TBA Diversity Job Fair Opens Today

The 2nd Annual TBA Diversity Job Fair kicks off today in Nashville with a panel discussion and reception for participants. Close to 100 law students from 22 law schools will be interviewing with 18 law firms and agencies from across Tennessee during the two-day event at the Tennessee Bar Center. This afternoon begins with a panel discussion about finding a job in the current market, with TBA President Jackie Dixon; Rob McGuire of the District Attorney General's Office; Bridgestone's Sue Palmer; and Stacey Garrett, with Bone McAllester Norton. Special thanks to Husch Blackwell LLP for being an event sponsor.

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
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 Court of Appeals

JUDY KYLE v. CITY OF JACKSON, TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Spencer R. Barnes, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Judy Kyle.

Robert O. Binkley, Jr. and James V. Thompson, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Jackson, Tennessee.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a Governmental Tort Liability Case. The trial court determined that Appellant was at least 50% at fault for the injuries she sustained when she fell from an elevated stage at an event held at a building, which is owned and operated by Appellee City of Jackson. Discerning no error, we affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARCUS ANDERSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Andre B. Mathis, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marcus Anderson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Robert Ratton, III, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the appellant, Marcus Anderson, of domestic assault by causing reasonable fear of bodily injury, and he received a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the appellant argues that the trial court erred by instructing the jury on domestic assault by causing reasonable fear of bodily injury. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


CHARLES BORUM v. HENRY STEWART, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles Borum, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

In 1986, petitioner, Charles Borum, pled guilty to two offenses, a Dickson County charge of aggravated kidnapping and a Davidson County charge of aggravated rape, and received fortyyear sentences on each offense. Davidson County agreed to run the aggravated rape conviction concurrently with the Dickson County aggravated kidnapping conviction. Petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the Davidson County conviction is illegal, and thus void, because it did not award him pretrial jail credit as required by law. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition. Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


LARRY BOYD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Taurece A. Riley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry Boyd.

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

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Larry Boyd, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, which led him to enter a guilty plea “under duress.” Specifically, he asserts that counsel “refused” to set the case for trial and failed to investigate the facts of the case, interview key witnesses, and adequately communicate with him. After review, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOSEPH DAVISON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Joseph Davison.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Joseph Davison, was convicted of two counts of rape and sentenced to twelve years for each count, to be served consecutively in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the indictment based upon the fact that the original charges filed against him only identified his DNA profile, and he was not identified by name until after the statute of limitations had expired. He also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and imposition of consecutive sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


TIMOTHY LYNN DENTON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

L. Dudley Senter, III, Bristol, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy Lynn Denton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General, and James F. Goodwin, Assistant District Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Sullivan County jury convicted the Petitioner, Timothy Lynn Denton, of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court sentenced him to life in the Tennessee Department of Correction. This Court affirmed his conviction on direct appeal. State v. Timothy Lynn Denton, No. E2006-02557-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 933200 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Apr. 7, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 27, 2008). The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, contending that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to convey to him plea offers and by failing to appeal the trial court’s ruling that he was competent to stand trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TIMOTHY W. FORD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James M. Judkins, Smithville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy W. Ford.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Greg Strong and Phillip Hatch, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Timothy W. Ford, was convicted by a DeKalb County jury of the initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine, a Class B felony. The trial court imposed a sentence of eleven years and six months. Appellant challenges his conviction and sentence for the following reasons: (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion in limine to exclude evidence of his prior conviction; and (3) the sentence was excessive because the trial court failed to give ample weight to the mitigation evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. STEVEN WOODROW JOHNSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul J. Walwyn, Madison, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven Woodrow Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Janice Norman and Robert McGuire, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Following a trial, a Davidson County jury found appellant, Steven Woodrow Johnson, guilty of felony murder, especially aggravated burglary, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court sentenced appellant to life in prison for felony murder. The trial court also sentenced appellant to serve sentences of ten years for especially aggravated burglary (count two) and five years for aggravated burglary (count four) and then merged the two convictions. Appellant was sentenced to five years for aggravated assault and three years for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Some sentences were consecutive to each other, but all were concurrent to the life sentence for felony murder. Thus, appellant received an effective life sentence. On appeal, appellant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Following review of the record, we conclude that the conviction of especially aggravated burglary should be modified to aggravated burglary. Because only one judgment of conviction should have been entered as to the merged counts, we vacate the judgments in count two and count four and remand to the trial court for entry of a single judgment of conviction consistent with this opinion. We affirm the judgments of the trial court in all other respects.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SCOT E. VANDERGRIFF

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender; Sarah Heath Olesiuk, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); and Kevin McGee, Assistant Public Defender (at hearing), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Scot E. Vandergriff.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Joanie Stewart, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Scot E. Vandergriff, pled guilty to soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means, a Class E felony, for which he received an agreed-upon sentence of two years. The trial court granted his request for probation but denied his application for judicial diversion. In this appeal, he claims that the trial court erred in denying his application for judicial diversion. Because the trial court failed to adequately state upon the record the basis for denying judicial diversion, we vacate the judgment and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. AREF AL YAMANI

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; John Campbell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Christopher B. Sullivan, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Aref Al Yamani.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The District Attorney General denied the request of the Defendant, Aref Al Yamani, for pretrial diversion. The Defendant appealed to the trial court, who found that the District Attorney General had abused its discretion when it denied the Defendant’s request for pretrial diversion because the District Attorney failed to consider all the relevant factors when it denied the Defendant’s request. Based upon this finding, the trial court ordered the District Attorney General to approve the Defendant’s application for pretrial diversion. The State appeals, contending that the proper remedy in this scenario is for the trial court to vacate the District Attorney General’s decision and remand the matter to the District Attorney General to further consider and weigh all the relevant factors, citing State v. Richardson, 357 S.W.3d 620 (Tenn. 2012). After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we conclude the trial court erred when it failed to remand the case to the District Attorney General to consider all the relevant factors. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s decision and remand to the Shelby County Criminal Court with directions to remand to the Shelby County District Attorney General for reconsideration in accordance with this opinion.


2 Republican Race Results Will Stand

The Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee, acting in its role as the state primary board, today voted to uphold the primary election results in State House District 71 and Congressional District 9. Shirley Curry lost to Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, by four votes, according to unofficial returns. Charlotte Bergmann lost to George Flinn by about 7,000 votes. The subcommittee unanimously recommended to the full committee that both election contests be dismissed based on their review of the election contests. The News Sentinel reports


Paper Explains Series With Bebb

An editorial in the Cleveland Banner explains why it made the decision last week to let 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Bebb tell his side regarding accusations made against him in a Chattanooga Times Free Press series. The Banner said that the coverage was not to defend Bebb against the charges nor was it to persecute the veteran prosecutor, but that Bebb's position had been left incomplete. "Rhetoric from political rivals, selected details from past investigations and juicy finger pointing by former law enforcement employees had dominated media coverage and street-corner conversation," it said and that prompted the paper to interview Bebb.


Court Clerk Suspended After Confrontation With City Manager

East Ridge city manager Tim Gobble publicly confronted a court clerk in her office because he was upset over the handling of an armed robbery case in which his daughter was the victim, Chattanoogan.com reports. Gobble, who suspended Court Clerk Joanne Thomas for five days without pay, said "it is well established that the city manager is over the court clerk's office and not the judge. ... I'm going to get it fixed."


Immigration Law Leads to Spike in Records Requests

The recent change in federal immigration policy is causing a surge in transcript requests from Metro Nashville schools, officials believe. Undocumented immigrants need to prove their school record as part of new rules that allow those who entered the country illegally as children to remain and work without fear of deportation for at least two years, WPLN reports. “We expected some requests, but we really had no idea of the volume that was going to take place," Taffy Marsh, director of Metro’s records center said. "So we have hired five temporary employees to help us process that volume. … We have a 10-day turnaround time right now, and we are barely managing that."


MRI Used as Lie-Detector Doesn't Fly in 6th Circuit

A health-care fraud defendant who sought to bolster his testimony with a functional MRI scan indicating he was truthful has lost his federal appeal. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Dr. Lorne Semrau, who had sought to admit the MRI to show he was generally truthful when he said he acted in good faith when billing Medicare and Medicaid. The 6th Circuit concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion in barring the evidence. ABAJournal.com has more


Judge: Gitmo Attorney-Client Rules Won't Change

Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia refused to change the rules that have long governed communication and meetings between Guantanamo Bay detainees and their lawyers, in an opinion Thursday. Lamberth ruled against an attempt by the U.S. Justice Department to put more control in the hands of the Defense Department over counsel-access issues in certain cases. DOJ lawyers argued that a ruling in favor of the detainees and their lawyers would amount to a permanent injunction and a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. The executive branch, DOJ lawyers said, has the right to control access to Guantanamo and to control classified information. Lamberth said the government's "objection does not pass the smell test." The Blog of Legal Times has the story


Legal Jobs Down in August

After seeing a healthy uptick in hiring in July, the legal sector shed 1,400 jobs last month, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the legal industry employs 3,200 more people than it did a year ago and has experienced a net gain of 1,400 jobs since the start of 2012. The sector has whipsawed between adding and losing jobs nearly every month this year -- legal employers had cut 500 jobs in June and added 300 positions in May. The AmLaw Daily reports


Know the Details for Religious Expression in Public Schools

State standards now require that students learn something about the major faith traditions, but the return of religion to public schools doesn’t mean that all schools are getting religion right. The First Amendment Center looks at the fine line that teachers and administrators need to walk, to uphold religious freedom by remaining neutral toward religion while simultaneously protecting the right of students to express their faith within the framework established by current law. "By modeling the First Amendment arrangement in religious liberty — no establishment, but free exercise," Director Charles C. Haynes writes, "schools prepare students to live and work together as citizens of one nation with people of all faiths and none."


Vanderbilt Law Names Order of the Coif Members

Vanderbilt Law School this week announced that 19 graduates of the Class of 2012 have been selected for membership in the Order of the Coif. Members of this prestigious organization are selected by faculty approval and represent the top 10 percent of the class. See the full list.


Rep. Todd Arraignment Moved to Next Week

State Rep. Curry Todd's arraignment on drunken driving and weapons charges, set for today, has been delayed until Sept. 14, the Associated Press reports. The Collierville Republican was arrested in October after failing a roadside sobriety test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found stuffed in a holster between the driver's seat and center console.


 
 

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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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