11 Admitted to Supreme Court During TBA Academy

Eleven Tennessee attorneys were admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday as part of the 29th Annual TBA Academy in Washington D.C. Each year, a select group of attorneys are admitted in a special private ceremony that is part of a two-day program. Those admitted today were: John L. Farringer IV of Sherrard and Roe in Nashville; Cynthia Richardson Wyrick of Ogle, Gass & Richardson in Sevierville; David Robert O'Neil of the Brentwood Police Department; Frank Barclay Thacher III of Burch, Porter, Johnson in Memphis; James K. Simms IV of Cornelius & Collins in Nashville; Christopher Jay Gilder of the Metro Nashville Police Department; Elizabeth A. Cash of Weiss, Spicer, Cash in Memphis; Elizabeth Sara Tipping of Neal & Harwell in Nashville; Shannon Goff Kukulka of Waller Landsden in Nashville; Michael McKeever Raulston of the Raulston Law Firm in Chattanooga; and Marcia McShane of Constangy Brooks & Smith in Nashville.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - 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


John P. Konvalinka, Chattanooga, Tennessee, pro se appellant.

Bruce C. Bailey; Anthony A. Jackson; and, Jeffrey W. Maddux; Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, R. Ellsworth McKee and Alternative Fuels, LLC.


This appeal arises from a dispute over setoff claims related to a bankruptcy proceeding. Delwin Huggins (“Huggins”) sued R. Ellsworth McKee (“McKee”) and Alternative Fuels, LLC (“AF”) (McKee and AF as “the Defendants,” collectively) in the Chancery Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). Huggins filed for bankruptcy. Konvalinka later purchased the claims asserted by Huggins in this lawsuit. The Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that, even if Konvalinka’s claim for damages was successful, McKee had an offset far in excess of these damages which rendered any further proceedings useless. The Trial Court agreed with the Defendants and dismissed the case. We affirm, in part, and, reverse, in part, the judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


William H. Thomas, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se, and Jonathan L. Miley, Nashville, Tennessee, Oral Argument for the appellant, William H. Thomas, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General & Reporter, and Bruce M. Butler, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Robert L. J. Spence, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc.


Petitioner challenges the decision of the Tennessee Department of Transportation denying his application for a billboard permit because his proposed location was within 1000 feet of another permit location. He contends the Department erroneously deviated from its regulation requiring permit applications for locations within 1000 feet of each other to be considered on a “first come first served” basis, insisting he submitted a “complete” application before the applicant who was granted a permit for the nearby location. The Chancery Court summarily dismissed the petition, finding it constituted an impermissible collateral attack on the Department’s decision to grant a permit to the other applicant. The court also found that the Department complied with its rules in issuing the permit to the other applicant and denying the petitioner’s application because petitioner’s location was less than 1000 feet away from the other applicant’s location. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Hugh R. Poland, Jr., Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Reginald W. Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Kimberly S. Lund, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Reginald W. Davis, was convicted by a Montgomery County jury of aggravated burglary, theft under $500, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and was sentenced by the trial court to an effective term of thirty-seven years in the Department of Correction. In a timely appeal to this court, he argues that his due process rights were violated by his especially aggravated kidnapping convictions, which were incidental to his aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery convictions. Following our review, we affirm the convictions for aggravated burglary, theft under $500, aggravated robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, but we reverse the especially aggravated kidnapping convictions and remand for a new trial on those counts of the indictment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Derron S. Guy, Whiteville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Derron S. Guy, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, wherein he challenged his 2010 Shelby County Criminal Court convictions of employing a firearm during a dangerous felony. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Emma Rae Tennent, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); and Assistant Public Defender Kevin Kelly (at hearing), for the appellant, Jacque Michelle Lee

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Renee Erb, Assistant District Attorney General (at hearing); and Shannon Poindexter, Assistant District Attorney General (at plea), for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Jacque Michelle Lee, appeals the sentencing determination made by the Davidson County Criminal Court following the revocation of her alternative sentence. The defendant was sentenced to an effective ten-year sentence after she pled guilty to five counts of theft of property and one count of theft of services, and she was ordered to serve her sentence on community corrections. The defendant also agreed to participate in a drug court program. Within days of starting to serve her sentence, the defendant failed to attend two required program meetings. A violation warrant was issued. Following a hearing, the defendant’s alternative sentence was revoked, and the trial court ordered the defendant to serve the remainder of her sentence in confinement. On appeal, the defendant does not contest the trial court’s finding of a violation. Rather, she argues that the trial court erred by ordering her to serve her sentence in confinement rather than returning her to community corrections. After review, we affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Marlon O. Walls, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Helen Young, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


Pro se Petitioner, Marlon O. Walls, appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion to re-open his petition for post-conviction relief. Because the Petitioner failed to comply with the statutory requirements for seeking discretionary review of the dismissal of his motion, this court is without jurisdiction to review the appeal, and it is dismissed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Robert Edward Williams, III.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret T. Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Robert Edward Williams, III, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s imposition of an effective twenty-year sentence for his guilty pleas to theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, a class C felony; criminal simulation of $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony; and failure to appear, a Class E felony. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by failing to: (1) impose the minimum sentence in the applicable range for each of his sentences, and (2) grant a community corrections sentence. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Judge Dismisses Catholic Groups’ Health Care Lawsuit

U.S District Judge Todd Campbell dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Catholic nonprofit organizations in Nashville that challenged a provision of the new federal health care law providing contraceptive coverage to employees. Since the mandate is not currently being enforced, the judge ruled that the nonprofits have suffered no injury. The contraceptive provision is being revised to accommodate nonprofits with religious objections. The Knox News Sentinel has the story.

Judge Mays Stops Move to Suburban Shelby Schools

U.S. District Judge Samuel Mays has voided efforts by suburban municipalities to form new school districts in Shelby County, the Commercial Appeal reports. In the 65-page ruling issued Tuesday night, Mays said a 2012 state law that allowed for the creation of new municipal school districts and school boards was so narrowly drawn that it could only apply to Shelby County.

Shelby Commissioner Files Ethics Complaint Against Outside Counsel

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland filed a memorandum of complaint with the Board of Professional Responsibility against a Baker Donelson attorney who he said lied about drafting a letter for another commissioner and that redacted entries in a billings state covers that up. The firm was hired by the commission to handle its lawsuit to block the creation of suburban municipal school districts. Representatives from the Board of Professional responsibility would not comment on a specific complaint, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.

Chattanooga Attorney Inducted into American College of Trial Lawyers

Rosemarie Hill of Chattanooga-based law firm Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C., was recently inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL), the Hamilton Count Herald reports. The ACTL was established in 1950 and is dedicated to maintaining and improving the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice, and the ethics of the profession. Hill is head of Chambliss’ labor and employment group.

Appeal Filed in Hamilton County Prayer Suit

The two men who sued the Hamilton County Commission for allowing prayer before public meetings have filed an appeal after a judge dismissed their request for a preliminary injunction. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports U.S. District Court Judge Harry S. “Sandy” Mattice ruled that not enough time had passed since the commission’s enactment of a new prayer policy, which was intended to show that the meeting invocations were inclusive of other faith traditions. The plaintiffs called the new policy a “sham.”

MNPS in Running for Race to the Top Funds

After being fined $3.4 million dollars by the state for denying the Great Hearts Charter School application, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) announced it is one of 61 finalists seeking a portion of $400 million in district-focused Race to the Top fund, the City Paper reports. MNPS is the only district in Tennessee to land in the final round. Federal education officials are expected to narrow down the remaining applicants to 15-25 by the end of the year.

In related news, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who is a staunch supporter of publicly financed, privately led charter schools, announced that he does not currently support the controversial school voucher-program, the Tennessean reports. The Metro Nashville Board of Education, along with school boards in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Memphis, each passed resolutions opposing the voucher proposal.

GOP Senator Ending Protest of Obama Appointments

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) will stop voting “No” on all judicial nominees, a spokesman said, ending a protest  that started in January when President Barack Obama made four controversial recess appointments, the National Law Journal reports. Although Lee was vocal in his opposition to the recess appointments, which he says were unprecedented and happened when the Senate was in session, he now states that the Republicans have adequately responded by invoking a loosely defined Senate tradition of backing off from filling circuit court seats in the waning months of a presidents term.

Court Extends Abuse of Discretion Standard to Sentencings

The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the three-year sentence for Christine Caudle by applying the abuse of discretion standard of review recently adopted in State of Tennessee v. Susan Renee Bise. The Court of Criminal Appeals declined to conduct of review of Caudle’s sentences because she failed to include in the record a transcript of the hearing on the guilty plea. Upon further appeal, the Court ruled the trial court did not abuse its discretionary authority since it found the record was sufficient without the transcripts for meaningful review. Read the opinion.


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