8 Apply for Knox County Judgeship

Eight attorneys have applied to fill the Knox County Circuit Court seat now held by Wheeler A. Rosenbalm, whose retirement will become effective Jan. 1. The Judicial Nominating Commission will hold a public meeting on Dec. 14 at 9 a.m. Eastern time to interview the following candidates: William T. Ailor, attorney at law; Judith Elaine Bruke of Toppenberg & Burke; Kristi M. Davis of Hodges Doughty & Carson; William Andrew Fox of Gilbert & Fix Law Firm; Ray Hal Jenkins of Computer Sciences Corporation; Mary Elizabeth Maddox of Frantz McConnell & Seymour; Glenna Walker Overton of the Glenna W. Overton Law Firm; and Deborah C. Stevens of Lewis King Krieg & Waldrop.

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
04 - 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


David L. Franklin, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cotton States Mutual Insurance Company

J. Allen Brinkley, Derek W. Simpson, Huntsville, Alabama, for the appellees, Jamie McNair Tuck, et al.


An insurance company filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that mother and child were residents of the insured’s household, and therefore, that coverage for the death of the child was excluded by the relevant homeowner’s insurance policy. The chancery court found that mother and child were not residents of the insured’s household at the time of the child’s death, and we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robin J. Gordon, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Nicolas C. Minbiole and Anna A. Minbiole.

John A. Beam, III, and Andrew Cameron, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Leroy J. Humphries and CNMC Land and Livestock Corporation.


This appeal involves a dispute between adjacent landowners over Defendants’ installation of a private water line within a right-of-way easement across the Plaintiffs’ property. Following a bench trial, the trial court concluded that Defendants’ private water line trespassed on Plaintiffs’ property. Further, the trial court ordered that the Defendants would be incarcerated if they did not remove the water line and return Plaintiffs’ property to its previous condition within thirty (30) days. Defendants appealed. We affirm in part and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Carl Richard Moore, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Father.

Mark J. Downton, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mother.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter and Mary Byrd Ferrara, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.


The trial court terminated the parental rights of Mother and Father based on abandonment for failure to support and failure to provide a suitable home, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan, and persistence of conditions. We reverse termination on the grounds of abandonment, and affirm termination of parental rights on the grounds of substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan and persistence of conditions. We also affirm the trial court’s determination that termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the children.

CORRECTION: On page two (2) of the opinion, Jonathan Brown has been added as counsel for the appellee.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


David L. Raybin and Sarah Richter Perky, Nashville, Tennessee; and Eric John Burch, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellants, Tyler Mook, Jim Mook, and Kim Mook.

Donald Capparella, Nashville, Tennessee, Ray Fraley and Jonathan Brown, Fayetteville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Debra Sikora on behalf of Shelley Mook.


This is a custody action in which the father and paternal grandparents appeal the trial court’s designation of the maternal grandmother as the primary residential parent of the father’s seven-year-old daughter following the disappearance of the mother of the child, who was the primary residential parent. The trial court found that the father was unfit to parent the child and that he posed a substantial risk of harm to the child due to his history of domestic violence and the danger from exposure to the father’s drug activities and father’s associates. On appeal, the father and the paternal grandparents raise numerous issues relating to the trial court’s decision. They argue, inter alia, that the trial court erred in considering evidence of the father’s conduct that occurred prior to the entry of the Final Divorce Decree, that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to overcome the father’s superior parental rights, that the decision to award custody to the maternal grandmother was not in the best interest of the child, that the trial court erred in awarding custody to the maternal grandmother, and that the trial court erred in allowing the maternal grandmother to relocate to Pennsylvania. We have concluded that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s factual findings and that the evidence clearly and convincingly established that designation of the father as the primary residential parent would expose the child to the risk of substantial harm. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s designation of the maternal grandmother as the primary residential parent of the father’s seven-year-old child.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


George Morton Googe, District Public Defender (on appeal), and Paul E. Meyers, Assistant Public Defender (at plea and sentencing hearings), Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jason Everett Nickell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Benjamin C. Mayo, Assistant District Attorney, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Jason Everett Nickell (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to three counts of misdemeanor stalking, with no agreement as to his sentences. After a hearing, the trial court sentenced him to eleven months, twenty-nine days at seventy-five percent on each count, to be served consecutively. On appeal, the Defendant argues that his sentence is excessive because the trial court did not consider two mitigating factors. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Odell Shelton, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Odell Shelton, seeks relief via a writ of error coram nobis from his plea agreement that resulted in a conviction of aggravated assault and a sentence of ten years. He claims that the trial court improperly sentenced him as a multiple (Range II) offender and erroneously relied upon a presentence report in denying his request for a suspended sentence. Petitioner asserts that the trial court’s reliance on the presentence report is “newly discovered evidence.” The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition. Discerning no basis for coram nobis relief, we affirm.

BPR Names 4 Finalists for Chief Disciplinary Counsel

The Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR) has named four finalists for the position of chief disciplinary counsel, the Nashville Post reports. The candidates, who will be interviewed in December, are: Sandy Garrett, the BPR’s current senior litigation counsel; William J. Haynes III of Bone McAllester Norton; Melinda Krissann Hodges, the BPR’s current disciplinary counsel; and Alan D. Johnson, attorney at law.

7 Vying for New Washington County Judgeship

Washington County commissioners interviewed seven attorneys today vying for a new judgeship created to alleviate overcrowded criminal and civil dockets. The Johnson City Press reports that the finalists include four private practice attorneys -- Don Arnold, Doug Carter, Steve Darden and Dan Smith -- two assistant district attorneys general -- Ken Baldwin and Michael Rasnake -- and one assistant public defender, Bill Donaldson. Commissioners will hold a special meeting Jan. 3 at 10 a.m. to select the judge.

Diverse Jury Selected in Christian Newsome Trial

A diverse jury was selected to hear evidence against defendant Vanessa Coleman in the retrial of the 2007 Christian Newsome case, Knoxnews reports. The panel will consist of four black women, three black men, three white men, and two white women who were summoned from Madison County. There will be six alternates -- three white women, one black woman, a white man, and a black man.

Official Proposes Selling 6 State Buildings

General Services Commissioner Steve Cates is recommending Gov. Bill Haslam sell six building across the state including the State Building and James R. Mapp Building in Chattanooga, claiming the buildings are “functionally obsolete” and should be sold given the costs for renovation and operations. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the estimated cost of fixing the State Building is $8.49 million and $3.5 million to renovate the structural problems to the Mapp Building. Haslam said he has not made a decision yet and will have to weight the cost-savings against the “impact on the community” on all six structures.

Mayor Dean Launches Employee Buyout Plan

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean filed legislation today to create a buyout program for eligible Metro employees, the Tennessean reports. Human resources director Rita Roberts-Turner told council members that the program will “provide eligible employees a retirement incentive equal to $700 for each year of credited service with the Metropolitan Government.”

CASA Child Advocate of the Year Shares her Story

Child abuse survivor Nancy Little shared with attendees at a luncheon hosted by CASA Works, Inc, the harrowing experiences that led her to becoming a social worker and advocate for abused children. She received the G.F. Bett Bettinesky Child Advocate of the Year award for her seven years as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, and was the guest speaker at Monday’s luncheon. CASA Works, Inc is a Manchester-based branch of CASA that recruits volunteers to serve as court-appointed advocates for abused and neglected children in the area. Read more at the Herald Chronicle.

Ticket Scalpers to Face Tighter Regulations

A joint study committee of the Tennessee General Assembly on Tuesday will discuss the proposed Fairness in Ticketing Act and a competing proposal related to ticket regulation sponsored by state Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and state Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin). The Fairness in Ticketing Act, sponsored by state Rep. Ryan Haynes (R-Knoxville) and state Rep. Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill), would require ticket brokers to register with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and to disclose the face value of tickets, exact location of seats, and refund policy, among other things. The Tennesseean has the story.

International Human Rights Lawyer to Speak at MTSU

International human rights lawyer and media commentator Arsalan T. Iftikhar will speak about “Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era” Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Middle Tennessee State University’s Tucker Theatre as part of the school's International Education Week. All events are free and open to the public. Learn more from the Murfreesboro Post.


Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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