Judiciary Museum Opens at Supreme Court Event

Original handwritten copies of the state's three constitutions were unveiled together this morning at the new Tennessee Judiciary Museum in Nashville at a celebration attended by all five members of the current Supreme Court, three former chief justices, judges, legislators and many lawyers. Former Chief Justice Robert Cooper attended with his son, Attorney General Bob Cooper, along with former chief justices Frank Drowota and Micky Barker. Read more and see photos from the event.

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
01 - 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









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TN Court of Appeals

IN RE: CONSERVATORSHIP OF MAURICE M. ACREE, JR., et al., v. NANCY ACREE, et al.
CORRECTION: On page eight (8) of the opinion, within the second full paragraph, the T.C.A. statute has been corrected to 34-1-113.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Suzette Peyton, Brentwood, and George E. Copple, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Q. Acree.

C. Dewey Branstetter, Jr., and Stacey K. Skillman, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Nancy Acree, C. Dewey Branstetter, Jr., and Austin Catts.

Judge: FRANKS

In this action a Petition was filed and a conservator was appointed for Dr. Maurice M. Acree, Jr., and William Acree was made a party to that proceeding. Five years after a conservator was appointed, William Acree filed a "Complaint" in that action. The Trial Court determined that a complaint could not lie in that action, and treated it as a Rule 60 Motion and denied William Acree any relief. William Acree has appealed to this Court and we affirm the Trial Court's Judgment, but modify the Judgment on the basis that the record reveals plain error which should be addressed because the trusts remain active.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

ANTONIO BOBO v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeff Woods, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antonio Bobo.

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

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Antonio Bobo, entered a guilty plea to assault and received probation on the sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. He filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming that trial counsel was ineffective for allowing him to enter a guilty plea that was not knowing and voluntary. He now appeals the denial of post-conviction relief. Following our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RHONDA BROWN-MONTAGUE aka RHONDA BROWN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William L. Johnson (on appeal) and Arthur Horne, III (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Rhonda Brown-Montague aka Rhonda Brown.

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

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Rhonda Brown-Montague aka Rhonda Brown, pleaded guilty to theft of property over $60,000.00, a Class B felony, and was sentenced to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal, the Appellant challenges her sentence as excessive and argues that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


RANDY MARAY CHEAIRS, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Lisa M. Miller, Selmer Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Randy Maray Cheairs

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Joe Van Dyke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Randy Maray Cheairs, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions of second-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated burglary, and possession of a handgun in the commission of a felony for which he received an effective forty-year sentence. In this appeal, he contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not knowing and voluntary. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


KIMBERLY HOLLIDAY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Jeffrey Lee, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Petitioner, Kimberly Holliday.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Alfred L. Earls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Kimberly Holliday, appeals from the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of her petition for coram nobis relief. In 2000, the Petitioner entered a “best interest” guilty plea to theft of services and issuing a false financial statement and received an effective fouryear- suspended sentence. Over ten years later, in 2011, she filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis alleging that failure to report earnings to a public housing authority does not constitute “theft of services” based on State v. Marshall, 319 S.W.3d 558 (Tenn. 2010). In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in dismissing the petition because (1) “a person cannot be guilty of something that is not a crime;” (2) “due process requires tolling of the statute of limitations;” (3) “this case is timely filed as a petition for postconviction relief;” and (4) “a best interest plea rather than a voluntary admission of guilt preserves the appellant’s right to bring a petition for writ of error coram nobis.” Upon review, we affirm dismissal of the petition.


WILLIAM K. PAULSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William J. Taylor, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William K. Paulson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Eugene Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kenneth F. Irvine, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, William K. Paulson, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of post conviction relief from his convictions of reckless endangerment, felony evading arrest, driving without a license, and violating the state registration law. On appeal, the petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in determining that he received effective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


HERMAN SHURN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE AND WARDEN, T.D.O.C. / N.W.C.X. AND DERRICK D. SCHOLFIELD, COMMISSIONER / T.D.O.C. AND CRIMINAL COURT FOR THE 30th JUDICIAL DISTRICT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Herman Shurn, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Betsy Wiseman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

Pro Se Petitioner, Herman Shurn, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for habeas corpus relief. The Petitioner was originally indicted for first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. A jury convicted the Petitioner of criminally negligent homicide and aggravated robbery for which the Petitioner received an effective sentence of fourteen years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his indictment for aggravated robbery, as amended, is void. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOSEPH SCOTT TURK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mike A. Little, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph Scott Turk.

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

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Joseph Scott Turk, was indicted for simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor; failure to obey a traffic control device, a Class C misdemeanor; failure to operate a motor vehicle within a single lane of traffic, a Class C misdemeanor; failure to use a turn signal, a Class C misdemeanor; driving under the influence (DUI), first offense, a Class A misdemeanor; violation of the implied consent law, a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle, a Class C misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-418, -17-425, 55-8-109, -8-123, -8-143, 55-10-401, -10-406, -10-416. The Defendant filed a suppression motion alleging that the arresting officer lacked a reasonable suspicion to stop his car. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion. The Defendant subsequently entered into a plea agreement with the State. The Defendant pled guilty to DUI, first offense, and received a sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days with forty-eight hours to be served in confinement and the remainder to be served on unsupervised probation. As part of the plea agreement, the remaining charges were dismissed and the Defendant reserved a certified question of law for appellate review pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2). In this appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the evidence against him. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL L. WEBSTER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Emma Rae Tennent, Assistant Public Defender, (on appeal); Kristen Neff and Katie Weiss, Assistant Public Defenders, (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael L. Webster.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Sarah Davis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

The Davidson County Grand Jury indicted Appellant, Michael L. Webster, for one count of first degree premeditated murder. A jury found Appellant guilty of the lesser included offense of second degree murder. The trial court sentenced Appellant to twenty-five years at 100% as a Range I, standard offender. On appeal, Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. The State argues that the trial court erred in determining that Appellant was a Range I, standard offender and should have sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender based upon prior convictions out of Georgia. On appeal, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction because the jury rejected his claim of self-defense and Appellant was unable to raise reasonable doubt. We also determine that the trial court correctly determined that Appellant qualified as a Range I, standard offender because his Georgia conviction for burglary was equivalent to a Tennessee conviction for burglary and, therefore, Appellant did not have the requisite amount of the correct classification of prior felonies for him to qualify as a Range II, multiple offender. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court Names Chief Disciplinary Counsel

The Tennessee Supreme Court today named Sandy Garret as chief disciplinary counsel for the Board of Professional Responsibility. “Sandy’s record of service to the legal profession and the public through her work with the BPR makes her uniquely qualified to step into this most important role,” said Chief Justice Gary R. Wade. Selected from a field of 21 applicants, Garrett has served in various roles with the BPR since 1992. A graduate of the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University School of Law, she is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association and the National Organization of Bar Counsel.


UTK Law Dean Earns Pro Bono Award

University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Doug Blaze has been named the 2012 recipient of the Deborah Rhode Award. Given each year by the Association of American Law Schools, the award honors a dean or faculty member who has made an “outstanding contribution to increasing pro bono and public service opportunities in law schools through scholarship, leadership, and service.”


Women Now Constitute One-Third of Lawyers, Doctors

New figures analyzed from the U.S. Census shows that women account for a third of the nation’s lawyers and doctors. Women hold 33.5% of legal jobs including lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers, up from 4.9% in 1970. However, despite greater presence in the legal field, women still face barriers to leadership roles at firms and wage discrepancies.


Nashville Lawyers in Race for State Democratic Party Chair

The Tennessee Democratic Party’s executive committee will vote next month to replace Chip Forrester after four years as chairman. Candidates campaigning for the position include Jane Hampton Bowen, the political liaison for a Chattanooga labor group; Dave Garrision, a Nashville lawyer and Tennessee Democratic Party’s current Treasurer; Wade Munday, a Nashville nonprofit executive who once served as the state party’s spokesperson; and Ben Smith, a Nashville lawyer who advised Jason Powell in his successful run for the state legislature. The Tennessean has the story.


Judge Adds Unusual Procreation Condition to Probation

Wisconsin judge Tim Boyles of Racine County has prohibited a man who owes $50,000 in child support and $40,000 in interest from fathering any more children as a condition of his three-year probation, unless he can show ability to pay. The U.S. Supreme Court denied cert in a similar case in 2001. The ABA Journal has the story.


Haslam: Exclude College Campuses from Gun Law

Gov. Bill Haslam says that the key to an agreement allowing employees to store their firearms in vehicles parked at work is to exclude college campuses. The National Rifle Assocation and other proponents of the bill argue that banning guns in company parking lots prevent workers from being armed during their commute, while opponents such as the business lobby argue the measure infringes on property rights. Haslam said his administration would not take a lead on the issue, but would fight to keep educational institutions out of the final version.


Tea Party Activists Protest Obamacare

Tea Party activists from across the state rallied at the War Memorial Plaza in downtown Nashville today to oppose creation of a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, the Tennessean reports. Gov. Bill Haslam has until Dec. 14 to decide whether to set up a state-operated exchange or leave its creation to the federal government.


We're #1: Magazine Says Tenn. Legislature Worst of the Worst

Mother Jones magazine, the left of left publication best known for unearthing the videotape of Mitt Romney making the controversial “47 percent” remarks, has ranked Tennessee No. 1 -- for having the nation’s worst legislature, the Tennessean political blog reports. The magazine condemned lawmakers for encouraging abstinence-only sex education, among other laws.


State Lawmakers to Receive Pay Increase

Tennessee legislators will receive a $1,194 salary increase during the 108th General Assembly, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The 6.28% increase will be the first raise to base pay since 2008. The increase went into effect on Election Day, Nov.6, in accord with state law enacted in 2005 that calls for automatic increases every two years commensurate with the increases in average state employee compensation during that two-year period. Legislators did not receive a raise in 2010 since state employees did not receive an increase.


Sullivan County Lawyer Disbarred

The Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Sullivan County attorney David Garrett Mullins on Nov. 30 for neglect, failure to communicate with clients, practicing law while suspended, and accepting fees then abandoning client’s cases. He has been ordered to pay restitution to former client’s totaling $15,445. Download the BPR notice.


 
 

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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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