Editorial: Courts Shouldn’t Be Bought

Editors at the Chattanooga Times Free Press come out strongly in support the merit-based currently used to choose appellate court judges in Tennessee. In a Sunday editorial, the newspaper says, “the system largely eliminates the prospect of big-money politics in the elections of appellate and Supreme Court justices. In fact, most states have adopted similar judicial retention systems for higher courts for that very reason.”

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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
12 - 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









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TN Supreme Court

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

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

WILLIAM R. ADAMS ET AL. v. MARIA WALKER GARDINO

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

William R. Adams, Memphis, Tennessee, pro se

Robert A. Cox, Edwin E. Wallis, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, New Hampshire Insurance Company

Judge: HIGHERS

The appellant filed a single-page brief on appeal that fails to comply with the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. As a result, we dismiss the appeal.


IN THE MATTER OF D.C., Jr., G.C., D.C., AND H.C.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Beth F. Belew, Paris, Tennessee for Respondent/Appellant D.C., Sr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Dianne Stamey Dycus, Deputy Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee for Petitioner/Appellee State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves the termination of a father’s parental rights. The four children at issue were removed from the father’s home by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services due to neglect and abuse. After three years, the Department instituted termination proceedings. The juvenile court terminated the father’s parental rights on grounds of abandonment for failure to provide a suitable home, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan, and persistent conditions, but it declined to find abandonment by failure to support. The father appeals both the grounds for termination and the best interest finding. We reverse the trial court’s holding on abandonment by failure to support, affirm to the remainder, and so affirm the termination of the father’s parental rights.


IN RE EMILIE A. M.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard L. Elliston, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher M.

Philip M. Jacobs, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellees, Lisa C. and Michael C.

Sarah E. McKinney-Coleman, Cleveland, Tennessee, guardian ad litem for the minor, Emilie A. M.

Judge: MCCLARTY

This is a termination of parental rights case in which Lisa C. and Michael C. filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Christopher M. to his child. The paternal grandparents filed an intervening petition to adopt the child. The trial court terminated Christopher M.’s parental rights and granted Lisa C. and Michael C.’s petition to adopt the child. Christopher M. appeals the termination of his parental rights. Following our review, we conclude that the court erred in relying upon Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-113(g)(3) in terminating Father’s parental rights and reverse that ground of termination. Additionally, we are unable to review the remainder of the court’s decision because the final order failed to set forth findings of fact as required by section 36-1-113(k) in support of its second ground of termination. Accordingly, we reverse the termination of Father’s parental rights based upon section 36-1-113(g)(3) and vacate the remainder of the final order. The case is remanded for entry of an order that sets forth sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the termination of Christopher M.’s parental rights.


TRACI JONES v. BERNICE JONES ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Mark Mizell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Traci Jones.

Bruce Timothy Pirtle, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Bernice Jones, Cynthia Gribble, and Jimmie Gribble.

Judge: BENNETT

This matter arose from a car accident between Traci Jones and Bernice Jones. At trial, the jury found Bernice Jones 100% at fault and awarded Traci Jones a portion of her requested relief. On appeal, Traci Jones argues that the trial court erred by reversing its pre-trial ruling on a motion in limine, denying her motion for mistrial, and denying her motion for directed verdict. We affirm the trial court’s decision.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT G. BARHAM

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

George Morton Google, District Public Defender; Susan D. Korsnes, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Robert G. Barham.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Anna B. Cash, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

A Madison County Circuit Court jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Robert G. Barham, of driving under the influence, first offense, and driving under a revoked license, fifth offense, both Class A misdemeanors, and imposed a five hundred dollar fine for each. The trial court sentenced Barham to a concurrent term of eleven months and twenty nine days confinement. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence was sufficient to support Barham’s convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SERENA CARTER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Lance R. Chism (on appeal) and James Thomas (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Serena Carter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Nicole Germain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

Defendant-Appellant, Serena Carter, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s imposition of a twenty-five-year sentence for facilitation of first degree felony murder. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the sentence imposed by the trial court was excessive. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DORIS SHARPHINE HALLIBURTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James E. Lanier, District Public Defender; Howell Tod Taylor, Assistant Public Defender, for the Defendant-Appellant, Doris Sharphine Halliburton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; and Karen W. Burns, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Doris Sharphine Halliburton, was convicted by a Dyer County jury of aggravated assault, a Class D felony, and was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to a term of three years, with Halliburton to serve one year in the Dyer County Jail before serving the remaining two years of her sentence on supervised probation. On appeal, Halliburton argues that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction and (2) her sentence was excessive. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DANIEL G. HAMPTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

B. Jeffery Harmon, District Public Defender (on appeal and at trial); Mechelle Story, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial), Jasper, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Daniel G. Hampton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General and James W. Pope, III, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

After the Rhea County grand jury indicted the Defendant-Appellant, Daniel G. Hampton, for one count of first degree premeditated murder, Hampton entered an Alford plea, see North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 37 (1970), to second degree murder, a Class A felony. The trial court accepted the parties’ agreed sentence of fifteen years in the Department of Correction and, after a sentencing hearing, ordered that the sentence be served consecutively to Hampton’s unserved federal sentences. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred in ordering a consecutive sentence. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. EMMETT HARTNEST, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Guy T. Wilkinson, District Public Defender; Richard W. DeBerry, Assistant Public Defender, Camden, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Emmett Hartnest, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel Jay McCadams, District Attorney General; and Frankie K. Stanfill, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Emmett Hartnest, Jr., was convicted by a Hardin County jury of driving under the influence (DUI), a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to eleven months and twenty-nine days, with Hartnest to serve ten days in the Hardin County Jail before serving the balance of his sentence on supervised probation. On appeal, Hartnest argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and (2) his sentence was excessive. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JONATHAN LAMONT JONES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James E. Lanier, District Public Defender; Timothy Boxx, Assistant Public Defender, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Jonathan Lamont Jones.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel, Assistant Attorney General; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; and Karen Burns, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Jonathan Lamont Jones, was indicted by a Dyer County grand jury of tampering with evidence, a Class E felony, and resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor. Jones was acquitted of tampering with evidence and convicted of resisting arrest. He was sentenced to six months probation after serving ninety days in confinement. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMEL MARSH

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles P. Dupree, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Jamel Marsh.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; Boyd M. Patterson, Jr., and William H. Hall, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

Defendant-Appellant, Jamel Marsh, was convicted by a Hamilton County jury of voluntary manslaughter and received a sentence of four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Marsh argues: (1) the trial court’s method of selecting and qualifying the jury violated Tennessee Code Annotated sections 22-2-308 and 22-2-313 and as well as Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986); (2) the trial court erred in preventing defense counsel from cross-examining Rachel Hixson about whether she received preferential treatment in her unrelated criminal cases in exchange for her testimony against Marsh and erred in preventing defense counsel from making an offer of proof regarding this alleged preferential treatment, thereby violating Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972); and (3) his sentence violated Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), and his sentence was excessive. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for entry of a corrected judgment to show that the jury found Marsh guilty of voluntary manslaughter.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. STEVE WILLIAM POLLOCK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles S. Kelly, Sr. (on appeal), Dyersburg, Tennessee, and James T. Powell (at trial), Union City, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Steve William Pollock.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Thomas A. Thomas, District Attorney General; and Kevin D. McAlpin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Steve William Pollock, appeals his two convictions for vehicular assault in the Obion County Circuit Court. On appeal, Pollock argues: (1) that the trial court erred in allowing the State’s expert to rely on a study, a copy of which he was not provided, in forming her opinion regarding the likelihood of his intoxication at the time of the collision and (2) that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the State’s proof and that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. EDDIE L. READUS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Roger Clay Parker, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eddie L. Readus.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Crawford, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Eddie L. Readus, was convicted by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury, in count one, of sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine and, in count two, of delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine, Class C felonies, as well as, in count three, of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell and, in count four, of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to deliver, Class B felonies. The trial court merged count two into count one and count four into count three and sentenced the defendant to fifteen years on the two remaining convictions, to be served consecutively. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and also argues that the doctrines of double jeopardy, multiplicity and merger prevented him from being sentenced separately on counts one and three. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. COLIN D. SAVAGE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

B. Nathan Hunt (on appeal), Edward DeWerff and Gregory D. Smith (at trial), Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Colin D. Savage.

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

Judge: PAGE

After pleading guilty to the indicted charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit theft of property valued at $10,000 or more, and theft of property valued at less than $500, appellant, Colin D. Savage, was tried and convicted on the remaining charges of especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping. The trial court merged the convictions for conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit theft of property valued at $10,000 or more and sentenced appellant to four years in confinement. The court pronounced a six-year sentence for the aggravated burglary conviction, twenty-four years for the especially aggravated robbery conviction, twenty-four years for the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for theft of property valued at less than $500. The trial court ordered that the sentences for especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping run consecutively to each other, with the remaining sentences running concurrently with them, resulting in an effective sentence of forty-eight years. Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal and claims the following errors: (1) the State’s evidence was insufficient to support the convictions; (2) the trial court erred in declining to merge the convictions for especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping; and (3) the trial court erred in ordering the sentences to be served consecutively. After reviewing the record for sufficiency of the evidence, consecutive sentencing, and propriety of the trial court’s refusal to merge the convictions, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. COLE WOODARD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Barry W. Kuhn, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Cole Woodard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jose F. Leon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Cole Woodard, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, Class C felonies, and was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to three concurrent sentences of ten years. On appeal, Woodard argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) his convictions violate principles of double jeopardy. Upon review, we affirm the convictions, but we vacate the judgments and remand the case for entry of judgments reflecting merger of the jury verdicts into a single conviction for sale of cocaine.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TRUTONIO YANCEY AND BERNARD McTHUNE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Tony N. Brayton, Assistant District Public Defender (on appeal); Jim Hale and John Zastrow, Assistant District Public Defenders (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Trutonio Yancey.

Patrick E. Stegall, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bernard McThune.

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

Judge: PAGE

A Shelby County jury convicted appellant Trutonio Yancey of aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, carjacking, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The jury also convicted appellant Bernard McThune of aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced appellant Yancey to an effective twenty-year sentence and sentenced appellant McThune to a twelve-year sentence. In this consolidated appeal, both appellants challenge the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. In addition, appellant Yancey argues that the trial court erred in not requiring the State to elect upon which dangerous felony it relied for the employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony charge, and appellant McThune argues that the trial court erred by not applying mitigating factors when sentencing him. After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and applicable law, we affirm appellant Yancey’s convictions for aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping. Discerning error, we reverse appellant Yancey’s convictions for carjacking and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and remand the case for a new trial. We affirm appellant McThune’s conviction and sentence.

Today's News

HCA Shareholders File Bid-Rigging Lawsuit

Former shareholders of Nashville-based HCA have filed a federal lawsuit against Bain Capital, Goldman Sachs, the Blackstone Group, and other big, private equity firms for bid-rigging, the Tennessean reports. The lawsuit alleges the firms conspired to lower prices in leveraged buyouts by blocking rival bidders. Attorneys for the private firms in question deny any wrongdoing.


Solutions Needed for Juvenile Court Racial Disparity

Police, school and court representatives in Memphis met last week to discuss the racial disparity within juvenile court. WRCBtv reports that officials are participating in a training program intended to reduce the number of minority youth who are sent to the juvenile system at a rate 3.4 times as often as white youth.


FDIC Report Details Reasons for Tenn. Commerce Bank Failure

The FDIC’s Office of Inspector General has released a failure report about Tennessee Commerce Bank, the state’s first bank failure in 10 years, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The bank was deemed to be in “troubled condition” by federal regulators in 2009; state and federal regulators closed it in January 2012. The new report lists bank management and board of director leadership as the primary reason for failure, but also suggested state regulars could have been more proactive. In the aftermath of the failure, a shareholder has filed a lawsuit against bank executives, and the bank's involvement with financial entrepreneur Ed Lowry also is being investigated.


Knoxville Chamber Questioned Over Public Funds

Knox County Commissioners have asked the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce to release financial reports detailing how private and public funds were spent, Knoxnews.com reports. Commissioners want the information to ensure public funds were not used for two political campaigns. David Buuck, chief deputy to the Knox County law director, said the Chamber is required by federal law to disclose donors who donate to the organization’s nonprofit branch. Chamber members maintain they did not use public funds in the campaigns. 


Williamson Law Officers to Learn Skills for Combating Child Abduction

Police officers from Franklin, Brentwood, and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office will be attending a four-day child abduction federal training program starting today, the Tennessean reports. The officers will join other school and legal professionals to participate in the free Department of Justice program. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation currently has the only certified Child Abduction Response Team in the state. Upon completion of the program, the Williamson County group will be the first contingent of local officials in Tennessee to be trained and develop its own protocol for responding to abduction.


Lewisburg Lawyer, 'Municipal Statesman' Dies at His Home

Former Lewisburg city attorney and judge Robert O. "Bob" Binkley died Sept.9 at his home in Lewisburg. He was 80. The Marshall County Tribune detailed many of his accomplishments and contributions to the city in an article last week. "It is impossible to overstate the impact he had ... over 30 years, especially in the area of industrial development," former Mayor Bob Phillips told the newspaper. Other civic leaders added their praises for the Nashville native, who graduated from Vanderbilt University and the YMCA (Nashville) Law School before moving to Lewisburg to practice law. In the years since, Mr. Binkley served for over 20 years as attorney for the City of Lewisburg and City Attorney for the Town of Chapel Hill and Town of Cornersville. He also served as counsel of the Marshall County Industrial Development Board and president of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce. Funeral services were Sept. 13.


 
 

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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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