Monday Events to Celebrate Constitution Day

Recognized by Congress in 2004 as an official holiday, Constitution Day commemorates the signing and adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. On Monday, several events will celebrate the day:

• University of Tennessee Knoxville students will hold a voter registration drive and public speech forum called SpeakoUT. For more information on events, visit Tennessee Today. 

• The Memphis Lawyers’ Chapter and University of Memphis Law Students’ Chapter of the Federalist Society will present  "The Road to Ratification: The Founders Debate the Proposed Constitution," with Pepperdine University Professor Dr. Gordon Lloyd. The event will be 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the law school, and is free to the public. To register, email Greg Grisham  or call 901-462-2616.

• Also on Monday, Middle Tennessee State University will host a citizenship ceremony in conjunction with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, USCIS, and the U.S. Marshals Service. Judges Joe E. Brown and E. Clarence Knowles will conduct the official proceedings and Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary R. Wade will give the keynote address. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. at Murphy Center, with a public reading of the Constitution at 12:30. The proceedings will also be simulcast 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
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
05 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


John Allen Brooks, Chattanooga, Tennessee for Respondent/Appellant J.R.K.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Shanta J. Murray, Assistant Attorney General Nashville, Tennessee for Petitioner/Appellee State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal concerns the termination of parental rights. The subject child is the eighth born to the appellant mother. The appellant mother failed a prenatal drug screen prior to the birth of the child at issue, so the appellee Tennessee Department of Children’s Services took the child into protective custody three days after birth. A permanency plan was adopted and the mother made efforts to comply with her permanency plan responsibilities. The Department filed a petition to terminate the mother’s parental rights as to this child. The juvenile court terminated the mother’s parental rights based on the grounds of substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan and persistence of conditions. The mother now appeals only as to the grounds for termination. We reverse as to the ground of substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan but affirm as to the ground of persistent conditions. On that basis, we affirm the termination of parental rights.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robin Gunn, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, J.S.L.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Marcie E. Greene, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services..


In this parental termination case, the father was appointed counsel at the time the Court held a dependency hearing in the Juvenile Court and the Order appointing counsel in that proceeding also appointed the attorney for the subsequent termination of parental rights trial. When the Petition to terminate the father's parental rights trial was held, neither the father nor counsel appeared at trial and a Judgment was entered terminating the father's parental rights. On appeal, appellant argues that the statue and rule governing this proceeding required notification to the father's attorney. We vacate the Judgment of the Trial Court on the grounds that both the Court and the Department of Children's Services were charged with the knowledge that the appellee was appointed counsel and that the termination Petition's Judgment was prejudicial to the judicial process when the father's lawyer was not notified of the Petition or trial. We vacate and remand for a new trial.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jon A. York, Donald D. Glenn, and Melissa K. Van Pelt, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jimmy G. Melton.

Terry Abernathy, Selmer, Tennessee, for the appellee, Milledgeville United Methodist Church.


This case involves a dispute over the ownership of a parcel of real property. Appellee church purchased the disputed property from the seller bank in 1974, but failed to record its deed. Through a clerical error, the seller bank sold the disputed property to Appellant real estate investor in 2008. Appellant promptly recorded his deed. After the investor demolished a portion of a wall constructed by the church on the disputed property, the church sued to quiet title and for damages. The trial court ruled that the deed to the investor was void as champertous because the church’s possession of the property was open and obvious at the time of conveyance. Thus the trial court ruled that the church was the true owner of the property. Although we affirm the decision of the trial court, we rely on grounds other than those found by the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Herman Morris, Jr., City Attorney, Zayid A. Saleem, Assistant City Attorney, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, City of Memphis

Deborah Godwin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jason Morris


A Memphis police officer was terminated after he was involved in a physical altercation with his girlfriend during which she sustained facial injuries. The Civil Service Commission upheld the termination, and the chancery court affirmed. In the initial appeal to this Court, we remanded for the Commission to make findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Commission issued an amended decision with additional findings. Upon reviewing the amended decision, the chancery court reversed the termination and reinstated the officer. The City appeals, arguing that the Commission’s decision was supported by substantial and material evidence. The officer presents numerous arguments in support of his assertion that reversal of the Commission was proper. We affirm the order of the chancery court in part, but we vacate the reinstatement of the officer and reinstate the Commission’s decision to uphold termination.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert Isaiah Thompson, Waverly, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Cass Rye & Associates, Inc.

Mark Allen Rassas and Julia Palasek North, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Edward Coleman, Margaret Mann, Joyce Coleman, Tim Coleman, and Vickie Reedy.


Plaintiff in suit seeking to have court declare boundaries of fifteen acre tract of land appeals the declaration of boundaries and award of the tract to Defendants, adjoining landowners. Defendants appeal finding that Plaintiff adversely possessed a portion of the fifteen acre tract. Finding no error, we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph Taggart, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ameale Hudson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and James W. Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Madison County Circuit Court Jury found the appellant, Ameale Hudson, guilty of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying his motion for a change of venue; (2) denying his motion to bar the State from referring to him by his nickname,“Pistol”; and (3) denying his motion to prohibit the admission of postmortem photographs of the victim. The appellant also contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James B. Webb and Brandon L. Newman, Trenton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Alexander Jones.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Garry Brown, District Attorney General; and Jason Scott, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Gibson County grand jury indicted appellant, Christopher Alexander Jones, for first degree murder. The jury found appellant guilty as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment. On appeal, appellant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Specifically, he contends that the evidence did not show sufficient proof of premeditation and that his intoxication negated the required culpable mental state for this offense. After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and applicable law, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support appellant’s conviction. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dixon Explains Civility Initiative; First Forum Tuesday in Memphis

Tennessee Bar Association President Jackie Dixon was featured today in the Tennessean for her work with the TBA Civility and Free Expression Initiative. The public forums will be held in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville, with each program focusing on a different, local topic of interest within the overall theme of civility and free speech. The Memphis event is Tuesday. "It just takes some things we all learned in kindergarten: being polite and listening, being courteous and being open to new ideas," Dixon says in explaining civility. "If we just plant the seeds in the minds of 100 people in Memphis and 100 here in Nashville and in Knoxville and in a wide variety of people, maybe they might start thinking about ways to be more civil and other ways to teach the young people they encounter as well."

Rep. Todd: Not Guilty Plea

State Rep. Curry Todd’s attorney Worrick Robinson pleaded not guilty on his behalf today to DUI and weapons charges, the Tennessean reports. Todd was arrested Oct.11, 2011, after police say he failed a roadside sobriety test and was carrying a handgun in his vehicle.

Parties Anticipate Conservatorship Hearings

Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville, says he is looking forward to the recommendations that come out of the hearings on possible reforms to conservatorship law, which begin next week and are sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association. Probate Judge David “Randy” Kennedy, whose court handles conservatorship cases in Davidson County, told the Tennesseean that he was “delighted” the bar association was holding the hearings. William Barrick, a Carthage attorney who handles cases involving persons with mental or intellectual disabilities, is on the panel that will be conducting the hearings. He said he personally would like to see some major changes, especially in the medical standards being used to determine if a person should be declared incompetent. Other areas that need to be improved, Barrick said, are training for those appointed as conservators, bringing uniformity to the way the existing law is applied, and making it less difficult to transfer a case from one county to another. The Tennessean has more

Deadline Oct. 12 for BPR Job

The deadline to apply for chief disciplinary counsel for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility is Oct. 12, and the successful candidate will begin on Jan. 1, 2013. Details on the job description and how to apply are posted on the AOC web site.

Acree Says This is His Last Term

Circuit Judge William B. “Bill” Acree Jr. says will not seek re-election when he finishes his current term on the bench in August 2014. By then, Acree says, he will have served 20 years as judge for the 27th Judicial District, which is comprised of Obion and Weakley counties. Read more about him in NW Tennessee Today

LMU to Offer Scholarships

Lincoln Memorial University's Duncan School of Law will award $5,000 scholarships to qualified applicants who are Tennessee Department of Children's Services employees, law enforcement officers, municipal employees or current or former members of the military including the National Guard. Learn more from the News Sentinel

Court Clerk Pleads Guilty to Stealing Funds

A former deputy court clerk in Germantown pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $1,000 in city funds. Janet Donnell, 45, faces two to four years in prison when she is sentenced next month in Criminal Court, but she also is eligible for diversion, a form of probation in which her felony conviction eventually could be erased. Her attorney, James Curry, said Donnell is ready to make full restitution. The Commercial Appeal reports

Fellowship Promotes Public Interest Law

The Ford Foundation is funding a special public interest fellowship at four law schools, the ABA Journal reports. First and second year students at Harvard, NYU, Stanford, and Yale will be eligible to apply for a 10-week summer program. Stanford fellowships will offer a focus on international as well as domestic public interest practice.

Twitter Turns Over Tweets in 'Occupy' Case

Twitter today agreed to hand over about three months' worth of tweets to a judge overseeing the criminal trial of an Occupy Wall Street protester, the Associated Press reports. The case has become closely watched in the fight over how much access law enforcement agencies should have to material posted on social networks. The social networking site had been threatened with steep fines if it did not comply with Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr.'s order to turn over the records in the case of Malcolm Harris. The judge said he would keep the records sealed until after a Sept. 21 hearing challenging his ruling on the messages.

Pennsylvania High Court Considers Voter ID Law

Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court justices on Thursday aggressively questioned whether a politically charged law requiring photo identification from all voters should take effect for the Nov. 6 presidential election and whether it guarantees the right to vote. The high court appeal follows a lower court's refusal last month to halt the law from taking effect. The high court normally has seven members, but it heard the case with just six -- three Republicans and three Democrats. A seventh justice was suspended in May after being charged in a political corruption investigation. A 3-3 deadlock would allow the lower court decision to stand. NPR has the AP story

Board of Judicial Conduct Defines Role

Circuit Court Judge Michael Sharp explained the role of the Board of Judicial Conduct to the Bradley County Bar Association this week, the Cleveland Daily Banner reports. In July the General Assembly created the board to replace the Court of the Judiciary in handling complaints against Tennessee judges. “There have been several complaints that went unanswered from the public’s perspective.” Sharp said. “Legislators began to look into that and decided there had to be more transparency.”

Shelby Commissioner Named to State Election Spot

Shelby County Election Commissioner Norma Lester was appointed Thursday by Gov. Bill Haslam to fill a vacancy on the state Registry of Election Finance, which enforces campaign finance laws in Tennessee. Lester, 70, a retired nursing administrator who was named to the county election commission last year, will fill a seat on the six-member state board that has been vacant since April 2011. The News Sentinel reports


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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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