Barcus Assumes KBA Leadership at Annual Meeting

Heidi A. Barcus of London & Amburn P.C. assumed presidency of the Knoxville Bar Association today at its annual meeting. Other new officers include President-Elect Wade V. Davies, Treasurer Tasha C. Blakney and Secretary Wayne R. Kramer. Doug Blaze, Chris McCarty, Hanson Tipton and Chancellor John Weaver were elected to the Board of Governors. Also at the meeting, Thomas M. Hale was presented with the prestigious Governor’s Award, the highest award of the KBA. It is awarded to a lawyer whose peers believe to be deserving of special respect. William R. Searle III was honored posthumously with the Courage in the Face of Adversity Award. His widow, Sarah Searle, accepted the award on his behalf.

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
03 - 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

CITY OF KNOXVILLE v. THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE PENSION BOARD, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Al Holifield; Tina Haley; and, Sarah R. Johnson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Clarence Norman Bragg; James C. Brock, Jr.; Roy Brooks; Jeffery D. Caldwell; Lisa Denise Chambers; Valerie Denise Coleman; Donald E. Dailey; Terry Lamar Griffitt; Kenneth Ray Jackson; Brently Joel Johnson; Susan Kay; Stephen J. King; Todd Lay; Joseph Graham MacDonald; Carol C. Mahler; Fannie Paullette Maples; Randell Charles Maynard; Jeffery J. McCarter; Deborah C. Moore; Ernie L. Pierce, III; Michelle L. Pons; Zephyree D. Porter;Greg Roberts; Richard Roller; Sandra Kelley Schade; Timothy Scott Schade; Robin D. Shelton; Paula S. Troutt; Joe Walsh; Gregory Scott Williams; and, James E. York.

Robert H. Watson, Jr.; John T. Batson, Jr.; and, E. Courtney Epps, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, the City of Knoxville.

Judge: SWINEY

This appeal in a writ of certiorari action arises from a dispute over the authority of a pension board. The City of Knoxville (“the City”) filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court for Knox County (“the Trial Court”) challenging an action by the City of Knoxville Pension Board (“the Pension Board”). The City alleged that the Pension Board exceeded its authority in allowing a number of employees (“the Respondents”) to select a new retirement plan option despite the fact that the Respondents already had made their onetime selection for a different and now less attractive retirement plan option. Knoxville voters previously had rejected by referendum an ordinance that would have given the Respondents this opportunity for a new selection. The Pension Board argued that it merely was correcting an inadvertent error that had disadvantaged the Respondents. The Trial Court held that the Pension Board exceeded its authority and reversed the actions of the Pension Board. The Respondents appeal to this Court. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court 1 in its entirety.


SARAH HURST v. COLMAN S. HOCHMAN, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Whitney Durand, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sarah Hurst.

John C. Cavett, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Colman S. Hochman, and Hochman Family Partners, L.P.

Judge: SWINEY

Sarah Hurst (“Hurst”) sued Colman S. Hochman (“Hochman”) and Hochman Family Partners, L.P. (“the Partnership”) alleging that Hochman had committed a battery upon her, and seeking damages for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress among other things. After a trial, the Trial Court entered its Final Decree that, inter alia, awarded Hurst damages of $2,500 against Hochman for battery; denied Hurst’s claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, and punitive damages; and dismissed Hurst’s claims against the Partnership. Hurst appeals raising issues regarding whether the Trial Court erred in denying her claim of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and in dismissing her claims against the Partnership. We affirm.


IN RE J.C.H., J.C.H., and J.C.H.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Lisa M. Miller, Selmer, Tennessee, for Respondent/Appellant B.J.H.

Benjamin S. Harmon, Savannah, Tennessee, for Respondent/Appellant, J.L.H.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr. and Martha A. Campbell, Nashville, Tennessee, for Petitioner/Appellee Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves the termination of the parental rights of a mother and father as to their three children. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services became involved after it was reported that the father sexually abused the parties’ older daughter. Initially, the children were permitted to stay in the mother’s custody under a protection agreement and a restraining order which prohibited the father from any contact with the children. In violation of both, the mother and father fled the state with the children. As a result, the children were taken into protective custody. In the ensuing dependency and neglect proceedings, the children were found to be the victims of severe child abuse by both the father and the mother, and this finding was not appealed. The father eventually pled guilty to attempted aggravated sexual battery of the child. The Department filed this petition to terminate the parental rights of both parents. The trial court found several grounds for termination, including severe child abuse and abandonment by failure to support, and terminated the parental rights of both parents. The mother and father now appeal. We reverse the finding that the father abandoned his children by failure to support, but affirm all other grounds for termination and affirm the termination of the parental rights of both parents.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANTHONY BENTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen Bush, District Public Defender; and Trent Hall (at trial) and Barry W. Kuhn (on appeal), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Anthony Benton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Marianne Bell and Alanda Dwyer, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

A jury convicted the defendant, Anthony Benton, of reckless endangerment, a Class E felony; aggravated assault, a Class C felony; and possessing a handgun after having been convicted of a felony, a Class C felony. The reckless endangerment count was merged into the aggravated assault conviction. The defendant received an effective sentence of nineteen years. On appeal, the defendant asserts that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support the verdicts. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court, but remand for a corrected judgment.


ANTON CARLTON v. JOE EASTERLING, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Anton Carlton, pro se, Whiteville, Tennessee, as the appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Anton Carlton (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging that he received a sentence for an offense for which he was not convicted. The habeas corpus court dismissed his petition without a hearing, and the Petitioner now appeals. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s summary dismissal of habeas corpus relief. However, we remand the case to the sentencing court to enter a corrected judgment as specified in this opinion.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ASHUNTI ELMORE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Arthur Horne (at trial) and Joseph A. McClusky (on appeal), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ashunti Elmore.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Robert Ratton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant was convicted of two counts of reckless aggravated assault, Class D felonies, and sentenced to serve two concurrent three-year terms, split six months in confinement with the balance to be served on probation. On appeal, she contends that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions, that double jeopardy prevented her dual convictions, and that the trial court erred in denying her judicial diversion. After careful review, we conclude that sufficient evidence exists to support her convictions, that double jeopardy requires her two convictions be merged and that the trial court did not abuse his discretion in denying judicial diversion. The defendant’s convictions and sentence of three years with six months served in confinement and the balance on probation are affirmed This case is remanded to the trial court solely for purposes of entering a single corrected judgment.


JUNIOR LENRO SMOTHERS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Junior Lenro Smothers, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Al Earls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Junior Lenro Smothers, filed a pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis (“coram nobis petition”) in the Madison County Circuit Court attacking his two convictions for aggravated statutory rape and one conviction for delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. The coram nobis trial court summarily dismissed the petition without an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner appeals, and we reverse the judgment of the trial court in part, affirm in part, and remand for further proceedings.


JEREMY TAYLOR v. DWIGHT BARBEE, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeremy Taylor, pro se, Henning, Tennessee, as the appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and David H. Findley, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Jeremy Taylor (“the Petitioner”) entered a guilty plea to charges of aggravated rape, aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated assault. The Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the speedy trial provisions of the Interstate Detainer Act were violated as to the Petitioner. The habeas corpus court dismissed his petition without a hearing, finding that the Petitioner’s claim did not render the judgments against him void. The Petitioner now appeals. After a review of the record and the applicable law, we dismiss the appeal.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOE CLYDE TUBWELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joe Clyde Tubwell, pro se, as the appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

This case involves a traffic ticket for speeding received by the Defendant, Joe Clyde Tubwell, in Memphis, Tennessee. The Defendant was found guilty by the Memphis City Court. The Defendant contends that he was denied the right to appeal that decision as an indigent. In Shelby County Circuit Court, he subsequently filed a “Petition for Mandamus or for Order Directing that Indigent Be Allowed to Appeal.” The Circuit Court dismissed this filing. The Defendant now appeals. After review, based on the specific facts of this case, we now dismiss the appeal without prejudice and remand this action to the Shelby County Circuit Court with instructions to hold an evidentiary hearing in this matter.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRENDA WOODS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

C. Michael Robbins, Covington, Tennessee (on appeal); and David A. Stowers and Daryl Gray, Bolivar, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Brenda Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Bob Gray, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Brenda Woods, was convicted by a Hardeman County jury of three counts of procuring an illegal vote, a Class E felony, and was sentenced by the trial court to concurrent terms of two years for each offense, with credit given for one day’s jail service and the remainder of the time on supervised probation. The defendant was also disqualified from holding public office for the duration of her sentence pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-20-114(a). She raises the following four issues on appeal: (1) whether the prosecutor engaged in misconduct that deprived her of a fundamentally fair trial; (2) whether the trial court erred by overruling her Batson challenge to the prosecutor’s exercise of a peremptory challenge; (3) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain her convictions; and (4) whether the trial court erred by allowing testimony from an investigator about his telephone conversations with her. Following our review, we reverse and remand for a new trial.


Today's News

3 Recommended for Circuit Court Judgeship

The Judicial Nominating Commission has recommended to Gov. Bill Haslam three applicants to  fill the 6th District Circuit Court vacancy created by the retirement of the Hon. Wheeler A. Rosenbalm. The candidates are Kristi M. Davis of Hodges, Doughty & Carson; Mary Elizabeth Maddox of Frantz, McConnell & Seymour; and Deborah C. Stevens of Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop.


LMU Hires Interim Dean

Parham Williams Jr. will serve as interim dean of Lincoln University's John J. Duncan School of Law while the school goes through the accreditation process and conducts a nation search for a permanent dean, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Wiliams served as law dean at the University of Mississippi, Samford University, and Chapman University for a combined 35 years. He is a gradate of Ole Miss and earned his law degree from Yale University.


State Wins in Drug Promotion Lawsuit

Tennessee will receive $1.1 million as part of a $42.9 million agreement with Pfizer and 33 other states over the drug maker’s alleged unfair and deceptive practices in promoting its Zyvox and Lyrica products. Under the settlement, Pfizer does not have to admit wrongdoing, but says it will change how it markets the drugs.


East Tenn. Judge Announces Retirement

Criminal Court Judge Lynn Brown of the First Judicial District announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of March 2013, the Johnson City Press reports. Brown has served as Criminal Court judge since 1988, after 11 years as a prosecutor with the First District Attorney General’s Office. Assistant District Attorneys Dennis Brooks and Ken Baldwin have already stated their desire to succeed Brown.


General Sessions Court Judge Appointed

Gov. Bill Haslam has selected Assistant District Attorney Lila Statom to fill the Hamilton County General Sessions Court seat held by Judge Ron Durby, who left the bench citing medical reasons. Statom joined the prosecutor’s office in Nashville in 1989 and joined the staff of District Attorney Bill Cox in 1998. She will be the second female judge on the court, joining Christie Sell. The Chattanoogan has the story.


Courts Face Layoffs Amid Possible Budget Cuts

Should Congress fail to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” federal courts risk losing $555 million and could be forced to lay off as many as 2,000 non-judicial employees under the budget cuts, Gavel Grab reports. Charles Hall, spokesman for the federal Administrative Office of the Courts, said individual district and circuit courts will decide whether to absorb the cuts through layoffs, furloughs or a combination of both.


Rumor Mill: Democratic Minority Leader Considers Run for Governor

Leading House Democratic Craig Fitzhugh has been rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2014, according to reports. When asked directly by the Nashville City Paper, he said, “I wouldn’t rule it out at all.” Fitzhugh has served in the legislature for almost 20 years, largely as the caucus’ budget expert. He ran for minority leader in 2010 and was re-elected to the post Wednesday.


Democrats Opt to Maintain Current Leadership

Tennessee Democratic Party Caucus chairman Mike Turner of Old Hickory fended off a challenge from Rep. Johnny Shaw of Bolivar, who said he would bring a more cooperative spirit to the position. With reelection, Turner said he expects to be as fiery as ever. Democrats in both chambers return to the upcoming session with historically low numbers as Republicans hold two-thirds majorities.


Healy Withdraws from Chattanooga Mayoral Race

Chattanooga mayoral candidate Rob Healy announced this morning that he is dropping out of the race, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. He cited the staggering amount of money needed to pay for campaigns as a reason for his withdrawal. His departure leaves two candidates for mayor: former Democratic State Sen. Andy Berke and former city employee Guy Satterfield


 
 

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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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