Court to Require Electronic Filing of Indigent Compensation Claims

The Tennessee Supreme Court has issued an order, effective July 1, that requires electronic submission of all compensation claims for counsel of indigent defendants. The order, Rule 13A, makes amendments to Supreme Court Rules 13, 15 and 42, concerning indigent counsel, mental health proceedings and standards for court interpreters.

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.

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00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
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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

IN THE MATTER OF DAKOTA M. S.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Kelsey Austin Miller, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Heidi M. S.

William L. Draper, Gainsboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant, William R. S.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mary Byrd Ferrara, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Sheila L. O’Regan, Granville, Tennessee, as Guardian Ad Litem for, Dakota M. S.

Judge: DINKINS

Mother and Father appeal the termination of their parental rights. Mother and Father’s rights were terminated on grounds of substantial non-compliance with the permanency plans and persistence of conditions. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

FREDERICK ALEXANDER AVERY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Frederick Alexander Avery.

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

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Frederick Alexander Avery, was convicted by a jury in the Davidson County Criminal Court of aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, reckless endangerment, and attempted second degree murder. As a violent offender, he received a total effective sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Subsequently, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion for severance and a motion for a speedy trial and for advising the petitioner to not testify at trial. The post-conviction court denied relief, holding that the petitioner failed to establish that counsel was ineffective. However, because trial counsel had miscalculated the date for filing an appeal to the supreme court, the post-conviction court granted the petitioner a Rule 11 delayed appeal. See Tenn. S. Ct. R. 28, § 9(D)(1)(b). The petitioner appeals the denial of post-conviction relief based on his ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Upon review, we conclude that the post-conviction court properly granted the petitioner a delayed appeal. However, the post-conviction court erred by not staying the post-conviction proceeding pending the disposition of the delayed appeal.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. EDDIE HOOF

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Juni S. Ganguli, Memphis, Tennessee (on appeal); and Arthur E. Horne and Murray B. Wells, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Eddie Hoof.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jeff Jones and Carla L. Taylor, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Shelby County grand jury indicted appellant, Eddie Hoof, for first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, attempted first degree murder, and especially aggravated burglary. A jury found him guilty of two counts of second degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and one count of especially aggravated burglary. The trial court merged the two convictions of second degree murder and sentenced appellant to an effective sentence of fifty-seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand the case to the trial court for correction of the judgment form for especially aggravated burglary to reflect a consecutive sentence.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ARTHUR LEE JAMISON, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III (on appeal) and Karl Pulley (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Arthur Lee Jamison, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Pamela Anderson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Arthur Lee Jamison, Jr., was convicted by a jury in the Davidson County Criminal Court of selling less than .5 grams of a substance containing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a drug-free school zone, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the appellant to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STEVEN RAY KENNEDY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick Stegall (on appeal) and Melody Oliver (at post-conviction hearing), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven Ray Kennedy.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Alycia Peoples, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Steven Ray Kennedy, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his guilty-pleaded conviction for second degree murder and the resulting twenty-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary because of the ineffectiveness of counsel. Following our review of the record, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BOBBY DUANE PARKER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Vanessa Pettigrew Bryan (on appeal) and Robert W. Jones (at trial and on appeal), Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bobby Duane Parker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Mary K. White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Bobby Duane Parker, pled guilty in the Williamson County Circuit Court to four counts of theft, two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon, one count of resisting arrest, and one count of evading arrest. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty-seven years. On appeal, the appellant challenges the imposition of consecutive sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LARRY R. PORTERFIELD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert G. Morgan (on appeal and at trial) and Kandi Nunley (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Larry R. Porterfield.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and David Shinn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Larry R. Porterfield, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, and the Grundy County Circuit Court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to a term of four years’ imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant challenges the manner of service of his sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


DONNELL LEVON ROBINSON, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Terry D. Dycus, Somerville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Donnell Levon Robinson, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Joe L. VanDyke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Donnell Levon Robinson, Jr., appeals the denial of post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his plea was involuntarily and unknowingly entered. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES RYAN STEPHENSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

B. Jeffery Harmon, District Public Defender; and Mechelle L. Story, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, James Ryan Stephenson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Will Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, James Ryan Stephenson, was convicted by a Rhea County jury of reckless homicide, a Class D felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II, multiple offender to eight years in the Department of Correction, to be served consecutively to his sentence in a burglary case for which he was on probation at the time of the homicide. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by: (1) granting the State’s request to remove a juror on the second day of trial; (2) allowing the State to impeach his credibility with his prior convictions for theft and burglary; (3) issuing a jury instruction on the impeachment of a witness after the testimony of a defense witness but not after the testimony of a State witness; and (4) failing to apply any mitigating factors in sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


High Court to Decide Voter ID Appeal

The Tennessee Supreme Court heard arguments this morning about whether Memphis photo library cards can serve as government-issued identification under the state’s voter ID law, WBIR News 10 reports. In August, the Court of Appeals ruled that the library cards could be accepted at the polls since Memphis is a branch of the state, however Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Elections Coordinator Mark Goins appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. Attorney George Barrett argued to overturn the law, calling it a solution looking for a problem, and citing scant evidence of electoral fraud, WPLN reports. Although it could take months for an official ruling, Justice Sharon Lee told Barrett it was an argument for state lawmakers, not the court.


Memphis Law Names New Dean

Peter Letsou has been named dean of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis, and will begin work June 1. Letsou, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, is currently dean of the Williamette University College of Law in Salem, Ore. He previously served as associate counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and Nicaraguan Opposition and as an associate with two private firms in New York. “A public law school with a distinguished history and an exceptional faculty, facility and location, the School of Law is uniquely positioned to respond to the challenges now confronting legal education," Letsou said in a press release.


Miller & Martin Hires First Attorney Since Last Summer

Chattanooga-based law firm Miller & Martin has hired its first attorney in its Nashville office since 37 attorneys left the firm in June 2012 to join the Mississippi-based Butler Snow O’Mara Stevens and Cannada. Susan Steelman, a 1995 graduate of Vanderbilt School of Law, will head the firm’s health care practice. She previously served as director of loss prevention and regulatory matters for the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Virginia, and as associate general counsel for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, according to an excerpt from a press release republished in the Nashville Business Journal.


Fishermen Seek Law to Keep Access to Cumberland River Dams Open

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials angered a crowd of more than 300 people Tuesday when they stated they will begin restricting boating and fishing access above and below Cumberland River Dams in order to comply with national safety policy, the Tennessean reports. In response, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Kentucky, announced they would pursue legislation to keep access near the dams open if the Corps doesn’t pull back from its plan. “There is a logical solution to the problem, which is close the area when it is dangerous and open it when it is safe and give people plenty of warning about the difference,” Alexander told reporters during a conference call.


State Income Tax Ban Sent to Senate

The Finance, Ways and Means Committee voted 9-1 Tuesday morning to send constitutional amendment Senate Joint Resolution 1 to the floor of the state Senate, permanently banning a tax on personal income or a payroll tax in Tennessee. Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, cast the only vote against the amendment, stating he is against income tax in principle but believes a payroll tax is different, the Tennessean reports.


Bill to Require Ultrasound, 24-Hour Wait Period for Abortion

State Sen. Jim Tracey, R-Shelbyville, has filed Senate Bill 632 that would require women receive a “transabdominal ultrasound” and wait at least 24 hours before having an abortion. The bill would require ultrasound technicians to display an image of the fetus and make any heartbeat audible to the woman. According to the Tennessean, however, the state constitution has a privacy clause that has limited lawmaker’s ability to place restrictions on women seeking to end a pregnancy, making it highly possible Tracey’s proposal may face a court challenge. State Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, has agreed to sponsor the House version.


Business Leaders: Gun Bill is a Negative

Business leaders are speaking out against the bill allowing permitted gun owners the right to store firearms in their cars no matter where they are parked, even on employers’ property. Businesses such as FedEx, Nissan and Volkswagen opposed similar legislation last year but the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to approve the bill, which now advances to full Senate floor vote tomorrow. "Anything that infringes on the rights of property owners or employers clearly is viewed as a negative by companies that are already here or are looking to locate here," Bill Ozier, chairman of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the Nashville Business Journal.


Congress Considers Limiting Drone Program

A growing number within Congress is looking to limit America’s authority to kill suspected terrorists through the drone program, Knoxnews reports. The program has been used to find and kill an unknown number of suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens, and is expected to be a top topic of debate at a hearing Thursday in which the Senate Intelligence Committee will interview John Brennan, the White House’s pick for CIA chief. The White House defended its lethal drone program by citing the very laws some in Congress once believed were appropriate in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. "It has to be in the agenda of this Congress to reconsider the scope of action of drones and use of deadly force by the United States around the world because the original authorization of use of force, I think, is being strained to its limits," Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, said in a recent interview.


Report Details Length of Judicial Vacancies

The Alliance for Justice, a liberal public interest group that monitors the judicial nomination process, compiled a report listing the nation’s vacant judicial spots and how long they have remained open without a nominee, the Blog of the Legal Times reports. The results show that delays in filling the bench often begin before the nominees even reach the Senate. According to the report, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has a position that has remained open for 3,200 days because of a dispute between California and Idaho senators about from which state the nominee should be. There has been a 2,655-day vacancy in the eastern district of California, 1,925-day vacancy in the western district of Wisconsin, and a 1,619-day vacancy in the northern district of Georgia.


 
 

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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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