Judicial Constitutional Amendment Voted Out Early

The subcommittee of the House Civil Practice today took up and passed HJR 8, the house version of the amendment to the Tennessee constitution to provide for gubernatorial nomination, legislative confirmation and retention election of appellate judges in Tennessee. The resolution was calendared by an unusual early-session suspension of the rules, which usually require a week’s notice for legislation to be heard.

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
06 - 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

KEENAN W. CARROLL v. CHANDRA P. CARROLL

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Shannon L. Crutcher, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chandra P. Carroll.

Keenan W. Carroll, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Judge: COTTRELL

This case involves the issue of retroactive child support and whether the trial court appropriately denied Wife’s request. Husband’s divorce petition was pending for more than three years before Wife answered. During that time the parties were separated, and Husband made monthly car payments on Wife’s vehicle in an amount that exceeded what would have been his child support obligation. We conclude that Husband satisfied his child support obligations based on the unique facts of this case and affirm the trial court’s judgment.


TERRY SUZANNE ADKISON CHAMBERS v. FRANK C. CHAMBERS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Frank Deslauriers, Covington, Tennessee, for the appellant, Frank C. Chambers.

Richard G. Rosser, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Terry Suzanne Adkison Chambers.

Judge: FARMER

Husband appeals the trial court’s award of alimony and partial attorney’s fees to Wife in this divorce action. Finding no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court, we affirm.


COFFEE COUNTY BANK v. ROBERT EUGENE HULAN AND SHERRY RENEE HULAN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert Eugene Hulan, Sherry Renee Hulan, Morrison, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Christopher Brent Keeton, Shawn Carter Trail, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellee, Coffee County Bank.

Judge: COTTRELL

A bank filed a complaint against husband and wife to recoup money owed on a credit agreement after a foreclosure sale failed to produce sufficient funds to repay the loan in full. The trial court entered a judgment against the couple, and the couple appealed. We reverse the trial court’s judgment because the bank relied on two different versions of a credit agreement, thereby failing to prove the existence of an enforceable contract with definite terms.


IN RE DEVONTA L.C. ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Ben H. Houston, II, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Russell C.

Joshua Hedrick, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brandy C.

Judge: SUSANO

This is a termination of parental rights case focusing on three minor children (“the Children”). The defendants are Russell C. (“Father”) and Brandy C. (“Mother”). The Children were taken into custody by the Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) in January 2008 because of repeated injuries sustained by the oldest child. DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both parents in April 2010, alleging numerous grounds for termination. Following a bench trial, the court granted the petition after finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Father and Mother were in substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans and that the conditions leading to removal still persisted. However, the trial court found that severe child abuse was not proven. The court did find, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination is in the Children’s best interest. Father and Mother appeal. We reverse in part and affirm in part. Termination of the parents’ parental rights is affirmed.


ERIE INSURANCE EXCHANGE v. COLUMBIA NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Gordon C. Aulgur, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Erie Insurance Exchange.

Joseph M. Huffaker, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Columbia National Insurance Company.

Judge: CLEMENT

This is a declaratory judgment action wherein one insurance company, which provided general liability insurance coverage to the insured, asserts that another insurance company, which provided the same insured with automobile insurance coverage, had the primary duty to pay the cost of defending and to indemnify the insured in a third-party tort action filed pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 50-6-112. The plaintiff insurer asserts that the defendant insurer had the primary duty to provide and pay the cost of the defense in that action and to indemnify the insured pursuant to its automobile insurance policy because an additional insured was operating a “boom truck” owned by the insured that was listed under the defendant’s auto policy when the injury to the third-party plaintiff occurred. Both insurers filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion and granted summary judgment to the defendant insurer holding that the plaintiff, not the defendant, is liable for providing and paying the cost of the defense and for indemnifying the insured in the third-party tort action. We affirm.


THE PRESERVE AT FORREST CROSSING TOWNHOME ASSOCIATION, INC. v. MARSHA DEVAUGHN and KEENE PATTERSON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Andrew Maloney, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Marsha DeVaughn and Keene Patterson.

Keith H. Solomon, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, The Preserve at Forrest Crossing Townhome Association, Inc.

Judge: COTTRELL

A townhome owner and her tenant challenge an amendment adopted by the owner’s townhome association prohibiting the owner from leasing her unit to a third party. The owner purchased her unit before there were any restrictions on leasing individual units. The amendment was adopted in accordance with the Horizontal Property Act and in accordance with the documents governing the units where she lives. The trial court granted the association’s motion for summary judgment enjoining the owner from renting her townhome to a third party and requiring the tenant to vacate the unit. On appeal we conclude the amendment is enforceable and affirm the trial court’s judgment.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GARY ADAMS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ron E. Munkeboe, Jr., (at trial and on appeal) and Dana Nero (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gary Adams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Jeff Burks and Brian Ewald, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Gary Adams, of four counts of aggravated rape. The trial court imposed four, consecutive sentences of twenty-five years for a total effective sentence of 100 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions, the trial court’s refusal to merge the convictions, and the sentences imposed by the trial court. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


SHAWN BLAIR v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gerald L. Melton, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shawn Blair.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jennifer Jones, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Shawn Blair, appeals the post-conviction court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his two convictions for simple possession of marijuana and resulting consecutive sentences of eleven-months, twenty-nine days. On appeal, the petitioner contends that he is entitled to post-conviction relief because he was not advised by trial counsel or the trial court about the immigration consequences of his pleas. Upon review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of the petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT NELSON BUFORD, III

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick G. Frogge, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Nelson Buford, III.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Kathy Morante, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Robert Nelson Buford, III, of facilitation of first degree felony murder and facilitation of attempted especially aggravated robbery. After a sentencing hearing, the appellant received an effective thirtyfive- year sentence. On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; (2) the trial court should have suppressed his statement to police because he invoked his right to remain silent; (3) his prior bad acts were inadmissible; (4) the trial court should have given the jury a requested instruction; and (5) his effective sentence is excessive. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court erred by admitting the appellant’s statement into evidence because the appellant invoked his right to remain silent but that the error was harmless. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


DEMETRIUS BYRD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Donna Miller, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Demetrius Byrd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Alexander, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Demetrius Byrd, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from felony drug convictions in which he alleged that his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered due to the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. More specifically he contends that (1) trial counsel failed to properly investigate his case to determine that Petitioner’s co-defendant, Dominic Jones, pled guilty to the cocaine offense under a separate indictment and accepted full responsibility for the offense; and (2) trial counsel insisted that he plead guilty to avoid federal prosecution. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SAMUEL MOORE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert S. Peters, Winchester, Tennessee, for appellant, Samuel Moore.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa S. Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; and Joshua Crain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Warren County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Samuel Moore, of attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, and assault. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of thirty-one years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the State’s failure to provide him with a verbatim transcript of the suppression hearing, the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress, the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions, and the sentences imposed. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

As Applications Decrease, Law Schools Plan Cutbacks

Law school applications have decreased 20 percent from last year and 38 percent from 2010, due in part to increased concerns over soaring tuition, student loan debt, and diminishing employment prospects upon graduation, the New York Times reports. The number of students matriculating in 2013 is estimated to be about 378,000, the lowest since 1977. Faced with such declining numbers, many law schools are planning cutbacks, staff layoffs and buyouts, and accepting students who before they would not have admitted.


Judge Accepts BP Plea Deal

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance of New Orleans approved a plea deal in which BP agreed to pay $4 billion to resolve criminal charges regarding the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill, despite emotional testimony and letters from dozens of people who objected to the deal. The guilty plea includes 11 counts of manslaughter for the deaths of several workers. The ABA Journal reports that BP still may face pollution fines of up to $21 billion as litigation continues over whether spilled oil collected in the cleanup efforts should count toward the barrel count used to assess Clean Water Act fines.


Immigration Attorney Finds Ideal Job with CLC

Johnna Bailey began working as immigration attorney for the Community Legal Center (CLC) in January, an ideal job for her given her nonprofit background. “It’s what I dreamed of returning to after law school,” she told the Memphis Daily News. After college, Bailey worked as a program coordinator for the family literacy program at a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. That inspired her to go to law school where she then served as an associate in a private immigration group. Now at the CLC, Bailey represents clients and trains lawyers to take on pro bono immigration cases. She said the Memphis legal community has been willing and eager to help when called.


Services Friday for Knoxville Attorney

Knoxville attorney A. Thomas Monceret died yesterday (Jan. 30) after a brief illness at the age of 66. A graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Monceret was a United States Marine Corps veteran who served in the Vietnam War. Visitation will be Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Greenhill Funeral Home, with the funeral to follow at 2 p.m. 


The Write, No, We Mean 'Right,' Stuff

As many TBA Today readers let us know, we got the right stuff all wrong in our Wednesday item about the BitTorrent copyright lawsuit. Although the story was correct, the spelling was not. Thanks to all who caught this mistake and gave us a well-deserved flogging. We were, however, gratified by just how many people do read TBA Today.


aLEGALz in the News

Stories from Knoxville’s WATE News 6, Nashville’s WDEF News 12 and WSMV News 4 covered the new aLEGALz toll-free hotline, which provides free legal information and referrals. The service was launched by the joint effort of a coalition of Tennessee legal groups, including the Tennessee Bar Association.


Shelby County Attorney Censured

On Jan. 24, Paul Forrest Craig received a Public Censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility for practicing law in Mississippi without a license. Download the BPR notice.


Madison County Attorney Suspended

Angela Joy Hopson of Jackson was suspended from the practice of law on Jan. 30 for one year; however, the entire suspension is probated subject to certain conditions. Hopson must engage a practice monitor for the period of her probation, comply with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Programs and pay the Board’s costs and expenses within 90 days. In the first complaint, Hopson failed to properly communicate with her client. In the second, she was found in contempt for her failure to file a timely brief and to follow the prior orders of the court regarding the filing of a status report. 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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