Judical Redistricting: Plan Proposes Minor Changes

Lt . Governor Ron Ramsey today announced a plan to make relatively minor changes in judicial district lines while the bench and bar are given an opportunity to study further reworking. TBA President Jackie Dixon, Chief Justice Gary Wade, Judicial Conference President Bobby Hollaway and Trial Judges Association President Darryl Fansler joined Ramsey at the early afternoon press conference announcing that all of the groups had agreed to support the plan. “We appreciate the opportunity to represent the views of our members in this process," Dixon said. "We will now focus our efforts on assuring that our justice system has the resources it needs to fulfill it mission.” Read more from the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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
00 - 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 Court of Appeals

MICHAEL RAY ADKISSON v. TONYA SUZETTE ADKISSON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

John K. Harber, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Ray Adkisson.

Sally A. Goade, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tonya Suzette Adkisson.

Judge: CANTRELL

After a 2006 divorce, both parties petitioned the trial court in 2009 for a modification of the parenting plan and to hold the other parent in contempt. The trial court slightly modified the parent visitation schedule and held the father in contempt for violating the parenting plan’s provisions on spring break and medical expense reimbursement. On appeal the father asserts that the trial court erred in the contempt rulings, in not giving him primary custody or substantially equal parenting time and in not holding the mother in contempt. We reverse the father’s contempt for his actions during spring break. In all other respects we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


AMERICAN EXPRESS CENTURION BANK v. JOHN LOWREY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Michelle S. Moghadom, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, American Express Centurion Bank.

Bryan L. Capps, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, John Lowrey.

Judge: STAFFORD

The trial court dismissed this case on the ground that the plaintiff credit card company failed to timely respond to discovery requests. We reverse, concluding that the trial court erred in dismissing the case without sufficient evidence of contumacious conduct on behalf of the plaintiff.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

JOHN E. ALLEN, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Phillip L. Davidson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John E. Allen, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Steven H. Strain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

In June 2003, John E. Allen, Jr. (“the Petitioner”) pleaded nolo contendere to one count of criminal attempt to commit aggravated sexual battery and received a six-year sentence. More than eight years later, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief. The State sought dismissal on statute of limitations grounds. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the Petitioner’s claim for relief, and this appeal followed. The Petitioner’s sole argument on appeal is that our supreme court’s decision in Ward v. State, 315 S.W.3d 461 (Tenn. 2010), should be applied retroactively. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


KENNETH BARTLEY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General; Michael O. Ripley and Scarlett W. Ellis, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellant, State of Tennessee.

Gregory P. Isaacs and Andrea B. Mohr, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellee, Kenneth Bartley.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The State appeals the post-conviction court’s grant of relief to the Petitioner, Kenneth Bartley, contending that (1) the court erred in admitting the affidavit of Dr. James Murray; (2) the Petitioner failed to establish that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance; and (3) the Petitioner is entitled to no relief on his previously determined claim that his guilty plea was not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily entered. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOSEPH R. BLEDSOE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

H. Garth Click, Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph R. Bledsoe.

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

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Joseph R. Bledsoe, appeals the Robertson County Circuit Court’s order declaring him a Motor Vehicle Habitual Offender, claiming that the convictions used to support the designation were not valid. Discerning no error, we affirm.


DUANE M. COLEMAN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Duane M. Coleman, Pro Se, Nashville,Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Petitioner, Duane M. Coleman, was convicted by a Davidson County Jury of second degree murder. He was sentenced to thirty-two years as a Range II, multiple offender. State v. Duane Coleman, No. M1998-00663-CCA-R3-CD, 2000 WL 31858, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Jan. 18, 2000). He unsuccessfully appealed his conviction. Id. at *14. Petitioner also unsuccessfully filed a petition for post-conviction relief. Duane Coleman v. State, No. M2008-02180-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 2890676, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Jul. 23, 2010). Petitioner subsequently filed a “Motion for Relief From Judgement” based upon Rule 60.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, on March 5, 2012. In this motion, Petitioner argued that his constitutional rights were violated by the imposition of enhancement factors and the imposition of 100% release eligibility without being found beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury. His argument was based upon the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). The habeas corpus court determined that the motion under Rule 60.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure was uncognizable and treated the motion as a petition for writ of habeas corpus. The habeas corpus court then summarily dismissed the petition. We have reviewed the record on appeal. We agree with the habeas corpus court’s determination that the motion should be treated as a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Additionally, we conclude that prior case law has determined that a Blakely violation does not apply retroactively and renders a judgment voidable instead of void. See Timothy R. Bowles v. State, No. M2006-01685-CCA-R3-HC, 2007 WL 1266594, at *2-3 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, May 1, 2007) Therefore, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s summary dismissal of the petition.


ROBERT L. CONLEY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Elaine Ann Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert L. Conley.

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

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Robert L. Conley, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his 2006 convictions for sale of less than one-half gram of cocaine, possession with the intent to sell or deliver one-half gram of cocaine, and possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia and his effective fourteen-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by finding that his petition was barred by the statute of limitations and by dismissing his petition. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ZACHERIAH HOLDEN
CORRECTION: In the second to last sentence in the introduction paragraph the word “to” has been changed to “do”.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

C. Brent Keeton, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Zacheriah Holden.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; and Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Zacheriah Holden, was indicted by the Warren County Grand Jury for over thirty offenses as a result of a drunk driving accident in which two people were killed. He pled guilty to several offenses before trial and was found guilty of the remaining charges. After the proper merger of offenses, Appellant’s convictions were two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, one count of reckless endangerment, driving on a revoked license, evading arrest, resisting arrest, leaving the scene of the accident, five counts of failure to render aid, failure to obey a traffic device and violation of the financial responsibility law. The trial court sentenced Appellant to an effective sentence of thirty years and eight months. Appellant appeals his convictions and his sentences. Appellant raises several issues on appeal. He argues that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his request for change of venue; (2) the trial court erred in denying his request for sequestration of the jury; (3) the trial court erred in denying Appellant’s various motions to suppress his statements to law enforcement and his seizure in a car; (4)the trial court erred in denying his motion to exclude the testimony of the State’s accident reconstructionist as an expert witness; (5) the trial court erred in allowing the State to present a photograph of the victims’ car; (6) the trial court erred in failing to sever DUI, fourth offense from aggravated vehicular homicide; (7) the trial court erred in excluding the testimony of Travis Battles who was going to testify to updates to the traffic light since the accident; (8) the State did not sufficiently prove the chain of custody of Appellant’s blood sample submitted for blood alcohol testing; (9) the evidence was not sufficient to support his convictions; (10) the sentencing scheme for aggravated vehicular homicide is unconstitutional; (11) the trial court erred in imposing the length of his sentences, as well as imposing consecutive sentences; and (12) the trial court erred in its evidentiary rulings on various pieces of evidence. We have thoroughly reviewed the record on appeal and conclude that the issues raised do not warrant reversal of the judgments below. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER SCOTT MAYBERRY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Steven S. Hooper, Waverly, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher S. Mayberry.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Dan M. Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Craig Monsue, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Christopher Scott Mayberry, was indicted by the Humphreys County Grand Jury in June of 2010 for two counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and one count of the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine. After a bench trial, Appellant was found guilty of two counts of the sale of methamphetamine. The trial court granted a motion for judgment of acquittal with respect to the sale of cocaine. After a sentencing hearing, Appellant was sentenced to ten years for each conviction, to be served concurrently. Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal. After a review of the record and authorities, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the convictions for the sale of methamphetamine. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RONALD MCKNIGHT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jason Chaffin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronald McKnight.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Ronald McKnight, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for one count of aggravated burglary. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted as charged and sentenced to fifteen years as a career offender. On appeal, Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


How the Sequester Threatens the Legal System

Budget cuts brought about by the sequester will have a profound and pernicious effect on the government’s ability to provide justice for its citizens, the Atlantic magazine says. Unless Congress and the White House are able to make a responsible budget deal, contributing editor Andrew Cohen writes that the cuts will have a specific and negative impact on federal court administrators, public defenders, law enforcement, and the American people as a whole.


Open Records Advocate Continues Challenge to CCA

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled twice that the Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) is a functional equivalent of a government entity and must operate at the same level of transparency required of the government. Most recently the court supported a Chancery Court’s ruling ordering the Nashville-based company, which operates prisons in 20 states, to provide settlement agreements stemming from legal complaints against the company. The Nashville City Paper talks with the man who has led the charge to open up CCA records, Alex Friedmann.


Study Shows Feds Spent $3.3 Billion on Outside Legal Work

An in-depth study of federal legal spending by the National Law Journal shows that the government has awarded $3.3 billion to more than 4,700 vendors for legal work over the last 5 years, the ABA Journal reports. Although most of the money was given to those who helped the Justice Department administer the federal program tasked with managing forfeitures, law enforcement training in other countries, and litigation support for disaster cases, the study found that about $400 million has gone to private law firms and solo practitioners.


Protestors Oppose TennCare Expansion

About 100 protestors gathered at War Memorial Plaza Sunday to oppose the expansion of TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program. The group said that expansion would undermine small government values and inflate the national debt. U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais spoke at the rally, condemning President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act as “the socialization of our health care system” the Tennessean reports.


Study Says Gunfire Costs $12 Billion A Year

Gunshot wounds and deaths cost Americans at least $12 billion a year in court proceedings, insurance costs, and hospitalizations paid for by government health programs, according to new study. Author Ted Miller analyzed government statistics for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluations and found that in 2010 $4.7 billion was spent in court costs with the rest going to medical costs, lost work and other expenses. Visit the Leaf Chronicle for the story.


Memphis GOP Chairman Seeks New Term

Chairman Justin Joy of the Shelby County Republican Party will seek another term at the March 24 party convention. Joy was first elected chairman at the 2011 party convention where he ran unopposed. “Really from the national level all the way down to the local county level, frankly the Republican Party needs to grow,” Joy told the Memphis Daily News. “What I would like to see happen here in Shelby County is for the Republican Party to continue to grow not just for the purpose of winning elections, but for strengthening the party.”


2 Proposals Take Aim at Epidemic of Drug-Addicted Newborns

State lawmakers are at odds as proposed bills attempt to tackle the issue of the steadily rising number of prescription drug-addicted newborns in Tennessee from two completely different approaches. The Safe Harbor Act, which would give pregnant women incentives to enter drug treatment programs, passed the Senate and will be taken up by a House subcommittee on health today. The subcommittee on criminal justice is scheduled to consider a bill that would criminally prosecute pregnant women whose drug use harms the baby. The flurry of legislation comes on the heels of a statewide push by the Health Department to confront the worsening epidemic, the Tennessean reports.


Funeral Arrangements Set for Johnson City Attorney

The family of Tri-Cities criminal defense attorney Mark Slagle will host a gathering in celebration of his life Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Johnson City Country Club, 1901 E. Unaka Ave., Johnson City. Slagle died last Tuesday (March 5).


 
 

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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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