Court Affirms End to 'John B.' TennCare Agreement

The 15-year-old legal agreement that mandated regular medical and dental care for some 750,000 of the state’s poorest children was thrown out today by a federal appeals court, the Tennessean reports. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld federal judge Thomas Wiseman Jr.'s decision that Tennessee is now meeting federal requirements, effectively terminating the “John B.” agreement that had mandated compliance. Attorneys from the Tennessee Justice Center, which filed the original suit, say there are still serious concerns over whether children are receiving the services to which they are entitled.

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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joseph Y. Longmire, Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the Respondent/Appellant, Christy Shantae C.

C. Jay Ingrum, Gallatin, Tennessee, and Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Petitioners/Appellees, Amanda Kay D. N. and Waylon Ray N.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves the termination of parental rights and adoption. In August 2007, the Department of Children’s Services visited the home of the respondent mother and her 11- month-old son based on a referral. After it determined that the mother’s husband had engaged in domestic abuse and that the mother was using illegal drugs, the Department told the mother that her son would be taken into state custody if she did not immediately find someone to care for him. The mother’s neighbor, the petitioner in this case, agreed to take temporary custody of the mother’s son. Even though the child was not actually taken into state custody, but was “safety-placed” with the petitioner neighbor, the Department developed a Family Services Plan, assigning certain tasks to the mother for her to regain custody of her son. After about ten months, before the mother had completed the assigned tasks, the Department closed the mother’s case and ceased any involvement with the child or the mother. The child remained in the custody of the petitioner neighbor and her husband, and the mother visited the child each week. The mother brought the child items such as diapers, milk, and food, but made no monetary payments to the neighbor. When the child was three years old, the petitioner and her husband filed this petition to terminate the mother’s parental rights and adopt the child. After a trial, the trial court terminated the mother’s parental rights based on failure to comply with the Family Services Plan and failure to support. The mother now appeals. We reverse the termination of the mother’s parental rights.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Greg W. Eichelman, District Public Defender; DeAnna M. Snyder (at trial), Assistant Public Defender; and Douglas T. Jenkins (at the motion for new trial and on appeal), Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellant Sue Ann Christopher.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Connie Trobaugh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Sue Ann Christopher, was convicted by a Hancock County Criminal Court jury of first offense driving under the influence (DUI), a Class A misdemeanor, DUI accompanied by a child under the age of eighteen, a Class A misdemeanor, unlawful possession of prescription drugs, a Class C misdemeanor, and violating the implied consent law. See T.C.A. §§ 55-10-401, 53-10-105, 55-10-406(3) (2012). The trial court merged the DUI conviction with the DUI accompanied by a child under the age of eighteen conviction. The court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of eleven months and twenty-nine days, with 120 days to be served in confinement for the DUI conviction and thirty days’ confinement for the drug-related conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that her sentence for the DUI accompanied by a child conviction is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


John E. Herbison (on appeal) and Carrie Watson Gasaway (at trial), Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brett Joseph Price.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Robert Joseph Nash, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


This case has been remanded by the Tennessee Supreme Court for reconsideration of sentencing in light of State v. Caudle, 388 S.W.3d 273 (Tenn. 2012). On direct appeal, this court concluded that the Defendant waived review of his sentence by failing to include a transcript of the guilty plea hearing. In light of Caudle, we conclude that the record, which contains transcripts of the motion to suppress hearing and the sentencing hearing, exhibits from each hearing, and the presentence report, is sufficient to determinate whether the trial court recited a proper basis for the sentence. 388 S.W.3d 273. The Defendant, Brett Joseph Price, pleaded guilty to robbery, a Class C felony, and conspiracy to commit robbery, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-401, 39-12-103 (2010). He was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to five years for robbery and to three years for conspiracy, to be served concurrently. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying his motion to suppress his post-arrest statements and by admitting his statement at the sentencing hearing; (2) denying judicial diversion; (3) imposing excessive sentences; and (4) denying probation. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, on appeal, for the appellant, James Richardson Reece.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; L. Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and Tara Wyllie, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


James Richardson Reece, the defendant, was arrested for an aggravated assault which occurred in a workshop underneath his apartment. Immediately after his arrest, the defendant began to challenge the actions of the Sumner County court system, filing numerous documents with this Court and the Tennessee Supreme Court and suing various persons and entities in federal court. The lower courts appointed four separate attorneys to represent the defendant, but each moved to withdraw. At the defendant’s urging, the trial court allowed the defendant to waive his right to counsel. When the defendant subsequently requested counsel on the eve of trial, the trial court refused to appoint an attorney. A jury convicted the defendant of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. On appeal, the defendant asserts he was denied the right to counsel and challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Although the evidence supported the conviction, we conclude that the defendant did not waive or forfeit his right to counsel and reverse and remand for a new trial.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph D. Baugh, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy W. Sparrow.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Terry E. Wood, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Williamson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Timothy W. Sparrow, of two counts of second degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and one count of attempted aggravated robbery. After merging the second degree murder convictions, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of forty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred by failing to suppress a suggestive pretrial identification of the appellant as the perpetrator; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain his convictions; (3) whether the trial court erred by not upholding the appellant’s Batson challenge after the State preemptorily challenged a black juror; (4) whether the trial court erred by admitting a statement made by a State’s witness; (5) whether the trial court erred by admitting a photograph of the murder victim that was taken while he was alive; (6) whether the trial court erred by admitting a black t-shirt that was alleged to belong to the appellant; (7) whether the trial court erred in its communications with jurors; (8) whether the trial court erred in sentencing; and (9) whether the principles of double jeopardy were violated. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

High School Mock Trial Championship Starts Friday

High school teams from across Tennessee will put their legal skills to the test during the Tennessee Bar Association's 33rd Annual Mock Trial Championship this weekend in Nashville. The event will be held at the historic Davidson County Courthouse with sitting judges presiding over the four preliminary rounds. Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch Jr. will preside over the final round. To reach the state championship, the 14 teams had to win district competitions by playing the roles of attorneys and witnesses in a fictitious case developed by the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

Final Briefs Filed in Baumgartner Sentencing

Both sides on Wednesday made their final case before a federal judge next month decides what punishment to dole out to Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, the once-respected jurist turned convicted felon. Defense attorneys Donald A. Bosch and Ann Short filed a brief asking for the sentence to be served on probation, while federal prosecutors David Lewen and Zachary Bolitho filed a brief seeking jail time, Knoxnews reports.

McIver Ready For Challenges After 15 Years

With demand for services growing and money tight, Harrison McIver faces a tough challenge as he enters his 15th year as executive director of Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. But the fire that drove him to public service remains strong, the Memphis Daily News reports. “My elevator pitch is that we help keep people from being homeless,” McIver says. “We help keep food on the table. We help extricate people from abusive situations. We help people who may be on their last leg and needing public benefits. This is our challenge.”

Chattanooga Attorney Leaves City Offices

Chattanooga attorney Patrick Bobo is leaving the city attorney's office to work for the Lamp Post Group and the Access America trucking firm. Bobo has worked with the city beer board and transportation board, as well as in City Court, reports.

Deadline Near for Environmental Law Writing Competition

April 1 is the deadline for entering the TBA Environmental Law Section's Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award writing competition for law students. Entries may be submitted by law students enrolled in a Tennessee law school in 2012 or 2013. The competition is held in memory of one of the section’s outstanding founding members and has a cash prize pool of $1,200. This writing contest is a juried competition for the best legal writing on a topic of Tennessee or federal environmental law. Rules and announcement are available online. For more information contact Lynn Pointer.

Write Like A Lawyer

To learn the best practices for writing complaints, answers, motions, responses and legal briefs be sure to attend the Tennessee Bar Association's Legal Writing CLE program on Friday, March 22. Speakers include Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Koch, law school professors and practicing lawyers.

Voter ID Bill Moves to House

A bill forbidding use of Memphis Library photo identification cards for voting, but allowing student photo IDs won approval from the state Senate Thursday and now moves on to the House for consideration, the Commercial Appeal reports.


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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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