Nashville High School Launches Youth Court

Nashville's Cane Ridge High School is launching a youth court this week under the auspices of its Academy of Law. The installation ceremony for student court members is Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. The first hearing date will be Friday. The new Cane Ridge Restorative Court is collaboration between the TBA, Metropolitan Nashville Juvenile Court, Metro-Student Attendance Center and the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools Student Services Department. The court has been in the planning stages for a year and is made possible through a grant from the Memorial Foundation. It will focus on truancy and disorderly conduct cases. For more information contact TBA Youth Court Coordinator Denise Bentley at (615) 277-3207 or dbentley@tnbar.org. Learn more about youth courts on the TBA website.

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









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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

ANDREA BLACKWELL AND FREDERICK BLACKWELL, COCONSERVATORS FOR THE ESTATE AND PERSON OF ROBERT BLACKWELL v. COMANCHE CONSTRUCTION, INC. AND COMANCHE CONSTRUCTION OF GEORGIA, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Melissa A. Maravich and Tannera George Gibson, Memphis, Tennessee for Defendant/Appellants, Comanche Construction, Inc. and Comanche Construction of Georgia, Inc.

Charles M. Agee, Jr. and W. Lewis Jenkins, Jr., Dyersburg, Tennessee for Plaintiff/Appellees, Andrea Blackwell and Frederick Blackwell, Co-conservators for the Estate and Person of Robert Blackwell

Judge: KIRBY

This interlocutory appeal concerns the statutory employer rule under the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act. The defendant subcontractor rented a crane from a construction rental company. The crane rental company sent its employee to the job site to operate the crane. On the job site, the crane rental company’s employee sustained crippling injuries. The employee’s co-conservators sued the subcontractor in tort. The subcontractor filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it was a statutory employer of the crane rental company’s employee, pursuant to the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act, specifically T.C.A. § 50-6-113, and thus was immune from liability under the exclusive remedy provision of the Act, T.C.A. § 50-6-108. The trial court held that the subcontractor was not a statutory employer and therefore was not shielded by the exclusive remedy provision. The subcontractor was granted permission for this interlocutory appeal on the issue of whether it is a statutory employer under the Workers’ Compensation Act. We hold that, to reach the issue of whether the subcontractor is a statutory employer, it is first necessary to determine if the crane rental company was a subcontractor within the meaning of the Act, an issue not addressed by the trial court. Consequently, as we are unable on this record to consider the issue raised on appeal, we hold that this Court improvidently granted permission for this interlocutory appeal under Tenn. R. App. P. 9 and dismiss the appeal.


TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND THE DIVISION OF HEALTH RELATED BOARDS v. KANDALA CHARY ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Sue Ann Sheldon, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tennessee Department of Health and the Division of Health Related Boards.

Daniel Davis Warlick, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kandala Chary.

Francis Joseph Scanlon, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Susan Alex, Murty Narapareddy, and Shirish Joglekar.

Judge: CLEMENT

The Tennessee Department of Health appeals from the award of attorneys’ fees and costs to four doctors following the dismissal of its administrative action against the doctors. Following a contested case hearing in which all material facts were stipulated, the Board of Medical Examiners dismissed all charges upon the finding that “the Department had not proven facts sufficient to establish that Respondent[s] violated Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 63-6-101 et seq., 63-6-214, and Tenn Comp. R. [and] Regs.” When the Department did not seek judicial review of the dismissal, the doctors requested and were awarded their attorneys’ fees and costs. The Department then filed a Petition for Judicial Review of the award. The chancery court affirmed the award and this appeal followed. Finding there is substantial and material evidence to support the administrative law judge’s decision to award the attorneys’ fees and costs under Tennessee Code Annotated § 4-5-325, we affirm.


KEITH A. DAVIS v. SHAW INDUSTRIES GROUP, INC. ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Gregory M. O’Neal, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Keith A. Davis.

Rosemarie L. Hill, and Justin Lewis Furrow, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Shaw Industries Group, Inc. and Andrew Plisko.

Judge: CLEMENT

Plaintiff was terminated from his at-will employment for violating company policy by allegedly lying during an investigation into whether he was involved in a romantic relationship with a human resources manager. Plaintiff filed this action against his former supervisor, and his former employer, for intentional interference with his employment. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that, as a matter of law, the corporate employer cannot be held liable for intentionally interfering with its own employment contracts, and that the undisputed facts established the supervisor did not act outside the scope of his authority in assisting in the investigation; thus, he could not be held liable. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion. We affirm.


LEO HOLT v. ALMA JEAN HOLT

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Eugene G. Douglass, Bartlett, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leo Holt.

Felicia Corbin Johnson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Alma Jean Holt.

Judge: FARMER

This is an appeal from a divorce action in which the trial court ordered Husband to pay Wife alimony in futuro and alimony in solido. The trial court refused, however, to order Husband to pay for the costs of providing COBRA benefits for Wife. Husband and Wife appeal. After thoroughly reviewing the record, we affirm in part and reverse in part.


PLEDGED PROPERTY II, LLC v. MAURICE MORRIS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Maurice Morris, Pro Se.

John A. Barney, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Pledged Property II, LLC.

Judge: FARMER

The trial court dismissed this matter on appeal from general sessions court upon finding that Appellant failed to perfect his appeal where he failed to file a bond for good surety or pauper’s oath. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE V. ANTONIO BUTLER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gerald L. Melton, Public Defender; and Russell N. (Rusty) Perkins, Assistant Public Defender, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antonio Butler.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; William Whitesell, District Attorney General; and Shawn Puckett, Assistant District Attorney, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Antonio Butler (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count each of robbery and aggravated assault. In his plea agreement, he agreed to concurrent sentences of five years for each count, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied judicial diversion and ordered that the Defendant serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the manner of service of his sentence is improper. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


MICHAEL COLLINS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James DeRossitt, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Collins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Marianne Bell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Michael Collins, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of postconviction relief from his guilty-pleaded conviction for second degree murder and the resulting thirty-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary because of the ineffectiveness of counsel. Following our review of the record, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ISAIAH LAWLER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael A. Colavecchio, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Isaiah Lawler.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Brian Connor Adams and A. Allen Grant, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Isaiah Lawler, was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense, a Class E felony; possession of an open container of beer while operating a motor vehicle, a Class C misdemeanor; and violation of the implied consent law. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 55-10-401, -403(a)(1)(A)(vi), -406, -416. As a result of these convictions, the Defendant received an effective two-year sentence. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for DUI, fourth offense; and (2) that the trial court, by accepting the jury’s guilty verdict with respect to the charge of DUI, fourth offense, failed to fulfill its duties as the thirteenth juror. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES SNIPES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Claiborne H. Ferguson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Snipes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich; District Attorney General; and Douglas Gregory Gilbert and Lora Fowler, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, James Snipes, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of felony murder, second degree murder, a Class A felony, aggravated criminal trespass of a habitation, a class A misdemeanor, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202, 39-13-210, 39-14-406, 39-17- 1324 (2010). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment for felony murder, eleven months and twenty-nine days for aggravated criminal trespass, and six years for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The court merged the second degree murder conviction with the felony murder conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that mutually exclusive verdicts require dismissal of the felony murder conviction. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEVIN GLENN TIPTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James A. H. Bell and Randall E. Reagan (on appeal), and James A.H. Bell and Edward Holt, Jr. (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Kevin Glenn Tipton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kyle Hixson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant-Appellant Kevin Glenn Tipton agreed to enter a guilty plea to one count of felony driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI) in exchange for a sentence of one year, which was suspended after service of the mandatory minimum sentence of 150 days in confinement. At the plea submission hearing, the trial court accepted Tipton’s guilty plea and imposed the agreed upon sentence but reserved judgment until October 6, 2010. On October 5, 2010, Tipton’s newly retained counsel filed a notice of appearance. On October 22, 2010, Tipton, through his newly retained counsel, filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, alleging that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the motion. On appeal, Tipton argues that the trial court erred by (1) applying the “manifest injustice” standard under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(f)(2), and (2) denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARK TYRE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Daniel K. Hamilton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mark Tyre.

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

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Mark Tyre, entered a guilty plea to violation of the sex offender registry act, a Class E felony, and received a two-year sentence as a Range I offender. He was subsequently placed on probation. While appellant was on probation, the State indicted him for sexual exploitation of a minor based on criminal conduct that pre-dated the guilty plea and judgment in the instant case. After the State requested revocation of the suspended sentence, the trial court held a hearing and revoked appellant’s probation. Appellant contends that the trial court erred by revoking his probation based on criminal conduct that pre-dated his guilty plea. We discern no error in the proceedings and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Tillman to be Sworn in as New Chancellor

Tennessee’s newest judge will take office Tuesday when Andrew Tillman is sworn in to the Eighth Judicial District Chancery Court. Tillman, who has worked since 2009 as a senior law clerk to Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Charles D. Susano, is a 1989 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He also has worked in private practice and clerked for Federal Appeals Court Judge H. Ted Milburn. Tillman replaces Chancellor Billy Joe White, who died in November after 35 years on the bench. Judge Susano will officiate at tomorrow’s ceremony. Read more on the AOC website.


Knox County to Consolidate Juvenile Services

Knox County officials broke ground Friday on a building project to consolidate all juvenile court and child support services in the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Service Center. The addition of four new courtrooms as well as space for county clerks and clerical documents will streamline the process for many families, according to the Knoxnews. Moving juvenile and child support offices from the downtown courthouse also will free up space that that had become so cluttered it was a safety hazard according to Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin. The cost of the project is estimated at $3 million. Construction should be completed in a year.


Medical-Legal Partnership Marks First Anniversary

A medical-legal partnership between Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) and Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga recently marked its one-year anniversary. LAET reports that the program has served 100 low-income patients and provided $660,855 worth of legal services since its inception. Lawyers have helped clients with conservatorships, foreclosures, landlord/tenant issues and insurance benefits. Medical-legal partnerships focus on improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable patients by addressing their unmet legal needs and removing legal barriers that impede health. For more information on the program, contact LAET’s Chattanooga office at (423) 756-4013.


Vines: Reeves Vetted for Judicial Appointment

Georgiana Vines’ column in Saturday’s Knoxnews reports that Knoxville lawyer and former TBA President Pam Reeves is being vetted by a committee of the American Bar Association as a possible replacement for U.S. District Court Judge Thomas W. Phillips, who is retiring Aug. 1. Vines writes that several members of Knoxville’s legal community are in receipt of a letter from the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary asking them to evaluate Reeves’ professional qualifications in terms of integrity, competence and temperament.


University of Memphis President to Retire

Shirley C. Raines, president of the University of Memphis, announced today that she will retire effective June 30. Raines became the university’s 11th president and the first woman to hold the position in 2001. The author of 14 books and numerous journal articles, she is widely regarded as an expert in teacher education and early childhood education. Raines earned her doctorate and masters degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The university reports that John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, is expected to name an interim president later this week.


FBI Agents Block Pilot Headquarters

FBI agents today blocked entrance to the Knoxville headquarters of Pilot Flying J, the truck stop business owned by the family of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and his brother, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. The Associated Press, Knoxnews and WBIR-TV also reported that FBI agents refused to allow traffic to enter the headquarters grounds, would not answer questions and told reporters to leave. The FBI did not immediately respond to requests for details but a Pilot spokeswoman said she might release information later. Gov. Haslam has no position with the company but still has an unspecified holding in it, according to his financial disclosures.


Prosecutor May be Planning Run for Judgeship

Leland Price, a Knox County assistant attorney general who’s helped prosecute defendants in the slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, indicated over the weekend that he is planning to run next year to succeed Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz, who is retiring. Knoxnews columnist Georgia Vines writes in today’s paper that Price once considered running for Knox County district attorney general but apparently has changed his mind. Another prosecutor in the office, Republican Charme Knight, has indicated an intention to run for the DA position.


Court Avoids Gun Rights Dispute

Staying out of the national debate over guns, the Supreme Court today declined to weigh in on whether gun owners have a constitutional right to carry handguns outside the home. The decision to pass on the issue came in a challenge to a New York state law that requires those who want to carry a concealed handgun to show they have a special reason for a license. Opponents of the law argue that the right to bear arms is not limited to the right to keep a gun at home. On SCOTUSblog, legal commentators suggested the case would have been a good one for the court to consider since there is a clear split among federal appeals courts on whether constitutional gun rights extend beyond the home.


Memphis Lawyer Killed While Crossing the Street

Memphis attorney Richard B. Fields was killed Saturday after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the street in the city's Midtown area,  The Commercial Appeal reports. A native of Modesto, Calif., Fields came to Memphis in 1969 with the “Teacher Corps,” a War on Poverty initiative that trained educators to teach in inner-city schools. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee and went on to serve in several high-profile civil rights cases in Memphis involving school desegregation and racial employment discrimination. In one profile, The Memphis Flyer calls Fields a “Socratic gadfly,” who angered fellow Democrats when he supported efforts to keep state Sen. Ophelia Ford from being seated amidst allegations of fraud in her election, and had a public falling out with former Mayor Willie Herenton, whose rise to power he had been instrumental in orchestrating. Funeral arrangements were not available at press time.


 
 

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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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