Workers’ Comp Bill Set For Finance Consideration

The administration’s bill to overhaul Tennessee's Workers’ Compensation system (SB 200 by Norris / HB 194 by McCormick) is set for its next major legislative consideration this week. Both the Senate and House Finance Committees are expected to take up consideration of the matter, and review, in particular, its fiscal impact. Fiscal estimates for the bill have indicated that the state expects to collect filing fees that now go to court clerks, and that those fees are expected to be sufficient to offset the cost of the new department-based system. As amended, the new legislation would be effective as to cases commenced on or after July 1, 2014. The TBA has continued to emphasize that a change to a more formulaic, purely administrative system is unwise because it does not employ our best dispute resolution mechanism -- the courts -- and does not permit enough discretion to prevent injustice.

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
05 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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 Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

JORDAN ASHTON DANELZ v. JOHN GAYDEN, M.D.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Adam N. Cohen and Mitchell D. Moskovitz, Memphis, Tennessee for Petitioner/Appellant Jordan Ashton Danelz.

Andrew C. Clarke, Memphis, Tennessee for Respondent/Appellee John Gayden, M.D.

Judge: KIRBY

In this appeal, an adult child seeks an award of retroactive child support from his biological father. The adult child filed a petition to establish parentage, seeking retroactive child support and other child rearing costs. After genetic testing, the juvenile court found that the respondent is the petitioner’s biological father, but it declined to grant an award of retroactive child support. Both parties appealed. Eventually there were two appeals and two remands. After the last remand, the juvenile court determined that the adult child’s biological father was also his legal father, but held that the petitioner adult child could not receive an award of retroactive child support under the parentage statutes. The adult child then filed this third appeal. We reverse in part, holding that the parentage statutes provide for an award of retroactive child support to the adult child complainant. We vacate the finding as to the adult child’s legal father and remand the case for further proceedings on the award of relief against the biological father.


HAROLD MOORE v. CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, LLC, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

John R. Johnson, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Harold Moore.

Reid R Phillips and Chapman Sellers Morrow, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Correct Care Solutions, LLC.

Robert B. Rolwing, Assistant Shelby County Attorney and Pablo A. Varela, Assistant Shelby County Attorney, for the appellee, County of Shelby, Tennessee.

Judge: FARMER

The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s action against Shelby County and Correct Care Solutions, LLC, a health care provider contracted by the County to provide health care to inmates, for the failure to comply with the mandatory notice requirements set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121. We affirm dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims against Correct Care Solutions, reverse dismissal of his claim against Shelby County, and remand for further proceedings.


MELODY PIERCE (FORMERLY STEWART) v. CITY OF HUMBOLDT, TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Justin S. Gilbert and Jonathan L. Bobbitt, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant Melody Pierce (formerly Stewart).

Geoffrey A. Lindley and John D. Burleson, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee City of Humboldt, Tennessee.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves alleged employment discrimination based on gender and pregnancy. The female plaintiff was employed as a police officer by the defendant city. While off duty, the plaintiff encountered an ex-boyfriend against whom she had procured an order of protection. Based on this encounter, she filed a criminal charge against the ex-boyfriend for violating the order of protection. The defendant’s police chief ordered an internal affairs investigation, and the ex-boyfriend filed criminal charges against the plaintiff for filing a false charge. The plaintiff was suspended with pay pending resolution of the criminal charges. Soon after that, the plaintiff informed the police chief that she was pregnant. After the ex-boyfriend’s criminal charges against the plaintiff were dropped, the police chief terminated the plaintiff’s employment based on the results of the internal affairs investigation. The termination was upheld by the city’s mayor and its board of aldermen. The plaintiff filed this lawsuit against the employer city, alleging discrimination based on gender and pregnancy pursuant to the Tennessee Human Rights Act. The employer city filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the plaintiff had no credible evidence that she was treated less favorably than similarly situated male employees. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer city. The plaintiff now appeals. We reverse, finding that the standard for summary judgment under Hannan v. Alltel Publishing Company and Gossett v. Tractor Supply Company has not been met in this case.


JAMES TAYLOR v. DIVISION OF INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES SERVICES, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David Ryan Grimmett, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, James Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Martha A. Campbell, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, Division of Intellectual Disabilities Services, a Division of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.

Judge: DINKINS

Employee of company providing services to an intellectually disabled adult appeals the finding that he committed abuse and neglect against the adult and the resulting placement of the provider’s name on the abuse registry maintained by the Tennessee Department of Health. Finding no error, we affirm.


WILLIAMSON COUNTY ELECTION COMMISSION, ET AL. v. PAUL WEBB, MAYOR OF BRENTWOOD, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey D. Moseley and J. Andrew Hughes, Franklin, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Williamson County Election Commission.

Joseph A. Woodruff and Keith W. Randall, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Paul Webb, Mayor of Brentwood; Michael Walker, Brentwood City Manager; Board of Commissioners of the City of Brentwood, Tennessee; Brentwood Library Board; and City of Brentwood, Tennessee.

Paul C. Ney, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the Amicus Curiae, Davidson County Election Commission.

George E. Barrett and Seth M. Hyatt, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Municipal League.

Judge: DINKINS

County election commission was denied use of city library for a polling place and initiated an action to have its rights under several election statutes declared. The trial court held that the statutes vested the election commission with the authority to designate polling places and that such authority must be exercised reasonably; the trial court also held that the city did not abuse its discretion in determining that the library was not a practicable location for use as a polling place on the dates requested and in failing to make the building available. We reverse, holding that the election commission has the sole responsibility to designate polling places and that the city, through the library board, was required to make the library available for use as a polling place.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

ROBERT GUERRERO v. DWIGHT BARBEE, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert Guerrero, Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; and D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Robert Guerrero, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that his indictment was so defective as to deprive the trial court of jurisdiction because it was not signed by the grand jury foreperson and was not endorsed “A True Bill.” He also alleges that the habeas corpus court erred by failing to appoint him counsel. Upon review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.


JUAN D. HALL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee for the Petitioner-Appellant, Juan D. Hall.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Jennifer Welch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Juan D. Hall, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of possession with intent to sell cocaine, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and coercion of a witness, for which he received an effective sentence of thirteen years. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in determining that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily made. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ERICA HARRIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joshua Hedrick, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Erica Harris.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilbur, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Philip Morton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Erica Harris, appeals her Knox County Criminal Court jury conviction of the sale and delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine, claiming that the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b) and evidence of poor quality in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 403 and that admission of a map violated her constitutional right to confront the witnesses against her. Discerning no error, we affirm.


TIMMY CHARLES McDANIEL v. DAVID SEXTON, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Timmy Charles McDaniel, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; and William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Timmy Charles McDaniel, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his pro se petition for habeas corpus relief from his convictions for first degree felony murder and especially aggravated burglary. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that his convictions are void because (1) his indictment failed to state that the Grand Jurors issuing the indictment were from the county in which the offenses occurred, (2) his convictions violate the principles of double jeopardy, and (3) his dual convictions for felony murder and especially aggravated burglary violate Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14- 404(d) (2010). Upon review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CORNELIUS MULL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Lauren Pasley-Ward (on appeal) and Edward Bronston (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant, Cornelius Mull.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Kate Edmands, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Cornelius Mull, contends (1) that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his jury convictions for possession with intent to sell and possession with intent to deliver over twenty-six grams of cocaine, a Class B felony, and (2) that his sentence of twenty years was excessive. After reviewing the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court, concluding that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury convictions and that the Defendant’s sentence was not excessive.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANTOINE PERRIER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Larry D. Sims, II, Memphis, Tennessee for the Defendant-Appellant, Antoine Perrier.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Betsy Wiseman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Antoine Perrier, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for attempted second degree murder in count 1, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony in count 2, and aggravated assault in counts 3 through 8. He was subsequently convicted of the lesser included offense of attempted voluntary manslaughter in count 1, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony in count 2, aggravated assault in counts 3 through 7, and the lesser included offense of assault in count 8. The trial court merged count three into count one before sentencing Perrier as a Range I, standard offender to four years in counts 1, five years in counts 4 through 7, and eleven months and twenty-nine days in count eight. The court also sentenced Perrier as a Range I, violent offender to a mandatory consecutive sentence of six years in count 2. See T.C.A. § 39-17-1324(e)(1), (h)(i) (2006). The court ordered counts 1 through 7 to be served consecutively to one another and ordered count 8 to be served concurrently with the other counts for an effective sentence of thirty years. On appeal, Perrier argues: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for attempted voluntary manslaughter and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; (2) the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand the case solely for the purpose of correcting a clerical error on the judgment for count 4.


Opinion: Conservatorship Reforms Deserve ‘Quick Action’

State legislators are well under way in righting the wrongs in current conservatorship law “thanks to the hard work of the Tennessee Bar Association,” The Tennessean writes in a Sunday editorial. The piece recounts the case of Jewell Tinnon, who lost her house, car and belongings due to the mismanagement of a conservator and highlights the provisions of the legislation under consideration. It ends with final nod to the TBA, which organized a series of public hearings across the state to address conservatorship reform: “We trust that our laws protect us when we cannot. We are glad the Tennessee Bar Association and our General Assembly are making it so.” Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved SB 555. The House Civil Justice Subcommittee is scheduled to take up the bill this week.


Comments Sought on Reappointment of Bankruptcy Judge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is accepting comments on the reappointment of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marian F. Harrison in the Middle District of Tennessee. Harrison’s current 14-year term will end on Dec. 20. She is eligible for another 14-year term. All comments are due by May 8 and should be directed to Clarence Maddox, Circuit Executive, 503 Potter Stewart United States Courthouse, 100 East Fifth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. Download a copy of the court’s notice or contact the court at (513) 564-7200 for more information.


Study: Tennessee Indigent Defense Fees Among Lowest

A study released by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers found that Tennessee pays court-appointed attorneys one of the lowest rates in the country. The study suggests that states with low compensation and pay caps discourage experienced attorneys from taking court-appointed cases and create an incentive for quick plea deals. Tennessee pays court-appointed attorneys $50 an hour for in-court work and $40 for office work compared to a national average of $65 an hour. Also in Tennessee, rates are capped at $1,500 for felony cases and $1,000 for misdemeanor cases. Defense attorneys say these rates allow for about a week’s worth of work when such cases can easily take several weeks or even months. The Administrative Office of the Courts told The Tennessean that it has increased payments but is limited by budget constraints and that criminal defense expenditures now represent nearly half of the entire court system's budget.


Appeals Court Nominee Withdraws from Consideration

New York attorney Caitlin Halligan, one of two nominated in January to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, has withdrawn her name from consideration after the U.S. Senate failed to garner the votes needed to end debate on her nomination, CNN reports. The president and Senate Democrats complained she was being unfairly held to a different standard than other nominees, while Republicans argued she holds extreme positions on constitutional issues and would be an activist on the bench. Halligan is general counsel in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. She would have filled the appeals court seat vacated by John Roberts, who joined the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.


6th Circuit Clarifies Test for Ineffective Counsel Claims

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently clarified the requirements for a successful claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The decision in the case of Howell v. Hodge found that a claimant must show that the deficient performance resulted in prejudice, and that, but for the counsel’s ineffectiveness, he or she would not have pled guilty and instead would have gone to trial. Writing for Chattanoogan.com, commentator Lee Davis says the test is a “demanding one that requires claimants to prove that the likelihood of a different result is substantial, not just conceivable.”


Court to Hear DUI Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to hear a DUI case that could determine whether police can arrest people suspected of drunk driving even after they pass field sobriety tests. The case involves a DUI charge in Sevier County that was dismissed because the driver passed a series of field sobriety tests but was still arrested. Blood tests showed he was legally drunk, but three lower courts have said the evidence was gained unlawfully because police had no proof he was guilty of anything other than a traffic violation. News Channel 5 has the story.


Retirement Reception Set for Judge Benham

A reception honoring the service of Shelby County Probate Court Judge Robert S. Benham is planned for April 8 from 4-6 p.m. on the fourth floor of the University of Memphis School of Law. Benham is retiring this week after 16 years on the bench and 50 years of service to the legal profession. The event is being hosted by the Memphis estate planning and probate bar. Please RSVP to Steve McDaniel, Marjorie Baker or Rob Malin. Donations to offset the costs of the reception are welcome, with any excess funds going toward Judge Benham’s official portrait or to Memphis Area Legal Services.


Nashville Lawyer Suspended

The law license of Nashville lawyer Philip K. Lyon was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court on March 22 for one year. The court also ordered Lyon to enter into a secured promissory note payable to a former client in the amount of $42,500 and make full restitution to the client before being reinstated. The court acted after Lyon self-reported improper handling of his trust account funds, failure to protect client property, and use of funds for his own benefit. He was found to have violated Supreme Court Rules 1.15 (b) and (d) and 8.4(a), (b) and (c). Download the BPR notice


 
 

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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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