Judicial Selection, Evaluation Votes Deferred

Consideration of the bills extending sunset dates for the Judicial Nominating Commission and Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission today were deferred to next week in the Senate Government Operations Committee.

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


David W. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Harry Lee Allen, Jr.

Lanis L. Karnes, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Demetry Michelle Allen.


The question presented by this appeal is which parent should be named the primary residential parent of the parties’ minor child. The trial court named Appellee Mother primary residential parent. Appellant Father appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Christopher Brent Keeton, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rebecca T.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Alexander S. Rieger, and Douglas Earl Dimond, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


The mother of two minor children appeals the order placing her children and a stepdaughter in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services and limiting her to supervised visitation following a determination that the mother’s husband severely sexually abused another child in the home and the determination that the children were dependent and neglected. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


J. Steven Hurst, LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alma B. Long.

Victor C. Pryor, LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellee, Raymond G. Creekmore.


This appeal concerns Mother’s reservation of a life estate in property she conveyed to Son pursuant to a warranty deed. After the initial conveyance in 1983, Son resided on the property for years before renting the property to others. Mother prohibited the use of the property by certain tenants, who complied with her demand to vacate. In 2008, Mother objected to the current tenant’s occupation and filed suit to enforce her right to possession of the property. The trial court dismissed the suit, finding that the claim was barred by a tenyear statute of limitations. Mother appeals. We reverse the grant of summary judgment and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal); and Gregory H. Harrison (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Telly Lamont Booker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Jennifer Welch and Sean McDermott, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Telly Lamont Booker, appeals from his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of possession with intent to sell or deliver .5 grams or more of cocaine in a school zone, evading arrest, and unlawful possession of a weapon. In this appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of his previous convictions, by permitting a police officer to testify as an expert witness on the habits of individuals involved in the illegal drug trade, and by refusing to provide a requested jury instruction. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael Joseph Flanagan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Paula Crowder.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Michael J. Fahey, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Paula Crowder, pled guilty to vehicular assault, a Class D felony, and was sentenced to serve three years in the Department of Correction (DOC). She challenges the trial court’s denial of probation and alternative sentencing. After consideration of the applicable authorities and the record on appeal, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Emma Rae Tennent, Assistant Public Defender, (on appeal), and Jerrilyn Manning, Assistant Public Defender, (at hearing), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Arnes’a Hart.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General, and Brian Holmgren, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Arnes’a Hart, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for one count of felony murder, one count of aggravated child neglect, and one count of child neglect after the death of her infant son. In exchange for pleas of guilty to criminally negligent homicide and child neglect, Appellant received sentences of six years and one year, respectively. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently. The charge of aggravated child neglect was dismissed. The plea agreement specified that the trial court would determine the manner of service of the sentence after a hearing. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied alternative sentencing, ordering Appellant to serve her sentence in confinement in order to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offense and due to Appellant’s lack of truthfulness at the sentencing hearing. Appellant appeals the denial of alternative sentencing. After a review of the record and the applicable authorities, we conclude the record indicates that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying an alternative sentence where the proof showed that there was a need for deterrence of similar crimes, and Appellant was untruthful at the sentencing hearing. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

House Civil Justice Committee Completes Work

The House Civil Justice Committee today finished business for the year, working off a 29-item calendar. Among the bills addressed:

Lawyer Regulation -- A bill (SB 779/HB 635) to impose criminal sanctions on Board of Professional Responsibility panel members, staff, lawyers subject to discipline and their counsel for certain procedural violations could see action in committees in both chambers. The TBA resisted this unwelcome intrusion in the Supreme Court’s disciplinary process. This bill will be dealt with in the summer study.

Tort -- Codification of comparative fault with limitations of joint and several liability in several types of cases that the courts have carved out by common law -- including products liability and cases with combined intentional and negligent actors -- was recommended for adoption. (SB 56/HB 1099)

Court Reporting- The bill (SB443/HB206) to prohibit court reporting by reporters who contract with companies or intermediaries to provide court reporting services was deferred to 2014.

Conservatorship- The TBA’s bill (SB 555/HB 692) to improve conservatorship practice and procedure, with the agreed upon amendments, was unanimously recommended.

Legislature to Explore State Nullification of Federal Laws

The state House and Senate have agreed to have a joint committee conduct hearings during the summer and fall on federal laws and executive orders that some believe may have exceeded constitutional authority, Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, said Tuesday. The Knoxnews reports that Beaver’s announcement came after declaring she would not push for passage of the “Balance of Powers Act (SB1158), which would have set up a joint legislative committee to determine which federal laws should be nullified in Tennessee by the General Assembly.

Bill Expands Counties’ Distillery Provision

A bill to change the state’s 2009 whiskey distillery law to include Hamilton County was approved 22-8 in the Senate today and now goes to the House. The measure would allow Chattanooga and other cities that have passed both liquor-by-the-drink and retail package store sales to operate distilleries. Chattanooga Whiskey Co. sought the legislation after Hamilton County was excluded from the original law, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Judge to Review Conservator Fees

Davidson County Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy has instituted new review procedures for fee requests from attorneys and others involved in conservator cases. Kennedy will no longer approve fee requests on the same day they are submitted. Instead, unopposed fee requests will be held for at least three days to “allow the court a greater period of time to examine and scrutinize all such unopposed motions.” According to the Tennessean, judges in Memphis and Chattanooga have instituted similar new procedures.

Prosecutors Oppose Probation for Baumgartner

Federal prosecutors are asking U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Greer to disregard probation requests and lock up former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner for “at least two years,” according to Knoxnews. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary Bolitho and David Lewen said in a filing Monday that Baumgartner’s misdeeds “significantly disrupted” the Knox County criminal justice system. The pair point to the half dozen new trials granted to defendants as a result of the fall-out of the pill scandal, most notably within the high-profile case regarding the Christian-Newsom torture-slayings. Baumgartner’s defense attorneys Donald Bosch and Ann Short argued the former judge gave up the bench when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe became public in 2011 and that damage to the justice system has not been as bad as anticipated.

New Judge Keeps Y-12 Trial Date

Newly assigned U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar decided to keep the scheduled trial date of May 7 for the three Plowshares protestors allegedly involved in last year’s break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Knoxnews reports. Thapar, who serves in the Eastern District of Kentucky, was assigned to the high-profile case because of the impending retirement of U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips.

Nashville Attorney Named to Regional Planning Board

Stites & Harbison attorney Gregory Young has been elected to the board of Cumberland Region Tomorrow, a regional organization that helps promote long-term planning for livability and economic growth in the 10-county Nashville region. Young is part of Stites’ environmental, natural resources and energy service group and represents clients on environmental compliance issues and in permitting, rulemaking and contested case proceedings before agencies and in state and federal courts. The Nashville Post has the story.

Free Legal Clinic in Memphis Saturday

The Access to Justice Commission will hold a free legal clinic this Saturday at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library in Memphis from 10 a.m. to noon. The clinic is part of a program to provide free legal services every second Saturday of the month. The Memphis Bar Association, Memphis Area Legal Services, the Community Legal Center and other nonprofit organizations are jointly sponsoring the events, the Memphis Daily News reports.


Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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.

© Copyright 2013 Tennessee Bar Association