Eighth Judicial District Chancellor Dies

The Tennessee legal community is mourning the loss of Chancellor Billy Joe White, who died today after a short illness. Chancellor White, who sat on the bench for 35 years, presided over Campbell, Claiborne, Fentress, Scott and Union counties. He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “Chancellor Billy Joe White served the state in the great tradition of country judges — full of common sense, wise counsel and fair dealing," Chief Justice Gary R. Wade said. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - 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

BSG, LLC v. CHECK VELOCITY, INC.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

David O. Huff (at oral argument) and Nick Shelton, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Check Velocity, Inc.

Alvin Scott Derrick, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, BSG, LLC.

Judge: HOLDER

A contract required payment of “fee residuals” from customers referred by BSG, LLC to Check Velocity, a company providing check re-presentment services. The contract provided that payment of fee residuals survived the termination of the agreement between the parties and continued until the “expiration of the Customer agreements as they may be renewed.” Two agreements were executed between a referred customer and Check Velocity. The first agreement, which expired by its own terms, provided for check re-presentment services. The second agreement continued the re-presentment services required by the first agreement and added additional services. In addition, other terms of the first agreement were changed, including a choice of law provision. We hold that the second agreement with additional services and changed terms was not a renewal of the first agreement. Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeals and affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Check Velocity.


TN Court of Appeals

BRIDGET MICHELLE AGEE v. JASON FOREST AGEE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David R. Howard, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jason Forest Agee.

William L. Moore, Jr., Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bridget Michelle Agee.

Judge: BENNETT

In this post-divorce dispute, Father challenges the trial court’s modification of the parenting plan to designate Mother as primary residential parent and the trial court’s calculation of his income and monthly child support obligation. Discerning no error, we affirm.


RICK EARL, ET AL. v. DR. RAQUEL HATTER, COMMISSIONER, TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Lenny L. Croce, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the Appellants, Rick Earl and Wanda Earl.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Carolyn E. Reed, Assistant Attorney General, for the State of Tennessee.

Judge: DINKINS

Married couple sought judicial review of decision of Department of Human Services holding that they were not eligible for medicaid under an amendment to the Social Security Act known as the “Pickle Amendment.” Upon consideration of the record we affirm the judgment of the Chancery Court.


JOSHUA HILLIARD v. TURNEY CENTER DISCIPLINARY BOARD, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Joshua Hilliard, Wartburg, Tennessee, Pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William Young, Solicitor General; and Pamela S. Lorch, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BENNETT

Inmate appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of certiorari. The chancery court dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based upon the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations and because inmate failed to show that the prison disciplinary board acted illegally, fraudulently, or arbitrarily. We affirm, finding the inmate failed to show that the disciplinary board exceeded its jurisdiction or acted illegally, fraudulently, or arbitrarily.


IN RE ESTATE OF MARGARET L. SWIFT
With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Walter L. Evans, II, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Respondent/Appellant, Brannon R. Wesley.

Kathleen N. Gomes, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Beneficiary/ Appellee, Haywood Mull, Jr.

Kevin E. Childress, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Petitioner/Appellee, Christine Smith, Executor of the Estate of Margaret L. Swift.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves the interpretation of a will. The named residuary beneficiary predeceased the testatrix. The executrix of the decedent’s estate argued that a survivorship requirement in the will applies to the named residuary beneficiary, so her interest lapsed. The issue of the residuary beneficiary argued that the survivorship requirement did not apply to the residuary beneficiary, so Tennessee’s anti-lapse statute operates to pass the beneficiary’s interest to her issue. The trial court held for the executrix, construing the will so as to apply the survivorship requirement to the residuary beneficiary. We agree with the trial court’s interpretation of the will, and so affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DEMETRIUS M. CLARK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

David W. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Demetrius M. Clark.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Rolf Hazlehurst, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Demetrius M. Clark, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of two counts of possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell and/or deliver, two counts of possession of hydrocodone with the intent to sell and/or deliver, one count of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court merged the two convictions for cocaine possession and merged the two convictions for hydrocodone possession and sentenced Clark as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent sentences of ten years for the cocaine possession conviction, three years for the hydrocodone possession conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the drug paraphernalia conviction and to a consecutive sentence of three years at one hundred percent for the firearm conviction, for an effective sentence of thirteen years. On appeal, Clark argues: (1) he was deprived of his due process right to present a defense; (2) the trial court committed plain error in denying his motion to suppress evidence recovered pursuant to a search warrant; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KRISTOPHER LEE COLBERT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Roger E. Nell, District Public Defender, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kristopher Lee Colbert.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Chris Dotson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Kristopher Colbert, was indicted by the Montgomery County Grand Jury in April of 2011 for driving under the influence, driving under the influence per se, reckless endangerment, vehicular assault, and aggravated assault. Appellant pled guilty to two counts of vehicular assault in exchange for dismissal of the remaining counts of the indictment. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Appellant to four years for each offense, to be served consecutively as a Range I, standard offender. Appellant filed a motion to reconsider and a motion to reduce sentence under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 35 and/or Tennessee code Annotated section 40-35-212(d). After a hearing, the trial court denied the motions. Appellant initiated this appeal to determine whether the trial court improperly denied the motion to reduce the sentence. After a review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TRAVIS DAVISON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Travis Davison, Memphis, Tennessee, pro se.

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

Judge: THOMAS

The Appellant filed a motion to correct a judgment pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 in the Shelby County Criminal Court. The trial court subsequently entered an order denying the Appellant’s motion. In this appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion. Because there is no appeal as of right from the denial of a Rule 36 motion to correct a judgment, the appeal is dismissed.


TIMMY HERNDON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Timmy Herndon, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Ross Dyer, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Timmy Herndon, appeals from the Criminal Court of Shelby County’s summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. In 1999, the Petitioner was convicted of aggravated robbery and received a fifteen-year sentence. Two months before his parole was set to expire, the Petitioner, acting pro se, filed a twenty-two page petition for habeas corpus relief alleging a variety of issues all related to the constitutionality of the aggravated robbery statute upon which he was convicted. The habeas corpus court dismissed the petition as moot because, at the time of the hearing, the Petitioner’s sentence and parole had expired. In this appeal, the Petitioner presents the following issues for our review: (1) whether he is entitled to a hearing because he filed his petition for habeas corpus relief prior to the expiration of his sentence and parole; (2) whether his claim presents “a present and live, controversy”; (3) whether “‘potential’ merits” to his claim exist which entitle him to appointed counsel; and (4) whether the habeas corpus court’s order summarily dismissing his petition is void because the court “acted without subject matter jurisdiction.” Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER WAYNE LEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James E. Lanier and Cristy Charlene Cooper, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Wayne Lee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; and Karen Burns, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Christopher Wayne Lee, appeals the Dyer County Circuit Court’s revoking his probation for robbery and burglary and ordering him to serve his sentences in confinement. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ERIC DEMOND McCATHERN
With Concurring Opinion

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jason M. Chaffin (on appeal) and Don Himmelberg (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric Demond McCathern.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Jeff P. Burks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant was convicted of aggravated burglary, possession of 26 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver within 1000 feet of a school zone, and possession of drug paraphernalia and was sentenced to ten years, twenty-five years, and eleven months, twenty-nine days, respectively. The ten-year and twenty-five-year sentences were ordered to be served consecutively for a total effective sentence of thirty-five years in the Department of Correction, with fifteen years to be served at 100%. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his possession of cocaine conviction and that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


FRED SMITH v. HENRY STEWARD, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Fred Smith, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; and C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Fred Smith, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his fifty-year sentence for second degree murder is illegal. Upon review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the habeas corpus court properly dismissed the petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. REGINALD DEWAYNE TERRY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III, Nashville, Tennessee, (on appeal), and Joshua Brand, Nashville, Tennessee, (at trial), for the appellant, Reginald Dewayne Terry.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Robert McGuire, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, Reginald Dewayne Terry, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in a two-count indictment for aggravated burglary with intent to commit theft and with intent to commit assault. Defendant was convicted by a jury of the count of aggravated burglary with intent to commit theft and sentenced by the trial court to 15 years confinement. Defendant appeals his conviction and asserts that: 1) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the victim’s identification of Defendant in a photographic lineup; 2) the trial court erred by allowing Detective Gerald McShepard to testify that the photo of Defendant used in the photo lineup was a booking photo because such testimony was more prejudicial than probative; 3) the trial court erred by refusing to allow Defendant to crossexamine the victim about her failure to appear at a prior court date; 4) the trial court erred by allowing Detective McShepard to give a lay opinion regarding fingerprint evidence; and 5) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated burglary. After a careful review of the record, we conclude that the trial court erred by ruling that the victim’s refusal to appear at the originally scheduled trial date was not relevant to her credibility as a witness. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand this case for a new trial.


Comments Sought on Changes to Supreme Court Rule 31

The Tennessee Supreme Court is soliciting comments on proposed changes to Rule 31 requested by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission (ADRC). The commission filed a petition on Nov. 2 asking the court to amend Sections 11(b)(6) and (12) dealing with operations of its Grievance Committee. Written comments should be submitted by Jan. 25. Download the court order and proposed amendments from the AOC website.


Jury Convicts Coleman in Torture-Slaying Re-Trial

Jurors reached a verdict today in the re-trial of torture-slaying suspect Vanessa Coleman, according to Knox News. The jury, brought to Knoxville from Jackson, convicted Coleman on charges of facilitation of the felony murder of Channon Christian. They also found her guilty of lesser facilitation charges related to the kidnapping and rape of Christian, but acquitted her outright of facilitation of felony murder in the kidnapping of Christian's boyfriend, Christopher Newsom. In all, the panel, which deliberated over two days, convicted Coleman of 13 of the 17 facilitation counts she faced.


Tenn. Law Schools Named Among Best for Black Students

Vanderbilt University Law School was named one of the top 25 law schools in the country for black students by On Being A Black Lawyer Magazine, a resource that supports African-Americans’ success in law school. In addition, the University of Memphis School of Law was named a top five regional school for black students. Selection was based on eight factors: cost, alumni placement, number of black alumni, selectivity in admissions, black student population, strength of the local legal job market, local cost of living and size of the local black population. Finally, the magazine named the University of Tennessee College of Law as a “best bargain.”


Rutherford Juvenile Center Gets Federal Grant

The Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center has received a $131,000 federal grant to enhance educational programming, career counseling, drug and alcohol prevention and parenting classes. "We are so excited to be approved for this grant," Juvenile Judge Donna Scott Davenport told the Murfreesboro Post. Officials said the center plans to use the money to purchase technological equipment and software, establish a new library and implement a new life management curriculum.


Judge Eyes Drug Court for Hawkins County

Hawkins County General Sessions Judge J. Todd Ross is actively working to create a drug court by the first of the year. He recently met with representatives of the attorney general’s office and other community partners to discuss his goal. He also has traveled to other counties to talk to judges and court officials to learn from their experience. Speaking about the changes he has made since taking office in September, Ross said, “I am working extremely hard to restore the public’s confidence in this court and to make sure that this court operates within the bounds of the law and provides justice to the community, the victims, and the defendants.” The Kingsport Times News reports


Sumner Co. Youth Court Grows by 42

New members of the Sumner County Teen Court recently were sworn in and given an oath of confidentiality by Juvenile Court Judge Barry Brown. They join 88 fellow students who are authorized to hear cases involving their peers, bringing the total number of participants to 130. The new students also participated in a mock trial to help their family members understand how the pre-trial diversion program works. Learn more in the Tennessean


ABA Panel OKs New Accreditation Standards

An American Bar Association’s (ABA) committee unanimously approved a package of proposed changes in law school accreditation standards on Friday. The changes, which deal with facilities, equipment, technology, libraries and information services, will be presented to the governing council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar at a meeting set for Nov. 30. The committee chair said the proposed changes are designed to modernize standards in light of advances in technology. If the council grants preliminary approval to the changes, they will be publicly posted for notice and comment. Learn more in the ABA Journal


Group Launches Effort to Reduce Minority Youth Arrests

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative kicked off last week in Memphis. The organization is working with local officials to find ways to reduce the high rate of minority youths arrested and jailed each year. The initiative's management team has completed an assessment analyzing jail data and talking with those who work with troubled youth, including judges, jail and probation staff, law enforcement and school staff. It now will seek to repair what it says is a disconnect between police, school staff and court officials. ABC24.com reports


CASA Nashville Hires New Development Director

CASA Nashville has hired Patience Long, former manager of development for a large Illinois hospital chain, as its new development director. As manager of major gifts and the annual fund for Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, Long orchestrated a $10 million capital campaign, soliciting donations from individuals and corporations. She also previously was director of fundraising and special events for Gilda’s Club, a nonprofit cancer support group. Learn more about Tennessee CASA and its Nashville program here.


Children's Justice Conference Held in Nashville

Over 700 child abuse professionals gathered in Nashville over the last few days to shed light on child abuse, News Channel 5 reports. The Connecting for Children's Justice Conference, held by the Tennessee Chapter of Children's Advocacy Centers, provided professionals a chance to receive training, support and leadership opportunities. Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam also spoke at the event. Learn more about the conference


TALS Hosts Farewell Reception for Policy Director

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is hosting a farewell reception for Lisa Primm on Nov. 28 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Primm, who has served as policy and training director for the organization, is leaving at the end of the month to become executive director of the Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee. The reception will be held at the TALS office at 50 Vantage Way, Suite 250, Nashville 37228. Download the invitation


 
 

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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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