fowler, Johnson City, Tennessee; and Brian Nugent, Fort Collins, Colorado, for the Appellant, ARI, Inc.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Lindsey Owusu Appiah, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, James G. Neeley, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Judge: DINKINS

This is an appeal of the Chancery Court’s order upholding the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s determination that ARI underpaid state unemployment tax premiums. ARI appeals asserting its due process rights were violated in the administrative hearing process and that there is not substantial and material evidence to support the Department’s assessment. Finding no error, we affirm the Department’s assessment of unpaid unemployment tax premiums.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. XAVIER BELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Barry W. Kuhn (on appeal), Alisa Kutch (at trial), and James Greene (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Xavier Bell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Glen Baity and Stacy McEndree, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Xavier Bell, of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant, as a Range I, standard offender, to serve nine years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appeals his conviction, contending that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; and (2) the trial court erred when it admitted recordings of the Defendant’s jail telephone conversations. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RICKEY BENSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen Bush, District Public Defender; Phyllis Aluko (on appeal) and Thomas Pera (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Rickey Benson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Lora Fowler, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Rickey Benson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of burglary of a building and theft over $1000, both Class D felonies, based on his theft of cigarettes from a Memphis Kroger. He was subsequently sentenced by the trial court as a multiple offender to concurrent terms of seven years for each conviction. He raises the following five issues on appeal: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the convictions; (2) whether there was a proper chain of custody and authentication for the admission of the store’s surveillance videotape; (3) whether the trial court erred by admitting the store’s inventory review documents; (4) whether his constitutional rights were violated by the prosecutor’s allegedly improper closing comments; and (5) whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GREGORY O. CHERRY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Vance W. Dennis, Savannah, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gregory O. Cherry.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Hansel McCadams, District Attorney General; and Ed N. McDaniel, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Gregory O. Cherry, was indicted for possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell; sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine; delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine; and possession of drug paraphernalia. After the denial of a motion to suppress, he was convicted by a jury of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell, delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia and sentenced to an effective sentence of eight years, to be served consecutively to two other sentences. This court dismissed the notice of appeal because it was filed before the trial court issued a final order from which to appeal. See State v. Gregory O. Cherry, No. W2006-00015-CCA-R3-CD, 2007 WL 2155740, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 27, 2007). The defendant then filed a “Petition for Delayed Motion for New Trial,” which the trial court denied, and this appeal followed. On appeal, he challenges: (1) the denial of the motion to suppress his statement and the evidence obtained by a warrantless search of his vehicle; and (2) the sufficiency of the evidence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STEVE ALLEN CLICK v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Nicholas Black, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steve Allen Click.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Betsy Smith, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

Much aggrieved by his convictions of three counts of aggravated rape and one count of evading arrest, for which he received an effective sentence of 120 years’ incarceration, the petitioner, Steve Allen Click, filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief attacking the judgments based upon the ineffective assistance of counsel and other constitutional deprivations. Following the appointment of counsel, amendment to the petition, and a full evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court ruled that the petitioner had failed to establish his claims by clear and convincing evidence and denied relief. The petitioner now appeals, claiming that the post-conviction court erred in denying him relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


KENNETH LYLE DAVIS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kenneth Davis, Milan, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General, and Al Earls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and/or deliver, possession of unlawful drug paraphernalia, reckless driving, and driving on a canceled, suspended, or revoked license. The trial court sentenced him to an effective ten-year sentence. This Court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions and sentences on appeal. State v. Kenneth L. Davis, No W2008-00226-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 160927, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Jan. 23, 2009), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 15, 2009). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel, which the post-conviction court dismissed after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it denied his request to amend his petition a third time and when it dismissed his petition. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude there exists no error in the post-conviction court’s judgment. We, therefore, affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


LEON FLANNEL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick E. Stegall, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leon Flannel.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Doug Carriker, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Leon Flannel, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner was convicted by a jury of one count of murder in the perpetration of a theft and one count of premeditated murder; the convictions were merged, and the petitioner was sentenced to imprisonment for life. After the denial of his direct appeal, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, asserting ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, the petitioner urges that, because he expressed his dissatisfaction with his trial counsel prior to trial, his trial counsel should have withdrawn. The trial court found no deficiency in the petitioner’s trial counsel’s performance and no resulting prejudice. After a thorough review of the petitioner’s claim, we affirm.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. EARNEST LANING

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jonathan M. Holcomb, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Earnest Laning.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Kimberly Morrison, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Hamblen County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Earnest Laning, of driving under the influence (DUI), second offense, and the trial court sentenced him to eleven months, twenty-nine days to be served as 135 days in jail and the remainder on probation. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce his blood test result into evidence because the State failed to establish the chain of custody. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


BARRY W. RITCHIE v. BRUCE WESTBROOKS, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Barry W. Ritchie, Pikeville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Bruce Westbrooks, Warden.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, in which he challenged his 1981 Hamilton County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated rape and aggravated robbery. In this appeal, he claims that his aggravated rape conviction and accompanying sentence of life imprisonment are void because that offense was not actually classified as a Class X felony by the general assembly at the time of his crime. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RANDY KEITH WALLACE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Katherine L. Tranum, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randy Keith Wallace.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; Greeley Wells, District Attorney General; and Julie R. Canter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Randy K. Wallace, was indicted by the Sullivan County Grand Jury for one count of rape and one count of sexual battery. After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of two counts of sexual battery. As a result, he was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to an effective sentence of eight years. The trial court denied a motion for new trial, and this appeal followed. On appeal, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and his sentence. Because we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions for sexual battery and that the trial court properly sentenced Appellant to an effective sentence of eight years, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


GERRALDO WHITE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gerraldo White, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Anita Spinetta, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Gerraldo White, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner asserts that the post-conviction court erred in dismissing his petition without appointing an attorney to represent him, without holding an evidentiary hearing on the issues raised, and without allowing him an opportunity to respond to the State’s brief opposing his petition. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the petitioner has asserted no colorable claim to relief, and we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


TBA's Civics & Law Academy Highlighted at ABA Meeting

Tennessee Bar Association President Jackie Dixon was among the panelists on a program put on by the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Civic Education in the Nation’s Schools during the ABA meeting in Chicago over the weekend. The program highlighted the Civics & Law Academy activities developed and implemented by the TBA Public Education Committee, led by immediate past chair Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur. The activities also are featured in the commission's Year End Report. Dixon shared her experience in teaching a class at Nashville’s McGavock High School and said one of her goals as TBA president is to expand the program to other parts of the state. Learn more about the Civics & Law Academy


Gibson to Pay in Lacey Act Violations

Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corp. will pay a $300,000 fine and make a $50,000 community-service payment for conservation in response to federal allegations that the company used illegally obtained ebony wood in the manufacture of its products. The U.S. Justice Department said in a news release that the settlement resolves a criminal investigation into allegations that the company violated the Lacey Act by illegally purchasing and importing ebony wood from Madagascar and rosewood and ebony from India. The agreement was announced today by Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin and Dan Ashe, director of the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The criminal enforcement agreement defers prosecution for criminal violations. The Blog of Legal TImes has more


Commission Asks Legislators for All Correspondence on School Issue

Lawyers handling the Shelby County Commission's municipal school-district lawsuit have asked the entire Tennessee legislature for "all communications or letters," including e-mail, regarding the consolidation of the city and county schools and the creation of new municipal school districts. The request by lawyers from the Baker Donelson law firm includes communications from "any citizen, constituents, residents or anyone else," legislative administrators said today. The request is not a subpoena but legislative officials said they are complying and sent a letter Friday to all 132 members of the General Assembly and their aides asking them if they had anything they felt fell under the scope of the request. The Commercial Appeal has more


Memphis PDs Rethink Handling of Indigent Cases

Public defenders in Memphis are joining a movement to reform how indigent defendants are treated in and out of the courthouse. The approach is based on the idea that public defenders may be able to help curb recidivism by helping clients address underlying problems such as mental illness, unemployment and drug or alcohol addiction. The cutting-edge initiative earned the city a spot in the national Public Defenders Corp. program. More than 450 law school graduates from across the country applied to participate, with just 19 making the final cut. After intensive training, the group is now a week into their new assignments. The Commercial Appeal has more


U of M to Investigate 1st Amendment Violation Allegations

The president of the University of Memphis has launched an internal investigation into allegations that funding was cut to the school newspaper, the Helmsman, based on its content. University counsel Sheri Lipman said that she is not aware of any First Amendment violations that have taken place. Helmsman Editor-in-Chief Chelsea Boozer said multiple committee members told her they took issue with the paper's coverage, or lack of coverage, of various campus events and that this had a direct influence on their decision to cut the paper's funding. The Commercial Appeal reports


Entire Kentucky Court System Closed for Furlough

The entire Kentucky court system was closed today – marking the first of three furlough days for judicial branch employees. The furloughs involve unpaid time off that will help avoid layoffs after state lawmakers approved a $25.2 million budget cut for the judicial branch. WDRB in Louisville has the story


Editorial: Jury Duty is Crucial

In an editorial, the Johnson City Press acknowledges that there is perhaps nothing Americans dread more than receiving a jury summons in the mail, but that serving "is one of the most crucial tasks a citizen is asked to do in our country."


Gray to Face Williams; Phillip North is Nominee

Primary election coverage in Friday's issue of TBA Today contained two inaccuracies. Thomas Gray in the 4th District will face former Speaker and Independent candidate Kent Williams. The story also incorrectly identified Phillip North, Democratic nominee in the substantially redrawn Senate District 20 in Nashville. We regret the errors. Review the corrected results


Election a 'Mixed Bag' for Challengers

Thursday's state legislative primary results likely signal more infighting among Republicans in the next two-year legislative term, particularly between the GOP's pro-business and tea party wings in the House, the Commercial Appeal argues. The paper calls the results "a mixed bag" for more conservative challengers.  Read its election follow-up


Mallicote May Contest Primary Results

Tennessee 2nd House District challenger Ben Mallicote said today he hasn’t ruled out contesting his narrow loss to incumbent state Rep. Tony Shipley in the Republican primary by 11 votes, the Times-News reports. Tennessee law does not permit a recount, only a “contest” which may only be filed by a candidate or the incumbent office holder, according to Sullivan County Elections Administrator Jason Booher.


Law Firm Trivia Night to Raise Funds for Cystic Fibrosis

The Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the law firm of Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop are teaming up to host the second annual Law Firm Trivia Challenge on Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. in Nashville. The event will take place at Bar Louie’s in the Gulch. Teams will be composed of five people. The entry fee for each team is $250. Individuals are welcome at $50 per person, and a team can be coordinated for you. All money raised will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Middle Tennessee. For more information or to register your team, please contact Mary Beth Haltom at mhaltom@lewisking.com or Jenney Keaty at jkeaty@kcbattys.com, or download this flyer.


Arkansas Lawyer Robby Wilson Dies

Little Rock, Ark., lawyer Robert "Robby" M. Wilson Jr. died on Aug. 3. He was 60. After graduating from the University of Arkansas School of Law, Mr. Wilson began his legal career, and soon founded Wilson & Associates PLLC, focusing on representation of the mortgage banking industry. The firm has three offices in Arkansas and offices in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis. Visitation will be Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Wilson History & Research Center, 27 Rahling Circle, Little Rock, AR 72223. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wilson History & Research Center Inc., www.militaryheadgear.com or UAMS Cancer Institute, 4301 West Markham St., Little Rock, AR 72205. Read his obituary


 
 

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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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