Butler Snow to Move to Nashville's Pinnacle

After making a big splash in Nashville by recruiting most of Miller & Martin's local attorneys this summer, Butler Snow O'Mara Stevens & Cannada has signed papers to lease the 15th and 16th floors at The Pinnacle at Symphony Place, the Nashville Post reports. The firm will take up 46,000 square feet in the city's newest office tower and expects to be able to move into its new space in the first quarter of 2013.

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
09 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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

IN RE: JADA C.H., a minor child

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Shantell S. Suttle, Cordova, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tanyawa S.H.

Melinda Plass Jewell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Joseph C.

Judge: STAFFORD

This custody case arises from an agreed order of parentage. After Father’s paternity was established, he filed a petition in juvenile court for custody of the child. At the conclusion of several hearings that took place over a span of years, the juvenile court entered an order naming Father primary residential parent and awarding Mother weekend parenting time. Mother appealed. While awaiting appeal, Mother filed a petition to have the child declared dependent and neglected. The Special Judge presiding over that petition transferred Mother’s petition to Lake County, where Father and the child reside. In response to the allegations in Mother’s petition, Father filed a petition for an injunction and to have Mother’s future parenting time supervised. A different Special Judge granted Father’s request without a full hearing, stating that Mother’s parenting time would remain supervised until further orders of the court. No further orders were ever entered. We affirm the trial court’s order naming Father primary residential parent, but vacate the transfer of Mother’s petition to Lake County and the modification of Mother’s parenting time. Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings.


IN RE: ESTATE OF MINA RHEA MARTIN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Ginger Wilson Buchanan, Cleveland, Tennessee, for appellant, Teresa Rucker, Personal Representative of the Estate.

L. Vincent Williams, Office of the Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for appellee, State of Tennessee, Bureau of TennCare.

Judge: PER CURIAM

In this action, the Estate has appealed to this Court the denial of an exception to appellee's claim.


CATHY L. McGOWIN v. JOHN D. McGOWIN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jerold Lance Becker, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John D. McGowin.

Rebecca Denise Slone, Dandridge, Tennessee, for the appellee, Cathy L. McGowin.

Judge: PER CURIAM

In this appeal, a show cause order was entered in this case on August 28, 2012, directing counsel for the appellant to show cause why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Appellant has responded to the show cause order in a response that does not provide an explanation that cures the defect of the late-filed Notice of Appeal.


CITY OF MEMPHIS v. JASON MORRIS, ET AL.
CORRECTION on page 1, correcting Chancellor Goldin's middle initial from a "G." to a "B."

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

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

Judge: HIGHERS

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.


IN RE: CONSERVATORSHIP OF ALFONSO B. PATTON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Patricia D. Richmond and Ronnie Richmond, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

David J. Callahan, III and Peggy Duncan Mathes, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Conservatorship of Alfonso B. Patton.

Judge: CLEMENT

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B from the trial court’s denial of a motion for recusal. Having reviewed the appellant’s petition for recusal appeal pursuant to the de novo standard as required under Rule 10B, § 2.06, we affirm the trial court’s decision to deny the petitioner’s motion for recusal.


IN RE: CONSERVATORSHIP OF ALFONSO B. PATTON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Patricia D. Richmond and Ronnie Richmond, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

David J. Callahan, III and Peggy Duncan Mathes, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Conservatorship of Alfonso B. Patton.

Judge: CLEMENT

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B from the trial court’s denial of a motion for recusal. Having reviewed the appellant’s petition for recusal appeal pursuant to the de novo standard as required under Rule 10B, §2.06, we affirm the trial court’s decision to deny the petitioner’s motion for recusal.


IN RE: CONSERVATORSHIP OF JOHN DANIEL TATE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

John Daniel Tate, Franklin, Kentucky, Pro Se.

Paul Toby Housch, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, David E. Tate.

Judge: BENNETT

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right from the trial court’s denial of a motion for recusal. Having reviewed the appellant’s petition for recusal appeal pursuant to the de novo standard as required under Rule 10B, §2.06, we affirm the trial court’s decision to deny the petitioner’s motion for recusal.


JOHN MARK WATKINS, SURVIVING SPOUSE OF AMY ROSE WATKINS v. AFFILIATED INTERNISTS, P.C., ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David Randolph Smith, Richard A. Demonbreun, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Mark Watkins, Surviving Spouse of Amy Rose Watkins.

Dixie W. Cooper, Brian D. Cummings, and James Charles Sperring, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Affiliated Internists, P.C. and Travis K. Pardue, M.D.

Judge: COTTRELL

Husband of a decedent filed a wrongful death medical malpractice action against the decedent’s physician and sought to amend his complaint to add a count for negligence per se based on the physician’s failure to review his physician assistant’s narcotics prescription. The trial court denied Husband the opportunity to amend his complaint and dismissed the action on summary judgment. On appeal, the Court of Appeals concluded the trial court erred in denying Husband’s motion to amend but affirmed the trial court’s other rulings. On remand, the trial court allowed Husband to amend his complaint to add a count for negligence per se, but the court then granted the physician’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of causation. Between the first Court of Appeals decision and this appeal, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided Estate of French v. Stratford House, 333 S.W.3d 546 (Tenn. 2011), in which it held that negligence per se claims cannot be maintained when medical malpractice is alleged. The Estate of French holding bars Husband’s negligence per se claim against the physician. We therefore affirm the trial court’s judgment granting the physician summary judgment.


THE UNIVERSITY CORPORATION, A California Nonprofit Corporation v. BRUCE WRING

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Elizabeth E. Chance, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael P. Coury, Chapter 11 Trustee for the Estate of Bruce Wring.

James R. Newsom, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, The University Corporation.

Judge: FARMER

This case involves an agreement between the Appellee, a nonprofit corporation, and the Appellant, a real estate agent, whereby the Appellant would acquire foreclosed properties, oversee all necessary repairs and renovations of the properties, and ultimately sell them for the benefit of the Appellee. The Appellee’s executive director was given the authority to act on its behalf in all dealings with the Appellant. As compensation, the Appellant received commissions on the purchase and sale of each property, and a percentage of the repair costs for his oversight of the repairs and renovations of each property. After operating pursuant to the oral agreement for over a year, the parties executed a written agreement for the same purpose. Throughout their relationship, the Appellant acquired approximately eighty-four (84) properties for the Appellee. Subsequently, after discovering that their records did not contain documentation of actual repair costs which the Appellant was required to submit under the written agreement, the Appellee filed a complaint for an accounting. The trial court appointed a Special Master to conduct an accounting. Following an evidentiary hearing, the Special Master filed a report in which he ordered that the Appellant be disgorged of all funds received by virtue of the agreements with the Appellee based on his failure to provide documentation of actual repair costs, and further suggested an award of attorney’s fees and costs in favor of the Appellee. Thereafter, the trial court entered a final order adopting and confirming the Special Master’s findings, and denied the Appellant’s objections to the Special Master’s report. After thoroughly reviewing the record, we conclude that the Appellant was not required to submit documentation of actual repair costs on the properties acquired pursuant to the oral agreement. We further conclude that the course of conduct between the Appellant and the Appellee’s executive director modified the written agreement, such that the Appellant was not required to submit documentation of actual repair costs. As a result, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals

JEROME SAWYER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jerome Sawyer, Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Jerome Sawyer, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. As grounds for relief, petitioner argues that the trial court improperly enhanced his eighteen-year sentence for aggravated sexual battery by applying enhancing factors, other than prior criminal convictions, not found by a jury. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, and we affirm the judgment of the court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOSUE SEGURA

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

H. Andrew Crisler, III (on appeal) and Arthur E. Horne, III (at trial) Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Josue Segura.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; Theresa S. McCusker and Chris West, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The defendant, Josue Segura, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of first degree premeditated murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In this appeal, Segura argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress, by refusing to grant a second mental evaluation, and by allowing the State to introduce certain photographs of the victim. Segura also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authority, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GEORGE R. THACKER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James T. Bowman, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, George R. Thacker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; Barry Staubus and Teresa Nelson, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Sullivan County jury convicted the Defendant, George R. Thacker, of solicitation to commit first degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to eleven years as a Range I, standard offender. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it declined to instruct the jury on the defense of entrapment and the law regarding accomplice testimony. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Horse Trainer Gets 3 Years Probation, Fine

Former hall of fame horse trainer Jackie McConnell was sentenced to three years probation and fined $75.000 this afternoon in a Chattanooga federal courtroom, The Tennessean reports. McConnell, who was recorded beating Tennessee walking horses in a video released by the Humane Society last May, could have been given as much as five years probation and fined up to $250,000 for his offenses. As part of his plea agreement, McConnell has to report all of his dealings with horses in federal court.


Tenn. Department of Education Withholds $3.4M from Metro School Board

The Tennessee Department of Education will withhold $3.4million from Metro Nashville Public Schools, following its refusal to comply with a State Board of Education directive to approve Great Hearts Academy’s charter school application, the Tennessean reports. “We were all hopeful that Metro Nashville’s school board would obey the law and avoid this situation,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “It is our job to enforce state law, and we have no choice but to take this action.”


Black Business Group Files Complaint over Lack of Contracts

The Black Business/Contractors Association filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice over Knox County’s lack of city and county contracts with black-owned businesses. Representatives from the association claim less than 1 percent of city or county business has gone to black-owned firms. Knox County officials said over 10 percent of its contracts go to minority- and women-owned businesses but they do not keep figures on specific breakdowns. Read more on Knoxnews.com.


MTSU Constitution Day Celebration Includes Naturalization Ceremony

About 300 people took the oath to become Untied States citizens yesterday at Middle Tennessee State University during a Constitution Day celebration, News Channel 5 reports. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe B. Brown held court session in the university gymnasium, while Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade served as guest speaker.


Legal Industry Survey Reports Firms Struggling with Expenses

Many law firms are struggling to control expenses in the face of stagnant revenue growth, AmLaw Daily reports. A survey of 115 firms by Wells Fargo’s Legal Specialty Group found that financial troubles are affecting firms across the board, the publication says. Legal Specialty Group national managing director Jeff Grossman was cautious in forecasting 2012 results. "Profit is a question mark," he said. "All indicators suggest it'll be down, but it depends on how firms manage expenses."


J. Alexander's Class-Action Suit Settled

A class-action lawsuit filed in Tennessee State Court against Nashville-based J. Alexander’s and Fidelity National Financial has been settled, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Shareholders accused J. Alexander’s of not doing enough on their behalf after the proposed acquisition by Fidelity. They also allege Fidelity influenced the deal by offering J. Alexander CEO a job before the merger.


Rogersville Lawyer Suspended

The state Supreme Court temporarily suspended the law license of Rogersville attorney John Douglas Godbee on Sept. 14 after finding that he poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Godbee had been reinstated to the practice of law on Feb. 28 subject to full compliance with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) monitoring agreement. On Aug. 8, TLAP discharged Godbee from his monitoring agreement. This non-compliance with the February court order led to the current suspension. Godbee also was suspended on Aug. 6 in light of a pending criminal trial in which a female client alleged he was trading legal services for sexual favors. That suspension has not yet been dissolved. Download the BPR notice, and read the news story at Timesnewsnet.com.


TBA “Balancing Civility and Free Expression” Tonight at Memphis Law

The Tennessee Bar Association and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will hold a public forum on free speech and civility tonight in Memphis. The first in a series of three forums across the state, the Balancing Civility and Free Speech Initiative is designed to encourage a public conversation about the tensions between civility and free speech, and will focus on how these issues play out in public policy debates -- especially those with cross-cultural implications. The event will be held tonight, Sept. 18., from 7-8:30p.m. in the law school’s Wade Auditorium. 


 
 

Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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.


© Copyright 2012 Tennessee Bar Association