CLE Grants to Fund Access to Justice Initiatives

The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization has awarded funds from its reserves for projects supporting the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Initiative and the creation of two new positions for attorneys. First, the grant will fund a new statewide toll-free number the public can call for legal information. It will be staffed by an attorney housed at the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Service. Learn more about the position. Second, the grant will pay to staff an initiative to develop new pro bono projects to help low-income Tennesseans get free legal advice. The position will focus on creating projects in areas of the state that do not currently have free legal resources for low-income individuals. Learn more about the AOC's pro bono coordinator position.

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.

02 - TN Supreme Court
02 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
10 - 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 Supreme Court

RONDAL AKERS ET AL. v. PRIME SUCCESSION OF TENNESSEE, INC. ET AL.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

William J. Brown, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellants, Rondal Akers, Jr. and Lucinda Akers.

Stuart F. James, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, T. Ray Brent Marsh.

Judge: LEE

Dr. Rondal D. Akers, Jr. and Lucinda Akers sued T. Ray Brent Marsh for the alleged mishandling of their deceased son’s body, which had been sent to Mr. Marsh’s crematorium for cremation. Following a jury verdict for the Akerses, the trial court entered judgment against Mr. Marsh based on the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim but granted his motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the Akerses’ Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and bailment claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed. We hold the trial court did not err in (1) holding Mr. Marsh liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress in the amount of the jury verdict; (2) instructing the jury that they were permitted to draw a negative inference resulting from Mr. Marsh’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege during questioning; and (3) dismissing the TCPA and bailment claims. The judgments of the trial court and the Court of Appeals are affirmed.

LACEY CHAPMAN v. DAVITA, INC.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Stephen W. Elliott, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, DaVita, Inc.

Barbara G. Medley, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lacey Chapman.

Judge: LEE

An employee filed a request for assistance with the Tennessee Department of Labor after she was injured at her workplace. After approximately six months of inaction by the Department, the employee filed a complaint for workers’ compensation benefits against her employer in Marshall County Circuit Court. The employer responded with a motion to dismiss asserting that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the parties had not participated in the benefit review conference process. The trial judge did not dismiss the complaint but ordered the case to be held in abeyance pending further orders of the court. On extraordinary appeal to this Court, we hold that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction of the case because the employee did not exhaust the benefit review conference process before filing suit as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-203 (2008). The judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the employee’s complaint is dismissed without prejudice.


TN Workers Comp Appeals

GAIL FLY v. TRAVELERS INSURANCE ET AL.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Joshua Davis Baker, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, Abigail Hudgens, Administrator of the Second Injury Fund.

T. J. Emison, Jr., Alamo, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gail Fly.

Amber E. Luttrell and Hailey H. David, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Travelers Insurance.

Judge: CHILDRESS

The employee alleged that she was permanently and totally disabled due to a lower back injury suffered while operating a foot pedal on a drill press in April 2004. The employee had previously alleged an injury to her lower back, which was settled on a “doubtful and disputed” basis. Although the employee’s treating physician testified that the April 2004 incident was a temporary flare-up of her earlier injury, he did assign new permanent restrictions. The trial court found that the employee had sustained a new injury and awarded permanent total disability benefits. The Second Injury Fund and the employer have appealed. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.


ERIC MILLER v. R. J. WHERRY & ASSOCIATES ET AL.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Thomas W. Tucker, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, R. J. Wherry & Associates and Westport Insurance Corporation.

Brian Dunigan, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Eric Miller.

Judge: KOCH

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 in accordance with Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 51. After the employee sustained a compensable injury to his lower back, the parties reached a settlement of the claim at a benefit review conference. As part of the agreement, the employer agreed to provide a job for the employee within the medical restrictions arising from the injury. The employer eventually decided not to rehire the employee after he failed to return to work. Thereafter, the employee filed a petition in the Circuit Court for Davidson County seeking reconsideration of his settlement. The trial court granted the petition and increased the disability award. On this appeal, the employer takes issue with (1) the trial court’s adoption verbatim of the employee’s proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, (2) the trial court’s conclusion that the employee was entitled to reconsideration, (3) the exclusion of evidence related to the employee’s prior back problems, and (4) the claimed excessiveness of the award. We affirm the judgment.


TN Court of Appeals

GEORGE WOODSON and FLORA WOODSON v. MEG CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC., ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen C. Barton, Edd Peyton, LaKeisha Sisco-Beck, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, George Woodson and Flora Woodson

Stephen C. Barton, Edd Peyton, LaKeisha Sisco-Beck, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, George Woodson and Flora Woodson

Judge: HIGHERS

Plaintiff was seriously injured during a dog attack by his neighbors’ two dogs. Plaintiff sued, among others, the neighbors’ landlord and an employee of the landlord. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, determining that although the defendants retained sufficient control over the leased property, they lacked notice or knowledge of the dogs’ vicious propensities. We find a question of fact exists regarding defendants’ notice or knowledge of the dogs’ vicious propensities. We affirm in part and reverse in part and we remand for further proceedings.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM LYNN BOLING, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Mack Garner, District Public Defender (at hearing), for the appellant, William Lynn Boling, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Clinton Frazier, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, William Lynn Boling, Jr., filed a motion in the Circuit Court for Blount County requesting jail credits for time he spent on furlough. The trial court denied the motion. On appeal, we conclude that this case is not properly before this court because no appeal as of right exists from the trial court’s denial of the motion. We dismiss the appeal.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BOBBY JOE LADD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kimberly G. Turner, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bobby Joe Ladd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; John Carney, District Attorney General; and Lee Willoughby, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Bobby Joe Ladd, appeals the revocation of his probation, claiming that the evidence preponderates against the findings of the trial court. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DESHAUN JANTUAN LEWIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

David M. Hopkins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Deshaun Jantuan Lewis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Pamela Anderson and Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Deshaun Jantuan Lewis, of one count of second degree murder, two counts of felony murder, four counts of aggravated rape, especially aggravated robbery, and making a false report to law enforcement. The trial court merged the two felony murder convictions and the second degree murder conviction into one conviction for felony murder. The trial court also merged one of the aggravated rape convictions, leaving three remaining aggravated rape convictions. The court then sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of life plus forty-two years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court improperly allowed the State to question the Defendant about his gang involvement; and (3) his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JERMAIN SEAN LIPFORD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

B. Jeffery Harmon, District Public Defender and Robert G. Morgan, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Jermain Sean Lipford.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steven M. Blount, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Jermain Sean Lipford, was indicted by the Franklin County Grand Jury for initiating a process to manufacture methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine, felony possession of drug paraphernalia, reckless endangerment, felony possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver, driving under the influence, violation of the implied consent law, driving on a revoked license, and fourth offense driving on a revoked license. Appellant pled guilty to initiating a process to manufacture methamphetamine. As a result, Appellant was sentenced to eight years, to be served in the Community Corrections program after the service of 150 days in incarceration. After the issuance of a revocation warrant and hearing, Appellant conceded the grounds for the violation of his Community Corrections sentence. Appellant was ordered to serve the original sentence. Appellant appeals, arguing that the trial court improperly determined Appellant was not entitled to jail credit. After a review of the record, we conclude the trial court properly awarded sentencing credits to Appellant. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TIMOTHY A. LOWE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Heather Haufler, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy A. Lowe.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence R. Whitley, District Attorney General; and Tara Wyllie, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Timothy A. Lowe, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his original ten-year sentence, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in placing his entire ten-year sentence into effect. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JEREMY KYLE MASSEY v. DAVID SEXTON, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeremy Kyle Massey, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.

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

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Jeremy Kyle Massey, pro se, appeals the Johnson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his 1999 second degree murder conviction and resulting forty-five-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by denying him habeas corpus relief. He argues that his conviction and sentence are void because the first degree murder indictment was defective. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GREGORY MOORE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal); Gerald R. Melton, District Public Defender; and Russell D. Perkins, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Gregory Moore.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, District Attorney General; and Laural A. Hemenway, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Rutherford County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Gregory Moore, of one count of aggravated sexual battery, see T.C.A. § 39-13-504(a)(4) (2006), and three counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor, see id. § 39-13-529(b)(1),1 for offenses committed against his seven-year-old step-daughter. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of 13 years’ incarceration. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction of aggravated sexual battery and the trial court’s imposition of sentences. We discern an anomaly in the judgments for counts three and four requiring correction on remand. We otherwise affirm the judgments of the trial court, as modified.


TIMOTHY L. MORTON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Timothy L. Morton, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; and Kelly A. Lawrence, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Timothy L. Morton, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his three petitions for writ of habeas corpus and its denial of his motion to reinstate these petitions, wherein he alleged that the trial court’s judgment revoking his probation and ordering his one-year sentence for DUI, fourth offense, and two-year sentence for driving in violation of the Motor Vehicle Habitual Offenders Act (MVHOA) into execution is void. Upon review, we affirm the judgments summarily dismissing the petitions for habeas corpus relief and denying the motion for reinstatement of the petitions for habeas corpus relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES ALLEN POLLARD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard L. Tennant, Nashville, Tennessee, (on appeal); and Edward J. Gross, Nashville, Tennessee, (at trial), for the appellant, James Allen Pollard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Debbie Housel, Assistant District Attorney General; and Leticia Alexander, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, James Allen Pollard, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for first degree murder, felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged. The trial court merged Defendants’ murder convictions and sentenced him to life in prison for first degree murder and to 18 years to be served at 100 percent for his especially aggravated robbery conviction, which was ordered to be served consecutively to his life sentence. Defendant appeals his convictions and asserts the following: 1) that the State violated the requirements of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S. Ct. 1194 (1963), when it failed to disclose evidence regarding State’s witness Anthony Bowers; 2) the trial court erred by refusing to grant Defendant a continuance to investigate Anthony Bowers; 3) the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress his statement to police; 4) the trial court erred by allowing Detective Windsor to testify regarding his opinion about whether Defendant acted in self-defense; 5) the trial court committed plain error by allowing an officer to testify regarding blood spatter; 6) the alleged errors constitute cumulative error requiring a reversal of Defendants’ convictions; and 7) the trial court erred by ordering Defendant’s sentences to run consecutively. After a careful review of the entire record, we affirm Defendant’s convictions and the lengths of his individual sentences; however, we reverse the trial court’s order of consecutive sentencing and remand for a new sentencing hearing in order for the trial court to state on the record the facts which support consecutive sentencing. See State v. Wilkerson, 905 S.W.2d 933, 938 (Tenn. 1995).


TAJAY VAUGHN V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jon Joseph Tucci, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal), and Thomas Boyers, Galatin, Tennessee (at post-conviction hearing), for the appellant, Tajay Vaughn.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; L. Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and C. Ronald Blanton, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Tajay Vaughn (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for aggravated burglary, especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault. Pursuant to his plea agreement, the Petitioner received an effective sentence of thirty-three years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In his petition, he argued that he was denied effective assistance of counsel in conjunction with his guilty plea and that his plea was constitutionally infirm. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. The Petitioner now appeals. Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Haslam Appoints 3 More to Special Supreme Court

Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed three new attorneys to the Special Supreme Court to hear a case from which all five Tennessee Supreme Court justices have recused themselves. The new appointees are Shelby County Criminal Court Judge J. Robert Carter Jr.; James R. Dedrick, who retired in 2010 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee; and Monica N. Wharton, chief legal counsel for the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. They join Andrée Sophia Blumstein and W. Morris Kizer on the court, which will decide any appeal of Hooker et al. v. Haslam et al., a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Court of Criminal Appeals appointment by the governor. The Chattanoogan has more


Maryville Law Firm Lost to Fire

The building that housed the Maryville law firm of Gribble, Carpenter & Associates burned in a fire last week, and the firm -- comprised of William (Billy) Gribble, Charles Carpenter, Keith Edmiston, Stanley Barnett, Alan Waller and Casey Daganhardt -- have reopened the office at 118 Parliament Dr., Maryville 37804. Donations of law books, especially the Tennessee Practice Series, and other resources like Raybin on Criminal Procedure or Garrett on Divorce, are needed. Contact Billy Gribble at blountlaw@yahoo.com or 865-936-3060 if you can help. Members of the firm say they have already received much support, which they appreciate very much. They are still actively handling cases and will be working over the next few weeks to reconstruct client files.


Former Judge Sentenced to 3 Years for Felony Theft

Former Hawkins County Judge James "Jay" Taylor was sentenced to three years with 10 years probation in exchange for guilty pleas to six of 41 theft counts in Davidson County Criminal Court. Taylor was indicted in May of felony theft after being accused of making frequent claims to the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). Additionally, he has been disbarred and ordered to pay $32,750 in restitution to the AOC. He cannot seek reinstatement of his law license until his probation ends in 2025. Timesnews.net reports


Knox County Advocates: Education Now or Prison Later

Knox County police administrators and government representatives joined Fight the Crime: Invest in Kids to stress the importance of early childhood education to reduce crime, the News Sentinel reports. Officials, including Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols, joined the nonpartisan organization on Thursday at a Knoxville Head Start center to read to children and spread their message that paying to educate children now is better than sending them through the justice system as adults.


Retired Hawkins Co. Judge to Hear Sullivan Funding Case

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary R. Wade on Thursday assigned retired judge James E. Beckner to hear the case of Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson against county mayor Steve Godsey. Anderson is seeking $9.9 million in new funding from Sullivan County, which he says is the amount he needs to adequately fund the county jail and sheriff’s office as he is charged to do by state law. Beckner retired from the bench in Hawkins County after serving more than 30 years. The Times News has the story


Documentary: Kids Tell What Not to Do in Divorce

A guide for divorcing couples called "Don't Divorce Me! Kids' Rules for Parents on Divorce," debuts next week on HBO. The half-hour documentary tells about divorce from the kids' point of view. The messages include "Tell me it's not my fault," "Don't put me in the middle," and "Don't take your anger out on me." WBIR has details


Court: Employee Must Exhaust Benefit Review First

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that in a workers’ compensation case, Lacey Chapman v. DaVita Inc., the employee must exhaust the benefit review conference process before filing suit as required by state law. Learn more from the court


Purcell Kicks Off Baker Center's Lecture Series

Lawyer and former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell will talk about how many American cities are experiencing “rebirth” when he presents the inaugural Ashe Lecture on Sept. 24 at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy in Knoxville. The Ashe Lecture series was established to honor Baker by inviting mayors and ambassadors to talk about local and international political topics. The Baker Center will host two speakers each year for the next five years. The event, which starts at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. Learn more


Judge, Citizens Address Panel About Conservatorship Law

On Thursday, retired General Sessions Judge Haywood Barry told a Tennessee Bar Association panel that more monitoring is needed for those involved in conservatorships. Barry was speaking at the first of four scheduled public hearings across the state to provide an opportunity for lawyers, community leaders and citizens to discuss what works with the present conservatorship law and how practice and procedure could be improved. Songwriter Danny Tate and 82-year-old Jewell Tinnon -- both of whom have been in the news for their plights involving unwanted conservatorships -- also spoke to the group. The Tennessean has more


Senate Candidate Stevens Involved in Estate Dispute

John Stevens, a state senate candidate and lawyer, acknowledged in an affidavit that he tore up an unconscious widow's last will and testament in a hospital room three years ago, and that he knew she was unconscious at the time, the Commercial Appeal reports. Ruth Keras died the next day. St. Jude and Jackson-based Youth Town of Tennessee were each to have received major portions of the 82-year-old woman's estate before the papers were destroyed. But four days before he visited Keras, Stevens had been contacted by Joe Wilkes to draw up a power of attorney on behalf of Keras, naming Wilkes' wife Peggy as attorney-in-fact. Stevens also established a revocable trust, court records indicate, that provided that upon Keras' death, all trust assets were to be divided equally between Peggy Wilkes and Keras's brother. Stevens is running for state Sen. Roy Herron's open District 24 seat against Democrat Brad Thompson.


 
 

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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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