Lawyers Needed to Work Anti-Bullying Legal Clinics

Volunteer at one of three legal clinics -- "The Puck Stops Here" -- to help stop bullying in schools. The events are sponsored by the Nashville Predators and the Disability Law Advocacy Center (DLAC) to help students and their families identify, prevent, and legally respond to bullying in schools. Volunteer attorneys are needed at the clinics for brief client consultations and to assist clients in drafting key points in notification letters to schools and/or an OCR complaints. Learn more here. DLAC will provide training for all volunteer attorneys on bullying legal issues on Aug. 24. The clinics will be in Clarksville, Sept. 15; Nashville, Oct. 6; and Lebanon, Nov. 10. For more information, contact Sherry Wilds at DLAC at (615) 298-­‐1080, ext. 141 or at

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - 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


John E. Dunlap, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Juan M. Beltran

D. Andrew Saulters, Memphis Tennessee, for the appellees, John J. Campbell Co., Inc. and CNA Insurance Co.


An employee received workers’ compensation benefits for a traumatic brain injury he suffered while working for his employer. The employee’s claim was settled for 21% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. After experiencing additional difficulties, the employee sought reconsideration of those benefits. The trial court awarded the employee 55% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employee has appealed, contending that the award was inadequate. After a review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


B. Keith Williams and James R. Stocks, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brian Raines.

Stephen W. Elliott and Fetlework Balite-Panelo, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc., American Home Assurance Company, and Triumph Aerostructures–Vought Aircraft Division.


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 filed this action for reconsideration of a 2006 workers’ compensation settlement pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(B)(i) (2008). The settlement was based on a 2005 injury consisting of lumbar disc herniations that resulted in a 12% anatomical impairment rating to the body as a whole. The employee made a meaningful return to work, and his recovery was therefore capped at 1.5 times the impairment rating—18%. The cited statute allows reconsideration when the employee is no longer employed by his pre-injury employer, as occurred in this case when his employer was acquired by another company in 2010. The trial court found the original settlement adequately compensated the employee for his vocational disability and declined to award additional benefits. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jeremy D. Caldwell, Pikeville, Tennessee, Appellant, Pro Se.

Jeffrey M. Beemer and Kerry M. Ewald, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Linda Neal, as Clerk of the Circuit Court, Wilson County, Tennessee.


Plaintiff appeals the dismissal of his action for failure to prosecute. We hold that, in light of the uncontradicted fact that Plaintiff was not properly served with notice of the trial date, the case should not have been dismissed.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Bobby Joe Strader, Wartburg, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Bobby Joe Strader, appeals as of right from the Morgan County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner contends (1) that the habeas corpus court erred by not appointing counsel and not allowing him to amend his petition with the assistance of counsel prior to its dismissal and (2) that the habeas corpus court erred by summarily dismissing his petition. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

CORRECTED OPINION: Second line, the hyphen between lesser included has been removed.

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.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jeffrey C. Kelly, District Public Defender; and William C. Donaldson, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Edward Wooten Titus.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Anthony Wade Clark, District Attorney General; and Erin D. McArdle, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Jeffrey C. Kelly, District Public Defender; and William C. Donaldson, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Edward Wooten Titus.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jason R. Williams, Pro Se, Mountain City, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Anthony Clark, District Attorney General, and Andrew M. Freiberg, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Jason R. Williams, appeals from the denial of a petition for writ of habeas corpus in which he complained that the McMinn County trial court did not have jurisdiction to impose concurrent sentences. After the timely filing of a notice of appeal, Petitioner argues in this Court that the habeas petition was improperly dismissed and that Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-21-101, which limits the grounds for habeas corpus relief, is unconstitutional. After a review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has not provided an adequate record demonstrating his sentences were illegal. Thus, we chose not to address the constitutionality of the statute. Accordingly, the judgment of the habeas corpus court is affirmed.

Services Monday for Nashville Attorney

Services for Nashville attorney Amy Adams Gowan will be held at 1 p.m. Monday (Aug. 20) at Calvary United Methodist Church, 3701 Hillsboro Pike in Nashville. Visitation will precede the service, starting at 11 a.m. Gowan was 45. A graduate of the Nashville School of Law, Gowan had been with the firm of Hardeman & Montgomery since 2005. Before that she practiced with Ortale, Kelley, Herbert & Crawford. Gowan was diagnosed with ALS in 2009, and since then she and her husband, Robert, were active in efforts to combat the disease, forming Amy’s Army to take part in the ALS Walk, among other activities. Memorial contributions can be made to Amy's Army/Nashville Walk to Defeat ALS, Meals on Wheels/Martha O'Bryan Center or the Calvary United Methodist Church Pastor's Fund, 3701 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215.

Former Assistant DA Sellars Dies

Johnnie Daryl Sellars, 40, of Kodak died Aug. 7. He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee School of Law, and an assistant district attorney for the 4th Judicial District for several years. Funeral services were earlier this week, with interment in Underwood Cemetery. Learn more from the Mountain Press.

Nominating Commission Interviews 13 for Ash's Seat

The Judicial Nominating Commission held a public meeting today in Murfreesboro to interview 13 candidates for the vacancy in the 16th Judicial District, which serves Rutherford and Cannon counties. Newly appointed chairman of the commission, Tom Lawless of Nashville, told The Daily News Journal that following the last interview, possible deliberations and vote(s) would begin to select the top three candidates to recommend to Gov. Bill Haslam. The vacancy was created by the appointment of Circuit Court Judge Don R. Ash as senior judge.

PD Requests Blanket Recusal from Judge

Hamilton County Public Defender Ardena Garth has asked Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman to recuse himself or reassign her office's cases to another judge. That followed a Tuesday hearing in which a public defender said the judge was biased against her and other public defenders. Garth filed recusal motions for 11 cases scheduled in Steelman's courtroom Wednesday, the day after the hearing. Transcripts of Tuesday's hearing are being prepared to determine exactly what was said, according to court records. The hearing was continued to Aug. 27 and the recusal/reassignment motions will be addressed that day, after the hearing. Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts spokeswoman Casey Mahoney said Thursday that staff could not recall a recent situation in which a public defender's office sought blanket recusal of a judge on multiple cases. The Times Free Press has more

Former Memphis Attorney Pleads Guilty to Stealing from Clients

David J. Johnson, a Memphis real estate attorney who was disbarred last November, pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $1 million from client trust accounts. His plea agreement on federal wire fraud charges includes making restitution to all identifiable victims who suffered losses in the scheme. The wire fraud statute carries up to 20 years in prison, though federal sentencing guidelines likely will recommend something considerably less. He will be sentenced in November by U.S. Dist. Judge S. Thomas Anderson. The Commercial Appeal has the story

Assistant AG Loses $4.5 Million Suit for Anti-Gay Blog

A jury on Thursday awarded a gay University of Michigan student body president $4.5 million in his lawsuit against a former Michigan assistant attorney general who posted about him in an anti-gay blog. The U.S. District Court jury ruled in favor of Christopher Armstrong, who claimed he suffered distress after a blog created by Andrew Shirvell accused him of enticing minors with alcohol and recruiting people to become homosexual. Shirvell, who was representing himself, said the jury award was "grossly excessive" and that "juries give short shrift to First Amendment rights." WRCB has the AP story

Gitmo Detainees' Lawyers Argue Against New Attorney-Client Rules

Guantanamo detainees' lawyers argued today against new Justice Department guidelines that would govern attorney-client relationships. A D.C. federal judge said he was "reluctant" to allow the guidelines change, given the past failure of the government, when left to its own devices, to protect detainees' rights to access the courts. The Blog of Legal Times has the story

Lawmakers Continue Effort to Watch Drug Task Forces

Sponsors of legislation that would increase oversight of Tennessee’s judicial drug task forces, say a recent series by the Times Free Press has motivated them to continue their efforts. The series investigated allegations of unchecked spending, lack of oversight and prosecutorial misconduct in the 10th District counties of Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk. These charges and allegations raised in other districts across Tennessee in the last two years “make legislators feel like more oversight should be needed of drug task forces.” said Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Paintings to be Presented at Baker Courthouse

The Historical Society of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee invites you to the presentation of two paintings by Barry Spann: "Mountains and Moon" and "Mountain, Moon and Stars." The event will be at the Howard H. Baker Jr. United States Courthouse, 800 Market St., Fourth Floor, in the chambers area of the courtroom in Knoxville on Sept. 6. There will be an open house from 3:30 to 5 p.m.; the program is at 4 p.m.

Coffee Anyone? Drop in for Saturday Ethics Program

Grab a cup of coffee and join your colleagues Saturday morning (Aug. 18) for a freshly brewed ethics seminar at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Speakers Justin Adam Brackett, Daniel Logue Ellis and Brian S. Faughnan will spill the beans on topics such as law office technology, the handling of out-of-state counsel, and what to do when your client files bankrutpcy. Don’t miss this rare Saturday seminar. Walk-ins welcome.


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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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