TBA Announces Leadership Law Class of 2013

The Tennessee Bar Association announces today its 2013 Leadership Law (TBALL) class. TBALL is an award-winning, six-month-long program that aims to nurture effective leadership with respect to ethical, professional and community service issues; build relationships among legal leaders from across the state and from across disciplines within the profession; raise the level of awareness among lawyers regarding the broad range of issues facing the legal profession; and enhance the diversity of leaders within the legal profession and the community as a whole. This year’s class will have 34 members from across the state. Programming begins with an opening retreat in January and concludes with graduation ceremonies during the 2013 TBA Annual Convention next June in Nashville. See the full TBALL Class of 2013.

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
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


Ginger Wilson Buchanan, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, June Chastain Patterson.

George McCoin, Cleveland, Tennessee, and Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Trent Chastain and Adrian Chastain.

Judge: CLARK

The issue in this appeal is whether the statutory requirements for execution of an attested will prescribed by Tennessee Code Annotated section 32-1-104(1) (2007) were satisfied when the decedent failed to sign the two-page will but signed a one-page affidavit of attesting witnesses. We conclude that the decedent’s signature on the separate affidavit of attesting witnesses does not satisfy the statute requiring the testator’s signature on the will. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the judgment of the trial court that the will was not properly executed is reinstated.


Court: TN Supreme Court


M. Josiah Hoover, III, Knoxville, Tennessee, pro se.

Sandy Garrett, Senior Litigation Counsel, for the appellee, Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

This is an appeal from a judgment affirming the disbarment of an attorney. After considering evidence presented incident to five complaints against the attorney, a hearing panel designated by the Board of Professional Responsibility concluded that disbarment was warranted. On appeal, the trial court affirmed. In this appeal, the attorney has raised the following issues for review: (1) whether the panel erred by denying his motion to continue the hearing; (2) whether the panel erred by considering the attorney’s conduct in a case based upon a complaint by another attorney who had no involvement in the case; (3) whether the evidence supports the panel’s findings; (4) whether disbarment is an appropriate punishment; and (5) whether the trial court erred by denying the attorney’s post-judgment motion to supplement the record. We affirm the judgment.


Court: TN Supreme Court


Andrea D. Sipes, Matthew E. Wright, and Bradley J. Owens, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeanette Rea Jackson.

Curtis F. Hopper, Savannah, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bradley Smith.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves the efforts of a grandmother to obtain court-ordered visitation with her granddaughter in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-306 (2010). Shortly after the death of her daughter, the grandmother filed a petition in the Chancery Court for McNairy County seeking visitation with her granddaughter. Following a two-day hearing, the trial court denied the grandmother’s request for visitation because she had failed to prove the statutory grounds necessary to permit a court to order grandparental visitation over a parent’s objection. The grandmother did not appeal this decision. After the decision became final, the Tennessee General Assembly amended the burden of persuasion in the grandparental visitation statute by creating a new rebuttable presumption that a child whose parent dies will be substantially harmed by the cessation of an existing relationship with a grandparent who is the parent of the deceased parent. Without alleging new facts and relying solely on the change in the statutory burden of persuasion, the grandmother filed a second petition in the trial court seeking visitation with her granddaughter. The trial court granted the child’s father’s motion to dismiss on the ground of res judicata. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order. Jackson v. Smith, No. W2011-00194-COA-R3-CV, 2011 WL 3963589 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 9, 2011). We granted the grandmother’s application for permission to appeal to determine whether the intervening change in the burden of persuasion in the grandparental visitation statute provided an exception to the operation of the res judicata doctrine. We have determined that it does not and that, without some material change in the facts, the doctrine of res judicata bars relitigation of the grandmother’s petition for grandparental visitation.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jennifer Sheppard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Damoon G.

No appellee brief filed.


This appeal involves Father’s petition to be named primary residential parent of his son. The trial court held that a material change in circumstances had occurred and that it was in the child’s best interest to spend more time with the Father; however, the court determined that Mother should remain the child’s primary residential parent. Father appeals the trial court’s determination that it is in the best interest of the parties’ son for Mother to be the primary residential parent. Finding no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gregory L. Cashion, S. Joseph Welborn, Craig N. Mangum, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, RCR Building Corporation

Gerald A. Smith, Jr., Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Pinnacle Hospitality Partners, LLC


This appeal involves a contract for the construction of a hotel. The project owner refused to make the final payment owed to the general contractor, claiming that it was entitled to withhold $237,000 in liquidated damages because the project was not completed on time, in addition to deducting other “offsets” under the contract. The general contractor claimed that the owner was not entitled to liquidated damages for several reasons, including the fact that the owner had caused delays, and the fact that the owner had failed to make a timely claim for liquidated damages as required by the contract. The trial court granted partial summary judgment to the owner on the issue of liquidated damages, allowing the owner to subtract $237,000 from the final payment it owed under the contract. The court also resolved several other issues between the parties. The trial court declared the owner to be the prevailing party in the litigation and awarded the owner its attorney’s fees. The general contractor appeals. We affirm in part and reverse in part and remand for further proceedings.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Steven C. Bush, Public Defender; Barry W. Kuhn, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); and James Hale, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lawrence Key.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Pam Fleming, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Lawrence Key (“the Defendant”) appeals his jury convictions for two counts of aggravated robbery. In his appeal, he asserts that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Charles Mitchell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Harry Pearson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Pam Fleming, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Harry Pearson, was indicted, tried, and convicted of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, for which he received sentences of thirty years and twenty years, respectively. Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Today's News

Nominating Commission Selects Three for Court of Appeals Seat

The Judicial Nominating Commission today recommended Jerri S. Bryant of Athens; Michael A. Faulk of Church Hill; and Thomas Radcliff Frierson of Morristown for the position on the Court of Appeals Eastern Section. The vacancy is created by the retirement of Judge Herschel P. Franks on Dec. 31. After holding a public hearing and interview for each of 11 applicants in Chattanooga, the commission sent the list of three to Gov. Bill Haslam. Download press release.

Catholic Nonprofits Sue over Contraceptive Mandate

Some Catholic nonprofit organizations in Nashville are asking a federal judge to prevent them from having to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees as mandated in the Affordable Care Act, the Tennessean reports. Villa Maria Manor, Mary Queen of Angels and the Saint Mary Villa Child Development Center are three of the plaintiffs in particular who are seeking a safe harbor period during which the mandate would not be enforced for some religious nonprofits while officials revise it to try to accommodate their concerns. 

Judge Denies Request for Release of Online Commentators’ Information

U.S District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays rejected a request by the Shelby County Commission to compel the Commercial Appeal to release identifying information about those who commented on stories related to the public controversy over the reorganization of Shelby County’s public schools. The commission’s lawyers filed a motion to force the Memphis newspaper to comply with a July subpoena requesting commenters’ identifying information in order to help prove the new state laws enabling municipal school districts in suburban Shelby County was motivated in part by racially discriminatory intent. Judge Mays denied the motions stating, “The information sought by the commission is not relevant to the underlying issue to be decided and is not an appropriate subject of discovery in this case."

6th Circuit Boots Affirmative Action Ban in Mich. Higher Ed

A Michigan law banning race-conscious admissions policies at the state's universities is unconstitutional, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled. The National Law Journal reports that the decision reversed a March 2008 ruling that found constitutional a ballot initiative that amended the Michigan constitution to prohibit affirmative action. Judge Guy Cole Jr. wrote the majority opinion for a split en banc court yesterday.

Jury Foreman Excused from Trial for Bullying

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger excused the jury foreman in a four-week federal drug conspiracy trial for alleged bullying and abuse of other jurors in the deliberation room, the Tennessean reports.  While U.S Attorney Alex Little provided case law that suggested a juror may not be excused because of his or her views on the case, Trauger said "We are excusing the juror because of the tone of these notes and the fact that a juror has left the room in tears." She excused the foreman, replaced him with an alternate juror and ordered jury deliberations to start anew.

Haslam Delays Decision on State Health Care Exchange

Gov. Bill Haslam announced today that he is postponing a decision on whether Tennessee will create its own insurance exchange or let the federal government do it, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Haslam is taking advantage of the month-long deadline extension the Obama administration granted upon Rebublican governors’ request.

Hamilton County Courthouse Kicks Off 100 Year-Celebration

The year-long celebration of the Hamilton County Courthouse building’s centennial kicked off yesterday with the unveiling of a new historical exhibit. Items from the exhibit range from a photo of World War I soldiers gathered on the courthouse lawn for a concert in 1919 to the history and lore surrounding the statues and fountains on the property. Mayor Jim Coppinger told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the exhibit was filled with memorabilia even he had never seen before. The next event for the centennial celebration will be a Christmas open house in December.

Alito Defends 'Citizens United'

Justice Samuel Alito defended the 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission on Thursday night, the Blog of Legal Times reports. Alito said arguments can be made for overturning Citizens United, but not the popular one that boils down to one line: Corporations shouldn't get free speech rights like a person. Alito told a crowd of about 1,400 at The Federalist Society’s annual dinner that the same people do not question the First Amendment rights of media corporations in cases like The New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the Pentagon papers case. If corporations did not have free speech rights, he said, newspapers would lose such cases.

Annexation Trial Finally Set for August 2013

A 2007 annexation lawsuit has finally received a court date for August 2013, the Rogersville Review reports. In 2006, the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Alderman approved an ordinance that would extend the city limits approximately 1.2. miles and annex several subdivisions and vacant land. Knoxville attorney David L. Buuck filed a lawsuit challenging the annexation early the next year. In 2011, the lawsuit was put on hold pending the outcome of a similar case by the city of Newport.


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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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