2013 Law Student Leadership Class Named

The 2013 class of the TBA Diversity Leadership Institute was announced today. The six-month leadership and mentoring program for law school students is sponsored by the TBA's Young Lawyers Division. This year it is made up of 18 students who will gather for their first meeting Jan. 18 in Nashville in conjunction with the TBA Leadership Conference.

Class members are: Shana Berkeley, Brett Knight, Kimberlee McTorry, Daniela Quintero and Ashley Upkins from the Belmont College of Law; Aisha DeBerry from the Duncan School of Law; Sonia Boss, Cynthia Brown, Cole Rogers, Mike Sandler and Tracey Williams from the Nashville School of Law; Anthony Adewumi, James Cobb, Jayniece Higgins and Jerry Ivery from the University of Memphis School of Law; and Estefania Chavez, LaToyia Trotter and Yessle Yi from the University of Tennessee College of Law. The program is being chaired this year by Memphis attorney Ahsaki Baptist and Nashville lawyer Brian Winfrey.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
00 - 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









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 Workers Comp Appeals

ROBERT LAURENCE v. TOWER INSURANCE COMPANY

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Roger A. Miller, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tower Insurance Company.

Joseph R. Ford, Loudon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Robert Laurence.

Judge: WADE

The employee, a satellite dish installer, injured his head while installing equipment at the residence of a customer of the employer. When the employer denied workers’ compensation benefits for permanent partial disability, the employee filed suit. The trial court awarded temporary total disability benefits and a 70% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employer appealed. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this appeal has been referred to a special workers’ compensation appeals panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Because an employee is entitled to temporary total disability benefits only until he is able to return to work or reaches his maximum recovery, the trial court erred by awarding an additional fifty weeks of temporary total disability benefits. Otherwise, the judgment is affirmed.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT M. DEUNES-CRUZ

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mark R. Olson, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert M. Deunes-Cruz.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, 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: TIPTON

The Defendant, Robert M. Deunes-Cruz, was convicted by a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury of statutory rape by an authority figure and incest, Class C felonies. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-532, 39-15-302 (2010). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of three years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES WILLIAM FLOYD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, (on appeal); Raymond Mack Garner, District Public Defender; and George Waters, Assistant Public Defender, Maryville, Tennessee, (at trial), for the appellant, James William Floyd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Matthew Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, James William Floyd, pled guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court to the offense of robbery. Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, Defendant received a sentence of four years to be served by split confinement with incarceration of 49 days and the balance on supervised probation. He was released from jail on June 3, 2011, to begin the probation portion of his sentence. On March 9, 2012, a probation violation warrant was issued. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked probation and ordered him to serve the balance of his sentence by incarceration. Defendant appeals, and does not challenge the revocation of probation, but argues that the trial court erred by ordering the entire sentence to be served by incarceration. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


BRENDA REYNALDA INZUNZA v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick T. McNally, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brenda Reynalda Inzunza.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel M. Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Brenda Reynalda Inzunza, appeals the dismissal of her petition for postconviction relief as time-barred, arguing that her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance for failing to advise her of the deportation consequences of her guilty plea and that the statute of limitations should be tolled because Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. ___ , 130 S. Ct. 1476 (2010), announced a new rule of constitutional law that did not exist at the time she entered her plea. In the alternative, she argues that due process considerations should operate to toll the statute of limitations. Following our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.


SHAVON PAGE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William J. Taylor, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shavon Page.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; and Philip Morton and Eric Counts, Assistant District Attorneys General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Petitioner, Shavon Page, pled guilty to five counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, two counts of aggravated robbery, and one count of aggravated burglary, in exchange for an effective sentence of thirty years, to be served at 100%. The Petitioner filed a timely petition for postconviction relief, alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. On appeal, the Petitioner contends first that the post-conviction court erred when it denied his request, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 615, to have his trial counsel excluded from the courtroom during the post-conviction hearing. He next contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately investigate his case, which rendered the Petitioner’s guilty plea unknowingly and involuntarily entered. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LAVON DOUGLAS ROBERTSON
With Concurring Opinion

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Claudia S. Jack, District Public Defender; and Richard H. Dunavant, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Lavon Douglas Robertson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Christi Leigh Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Lavon Douglas Robertson, was convicted by a jury of one count of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, a Class D felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39- 17-433. The Defendant was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to four years of supervised probation. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the evidence seized during a search of a oneroom “dwelling” used by the Defendant and (2) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JOSE RODRIGUEZ A.K.A. ALEX LOPEZ v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Sean Lewis and Patrick G. Frogge, on appeal, and Patrick T. McNally, Nashville, Tennessee, at trial, for the appellant, Jose Rodriguez a.k.a Alex Lopez.

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

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Jose Rodriguez, brings a post-conviction challenge to his guilty plea, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The petitioner claims that, under Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S.Ct. 1473, 1483 (2010), his counsel was deficient in failing to advise him regarding the deportation consequences of his guilty plea. The petition was filed more than one year after the guilty plea, and the post-conviction court denied relief based on the statute of limitations pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-102(a). We conclude that a post-conviction action does not lie when the petitioner’s record has been expunged and no conviction exists. In addition, the trial court was correct in concluding the petition was time-barred. Accordingly, we affirm the post-conviction court’s summary dismissal.


WILLIAM GLENN WILEY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Edward M. Yarbrough and Andrew J. Ross, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Glenn Wiley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and John C. Zimmerman and Shannon Poindexter, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, William Glenn Wiley, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery, arguing that he is entitled to a new trial based on “the State’s systematic late-disclosures of exculpatory evidence,” which rendered his trial counsel presumptively ineffective under United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648 (1984). In the alternative, he argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel under the Strickland standard based on counsel’s inadequate response to the latedisclosed evidence and failure to call two exculpatory witnesses at his trial. Finally, the petitioner argues that he is entitled to a new post-conviction evidentiary hearing because of the post-conviction court’s denial of his request for a continuance and an order to have the potentially exculpatory fingerprint evidence analyzed. Following our review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of the petition.


24 Apply for Judicial Nominating Commission

The Administrative Office of the Courts has received 24 applications to fill the Judicial Nominating Commission vacancy created by the retirement of Theresa Lee. The new commissioner will serve out the remainder of Lee’s term, which expires June 30, 2015. Public comments regarding the applicants will be accepted through Jan. 18 and should be sent to jnc@tncourts.gov or AOC/Judicial Nominating Commission, Attn: Debbie Hayes, 511 Union St., Suite 600, Nashville, TN 37219. After the comment period, the lieutenant governor will have 14 days to fill the vacancy on the commission.


Comptroller Announces New Online Fraud Tool

Tennesseans can now report suspected cases of fraud, waste and abuse of public funds at www.comptroller.tn.gov. The new service from the Office of the Comptroller compliments a toll-free telephone hotline that has been in existence since 1983 and has logged 17,000 calls. The Chattanoogan reports that the online tool was created in response to a new requirement passed by the General Assembly.


Memphis Lawyer Vows to Challenge Suspension

Veteran Memphis lawyer R. Sadler Bailey plans to appeal a disciplinary panel decision that he be suspended for 60 days for showing "disrespect and sarcasm" in comments made to Circuit Court Judge Karen Williams during a medical malpractice trial in 2008. He also is criticizing release of the opinion, which he says should have been kept private until his appeal is heard. He said it was proof of "a conspiracy and vendetta to humiliate and embarrass me," The Commercial Appeal reports.


Baumgartner Seeks to Regain Pension

Former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner is challenging loss of his pension after a jury convicted him on federal charges of misprision of a felony for his role in covering up a prescription painkiller conspiracy. The pension earlier had been spared when he pleaded guilty to a state charge of official misconduct. Baumgartner now argues that the law only bars him from retirement benefits if the crimes stem from "official" duties, and that his conduct in the federal case had nothing to do with his role as judge, the Knox News reports.


First Corporate Legal Department Named to Pro Bono Hot List

The National Law Journal issues a Pro Bono Hot List each year and this year, a corporate legal department has made the top 10 list for the first time. The magazine reports that it included International Business Machines Corp. in recognition of the company’s work on behalf of Hurricane Sandy victims. It also says that inclusion of the legal department highlights the increasing corporate commitment to pro bono projects. “Legal departments are making it clear that they care and expect their outside counsel to do likewise,” the editors write.


General Assembly to Convene Tuesday

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell says she’s ready to “fight for” rule changes she’s proposed to modify how the chamber does business. Considering those rules will be job number one when the General Assembly convenes Tuesday, she says. Harwell will first name a special rules committee, and within hours it could take up her suggestions, reports WPLN. At least one proposed rule, which limits each member to sponsoring just 10 bills, has resulted in grumbling among lawmakers and lobbyists. Harwell says it will make the House run more efficiently. Read more about the rules changes being considered and about the new faces in the legislature this session.


Federal Bar Group to Meet in Chattanooga

The Chattanooga Chapter of the Federal Bar Association will hold its annual meeting Jan. 15 at noon at The Chattanoogan. The speaker will be University of South Carolina Emeritus Professor Dan T. Carter, a leading authority on race relations and American politics. Carter will focus his remarks on current trends in voting rights in the United States. The event is open to the public. Cost for admission is $30, which includes lunch. For questions or to reserve a seat, contact Katharine Gardner.


Memphis Law Hosts International Law Workshop

The University of Memphis School of Law, in conjunction with the Russian Cultural Center of Memphis, will convene a workshop on private international law Jan. 13-14. During the first day of the program, participants will take part in cultural events at the Russian Cultural Center. The workshop will continue on Jan. 14 at the law school with a program on the prospects and challenges for Russian-American bilateral trade and cultural exchange following Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization. See the full schedule or contact Ryan Jones by email or phone at (901) 678-4910.


Nashville Lawyer Suspended for One Year

Nashville lawyer William Alan Alder was suspended from the practice of law for one year, ordered to pay restitution to a former client and undergo an assessment with the Tennessee Lawyers’ Assistance Program on Dec. 28, 2012. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that he Improperly used his trust account for personal use, caused several bank overdrafts, failed to provide legal services to clients, was not diligent in handling client matters, failed to adequately communicate with clients and submitted false affidavits to the Commission on Legal Education and Specialization claiming to have participated in legal training which he never attended. 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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