Reeves, Max to Mediate TVA Ash-Spill Case

Knoxville attorney and former Tennessee Bar Association President Pamela Reeves has been appointed by U.S District Judge Tom Varlan to jointly mediate the class-action lawsuit linked to the 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash spill at Kingston Fossil Plant. Some 872 plaintiffs are suing TVA over damages that are allegedly related to the spill, which fouled the Emory River and the surrounding Roane County countryside with 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash. Reeves and Florida lawyer Rodney Max, who will serve as joint mediator, were both recommended by the parties in the case, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

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.

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00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
00 - TN Court of Appeals
07 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
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TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DAVID EUGENE BREEZEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Guy T. Wilkinson, District Public Defender, for the appellant, David Eugene Breezee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel J. McCadams, District Attorney General; and James E. Williams, III and Scott Rich, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, David Eugene Breezee, was found guilty by a Benton County Circuit Court jury of rape, a Class B felony, and incest, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-503(b); 39- 15-302(b). At the sentencing hearing, the incest conviction was merged with the rape conviction, and the Defendant was sentenced to ten years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions and that he erroneously received more than the minimum sentence of eight years because the trial court applied the multiple victims enhancement factor. We affirm the Defendant’s conviction and sentence for rape, but we reverse the trial court’s merger of the incest conviction into the rape conviction, reinstate the incest conviction, and remand for sentencing as to that conviction.


JERMAINE R. CARPENTER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jim R. Williams, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jermaine R. Carpenter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Teresa Nelson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Jermaine R. Carpenter, filed for post-conviction relief from his conviction of simple possession of cocaine and two convictions of the sale of .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school zone, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner now appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANDREW CROSS
With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

John P. Fortuno, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant Andrew Cross.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Steven Bebb, District Attorney General, and Drew Robinson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, Andrew Cross, pled guilty in the Polk County Criminal Court, to one count of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and one count of Class E felony theft. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed the minimum allowable sentences of three years for aggravated burglary and one year for theft, and ordered the sentences to be served concurrently. The trial court also ordered the effective sentence of three years suspended, to be served on probation, but the trial court denied Defendant’s request to be granted judicial diversion. In this appeal, Defendant argues that he should have been granted judicial diversion. We disagree, and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MISTY LYNN NANNEY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Christopher G. Clark, Clarksville, Tennessee (at guilty plea and sentencing hearings); and Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Misty Lynn Nanney.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Arthur F. Bieber, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Misty Lynn Nanney, pled guilty to one count of theft of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1,000, a Class E felony; one count of forgery, a Class E felony; one count of possession with intent to sell less than .5 grams of cocaine, a Class C felony; two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor; and one count of tampering with evidence, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-14-103, - 14-105(a)(2), -14-114, -16-503, -17-417(c)(2)(A), -17-425(a). Following a sentencing hearing, the Defendant received an effective eight-year sentence to be served in confinement. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying her request for probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LESTON PARKER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Colin Morris, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Leston Parker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; James (Jerry) G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian M. Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

Following the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion to suppress his statement to police, the Defendant-Appellant, Leston Parker, entered open guilty pleas to his charged offenses of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class D felony, driving on a canceled, suspended, or revoked license, a Class B misdemeanor, driving while one’s driver’s license is canceled, suspended, or revoked because of a conviction for driving under the influence, a Class B misdemeanor, and violating the registration law, a Class C misdemeanor. The trial court subsequently sentenced Parker to an effective sentence of ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Parker argues that the trial court erred by: (1) denying his motion to suppress, and (2) imposing an excessive sentence. Upon review, we conclude that only the sentencing issue is properly before this court because Parker failed to reserve a certified question of law regarding the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress. Accordingly, we dismiss the portion of the appeal regarding the denial of Parker’s motion to suppress, and we affirm his effective sentence of ten years. However, we remand the case to the trial court for the purpose of merging the conviction for driving while one’s driver’s license is canceled, suspended, or revoked because of a conviction for driving under the influence with the conviction for driving on a canceled, suspended, or revoked license.


BRITTANY SCOTT PYE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert C. Richardson, Jr., Columbia, Tennessee, for the Petitioner, Brittany Scott Pye.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; T. Michael (Mike) Bottoms, District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Brittany Scott Pye, appeals from the Maury County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief. He was convicted of sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine and sentenced as a multiple offender to fifteen years in the Department of Correction. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to communicate his acceptance of the State’s offer of settlement prior to trial. He also contends that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to accept his guilty plea after a trial date had been scheduled. Upon review, we  affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MERSHAUN WILLIAM SCOTT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Melissa Harrison, Assistant Public Defender (at trial and on appeal); and Jeffrey A. DeVasher, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mershaun William Scott.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Thomas, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Mershaun William Scott, was convicted in a bench trial by the Davidson County Criminal Court of simple possession of marijuana and received a thirty-day sentence, suspended to unsupervised probation, and a $250 suspended fine. See T.C.A. § 39-17-418 (2010). The Petitioner contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


16 Counties Put New DUI Law Into Effect Tonight

Tennessee law enforcement in 16 counties across the state will be using the new “no refusal” law starting tonight, allowing them to get blood samples of suspected drunken drivers, the Tennessean reports. Previously, drivers could refuse a blood alcohol content test. The “no refusal” law, passed this year, allows police to seek search warrants for blood samples.


Stanford to Start Religious Liberty Law Clinic

Stanford Law School is establishing a new religious liberty law clinic with $1.6 million in seed funding from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Washington-based nonprofit that supports the free expression of religious beliefs regardless of faith, the National Law Journal reports. Administrators say it will be the first of its kind at a U.S. law school. "The point of a clinic is to teach professional skills to law students using real cases and live clients," director James Sonne said. "As our culture becomes more diverse, it's a great way for students to represent clients whose beliefs are different from their own."


Christian-Newsom Murder Defendant Requests New Trial in Light of 'Explosive' New Information

Attorneys for Lemaricus Davidson, who was convicted of the torture slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, are asking for a new trial due to outside influences on the jury during deliberations, WATE Knoxville News Channel 6 reports. In newly released, post-trial information, a juror blogged about his experience in 2009 during Davidson’s first trial stating the jurors had a “praise service” during the deliberations. Eight jurors believed Davidson should receive death, while four were unsure. The juror blogged that out of the five-plus hours spent deliberating, four hours were spent in prayer and reading the Bible. The judge will hear Davidson’s latest amended motions for a new trial on Jan. 10.


Lawyers, Judges Raise Money for Chattanooga Food Bank

Members of the Chattanooga chapter of the American Inns of Court donated $11,250 to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, the Hamilton County Herald reports. Most of the money was raised at an auction during the group's holiday party, with the rest coming from member donations. “Every dollar donated to the Food Bank buys five meals,” said Maeghan Jones, president of the Food Bank. “So, the Inn’s donation will allow us to provide 56,250 meals. I’m thrilled to know my colleagues in the legal community are so willing to give back by making sure their neighbors do not go hungry, especially during the holidays.”


Senate Reauthorizes FISA, a Top DOJ Priority

The Senate voted 73-23 today to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), after rejecting amendments that would have required more disclosure of how the warrantless wiretapping program is used. The act was top legislative priority of the U.S. Department of Justice as a tool for collecting foreign intelligence, although it drew criticism from privacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union.


GOP Women to Outnumber Democrats in Legislature

GOP women will outnumber their Democratic counterparts when the General Assembly convenes next month, the Tennessean reports. Republicans will hold a 12-11 advantage among female officeholders, though the female percentage of the party delegations still shows a Democratic advantage: one in nine GOP senators and representatives are women versus one in four for the Democrats.


Sen. Herron Running for Tenn. Democratic Party Chair

State Sen. Roy Herron confirmed today that he is running for chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, the Tennessean reports. Herron, who decided to run after a family member’s health issue was resolved late last week, joins at least four other candidates for the position: Jane Hampton Bowen, Dave Garrison, Wade Munday and Ben Smith. The state party’s 72 executive committee members will decide on Jan. 26.


 
 

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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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