Opinions Flow Following End of 2013 Session

The Tennessee General Assembly wrapped up its 2013 session early, but not without acrimony, sending senators and representatives home without passing a number of key pieces of legislation. Political reporters from publications across the state offer their take on the session, including comments from TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur and others. Memphis attorney and Judicial Nominating Commissioner Barry Ward also offers his thoughts on the death of that commission. Read more or offer your thoughts 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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
00 - 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


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Richard L. Elliston, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ciera P.

Philip M. Jacobs, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellees, Todd and Judy R.


This is a termination of parental rights case focusing on Landen P. (“the Child”), the minor daughter of Kevin P. (“Father”) and Ciera P. (“Mother”). The Child was born in 2007, while the parents were residing in Florida. In 2008, Mother left Father and the Child and moved to Utah. Thereafter, she maintained sporadic contact with the Child only by telephone. Father subsequently moved with the Child to Cleveland, Tennessee in 2009. In 2011, Father’s mother and stepfather, Judy and Todd R., obtained custody of the Child through proceedings in the Bradley County Juvenile Court. Judy and Todd R. filed the instant petition seeking to terminate Mother’s parental rights on August 1, 2011, for the purpose of adopting the Child. Having been arrested in May 2011, Father was incarcerated at the time of trial. Father consented to the adoption, and his parental rights were terminated on February 24, 2012. Following a bench trial, the trial court granted the petition and terminated Mother’s parental rights. The court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Mother had abandoned the Child by failing to visit and support her during the relevant four-month time period and that termination was in the Child’s best interest. Mother has appealed. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Stephen E. Grauberger and Derrick H. Green, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, for the Appellants, William D. Stalker and Stephen L. Young.

John D. Kitch, Nashville, Tennessee; and John Ray Phillips, Jr., Gallatin, Tennessee, for the Appellees, David R. Nutter and Tamara D. Nutter.


This appeal arises out of a breach of contract action. Following the presentation of the plaintiffs’ proof, the court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss. We vacate the decision of the trial court and remand the case for findings of fact required by Tenn. R. Civ. P. 41.02(2) and 52.

Court Grants New Trial for Miranda Violations

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court Friday ordered a new trial for a Gibson County man after determining that statements he made during a police interrogation should not have been used as evidence at trial. The case involves the 2007 arrest of David H. Climer Jr., during which he asked whether he could “have … an appointed lawyer right now.” The detective questioning him said “not at this time” and proceeded to question him for three hours. The trial and appeals courts found that the statements were properly admitted because Climer never unequivocally invoked his right to counsel. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying the prosecution failed to prove that the defendant understood and waived his constitutional right to appointed counsel. Download the opinion.

House Panel Named for Bebb Inquiry

The Tennessee House on Friday voted to form a committee to review the TBI's four-month investigation into 10th Judicial District Attorney Steve Bebb's office. Lawmakers voted 75-10 to name six members – three Republicans and three Democrats -- to a special committee that can meet during the recess. The six were selected from among the members of the Criminal Justice and Civil Justice committees, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The group said it would begin reviewing the files as soon as practical. Also on Friday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution directing the TBI officials to turn over all files, records, back-up materials, notes, interview transcripts and other exhibits. Senators previously had approved a similar resolution.

What's Next on Judicial Redistricting?

With Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s judicial redistricting bill failing to garner support in the House of Representatives, supporters of the plan are asking if they have time to bring it back up when the legislature reconvenes in January 2014. Allan Ramsaur, executive director of the TBA, tells The Commercial Appeal that “It’s technically possible they could get something done when the legislature first convenes next year, but the qualifying date for judges running next year is Feb. 15” and “it would be disruptive to the system to redraw things that quickly and put judges and district attorneys and public defenders — all of whom are up for election next year — into play.” For his part, Ramsey indicated he was walking away from the effort, The Tennessean reports.

Tennessean Credits TBA with Conservatorship Reform

The Tennessean’s coverage of the legislature’s final passage of conservatorship reform gives the TBA credit for laying the groundwork for the bill with a series of public hearings across the state on the issue. In the article, Executive Director Allan Ramsaur expresses his appreciation for the opportunity to review the legislation, saying the changes "should bring some clarity to the way the process works." The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

Pilot Hires Nashville Defense Attorney

In the wake of a federal raid and criminal investigation, Pilot Flying J has retained Nashville defense attorney Aubrey Harwell Jr., who also "has brought a team in with him," according to a Pilot spokesman. In addition, at least one top Pilot executive has hired his own attorney, with Vice President of Sales John Freeman retaining Knoxville criminal defense attorney John E. Eldridge. Knoxnews reports the developments.

Judge Joe Brown Weighs Options After Show Cancelled

Former Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown, who has spent the last 15 years as the star of the television reality show, Judge Joe Brown, has filmed his last episode for CBS. The network cancelled the show after failing to reach an agreement with Brown on a new compensation package. The Memphis Flyer reports that Brown is looking for another sponsor as well as planning a radio program to be called Real Talks With Judge Joe Brown. But the Hollywood Reporter says Brown “also is considering offers to get involved in politics, which could include a run for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee.” Stay tuned.

Shelby Lawyer Disbarred after Federal Conviction

The Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Shelby County lawyer David J. Johnson on April 22, retroactive to a previous disbarment effective Nov. 25, 2011. Johnson consented to the disbarment after determining he could not defend himself against charges brought by the Board of Professional Responsibility based on his conviction for federal wire fraud. The board determined that his actions violated Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4. Download the BPR notice.

Lawyers Take on Doctors for Charity Basketball Game

The Annual National Bar Association Lawyers vs. Bluff City Medical Society Fundraiser Basketball Game will be held Saturday at the Downtown Boys and Girls Club Gymnasium in Memphis. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. Doors open at 1 p.m. for pre-game activities, community activities and team warmups. Proceeds from the game, sponsored by the NBA’s Ben F. Jones Chapter, will support the Boys and Girls Club's summer educational programs. For more information contact Kenneth Anderson, Asia Diggs or Imad Abdullah.

Drafter of ABA Model Code Dies

John F. Sutton, former dean of the University of Texas Austin School of Law and drafter of the ABA’s Model Code of Professional Conduct, died Friday at age 95, the ABA Journal reports. A Texas native and 1941 graduate of the law school, Sutton served with the FBI as a special agent at the start of World War II and then served in Judge Advocate General’s Corps during the Korean War. From 1950-1957 he was in private practice and from 1957-2003 he served on the law school faculty at his alma mater, serving as dean from 1979-1984. From 1965-1970, Sutton was one of the original draftsmen of the ABA's Model Code of Professional Responsibility, which replaced the 1908 Canons of Ethics. Later, he consulted on the drafting of the association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Visitation and funeral services will be held Friday and Saturday in San Angelo. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made to the First Presbyterian Church of San Angelo, the San Angelo Area Foundation or a charity of one's choice.


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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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