Law Schools Worth the Money? Dean Says Yes

Stop bashing law schools! That’s the message Case Western Reserve law school dean Lawrence Mitchell gave New York Times readers this week. His op-ed piece said that much of the current criticism around a legal education has “masked some important realities and created an environment in which some of the brightest potential lawyers are, largely irrationally, forgoing the possibility of a rich, rewarding and, yes, profitable, career.”

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
05 - TN Court of Appeals
07 - 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 Court of Appeals

APOLLO HAIR SYSTEMS OF NASHVILLE, INC. v. MICROMODE MEDICAL LIMITED ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles W. Cross, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Apollo Hair Systems of Nashville.

Daniel P. Berexa, James Matthew Blackburn, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Micromode Medical Limited, T/A CACI International.

Judge: CLEMENT

Plaintiff, a retail business specializing in hair restoration and related services that leased “beauty equipment” from a third party lessor, filed this action against the manufacturer of the “beauty equipment” and the distributor of the products asserting claims for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Plaintiff obtained a monetary judgment against the distributor, however, the trial court summarily dismissed all claims against the manufacturer. Plaintiff appeals the summary dismissal of its claims against the manufacturer. We affirm.


IN THE MATTER OF: CHASE B.S., ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General and Warren Jasper, Senior Counsel, for the appellant, State of Tennessee Department of Human Services.

No attorney listed for appellee

Judge: FARMER

The trial court dismissed “petitions for medical support” of non-marital children filed by the Department of Human Services as inconsistent with the child support statutes and guidelines. We affirm.


SUSAN ELLIOTT v. JAMES LUCAS MUHONEN and ERIC RAY ELLIOTT

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

D. Mitchell Bryant, Athens, Tennessee, for the appellant, Susan Elliott.

Phillip McCarroll Jacobs, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellees, James Lucas Muhonen and Eric Ray Eliott.

Judge: SWINEY

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B from the trial court’s denial of motions for recusal in two post-divorce cases involving custody of the parties’ minor children. Having reviewed the appellant’s petition for recusal appeal pursuant to Rule 10B of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court, we affirm the Trial Court.


DAVID A. HAYES v. SAMUEL O. HAYES

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Samuel O. Hayes, Covington, Tennessee, pro se.

J. Thomas Caldwell, Ripley, Tennessee, for the appellee, David A. Hayes.

Judge: PER CURIUM

Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.


ANTHONY BERNARD MOBLEY v. PRISCILLA ANN CAFFA-MOBLEY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Sharon T. Massey, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony Bernard Mobley.

Priscilla Ann Caffa-Mobley, Clarksville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Judge: CLEMENT

The former husband appeals from the denial of his Motion to Set Aside or in the Alternative Alter or Amend the Final Decree of Divorce, which was filed 23 days after the entry of the Final Decree. In his Motion for relief, Husband sought to amend the Final Decree as it pertained to the division of the parties’ mortgage debt on two homes, the division of Husband’s military pension, and the award of rehabilitative alimony to Wife. We have determined the trial court should have granted partial relief as it pertained to Husband’s continuing liability on the mortgage on the Miami, Florida property awarded to Wife, and to address a mathematical error pertaining to Wife’s interest in Husband’s military retirement. Thus, we remand for review of these two issues and affirm in all other respects.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SUSAN MICHELLE BARNETT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William Michael Thorne (on appeal), Lexington, Tennessee; and Gregory M. Minton and J. Daniel Rogers (at trial and plea hearing), Trenton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Susan Michelle Barnett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Garry Brown, District Attorney General; and Matt Hooper and Stephanie J. Hale, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Susan Michelle Barnett (“the Defendant”) was convicted after a jury trial of aggravated assault, two counts of misdemeanor assault, and unauthorized use of an automobile in Gibson County Circuit Court case no. 17702. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to an effective sentence of six years. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve her six-year sentence consecutively to a previous sentence. On the date of the sentencing hearing in case no. 17702, the Defendant also pleaded guilty to failure to appear in Gibson County Circuit Court case no. 18191 and was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to one year, to be served consecutively to her six-year sentence. Thereafter, the Defendant attempted to appeal both cases. Having determined that we lack jurisdiction in case no. 17702, we dismiss that appeal. We also dismiss the appeal in case no. 18191 because the notice of appeal was untimely filed, and the Defendant is not entitled to appeal her guilty plea pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3(b) and Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b).


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DAVID JOSEPH BUCKHANON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Hershell D. Koger, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellant, David Joseph Buckhanan.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; T. Michael Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Daniel J. Runde, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HARRIS

Appellant, David Joseph Buckhanon, was convicted by a Maury County jury of facilitation of attempted first degree murder, facilitation of especially aggravated burglary, and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery. As a result, Appellant was sentenced to an effective sentence of twenty three years. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant initiated this appeal. He challenges: (1) the trial court’s exclusion of testimony by a witness who heard the Appellant’s co-defendant state that he, rather than Appellant, was responsible for the shooting; (2) the trial court’s admission of Appellant’s alleged street name “Laylow”; (3) the trial court’s admission of testimony from a detective that there was no evidence of a third participant in the shooting; (4) the insufficiency of the evidence; and (5) the application of enhancement factors to his sentence. After a review of the evidence, we determine: (1) the trial court properly excluded hearsay testimony; (2) the trial court properly admitted evidence of Appellant’s street name; (3) the trial court properly excluded evidence of Appellant’s claim of a second accomplice where there was no corroboration; (4) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; and (5) the trial court properly sentenced Appellant. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MAURICE O. BYRD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Carrie W. Gasaway, Clarksville, Tennessee (at motion for new trial hearing and on appeal); John E. Herbison, Clarksville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Reid H. Poland, III, Clarksville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Maurice O. Byrd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Helen Owsley Young, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Maurice O. Byrd, was convicted of aggravated robbery, felony first degree murder, and premeditated first degree murder. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-202, -402. The trial court merged the premeditated first degree murder conviction into the felony first degree murder conviction and sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment. The trial court also sentenced the Defendant to eight years for the aggravated robbery conviction and ordered the sentence to be served concurrently with the life sentence for the felony first degree murder conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JERRY RAY NORTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Greg W. Eichelman, District Public Defender; Anita B. Leger, Assistant District Public Defender, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerry Ray Norton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Cecil C. Mills, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Jerry Ray Norton, challenges his conviction for driving under the influence, fourth offense. As grounds, he claims that the State’s evidence did not prove that he operated a motor vehicle on a public roadway and that the officer’s failure to file an accident report should have resulted in dismissal of the indictment. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand the case for entry of corrected judgments on count four, driving on a revoked license, third offense, and count five, driving under the influence, fourth offense, reflecting a disposition of count one, driving under the influence, and count two, driving on a revoked license. The corrected judgments should reflect merger of count one into count five and count two into count four. The trial court should also enter a judgment disposing of the third count of the indictment, violation of the implied consent statute.


JAMILA NUNN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ardena J. Garth, District Public Defender; Karla Gothard, Executive Assistant District Public Defender; and Richard Kenneth Mabee, Assistant District Public Defender, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jamila Nunn.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Lance Pope, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Hamilton County jury convicted petitioner, Jamila Nunn, of aggravated child abuse, a Class A felony, for which the trial court ordered a twenty-year sentence. Following the direct appeal, petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied post-conviction relief, and petitioner now appeals. Following our review of the record, the parties’ briefs, and applicable case law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ALEJANDRO NEAVE VASQUEZ and NAZARIO ARAGUZ

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III (on appeal); Richard McGee (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alejandro Neave Vasquez.

William E. Griffith (on appeal); Robert P. Ballinger (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nazario Araguz.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and John Zimmerman and Rachel Thomas, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Davidson County jury convicted appellants, Alejandro Neave Vasquez and Nazario Araguz, of conspiracy to deliver 300 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone and possession with intent to deliver 300 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone. The trial court sentenced appellant Vasquez to an effective twenty-year sentence and sentenced appellant Araguz to an effective seventeen-year sentence. On appeal, both appellants argue that: (1) the trial court erred in denying their motions to suppress; (2) the trial court erred in admitting evidence regarding money recovered by law enforcement; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support their convictions; and (4) the trial court erred in denying appellants’ requests for a special jury instruction and in granting the State’s request for a special jury instruction. After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEARN WESTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Harry E. Sayle III and Lawrence Russell White, Assistant District Public Defenders, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kearn Weston.

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

Judge: PAGE

A Shelby County Grand Jury indicted appellant, Kearn Weston, for robbery, a Class C felony. A jury convicted him as indicted, and the trial court sentenced him as a persistent offender to fourteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence on appeal. After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


6th Circuit Remands Third-Party Access Case

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today ordered a lower court to reconsider whether Tennessee’s requirements for third parties to get on the ballot are still unconstitutionally restrictive in light of legislative changes made while the ruling was on appeal. The Memphis Daily News reports that earlier this year, a federal district court struck down state rules requiring third-party candidates to collect about 40,000 signatures and turn them in seven months before the election to qualify to run and then to be selected through a primary. After that ruling, the General Assembly changed the law to make it easier for third parties to get on the ballot.


Plea Deal Avoids Fight Over Prosecutor, Judge Testifying

Jesse Mathews pleaded guilty on Friday afternoon to killing a Chattanooga police officer and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He also gave up all appeal rights. Mathews’s trial was to have begun on Jan. 23 with a Nashville jury. The plea deal also ends a defense lawsuit seeking to force the prosecutor to testify at the sentencing, as well as a possible fight over whether U.S. District Court Judge Sandy Mattice would be forced to testify. Mattice recently had denied the defense request under the federal Guide to Judiciary Policy, which prohibits federal judges from testifying in legal proceedings except in special situations. In addition, Mattice said that whatever testimony he could give was already in the public record; that sealed information could inadvertently come out; and that his testimony could reflect poorly upon his impartiality in future cases.


CCA Argues Settlement Records Should be Private

Attorneys for the Nashville-based private prison company Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) this week told members of the state Court of Appeals that the company should not have to turn over copies of its legal settlements to the public. The appeals court previously ruled that CCA is subject to Tennessee’s Open Records law because it performs a governmental function by running prisons and jails. CCA lawyers argued that legal settlements are different because the company “is not acting on behalf of the government when it defends itself in court.” But the court did not seem persuaded as Judge Richard Dinkins quipped that “everything from paperclip orders to settlement documents” at CCA comes with the presumption of being public. The Elizabethton Star has this AP story.


Man Challenging County Prayers Asks to Give Invocation

One of two plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought against the Hamilton County Commission to block opening prayers at commission sessions wants to deliver one of the invocations. According to Chattanoogan.com, Tommy Coleman told commission members that he is a pastor of the Universal Life Church and would like to get on the schedule. The chair of the commission directed him to staff that handle the calendar. Coleman and colleague Brandon Jones are appealing a decision by U.S. District Judge Sandy Mattice not to grant an injunction blocking the prayers.


Courts Begin to Hear Challenges to Presidential Appointments

In a major test of presidential power, federal appeals courts are starting to hear legal challenges to President Barack Obama's decision to bypass the U.S. Senate in appointing three members to the National Labor Relations Board. The suits have been winding their way through the legal system for several months but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was set to be the first to hear oral arguments on the issue today. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will take up the issue in a similar case next Wednesday. Legal observers predict that the issue likely will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court as there are “good arguments on both sides” and there is “little precedent on the issue.” Learn more about the cases in this story from the Associated Press.


Groups Urge Changes to Early Release Laws

Human Rights Watch and Families Against Mandatory Minimums today called on the federal Bureau of Prisons to grant more early releases to incapacitated and terminally ill prisoners. The bureau said it reviews each early-release request on a case-by-case basis and takes into consideration information provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office and general public safety. Under federal law, judges may reduce sentences under "extraordinary and compelling" circumstances; however, the request must come from the bureau and not from inmate. The groups also called on Congress to change the law to allow prisoners to challenge bureau decisions not to file compassionate release motions. The Commercial Appeal has this AP story


Justices Hold Private Meeting Over Gay Marriage

U.S. Supreme Court justices were to meet privately today to begin discussing if they will accept any of 10 pending cases testing whether the constitution offers a fundamental right of marriage to homosexuals. According to court observers, three separate issues confront the justices: federal benefits, state benefits and state referendums. If they agree to hear any of the cases, oral arguments could be held in March with a ruling by late June. WCYB Channel 5 has this story from CNN.


NBA Annual Banquet Set for Next Thursday

The Nashville Bar Association will hold its annual meeting and elections on Dec. 6 at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville. As in past years, a reception for the general membership will begin at 5:30 p.m., with dinner and program to begin at 7 p.m. During the event, the presidential gavel will pass from John Kitch to Tom Sherrard, 2013 officers will be announced and a number of awards will be presented. Newly elected board members also will be introduced. They include Kay S. Caudle, Hon. Randal S. Mashburn, Andrea P. Perry, Matt Potempa, Saul A. Solomon and Joycelyn A. Stevenson. Register for the event online


 
 

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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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