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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.

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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Karan Guthrie, Pro se.

John C. Ryland, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appelleea, John Algernon Guthrie.


This case involves the modification of child support. On appeal, Mother argues that the trial court erred by failing to find that Father was voluntarily underemployed, and erred in calculating Father’s child support obligation. Mother and Father argue that the trial court erred in denying their requests for an award of attorney’s fees and costs at trial. Additionally, Mother and Father request an award of attorney’s fees and costs incurred on appeal. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


John Frank Higgins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joan T. Williams and Ronald L. Williams.

Lauren Paxton Roberts and Christopher Brett Jaeger, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of York Mellon f/k/a The Bank of New York as Successor to JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., as Trustee for Sam II Trust, 2005-AR8 Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2005-AR8, Countrywide Home Loans f/k/a America’s Wholesale Lender, and MERS.


Debtors on a promissory note and deed of trust who have not made a mortgage payment since October 2008 filed this action in October 2009 in an attempt to stay foreclosure proceedings and alternatively for damages based on unjust enrichment. The trial court summarily dismissed the claims and the plaintiffs did not appeal that order. Plaintiffs then filed a motion for reconsideration of the summary dismissal and for stay of foreclosure pending the outcome of the motion for reconsideration; the motion was denied. The plaintiffs filed a timely appeal from the order denying the motion for reconsideration and stay. Finding no error, we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Patrick E. Stegall, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Hall.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Muriel Malone, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Charles Hall, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2007 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated robbery, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Charles Edgar Waldman, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Jesus Porrata.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; Michael McCusker, Assistant District Attorney General; and Muriel Malone, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Robert Jesus Porrata, pled guilty to attempted second degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, and employing a weapon during a felony in Case No. 09-00597 involving victim Cliff Belue. In Case No. 09-00598, he pled guilty to aggravated robbery involving victim Reginald Bean, and he pled guilty to attempted aggravated robbery in Case No. 09-00599 involving victim Ray Heath. In Case No. 09-00597, Defendant was sentenced to ten years for attempted second degree murder, four years for attempted aggravated robbery, to run concurrently, and six years for use of a firearm in a felony, to run consecutively for an effective sixteen-year sentence. In Case No. 09-00598, the trial court imposed a ten-year sentence, and the trial court imposed a four-year sentence in Case No. 09- 00599. The sentences in 09-00597, 09-00598, and 09-00599 were ordered to run consecutively for an effective thirty-year sentence in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court improperly sentenced him. After a thorough review, we affirm judgments of the trial court.

Jury Selection in Baumgartner Case Underway

Jury selection in the federal case against former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was to begin today, Knox News reports. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Lewen and Zachary Bolitho filed various motions indicating how they intend to prove Baumgartner is guilty on seven counts of misprision of a felony for allegedly lying to cover up a drug conspiracy involving Baumgartner's pill-supplier and mistress. U.S District Judge Ronnie Greer has summoned 100 potential jurors from East Tennessee counties.

McMinnville Widow Sues after Wife's Meningitis Death

A McMinnville widower has filed a lawsuit against Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center after his wife died of meningitis from an infected steroid shot produced by the company, reports. His lawyer is requesting $50 million in damages. According to recent updates, the Center for Disease Control has confirmed 297 cases of fungal meningitis in 16 states with 23 deaths. The Nashville City Paper reports on other meningitis suits.

Legal Clinic Wednesday for Hispanic Community

The Nashville Pro Bono Program and Catholic Charities will host a free legal clinic Wednesday at Catholic Charities, 3112 Nolensville Pike, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to provide advice/counsel/referral to members of the Hispanic community. Interpreters available as necessary. For more information. contact Lucinda Smith of the Legal Aid Society.

Free Legal Clinic for Homeless

Baker Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC and Bass, Berry & Sims PLC will host a free legal clinic called H.E.L.P to provide advice/counsel and representation specifically to homeless women and men. The Nashville clinic will be held Wednesday at Room in the Inn, 705 Drexel St. Lawyers need to arrive at 8:30 a.m., clients at 9 a.m. To volunteer, contact Jill Suwanski. Click here to view a full list of Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

Court Declines to Take Up Chattanooga Suit

The Tennessee Supreme Court has declined to intervene in a case brought by the city of Chattanooga against the group repsonsible for The Passage, the city’s crumbling portion of the 21st Century Waterfront, the Times Free Press reports. An appeals court previously dismissed the city’s 2009 lawsuit because Chattanooga officials waited too long to file after Hargreaves Associates, the architects who designed The Passage, informed them of defects and necessary repairs in 2005. The legal statute of limitations is three years.

Attorneys in Case Incorrectly Identified

Monday's TBAToday incorrectly identified the attorneys representing The Ladies' Hermitage Association in the Court of Appeals case JANE FIELD v. THE LADIES’ HERMITAGE ASSOCIATION. The association was represented by Nashville attorneys Robb S. Harvey, Heather J. Hubbard and Mark M. Bell.

Davidson County Lawyer Censured

Davidson County lawyer Robin Jeffrey Gordon was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court for employing an attorney with an inactive Illinois law licensed and no Tennessee law license  to work as a paralegal in his office. The employee held himself out to clients as an attorney by signing two letters with detailed legal advice, providing three receipts that listed him as an “attorney” with a billable rate of $250, and providing a business card identifying himself as an “attorney at law.” Gordon billed for the time of the non-licensed attorney at an unreasonable rate and failed to ensure that the employee’s conduct was not the unauthorized practice of law. Download the BPR notice.

Overton County Lawyer Censured

Overton County lawyer Lynda W. Simmons was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court for violating Rules of Professional Conduct relating to conflict of interest and confidential information. Download the BPR notice for more information.

Hamilton County Lawyer Censured

Hamilton County lawyer John M. Wolfe, Jr. was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court for violating the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct related to scope of representation, communication and misconduct.  Download the BPR notice to learn more.

Memphis Law Alum Dies

Retired Memphis attorney Joe A. Dycus, 70, died on Oct. 15 at his home after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Born in Dyersburg, he graduated from Central High School, received his bachelors degree from Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College) and his law degree from Memphis State University. He began in the private practice of law before joining the Federal Public Defender’s Office. For 28 year, Mr. Dycus was with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee, retiring as Chief of the Civil Division in 2006. An Eagle Scout at age 14, he spent many years working as an adult Scouter with Boy Scout Troop 13.  Memorial services were held Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Trinity United Methodist Church or Memphis Theological Seminary.


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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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