Lawyers Still Falling for Fake-Check Web Scams

Despite widespread publicity about law firms targeted in Internet and email scams that have siphoned five- and six-figure sums out of their bank accounts, some are still falling victim to the schemes. The problem is, legitimate clients do business in much the same way as the scammers, often contacting counsel via the Internet or by email. looks into it

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
06 - 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

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TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


D. Scott Parsley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffrey D. Baker.

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


In this contentious post-divorce dispute, the father has appealed from the trial court’s order disposing of numerous issues including visitation and contempt. The order appealed does not, however, address the mother’s request for modification of child support, and we therefore dismiss the appeal for lack of a final judgment.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James B. “Trey” McClain, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Alexis Partee and Tom Bedell, Jr.

William E. Friedman, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Top Gun Body Shop

Randall J. Fishman, Richard S. Townley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Allison Jacob


Appellants attempted to appeal the decision of the General Sessions Court to the Circuit Court without filing an appeal bond, but the Circuit Court dismissed the attempted appeals for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Appellants claim that an appeal bond need not be filed where an appeal filing fee is paid. We find that, to perfect an appeal from General Sessions Court to Circuit Court, an appeal bond must be filed; payment of the appeal filing fee does not satisfy this jurisdictional requirement. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the matter.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Amber D. Haas, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Ericka Barfield.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; James B. Dunn, District Attorney General; and Barry A. Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Ericka Barfield, appeals the Sevier County Circuit Court’s revocation of her probation and order that she serve the remainder of her sentence in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael A. Colavecchio, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Isiah Buckley

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Tory Johnson, District Attorney General; and Kathy Morante, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee


The petitioner, Isiah Buckley, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, the petitioner pled guilty, as a Range I offender, to facilitation of second-degree murder, a Class B felony, and received an out-of-range sentence of fifteen years, with the manner of service to be determined. After a hearing, the petitioner was ordered to serve the sentence. In the instant appeal, the petitioner contends that his plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily because he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Specifically, he contends trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to inform the trial court of withheld exculpatory evidence; and (2) failing to investigate and to interview witnesses. Following review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael Scott Farner, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellees, David Sexton, Warden, and State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Michael Scott Farner, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, claiming that his 1988 guilty-pleaded convictions of second degree murder, assault with intent to commit first degree murder, and second degree burglary are void because his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered and because his sentences are illegal. Because we perceive no error in the dismissal of the petition for writ of habeas corpus, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paul Kellison Guibao, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brenda Holliman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Theresa McCusker, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Brenda Holliman, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. She received concurrent sentences of life without parole and fifteen years. The victim was Petitioner’s husband. Her convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal. State v. Brenda Holliman, No. W2003-01736-CCA-R3- CD, 2005 WL 819735 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 8, 2005) perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 24, 2005). She timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was amended. Following an evidentiary hearing the petition was dismissed. Petitioner has timely appealed. After a thorough review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Venus Niner, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Monica Rankin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Kim Helper, District Attorney General; and Mary Katherine White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Monica Rankin, pled guilty to two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, aggravated statutory rape, exploitation of a minor by electronic means, solicitation to commit aggravated statutory rape, and solicitation to commit sexual battery by an authority figure. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender, to an effective sentence of five years and ordered her to serve six months in confinement, followed by supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred when it: (1) applied enhancement factors and failed to apply mitigating factors; (2) denied her full probation; and (3) denied her request for a variance from the probation rule prohibiting internet access for sex offenders. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Lee Ofman, of Franklin, Tennessee for the appellant, John Wesley Shutt, II.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Kim Helper, District Attorney General and Kelly Lawrence, Assistant District Attorney General, 21 Judicial District, for the appellee, st State of Tennessee.


The defendant, John Wesley Shutt, pled guilty to first offense DUI, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days. As part of his plea agreement, the defendant reserved a certified question of law: “whether the officer had probable cause to make the arrest.” After careful review of the record, we agree with the trial court that the officer involved had probable cause to arrest the defendant. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Opposition Mounts Against Haslam's Islamic Appointee; Mosque Opens

A Brentwood dentist is campaigning against the appointment of Samar Ali to work in Tennessee’s economic development office and has drafted a resolution criticizing the governor and making a case that Islam is bent on world domination. A version of the document has been signed by a growing list of county-level Republican executive committees, including the state’s wealthiest and arguably most influential GOP stronghold of Williamson County. In a related issue, federal courts recently intervened in a lawsuit that attempted to keep the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro from opening. First Friday prayers were held today with no incidents, the Daily News Journal reports. “If we don’t protect the individuals down in Rutherford County and their right to worship, then that just diminishes all of our rights,” said U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin. WPLN has the story

Entry to Law School Easier as Demand Falls

This law professor predicts that up to 80 percent of law school applicants will be accepted this year, mainly because of declining enrollments from 2010 to 2011, along with declining credentials of entering classes. connects you to the details

Paper Calls Broad Subpoena 'Fishing Expedition'

Attorneys for The Commercial Appeal said Thursday the law firm representing the Shelby County Commission has run afoul of the First Amendment, two federal statutes, the Tennessee reporter's shield law and "just plain good sense" in a subpoena asking for the identities of commenters on stories about planned suburban school districts. Memphis attorney Lucian Pera and Washington attorney Paul Alan Levy, a member of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, asked in a letter to the Baker Donelson law firm that it withdraw the subpoena request. The request was filed in federal court July 25, asking for the identities of all online commenters to 45 stories, which amounts to more than 9,000 online comments. "The amazing overbreadth of the subpoena leads our client to believe that this is either a fishing expedition, a form of governmental harassment or both," the letter, to Baker Donelson associate Imad Abdullah, says.

Attorney: Baumgartner Gave Judicial Diversion 'A Bad Name'

A Knox County commissioner is seeking judicial diversion from a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge after authorities allege he was caught in a sexual encounter in a public park. The charge against Jeff Ownby is a minor one, calling for a $50 fine. But his attorney Gregory P. Isaacs is pulling out the stops to avoid any blemish on the record of Ownby, a married father and foster father who represents the 4th District as a Republican. Isaacs maintains that Ownby is a victim of the fallout over disgraced former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, who Isaacs contends has given judicial diversion a bad name and made prosecutors much too wary to grant it. The News Sentinel has the story

One of Last Occupy Sites Shut Down in Memphis

Occupy Memphis, one of the last remaining of the Occupy movements, was shut down early this morning by Memphis police. Of the nine campers remaining at the site, eight self-identified themselves as being homeless. “It essentially had become a homeless encampment,” Chief Administrative Officer George Little said. According to a statement, recent fights, assaults and sanitation issues at the camp led to the eviction. Read more in the Commercial Appeal

Lawyers Run in These Families

Memphis lawyer Jeff Weintraub is a third-generation lawyer who had never been interested in following his dad’s footsteps. "Bless his heart, he never pushed me,” Weintraub tells the Daily News Journal. But now Weintraub is managing partner in the recently opened Memphis office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. His daughter, Betsy, is an associate at the firm, and one of his sons is about to enter his third year of law school. The paper also profiles another multigenerational lawyer, R. Hunter Humphreys Jr., whose father practices law in Memphis, too. People have likely heard of his grandfather. The University of Memphis law school carries his name, Cecil C. Humphreys.

City Settlement: No More Crosses on Public Property

The town of Whiteville and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed by the foundation last year over religious symbols on public property, the Jackson Sun reports. According to written statements from both the town and the foundation, terms of the settlement include the town will have no future installments of standalone crosses on town property, that the town will not replace an arm on the remaining structure that was once a cross on top of the town water tower, and that the town will pay $20,000 in attorney’s fees.

DOJ Appoints Ombudsman for Whistleblower Complaints

The Justice Department's inspector general has an ombudsman now, an experienced federal prosecutor appointed to ensure that whistleblower complaints are addressed quickly and thoroughly and that investigations of retaliation claims are closely monitored. As whistleblower ombudsman for Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Robert Storch will work within the Justice Department to educate employees about the importance of whistleblowers in uncovering any waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement. Read more from the AP

6th Circuit: Put Green and Constitution Parties on Ballots

A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Thursday assures that Green Party candidates will have a place on Tennessee's November general election ballot in several races. State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said the court ruling came following a request for an expedited ruling on two issues in a lawsuit brought by the Green and Constitution parties challenging the state's ballot access. The News Sentinel has more

Americans Are Living Longer Than Ever Before; Here's Help Planning for It

A new, discounted, long-term care plan is now available to Tennessee Bar Association members and their families. Long-term care services help you maximize your independence and protect your nest egg. Call Graham Swafford at the Tennessee Bar Center for details at 615-383-7421.

TBA Website Update

The Tennessee Bar Association is upgrading it website servers this weekend, which may cause some interruptions in service on Sunday evening. The TBA appreciates your patience during this process.


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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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