Jones to Leave BPR for Commerce and Insurance Post

Chief Disciplinary Counsel Nancy Jones is leaving the Board of Professional Responsibility to become General Counsel at the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. Jones, who has led the BPR since 2007, will leave the organization on Sept. 30. Under Jones' leadership, the BPR investigated over 11,866 complaints against attorneys alleging professional misconduct. Almost 2,000 of those cases resulted in some form of public or private discipline of attorneys by the board, including 66 disbarments, 205 public reprimands and 173 suspensions. Read the press release from the courts.

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
04 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
03 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
03 - 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

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Workers Comp Appeals

LANCE ERICKSON v. SDI OF OAK RIDGE TURNPIKE, LLC

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

S. Nikol Richardson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, SDI of Oak Ridge Turnpike, LLC.

Bruce D. Fox and Laura B. Myers, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lance A. Erickson.

Judge: WADE

In accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee, who sustained injuries while attempting to repair a piece of food service equipment, filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Later, the employer terminated the employee, alleging misconduct in the performance of his duties. The trial court ruled that because the employer had discharged the employee in retaliation for the claim, the employee did not have a meaningful return to work and, furthermore, was entitled to the statutory maximum of six times the medical impairment. The employer appealed. Because the evidence supports the ruling of the trial court, the judgment is affirmed.


TINA KELLEY v. D & S RESIDENTIAL HOLDINGS, LP

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph R. Ford, Loudon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tina Kelley.

Daniel W. Starnes, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, D & S Residential Holdings, LP.

Judge: WADE

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, a human resources director, slipped and fell while performing her job responsibilities. The employee did not return to work following the incident and was subsequently terminated. Although the employee received temporary total disability benefits, she filed suit alleging that she was entitled to additional temporary total and permanent partial disability benefits. While concluding that the employee had sustained a 19% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole, the trial court capped the award at one and one-half times the medical impairment rating because the employee was not denied a meaningful return to work. The employee has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that she had a meaningful return to work. She also contends that she is entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. In response, the employer asserts that the 19% impairment rating is excessive. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the findings of the trial judge, the judgment is affirmed.


DAVID SMITH v. GERDAU AMERISTEEL, INC.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael L. Mansfield, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gerdau Ameristeel, Inc.

Spencer R. Barnes, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, David Smith.

Judge: HOLDER

In this claim for workers’ compensation benefits, the employee suffered a compensable back injury. The trial court awarded 85% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole and additional temporary total disability benefits, resulting in an award of 400 weeks of benefits. The employer has appealed, asserting that the permanent partial disability award is excessive and that the trial court erred by awarding additional temporary total disability benefits. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


BOBBY JOE WILLIAMS, JR. v. CBT MANUFACTURING CO., INC. ET

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Kimberly Ann Greuter and Kent T. Jones, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, CBT Manufacturing Co., Inc.

Flossie Weill, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bobby Joe Williams, Jr.

Judge: WADE

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 suit for benefits, alleging that he aggravated a back injury while performing his job responsibilities. His employer contended that the incident resulted only in an increase in pain from a pre-existing injury and was not, therefore, compensable. At the conclusion of the evidence, the trial court found in favor of the employee and, using an eight percent medical impairment rating and a multiplier of one and one-half times the medical impairment rating, awarded permanent partial disability benefits. The employer appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that a compensable injury occurred and, alternatively, that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that the employee was entitled to an eight percent medical impairment rating. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the findings of the trial court, the judgment is affirmed.


TN Court of Appeals

E. RON PICKARD and LINDA PICKARD, as TRUSTEES OF THE SHARON CHARITABLE TRUST and as INDIVIDUALS v. TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT of ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION, TENNESSEE WATER QUALITY CONTROL BOARD and TENNESSEE MATERIALS CORPORATION

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Elizabeth Parker McCarter, Senior Counsel; and R. Stephen Jobe, Senior Counsel, for appellants, Tennessee Water Quality Control Board.

Robert J. Martineau, Jr. And Patrick N. Parker, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

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.

Judge: STAFFORD

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued a draft 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 a declaratory order petition with the Water Quality Control Board, seeking a declaration construing the rules regarding the protection of existing uses of waters. The Water Quality Control Board dismissed the petition as not ripe. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation subsequently issued a final permit to the quarry and the property owners filed both a permit appeal and another declaratory order petition with the Water Quality Control Board. The Water Quality Control Board again dismissed the declaratory order petition. The property owners subsequently filed a petition for a declaratory judgment in the Davidson County Chancery Court. The Water Quality Control Board and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation argued that the petition was not ripe and that the property owners had not exhausted their administrative remedies. In addition, the Water Quality Control Board and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation argued that Tennessee Code Annotated Section 69-3-105(i) precluded the property owners from bringing a declaratory order petition prior to issuance of a permit. The trial court ruled in favor of the property owners and issued a declaratory judgment on the construction of Tennessee Compiled Rule and Regulation 1200-04-03-.06. We affirm the trial court’s rulings with regard to ripeness, exhaustion of administrative remedies, and Tennessee Code Annotated Section 69-3-105(i), but reverse the grant of summary judgment on the construction of Tennessee Compiled Rule and Regulation 1200-04-03-.06 and remand for further proceedings.


IN RE STEPHEN M. P.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Dennis M. P., Crossville, Tennessee, pro se.

Mary Byrd Ferrara, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Judge: MCCLARTY

A show cause order was entered in this case on August 16, 2012, directing the non-attorney father of the minor child in this case to state why this appeal should not be dismissed based upon his filing of the notice of appeal on behalf of his son and without the benefit of counsel. The father responded to the show cause order, but his contentions do not cure the defect in the notice of appeal. Our review of the record reveals that this court lacks jurisdiction. See Tenn. R. App. P. 3(a). Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.


LORI R. TORRES V. MICHAEL S. TORRES

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Brent R. Watson and Suzanne N. Price, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael S. Torres.

Johnny V. Dunaway, LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lori R. Torres.

Judge: MCCLARTY

The appellee in this case filed a motion to dismiss appeal on July 20, 2012, arguing that the judgment of divorce entered by the trial court on December 6, 2010, is not a final judgment from which an appeal can be taken and the appellate record on file is therefore incomplete. The orders entered by the trial court on July 9, 2012, confirm that the notice of appeal was filed prematurely, as all claims between the parties have not yet been resolved. The appellant did not file a response to the motion. Our review of the record reveals that the order to which the notice of appeal is directed is not “a final judgment adjudicating all the claims, rights, and liabilities of all parties” from which an appeal as of right would lie. See Tenn. R. App. P. 3(a). Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

KEITH J. ALLEN v. HOWARD CARLTON, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Keith J. Allen, pro se, Mountain City, Tennessee, as the appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVENS

Keith J. Allen (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the sentence on his first degree felony murder conviction is illegal, and, therefore, his judgment of conviction is void. The habeas corpus court dismissed his petition without a hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, arguing that the trial court lacked authority to impose a life sentence for his conviction. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


CLAUDE F. GARRETT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Claude F. Garrett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel and Aaron Winter, Assistant Attorneys General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Jon Seaborg, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVENS

The Petitioner appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction for first degree felony murder. While the Petitioner raised a multitude of issues below, on appeal, his sole issue is whether he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Specifically, the Petitioner makes the following arguments on appeal: (1) that trial counsel failed to present evidence that in the ten years between the first and second trials, the methods by which the State’s expert witness reached his conclusion of arson had been discredited by the scientific community; (2) that trial counsel failed to advance the defense theory of an accidental fire by not calling as a witness the physician who treated both the Petitioner and the victim to testify regarding the burn patterns on their bodies; and (3) that trial counsel failed to move for a mistrial when the State and the State’s witnesses referenced the Petitioner’s prior trial. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. ADRIAN HILL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert Dalton, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Adrian Hill.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Benjamin Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Crawford, District Attorney General; Robert Carter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Adrian Hill (“the Defendant”) appeals the trial court’s judgments finding him guilty of failing to comply with a child support order in two separate cases under Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-5-104(a). The trial court convicted the Defendant on one count in each of the two cases after conducting a bench trial. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that he was: (1) denied the right to grand jury action; (2) denied the right to a trial by jury; and (3) sentenced contrary to the applicable sentencing laws for criminal offenses. Upon review, because the statute at issue is a general criminal statute as opposed to a contempt statute, we conclude that the Defendant was entitled to grand jury action as a requirement to invoke the jurisdiction of the trial court. The record demonstrates that the Defendant did not receive grand jury action and did not waive his right to grand jury action. Therefore, we are compelled to vacate the judgments of the trial court and dismiss the charges against the Defendant.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHESTER CARR PETERSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal) and Jonathan Wing (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chester Carr Peterson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant, Chester Carr Peterson, pled guilty to possession with intent to sell less than .5 grams of cocaine and evading arrest. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to a sentence that included community corrections. The Defendant’s community corrections officer filed a violation warrant, and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s community corrections sentence, finding that he had violated the terms of his sentence, and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by revoking his community corrections sentence and ordering him to serve the balance of his sentence in prison. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


MICHAEL RAINES v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael Raines, Pikeville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; and Robert Steven Bebb, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Michael Raines, pro se, appeals the Polk County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction for second degree murder and resulting twenty-three-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in concluding that his petition was barred by the Post-Conviction Procedure Act. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JOE BILLY RUSSELL, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joe Billy Russell, Jr., Bedford, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Chuck Crawford, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

While it is uncertain from the record, it appears the Petitioner, Joe Billy Russell, Jr., pled guilty in 1994 to two counts of the sale of cocaine. Pursuant to a negotiated settlement, which included the Petitioner’s agreement not to apply for alternative sentencing, the trial court sentenced him to two concurrent sentences of four years each. In 2011, the Petitioner filed a pro se motion to vacate the judgment, alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not voluntarily entered. The trial court dismissed the motion, finding that it was filed beyond the expiration of the statute of limitations. On appeal, the Petitioner contends the trial court erred when it dismissed his petition. After reviewing the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Use of Government Employee’s Garrity Statement in Criminal Prosecution of Another

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-08-15

Opinion Number: 81


Authority of Judicial Commissioners and Judges Regarding the Setting and Alteration of Bail

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 1912-08-23

Opinion Number: 82


Standing of Bonding Company to Commence Failure to Appear Action

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 1912-08-23

Opinion Number: 83


Court Names Perlen to Lead Board of Law Examiners

The Tennessee Supreme Court today named Lisa Perlen as the new administrator of the Board of Law Examiners. Perlen has been with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee for 18 years. She served as Chief Deputy Clerk and has been on national court committees to determine best practices for the federal court system. Read more


Judge Issues First Baumgartner Ruling

U.S. Magistrate Clifford Shirley has responded to some of the motions filed in the trial against former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, who was indicted in May on seven charges of misprision of a felony. Shirley suggested in a written filing late last week that certain evidence against Baumgartner should be allowed in court. WBIR has more


District, U.S. Attorney Pool Efforts

The Memphis Daily News reports that Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich and U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton have joined forces to handle cases that cross state-federal boundaries. Weirich and Stanton talked about the partnership, which includes an anti-gang initiative and focus on gun crimes, during a program called “Behind The Headlines” on WKNO TV.


Editorial: Don’t Let Costs Block Needed Reforms

In response to reports that Shelby County Commissioners are concerned with the cost of Juvenile Court reforms, editors at the Commercial Appeal write that the “commission should have a formal voice in what is happening with the reforms.” But “at the same time…should be a voice of flexibility and cooperation, not obstructionism.” It concludes “it would be a shame if [changes] were derailed by stubbornness over…cost.”


Pride Sworn In, Makes History in Jackson

New Circuit Court Judge Nathan Blake Pride was sworn into office on Tuesday as the first black judge to serve the 26th Judicial District. The oath was administered by Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Roger Page, who previously held the seat. Local attorney Terica Smith with West Tennessee Legal Services was on hand and called Tuesday “an historic day.” Read more and see photos of the event in the Jackson Sun.


Opinion: Wade Has Made Sevier County Proud

Writing in the Knoxville News Sentinel today, columnist Greg Johnson looks at Sevier County native Gary Wade’s rise from city government to his newest position as chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. He also recounts Wade’s longstanding commitment to the improvement of East Tennessee communities. A separate piece in the Mountian Times praises Wade's service and suggests that the state is in good hands while he in on the bench.


U.S. Sets Out to Prove Gross Negligence by BP

The U.S. Justice Department is urging a federal judge to ignore BP’s assertion that the Gulf Coast's natural resources are making a "robust recovery" from its massive 2010 oil spill. In a court filing Friday, government lawyers also renewed their vow to prove at trial that BP engaged in gross negligence or willful misconduct leading up to the deadly rig explosion that spawned the nation's worst offshore oil spill. WRCB TV reports that the combative language is a sign that BP and the Justice Department are not close to a settlement that would resolve the federal government's claims against the oil giant before a trial scheduled for next year.


Court Asked to Appoint Special Judge

The Tennessee Supreme Court has been asked to appoint a special judge to oversee a $9.9 million lawsuit filed against Sullivan County by county sheriff Wayne Anderson. All local chancery and circuit judges recused themselves. Anderson is seeking additional resources to fund the county jail and sheriff’s office as, according to him, he is charged to do by state law. On the defense side, the county attorney also has stepped aside, saying it is a conflict of interest to represent one agency of the county against another. The Times News has more


Concert to Raise Funds for Law School Scholarship

Nashville artists and members of the legal community are uniting for an evening of music, dinner, drinks and a silent auction on Sept. 13, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at 3rd and Lindsley. All proceeds will benefit the Robert L. Sullivan Scholarship at Vanderbilt Law School, which honors the late attorney’s commitment to legal aid. Learn more about the event or get tickets


Memphis Lawyer Suspended

Memphis lawyer Shelley Rothman-Branning was suspended on Aug. 31 for 11 months and 29 days. Of that time, 60 days are to be spent on active suspension with the remainder spent on probation. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that Rothman-Branning violated the Rules of Professional Conduct by agreeing to use previously disbursed and unclaimed funds in her firm’s trust account to pay law firm operating expenses. She voluntarily reported her actions and submitted a conditional guilty plea. She also replaced the funds and disbursed them properly, resulting in no financial loss to third persons. In addition to the suspension, the court ordered her to perform 40 hours of pro bono work. Download the BPR release


New TBJ Covers Arbitration, Divorce, Wrongful Death Proceeds

Don't miss the September Tennessee Bar Journal, featuring two articles on arbitration. One, by Adam Eckstein, explores when Rule 31 and the Tennessee Uniform Arbitration Act meet; the second, by Shelby R. Grubbs and Glenn P. Hendrix, unveils a new international concept for arbitration services. Columnists Marlene Eskind Moses and Beth A. Townsend give you ideas for finding hidden assest in divorces, and John A. Day discusses distribution of net proceeds in wrongful death cases. Humor columnist Bill Haltom pays tribute to a queen and a princess -- Pat Summitt and the influence she has had on his daughter and many other girls. President Jackie Dixon speaks out about merit selection. You probably already have it in hand, but you can also read it online here


 
 

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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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