Immigrants Line Up for Permits; Tenn. Training Set

Immigration attorneys across the country and in Nashville say their offices are overflowing with young undocumented residents, who, starting today can apply for a two year work permit. According to WPLN, immigrants who were brought across the border by their parents can apply for temporary legal status if they can show they have stayed out of legal trouble, lived in the U.S. continuously and earned a high school diploma or GED.

TRAINING FOR LAWYERS: Attorneys in Tennessee who would like to help these individuals apply for relief can take advantage of two upcoming training sessions. Tennessee Justice for our Neighbors, in cooperation with Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, will offer training on Aug. 22 and 23. The TBA Immigration Law Section is sponsoring the Aug. 23 session and will make the video available online. For more information about the training or subsequent clinics contact Adrienne Kittos at or (615) 788-0774. Download a brochure to learn more

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
02 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
03 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Clifford Wilson and Colin W. Turner, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Hughes Hardwood International, Inc. and Berkley Risk Administrators Co., LLC.

Ben Boston and Ryan P. Durham, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellee, Alton B. Kephart, Jr.


Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee sustained a compensable injury to his lower back in August 2002 which was settled in May 2006. Thereafter the employee continued to be treated by his authorized treating physician. In 2009 the employer requested and the employee consented to an independent medical examination. Thereafter the employer requested another independent medical examination. The employee declined. In April 2011, the employer filed a motion seeking to require the employee to submit to a medical examination pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-204(d)(1) and Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 35. The trial court denied the motion, and the employer has appealed. We affirm the judgment.


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


T. Joseph Lynch and Jesse D. Nelson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Starnet Insurance Company.

James H. Hickman III, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Larry A. Renfro.


In this workers’ compensation case, the employee, a truck driver, sustained a compensable back injury. After having surgery, he returned to his pre-injury job for a year and was able to drive with the aid of narcotic medications prescribed to treat his back pain. He subsequently left his employment after results of an annual U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) medical examination determined that his use of the narcotics prohibited him from driving. The trial court found that the employee did not have a meaningful return to work and awarded benefits in excess of one and one-half times the anatomical impairment rating. The employer’s workers compensation insurance carrier has appealed, asserting that the employee’s loss of employment was unrelated to his work injury and that the award should have been limited to one and one-half times the impairment. We affirm the judgment.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Bill Young, Solicitor General; Joseph F. Whalen, Associate Solicitor General; Elizabeth Parker McCarter, Senior Counsel; and R. Stephen Jobe, Senior Counsel, for appellants, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Water Quality Control Board.

Elizabeth L. Murphy, W. David Bridgers, and Robert Anthony Peal, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, E. Ron Pickard and Linda Pickard as Trustees for the Sharon Charitable Trust and as Individuals.


The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued a permit allowing a proposed rock quarry to discharge storm water and wastewater into a nearby creek. Owners of property allegedly affected by the discharge filed an appeal challenging the issuance of the permit with the Water Quality Control Board, as well as a petition seeking a declaratory order construing the rules regarding the protection of existing uses of waters. The Water Quality Control Board refused to issue a declaratory order and the property owners appealed to the Davidson County Chancery Court. Because we conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to grant the relief requested, we vacate the judgment of the trial court and remand for dismissal of this cause. Vacated and remanded.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James L. Murphy, III, Josh J. Phillips and Peter C. Sales, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Waste Services of Decatur, LLC.

Darwin A. Hindman, III, and Joshua A. Mullen, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Waste Connections of Mississippi, Inc.; Charles William Holt, Jr., Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellees, County of Lawrence and County Commission of the County of Lawrence.


Losing proposer for solid waste management services challenges Lawrence County’s decision to contract with another proposer. Because we find that the County acted arbitrarily and illegally in making its decision, we reverse the decision of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Blair N.C. Wood and James R. Creekmore, Blacksburg, Virginia, for the appellants, Blair Wood and Gary Wood.

Jack H. McPherson, Jr., Kingston, Tennessee, for the appellees, Tony Wolfenbarger and Brenda Wolfenbarger.


Blair Wood and Gary Wood (“Plaintiffs”) sued Tony Wolfenbarger and Brenda Wolfenbarger (“Defendants”) alleging, in part, that Defendants had wrongfully cut down six trees on Plaintiffs’ real property. After a trial, the Trial Court entered its judgment finding and holding, inter alia, that Defendants were liable for negligently cutting the trees, that the current market value of the timber cut was $840, and that Plaintiffs were entitled to a judgment in double the amount of the current market value of the timber pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 43-28-312. Plaintiffs appeal to this Court alleging that the Trial Court erred in awarding damages based upon the timber value. We find and hold that the evidence preponderates against the finding that timber value was the correct measure of damages in this case. We modify the Trial Court’s judgment to award Plaintiffs damages of $62,100 based upon the trunk formula method of valuation and affirm the judgment as so modified.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General, and Stephanie Johnson, Assistant District Attorney General for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Patrick E. Stegall, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Stanley Blue.


A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Stanley Blue, of facilitation of first degree murder, attempted second degree murder, and reckless endangerment. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of forty years. The Petitioner did not appeal his sentence, but this Court affirmed his convictions on direct appeal. State v. Stanley Blue, No. W2007-00292-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 723845 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Mar. 19, 2009), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 5, 2009). The Petitioner then filed a petition for postconviction relief, contending that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the sentence imposed by the trial court was illegal. The post-conviction court granted the Petitioner’s petition, in part, finding that his sentences were not constitutional. The State appealed, contending that the post-conviction court erred when it granted the Petitioner a new sentencing hearing. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Teresa Deion Smith Harris, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Teresa Deion Smith Harris, appeals the Henry County Circuit Court’s dismissal of her pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the order pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dan T. Bryant, District Public Defender; L. Scott Grissom, Assistant Public Defender, McMinnville, Tennessee (on appeal); Howard Upchurch, Pikeville, Tennessee, and Tommy Austin, Dunlap, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Bobby L. Looper.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; and Randall Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A jury convicted Bobby L. Looper (“the Defendant”) of one count of second degree murder, and the trial court subsequently sentenced him as a Range I offender to twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and the length of his sentence. Upon our thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the Defendant’s conviction and the length of his sentence. This matter is remanded to the trial court for the entry of a corrected judgment order.

Poll Rates Candidates for 16th Judicial District Post

The Rutherford/Cannon County Bar Association (RC/CBA) today released the results of a member poll of candidates for the 16th Judicial District Circuit Court vacancy. The seat, which serves Rutherford and Cannon counties, became vacant when Judge Don R. Ash took senior status. The purpose of the poll is to provide “input from attorneys who are likely to know these candidates, both personally and professionally, and are able to express an opinion on their qualifications to be a judge,” said Diana Burns, president of the RC/CBA.

LSC: Funding Cuts Mean 750 Fewer Staff

Legal aid programs will have to cut nearly 750 employees, including 350 attorneys, this year because of funding cuts, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) reports, The reduction represents an 8 percent reduction in staffing from last year. A survey completed by all but one of the nation's local legal aid programs found that 29 percent expect to cut back on services to victims of domestic violence and those dealing with foreclosure issues, while 16 percent expect to close offices before the end of the year. Read more from the LSC

Pennsylvania Judge Gives Boost to Voter ID Law

A Pennsylvania judge today rejected a preliminary injunction request over a state voter-identification law, saying opponents would likely fail to show that the measure violates the state constitution. His ruling sets the stage for an expected appeal to the state Supreme Court, according to the Wall Street Journal. The law in question requires Pennsylvania voters to present a state-approved photo ID, such as a driver's license, at the polls on Nov. 6. Opponents of the law say it would disproportionately impact poor urban voters. Supporters say it is necessary to combat voter fraud.

Judge Fowlkes Begins Federal Tenure

U.S. District Court Judge John Fowlkes took the oath of office last week from fellow Memphis federal Judge Hardy Mays and began hearing matters on Aug. 6. Fowlkes has named Phyllis Buchanan, who served as his judicial assistant for the last two years on the criminal court, to his staff. Lorri Fentress is his case manager. The Memphis Daily News reported the activity.

Law Firm Trivia Night Raises $6,300

The Second Annual Law Firm Trivia Challenge in Nashville raised $6,300 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Hosted last Monday by YLD members Mary Beth Haltom and Jenney Keaty, the event involved more than 100 lawyers competing on 19 law firm teams. First place went to "Guilty as Charged" from the Davidson County District Attorney General’s office. Team members were Rob McGuire, Bret Gunn, Elizabeth Foy, Brian Ewald and Lauren Turner. Second place went to "Trivial Per Se" from the Law Office of John Day (Laura Baker, Brandon Bass, Burke Keaty, Casey Truelove and Kurt Hippel) and third place went to the Neal & Harwell team of Jeff Gibson, Drew Warth, Ron Harris, David Bridgers and Megan Deardorff.

Haslam Backs Harwell as Hints of Challenge Emerge

Gov. Bill Haslam says he is backing current Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, in her bid to keep her leadership role amid news that Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, might challenge her for the top job. According to WPLN, a bid by Matheny risks pitting more conservative House Republicans against the moderate Harwell, who has raised the ire of gun-friendly lawmakers by limiting the amount of time the House has spent on gun bills.

Failed Senate Candidate Files Suit Seeking New Election

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Larry Crim filed suit in federal court today asking that the recent primary win by Mark Clayton be voided and a new primary ordered. Crim claims the Tennessee Democratic Party and its chairman Chip Forrester – who have disavowed Clayton -- failed to weed out the candidate before the race. According to Crim, under the party bylaws, Clayton is not eligible to run as a Democrat because he has not voted in enough Democratic races. The suit asked for an emergency hearing on the motion tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. in federal Judge Kevin Sharp’s courtroom. The Nashville Scene has more

Belmont Law to Unveil Baskin Center

Belmont University's College of Law will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening for the Randall and Sadie Baskin Center Tuesday at 10 a.m. The center will serve as the permanent home of the law school. A reception and tours of the building will follow the ceremony, and studens will present a moot court from noon to 1 p.m.

Greeneville Attorney Dies

Greeneville attorney N.R. "Nat" Coleman Jr. died Monday (Aug. 13) at his home. He was 89. His death came after years of declining health, including a period of recent hospitalization. Coleman played a key role for more than 50 years with Milligan & Coleman, Greeneville's oldest and largest law firm. Read more in the Greeneville Sun

Lake County Lawyer Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Aug. 13 suspended Lake County lawyer Guy Steven Davis for a definite period of one year (retroactive to a temporary suspension imposed on Oct. 10, 2011) and indefinitely until he complies with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) monitoring agreement for at least six months. The court allowed Davis to return to the practice of law in August 2010, but conditioned reinstatement on TLAP compliance. The court recently found that Davis failed to comply with that condition. Download the BPR notice

Additional Suspensions for 2012 Fee and IOLTA Violations

The Tennessee Supreme Court last week issued two new orders suspending Tennessee-licensed attorneys who did not pay their 2012 registration fee to the Board of Professional Responsibility and/or did not file a mandatory compliance statement that eligible client funds are held in accounts participating in the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. See the updated lists and download the orders

Attorneys from Merger to Work in East Memphis Office

A story in Tuesday's TBAToday about Williams McDaniel PC merging with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP incorrectly stated the number of the Williams McDaniel lawyers who would work from Wyatt's East Memphis office. All nine of the attorneys involved will practice in that office. Wyatt now counts about 200 lawyers in offices in Memphis, Nashville, New Albany, Ind., Jackson, Miss., and Lexington and Louisville, Ky. Learn more from the firm


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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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