Haslam to Unveil Sweeping Workers’ Comp Changes

A new, independent state agency would oversee all aspects of Tennessee’s workers’ compensation system, including appeals now heard by the courts, under proposed legislation being drafted by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration. A Haslam spokesman declined to discuss specifics and said details would be released after a final bill is filed, possibly this week. But a 67-page working draft obtained by The Tennessean indicates Haslam is considering major changes to the 94-year-old system. The proposals appear similar to those recommended by a Virginia consultant who was hired to review the state’s system last year.

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
01 - 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

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TN Supreme Court

CORRECTION: On page 7, line 10, one space after the colon is deleted; on page 10, footnote 12, line 1, "1989 act" is changed to "1989 Act" ; on page 11, line 9, one space after the colon is deleted; on page 27, footnote 41, line 6, a comma is added after "(Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 11, 2008)"

Court: TN Supreme Court


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Amy L. Tarkington, Deputy Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, District Attorney General; and J. Chalmers Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, the State of Tennessee.

Jonathan D. Cooper, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal before the Supreme Court) and Charles C. Harrison, Jr., Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (at trial and on appeal before the Court of Criminal Appeals) for the appellee, Susan Renee Bise.

Judge: WADE

Following a burglary in Greene County, the defendant was charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of theft of property. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned verdicts of guilt for one count of facilitation of aggravated burglary and for two counts of theft of property. After finding the presence of one enhancement factor, the trial court imposed concurrent three-year sentences for each offense. The Court of Criminal Appeals found that the enhancement factor did not apply and reduced each of the sentences to two years. Because we find that a sentence imposed by a trial court should be upheld so long as it is within the appropriate sentencing range and is otherwise in compliance with the purposes and principles of the sentencing statute, we reverse the sentence modification by the Court of Criminal Appeals and, upon review under an abuse of discretion standard with a presumption of reasonableness, reinstate the sentence imposed by the trial court.

TN Court of Appeals

With Concurring Opinion

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert L. Huskey, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert W. Porter

Timothy S. Priest, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brandi Porter (Kimbrell)


Upon the parties’ divorce, Mother was named the children’s primary residential parent. Years later, Mother petitioned to increase Father’s child support, and Father filed a counter- complaint seeking to be named the primary residential parent. The trial court found that a material change in circumstances had occurred since the entry of the parties’ parenting plan. The trial court further found that certain best interest factors weighed in favor of, and against, both parties; however, it determined that the children’s best interests would be served by Mother remaining the primary residential parent. Father appeals and, discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


William Barry Wood, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Matthew Beck Ramsey.

Julie M. Robinson, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Michelle Min Ramsey.


This appeal arises from a divorce action in which the trial court named Mother the primary residential parent and entered a permanent parenting plan limiting Father’s parenting time to one hundred and eight (108) days a year. Father appeals. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Lance Osteen.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian M. Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Christopher Lance Osteen, was convicted of burglary, reckless aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, evading arrest, and resisting arrest and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II offender to an effective term of sixteen years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, he challenges the trial court’s enhancement of his sentences by the use of prior convictions that were listed in his presentence report but not included in the State’s notice of enhanced punishment. Following our review, we affirm the sentencing determinations of the trial court.

Apply for 17th District Circuit Court Vacancy by Feb. 14

The Judicial Nominating Commission is now accepting applications for the 17th Judicial District Circuit Court vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert Crigler. The district serves Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore counties. Crigler will retire May 31. Interested applicants must be licensed attorneys, at least 30 years old, residents of the state for five years and residents of the circuit or district for one year. Applications must be received in the Administrative Office of the Courts by noon on Feb. 14. Learn more on the AOC webpage

Haslam Delivers State of the State Address Tonight

Governor Bill Haslam will deliver his State of the State Address this evening before the General Assembly in Nashville, and is expected to unveil a $30 billion budget proposal that will include details about a new school voucher program and funding for state building projects, including new construction on college and university campuses. Tomorrow, the governor hits the road to build support for the initiatives with stops scheduled in Franklin, Memphis, Chattanooga and Blountville. Get a preview of the speech in The Commercial Appeal. At 6 p.m. Central, watch the speech live online.

DCS Ordered to Produce Child Death Records in One Week

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to turn over child fatality records within seven days and to overhaul its fatality review process within 90 days, reports The Tennessean. Judge Todd J. Campbell said he has become impatient with the agency’s inability to accurately count child deaths and that time is running out for DCS to fix the computer system it uses to keep records. Also last week, Gov. Bill Haslam appointed a special adviser to probe the department, naming his former mayoral deputy and retired Knoxville banker Larry Martin to the post.

Judge Benham to Retire After 50 Years

Shelby County Probate Court Judge Robert Benham will retire from the bench on March 28 -- 50 years after being licensed to practice law in Tennessee. The Administrative Office of the Courts announced the news today. Benham was appointed to the bench by the county commission in 1997 and was re-elected in 1998 and 2006. Prior to serving on the court, he was an attorney with the Treasury Department. He also served in private practice for 32 years. Benham earned both his undergraduate and law degrees at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Merger Complete Between Adelman and Wilkins Tipton

The Memphis-based firm formerly known as Adelman Law Firm PLLC has formalized a merger with Jackson, Miss.-based Wilkins Tipton PA to form Hagwood Adelman Tipton PC. The firm will have offices in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. Plans are in place to expand into Arkansas as well. Rebecca Adelman, founder of the eight-person Adelman Law Firm, practiced for 11 years before announcing plans to merge with Wilkins Tipton this past fall. The Memphis Business Journal announced finalization of the deal.

Tennessee Native Leaves White House Team

Roane County native Nancy-Ann DeParle, who helped craft President Barack Obama's health reform law, has left the White House to take a position at The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank. DeParle joined the Obama team in 2009 as director of the White House Office of Health Care Reform. She most recently served as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff. In her new position, she will be a guest scholar in economic studies and lecturer at Harvard Law School, according to Knoxnews.com. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, DeParle previously headed Tennessee's Department of Human Services and worked in the White House budget office under former President Bill Clinton.

Senators Announce Principles to Guide Immigration Overhaul

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has reached agreement on principles that could serve as the basis for sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. The outline calls for creating a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants in the country, securing the border, establishing a better tracking system for visa holders, creating a more secure employment verification system, reforming the green card program, and creating an agricultural worker program. Knoxnews.com has more on the proposal.

Knoxville Lawyer Suspended for 4 Years

Knoxville lawyer Vanessa Lynn Lemons was suspended on Jan. 25 for four years, and indefinitely thereafter until she provides proof of restitution to former clients, evaluation by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) and compliance with any TLAP monitoring agreement. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that Lemons failed to communicate with five clients, neglected their legal matters and failed to properly terminate representation. In those cases where she accepted a fee and failed to perform services, the court also found she refused to refund the client’s retainer. Finally, when confronted with these allegations, Lemons failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility. Download the BPR Report

Campbell County Lawyer Censured

Johnny Von Dunaway of LaFollette was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Jan. 25 for charging and receiving a contingent fee for handling an appeal of a domestic relations case. Von Dunaway submitted a conditional guilty plea acknowledging a violation of Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5(c) and (d), which prohibits certain contingency fees in domestic relations cases. Download the BPR notice

14 Lawyers Reinstated After Administrative Suspension

Fourteen Tennessee-licensed lawyers have been reinstated after being administratively suspended for CLE noncompliance in 2011 and 2012, failure to file the 2012 annual fee and IOLTA report, and failure to pay the 2012 professional tax. See the lists at the links above.

UT Law Reps to Speak at Poverty, Access to Justice Symposium

University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Doug Blaze and Access to Justice Coordinator Brad Morgan will be among the speakers at the upcoming Poverty and Access to Justice Symposium, sponsored by the Pro Bono Initiative at the University of Mississippi School of Law. At the symposium, The Informant freports that state supreme court justices, appellate and trial judges, scholars and practitioners will examine barriers to the justice system, creative legal service delivery methods and specific programs that are proving effective.


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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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