LAWPAC Makes Initial Contributions For Fall Campaign

LAWPAC -- the state legislative, independent, multi-candidate, political campaign committee for Tennessee lawyers -- today made known its contributions in 15 fall legislative races. In 10 of the 15 races , the candidates receiving contributions are lawyers. The group also made donations where candidates are law students, serve as key legislative committee officers, have relatives who are lawyers or take into account the views of lawyers on critical issues. See the full list of candidates supported by LAWPAC this fall.

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
09 - 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

WALTER WORD v. METRO AIR SERVICES, INC. ET AL.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Fred J. Bissinger and Michael W. Jones, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Metro Air Services, Inc., Midwestern Insurance Alliance, and Praetorian Insurance Company.

B. Keith Williams and James R. Stocks, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Walter Word.

Judge: CLARK

In this interlocutory appeal, we must decide whether a trial court has subject matter jurisdiction over a workers’ compensation case when the time stamp on the complaint is earlier than the “time noted” on the Benefit Review Conference Report, pursuant to Benefit Review Process Rule 0800-2-5-.09(2). Because a workers’ compensation action may not be filed under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(a)(2)(A) (2008) until exhaustion of the benefit review conference process, we hold that when subject matter jurisdiction over a workers’ compensation case depends upon the issuance of a Benefit Review Conference Report, the “time noted on the Report” is controlling. Moreover, we hold that the time stamp on the complaint, if unambiguous, may not be impeached with extrinsic evidence. Therefore, we reverse the trial court’s denial of the employer’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and dismiss this action.


TN Court of Appeals

IN THE MATTER OF: JAYLEN J. (d.o.b. 10/1/08) and JUSTIN A. (d.o.b. 12/1/05)

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

James Franklin, Jr., Bartlett, Tennessee, for the appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter and Lindsey O. Appiah, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Judge: FARMER

This appeal arises from a dependency and neglect petition originally filed by the Department of Children’s Services in the Juvenile Court for Shelby County in May 2010. We dismiss the matter for lack of jurisdiction.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MEL LINDSAY ATWELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Philip L. Duval, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mel Lindsay Atwell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and David L. Shinn, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant, Mel Lindsay Atwell, pled guilty to driving under the influence fourth offense, a Class E felony, and aggravated assault, a Class C felony. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to five years for the aggravated assault conviction and two years for the felony driving under the influence conviction and ordered that the sentences run consecutively, for an effective sentence of seven years. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences because the State had not met its burden of proof to support that decision. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


JERMAINE BRADFORD v. RONALD COLSON, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jermaine Bradford, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; and Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Petitioner, Jermaine Bradford, filed a petition for habeas corpus relief in the Circuit Court of Davidson County. He sought habeas corpus relief from his conviction in the Criminal Court of Davidson County for especially aggravated kidnapping. The habeas corpus court dismissed the petition without a hearing. Petitioner appeals, and we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


IN RE: THE APPLICATION OF TONY COX (Seeking to Qualify as Agent for Memphis Bonding) and STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHERYL D. GRAY AND SAMUEL R. BRISCO

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael J. Gatlin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellants, Tony Cox and Samuel R. Brisco.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Thomas D. Henderson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

In this consolidated appeal, Petitioner Tony Cox appeals the trial court’s order denying his application to qualify as a bondsman’s agent to write cash bonds in the Criminal Courts of the Thirtieth Judicial District, and Petitioner Samuel R. Brisco appeals the trial court’s revocation of his authorization to write bonds in the Criminal Courts of the Thirtieth Judicial District. In both of these cases, the trial court determined that the Petitioners’ restoration of citizenship rights following their felony convictions did not remove the civil disability preventing them from serving as a bondsman or bondsman’s agent. On appeal, the Petitioners argue that they are entitled to serve as bond agents pursuant to Attorney General Opinion 04-143. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


ALBERT EVANS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Sean H. Muizers (on appeal) and Eran Julian (at post-conviction hearing), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Albert Evans.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Marlinee Iverson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Albert Evans, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery, for which he is serving life without the possibility of parole plus twenty-four years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he did not receive the effective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


DAVID FERRELL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Benjamin A. Newman, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellant, David Ferrell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; and Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, David Ferrell, was convicted in Warren County of failure to display a license, violation of the seatbelt law, and two violations of the vehicle registration law. Petitioner represented himself at trial. Petitioner was sentenced to an effective sentence of fifty days. Petitioner appealed the convictions pro se, arguing that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case and “that he is not subject to the enforcement of traffic laws by local law enforcement authorities.” State v. David A. Ferrell, No. M2007-01306-CCAR3- CD, 2009 WL 2425963, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Aug. 7, 2009), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Feb. 8, 2010). This Court upheld the convictions. Id. at *3. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief. The petition was dismissed as untimely. On appeal, the State conceded that the petition was improperly dismissed as untimely. This Court agreed and reversed the dismissal of the petition. See David A. Ferrell v. State, No. M2010-00696-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 5625882, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Dec. 28, 2010). On remand, Petitioner sought recusal of the post-conviction judge. The judge denied the motion and the matter proceeded to a hearing. After the hearing, the post-conviction court denied post-conviction relief. Petitioner now appeals. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the postconviction court’s denial of post-conviction relief because Petitioner has failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MELISSA L. GRAYSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal); Fletcher W. Long and Edward T. Farmer, Springfield, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Melissa Grayson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Pamela Sue Anderson and Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Davidson County Grand Jury indicted appellant, Melissa Grayson, for aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated robbery, and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. Following jury verdicts of guilty on all five counts, the trial court sentenced appellant to an effective seventeen-year sentence. Appellant claims the following errors at trial: 1) the trial court erred in declaring a witness unavailable and allowing the State to introduce his preliminary hearing testimony; 2) the trial court erred in permitting the State to elicit improper character evidence from a witness; and 3) the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions. The State contends that appellant has waived the first two issues because her motion for new trial was untimely. We have concluded that the State is correct with respect to its waiver argument and further, that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the verdicts. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


MARIO PENDERGRASS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paula Ogle Blair, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mario Pendergrass.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Dan Hamm, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

In a bench trial, petitioner, Mario Pendergrass, was convicted of two counts of first degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of life in prison plus forty-four years. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief raising the following issues: (1) whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to develop mental health evidence; (2) whether trial counsel denied petitioner his right to testify at trial; and (3) whether petitioner voluntarily waived his right to a trial by jury. The post-conviction court denied relief following a full evidentiary hearing. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES RANDALL ROSKAM

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Randall Roskam.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Anton Jackson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, James Randall Roskam, of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and the trial court sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to twenty years in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction and that the State impermissibly elicited testimony from its witnesses about his prior bad acts in violation of Rule 404(b), Tennessee Rules of Evidence. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JESSICA EVETTE WARD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul Julius Walwyn, Madison, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jessica Evette Ward.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, District Attorney General, and J. W. Hupp, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Jessica Evette Ward, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for aggravated assault and attempt to commit second degree murder. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of the lesser included offenses of reckless aggravated assault and misdemeanor reckless endangerment. At a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the convictions and sentenced Appellant to serve three years in the county workhouse. Appellant did not file a motion for new trial. Appellant seeks review of the trialcourt’s denial of judicial diversion. After reviewing the record before this Court, we conclude that the trial court erred in failing to state on the record its reasons for denying judicial diversion; thus, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.


Nashville Will Stop 287(g)

Nashville Sheriff Daron Hall said today that he will not renew the 287(g) program when it expires in October. The program became an issue for the courts when Nashville attorney Elliott Ozment sued Hall's office on behalf of three legal residents who were screened and detained, claiming it does not have the authority to participate in that program under the Metro Nashville government charter. The Tennessee Supreme Court has heard arguments, and both sides are awaiting a decision in the lawsuit. Hall said today he will replace 287(g) with a program, Secure Communities, in which the fingerprints of detainees are sent electronically to federal agents who can check immigration status. WSMV has video


What DOJ Report Tells Us About Indigent Criminal Defense in Tennessee

The Sixth Amendment Center takes a look at the recent Department of Justice investigation of the Memphis Juvenile Court, examining what it also tells us about indigent criminal defense throughout Tennessee. The center’s blog notes that Tennessee had been in the forefront in providing state funding for indigent criminal defense, but suggests that there should be greater emphasis placed on structural standards and the guarantee of sufficient resources to meet those standards.


Belmont Law Moves Home

Belmont University opened its new Randall and Sadie Baskin Center in a ribbon-cutting celebration this morning attended by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper and many of the donors who helped finance the 75,000-square-foot building that houses Belmont University’s College of Law. The center contains more than a dozen classrooms, a trial courtroom, an appellate courtroom, a two-story law library and more than 20 faculty offices. Belmont is seeking LEED certification for the building, which also uses a geothermal system to provide heating and cooling. The new law school welcomed its second class this fall, and is in the process of seeking American Bar Association accreditation.


When Can Parties File Workers' Comp Complaints?

In a unanimous opinion today, the Tennessee Supreme Court clarified when parties may file a complaint in court in a workers' compensation case. In Walter Word v. Metro Air Services Inc., the court held that when exhaustion is premised upon the issuance of a Benefit Review Report, neither party may file a complaint before the time noted on ther report. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more


DOJ Puts Civil Rights Unit in Birmingham

Forty-nine years after protesters, led by Martin Luther King Jr., marched in Birmingham  for equal rights and to put an end to laws mandating racial segregation, the U.S. Justice Department is establishing a civil rights unit in that city. The unit, based within the U.S. attorney's office, will concentrate on both civil lawsuits and criminal enforcement of federal civil rights laws. WDEF has the story


Custody Battle Brews Over Child's Sexy Outfit

A woman who dressed her daughter in a Dolly Parton outfit with a padded bra and backside for an episode of the reality TV show Toddlers & Tiaras could lose custody of the girl over the choice. In a battle unfolding in a Kentucky courtroom, a court-appointed psychologist is siding with Bill Verst, father of 6-year-old Maddy Verst, who contends her mother, Lindsay Jackson, sexually exploited their daughter by allowing her to dress so provocatively. Comparing the activity to training for the Olympics, Jackson said that if she loses custody over this, it would "open the door for any parent to challenge anybody on any activity that a kid does, period." ABAJournal.com has more


Services Set for Memphis Lawyer Earl Buckles

Services have been set for Memphis lawyer Earl C. Buckles, 69, who died Monday (Aug. 20). The memorial service will be 10 a.m. on Thursday at Memorial Park Funeral Home, 5668 Poplar Ave., with visitation from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, also at the funeral home. Mr. Buckles received a law degree from the University of Nebraska School of Law in 1970. He practiced law in a variety of ways throughout his career, working in large firms as well as in solo practice, and had been an adjunct professor of paralegal studies at the University of Memphis. He had an extensive knowledge of both Tennessee law and Uniform Commercial Code law and often served as a special judge in both civil and criminal courts. Read his obituary


Chancellor Brooks McLemore Dies at 92

Former Jackson Chancellor Eugene Brooks McLemore died Aug. 15 in Georgia. He was 92. He served in World War II, earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University, and was also a graduate of the National College of the Judiciary at the University of Nevada, Reno. He was licensed to practice law in 1949, and in private practice until 1960. He was president of the Judicial Conference of Tennessee,1966-67; served three terms in the State Senate; was chancellor of the 14th Chancery Division of Tennessee for more than 15 years until he was elected by the Supreme Court of Tennessee to be its executive secretary (now known as Administrative Director of the Courts). He later was elected attorney general. After retiring, Chancellor McLemore continued to serve as special justice of the Supreme Court and special judge of the Court of Appeals. Funeral services were Monday in Jackson, with entombment at Ridgecrest Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to West Jackson Baptist Church. Read his obituary in the Jackson Sun


Both Sides of Aisle See Changes

Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, leaders of their respective parties talked together recently about changes for both parties, acknowledging the Republican majority in the Senate has seen some difference from within the last year. “This a typical trajectory, if you will,” Norris said. “The larger your majority grows, the more likely you are to have different opinions." Meanwhile, Kyle said Democrats have to get better at being the minority party and remember that Republicans became the majority in the state House and state Senate based on being an effective minority. The Daily News Journal has more


Nashville Lawyer Censured

Nashville lawyer Karl E. Pulley was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court Aug. 16. He submitted a conditional guilty plea, and was found in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to diligently represent clients, by failing to adequately communicate with clients and by failing to promptly respond to inquiries from the Board of Professional Responsibility. Download the BPR release


 
 

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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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