TALS Accepting 2012 Award Nominations

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is accepting nominations for two access to justice awards now through Sept. 7. The first, the Riney Green Award, recognizes those who promote inter-program cooperation and statewide collaboration to strengthen access to justice in Tennessee. The second, the New Advocate of the Year, recognizes attorneys or paralegals that have been employed by their local legal aid program less than five years and have a track record of affirmative, creative and effective advocacy on behalf of clients. Nominations for both awards should be submitted to TALS Executive Director Erik Cole by e-mail to ecole@tals.org or by fax to (615) 627-0964. Learn more online

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
01 - 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


Thomas H. O’Neal, Jeffrey D. Boehm, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, John S. Meredith, Jr.

Laurel C. Ball and Joshua A. Wolfe, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, U.S. Foodservice, Inc.


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. In this workers’ compensation case, the employee experienced chest pain while at home in bed. He testified that he contacted his employer to be excused from work but was told he would lose his employment if he did not come to work. He reported for work and completed a full day of job responsibilities. Two days later, it was determined that he had suffered an acute myocardial infarction. A cardiologist testified that fifty percent of the damage caused by the heart attack was secondary to the delay in medical treatment. The employee sought workers’ compensation benefits, contending that the instruction to report to work substantially worsened his injury. The trial court denied benefits, and the employee has appealed. We affirm the judgment.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James I. Pentecost and William B. Mauldin, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Hardin County, Tennessee.

Timothy G. Wehner, Michelle Greenway Sellers, and A. Blake Neill, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Montana Land Company, LLC.


This is an appeal from the grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellee, a property developer. The underlying case is for personal injuries sustained by Plaintiffs in a motorcycle accident, which was allegedly caused by a pothole in the road. The question presented for determination is, as between Appellee and Appellant Hardin County, who owns the portion of the road where the accident occurred. After completing its development, Appellee dedicated portions of the roadway to Hardin County for public use. However, in cross-motions for summary judgment the Appellee and Appellant each claimed that the other owned the disputed portion of the road where the accident occurred. Although the disputed portion of the road was specifically excluded from the dedication, and Appellee maintained the road, the trial court determined that Appellee had implicitly dedicated the disputed portion to Appellant and granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee developer. Based upon the evidence in record, we conclude that reasonable minds could reach different conclusions concerning ownership of the road and accordingly, reverse the grant of summary judgment.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Nicholas W. Utter, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leslie Newpher Tachek.

Brenda Rhoton Clark, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, David James Tachek.


In this divorce action the Trial Court granted the parties a divorce, gave custody of the children to the father, divided the marital property and ordered a monetary judgment against the mother to the father, as an equitable distribution of the marital property. The mother has appealed and questioned the Trial Judge's award of custody of the children to the father, and the Trial Judge ordering a monetary judgment against the mother to the father. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Keith Lowe, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tonya Thomas.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General, and Patti Cristil, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

The Knox County Grand Jury indicted Appellant, Tonya Thomas, for one count of aggravated assault. The trial court found Appellant guilty of a lesser-included offense of simple assault. Appellant was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days of probation. On appeal, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence for her conviction for simple assault. We have thoroughly reviewed the record on appeal and have concluded that the evidence presented is sufficient to support the conviction. For these reasons, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Kennedy Calls Confirmation Process ‘Too Political’

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy says the Senate confirmation process for new federal judges is too political and is keeping qualified candidates who don't want to go through such a difficult process from agreeing to serve. "This is bad for the legal system," Kennedy said. "It makes the judiciary look politicized when it is not, and it has to stop." Kennedy made the remarks at the opening session of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Conference in Hawaii. He also defended the conference, which has come under attack for its costs. WRCB TV has the news.

Prosecutors Respond to Baumgartner's Motion to Dismiss

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Bolitho says a motion by former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner to dismiss federal charges against him is “based entirely on an erroneous and incomplete understanding of the statute and the cases interpreting it…” Baumgartner’s lawyers argue that authorities are picking on Baumgartner because he walked away from alleged misdeeds with his pension intact. The federal suit charges the former judge with seven counts of lying to cover up his mistress' drug-trafficking activities and failing to report knowledge of a felony. The News Sentinel has more.

Former Prosecutor Challenges Indictment

If former Hawkins County prosecutor Doug Godbee persists with a motion to dismiss his felony official misconduct charge, he may find himself facing nine felony charges instead of one, reports the Kingsport Times News. Godbee has been accused by nine women of requesting, and in some cases receiving, sex in exchange for leniency in drug cases he was prosecuting. He is challenging the indictment on grounds that it violates a 1993 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling that multiple accusations should not be included in one indictment. The prosecutor in the case is a bit baffled by that argument though. “He’s asking us to split them up and charge them individually... If the judge dismisses…we’ll just re-indict on all potential charges.”

Paper Questions Spending by DA’s Office

The Chattanooga Times Free Press yesterday laid out its case against 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Bebb for misusing funds and property acquired through the district’s Drug Task Force. The paper says Bebb has been driving a car seized by the task force though state law that does not allow such use; that he has collected nearly $3,000 in reimbursements for gas, maintenance, and wear and tear on the car; and has used drug task force funds for office parties and meetings.

Robertson Co. Working to Counter Claims of Segregation

With a visit from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education slated for later this month, the Robertson County School system hopes to show progress on the planned construction of an elementary school in south Springfield. The efforts come as federal attorneys continue to investigate allegations of segregation within the school system. Robertson County Mayor Howard Bradley is lobbying commissioners to pass a resolution showing support for construction of the new school. The Tennessean has the story.

Hooker Seeks to Disqualify 3 from Special Court

Nashville lawyer John Jay Hooker filed a motion this week in Davidson County Circuit Court asking Gov. Bill Haslam to disqualify three individuals appointed to a special Supreme Court. The special court was called to hear Hooker’s challenge to the way appellate judges are chosen. Haslam appointed the panel after all of the current justices recused themselves. Hooker asked Haslam to reverse his appointment of former Supreme Court justices William M. Barker and George H. Brown Jr., and former federal judge Robert L. Echols. Hooker contends that as former judges “their impartiality might be reasonably questioned.” The Tennessean reports

Judge Won't Void Senate Democratic Primary

Federal District Court Judge Kevin Sharp has refused to void the Tennessee Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, which was won by a candidate the party has disavowed. Sharp ruled today that the lawsuit filed by losing candidate Larry Crim was improper because it was not filed against an individual. Crim had sued the state Division of Elections and the Tennessee Democratic Party trying to keep Mark Clayton, the winner of the Aug. 2 primary, off the November ballot. News Channel 5 has this AP story

GOP Reconsiders Closed Primaries

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports today that several state Republican leaders – upset over reports that Democrats voted in their party primary earlier this month – are reviving a previously shelved effort to require party registration and closed primaries for future elections. State Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and Mark Winslow, a member of the Republican State Executive Committee, confirmed that they met Tuesday with House Speaker Beth Harwell to advocate the idea. Harwell, a former state party chairwoman who has opposed closed primaries, said she is looking into the issue.

KBA Supreme Court Dinner Set for Sept. 5

The Knoxville Bar Association will host its annual Supreme Court Dinner Sept. 5 at the Knoxville Convention Center. The event, which honors the justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court as well as local judges, will feature a keynote address by Gov. Bill Haslam. Also during the dinner, the governor wil administer the ceremonial oath to new Chief Justice Gary R. Wade. Tickets are $50 each. Tables of 10 may be reserved in advance. A cash bar reception begins at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Learn more or buy tickets from the KBA


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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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