AOC Report Pans Statewide Veterans Court System

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, last year proposed legislation to set up a statewide framework for veterans’ treatment courts, which would operate much like drug courts. During consideration, the bill was amended to instead call for a study of the matter by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The recently released report is far from supportive of the idea, finding that establishing a statewide system in 2013 is “neither necessary or preferable,” Knoxnews.com reports. Instead, the AOC maintains that the “most effective and cost-efficient method of assisting … [veterans] is to permit each judicial district to retain the discretion to address this issue after considering available resources and the needs of the relevant population."

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - 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

SIDNEY S. STANTON III v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Christopher Brent Keeton, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sidney S. Stanton III.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Lisa S. Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; and Joshua T. Crain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: LEE

The defendant was indicted on sixteen counts of animal cruelty for intentionally or knowingly failing to provide necessary food and care to horses on his farm in Warren County. The defendant applied for pretrial diversion, but the assistant district attorney general, acting for the district attorney general, determined that the defendant was not an appropriate candidate for pretrial diversion. The defendant filed a petition for writ of certiorari seeking a review by the trial court. The trial court found no abuse of discretion. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. We granted the defendant’s application for permission to appeal. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm.


TN Court of Appeals

IN RE BABY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Shelley S. Breeding and Allison James Starnes-Anglea, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, J.J.E. and J.J.M.

Benjamin Papa and Kim Huguley, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellees, L.G. and A.T.

Judge: BENNETT

This case involves the status of the parties with respect to a baby conceived pursuant to a surrogacy agreement. The juvenile court determined that there was a valid surrogacy agreement and denied the surrogate’s requests for relief from a final order ratifying the surrogacy agreement. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.


METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY v. JOSEPH H. JOHNSTON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph Howell Johnston, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Jason P. Bobo, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

Judge: DINKINS

The Metropolitan Government issued a parking citation to the driver of a vehicle parked at an expired meter; upon his failure to pay the $11.00 fine within the requisite 45-day period, the fine was increased to $50.00 and costs were assessed. Driver challenged the fine as a violation of the Fifty-Dollar Fines Clause of Article VI, Section 14 of the Tennessee Constitution and the Metropolitan Government’s authority to increase the fine, and asserted that the parking citation was unconstitutional for failure to comply with Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-3-501. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES LEE HARRIS
CORRECTION: The District Attorney' name has been changed from William B. Cox to William H. Cox, III.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Andrew S. Basler, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Lee Harris.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Bates Bryan, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, James Lee Harris, appeals as of right from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s orders revoking his probationary sentences and ordering the sentences to be served in confinement. The defendant’s counsel has filed a motion to withdraw pursuant to Rule 22 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. We find the motion well-taken and, in accordance with Rule 22(F), affirm the trial court’s orders pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.


TONY HOOVER v. HENRY STEWARD, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Tony Hoover, Tiptonville, Tennessee Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; and Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

Pro se petitioner, Tony Hoover, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The petitioner entered a plea of nolo contendere to two counts of rape and two counts of incest, and he received an effective sentence of twenty-one years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the judgments were illegal because they did not impose mandatory lifetime community supervision or a sex offender surcharge. Because the Petitioner’s judgments do not reflect the statutory requirement of mandatory lifetime community supervision, we conclude that the judgments for rape are illegal and void. We vacate the Petitioner’s sentences for rape only and remand to the habeas court for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the illegal sentence was a bargained for element of the Petitioner’s plea agreement. In all other respects, the judgment of the habeas corpus court is affirmed.


RICKY RONELL JONES v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Ricky Ronell Jones.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; James (Jerry) G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Joseph T. Howell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Ricky Ronell Jones, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his jury convictions. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to adequately investigate and prepare for trial. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GREGORY SCOTT PARTON, ALIAS GREGORY SCOTT PARTIN, ALIAS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender; and David D. Skidmore and James R. Owen, Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Gregory Scott Parton, alias, Gregory Scott Partin, alias.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Sarah W. Keith, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Gregory Scott Parton, alias, Gregory Scott Partin, alias, appeals from the trial court’s order declaring him to be an Motor Vehicle Habitual Offender (MVHO). On appeal, the Defendant claims that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the State’s petition to have him declared an habitual offender on the grounds that the State did not move “forthwith” in filing the petition as required by statute and that the court erred in using his most recent driving under the influence (DUI) conviction as a basis for its decision. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DEMETREE PTOMEY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Daniel J. Cantwell, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Demetree Ptomey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and William Harper and Lewis Combs, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Demetree Ptomey, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s order revoking his probation for possession of oxycodone for sale or delivery, a Class C felony, and ordering his five-year sentence into execution. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in ordering him to serve his sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JESSE L. ROGERS, III v. DAVID SEXTON, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jesse L. Rogers, III, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Joe Crumley, District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Jesse L. Rogers, III, pro se, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his 1994 convictions for first degree murder and attempted first degree murder. He claims the judgment is void due to an invalid waiver of his constitutional rights during the entry of his guilty plea. The trial court denied relief without appointing counsel, concluding that the petitioner failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TAMMY MARIE WILBURN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stanley R. Barnett, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tammy Marie Wilburn.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Rocky H. Young, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Tammy Marie Wilburn, was convicted by a Blount County Circuit Court jury of attempt to commit aggravated arson, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-14-302 (2010). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to twelve years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the prosecutor’s statements regarding his personal beliefs of witness credibility is reversible error. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JONATHAN WILLIAMS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

George D. Norton, Jr., Ripley, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Jonathan Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Julie Pillow, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Jonathan Williams, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of attempted second degree murder and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, for which he received an effective sentence of twenty years. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not entered knowingly and voluntarily. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Judicial Nominating Committee Meeting Rescheduled

The Judicial Nominating Commission meeting for 8th Judicial District candidates that was cancelled last week due to inclement weather has been rescheduled for Feb. 7 at Woodlake Lodge in Tazewell. The public hearing will begin at 1 p.m. followed by interviews of the six candidates for the Chancery Court vacancy. On Feb. 8, the commission will meet at the Doubletree Hotel in Johnson City for a public hearing and interviews of eight candidates for the 1st Judicial Criminal Court vacancy.


Judge Reviews IQ in Death Penalty Case

U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell is reviewing the case file of Byron Lewis Black, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his girlfriend and her two daughters in 1988. Black's federal public defender has argued that he is intellectually disabled and cannot be executed under Tennessee law. Judge Campbell will review interpretations of the state’s three-pronged approach to determining intellectual disability, including the use of IQ test scores. The law maintains that a person must have an IQ score of less than 70 to be deemed “intellectually disabled.” Black’s IQ scores ranged from 57-97 over a period of four decades. Campbell has not issued an opinion in the case. The Nashville City Paper has the story.


Court Rules Against Sex Offender Facebook Ban

A federal appeals court ruled today that an Indiana law that bans registered sex offenders from accessing Facebook and other social networking sites that can be accessed by children is unconstitutional, the Memphis Commercial Appeals reports. The 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago overturned U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s June decision, saying the “blanket ban” was too broad and didn’t protect children.” Federal judges have barred similar laws in other states.


Worker’s Comp Law Applies to Temporary Employees

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled yesterday that an employee of a temporary agency who is injured on the job, but not returned to work by the agency at a wage equal to or greater than the pre-injury wage, may obtain workers' compensation benefits up to six times the medical impairment rating. In Timmy Dale v. Dyer’s Employment Agency, the court found that the statutory language does not distinguish between permanent and temporary employees, therefore because the employer did not return the employee to work, offer him an opportunity to work, or terminate him for misconduct, benefits apply.


Justices Celebrate King’s Legacy at East Tenn. Events

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary R. Wade celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend by serving as the keynote speaker at an event in Sevierville. His reflections on King’s impact were published in The Mountain Press. In addition, Justice Sharon G. Lee chaired the Knoxville YMCA’s 2013 Diversity Day and Race Against Racism to promote the YMCA’s programs of eliminating racism and empowering women. Read more from from the Administrative Office of the Courts


Court Won’t Hear Challenge to Clean Air Regs

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a challenge to new clean air requirements limiting sulfur dioxide emissions, The Memphis Daily News reports. Several corporations, industrial associations and state governments have complained that the Environmental Protection Agency’s required emission levels are lower than mandated by law to protect public health. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia refused to overturn the EPA's decision and the high court justices refused to reconsider that ruling.


Tenn. Senators Named to Top GOP Positions

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee have been named the ranking Republican members of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, respectfully, the Tennessean reports.


Nashville Lawyer Suspended

On Jan. 18, Jerry Alan Kennon was suspended from the practice of law for 18 months, consisting of 30 days active suspension and the remainder to be served on probation. Kennon was suspended for failing to complete the requisite number of CLE credits while continuing to represent clients and file pleadings during the suspension. Other complaints relate to Kennon’s failure to properly prepare trust documents, timely file a lawsuit and return client documents. Download the BPR notice.


Davidson County Lawyer Censured

Attorney Mark Edward Chapman received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on Jan. 17 for instructing a paralegal to attend a mediation with a client at which the opposing party was represented by counsel. The paralegal engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by signing with his own name the Agreement to Mediate and the Community Mediation Status Agreement form that was filed by the courts; by negotiating with opposing counsel and the mediators without the clients present; and by agreeing to resolve some issues on behalf of the client. Chapman is responsible for the supervision of the paralegal, and failed to provide diligent representation of his client at the mediation when the other party was represented by counsel and issues in the case were solved. Download the BPR notice.


Sumner County Lawyer Censured

On Jan. 17, Sumner County lawyer William Norman Ligon received a public censure from the Board of Professional responsibility for providing legal advice to a client while his law license was suspended. The board found that the client suffered potential harm by relying on Ligon’s advice and not seeking representation by a licensed attorney. Download the BPR notice.


Bradley County Lawyer Censured

Cleveland attorney John Allen Murphy Jr. was publicly censured on Jan. 22 by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Murphy was administratively suspended in June 2011 for failing to comply with the mandatory IOLTA reporting requirements but filed pleadings on behalf of several clients during the suspension. He was reinstated to the practice of law in July 2011. 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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