Supreme Court Seeks Comments on Rules Amendments

The Tennessee Supreme Court has published a draft of its 2013 Rules Package for comment. The package includes proposed amendments that would provide for appeal as of right for final order denying request for expunction of an illegal sentence; clarifying that the trial court does not lose jurisdiction to rule on certain motions filed within the time permitted for appeal; setting page limits on TRAP 11 applications for permission to appeal; adopting a TBA-recommended comment clarifying that a statutorily authorized "petition" be considered a "complaint" for purposes of the Rules of Civil Procedure; integrating the procedures of the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act into the rules; addressing requirements for depositions taken in Tennessee for use elsewhere; including interpreter fees in costs; clarifying provisions regarding appeal of cases in which criminally accused reserves a certified question of law. Various Tennessee Bar Association sections will be asked to review and recommend comments, if any, on behalf of the association. Comments are due Nov. 30. Download a complete copy of the rules changes

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
00 - 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 Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Lisa L. Conner, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellants, Life Care Centers of Collegedale and Life Care Centers of America.

Ronald J. Berke and Megan C. England, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Carolyn Collier.


Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, 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. Employee injured her ankle in the course and scope of her employment. She received treatment from an authorized physician for a period of time, but did not improve and did not return to work. After the initial injury and treatment of her ankle, she began receiving treatment for problems with her right knee. Employer denied that Employee had sustained a permanent injury to her ankle and also denied that Employee had suffered a compensable injury to her knee. The trial court found that Employee sustained compensable injuries to both the knee and ankle and awarded permanent partial and temporary total disability benefits. We find that the combined benefits exceeded that statutory maximum then in effect and modify the award accordingly. Otherwise, we affirm the remainder of the judgment.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Christopher A. Williams, Wartburg, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; and Russell Johnson, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Christopher A. Williams, pro se, appeals the Morgan County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his attempt to commit aggravated robbery and felony murder convictions and resulting sentence of life imprisonment. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his petition for a writ of habeas corpus in that his convictions and sentences are void because his right to counsel was denied and his privilege against self-incrimination was violated. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen M. Wallace, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Duvale Vashawn Pruitt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and J. Lewis Combs, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


In this procedurally complex case, the Defendant, Duvale Vashawn Pruitt, pled nolo contendere to multiple drug-related charges, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of ten years of probation. The Defendant’s probation officer filed two probation violation warrants, one in September and another in October of 2007. After a hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve 90 days in jail and then start his probationary sentence again. In February 2011, the Defendant’s probation officer filed a third probation violation warrant based upon the Defendant’s possession of a switchblade knife at a courthouse, and the trial court issued a warrant for the Defendant’s arrest. After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his sentence of ten years at 30% in the Tennessee Department of Correction. It is from this judgment that the Defendant now appeals.

Judge Rosenbalm to Retire

Judge Wheeler A. Rosenbalm, Circuit Court Judge for the Sixth Judicial District, has announced his retirement from the bench, effective Jan. 1. Rosenbalm has been a Circuit Court Judge since 1990. Prior to joining the court, he was a partner with the Knoxville law firm of Frantz, McConnell & Seymour LLP. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he also was an instructor and associate professor of law. Learn more from the Administrative Office of the Courts

Employment in Legal Sector Back Up

September data, released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that 5,900 more people are employed in the legal sector now than were at the same point last year, and that the industry has seen a net gain of 2,900 jobs since the start of 2012. Friday's report raises the total number of people employed in the legal sector above 1.12 million, a figure that -- with the exception of July 2012 -- the industry had not reached since July 2009. Prior to the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, the legal industry regularly employed roughly 1.17 million people. The AmLaw Daily has more

First Black Female Assistant DA Followed Dream to Get There

Karen Willis was sworn in by Judge Mike R. Jones on Friday, joining the 15 assistant district attorneys in the 19th Judicial District -- and making history in the process. Willis, 41, became the first black female assistant district attorney in Montgomery and Robertson County. She will also serve as a U.S. assistant attorney for Middle Tennessee. Willis will specialize in the prosecuting of federal gun and drug cases and will work with the U.S. district attorney of Middle Tennessee and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to put violent criminals in prison. It was not an easy journey as a single mother -- who served in the Navy, has been an electrician, a jail booking clerk and a police officer -- but she never gave up her dream to become a lawyer. Read her story in the Leaf-Chronicle

Office of Open Records Counsel Helps Citizens With TPRA

The Tennessee Press Association's director of public policy, Frank Gibson, explains what the Office of Open Records Counsel does and how lawyer Elisha Hodge runs it. The counsel is there, he writes, to help citizens navigate what can be a very difficult path that includes more than 350 public records exemptions and to help people in government know and follow the Tennessee Public Records Act. The office has been open about five years and is close to reaching a milestone of handling inquiries from and providing guidance to more than 5,000 Tennesseans. Read the column in the Daily Herald

Editorial: Law Director's Plan Makes No Sense

In an editorial, the News Sentinel says that a practice instituted by Knox County Law Director Richard "Bud" Armstrong "violates the spirit of the Tennessee Public Records Act and shows a lack of understanding of the law and how it is supposed to work." In September, Armstrong directed the county's independent officeholders to route all public records requests through his office. He contends that public records requests are on the rise and this will speed matters up. But the paper says it not only will slow requests down, it "makes no sense." In fact, the paper thinks that Armstrong's real reason is to find out what information journalists are requesting.

Imprisoning Juveniles at Issue in Appeal Against Knox Judge

Knox County Juvenile Court officials have locked up more than 140 children over the past four years for truancy, two lawyers claim in an appeal on behalf of four teenagers. All four either went to juvenile detention or ended up on probation, threatened with jail, for failure to attend school. Lawyers Dean Hill Rivkin and Brenda McGee argue Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin's handling of the cases violated Tennessee law and the children's Constitutional rights. Rivkin, a professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, and McGee want to expand their case into a class action to cover other teens they believe were jailed for truancy. The News Sentinel has the story

Tuesday Legal Clinics to Help with Mortgages, Homelessness, More

Four legal clinics will take place on Tuesday as part of Celebrate Pro Bono Month.

• West Tennessee Legal Services will host a Mortgage Rescue Clinic at the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, 197 Auditorium St., Jackson 38301, from 3 to 6 p.m. For more information, contact Kathryn Tucker.

• The Homeless Experience Legal Protection (“HELP”) clinic will be in Memphis at the Hospitality Hub, 146 Jefferson Ave., Memphis, from 1 to 3 p.m., also on Tuesday. The goal of the clinic is to provide legal advice and help that would ultimately get people off the street or to provide a solution to a problem that possibly led them to homelessness. The clinic is co sponsored by Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC and the TBA Young Young Lawyers Division. To help, contact Joann Coston-Holloway.

• Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host an Open Door Intake in Madisonville, beginning at 9:30 a.m. For details, contact Charlie McDonald.

• And the Nashville Pro Bono Program and Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC will staff the Second Tuesday Walk-in Clinic at the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, 300 Deaderick St., Nashville. Clients should arrive at 4:30 p.m. and lawyers will be there from 5 to 7 p.m. For more information, contact Lucinda Smith. See the full list of this month's events

Law Grad Among Blackburn Challengers

Rep. Marsha Blackburn has five challengers who want to represent the district that now will cover much of west Middle Tennessee, including Brentwood, Fort Campbell and all of Montgomery County. Blackburn has held the 7th Congressional District seat for 10 years. Among the challengers is Army veteran and independent candidate Jack Arnold of Kingston Springs, who just graduated from Vanderbilt Law School. The Leaf-Chronicle looks at the race.

Health Law, Supreme Court Boot Camp See Record Numbers

Tennessee lawyers had lots of options last Thursday and Friday to learn more about health law, as well as how to practice before the state Supreme Court. First, nearly 300 attorneys attended the 24th Annual Health Law Forum in Cool Springs and a record number attended the Health Law Primer the day before. At the meeting, Section Chair Walt Schuler introduced next year’s chair, Angela Youngberg, and vice chair, Christie Burbank, during the group’s annual business meeting. Just down the road, the 2012 Supreme Court Bootcamp, sponsored by the TBA's Appellate Practice Section, was underway, bringing more than 20 attorneys to Nashville for the annual program, which included skills building sessions and a trip to the Supreme Court, where attendees observed two oral arguments then took part in a debriefing with the attorneys who argued the cases. See a picture of the group.


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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.

© Copyright 2012 Tennessee Bar Association