Belmont Law Names 2 New Faculty Members

Belmont University College of Law today announced the appointment of two new faculty members: Melissa Alexander and Abbie DeBlasis. Both will join the school in January after working in the Nashville office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings. Alexander, a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, is a new assistant professor of law. She will teach pretrial litigation, global healthcare and human rights, biomedical ethics and trademark law. While in private practice, she has focused on intellectual property, healthcare, banking, environmental and entertainment law. DeBlasis is the school’s new assistant professor of legal practice and will teach classes on legal information and communications. She earned her law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law. She currently handles regulatory and operational matters for health care clients.

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
10 - 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

C.H. GUENTHER & SON, INC. v. SUE ANN HEAD ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Garry Ferraris, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ernest Boling.

Kristin M. Cabage and Joshua A. Wolfe, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc.

Judge: BENNETT

An employee appeals the trial court’s decision to void a final administrative order by the Department of Labor awarding the employee attorney fees with respect to the employee’s actions to enforce a workers’ compensation settlement. We have determined that the applicable request for assistance process does not constitute a contested case under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act and that the trial court therefore lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear this matter. We reverse the decision of the trial court.


PAMELA MURRAY v. JAMIE HOLLIN, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph Howell Johnston, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Pamela Murray.

Mark W. Honeycutt, II and C. David Briley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Jamie Hollin, Jan Morrison, Priscilla Eaton, Larry Eaton, and Teri Missildine.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a libelous defamation case. Appellant, a public figure, filed suit against Appellees for publication and distribution of allegedly defamatory comments. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellees upon its finding that Appellees had negated the essential element of actual malice, and that Appellant had not met her burden to provide sufficient countervailing evidence so as to survive summary judgment. Discerning no error, we affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DESHAUN EMMANUEL BROWN AND JEROME CARDELL HOLT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

David M. Hopkins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Deshaun Emmanuel Brown.

David A. Collins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerome Cardell Holt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Ben Ford, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellants, Deshaun Emmanuel Brown and Jerome Cardell Holt, pled guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to ten counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, and one count of reckless endangerment. The trial court sentenced Appellant Brown to a total effective sentence of 60 years and Appellant Holt to a total effective sentence of 72 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellants challenge the sentences imposed by the trial court. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court; however, we must remand for entry of corrected judgments for the aggravated rape convictions to reflect that each appellant is a multiple rapist rather than a violent offender as indicated on the judgments.


JOSE JUAN FRIERSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard C. Eason, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jose Juan Frierson.

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

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Petitioner, Jose Juan Frierson, entered a “best interest” plea, on January 7, 1999, to criminal attempt to commit aggravated rape and was ordered to serve an eight-year splitconfinement sentence. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief on December 30, 2009, alleging that he was entitled to the tolling of the one-year statute of limitations period for post-conviction petitions due to his mental incompetence. The Petitioner further alleged that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary because the trial court failed to ensure that he was aware that the sentence included a requirement of lifetime supervision. After hearings on the petition, the post-conviction court entered an order denying postconviction relief. The Petitioner filed, at the same time, both an appeal to this Court and a motion for new trial. Thereafter, the post-conviction court issued a subsequent order granting post-conviction relief. Upon our review of the record, we conclude that the subsequent order granting post-conviction relief is void because the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the second order. As to the first order denying post-conviction relief, we affirm the judgement of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOSEPH ANTHONY GONZALES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Reid Poland (at the revocation hearing) and Gregory D. Smith (on appeal), Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph Anthony Gonzales.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; Steve Garrett and Robert Nash, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Joseph Anthony Gonzales, appeals from the trial court’s partial revocation of his probation and order that he serve one of his two eight-year sentences, imposed pursuant to his guilty pleas to dual counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter, in the Department of Correction (DOC). He contends that the evidence relied upon by the trial court was insufficient to support the revocation and requests that this court reinstate his probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. The case is remanded to reflect the proper award of jail credits on the judgment form.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MALCOLM H. JONES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Leslie M. Jeffress (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Malcolm H. Jones.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha M. Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Malcolm H. Jones, appeals from his dual jury convictions for aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and the trial court’s subsequent sentence, after merging the two convictions, to serve nine years in the Department of Correction (DOC). He contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for, that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a continuance, and that the trial court’s sentence of nine years was excessive because the trial court misapplied an enhancement factor, and the remaining two enhancement factors are not sufficient to support a one-year enhancement beyond the minimum in the range. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CAROLYN NADINE KILLIAN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

B. Jeffery Harmon, District Public Defender; Philip A. Condra, Assistant Public Defender, Jasper, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Carolyn Nadine Killian.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and David O. McGovern, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Carolyn Nadine Killian, appeals her conviction for driving under the influence (DUI), first offense, and her sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days with ten days to be served in confinement and the remainder of the sentence to be served on probation. On appeal, she argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction and (2) the trial court imposed an excessive sentence by failing to consider the purposes and principles of the sentencing act. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment, but we remand the case for entry of a percentage of service for the DUI conviction.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GREG LANCE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Greg Lance, Pro Se, Mountain City, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; William E. Gibson, District Attorney General; and Anthony J. Craighead, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Gregory Lance, was convicted of two counts of first degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, and arson. His convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Gregory Lance, No. M2001-02507-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 1960270, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Apr. 28, 2003), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Oct. 27, 2003). Petitioner sought post-conviction relief. The denial of his petition was affirmed by this Court on appeal. Gregory Paul Lance v. State, No. M2005-01765-CCA-R3-PC, 2006 WL 2380619 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Aug. 16, 2006), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 18, 2006). In March of 2012, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis. It was dismissed as untimely. After a review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the untimely petition for coram nobis relief as Petitioner made no allegations that would toll the statute of limitations. Accordingly, the judgment of the coram nobis court is affirmed.


MARTIN LEWIS PRIVETTE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Phillip L. Davidson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Martin Lewis Privette.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; L. Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and Bryna L. Grant, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Martin Lewis Privette, appeals the Sumner County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2011 conviction for incest and his four-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court applied an impermissible legal standard in determining whether he received the effective assistance of counsel when entering his guilty plea. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


ALVERAZ RAMIREZ RIGOBERTO AKA RIGOBERTO A. RAMIREZ v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Caesar Cirigliano and Divyesh R. Gopal, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alveraz Ramirez Rigoberto.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Terry Wood, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Alveraz Ramirez Rigoberto, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of simple possession of marijuana; misdemeanor evading arrest; and driving on a revoked license, sixth offense, and resulting sentences of eleven months, twenty-nine days to be served concurrently on supervised probation. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he is entitled to post-conviction relief because trial counsel failed to advise him about the consequences of his guilty pleas, which resulted in his entering his pleas unknowingly and involuntarily. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of the petition.


WILLIAM GLENN ROGERS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
CORRECTION: The front cover of the opinion filed on Aug. 30, 2012, has been corrected to change "PC" to "PD"

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Hershell D. Koger, Pulaski, Tennessee, and Kathleen Morris, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Glenn Rogers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; John Carney, District Attorney General; and Dent Morriss, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

The capital Petitioner, William Glenn Rogers, appeals as of right from the post-conviction court’s order denying his initial and amended petitions for post-conviction relief challenging his merged first degree murder conviction and death sentence for the killing of nine-year-old Jacqueline Beard, as well as his convictions for especially aggravated kidnapping, rape of a child, and two counts of criminal impersonation. The Petitioner received an effective sentence of forty-eight (48) years’ imprisonment for his non-capital offenses. On appeal, the Petitioner claims that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief because defense counsel provided ineffective assistance in both the trial and appellate proceedings related to these convictions and sentences and because multiple other constitutional violations call into question the validity of these convictions and sentences. After a careful and laborious review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANTHONY DEWIGHT WASHINGTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony Dewight Washington.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret T. Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Anthony Dewight Washington, appeals from his conviction by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of possession with intent to sell or deliver more than one-half gram of cocaine in a drug-free zone, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417(a)(4), (c)(1) (2010) (amended 2012) (possession of cocaine), 39-17-432 (2010) (increased penalty for a drug offense committed in a drug-free zone). The Defendant was sentenced to serve thirty years as a Range III, persistent offender. On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred in sentencing him. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Tennessee Jails Struggle with Number of Inmates

Tennessee jails have more inmates than beds, and there's no solution in sight, reports The Tennessean. According to the paper, nearly half of the state’s 109 jails have more inmates than beds, with some housing two or three times as many inmates as they are certified to hold. Detainees in these counties find themselves sleeping on floors in common areas, using portable showers and toilets, or being moved around to other facilities. Counties with jail overcrowding also have troubles since they are more vulnerable to lawsuits, higher insurance policies and increased costs to house inmates elsewhere.


Fee Collections Up For Eastern District Federal Court

Total collections by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee have been up in the past three years, with 2012 collections setting a new record, reports Chattanoogan.com. The increased revenue will allow the office to undertake additional projects and cases. “During this time of economic recovery, these collections are more important than ever,” said U.S. Attorney William C. "Bill" Killian. The trend in Tennessee follows one happening nationwide. In 2012, more than $13.1 billion was collected in criminal and civil actions, more than doubling the $6.5 billion collected in  2011. Learn more about federal collection trends in the United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Reports.


Blount Co. Bar Elects New Officers

The Blount County Bar Association has elected new officers for 2013. They are: President James H. Snyder Jr. of Alcoa; Vice President George R. Maifair of Ralph Brown & Associates in Knoxville; Treasurer Ted A. Burkhalter Jr. of Maryville; and Secretary Stephen S. Ogle, Blount County Clerk and Master.


Judge Highlights Success in Child Support Collections

At a recent meeting of the 15th Judicial District Bar Association, Judge Clara Byrd congratulated attorneys in the area for their diligent efforts and positive working relationship with the courts, which resulted in successful collection of child support payments in the district. Byrd reported that the local district attorney general’s office collected a higher percentage of child support obligations over the last 12 months than any other judicial district in the state.


ACLU Seeks Probe of Padilla Case

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – the investigation arm of the Organization of American States – to investigate the U.S. government for what it says are violations of the rights of convicted terrorism plotter Jose Padilla. According to the Associated Press, the ACLU says the U.S. violated Padilla's rights when it labeled him an "enemy combatant" a decade ago and subjected him to interrogation tactics such as sleep and sensory deprivation. Padilla was convicted in 2007 of supporting terrorism in Kosovo, Bosnia and Chechnya. He is serving a 17-year sentence. ABC.com has the AP story.


2013 Law Day Theme Announced

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced that the 2013 Law Day theme will be “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” The event will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the impact that the Civil Rights Movement has had on equality under law. Law Day is celebrated each year on May 1 to foster greater appreciation for the law and greater understanding of the American judicial system. For talking points, planning ideas and other resources visit the ABA's Law Day homepage.


Court Asked to Review Landmark File-Sharing Case

Infamous file-sharer Jammie Thomas-Rasset asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to review a jury’s conclusion that she pay the recording industry $222,000 for downloading and sharing two dozen copyrighted songs on the now-defunct file-sharing service Kazaa. Thomas-Rasset, the first person to defend herself against a file-sharing case, said the damages were unconstitutionally excessive and were not rationally related to the harm she caused to the labels. The court previously declined two other file-sharing cases brought before it. Learn more about the case on Wired.com


Court Asks Law Professor to Argue DOMA Procedural Issues

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday chose Harvard constitutional law professor Vicki C. Jackson to argue that it does not have the authority to rule on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Jackson will file a brief and appear to argue two procedural issues that the court itself raised in agreeing to consider the law’s validity. Those issues are whether the court has jurisdiction to rule on the law and whether Republican members of the House of Representatives have a right to appear in the case. SCOTUSblog explores the issues.


Federal Employees Get Relief on Discrimination Appeals

The justices on Monday ruled unanimously that federal employees appealing certain discrimination rulings from the Merit Systems Protection Board may take their cases directly to the district courts rather than be forced to appeal to the Washington, D.C.-based Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Writing for the majority Justice Elena Kagan chastised the federal government for trying to complicate the appeals process. “It would be hard,” she wrote, “to dream up a more round-about way” of setting up judicial review than the one laid out by the government. SCOTUSblog reports


KBA Hosts Reception for Judge Rosenbalm

The Knoxville Bar Association will host a reception to honor the career of Circuit Court Judge Wheeler A. Rosenbalm on Dec. 21 from 11 a.m. to noon. The event will be held in the Knox County Circuit Court Division III courtroom. Contact the KBA at (865) 522-6522 for more information.


The End Is ... A Little Further Away

The end isn't quite as near as reported in yesterday's TBA Today. If you miss attending the TBA Ethics Roadshow at stops this week in Cookeville on Wednesday, Nashville on Thursday or Memphis on Friday you could still attend the Roadshow in Johnson City on Dec. 18.


 
 

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.


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