Judge Reviewing Billing Practices of Public Guardian

Davidson County Probate Judge Randy Kennedy is launching a review of the billing practices of the county’s public guardian to see whether she charged excessive fees to the elderly and disabled people she is supposed to protect. According to The Tennessean, Kennedy notified the Metro Council that he also is going to halt new appointments to Jeanan Mills Stuart during the review. The move comes after news of questionable billing practices surfaced last week. As the county guardian, Stuart makes legal, medical and financial decisions for those who are incapacitated by mental or physical illness, addiction or injury when there is no suitable family member or friend to handle such tasks.

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.

02 - 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

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TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


Clarence James Gideon, Jr., and Alan S. Bean, Nashville, Tennessee, and Raymond W. Fraley, Jr., Fayetteville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Rheaetta F. Wilson and Lauralyn F. Watson.

Roger W. Dickson, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and David L. Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee, (on appeal); Thomas Pinckney and Susan D. Bass, Nashville, Tennessee, (at trial) for the appellee, Americare Systems, Inc.

Judge: LEE

The issue presented is whether the jury verdict against the management company of an assisted living facility for negligence based on understaffing is supported by material evidence. Mable Farrar’s physician prescribed Ms. Farrar a daily dose of an over-the-counter medicine for constipation. The nursing staff at the assisted living facility where Ms. Farrar lived did not give the medicine to her as often as prescribed. As a result, Ms. Farrar became constipated and returned to see her doctor. Ms. Farrar’s doctor notified the nursing staff at the assisted living facility to give Ms. Farrar three to four enemas each day beginning on May 27, 2004. A facility nurse gave Ms. Farrar one enema on the evening of May 27, none on May 28, and one enema on the evening of May 29. Very soon after receiving the last enema on May 29, Ms. Farrar died from a perforated colon. Her daughters filed a wrongful death action against the nurse who gave the enema, the director of nursing at the assisted living facility, the owner of the facility, and its management company. The suit alleged that the negligence of the staff, the owner, and its management company caused Ms. Farrar’s death. The jury returned a verdict finding the nurse thirty percent at fault, the director of nursing twenty percent at fault, and the management company fifty percent at fault based on its failure to provide sufficient personnel at the facility. The management company appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict against the management company, finding that there was no material evidence that staffing deficiencies proximately caused Ms. Farrar’s death. We hold that the jury’s verdict was supported by material evidence. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and remand the case to the Court of Appeals for review of the award of punitive damages.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Edgar Davison, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marina Castro.

John J. Cook and Megan L. Black, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, TX Direct, LLC.


Employer terminated employee shortly after discovering she was pregnant. Thereafter, employee filed a complaint against her former employer asserting claims of sex and pregnancy discrimination, retaliation, and misrepresentation. Following a period of discovery, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer on each of the employee’s claims. After thoroughly reviewing the record, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William P. Holloway, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Derek Alton Badger.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Crawford, District Attorney General, and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Derek Alton Badger, was convicted of aggravated sexual battery after a jury trial in Bedford County. Petitioner’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence was unsuccessful on appeal. See State v. Derek Alton Badger, No. M2009-01295-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 3489173, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Aug. 25, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 18, 2011). Subsequently, Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that the trial court failed to advise him regarding sex offender registration and community supervision. After a hearing on the postconviction petition, at which Petitioner presented several witnesses, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. Petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal and seeks our review of the dismissal of the petition for post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court because Petitioner has failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael Thomas, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alvin Donell Davis.

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


The Defendant, Alvin Donell Davis, appeals the revocation of his probation by the Hamilton County Criminal Court. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court was without authority to revoke his probation because his sentences had expired. After a review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in revoking the Defendant’s probation on Count 2 of his convictions and affirm the trial court’s order of probation revocation and incarceration on that count. However, because the sentences in Counts 1 and 3 expired prior to the filing of the revocation warrant, the trial court lacked the authority to revoke the Defendant’s sentence on those counts; therefore, the orders of revocation and incarceration on Counts 1 and 3 are reversed and vacated.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Tina L. Sloan (on appeal) and William C. Jones (at hearing), LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kevin C. Potter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Lori Phillips-Jones, District Attorney General; and Michael Ripley and Leif Jeffers, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Criminal Court for Campbell County sentenced the Defendant, Kevin C. Potter, to fifteen years of probation for multiple offenses that occurred between 2009 and 2011. In late 2011, the Defendant’s probation officer filed an affidavit seeking a probation violation warrant for the Defendant’s arrest. After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered that he serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends he was denied a fair hearing on the probation violation warrant and that the trial court erred because it failed to make specific findings of fact. The State agrees, and it asks us to reverse the case and remand it to the trial court for an order containing specific factual findings based upon the proof adduced at the revocation hearing. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we agree with the parties. We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for entry of an order that sets forth specific factual findings for the revocation of probation.

File for Shelby Criminal Court by March 11

The Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications through March 11 for a vacancy on the 30th Judicial District Criminal Court, which serves Shelby County. The seat on the court is available following the death of Judge W. Otis Higgs. Services for the former judge were held last week.

DCS Promises Swift, Deliberate Fixes

Officials now heading up the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) say they’re seeking swift, but deliberate solutions to problems that have plagued the agency -- though they still are not able to give a definitive answer about how many children who have come into contact with DCS have died. Interim Commissioner Jim Henry told The Tennessean that the agency’s $27 million computer system appears to be improving as glitches are found and fixed. Larry Martin, a longtime aide to Gov. Bill Haslam, also is on board and promises to deal with whatever problems are found. The Memphis Daily News has the story.

FBI Will Release Records on Civil Rights Era Photographer

The FBI will release records about civil rights-era photographer Ernest Withers' work as an informant for the FBI, settling The Commercial Appeal’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Under the deal, the paper will have access to portions of 70 investigative files in which Withers participated as an informant. In addition, the FBI will pay $186,000 in attorney fees and legal costs. Withers, a freelancer for America's black press, was known as "the civil rights photographer" for his iconic images of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others working for racial equality. NPR has the Associated Press story.

Special Master Likely in Shelby Schools Case

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays plans to move ahead with appointing a special master to oversee the merger of Shelby County’s two public school systems, the Memphis Daily News reports. The paper says Mays wants the combined school system finalized by July or August of this year. He also is soliciting recommendations for individuals he should consider for the position and is seeking input on whether the appointment should explicitly state the special master's duties.

UT Goes to Transactional Meet for First Time

The University of Tennessee College of Law for the first time fielded a student team to LawMeet -- a transactional drafting and negotiation competition. Though the team did not move beyond the regional meet, the experience provided valuable drafting and negotiation experience according to team coach Brian Krumm.

Track Legislation of Interest to Tennessee Attorneys

The TBA has a number of tools to help you track action in the Tennessee General Assembly. Read TBA Today for regular news updates and follow the TBA Action List to track bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in -- those it has initiated, taken a position on, or has a policy on. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.

Opinion: Haslam Could Be What GOP Needs

An article in this week’s issue of Politico calls Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam “the most important Republican governor you’ve never heard of,” suggesting that his “pro-growth platform” may be just what national Republicans need. According to the story, Haslam has disavowed any interest in national office, but to friends and allies, his experience in Tennessee could be a model for a party looking for ideas that appeal to the middle class. Haslam is in the nation’s capital this week for a meeting of the National Governors Association.

Lawyers Square off on Education Reform

Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman and social justice advocate Oona Chatterjee with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University will discuss education reform at an event Wednesday at Vanderbilt University Law School. Huffman and Chatterjee both graduated from New York University School of Law in 1998 and have spent their careers working on school reform, though from different vantage points. The event, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the Flynn Auditorium, will be moderated by Vanderbilt Law Professor Terry Maroney, who also attended law school with the speakers. On Tuesday, Chatterjee will speak at 5 p.m. on how lawyers can make a difference early in their careers. Both events are presented by the law school’s Social Justice Program and are free and open to the public.

Learn How to Start a Legal Clinic at Friday Event

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission is hosting a seminar Friday for those interested in starting a legal clinic in their area. The presentation will cover issues such as recruiting attorney volunteers, publicizing a clinic, dealing with conflict checks and malpractice insurance. The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville. To learn more or to RSVP email Palmer Williams at the Administrative Office of the Courts or call (615) 741-2687 x 1414.


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.

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