School Board May Sue State Over Funding

The Metro Nashville School Board will have a special meeting Tuesday to discuss legal action against the Tennessee Board of Education, which withheld $3.4 million as a penalty for Metro denying Great Heart’s charter school application last month. The school board will not use Department of Law attorneys however, opting to hire Chuck Cagle as outside legal consultant. The Tennessean has the story.

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
01 - 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


Mitchell D. Moskovitz and Mary Morgan Whitfield, Memphis, Tennessee for the Defendant/Appellant Jeffery Charles Hayes

Beth Brooks, Memphis, Tennessee for the Plaintiff/Appellee Melissa Marie Hayes

Judge: KIRBY

This is a divorce appeal, primarily over property issues. The parties were married for approximately six years, with no children born of the marriage. During the marriage, they owned several homes, including the home in which they lived, but some went into foreclosure. Given the complicated state of the parties’ finances, the trial was lengthy. At the conclusion of the trial, the trial court entered an order holding that the home in which the couple lived was the wife’s separate property and dividing the remainder of the parties’ assets and debts. The husband now appeals, raising numerous issues. We affirm in part, and reverse the finding that the home in which the parties resided was the wife’s separate property. In light of our holding that the home in which the parties lived was marital property, we remand the matter to the trial court for reconsideration of its division of the marital estate.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ardena J. Garth, District Public Defender; Richard Kenneth Mabee (on appeal) and Mary Ann Green (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Rodney Dewayne Hymes, alias Rodney Dewayne Hynes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Alexander, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Rodney Dewayne Hymes, alias Rodney Dewayne Hynes, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his original sentences in the Department of Correction for his 2007 and 2008 convictions for violation of the Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender (“HMVO”) Act. The defendant also challenges the trial court’s sentencing determinations in five new cases, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to give sufficient weight to his potential and amenability for rehabilitation. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Blake D. Ballin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Keith Sales.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Chris Scruggs, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Keith Sales, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for two counts of possession of 26 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell, two counts of possession of Alprazolam with intent to sell, and one count of possession of a handgun as a convicted felon. Appellant’s arrest was as the result of the execution of a search warrant based upon information provided by a confidential informant. Appellant filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized as a result of the search. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, and Appellant pled guilty reserving a certified question for appeal challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress. Appellant pled guilty in a negotiated plea agreement to one count each of possession of 5 grams or more of cocaine, one count of possession of Alprazolam, and one count of possession of a handgun as a convicted felon. He received an effective nine-year sentence. On appeal, Appellant argues that the information set out in the affidavit does not meet the two prong test set out in Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410, 89 S. Ct. 584, 21 L. Ed.2d 637 (1969) and Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108, 84 S. Ct. 1509, 12 L. Ed.2d 723 (1964), (“Aguilar-Spinelli”), as adopted in State v. Jacumin, concerning the proof of the reliability of a confidential informant. We have reviewed the record on appeal, and conclude that the information supplied in the affidavit meets the Aguilar- Spinelli/Jacumin test. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Memphis Non-Discrimination Ordinance Passes, Includes Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Amendment

After weeks of debate, the Memphis City Council approved on third and final reading the non-discrimination city ordinance that includes an amendment prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the Daily News reports. The council also approved a resolution that the city’s personnel director cannot consider sexual orientation or gender identity in personnel decisions.

Court Seeks Comments on Federal PD Performance

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is seeking comments on the performance of Henry A. Martin, Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Tennessee. All comments must be received by Nov. 16.

Magistrate Leave Request Denied, Stricter Timeclock Rules Set

Hamilton County Commissioners voted to deny a request by Magistrate Larry Ables to cash out 787 hours of annual leave before moving to a lower paying position on Nov. 1, the Chattanoogan reports. Commissioners questioned if the hours had been verified, contained prior accumulated leave time transferred from the district attorney’s office, and the fairness of allowing the magistrates benefits other county employees do not receive. The Commissioners also passed a resolution requiring magistrates to be on a timeclock and check out each time they leave the premise to curb “three hour lunch breaks and going to civic club meetings” while on the clock.

Farmland Tax Law Loophole Benefits Urban, Wealthy

A 1976 Tennessee state farmland protection law originally intended to prevent farmers from being taxed off their land has become a tax loophole exploited by wealthy, urban, estate owners, business icons, and real estate developers, the Commercial Appeal reports. According to the newspaper’s investigation, the Agricultural, Forest and Open Space Land Act, or “Greenbelt Law,” is allegedly rife with abuse as the wealthy receive tax benefits by declaring a woods a timber preserve, a mansion’s manicured lawn a pasture, a future subdivision a farm, and a privately owned country club’s golf course an “open space.”

Court to Decide if Racial Slurs Among 'Friends' a Problem

A Utah judge rejected claims that a company should not be tried for creating a hostile work enviornment because, its attorneys argued, racist jokes and repeated offensive racial epithets on its job sites were just jokes among friends. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had filed a racial harassment suit against Holmes & Holmes Industrial Inc. after presenting undisputed evidence that white supervisors repeatedly used offensive racial epithets and told racists jokes to African American workers. Holmes & Holmes’ lawyers, however, asked Utah Federal Judge Dale Kimball to dismiss the case and sanction the EEOC on the grounds that the African American workers did not find the use of the slurs offensive and were friends with the supervisor. Judge Kimball rejected the motion and sanction request, and the case will go to trial. The National Law Journal has the story.

Memphis Lawyer’s Diverse Career Brings Him Full Circle

Memphis lawyer Josh Spickler began his legal career at the Shelby County’s Office of Public Defender, and 12 years later he has come full circle. The Memphis Law grad left the public defender after a few years, started his own firm, then moved on to The Hardison Law Firm PC where he did defense work for hospitals, long-term care, nurses, and doctors instead of criminal cases. He took a break from the legal field for a while to serve as social media manager for a start-up company, but returned to his love of law when offered a position back at the public defender’s office. Spickler is now director of the nascent Defender’s Resource Network, a program that helps people in custody receive services if they are suffering from serious mental illness or substance abuse. Read the full feature on Spickler at the Daily News.

LAET Hosts Open Door Intake Friday

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host an “Open Door” Intake this Friday at 1:30 p.m. for citizens to receive free legal counsel. The event will be held at the McMinn County Courthouse, 6 East Madison Avenue in Athens. Contact Charlie McDaniel for more information. View full list of Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

Former AG to Speak at UM Law School

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be the first speaker in this year’s SBA Speaker Series hosted by the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys Law School in conjunction with the University of Memphis International Law Students Association. Gonzales will speak on “Public Service and the Law.” The event will be held at noon Wednesday in the law school’s Historic Courtroom. Read the full press release here.


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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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