House Committee Delays Look at Judicial Performance Bill

Because of its extensive calendar, the House Civil Justice subcommittee did not take up the proposal to radically alter the judicial performance evaluation program of appellate judges. However, the bill (SB1058/HB1227) is set for Senate floor action tomorrow.

In other legislative action, a bill (SB443/HB206) to prohibit court reporting by reporters who contract with companies or intermediaries to provide court reporting services advanced to the full Civil Justice Committee with an amendment that removed the most severe penalties. It could be heard next week.

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
02 - 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 Court of Appeals

PEGGY DOBBINS, As Conservator of the Estate of Frank Bailey, Jr. v. GERALD S. GREEN, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gerald S. Green, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Julian T. Bolton and JoeDae L. Jenkins, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Peggy Dobbins.

Jay A. Ebelhar and Nolan Johnson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, CitiFinancial Services, Inc.

Douglas A. Black, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Regions Bank and Regions Financial Corporations.

James R. Newson, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Springleaf Financial Services, Inc. f/k/a American General Financial Services, Inc.

Michael G. McLaren and Courtney C. McLaren, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland.


This is a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 25.01 case. Following plaintiff’s death and the filing of a suggestion of death in the trial court, no motion to substitute party was made within the ninety day time period set out in Rule 25.01. The trial court determined that the failure to file a motion for substitution of party was not the result of excusable neglect and granted the Rule 25.01 motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The court subsequently also granted the plaintiff’s motion for voluntary dismissal under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.01. We conclude that, in the absence of excusable neglect, failure to comply with Rule 25.01 requires mandatory dismissal of the case with prejudice and the lawsuit may not thereafter be revived by the filing of a motion for voluntary dismissal. Reversed and remanded.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joe Clyde Tubwell, Southaven, Mississippi, Pro Se.

Teresa D. Jones, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellee, City of Memphis.


This is an appeal from the circuit court’s dismissal of Appellant’s appeal from the Memphis City Court. Appellant filed a pauper’s oath in the circuit court, but did not file a proper bond or oath in the city court as required to perfect his appeal. Accordingly, the circuit court did not gain jurisdiction over the matter and, thus, properly dismissed the appeal. Affirmed and remanded.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Thomas Harding Potter, Jamestown, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Carter King.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshay Dulany, Assistant Attorney General; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General; and John W. Galloway, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, William Carter King, appeals the Fentress County Criminal Court’s revoking the alternative sentences he received for guilty pleas to possession of a controlled substance in a penal institution, a Class C felony; burglary, a Class D felony; and theft of property valued more than five hundred dollars but less than one thousand dollars, a Class E felony. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Margaret Lynn McCoy.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; Lori Phillips-Jones, District Attorney General; and Tracy Jenkins, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Union County grand jury indicted appellant, Margaret Lynn McCoy, for driving under the influence, first offense; possession of a Schedule II controlled substance; and possession of drug paraphernalia, all Class A misdemeanors. The State dismissed the possession of a controlled substance charge, and a jury convicted her of driving under the influence, first offense, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court sentenced appellant to serve concurrent terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days for each offense, with the first sixty days to be served in confinement and the remainder on probation. On appeal, appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain her convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert S. Peters, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mary Faye Morrow.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steven M. Blount, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Mary Faye Morrow, entered a guilty plea without a complete agreement as to a recommended sentence to one count of theft of property valued at more than $60,000. Prior to sentencing, the parties reached an agreement as to the length of the eight-year sentence but requested a sentencing hearing on the issue of whether appellant should receive an alternative sentence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied alternative sentencing and ordered appellant to serve her eight-year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. It is from this judgment that she now appeals. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

CORRECTION: The trial court judge changed from Craft to Beasley.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Lance R. Chism, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marcus Norwood.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General, and Stacy McEndree, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Marcus Norwood, entered an Alford plea to second degree murder in Shelby County in October of 2010, with an agreed sentence of twenty-five years. Subsequently, Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel which adversely affected his decision to enter a guilty plea. The post-conviction court denied relief. Petitioner appealed. After a review of the evidence, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to establish that counsel’s performance was deficient or that the voluntariness of the guilty plea was affected by the actions of counsel. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


P. Benjamin Duke, New York, New York; and Donald E. Dawson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gregory Robinson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Aaron Winter, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and John Campbell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Gregory Robinson, appeals from the judgment of the Shelby County Criminal Court denying his petition for post-conviction relief. A Shelby County jury convicted petitioner of premeditated first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping. Petitioner was sentenced to death for first degree murder and twenty-five years for especially aggravated kidnapping to be served consecutively. The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed petitioner’s convictions and sentences on direct appeal. See State v. Robinson, 146 S.W.3d 469 (Tenn. 2004). In this appeal of the denial of post-conviction relief, petitioner contends that (1) the State failed to disclose a statement of a witness in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); (2) the State elicited and failed to correct false testimony of a witness at trial; (3) counsel were ineffective in both phases of the trial and on appeal; and (4) the death penalty is unconstitutional. We conclude that the post-conviction court properly denied post-conviction relief. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Senate Committee OKs Conservatorship Rewrite

The state Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved changes to state law governing conservatorships on Tuesday after hearing a report from the Tennessee Bar Association. The Tennessean reports that TBA legislative counsel Steve Cobb told the panel that a statewide series of hearings showed the ways emergency cases are being handled varies widely and that some cases are disturbing. The Tennessean says the bill will include new provisions under which people can be placed under a conservator’s control without notice and clarify the role of people appointed to serve as a “guardian ad litem” or fact-finder in the cases.

House Strips Student IDs from Voting Bill

A state House committee has stripped student identification cards issued by public universities from a bill about photo IDs that can be used to vote. This comes less than a week after a full Senate voted to pass a bill allowing student IDs, the Memphis Daily News reports. Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, made the change, supported by Rep. Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet, who said she was sponsoring the House version of the bill on behalf of the fellow Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro.

AOC Seeking Proposals for Grant Funding

Organizations offering parent education or victim offender reconciliation programs have until mid-April to apply for funding from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). The AOC has approximately $200,000 in grant funds available for the development or continuation of parent education initiatives. Proposals must be provided by April 22. The AOC is also accepting requests for funding for Victim Offender Reconciliation Programs. These must be provided to the AOC by April 23.

Belmont Law Hosts Inaugural Barrister’s Ball

Belmont University’s College of Law held its first-ever Barrister’s Ball last week at the Hutton Hotel. Organized by the college’s Student Bar Association, the event raised $5000 for Both Hands Foundation, a local nonprofit that serves widows, orphans, and adoptive families. While Barrister’s Balls are a traditional staple amongst law schools, Student Bar Association president Robert “Jaz” Boone said Belmont’s goal was “to go beyond a social event and find a way to connect locally."

Stonewall Bar Files Amicus Brief in Support of Gay Marriage

The Stonewall Bar Association of Tennessee has filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. The Supreme Court is set to hear two groundbreaking cases next week involving same-sex marriage and the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. The Stonewall Bar filed a “friend of the court” brief in one of the cases, Hollinsworth v. Perry. “We urge the Supreme Court to strike down Prop 8 as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution” said Stonewall Bar president Sam Felker. “Essentially we argue that a state cannot single out gay and lesbian citizens and deny them the rights and benefits of marriage that are offered to heterosexual couples.” 

Assault Weapon Ban Removed from National Gun Bill

Senate Democrats have removed a proposal to ban assault weapons from coming gun legislation according to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Memphis Business Journal reports that California Senator Diane Feinstein will offer the ban as an amendment to the gun legislation. Senator Dick Durbin said Reid did not believe there were enough votes to reach 60 needed to overcome a filibuster with a ban on assault-style weapons in the legislation.

Services Held Last Week for Nashville Lawyer

Longtime Nashville attorney William Gilliam Womack died March 10 from complications of a stroke. He was 74. Womack attended The University of the South at Sewanee and earned his law degree from Suffolk University Law School in Boston. He practiced law in Nashville for many years, and served as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve for more than 27 years. He retired with the rank of Commander and was the recipient of the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Joint Service Commendation Medal. The funeral mass was held last Thursdy at St. Henry Catholic Church followed by burial at Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the St. Henry Church ministry to the sick.

Reception Next Week Will Honor Life of Kemper Durand

A reception celebrating the life of long-time Memphis attorney Kemper B. Durand will be held March 29 from 3-4:30 p.m. at his former law firm, Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell, One Commerce Square, 29th Floor, Memphis. Durand died Feb. 2. He was extensively involved in The Innocence Project, where his efforts led to the freeing of an individual who had served over 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. That effort was featured in the August 2002 Tennessee Bar Journal. He also was a founding member of the Tennessee Bar Foundation and was often called on by judges to sit on court committees. Read more about his life.

Retention Elections Set for August

A news item in Tuesday’s issue of TBA Today referenced the wrong date for upcoming judicial retention elections in Tennessee. All current Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals judges will be subject to a retention vote in August 2014.


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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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