YLD Recognizes Award Recipients, CASA Volunteer

At its Mid-Winter Board Dinner this past Saturday, TBA Young Lawyers Divison (YLD) President David Veile recognized a number of young lawyer volunteers. Franklin lawyer and YLD District 11 Representative Shauna Billingsley was honored for her service to the YLD and for chairing the Children’s Subcommittee of the TBA Public Education Committee. Clarksville lawyer and Wills for Heroes Committee Chair Brad Carter was recognized for his work coordinating Wills for Heroes clinics across the state. And, Murfreesboro lawyer and YLD CLE Committee Chair Tommy Santel and Nashville lawyer and YLD CLE Committee Vice Chair Mary Beth Haltom were recognized for their work producing two educational programs for young lawyers. Learn more about their service.

Also at the dinner, Knoxville lawyer and chair of the YLD Membership & Law School Outreach Committee Joe Fanduzz recognized law students serving as TBA liaisons at each of the state's law schools. Capping off the evening, Knoxville lawyer and chair of the YLD Children’s Issues Committee Katrina Atchley Arbogast presented the 2013 CASA Volunteer of the Year Award to Dale Hedges of Clinton. Hedges has been a volunteer with CASA of the Tennessee Heartland for 18 years, serving 29 children. See pictures from the dinner.

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.

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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


B. Jeffery Harmon, District Public Defender, and Robert G. Morgan, Assistant Public Defender, Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Lyon, II.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The appellant, a juvenile, appealed the juvenile court’s revocation of his probation and commitment to the custody of the Department of Children’s Services. The trial court, upon the juvenile’s timely appeal, affirmed the ruling of the juvenile court. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jeff Woods and Neil Umsted, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony Bond.

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


Petitioner, Anthony Bond, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. Following a second jury trial after his first conviction was reversed and he was granted a new trial, Petitioner was again convicted for first degree murder. This court affirmed his conviction on direct appeal. Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call an expert witness to challenge the State’s medical expert’s testimony regarding the victim’s cause of death. After a careful review of the record before us, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dwight E. Scott, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Willie A. Cole.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Hunter Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Willie A. Cole, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In this case, the petitioner was convicted of first degree murder and tampering with evidence conviction. He was sentenced as a repeat violent offender to a term of life without the possibility of parole for the murder conviction and to six years for the tampering with evidence. On appeal, he contends that the denial of his petition was error because the evidence established that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel. Following review of the record, we find no error in the denial and affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert Thomas Vaughn (at trial) and Jon J. Tucci (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony S. Harding.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and Sallie Wade Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Anthony S. Harding, was convicted by a Sumner County jury of six counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of attempted aggravated statutory rape. The trial court later dismissed the attempt conviction. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve four years on each count of aggravated statutory rape, with all of these counts to run consecutively, resulting in an effective twenty-four-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the indictment was insufficient for failing to provide specific dates for the offenses; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the convictions; (3) whether the trial court erred by excluding testimony from an alibi witness; and (4) whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, the Defendant’s convictions and sentences for aggravated statutory rape are affirmed. We remand solely for the entry of corrected judgment forms to reflect dismissal of Count Seven, the attempt conviction.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


John S. Colley, III, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffrey Leo Rochelle.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Christie Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Jeffrey Leo Rochelle, was indicted for first degree premeditated murder and was convicted by a jury of the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony. On appeal, the defendant alleges the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court should have granted a mistrial when a witness testified regarding the defendant’s anger management issues. After a careful review of the record, we conclude there was no error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ricky L. Jenkins, Sparta, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael A. Virga.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Anthony J. Craighead, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Michael A. Virga, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his first degree felony murder and aggravated arson convictions. On appeal, he argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that he was denied the right to trial by a fair and impartial jury. After review, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Golden Appointed to Judicial Nominating Commission

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, on Thursday appointed David A. Golden of Hawkins County to the Judicial Nominating Commission, the Chattanoogan reports. Golden, one of those recommended for the post by the Tennessee Bar Association, will fill the vacancy left by the retirement of commission member Theresa Lee. Golden joined Eastman Chemical Company in 1995 as an attorney, eventually rising to the position of vice president, associate general counsel and corporate secretary.

Judge Orders DCS to Release Child Death Records

Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Carol McCoy this week ordered the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to release the forms it fills out when a child dies in its care. Each form provides information about the child’s cause of death, the department’s prior involvement, and prior services provided to the child. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed Dec. 19, 2012, by The Tennessean and a coalition of a dozen other news organizations. Responding to the court, Gov. Bill Haslam said the state would provide the records, reports The Tennessean. In related news, officials announced yesterday they had discovered nine more cases of children who died during the past two years while under the supervision of DCS. The News Sentinel has more on that story.

Court Strikes Down Presidential Recess Appointments

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Barack Obama violated the U.S. Constitution when he used recess appointments to fill vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Obama, stymied by Republican inaction on his nominees, appointed three to the board while Congress was on recess. In the near-term, the ruling casts doubt on the ability of the NLRB to conduct its business and could make recent rulings vulnerable to challenge. In the long-term, the decision could diminish the president's ability to make appointments in the absence of congressional action. Reuters News Service reports.

Justice Holder Addresses Law Student Pro Bono Conference

Attorneys, students and faculty from Tennessee laws schools are studying ways to involve more students in pro bono activities at a conference this weekend in Nashville. The event at Belmont College of Law kicked off today with opening remarks from University of Tennessee attorney Brad Morgan. Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder later gave the keynote address, talking about her own law school experience and the lack of pro bono opportunities at the time. She encouraged today's students to take advantage of the many programs available, saying that, “Perhaps the most significant benefit to pro bono work for law students is the integration into the legal community, [the] opportunity to get to know people in the legal profession. That is how you get jobs, get active in bar associations and get integrated into this profession.” The conference continues through Saturday.

Court Clerk Prematurely Revokes Drivers' Licenses

The Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's office is quickly seeking to mitigate the chaos it put into motion when it revoked 1,279 driver's licenses without verifying such a sanction was legally appropriate, reports Knoxnews.com. Though state law allows revocation of licenses for those who do not pay court costs and fines within a year of conviction, if the offender is making regular payments or has been granted an extension to pay, no revocation can be ordered. Knox County Law Director Bud Armstrong yesterday put a halt to the revocation process while his office sorts out the issue.

Judge Hopes to Expand Drug Court for Moms

Shelby County Drug Court Judge Tim Dwyer sees the good his court is doing and wants to expand it. There are 13 mothers in the program, affecting 45 children, but he would like to be able to offer the services to 30 women. The special drug court pairs Dwyer up with the district attorney's office, juvenile court and Memphis police. If a mother gives birth to a baby addicted to drugs, she's now charged with reckless endangerment. Her only options are jail time or the treatment program. "We've got a long way to go," Dwyer says, "but at least were doing something." ABC24.com has the story

Judge Freezes NECC Assets, Appoints Trustee

U.S. Judge Henry Boroff has given the go-ahead to creditors of the New England Compounding Center to seek a freeze on the assets of company owners up to $21 million. Boroff also approved a request to have an independent trustee oversee the liquidation of the firm. NECC, based in Framingham, Mass., has been blamed by state and federal regulators for a fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed 44 people, 14 of them treated in Tennessee. The Tennessean has the story.

Law Student Group Still Needs Volunteers to Judge Events

Consider serving as a judge for the Southern Regional Black Law Students Association's Mock Trial and Moot Court competitions next week during its convention Jan. 30 through Feb. 3 in Nashville. Event organizers say they are in "dire need" of volunteers for the competitions and ask you to help with the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition and the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition. "Empowering our youth by educating them on the importance of civic engagement and assisting in their academic/career planning while encouraging diversity in the legal profession," is one of the goals of the group, says convention chair Charilyn M. Stanberry. For more information, contact her.

Kansas, Penn. Consider How They Choose Judges

The Kansas Senate plans to vote next week on a proposed constitutional amendment to end the state’s merit-based system for selecting Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court judges, according to Gavelgrab.com and the election debate is heating up in Pennsylvania. Lawmakers in that state have previously tried and failed to amend the state’s system of judicial elections. Now, with suspended Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin facing trial for corruption charges, legislators are again proposing to stop electing judges.

DAs Release Legislative Agenda

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference will push an aggressive legislative agenda during the upcoming session, the Leaf-Chronicle reports, including proposed law changes that would facilitate prosecution of serial child sexual abusers, and increase sentences for aggravated child neglect and the most serious attempted first-degree murder cases. Other legislative priorities include changing current law to clearly establish that criminal proceedings can be initiated against defendants who are identified through DNA profiles even if their actual identities are not known at the time the charges are filed; implementing legislation that would allow for more effective prosecution of selling synthetic drugs; changing the law to facilitate the prosecution of prescription drug trafficking; and adding prosecutorial staff in areas with heavy case loads.

Kelsey Files Bill to Keep Online Comments Anonymous

Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, has filed a bill, SB106, to protect the identities of people who post comments on online news articles without using their real names, The Commercial Appeal reports. Saying his bill would "safeguard the free and open exchange of ideas," Kelsey proposes adding a new provision to Tennessee's "shield law," which protects newsgatherers from having to disclose the identities of confidential news sources, with some exceptions. Kelsey said he filed the bill after attorneys for the Shelby County Commission filed a subpoena in federal court asking for the identities of all online commenters on The Commercial Appeal's articles about the push to create new municipal school districts in the Memphis suburbs.

New App Connects Users to General Assembly

A mobile app featuring contact information for the 108th Tennessee General Assembly is now available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, allowing Tennesseans to connect with their legislators and search staff and committee information for all lawmakers. The $4.99 app was developed by the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and Bass Berry & Sims PLC. It can be found by searching for the Tennessee General Assembly in the Apple App Store or Google PLAY Marketplace. The Murfreesboro Post reports.

Apply for TALS Executive Director Job by Feb. 1

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is seeking a dedicated, experienced and creative individual to serve as its next executive director. Interested candidates should submit a letter of interest, resume and three references by Feb.1 to Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, Executive Director Search, 50 Vantage Way, Suite 250, Nashville, TN 37228; by fax to (615) 627-0964; or by email to info@tals.org (please list “Executive Director Search” in the subject line). Download the job announcement.

Knox Law Department Seeks Outside Counsel

The Knox County Law Department is seeking to establish a non-exclusive panel of attorneys and firms it may call on to provide legal expertise when it requires the assistance of outside counsel. The county reports it will only seek assistance from outside counsel when it encounters a matter that creates an actual or perceived conflict of interest within the law department; that requires highly specialized expertise; or that requires additional assistance due to its complexity and/or time demands. Any attorney or firm interested in being considered as outside counsel should submit qualifications to the department by Feb. 13. Learn more in this announcement.


Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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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