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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
08 - 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


James E. Bostic, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

James Lee Pope, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee.


This is an appeal from a final order of dismissal in the Circuit Court, entered on April 11, 2012.

This Court issued a show cause order directing appellant to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The appellant has responded to the show cause order by motion which does not show good cause why the appeal should not be dismissed.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Amy Broom Pollina, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Sherry L. J.

David L. Scott, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Ronald L. B. and Leisa C. H.


Mother appeals the finding that termination of her parental rights to her son was in the son’s best interest. Finding no error, we affirm the termination of her rights.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Douglas Berry, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rolanda Amos.

Michael K. Radford, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellees, Phillip A. Corbitt and Vera A. Corbitt.


The sellers of real estate brought this action against the successful bidder at a real estate auction after the bidder failed to close because she was unable to obtain a loan sufficient to purchase the property. The sellers later auctioned the property for a substantially lower price. It is undisputed that the buyer breached the contract by not closing and that the sellers are entitled to recover certain special damages; the buyer challenges the trial court’s award of $55,300 for the seller’s general damages for their loss of the benefit of the bargain. We have determined the trial court’s decision is not supported by competent evidence in the record and that the sellers failed to prove the fair market value of the property on the date of the breach was less than the contract price. Therefore, we reverse the award of $55,300 for the loss of the benefit of the bargain. We, however, affirm the award of special damages, specifically the expense of conducting a second auction and sale, property taxes paid between the date of the breach and the second sale, and prejudgment interest, which shall be calculated based upon the judgment as modified.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Guy McClure, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, David W.

Jade Rogers Maberry, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the Appellee, The Association for Guidance, Aid, Placement and Empathy, Inc.


Father’s parental rights to his son were terminated on the ground that Father is confined in a correctional facility for more than ten years as a result of a criminal act and that the child was under the age of eight at the time of Father’s sentencing. Father contends that the trial court should have considered the possibility of his receiving parole in determining whether grounds for termination of his rights were present and whether termination was in the child’s best interest. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Amy C. Bates, Clarksville, Tennessee, for appellant, Robert J. L.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Derek C. Jumper, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


Father appeals the termination of his parental rights. The trial court terminated Father’s parental rights upon finding that four grounds for termination had been established – the grounds of substantial noncompliance with the provisions of the permanency plan, abandonment by willful failure to visit and support, and failure to establish parentage, and that termination of Father’s rights was in the child’s best interest. We have determined that three grounds for termination were established by the requisite proof and that termination of his rights is in the child’s best interest. Therefore, we affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Orlando Ladd, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William Young, Solicitor General; Pamela S. Lorch, Senior Counsel, for appellee, Turney Center Disciplinary Board.


Appellant, an inmate with the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”), appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his appeal for review of disciplinary actions taken against him by the prison, and affirmed by the TDOC Commissioner. The trial court dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based upon the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 27-9-102. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Dana C. McLendon III, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kristine Elaine Sandford McKee.

Jonathan L. Stein, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Chas Alan Sandford.


Husband and Wife were married for eight years when Husband filed for divorce. Husband had purchased 63 acres of real property before marrying Wife and split the property into two parcels. When dividing the property between the parties, the trial court determined the house and ten acres was Husband’s separate property, but the appreciation on that parcel was marital property pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-121(b)(1)(B). The trial court determined the remaining 53 acres was Husband’s separate property and that Wife had no interest in that parcel. Wife appealed, claiming both parcels transmuted into marital property during the marriage. In the alternative, Wife argued that the increase in value of the other 53 acres was marital property due to work she performed on a guesthouse located on the 53- acre parcel. We disagree and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael Brandon Adams, Henning, Tennessee, pro se.

Shauna Ales Jennings, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee.


This Court issues a show cause order on July 19, 2012, directing the pro se incarcerated appellant to show cause why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The appellant is seeking a review of the decision on a claim pending on the small claims docket of the Tennessee Claims Commission. "No appeal may be taken from a commissioner's decision regarding claims appearing on the small claims docket." Tenn. Code Ann. § 9-8-403(a)(2).

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


B. Nathan Hunt (on appeal) and James R. Potter (at trial), Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marc A. Crowder.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and John E. Finklea, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Marc A. Crowder, was convicted by a Montgomery County jury of aggravated assault and aggravated robbery and was sentenced by the trial court to an effective term of nine years in the Department of Correction. He raises two issues on appeal: (1) whether he was denied his constitutional right to a jury of his peers by the lack of a fair cross-representation of the community among the venire members; and (2) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jason B. Elliott (on appeal) and Lawren B. Lassiter (at trial), Gallatin, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Christopher Seth Haley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy E. Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence R. Whitley, District Attorney General; and Jayson C. Criddle, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


On March 6, 2008, the Defendant-Appellant, Christopher Seth Haley, was indicted in case number 199-2008 for violating the Motor Vehicle Habitual Offender’s Act (MVHOA), evading arrest, possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and conviction of two or more prior offenses of simple possession or casual exchange of a controlled substance that could be used to enhance his punishment for the third offense of simple possession of a controlled substance pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-418(e). On June 6, 2008, Haley was indicted in case number 450- 2008 for possession of .5 grams or more of a Schedule II drug with the intent to sell or deliver. On March 30, 2009, he entered guilty pleas in case number 199-2008 to the offenses of violating the MVHOA and evading arrest, Class E felonies, and in case number 450-2008 to the offense of possession of .5 grams or more of a Schedule II drug with the intent to sell or deliver, a Class B felony, and the State entered a nolle prosequi for the remaining charges in case number 199-2008. On June 10, 2010, Haley was indicted in case number 439-2010 for felony escape and two counts of felony failure to appear. On September 30, 2010, Haley entered a guilty plea in case number 439-2010 to one count of failure to appear, a Class E felony, and the State entered a nolle prosequi for the remaining counts in that case number. On December 10, 2010, the trial court sentenced Haley as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent sentences of two years for violating the MVHOA conviction, two years for the evading arrest conviction, and ten years for the possession of .5 grams or more of a Schedule II drug with the intent to sell or deliver conviction. The court also sentenced Haley as a Range II, multiple offender to a consecutive sentence of four years for the felony failure to appear conviction, for an effective sentence of fourteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Haley contends that the trial court erred in failing to consider any mitigating factors before imposing his sentence and erred in denying him an alternative sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

AG's Office Asks Appeals Court to Take Blackwood Off Case

The state Attorney General's Office is appealing Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood's refusal to recuse himself from hearing the Christian/Newsom murder trials. The News Sentinel reports that the AG has asked the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn Kerry’s decision to continue, arguing he has lost objectivity.

Memphis Prosecutors Speak on Sex Trafficking

U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton of Memphis and other federal prosecutors spoke to students at the University of Mississippi School of Law about sex trafficking in America, the Commercial Appeal reports. The attorneys discussed the difficulty in prosecuting trafficking cases and effective ways for prosecutors to ensure violators receive longer prison sentences with no parole.

Jennings Sues UT, Alleges Age and Sex Discrimination

Former University of Tennessee Lady Vols media director Debby Jennings has filed a lawsuit against the school and athletic director Dave Hart, saying that she was forced to retire because they wanted to remodel the athletic department as a “good ol’ boys” club while replacing her with a younger man. Jennings, who had been with UT for 35 years, filed the suit Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. The Tennessean has the story

Roane County Lawyer Arrested for Contempt

Roane County attorney Spence Bruner was arrested for contempt of court on Wednesday, reports. According to an order from the Court of Criminal Appeals in Knoxville, Bruner was ordered to appear before a panel of the court on Sept. 18, but he did not show up. He was booked into the jail that morning and was released a short time later on a $5,000 bond.

Civil Rights Still Priority, 50 Years After Ole Miss Integrated

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that civil rights enforcement remains a federal priority, as he spoke in Oxford, Miss., on the 50th anniversary of the admittance of the first black student to the University of Mississippi. Holder said the Department of Justice continues to "strive for equal justice under law, and to be both rigorous and fair in our enforcement of the essential civil rights protections that so many have fought, and even died, to secure." Efforts to enroll James Meredith provoked a night of rioting in 1961, killing two and injuring hundreds. Holder said the injured included more than 160 marshals, who battled integration opponents outside the landmark Lyceum building at Ole Miss. carried the story

DOJ Use of Surveillance Devices Increases

According to analyzed data from records released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Justice Department has increased its usage of electronic devices by 64 percent since 2009, reports The DOJ stated that citizens’ civil liberties are not at stake and court approval is necessary for such surveillance. Critics, however, claim the process to obtain warrants is too easy and devoid of meaningful court review.

Attorneys Take Issue With Candidate Criticism

Two Nashville attorneys have written a letter to the editor critical of a Tennessean article on Tennessee senatorial candidate Phillip North and his law practice. Greg Ramos and Mike Jameson take issue with a statement from Tennessee GOP Executive Director Adam Nickas, who referred to North as “a trial lawyer who is in the business of killing business with frivolous lawsuits.” Ramos and Jameson note that North’s legal practice is involved in the “defense” of lawsuits against individuals and businesses, the opposite of Nickas’ statement. “Phillip protects the reputations of individuals and businesses, including hundreds of physicians and health care providers across Middle Tennessee,” the pair write.

Deadline Approaches for TBA Academy

A select group of Tennessee attorneys will soon experience the honor of being admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court during the 29th Annual TBA Academy Nov. 26-27 in Washington, D.C. This year's program includes a welcome reception with TBA President Jackie Dixon, group lunch and dinner, breakfast and tour of the court and private admission ceremony. The group will stay at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel and will have the opportunity to network with some of the nation’s leading appellate practitioners. Registration is open through Oct. 15. Get details and directions on how to apply

Learn More About LMU at Info Sessions

Lincoln Memorial University's John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law will host a series of information sessions beginning Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon. The program will cover the application process, financing your legal education, university scholarships and general information on the school's mission. Participants will meet administration, faculty, staff and current students. There will also be sessions on Oct. 13 and Nov 3. The News Sentinel has more

Knox County Lawyer Suspended

The Supreme Court of Tennessee summarily and temporarily suspended Knoxville lawyer Raymond Andrew Shirley Jr., from the practice of law yesterday upon finding that he failed to respond to the Board regarding a complaint of misconduct. Shirley is precluded from accepting any new cases and he must cease representing existing clients by Oct. 27. After that date he may not use any indicia of lawyer, legal assistant, or law clerk nor maintain a presence where the practice of law is conducted. Download the BPR release


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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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