Legislators, TBA Leaders Gather at Big Shrimp Event

More than100 Tennessee lawmakers and their staffers came together with members of the Tennessee Bar Association during the annual Big Shrimp legislative reception Tuesday night at the Tennessee Bar Center. The event gave attorneys the opportunity to meet with senators and representatives in a relaxed atmosphere. The TBA's Leadership Law class also attended the event, after spending a day learning about Issues in Policy and Politics. The class heard from a panel of lawyer legislators, a group of lawyer lobbyists and an expert on judicial selection. In addition, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper addressed the group and class members attended a session of the Senate's Judiciary Committee.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals

LORA VAWTER v. VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Kyle C. Atkins and Terri Smith Crider, Humboldt, Tennessee, for the appellant, Volunteer Management Development.

Michael J. Cash, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lora Vawter.

Judge: PARISH

In this workers’ compensation case, the employee alleged that her work as a bookkeeper caused a compensable aggravation of her pre-existing rheumatoid arthritis. Her employer denied her claim. The trial court awarded benefits to the employee, and her employer has appealed. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TN Court of Appeals

CELIA MOODY RODGERS and SHERRY MOODY GONZALEZ, Sole Survivors of Joan Lois Moody v. GCA SERVICES GROUP, INC. And WEAKLEY COUNTY TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Larry E. Parrish, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Celia Moody Rodgers and Sherry Moody Gonzalez

Bridgid M. Carpenter, Caldwell G. Collins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, GCA Services Group, Inc.

Jeffery T. Washburn, Dresden, TN, for the appellee, Weakley County, Tennessee

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal involves injuries allegedly sustained by an employee as a result of her employment. The heirs of the deceased employee filed this lawsuit asserting numerous common law tort claims against the deceased employee’s employers. The employers filed separate motions to dismiss, arguing that the exclusive remedy for the alleged injuries was pursuant to the workers’ compensation law, and that the plaintiffs’ common law tort claims were barred. The trial court granted the motions to dismiss. Plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROY BRIAN AVANS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

B. Jeffery Harmon, District Public Defender, and Francis W. Pryor, Jr., Assistant District Public Defender, Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roy Brian Avans.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Sherry Shelton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Roy Brian Avans, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his effective ten-year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation and ordering service of the entire sentence without properly considering other available options. We discern no error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


BRIAN EDWARD OWEN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Brian Edward Owen, Pro Se, Nashville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter, and Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Petitioner, Brian Edward Owen, has appealed the habeas corpus court’s order summarily dismissing the petition for writ of habeas corpus. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the habeas corpus court was correct in summarily dismissing the habeas corpus petition and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted and the judgment of the habeas corpus court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DAVID EDMOND ROGERS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Amanda B. Dunn, Chattanooga, Tennessee (on appeal); Blake F. Murchison and Steve Brown, Assistant Public Defenders (at trial), for the appellant, David Edmond Rogers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Charles D. Minor and Leslie A. Longshore, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, David Edmond Rogers, was convicted by a Hamilton County jury of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and theft over $500, a Class E felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a career offender to fifteen years at sixty percent for the aggravated burglary conviction and six years at sixty percent for the theft conviction, with the sentences to be served consecutively to his sentences for prior Georgia convictions. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of his traffic stop and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES RYAN STEPHENSON
CORRECTION: On page 3 paragraph 2, line 3 has been changed to "public intoxication"

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.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LESERGIO DURAN WILSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

C. Dawn Deanor, Pubic Defender; Jonathan F. Wing, Assistant Public Defender; Kristin Stangl, Assistant Public Defender; Paul Bruno, for the Appellant, Lesergio Duran Wilson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

The Appellant, Lesergio Duran Wilson, petitions this Court for an accelerated interlocutory appeal as of right pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, Section 2. The Appellant seeks review of the trial court’s order denying his motion to recuse. After a thorough review of the petition, this Court concludes that the trial court properly denied Appellant’s motion for recusal. The order of the trial court is affirmed.


President Signs Cyberthreat Executive Order

President Barack Obama’s executive order to improve sharing of cyberthreat information between the government and private companies was signed earlier today. The order calls for federal agencies to review existing cybersecurity regulations and determine whether they enjoy the legal authority to require improved defenses at the nation’s critical infrastructure companies. Although many provisions will take agencies months or years to implement, the National Law Journal reports that an accompanying presidential policy directive will require immediate attention from attorneys for companies in the critical infrastructure category.


DOJ to Announce Death Penalty Decision Next Month

The Justice Department will announce whether it is going to pursue the death penalty against former prison guard Chastain Montgomery, who was charged with killing two West Tennessee postal workers during a robbery. WDEF News 12 reports that U.S Assistant Attorney Tony Arvin told U.S District Judge Jon McCalla that the government’s decision is expected to be disclosed March 7, three days after a hearing to address the legality of Montgomery’s confession.


Government Recovers $4.2 Billion in Heath Care Fraud

A record $4.2 billion was recovered through heath care fraud investigations in 2012 by the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services. The Nashville Business Journal reports that the DOJ opened 1,131 new criminal and 885 new civil fraud investigations with a total of 826 defendants convicted for health care fraud-related crimes this year. About $4.1 billion was recovered in fiscal year 2011.


Memphis Attorney Uses Special Skills to Give Back

Nicole Grida engaged in many extracurricular activities as a child, and continues her extramural involvement as a lawyer. A graduate of the University of Tennessee School of Law, Grida is an associate with Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC in Memphis where she has handled workers’ compensation cases, nursing home and medical negligence defense, car wrecks and general liabilities. Additionally, Grida serves on the public service committee for the Memphis Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division and coordinates the Memphis and Shelby County High School Mock Trial Competition. “If I wasn’t doing mock trial, I’d be doing something else because being a lawyer is more than just being in court,” Grida told the Memphis Daily News. “Lawyers should be stewards of their community, they should be giving back in some way.”


Shelter Dogs Give Comfort During Juvenile Court

Franklin Juvenile Court Judge Sharon Guffee has invited dogs from the county’s shelter to comfort children once a week at the courthouse while the adults deal with cases involving foster care, abuse, and neglect. Kids are encouraged to pet the animals or sit with them during court sessions. While Judge Guffee has not researched the benefits of using therapy dogs in a courtroom, she has seen positive effects in juvenile detention centers and elsewhere. She told the Tennessean that in just a few short weeks of having dogs at the courthouse, she has seen more smiles.


'Bama Fan in Court Over Poisoning of Auburn Trees

A University of Alabama fan allegedly took the athletic rivalry with Auburn University too far by poisoning Auburn’s landmark oak trees, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Harvey Updyke has been charged with offenses including criminal mischief and today requested to move the trial outside of the county where Auburn is based. University officials said the trees are all but dead and will be removed after the spring football game.


Proposal Would Increase Assault Sentences

State Rep. Cameron Sexton has introduced HB 31, or Boomer’s Law, which proposes to change the state law regarding the punishment for aggravated assault. The legislation is named after 20-year old Boomer Smith, who was killed last March following an argument with a friend. The assailant was charged with aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, a crime that has a penalty of three to six years. Boomer’s father, Richard Smith, has been working with a number of officials to redefine aggravated assault under Tennessee law and increase the sentence up to 10 years. The Herald Chronicle has the story.


Bill Protecting Anonymous Online Commenters Passes Senate

A bill to block courts from granting subpoenas for the identities of anonymous commenters on news websites was unanimously approved 32-0 today in the Tennessee Senate, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The proposal was sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and does not include cases in which defamatory statements were made.


Senate Approves Gun Bill

The state Senate approved the guns-in-trunk bill by a 25-7 margin yesterday, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The bill now moves to the House where it is expected to pass in the next two weeks.


Former Judge, Bristol Attorney Dies

Frank Slaughter, Sr. died yesterday (Feb. 12) at the age of 78. A prominent criminal defense attorney in Bristol, Slaughter was a graduate of Tennessee High School, Stetson University School of Business, and the University of Tennessee College of Law. He was appointed to the bench in the mid-1990s and served briefly as a criminal court judge. Slaughter was a member of the American Judicature Society, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, and Bristol Tennessee Bar Association. The funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Akard Funeral Home Chapel. A private burial will be in Campground Cemetery with military rites conducted by the Bristol VFW Honor Guard. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be sent to the charity of your choice.


 
 

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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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