Bomb Threats Evacuate 29 Courthouses

Federal authorities report that 29 Tennessee courthouses were evacuated today after receiving bomb threats. Nine courthouses were in West Tennessee, six in Middle Tennessee and 14 in East Tennessee. No bombs have been found at any of the locations. In addition, the federal building in Memphis, which houses the federal court and other federal offices, was evacuated for a couple of hours while authorities checked it. A similar bomb threat hoax last week targeted 28 courthouses in Oregon. See the courthouses affected on

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
04 - 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

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TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


Vanessa P. Bryan, District Public Defender, and James L. Elkins, III, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Christine Caudle.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Kim Helper, District Attorney General; and Mary Katherine White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

The defendant pled guilty to reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon and theft of merchandise over five hundred dollars. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to three years on each count, to be served concurrently. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred by failing to apply certain mitigating factors and by failing to grant probation or an alternative sentence. The Court of Criminal Appeals, after declining to review the sentences because the defendant had failed to provide a transcript of the hearing on the guilty pleas, affirmed the judgment of the trial court based upon a presumption that the evidence was sufficient to support the sentences. After granting the defendant’s application for permission to appeal because of conflicting opinions by the Court of Criminal Appeals as to whether the absence of a transcript of a guilty plea submission hearing precludes appellate review on the merits, we ordered that the record be supplemented. In this instance, the record was adequate for a meaningful review of the sentences either with or without the transcript of the hearing on the guilty pleas. By use of the recently adopted abuse of discretion standard for the review of sentences, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Raymond Swen Leathers, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Advantage Personnel Consultants, Inc.

Scott J. Crosby, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.


This matter involves a disagreement between an insurer and an insured over the proper classification of employees for the purpose of workers’ compensation insurance. The decision of the Department of Commerce and Insurance was in favor of the insurer. The insured appealed to the trial court, which affirmed the Department. We find that the decision of the Department of Commerce and Insurance is supported by substantial and material evidence and affirm the trial court.

DARLA BULLOCK, as next of kin and sole surviving heir of Linda H. Lobertini v. UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael G. Hatmaker, Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Darla Bullock, as next of kin and sole surviving heir of Linda H. Lobertini.

Stephen C. Daves, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, University Health System, Inc.


This is an appeal in a medical malpractice case. The original plaintiff, the decedent, filed the initial malpractice action against the defendant, but the case was dismissed after the decedent passed away during the pendency of the suit. Her sole surviving heir re-filed the action without complying with Tennessee Code Annotated sections 29-26-121 and 122, which require a plaintiff who files a medical malpractice suit (1) to give a health care provider who is to be named in the suit notice of the claim sixty days before filing the suit, and (2) to file with the medical malpractice complaint a certificate of good faith confirming that the plaintiff has consulted with an expert who has provided a signed written statement that there is a good-faith basis to maintain the action. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, and the trial court dismissed the case. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

CORRECTION: Grammatical errors corrected on page 4

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Darren V. Berg, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brett D. Stokes.

Kelli L. Thompson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Federal National Mortgage Association.


Plaintiff brought this action against defendant, occupant of the property which had been foreclosed. Plaintiff held a deed of ownership. Plaintiff sued for possession and for damages for unlawful detainer of the property. The Trial Court granted plaintiff summary judgment for possession and damages for unlawful detainer pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-18-120. On appeal, we affirm.

CORRECTION: Grammatical errors corrected on page 2

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Johnny V. Dunaway, LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellants, James Lueking and Jim Reed.

John R. Wingo, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Cambridge Resources, Inc., PDC Resources, Inc., Oneida Gas, Inc., and Lick Branch Unit Joint Venture.


In this case the Trial Court entered a "Final Judgment". The Judgment did not resolve defendant's Counter-Claim. On appeal, we hold we are without jurisdiction to consider the Appeal and dismiss the Appeal.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Linda L. Garner, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Norman D. Carrick.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Betsy Carnesdale, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendant was placed on supervised probation in 2007 with the special condition that he not be involved in dog fighting or have more than two dogs in his home. The defendant’s probation was revoked and he was sentenced to another three years probation on the grounds that nine dogs were found in his home. Defendant appeals, claiming that the special condition placed on his probation was not reasonably related to his conviction and that the judge did not articulate sufficient grounds to place an additional special provision on his newly-imposed probation that he not be permitted to possess any dogs. We conclude that the special conditions affecting the defendant’s dog ownership are reasonably related to the purposes of his sentences and are not unduly restrictive or otherwise impermissible. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed accordingly.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James P. DeRossitt IV, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rickey Dickerson.

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


The petitioner, Rickey Dickerson, was convicted of two counts of second degree murder. He filed a post-conviction petition, alleging that his counsel was ineffective in failing to request a continuance and in failing to consult more thoroughly with the petitioner prior to trial. The post-conviction court denied the petition, finding neither deficiency nor prejudice. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


David W. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Glen A. Forrest.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Glen A. Forrest, was convicted of attempted cocaine delivery in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-417 (2010). The trial court ordered six months of his sentence to be served in prison and the remaining five years and six months to be served on probation. The trial court subsequently found the defendant to be in violation of the terms of his probation and revoked the probation, ordering the defendant to serve the original sentence. The defendant appeals the trial court’s determination that he violated the terms of his probation. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the trial court has committed no error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Susan Korsnes, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jonathan Freeman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Rolf Hazelhurst, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


A Madison County Jury convicted Defendant, Jonathan Freeman, of possession of more than one-half ounce (14.175 grams) of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of more than one-half ounce of marijuana with intent to deliver. Defendant waived his right to a sentencing hearing, the two convictions were merged, and he received an agreed sentence of two years, to serve ten days, and the balance on probation, including sixty hours of community service work. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Truancy Reforms Urged in Tennessee

The University of Tennessee College of Law’s Education Law Practicum has examined truancy laws, data and enforcement across the state for the past four years. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, their work has revealed an increase in truancy numbers and an inconsistent system of enforcement among school districts. The law school group is advocating for local programs that involve parents, alternative education programming, legal representation for every juvenile offender, and a greater focus among educators as to what causes students to miss school. They also are urging the state to recognize bullying, mental and chronic health issues, lack of transportation and homelessness as valid reasons for absences.

DCS: Child Tracking System to be Fixed by June

Glitches in a computer system that have hampered the work of the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) should be fixed in the next seven months, officials told lawmakers on Monday. At a hearing before the Fiscal Review Joint Committee, department heads blamed glitches in the Tennessee Family and Child Tracking System for problems in paying foster parents, producing statistics on child abuse and accessing information on children in state custody. The committee approved money to address the problems. Meanwhile, DCS has asked the attorney general to consider whether legal action is merited against Dynamics Research Corporation, the company that designed the software program. The Tennessean reports

Wills for Heroes Needs Laptop Donations

The TBA YLD's Wills for Heroes program is in need of either new or used donated laptops. It also is in need of technical assistance to fix two laptops that currently are not operational. If your firm is interested in contributing computers or donating the services of an IT professional, please contact Wills for Heroes Committee Chair Brad Carter. This is a great time of year to make a donation and receive a tax deduction! Learn more about the Wills for Heroes program, which provides free wills, powers of attorney and other end-of-life documents for first responders in the state of Tennessee.

Sender of Fake Anthrax Letter Gets 8 Years After Retrial

After a six-hour sentencing hearing yesterday, Marshall DeWayne Williams was sentenced to eight years in prison for sending a fake anthrax letter to U.S. District Judge Daniel Breen in 2008. He had previously been sentenced to five years for the crime, but that sentence was overturned and a new trial ordered because no pre-sentence report had been filed. Williams, who is serving time for killing his stepfather, admitted sending the letter to Breen as well as other judges and congressmen, shopping malls, restaurants and schools. According to the Commercial Appeal, he said the letters were designed to give him access to the courts so he could protest his sentence in the earlier case.

Former Judge's Wife Ordered to Pay $63,000

The wife of former Hawkins County general sessions and juvenile judge James “Jay” Taylor was ordered to pay about $63,000 to a plaintiff who has brought several charges against the couple. Julia Taylor was ordered to make the payment after she failed to file a response in the case brought by Doris Colleen Burns. The former judge previously had been ordered to pay Burns $50,000 in restitution after being found guilty of stealing money from her while she was his client. Burns is still pursuing a claim that Taylor extorted $16,000 from her in 2010 by threatening he would file false criminal charges against her. The Kingsport Times News has more

Appeals Court Directed to Hear Healthcare Challenge

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday revived Liberty University's challenge to the new healthcare law by directing the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., to consider the school's claim that the law violates its religious freedoms. The appeals court previously had ruled that the lawsuit was premature, rejecting it without considering the merits of the case. Liberty is challenging the requirement that individuals obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, as well as a separate provision requiring employers to offer health insurance to their workers. Read more from WRCB-TV

House GOP Elects Leaders

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell tentatively won a second two-year term as speaker, while Rep. Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga was unanimously re-elected as majority leader of the Republican Caucus yesterday. Other leaders elected include Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin, Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Brooks of Cleveland and Floor Leader Vance Dennis of Savannah. Though most members of the leadership did not face opposition, Tullahoma's Judd Matheny was defeated in his re-election bid for speaker pro tempore – the House's number two post – by Rep. Curtis Johnson of Clarksville. The full House will vote on several of the appointments in January. See a list of all leaders elected on

Tensions Mount over Healthcare Exchange

State House Republican Majority Leader Gerald McCormick sounded off Monday against a possible state-run insurance exchange under the federal healthcare overhaul, according to WPLN. That’s at odds with Gov. Bill Haslam, who has hinted he might prefer the state option. By contrast, McCormick argues there’s too much fine print still waiting to be written. “At this point I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance of that happening. We’re not going to set up a state exchange unless we really have some detailed information on it and it becomes favorable for the state of Tennessee to do so in a way that cannot be reversed. And I just don’t see that happening based on past experience with the federal government.”

Shelby Co. Elections Certified

Shelby County Election Commissioners certified the results of the Nov. 6 election yesterday, but offered different verdicts on how the election was conducted, reports the Memphis Daily News. The commission also yesterday voted to form an ad hoc committee to explore voting technology other than the touch screen machines now used. “A paper trail is something a majority of the community is wanting,” said Election Commissioner Norma Lester.

Memphis Lawyer, Former Special Judge Dies

Memphis lawyer Carl H. “Lang” Langschmidt Jr., 81, died Nov. 18 after a brief illness. After graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law, Mr. Langschmidt served in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps and then returned to Memphis. He practiced for 45 years at Boone, Wellford, Clark, Langschmidt & Apperson and then at Armstrong, Allen, Prewitt, Gentry, Johnston & Holmes. He retired in 2002. Mr. Langschmidt served as a member of the Board of Law Examiners for 17 years and as a special judge in the Shelby County Circuit Court. He also represented the county in the Baker v. Carr suit, which culminated in a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to St. John's Episcopal Church, the Memphis Boys Choir, WriteMemphis, or the charity of one’s choice. Read the full obituary in the Commercial Appeal

Investiture Friday for Judge Siskin

An investiture ceremony for 16th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge M. Keith Siskin will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at the Rutherford County Courthouse. Judge Donna Scott Davenport will administer the oath of office. Siskin fills the vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Don Ash to senior judge earlier this year. Siskin has been a Juvenile Court magistrate since 2004, presiding over both civil and criminal cases. He earned his law degree in 1997 from the University of Georgia School of Law.


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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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