Stevens Appointed Judge in 6th District

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Deborah C. Stevens of Knoxville as the newest judge on the 6th Judicial District Circuit Court. She replaces Judge Wheeler A. Rosenbalm who retired. Since 1998, Stevens has served as president and managing shareholder of Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop. According to a release from the AOC, Stevens has tried more than 100 criminal and civil cases and has been involved in mediation and settlement of hundreds of cases. After graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1980, Stevens practiced in Knox and Morgan counties. She later handled bankruptcy and banking matters for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation before joining Lewis King.

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
12 - 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

CORRECTION: The first order listed in the middle division In Re: Timothy, et al. - M2012-1638 was not filed.

Court: TN Supreme Court

With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TN Supreme Court


Donald Capparella, and Candi Henry, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Linda Caraway.

Douglas T. Jenkins, Rogersville, Tennessee; W. Lewis Jenkins, Jr., Dyersburg, Tennessee; and Denise Terry Stapleton, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellees, Mark Smallman and Jeffrey Smallman.

Judge: LEE

The primary issue we address in this appeal is whether certain evidence was erroneously admitted at trial and if so, whether it more probably than not affected the jury’s verdict. This case arose out of the death of Raymond Smallman and the ensuing dispute between his two sons from a previous marriage and Linda Caraway, whom he married two weeks before his death. Mr. Smallman’s sons challenged the validity of their father’s marriage to Ms. Caraway and the validity of the lost will that Ms. Caraway sought to have established. Ms. Caraway claimed to be Mr. Smallman’s surviving spouse and the sole beneficiary of his estate pursuant to the terms of his will. The case went to trial, and the jury was allowed to hear evidence about Ms. Caraway’s real estate holdings and her late mother’s will. The jury found in favor of Mr. Smallman’s sons. The Court of Appeals affirmed. We granted Ms. Caraway permission to appeal to address whether Mr. Smallman’s sons had standing to contest the validity of their father’s second marriage and whether the introduction of evidence regarding Ms. Caraway’s late mother’s will and her real estate holdings was error and if so, whether it more probably than not affected the jury’s verdict. We hold that Ms. Caraway waived her argument that Mr. Smallman’s sons lacked standing to contest the validity of her marriage to their father. We further hold that the trial court erred in allowing into evidence testimony regarding Ms. Caraway’s real property holdings and her late mother’s will. Because this evidence more probably than not affected the jury’s verdict, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for a new trial.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Appellant Teia M.L.T., self-represented.

Appellees Jerry L. and Carol L., self-represented.

Guardian Ad Litem Claire D. Reno.


Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Cara C. Welsh, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donnie R.S., Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


The State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of Donald R.S., Jr. (“Father”) to the minor children Dacia S., Aerial W. , and Teagan W. After a trial, the Trial Court entered its order terminating Father’s parental rights to the Children after finding and holding, inter alia, that DCS had proven by clear and convincing evidence that grounds existed to terminate Father’s parental rights pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1) and Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1- 102(1)(A)(iv) and that the termination was in the Children’s best interest. Father appeals to this Court. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Rebecca L. Hicks, Dayton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ruby Lois Dye.

Andrew F. Tucker, Dayton, Tennessee, for the appellees, Leonard Waldo and Samuel L. Swafford.


This case involves a dispute over the ownership of a parcel of real property to which the appellees obtained title in May 2010. The appellant argued that the property belonged to her through the doctrine of adverse possession because she and her mother had used the property exclusively since 1937. The appellees proved at trial that the appellant had not paid taxes on the land for more than 22 years and moved for a directed verdict at the close of the appellant’s case-in chief. The trial court granted the motion based upon the statutory bar imposed by Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-2-110. The appellant appeals. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


R. Wylie Richardson, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Melissa Barnett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Robert Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and M. Drew Robinson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Melissa Barnett, appeals the Polk County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for a writ of error coram nobis regarding her convictions for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder, for which she is serving a life sentence. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by denying her relief. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


John Pellegrin and James J. Ramsey, for the Appellant, Lindsey Brooke Lowe.

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


The Appellant, Lindsey Brooke Lowe, 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 her motion to recuse. After a thorough review of the petition, this Court concludes that the trial court properly denied the Appellant’s motion for recusal. The order of the trial court is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Christopher Martin, Unadilla, Georgia, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; and William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Christopher Martin, was convicted in 1997 for rape of a child and received a twenty-five-year sentence. He was also convicted in Georgia of similar offenses and received a twenty-year sentence. The Georgia and Tennessee sentences were to be served concurrently. The petitioner filed a motion in the trial court, seeking to remove a Tennessee detainer against him. He asserted that the detainer prevented him from being eligible for parole in Georgia. The trial court denied the motion, and the petitioner now appeals. Upon review, we conclude that the appellant does not have an appeal as of right from the order. Therefore, the appeal is dismissed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Steven Oberman, Sara Compher-Rice, and Ann C. Short, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Scott McLain.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Scott McLain, pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) and received a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days with seven days to be served in confinement. As a condition of his plea, he reserved certified questions of law concerning the suppression of the results of his blood alcohol test. This court affirmed the judgment of the trial court; however, our supreme court subsequently remanded to this court for reconsideration in light of State v. Harrison, 270 S.W.3d 21 (Tenn. 2008). Upon reconsideration, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for dismissal of the indictment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


B. Nathan Hunt, Clarksville, Tennessee for the appellant, Eric Pernell Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, Jr., District Attorney General, and Dan Brollier, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Eric Pernell Taylor, was on probation after entering guilty plea in the Montgomery County Circuit Court on January 7, 2011. On July 13, 2011, a probation violation warrant was issued alleging that Appellant had failed to report his arrest, failed to report to his probation officer, failed to pay litigation taxes, and tested positive for cocaine. He also admitted to the cocaine usage in writing. After holding a probation revocation hearing, the trial court revoked Appellant’s probation and ordered him to serve his sentence in incarceration. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in revoking the probation or ordering the service of the sentence in incarceration. Therefore, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Construction or Renovation of Public School Buildings

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-01-10

Opinion Number: 4

State Regulation of Student Organizations at Public and Private Colleges and Universities

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-01-11

Opinion Number: 5

Fees for Collection of Biological Specimens from Persons Convicted of Certain Offenses

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-01-17

Opinion Number: 6

Reimbursement of Secondary Transport Agencies under Tenn. Code Ann. § 33-6-901

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-02-01

Opinion Number: 7

Constitutional Permissibility of Property Transfer Between Davidson and Wilson Counties

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-02-01

Opinion Number: 8

Ambulance Service Fees

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-02-04

Opinion Number: 9

Juvenile Court Files and Records

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-02-13

Opinion Number: 10

Constitutionality of Proposed Property Tax Relief for Businesses’ Capital Improvements

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-02-13

Opinion Number: 11

Amendment to Tennessee Constitution Relative to Appellate Judges

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-02-20

Opinion Number: 12

Unemployment Compensation Premiums for Not-for-Profit Corporations

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 1913-02-20

Opinion Number: 13

Tennessee Legislation Declaring Unenforceable Federal Firearms Laws

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-02-22

Opinion Number: 14

Possession of Firearms and Firearm Ammunition on School Property

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-02-22

Opinion Number: 15

AG: State Cannot Nullify Federal Gun Laws

Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper has found that legislative attempts to block the enforcement of federal gun laws in the state are unconstitutional. The opinion says the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause trumps state statutes, making it unlawful to nullify firearms laws made on the national level. He goes on to say the state legislature also can’t take a backdoor route and criminalize the enforcement of gun laws in Tennessee. Nashville Public Radio has the story.

Supermarket Wine Bill Advances in Senate

A proposal to allow cities and counties to hold referendums on expanded wine sales scored its first legislative victory today when the Senate State and Local Government Committee voted 5-4 to advance SB 0837. The measure still must be approved by the Senate Finance Committee before heading to the floor, the Memphis Daily News reports. The House began its hearings on the issue today, but has not yet scheduled a vote.

Bill Would Raise Standard for Protection Orders

State Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville has introduced legislation that he says will help “avoid abuse of the judicial system by making it tougher to get orders of protection,” the Elizabethton Star, reports. But the director of a domestic violence prevention group says it could put more women in danger. HB 1128 would raise the level of proof needed for a one-year order of protection from “preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence.” Hill said he introduced the bill to begin a conversation on the issue, leaving the door open to further revision.

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.

Marsh Named Chief Deputy Clerk for the Appellate Courts

Lisa Marsh, associate chief deputy clerk with the Appellate Court Clerk’s Office has been promoted to chief deputy clerk. She will replace Janice Rawls who is retiring on March 31. Marsh worked for the office from 1976 to 1983 and then returned in 2006. She was promoted to associate chief deputy clerk in 2010. During her hiatus from the office, she worked in the Sumner County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Clerk’s Office and as a legal assistant to Sumner County lawyer Joseph Longmire Jr. Filling Marsh’s position will be Vickie Smith who will serve the criminal division and Christine Vicker who will serve the civil division courts. Both are tenured employees of the clerk’s office. The AOC has the news.

NSL Adds New Faculty Member

The Nashville School of Law has added alumnus and Nashville lawyer David Callahan to its faculty. He will teach third- and fourth-year students probate and estate planning. A founding member at Callahan Witherington PLLC, Callahan focuses his practice on probate, trusts and estate planning, and litigation services. He previously was an associate attorney with Adams and Reese LLP, where he handled probate litigation.

Court Reinstates Damages in Assisted Living Death

The Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated a jury verdict against the management company of a Shelbyville assisted living center in the death of an 83-year-old resident. Records indicate the woman died from a ruptured colon after a nurse improperly administered an enema. The Supreme Court reinstated $300,000 in compensatory damages after finding that the center was understaffed and that the management company knew about it but did not fix it. A $5 million punitive damages award approved by the jury was sent back to the lower court for review.

Obama DOJ Weighs in on Marriage Law

In a preview of a major constitutional showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, the Obama Administration on Friday filed the first in a series of briefs on the issue. The high court will hear oral arguments next month on the Defense of Marriage Act, which for federal purposes, defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The effect, the administration says, is to deny financial benefits to legally wed gay and lesbian couples. WCYB News has more.

Court Won't Hear Corporate Contributions Case

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal of a decision upholding a century-old ban on certain corporate campaign contributions, WRCB TV3 reports. The court's 2010 Citizens United decision struck down a prohibition against corporate spending on campaign activities by independent groups but left untouched the ban on direct contributions to candidates. That ban remains unchanged. A week ago, however, justices did decide to hear a challenge to how much an individual can give to political campaigns.

CBA Holds Annual Memorial Service Friday

The Chattanooga Bar Association will hold its annual memorial service on Friday beginning at 11 a.m. The service will be held in the Commission Room on the fourth floor of the Hamilton County Courthouse. This year’s event honors 13 lawyers who died in the past year.

Legal Aid Kicks Off Fundraising Campaign

The Legal Aid Society will launch its 2013 Campaign for Equal Justice at a March 5 luncheon at the Nashville City Club. The annual campaign raises money for the society, as well as the Nashville Pro Bono Program. The event, which will run from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., will feature a keynote address by Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. and an introduction of campaign leadership. To attend, please RSVP by Friday to Cindy Durham at the Legal Aid Society at (615) 780-7125 or at


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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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