Eason, Smith Honored by Chattanooga Bar

Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA president Marcy Eason was recognized Wednesday for her service to the community with the Ralph H. Kelly Humanitarian Award from the Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA). The group also named Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan attorney Barret S. Albritton as its Young Attorney of the Year. The presentations were made at the CBA's annual luncheon. In addition to the award presentation, the group also installed Craig Smith as its new president. Both Smith and Eason are attorneys at Miller & Martin, the Chattanoogan.com website 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.

02 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
00 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - 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

PAUL DENNIS REID, JR. EX REL. LINDA MARTINIANO v. STATE OF TENNESSEE and PAUL DENNIS REID, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Kelly A. Gleason and Bradley A. MacLean, Office of the Post-Conviction Defender, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Paul Dennis Reid, Jr. and Linda Martiniano.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Christopher Brett Jaeger, J. Patrick Warfield, and Gregory D. Smith, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Amici Curiae, Jerry P. Black, Terry A. Maroney, Steven J. Mulroy, Christopher Slobogin, Jeffrey Usman, and Penny J. White.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal raises the question of whether a prisoner facing the death penalty has the mental capacity to abandon the pursuit of post-conviction relief in his three murder cases. After the prisoner decided not to seek a new trial in any of these cases, one of his sisters, in cooperation with the Office of the Post-Conviction Defender, filed a “next friend” petition in each of the prisoner’s three murder cases, requesting the courts to declare the prisoner incompetent, thereby enabling her to pursue post-conviction relief on his behalf. The Criminal Court for Davidson County and the Circuit Court for Montgomery County conducted separate hearings in 2008. Each court denied the petitions after determining that the prisoner’s sister and the Office of the Post-Conviction Defender had failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the prisoner lacked the capacity to make rational decisions regarding the pursuit of post-conviction relief. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed both of these judgments. Reid v. State, Nos. M2009-00128-CCA-R3-PD, M2009- 00360-CCA-R3-PD, M2009-01557-CCA-R3-PD, 2011 WL 3444171 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 8, 2011). We granted the prisoner’s Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application. We have determined that both trial courts employed the correct legal standard for determining whether the prisoner possessed the mental capacity to rationally forego seeking post-conviction relief and also that the prisoner’s sister and the Office of the Post-Conviction Defender failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the prisoner lacked the capacity to make rational decisions regarding the pursuit of post-conviction relief. For the sake of consistency, we further hold that, in all future cases, Tennessee’s courts should employ the mental competency standard of Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 28, § 11(B) whenever the issue of a prisoner’s competency to pursue post-conviction relief is properly raised.


SIDNEY S. STANTON III v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
CORRECTION: On page one (1) of opinion, the trial judge's name has been corrected to "E. Shayne Sexton"

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 Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CYNTHIA DENISE MARSHALL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Shana Johnson, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cynthia Denise Marshall.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Joe L. Van Dyke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Cynthia Denise Marshall, pleaded guilty to introducing contraband into a penal institution, a Class C felony, possession with the intent to deliver morphine, a Class C felony, and possession with the intent to deliver more than one-half gram of marijuana, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-16-201 (2010) (amended 2012), 39-17-417 (2010) (amended 2012). She was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to an effective six years on probation. On appeal, she contends that the trial court erred by denying judicial diversion. We reverse the trial court’s denial of judicial diversion and remand the case for a new sentencing hearing.


DARREN PRICE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mary Camille Hickerson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Darren Price.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul Goodman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Darren Price, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated robbery, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to introduce a 911 call in support of his alibi defense. The petitioner also appeals the denial of his petition for DNA analysis of the knife, the victim’s vehicle, the crime scene, and the skin of the victim, arguing that “DNA testing of these items might yield DNA for analysis that could contain evidence that would assist [him] [to] establish his innocence.” Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the petitions.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ERIC SHAVONN SAYERS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; Leslie S. Hale (at the guilty plea hearing) and Patrick Denton (at sentencing), Assistant Public Defenders; and Wesley D. Stone (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric Shavonn Sayers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and Teresa Ann Nelson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Eric Shavonn Sayers, submitted a best interest guilty plea pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970), to criminal conspiracy to commit theft of property valued over $1000, a Class E felony, eleven counts of criminal simulation, Class E felonies, two counts of theft of property valued over $1000, Class D felonies, and driving without a license in his possession, a Class C misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-12-103, 39-14-115, 39- 14-103, 55-50-351 (2010). The parties agreed to an effective six-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that (1) the trial court failed to make the required factual findings to support the Defendant’s guilty pleas, (2) his convictions for criminal simulation and theft violate double jeopardy principles, and (3) the trial court erred by denying alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


MICHAEL STEWART v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Neil Umsted, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Stewart.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Betsy Weintraub, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Michael Stewart, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2008 conviction for destruction or interference with utility lines and his three-year, three-month sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that counsel provided him the ineffective assistance of counsel (1) by failing to object to hearsay statements and (2) by failing to obtain a Memphis Light, Gas and Water incident report. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL JOHN STITTS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Angela J. Hopson, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael John Stitts.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Rolf G. S. Hazlehurst, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Michael John Stitts, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of theft of property over $1000, a Class D felony, and sentenced to six years as a Range II offender in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the sentence imposed by the trial court. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Today's News

Middle District Court Excels in Productivity

Tennessee’s U.S. District Court for the Middle District was rated among the nation’s most productive courts based on statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U. S. Courts. The Middle District – which saw 1,998 filings during the 12-month period ending Sept. 30 – was rated as the seventh most productive court in the country based on the service of an average judge in the district. Tennessee’s Western District court also was rated in the top grouping, at number 27. It saw 2,286 civil and criminal filings during the period. See full statistics for all of the nation’s 12 courts of appeal and 94 district courts.


Court Clarifies Competency Standards in Reid Opinion

The Tennessee Supreme Court today ruled that advocates for convicted serial killer Paul Dennis Reid may not continue appealing his convictions in state court against his wishes, despite claims he is not competent to abandon his appeals. Despite evidence of Reid’s brain damage and mental health issues, the court agreed with lower courts that his sister and attorneys failed to present clear and convincing evidence that he is incompetent to make his own legal decisions. The court’s opinion also clarifies the standards and procedures to be used to determine mental competency in post-conviction cases.


Law Student Leadership Class Holds First Session

Law student members of the 2013 Diversity Leadership Institute met for their first session this past weekend as part of the TBA's Leadership Conference. The group joined legal leaders from across the state to learn about legislative issues impacting lawyers, opportunities to get involved in programs educating the public about the legal system, and dealing with conflict. Class members also held separate sessions produced by YLD Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist – an attorney with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs in Memphis — that featured a keynote address from Gregg Ramos with North, Pursell & Ramos in Nashville and a panel discussion with a diverse group of attorneys in private practice, legal aid and elected office. Read more and see pictures of the class


Outgoing Lawyer Critical of Knox Tax Collections Move

Knox County is changing the way it collects delinquent taxes, and the the outgoing delinquent tax attorney calls the move a misguided short-term approach with long-term ramifications. Under the plan, the Knox County Law Department will take over much of the legal duties in the Knox County Trustee's Office. Learn more on Knoxnews.com.


Memphis Lawyer Sees Hope for Immigration Reform

Political and economic trends are telling Memphis immigration lawyer Greg Siskind that the likelihood of immigration reform is better than it has been in some time. The leader of the Siskind Susser law firm and national commentator on immigration law, Siskind told The Memphis Daily News that the role Latinos played in the recent election and the need for skilled immigrants in some areas of the economy make this a politically ideal time to pursue immigration reform.


YLD Helps Arm Police With Teddy Bears

Franklin police have a new weapon at their service thanks to a donation from young lawyers in TBA YLD District 11. The group -- led by Franklin attorney Shauna Billingsley -- this week presented police a box of teddy bears that can be used to help comfort children when officers are called to car crashes or family fights that can be frightening to the children, the Tennessean reports.


TBA Joins Forum Focusing on Law Student Pro Bono

Members of the TBA Access to Justice Committee’s Law School Subcommittee will join a group of student leaders and representatives from law schools across the state for the second annual Law School Public Interest Forum this weekend. The event begins Friday at 11 a.m. at the Belmont University College of Law in Nashville. The agenda includes a presentation by Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder, planning for this year’s Alternative Spring Break and a discussion on how best to encourage students to get involved in pro bono activities. For more information about the event contact TBA Access to Justice Coordinator Liz Todaro at (615) 383-7421 or ltodaro@tnbar.org.


 
 

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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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