Senate Panel Unveils Disaster Bill with $1M for LSC

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee recently unveiled a $60.4 billion supplemental appropriations bill to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy that also includes $1 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The funding matches the request submitted by the White House. Though the funds are for LSC grantees in areas impacted by the storm, inclusion of the provision marks the first time since 1993 that a supplemental appropriations bill has included funding for the LSC following a disaster. Read more about the provision

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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
06 - TN Court of Appeals
09 - 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 Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

4215 HARDING ROAD HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION v. STACY HARRIS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Stacy E. Harris, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Nicholas A. Lastra, Franklin, Tennessee, for the Appellee, 4215 Harding Road Homeowners Association.

Judge: DINKINS

Former owner of condominium unit whose unit was ordered sold after being determined, due to unsanitary conditions and offensive odors, to constitute a nuisance, appeals the trial court’s order permanently enjoining her from acquiring a unit in the condominium. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.


KEVIN MICHAEL JORDAN v. A.C. ENTERPRISES, INC., A/K/A DIPSTICK, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Bradley E. Griffith, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, A.C. Enterprises, Inc., a/k/a Dipstick, Inc.

Sandra Lee Stanbery-Foster, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kevin Michael Jordan.

Judge: FRANKS

Plaintiff's action for retaliatory discharge resulted in a jury verdict in favor of plaintiff and an award of $120,000.00. Defendant appealed. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court upholding the jury verdict.


IN RE THE ESTATE OF ROSLYN F. KARESH

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jon W. Smith and Kristen Mistretta Wilson, Memphis, Tennessee, for Plaintiff/Appellant Estate of Roslyn F. Karesh

Audrey J. Grossman, Memphis, Tennessee, for Defendant/Appellee Barbara Stender

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves claims against a decedent’s estate. After claims were filed against the decedent’s estate, the co-executors filed exceptions to the claim and attached a letter previously sent to the claimant discussing their objections to the claims. The probate court held that the co-executors had excepted to the claims only on the basis of timeliness, and that objections in the attached letter would not be considered additional exceptions. The coexecutors argued that the claims were void and unenforceable irrespective of whether exceptions were filed; the probate court did not expressly rule on this contention. The claims against the estate were found to be timely filed, so the claims were reduced to judgments against the estate without a hearing on their merits. The co-executors appeal. We affirm in part and remand for findings of fact and conclusions of law under Rule 52.01 on the issue of whether the claims against the estate are unenforceable or void on their face.


BETTY LOU LAWING v. GREENE COUNTY EMS, et al.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey M. Ward, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Greene County/Greeneville EMS and Greene County, Tennessee.

R. Wayne Culbertson, Kingsport, Tennessee, and Wayne Ritchie, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee Betty Lou Lawing.

Arthur P. Brock and William J. Rieder, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority.

Judge: FRANKS

In this action the defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds the statute of limitation had run on plaintiff's cause of action. The Trial Court overruled the Motion on the grounds that the tolling provisions in Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-201(c) was applicable to GTLA actions and granted permission to appeal pursuant to Tenn. R. App. P. 9. On appeal, we hold that the tolling provision does not apply because the statute did not expressly extend it to GTLA actions.


IN RE: LELAND C.L.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David Vander Sluis, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the appellant, David R.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Rebecca Lyford, Senior Counsel, Office of Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Judge: FRANKS

This is a termination of parental rights case involving the biological father, David R. (“Father”), of the minor child, Leland C.L. The child was taken into custody on June 14, 2010, at two months of age, due to the biological mother’s drug use and the fact that he tested positive for opiates and hydrocodone at birth. The Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights naming the father as a respondent on January 7, 2011. Following a bench trial, the Court granted the Petition upon finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that the father had abandoned the child by failing to provide a suitable home for him, and also that the father was in substantial noncompliance with his permanency plans. The Court further found that termination was in the child’s best interest. The father appeals. We affirm.


RALPH WADKINS & WIFE, JULIA WADKINS v. TANYA WADKINS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Sharon T. Massey, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tanya Wadkins.

No attorney listed for appellee.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a grandparent visitation case, in which Mother appeals the trial court’s award of specific visitation to Appellee grandparents under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-6- 306. Specifically, Mother argues that the trial court incorrectly determined that she opposed visitation, that she had failed to rebut the presumption of substantial harm under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-6-306(b)(4), and that grandparent visitation was in the children’s best interests. Discerning no error, we affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

DAVID AVERY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kara L. Everett, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee (on post-conviction); and David M. Hopkins, Nashville, Tennessee (at trial and on appeal), for the appellant, David Avery.

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

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, David Avery, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner was convicted of aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, reckless endangerment, and attempted second degree murder and was sentenced to an effective term of forty-nine years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he contends that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel at trial and on direct appeal. After reviewing the record, we must conclude that the petitioner failed to establish his claim. Accordingly, the denial of relief is affirmed.


AARON BENARD BARNETT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Aaron Benard Barnett.

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

Judge: WEDEMEYER

On September 10, 2009, a Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Aaron Benard Barnett, of one count of aggravated burglary and one count of vandalism, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of ten years of incarceration. The Petitioner appealed his jury convictions and his sentence, and this Court affirmed his convictions and sentence. State v. Aaron Benard Barnett, No. W2009-02582-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 1224208 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Mar. 30, 2011), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that his trial counsel was ineffective. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude there exists no error in the judgment of the post-conviction court. We, therefore, affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MACK BROUSSARD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Samuel J. Harris, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mack Broussard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent W. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Gary McKenzie and Philip A. Hatch, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A White County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Mack Broussard, of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by (1) failing to instruct the jury on self-defense; (2) failing to redact the portion of the appellant’s statement to police in which he said he was on probation at the time of the crime; and (3) allowing a State witness to give a speculative opinion about the appellant’s motive for the killing. Upon review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


NEWT CARTER V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Newt Carter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; Jody S. Pickens, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Newt Carter (“the Petitioner”) filed for post-conviction relief, challenging his convictions for aggravated rape and aggravated burglary. As his bases for relief, he alleged several grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and that “newly discovered evidence” existed in the case. After the close of the Petitioner’s proof in an evidentiary hearing, upon motion by the State, the post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal followed. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that trial counsel (1) failed to account for the Petitioner’s learning disabilities and (2) failed to call Benjamin Jackson as a witness. Based upon the record before us, we are compelled to vacate the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand this action to the Madison County Circuit Court for conclusion of the evidentiary hearing and for the post-conviction court to make factual findings and conclusions at the close of all the proof based on all of the evidence presented at the post-conviction hearing.


JASON CLINARD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Clifford K. McGown, Jr., for the appellant, Jason Clinard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Dan Mitchum Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Carey Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Jason Clinard, appeals the Stewart County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of first degree premeditated murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, he contends that he was prejudiced by trial counsel’s agreeing to transfer his case from juvenile to circuit court. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TINA DEHART

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gregory D. Gookin, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tina Dehart.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

In case 09-335, the Defendant, Tina Dehart, pled guilty to theft of property valued over $1,000, and the trial court sentenced her to three years to be served on community corrections, but it later granted her judicial diversion. In case 11-622, the Defendant pled guilty to theft of property valued over $500. After her plea, the trial court determined that her new conviction violated the terms of her probationary sentence in case number 09-335. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to three years in case number 09-335 and to two years in case number 11-622. The trial court ordered that the sentences be served consecutively and in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied her request for alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we conclude that there exists no error in the judgments of the trial court. We, therefore, affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOSHUA M. FAULK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Rick G. Mansfield, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joshua M. Faulk.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Allyson S. Abbott, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Joshua M. Faulk, appeals the revocation of his community corrections sentence and reinstatement of his original ten-year sentence for aggravated burglary, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that he violated the terms of his sentence based on new charges of theft and vandalism. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DENNY MCABEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Denny McAbee.

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

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Denny McAbee, pled guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to aggravated burglary. The trial court sentenced the petitioner to fourteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Subsequently, the petitioner filed a motion to set aside his guilty plea, which the trial court denied. On appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court’s ruling. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. HOWARD LAVELLE TATE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael A. Colavecchio, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Howard Lavelle Tate.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Marie Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Howard Lavelle Tate, was convicted of two counts of the sale of over 0.5 grams of a schedule II controlled substances, both Class B felonies, possession of over 26 grams of a schedule II controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The defendant received an effective sentence of fortyseven years. The defendant challenges his convictions, asserting that the trial court erred by (1) admitting evidence seized from his home without a search warrant; (2) admitting evidence that was improperly preserved with no established chain of custody; (3) allowing the State to present inconsistent evidence regarding the substance sold; (4) allowing the State to add an additional count to the indictment; and (5) ordering consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress and the evidence seized as the result of the unlawful search should have been excluded from consideration by the jury. Therefore, the convictions that resulted therefrom, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, and possession of schedule II controlled substance with intent to sell are reversed and remanded. The defendant’s convictions on two counts of sale of over 0.5 grams of schedule II controlled substance and sentences are affirmed.


Judge Kurtz: Decision on Retrials Coming Mid-January

Knox County Criminal Court Judge Walter Kurtz said he would decide quickly whether to grant new trials to three defendants previously convicted for killing Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. At a hearing Thursday, Kurtz said the motions for new trials “don’t need to fester any longer” and that he would decide on them by mid-January. Read this AP story in the Jackson Sun.


New Chattanooga Judge Sworn In, Gets to Work

Assistant District Attorney Lila Statom was sworn in this morning as the newest Hamilton County general sessions judge, filling a vacancy left by the departure of Judge Ronald W. Durby. Judge Clarence Shattuck administered the oath and the robe presentation was made by Lynda Hood, executive director of the Chattanooga Bar Association. Statom lost no time getting started as she began to hear cases soon after the ceremony. Chattanoogan.com has the story and photos from the event.


TALS Hires New Policy, Training Director

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) has hired Anne Fox to coordinate legislative activities, develop training curriculum, and oversee seven statewide substantive-law task forces. In addition, she will be the primary coordinator of the 2013 Equal Justice University, which will be held in Nashville at the Millennium Maxwell House Oct. 9-11. Fox previously worked with Clifton Government Relations, handling legislative relations and advocacy for non-profit clients. Read more from the agency


Parole Board Losing Rogersville Office

The state Board of Probation and Parole has 90 days to vacate a Hawkins County-owned office building in Rogersville, reports the Kingsport Times News. The office serves Hawkins County residents on probation and parole through the Third Judicial District Criminal Court. If the office closes, those on probation and parole might have to travel to the board’s Greeneville office to meet their parole officer. In making the decision to evict the office, some members of the county commission expressed concern that probation and parole violations may increase if those who do not have the means or the initiative to go to Greeneville don't make the trip.


East Ridge Council Names Interim Attorney

The East Ridge City Council named Chattanooga lawyer Hal North as interim city attorney during a special called meeting on Saturday, according to Chattanoogan.com. He will be paid a flat $7,500 monthly fee for three months with no guarantee of a long-term contract. The move comes after the council voted 3-2 last Thursday to remove John Anderson from the post. Anderson had worked as part time city attorney since 2008, but recently came under fire for the size of his salary. The Times Free Press criticized the arrangement with Anderson in an editorial.


DUI Trial for Rep. Todd Delayed

State Rep. Curry Todd's trial on DUI and gun-possession charges was postponed Friday after attorneys said discussions with prosecutors about a possible plea were ongoing. The judge reset the date for Jan. 11, 2013. Todd has entered a not-guilty plea to charges of driving under the influence, possession of a handgun while under the influence, and violating the state's implied-consent law by refusing a breath-alcohol test. The charges were filed after he was stopped by Nashville police late on the night of Oct. 11, 2011, on a busy street near Vanderbilt University. The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports


Fleischmann Chief of Staff Stepping Down

Chip Saltsman, chief of staff for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, will be stepping down from that role on Jan. 1, but will continue to serve as an advisor through the end of the month. Jim Hippe, Fleischmann’s current legislative director and counsel, will take over as chief. A native Nashvillian and lawyer, Hippe has worked with Fleischmann since 2011. Prior to that he was legislative director and deputy chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He is a graduate of the University of Richmond and Vanderbilt University Law School. Chattanoogan.com has more


AWA Annual Banquet Set for Jan. 17

The Association for Women Attorneys (AWA) will host its 33rd Annual Banquet and Silent Auction Jan. 17, at the Tower Center at Clark Tower. A cocktail hour with cash bar and silent auction will begin at 5:30 p.m. Dinner and program will start at 6:45 p.m. During the event, the group will install its new president, induct board members and committee chairs for 2013, and present the Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award for outstanding achievement in the legal profession. Tickets are $60 for AWA members, $70 for nonmembers and $40 for law students. Proceeds benefit scholarships for University of Memphis law students. For more details contact banquet co-chair Keating Lowery at KeatingL@lawrencerussell.com or (901) 844-4438. The Memphis Daily News also recently ran a story. Read it here


 
 

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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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