Court Clarifies Pro Hac Vice Admission for Admin. Proceedings

The Tennessee Supreme Court today revised the rule for out-of-state lawyers appearing before administrative law judges. The new rule -- first proposed jointly by the Board of Professional Responsibility and the Judges of the Administrative Procedures Division in July -- requires lawyers residing and licensed in states other than Tennessee, who appear as counsel of record before an administrative law judge, or state entity authorized to resolve controversy, to be admitted pro hac vice. Today’s court order replaces the current Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 19 in its entirety. The Tennessee Bar Association filed the sole comment, which stated it “strongly supports” the adoption of the modified revision.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
02 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - 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

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Workers Comp Appeals

JOSEPH SIMS v. MILLENNIUM PACKAGING SOLUTIONS, LLC

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick Doyle Dodson and Stacie D. Miller, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Millennium Packaging Solutions, LLC.

Ronald J. Berke and Megan C. England, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Joseph Sims.

Judge: ANDERSON

Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee fell and struck his head in March of 2000 in the course and scope of his employment, resulting in a complex scalp laceration, post-concussion syndrome and dysfunction of the trigeminal nerve. He filed this workers’ compensation action in February of 2001, seeking temporary total disability and permanent disability benefits and medical expenses. After many delays the case was heard in September of 2011. The employee’s medical expert testified that he had a 21% permanent impairment and was temporarily disabled until 2009. The employer’s expert testified that he had a 5% impairment, had reached maximum medical improvement and was able to work at the time of his examination in 2007. The trial court awarded temporary total disability benefits from 2000 to 2007, a total of 369.98 weeks, and awarded 60% permanent partial disability, a total of 240 weeks, for a grand total of 609.98 weeks. The employer has appealed, contending that the court erred in awarding more than a total of 400 weeks, in awarding temporary total disability benefits without proper medical proof of inability to work and in awarding 60% permanent partial disability without defining the specific anatomical impairment rating. We reverse the judgment in part and affirm in part.


TN Court of Appeals

FAYETTE JANITORIAL SERVICES and TECHNOLOGY INSURANCE COMPANY, AS ASSIGNEE OF THE CLAIMS OF WESLEY KENNEDY v. KELLOGG USA, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Benjamin F. Gallagher, St. Paul, MN; Brian L. Yoakum, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Fayette Janitorial Services and Technology Insurance Company, as Assignee of the Claims of Wesley Kennedy

R. Scott McCullough, Richard Sorin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kellogg USA, Inc.

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal involves a tort suit filed after a workplace injury. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that it was a statutory employer within the meaning of the Workers’ Compensation Law, Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-113, and therefore, it was immune from the tort claim asserted on behalf of the injured worker. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.


DIANNA A. GADDES v. PAUL W. GADDES, JR.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Wm. Kenneth Burger, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dianna A. Gaddes

Karla C. Hewitt, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Paul W. Gaddes, Jr.

Judge: HIGHERS

Mother petitioned for criminal contempt against Father due to his alleged failure to pay child support as required and she further sought reimbursement for one-half of the children’s optical and dental expenses. Father counter-petitioned for contempt against Mother. The trial court found Father in criminal contempt, but it declined to impose incarceration. However, the trial court denied Mother’s request for optical and dental reimbursement, finding Father was under no obligation to pay such. We affirm in part and we reverse in part.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LAVONTA LAVER CHURCHWELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul Julius Walwyn, Madison, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lavonta Laver Churchwell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General, Rob McGuire, Assistant District Attorney General; and Sarah Davis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, Lavonta Laver Churchwell, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, and two counts of especially aggravated robbery. Defendant was convicted by a petit jury of two counts of felony murder, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, and two counts of criminally negligent homicide. The trial court merged Defendant’s convictions for criminally negligent homicide into his felony murder convictions. He was sentenced by the trial court to an effective life sentence with all sentences running concurrently. In this direct appeal, Defendant asserts that: 1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; 2) the State failed to establish the corpus delicti because the State offered no corroborating evidence of the testimony of the jailhouse informants; 3) Defendant’s admissions to the jailhouse informants were elicited in violation of Massiah v. U.S., 377 U.S. 201, 84 S. Ct. 1199, 12 L. Ed. 2d 246 (1964); and 4) the trial court erred by allowing testimony that Defendant threatened a jailhouse informant. The State responds that Defendant has waived all issues save that of sufficiency of the evidence by failing to file a timely motion for new trial. We conclude that Defendant’s motion for new trial was timely filed and review the merits of each issue. Finding no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. HARRY COLEMAN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph A. McClusky (on appeal), William D. Massey (at trial and on appeal), and Leslie Ballin and Steven Ferese (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Harry Coleman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Eric Christensen and Paul Hagerman, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Harry Coleman, of second degree murder, aggravated assault, and two counts of assault. After a sentencing hearing, he received an effective eighteen-year sentence. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions and that he is entitled to a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the appellant’s convictions and the trial court’s denial of the motion for new trial. However, the case is remanded to the trial court for correction of a clerical error on two of the judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CYNTHIA DENISE GRAY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Donna L. Hargrove, District Public Defender; and Michael J. Collins, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Cynthia Denise Gray.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

A jury convicted the defendant, Cynthia Denise Gray, of one count of the promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class D felony, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-433 (2010). The trial court sentenced her to serve three years and six months in prison as a Range I standard offender. The defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the length of the sentence, as well as the trial court’s refusal to impose an alternative sentence. Having reviewed the record, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient and that there was no error in sentencing. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JACKSON MARTIN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Barry W. Kuhn (on appeal) and Constance J. Barnes and Vincent Ores (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jackson Martin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Robert William Ratton, III, and Jessica Banti, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Jackson Martin, of attempted second degree murder and two counts of carjacking. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the carjacking convictions and sentenced him to an effective sentence of twenty-two years in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the trial court erred by commenting to the jury about his failure to present alibi witnesses; (2) the trial court erred by refusing to give the jury an alibi instruction; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRUCE D. MENDENHALL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A. DeVasher, Assistant Public Defender; Melissa Harrison, Assistant Public Defender; and Jason Gichner, Assistant Public Defender, Nashville, Tennessee, for appellant, Bruce D. Mendenhall.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Tom Thurman, Assistant District Attorney General; Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General; and Pam Anderson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, Bruce D. Mendenhall, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for first degree premeditated murder, and he was convicted as charged following a jury trial. The trial court sentenced Defendant to life in prison. Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence and submits the following issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred by refusing to suppress evidence obtained from Defendant’s person, his truck, and his tractor trailer as a result of Defendant’s initial encounter with police Sgt. Postiglione, which Defendant asserts was a seizure not supported by reasonable suspicion; (2) whether the trial court erred by refusing to suppress Defendant’s statements to police officers; (3) whether Defendant’s statements to a fellow inmate should have been suppressed; (4) whether the trial court erred by admitting evidence that Defendant solicited another person to kill three potential witnesses; (5) whether the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to exclude portions of Defendant’s phone calls recorded while Defendant was incarcerated; (6) whether the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to present testimony from a ballistics expert at trial; (7) whether the trial court erred by admitting into evidence items recovered from Defendant’s truck; (8) whether the trial court erred by admitting into evidence photographs of the victim’s body; (9) whether the evidence is sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction; and (10) whether the trial court erred by ordering Defendant’s sentence to run consecutively to a previously imposed sentence. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DONALD A. ROGERS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Mack Garner, District Public Defender (at hearing), for the appellant, Donald A. Rogers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Matthew L. Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Donald A. Rogers, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his original three-year sentence in the Department of Correction. He argues that the trial court erred in ordering full confinement, rather than imposing split confinement. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ALFONZO MARQUIS SUTTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Trisha A. Bohlen, Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and Brenda Bramlett, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alfonzo Marquis Sutton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Michael David Randles and Richard A. Cawley, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Bedford County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Alfonzo Marquis Sutton, of conspiracy to sell and deliver .5 grams or more of a Schedule II controlled substance, cocaine. The trial court sentenced him as a Range III persistent offender to thirteen years, forty-five percent of which he was to serve in confinement before being eligible for release. On appeal, the appellant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, that prosecutorial misconduct warranted a mistrial, and that his sentence is excessive. Upon review, we conclude that prosecutorial misconduct warrants a new trial.


RONALD WOODS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Terrell L. Tooten, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronald Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Abby Wallace, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Shelby County grand jury indicted petitioner, Ronald Woods, for three counts of assault. Petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of assault, and the State agreed to dismiss the two remaining counts. During the plea hearing, petitioner also pleaded guilty to several offenses in an unrelated case that was pending in the criminal court. He received an agreed-upon effective sentence of six years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days for both cases. Petitioner requested post-conviction relief, alleging: (1) that the State engaged in vindictive prosecution; (2) that he received ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) that his guilty plea was involuntary; and (4) that he was denied due process of law. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Services Pending for Former U.S. Attorney Kemper Durand

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney and long-time Memphis attorney Kemper Durand died unexpectedly Saturday. A partner at Thomason Hendrix Harvey Johnson & Mitchell PLLC, Durand earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee and was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1964. In addition to his work in criminal defense and litigation, Durand was extensively involved in The Innocence Project, where his efforts led to the freeing of an individual who had served over 22 years in prison for a crime which he did not commit. Durand also was a founding member of the Tennessee Bar Foundation and was often called on by judges of the U.S. district court in Memphis and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to sit on court committees. Arrangements for memorial services are still pending.


Long-Time Memphis Attorney Dies at 81

Memphis attorney Alex Migliara died Thursday (Jan. 31) at the age of 81. A graduate of the University of Memphis, he practiced law for over 50 years. Services were held this morning at St. Louis Catholic Church followed by burial in Memorial Park Cemetery. The family requests donations be directed to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.


Grand Jury Chair’s Felony Record Uncovered, 800 Cases in Question

Indictments from nearly 900 cases in the Nashville area are under review after officials discovered that 2011 grand jury chair Eugene Grayer is a convicted felon. According to the ABA Journal, an appeals court is set to decide whether any of the cases will need to be retried. Grayer was convicted of theft in 1977, but his felony status was not uncovered until he applied for a handgun permit and underwent a background check.


Grant Expands Juvenile Court Mental Health Project

Tennessee has received a  $221,000 federal grant to expand a juvenile court project that between August 2010 and July 2912 screened more than 2,600 youth and referred almost 1,400 juveniles for mental health, substance abuse and family services, WRCB News 3 reports. The grant will increase the use of evidence-based therapeutic practices for the juvenile justice population, and allow the program to expand into more counties.


DOJ Challenges Beer Merger

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit last Thursday in federal court to stop Anheuser-Busch InBev’s proposed $20.1 billion purchase of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, the Johnson City Press reports. The deal would unite the ownership of popular beers such as Bud Light, the best-selling domestic beer, and Corona, the best-selling import. The government said the deal could lead to higher beer prices since the firm would control nearly half of all beer sales in the country.


Lipscomb President to Teach Conflict Resolution

Lipscomb University President Randy Lowry has teamed up with Lipscomb’s Lifelong Learning program to teach a course called “Peace is Not the Absence of Conflict” in which adult students will learn how to use conflict management strategies, the Tennessean reports. Lowry, a lawyer, mediator, author, consultant and teacher, has served clients in conflict management in more than 40 states and on six continents. He will teach the class in partnership with his son John, who is also a lawyer.


New Rules Take On Childhood Obesity

In an effort to combat childhood obesity, the Department of Agriculture proposed new rules Friday that would limit the sale of candy, high-calorie drinks, and greasy food in school vending machines and lunchrooms. According to the Memphis Daily News, the proposal would set fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on almost all foods and drinks. Elementary and middle schools could only sell 8-ounce portions of low-fat milk or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, while high schools would be limited to 12 ounce portions of some sports drinks, diet sodas and iced teas.


Bill Calls for Crackdown on Ticket Scalpers

The Fairness in Ticketing Act was filed in the Senate Friday by sponsors Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, and Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, the Nashville City Paper reports. The legislation aims to minimize illegal ticket scalping by requiring ticket brokers -- defined as anyone who resells more than 60 tickets in a year -- to register with the state and pay sales tax on transactions. The bill also requires brokers to disclose certain information about the tickets they are selling such as face value. Supporters of the bill believe requiring increased disclosure by the reseller would cut down on the deceptive practices rampant in the secondary market.


Senators Propose “Repealer” to Cut Laws

State Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson, both Franklin Republicans, have filed HB 500 to create an Office of the Repealer. The repealer's job would be to identify potentially unnecessary rules and regulations, and make nonbinding recommendations to the secretary of state and the legislature every three months and to the governor once a year. “There are hundreds of thousands of rules that are on the books,” Johnson told the Tennessean. “Some for good reason, but some are in all likelihood antiquated and not relevant... We need to clean those up.”


 
 

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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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