Forum Covers Civility in Courts, Tension with Free Speech

In the second of three forums about civility -- this one focused on the court -- former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyle Reid said that although he is concerned about our legal system and how we choose judges, "merit selection is about as good a compromise between accountability and independence as we can get.” Reid joined two others on the panel -- former Tennessean editor Frank Sutherland and Phyllis Hildreth, academic director at the Institute for Conflict Management and adjunct professor at Lipscomb University. The event was held Tuesday night at Lipscomb University in Nashville. It is part of a series looking at the tensions between free speech and civility that is being moderated by Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom.

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.

03 - TN Supreme Court
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
02 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
02 - 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

Judge: KOCH

Surrender of License


Court: TN Supreme Court

Judge: KOCH

Surrender of License


Court: TN Supreme Court



Judge: KOCH

Disability Inactive Status Granted

TN Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


David H. Dunaway, LaFollette, Tennessee for the appellant, Amy McGhee.

Kathy Parrott, Jacksboro, Tennessee for the appellees, PryorParrott PC.


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. The Employee alleged that she was injured in the course and scope of her employment with Employer in December 2005. Employee retained the law firm of PryorParrott PC in December 2005 to represent her. They filed a claim with the Department of Labor, but benefits were denied. An action was then filed on Employee’s behalf in the Chancery Court of Campbell County in January 2007. In March 2009, the Chancery Court granted PryorParrott’s motion for leave to withdraw and granted it a lien for expenses in the amount of $1,146.38 and a lien for attorney’s fees in the amount of 10% of any benefits recovered by Employee. Employee then retained attorney David H. Dunaway to represent her. Dunaway ultimately settled Employee’s workers’ compensation claim for a lump sum payment of $100,000. In December 2010, the case was set for settlement approval in Chancery Court. Dunaway, on Employee’s behalf, voluntarily dismissed her Chancery Court case and immediately filed a joint petition for approval of the settlement in the Circuit Court of Campbell County. The Circuit Court approved the settlement, awarded total attorney’s fees in the amount of 20% of Employee’s recovery, and ordered Dunaway to hold in trust the fees pending resolution of PryorParrott’s lien claim. PryorParrott later moved the Chancery Court to set aside the voluntary dismissal, and that court granted the motion. At a later hearing in September 2011, PryorParrott and Dunaway submitted to the jurisdiction of the Chancery Court to determine disputes related to PryorParrott’s lien and the division of fees. The Chancery Court determined that PryorParrott was entitled to a fee of 10% of the settlement, or $10,000, and expenses of $1,146.38, and ordered Dunaway to satisfy PryorParrott’s lien from the settlement funds held in trust. Employee appeals, challenging the jurisdiction of the Chancery Court and its division of attorney fees. We affirm the judgment.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Lisa A. Tomlinson, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Catherine N.

Amanda G. Crowell, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Jeffrey R. and Nancy R.


Grandparents of a minor child who had raised the child since her birth, filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child’s Mother. The trial court held that the Mother had abandoned the child by failing to visit and failing to support her and that termination of Mother’s rights was in the child’s best interest. Mother appeals; finding no error, we affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James B. Hawkins, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antonio Freeman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter and Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel, for appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendant/Appellant was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. At trial, Appellant and the arresting officer gave conflicting testimony as to whether Appellant refused to submit to a blood test. The jury acquitted Appellant of the driving under the influence charge, but the trial court, crediting the arresting officer’s testimony, found that the Appellant had violated the implied consent law. On appeal, Appellant argues that the trial court erred in crediting the testimony of the arresting officer despite the acquittal by the jury. Discerning no error, we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael J. Flanagan, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal); and J. Runyon, Clarksville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Robert W. Hawkins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Dan M. Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Suzanne Lockert-Mash, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Robert W. Hawkins (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury. The trial court merged the two convictions into the conviction of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I standard offender to a term of five years, with one year to be served in confinement and the remainder on probation. The Defendant now appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and arguing that the trial court improperly commented on the motivation of the Defendant during his testimony. He also alleges that the trial court should have sentenced him to full probation. Upon our thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jerry McGaha, Wartburg, Tennessee, Pro Se.

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

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Jerry McGaha, appeals the Morgan County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to accept his guilty pleas to nine counts of child rape because his plea agreements did not include the mandatory requirement of community supervision for life. Because the petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


David N. Brady, District Public Defender; and John B. Nisbet, III, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Brian Keith Medley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Caroline Knight, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Brian Keith Medley, appeals the Cumberland County Criminal Court’s revocation of his probation for DUI, fifth offense. He argues that the record did not contain substantial evidence in support of the court’s finding that he violated his probation and that the court erred by not allowing him to assert the defense of necessity. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


George L. Morgan, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.

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

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, George L. Morgan, appeals the Johnson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the court should have held an evidentiary hearing to consider his claim that his dual convictions and consecutive sentences for second degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery are illegal and void because they violate double jeopardy principles. Because the petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders


Court: TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders

Judge: KOCH

Withdawal of Petition for Temporary Suspension


Court: TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders

Judge: KOCH


Crawford to Fill Nashville Juvenile Court Post

The Nashville Metro Council Tuesday night chose Sophia Crawford to fill the Juvenile Court judicial post vacated by Judge Betty Adams Green. Crawford, who currently serves as a Judicial Court magistrate, initially received 18 votes, beating magistrates Carlton Lewis and Sheila Calloway, who received 11 and nine votes respectively. In a run-off, Crawford defeated Lewis by a vote of 25 to 13, the City Paper reports.

Blount County Officer to Face Trial in Wrongful Death Suit

Blount County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Doug Moore will stand trial in a wrongful death lawsuit in the 2008 shooting death of Leeroy Hickman Jr. and an alleged cover-up, Knoxnews reports. The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals supported an earlier ruling by U.S District Judge Tom Varlan who opined there were too many questions left unanswered not to bring the case before a jury. A date has not been set. 

Miller & Martin Celebrates 145 Years

Chattanooga-based Miller & Martin PLLC recently celebrated its 145th anniversary with a reception that also celebrated the philanthropy of one of its partners. Founded in 1867 by T.M Burkett, Miller & Martin has served many of Chattanooga’s leading companies, and expanded to Atlanta and Nashville. The reception also honored Miller & Martin partner Burkett Miller’s philanthropic contributions to education, The Chattanoogan reports. Miller established the Tonya Foundation and founded Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia; The Tonya Public Affairs & Economics Internship programs at The University of the South; and The Burkett Miller Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

3 Settle in DOJ E-Book Lawsuit

Three companies involved in an e-book pricing lawsuit have settled and agreed to fund a $69 million pool to pay 30 cents to $1.32 per book credit to consumers who bought qualifying e-books between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012. Apple, Mcmillan, and Penguin opted not to settle and will go to trial next June in the suit filed in April by the Department of Justice,  WCYB News reports.

DOJ Wants End to Fast and Furious Lawsuit

The Justice Department is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a Republican-led House committee that demands Attorney General Eric Holder release records about Fast and Furious -- a failed law enforcement operation in which agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives tracked illegal weapons to high-level arms traffickers in the hopes of dismantling their networks. Of the 2,000 illegally purchased guns federal agents identified, they lost track of about 1,400.  Holder is being held in contempt by the House for refusing to turn over records that explain why the department initially denied utilizing the controversial tactic. has the story.

Justice Kagan to Speak Friday at UT

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan will take part in a public discussion with University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Doug Blaze during a Friday visit to the school. The event will take place at 1 p.m. in the Cox Auditorium. The presentation will kick off the law school’s new Richard Rose Distinguished Jurist in Residence Program. According to Blaze, Kagan was asked to be the inaugural speaker because she is the justice assigned to the Sixth Circuit, which includes Tennessee. As previously reported in TBA Today, Kagan also will preside over the final round of the law school’s moot court competition while in town for the event. The UT Daily Beacon has details

Father of Environmental Justice to Speak Tonight at UT

The University of Tennessee Knoxville chapter of Amnesty International will host Robert D. Bullard, the “father of environmental justice,” Knoxnews reports. One of the nations top scholars on environment justice, racism, and corporate accountability, Bullard will speak tonight at 7 p.m in the University Center Auditoirium. It is free and open to the public.

Early Voting Opens; Lawyers in Contested Races

Early voting begins across the state today and continues through Nov. 1. All counties in the state are required to maintain an early voting location at least three consecutive hours each weekday and Saturday during this time. As you consider your choices, remember that there are a number of Tennessee lawyers running for seats in the state House and Senate.

Metro Charter Amendments Added to Ballot

Five amendments to the Metro Nashville Charter will be presented to voters on this fall’s ballot, the Tennessean reports. One of the most substantial amendments would clarify the Davidson County sheriff’s role, estimated by Metro to save the county about $4 million year. The other questions before voters include allowing government employees to work as part-time poll workers; reducing the educational requirements for metro Public Works director; renaming the school crossing guard division; and clarifying the Metro stormwater functions.

Louisiana Appoints First Black Chief Justice

After a racially tinged battle over the rightful successor to Chief Justice Catherine Kimball, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bernadette Johnson, making her the first African American Chief Justice in the state News Channel 5 reports. Justice Jeffrey Victory contested that Johnson’s years of appointed service shouldn’t count and he should succeed Kimball. Johnson filed suit in federal court in July after her colleagues said they would debate the matter. The court ultimately ruled that Johnson’s appointed service was legitimate according to the constitution and that she was the rightful successor.

Seniors Education and Outreach Program Thursday in Athens

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host a Seniors Education and Outreach Program ay the McMinn Count Senior Center Thursday at noon. The event will take place at 205 McMinn Ave. in Athens. Contact Charlie McDaniel for more information. Click here to view a full list of Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

Memphis Bar Hosts CLE, Happy Hour, Fundraiser

The Memphis Bar Association Young Lawyers Division will host a CLE, happy hour and fundraiser from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar Ave #909.

Greenhouse Ministries Legal Clinic Thursday in Murfreesboro

A free legal clinic will take place tomorrow and every Thursday at Greenhouse Ministries during Celebrate Pro Bono Month, hosted by the Rutherford-Cannon County Bar Association. The Clinic is open to all members of the public regarding as many legal areas as the lawyers present have the expertise to share. The event is located at 309 South Spring St, Murfreesboro from 4-6 p.m. Contact Andrae Crismon for details.

Memphis Law to Host Mental Health Symposium

The University of Memphis School of Law Mental Health Law and Policy Journal wiil host a Lawyers as Problem Solvers and Mental Health Symposium on Thursday and Friday.


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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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