FTC Weighs in on Lawyer's Advertising Proposal

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is urging the Tennessee Supreme Court to reject new restrictions on attorney advertising, calling the proposed rules unnecessarily broad and not in the best interest of consumers, the Blog of Legal Times reports. Among the changes being proposed by Nashville lawyer Matthew Hardin, is a ban on the use of actors, well-known spokespeople and certain background sounds. Also on the table is a rule that would limit the images in ads to just a few legal icons such as the scales of justice or courthouses. Finally, the proposal requires ads be pre-screened by the Board of Professional Responsibility. Hardin says the changes are needed because current “advertisements rely on outrageous, misleading and deceptive advertising techniques.” Comments on the proposed rules are due March 11. Read the comments submitted thus far, including comments by the TBA.

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
03 - 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


Alan Dale Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Christopher Fox.

James Daniel Richardson Roberts, Jr. and Janet L. Layman, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, James D. R. Roberts, Administrator, c.t.a.


Former administrator of decedent’s estate appeals order denying his Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 motion, which sought relief from an order requiring him to reimburse the estate for fees incurred by the successor administrator. Finding no error, we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


J. Thomas Marshall, Jr., District Public Defender; and Nancy Carol Meyer, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Sterling Lamar Cooper.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; David S. Clark, District Attorney General; and Sandra N.C. Donaghy, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Sterling Lamar Cooper, appeals the Anderson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his guilty plea convictions for possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance less than 0.5 grams, a Class C felony, and possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance more than 0.5 grams, a Class B felony, and his concurrent sentences of ten years and twenty years, respectively. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the convictions should be vacated and the charges dismissed because (1) his sentences were illegal, (2) the trial court committed judicial misconduct, (3) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct, and (4) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgement of the trial court.

With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William Michael Thorne, Lexington, Tennessee (on appeal); Michael J. Banks, Brownsville, Tennessee (at post-conviction); and Tom Crider, Perianne Houghton, and Diane Blount, Trenton, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Dwight Miller.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Garry Brown, District Attorney General; and Jerald Campbell (at post-conviction) and Larry Hardister (at post-conviction and at trial), Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Dwight Miller (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison. The Defendant sought post-conviction relief and, after a hearing, the post-conviction court granted relief in the form of a delayed appeal. We now address two issues in the delayed appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred in refusing to grant a mistrial after a bomb threat; and (2) whether the trial court erred in allowing the prior testimony of an unavailable witness to be read into the record. After a thorough review of the record, we have determined that the Defendant is not entitled to relief on either of these issues. Accordingly, we affirm the Defendant’s judgment of conviction.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Elder Mark Anthony Thornton, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Appellant, Elder Mark Anthony Thornton, was convicted in Davidson County General Sessions Court of eighty counts of criminal contempt after violating an order of protection. He appealed those convictions to the Davidson County Criminal Court and, following a bench trial, was found guilty of criminal contempt for 180 separate violations of the order of protection. Appellant was pro se at trial. The trial court sentenced Appellant to ten calendar days per incident consecutively, for a total of 1800 days of incarceration. Appellant, still proceeding pro se, filed a timely notice of appeal. After a review of the original and the supplemented record, we determine that ten of the convictions and sentences are proper and, thus, are affirmed. However, the balance of the convictions, 170 in total, which were not listed in the charging notice can not stand, as proper notice was not given to Appellant. As such, those convictions are reversed, and the resulting sentences are vacated.

Conservator Pleads Guilty to Abuse, Theft

A former court-appointed conservator pleaded guilty Monday to theft and sexual battery against an elderly, disabled couple he was charged with protecting, according to The Tennessean. Walter Strong of Celina admitted to sexual battery of the woman and theft of $105,479 from the couple. He was ordered to make restitution, but his attorney said it was unlikely he would ever have the resources to pay back the full amount.  The decision comes on the heels of a recommendation by the Tennessee Bar Association to amend state conservatorship law.

Susano Elected Appeals Court Presiding Judge

Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Charles D. Susano Jr. of Knoxville has been elected by his peers to be presiding judge of the court. He succeeds Herschel P. Franks of Chattanooga, who retired at the end of 2012. With Susano’s election, the three Tennessee appellate courts are now headed by Knoxville judges: Chief Justice Gary R. Wade at the Supreme Court and Joseph M. Tipton at the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Administrative Office of the Courts reported the news today.

Haslam Speech Lays Out Budget, Policy Priorities

Governor Bill Haslam laid out a budget proposal last night designed to address rising costs in health care and education, build up the state’s emergency fund and give state workers a modest pay raise. It also calls for eliminating 30 administrators at the Department of Children’s Services, while adding caseworkers and increasing requirements for those positions, in response to ongoing criticism of the department. Also included was $1.5 million to expand the state’s drug courts. With regard to big issues such as workers compensation reform, school vouchers and Medicaid expansion, remarks were “light on details,” according to one source. However, House Speaker Beth Harwell said she appreciated that the governor left room for lawmakers to put their stamp on his priorities. WPLN has a wrap up. Knoxnews has the text of the speech.

Law Student Pro Bono Conference Wraps Up

More than 30 students and faculty representing law schools across Tennessee gathered at the Belmont University College of Law last week to strategize and plan for increasing pro bono opportunities for law students. The group was invited by the TBA Access to Justice Committee and joined by representatives from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. The event kicked off with a keynote speech by Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder and continued with planning discussions led by TBA committee members. See photos from the event.

Mental Health Court Graduates 6 in First Year

At the end of its first year, the Coffee County Mental Health Court is off to a solid start, according to officials, with six graduates and roughly 25 clients participating in the program. “That’s at least six people who’ve been able to stay out of jail for at least a year, or year and a half,” said Coffee County Judge Tim Brock. “They’re no longer on probation, and some even have fulltime employment and are leading very productive lives, so we think that’s an accomplishment.” Read more about the program in The Tullahoma News.

Sumner CASA Receives 3 Grants

The Court Appointed Special Advocate program in Sumner County recently was awarded nearly $30,000 in grants from three organizations, reports The Tennessean. The funding came from The Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund ($5,900), The Memorial Foundation ($20,000) and The Tennessee Bar Foundation ($3,500). Funds will be used to train and support volunteers to advocate for the abused and neglected children in the county.

Kids' Mock Trial Program Teaches Debate, Public Speaking Skills

Kids in the gifted program at East Chester Elementary School in Henderson are learning debate skills and a little bit about the nation’s court system through performing mock trials of popular children’s stories such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Three Little Pigs” and “Humpty Dumpty.” Their teacher, Belinda Anderson, says the effort teaches students to look at both sides of an argument with a balanced view, and gives them the opportunity to ask questions. The Jackson Sun reports that as part of the program, the fourth and fifth graders also visited the Chester County Courthouse where they heard a lecture on the judicial system from a criminal justice professor at Freed-Hardeman University.

Haslam to Lawmakers: Preserve Judicial Selection Until 2014 Vote

In his State of the State speech last night, Governor Bill Haslam briefly addressed the issue of judicial selection, calling on lawmakers to “preserve the current process until the people have a chance to vote in 2014.” He also warned against making “changes in the meantime,” which would do nothing “but confuse the situation further.” Haslam reiterated his opposition to partisan, contested elections and praised the judicial selection commission for its work. “My experience has been that the…commission has done its job in providing quality candidates. So for me this issue isn't about fixing something that isn't working, but instead, it is about hearing legitimate concerns and providing clarity.” That clarity, he said, could be accomplished through the constitutional amendment process set in motion last session. Read more from the speech.

Missed the Dec. 31 CLE Deadline?

If you missed the Dec. 31 deadline for completing your 2012 CLE requirement, the TBA is offering 14 programs in February. This Friday, an ethics program with three hours of dual credit will be held in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville. Other offerings for the month include tips for legal research, small business health options, trusts and TennCare claims and operating agreements for LLCs. At the end of the month, the TBA presents its annual Tech Conference, Estate Planning Forum and Mid-Winter CLE Blast. The Tennessee Comission on Continuing Legal Education is scheduled to mail annual statements Jan. 31. Find out if you still need credits for 2012 by contacting the commission.


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.

© Copyright 2012 Tennessee Bar Association