Law Day Events on Tap for Next Week

Bar associations and legal organizations across the state are gearing up for this year’s Law Day with events and activities that involve opportunities for public service, awards for attorneys and members of the community, and lots of food and fun. The state’s four largest cities – Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville -- have luncheon events planned on May 1, while other groups held events this week. Young lawyer groups with each of these bar associations also sponsored events providing public and legal services to their communities. The TBA will announce the winners of its YouTube Video Contest and the winners of the statewide Law Day Art & Essay Competition next week as well. See the line-up of events happening across the state

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
05 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
03 - 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


Chad A. Cox, Paris, Tennessee for Petitioner/Appellant Melissa B. McElroy

No brief was filed on behalf of the Estate of Mary Kathryn Bucy.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves whether a document purporting to be a joint will meets the statutory requirements for a valid will. The trial court concluded that the document did not meet the statutory requirements for probate, but did not indicate the statute to which it referred or the requirements that were not met. We are unable to effectively review the trial court’s decision and must remand for findings of fact and conclusions of law under Rule 52.01 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Russell Veldman, Chuckey, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nicholas K.S.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


The State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of Nicholas K.S. (“Father”) to the minor 1 children, Brooklyn J.S., Bailey L.S., and Cadince N.S. (collectively “the Children”). After a trial the Juvenile Court terminated Father’s parental rights to the Children after finding and holding, inter alia, that clear and convincing evidence had been proven of grounds to terminate pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1) and § 36-1-102(1)(A)(iv), and that the termination was in the Children’s best interest. Father appeals the termination of his parental rights to this Court. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Thomas A. Maynard, Hermitage, Tennessee, for the appellant, Billy S.

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


Father appeals the termination of his parental rights. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court’s decision.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Kevin W. Shepherd, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Penny Parker and Sonya Lynn, individually and in her professional capacity as a member of the Monroe County Board of Education.

Arthur F. Knight, III and Jonathan Swann Taylor, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Mike Lowery, in his individual and professional capacity as the Director of Schools, and the Monroe County Board of Education.

Kenneth S. Williams, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Mike Lowery, in his individual and professional capacity as the Director of Schools; Larry Stein, in his professional capacity as Chairman of the Monroe County Board of Education; and the Monroe County Board of Education.

Charles W. Cagle and Angela C. Sanders, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents.


This consolidated appeal concerns Director’s non-renewal of Teacher’s contract, his refusal to recommend her for tenure, and his refusal to schedule a hearing regarding his decision. Upon learning that she had not been recommended for tenure, that her contract would not be renewed, and that Director would not schedule a hearing with the Board, Teacher filed suit, alleging that Director’s actions were unlawful and beyond the scope of his duty and that the Board had abdicated its responsibility by allowing Director to act in such a manner. Likewise, Board Member filed suit, alleging that the Board abdicated its responsibilities and that Director’s actions were unlawful. The trial court initially ruled in favor of Teacher and Board Member; however, the court altered its judgment to hold that Teacher and Board Member did not have standing to bring their respective complaints. Teacher and Board Member appeal. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Henry S. Queener, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Richard Thurmond.

Suzanne M. Pearson, Dan L. Nolan, and Erik Fuqua, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mid-Cumberland Infectious Disease Consultants, PLC.


In this malpractice action, the plaintiff failed to attach proof of service of the statutory notice and the required affidavit with the complaint. The trial court dismissed the action. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee for the appellant, Clifford Eric Burgess.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; John W. Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Helen O. Young, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Montgomery County jury convicted the Petitioner, Clifford Eric Burgess, of five counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective twenty-five-year sentence in the Department of Correction. The Petitioner appealed his convictions, and this Court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions and sentences. See State v. Clifford Eric Burgess, M2008-01370-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 2433059 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Nashville, Aug. 10, 2009), perm. app. denied (Tenn. July 20, 2009). The Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he claimed that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel due to his attorney’s failure to have him evaluated for mental illness. After a hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Olin J. Baker, Charlotte, Tennessee, for the defendant-appellant, Benji L. Creech.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Dan M. Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Sarah W. Wajnarowski, Assistant District Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


On January 19, 2011, appellant, Benji L. Creech, pled guilty to selling oxycodone, a schedule II drug, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-417. Appellant received a sentence of three years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, which was suspended to probation. On February 8, 2012, his probation was revoked. In lieu of serving his three-year sentence in the Department of Correction, appellant entered the drug court program. On June 14, 2012, appellant was summarily dismissed from the drug court program upon the allegation that he falsified a sponsor contact sheet. After a hearing on July 25, 2012, appellant’s probation was revoked again. On appeal, he argues that the evidence does not support the trial court’s decision to revoke his probation and serve his sentence in confinement. We disagree and affirm the trial court’s judgment.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Allocation of State Gasoline Tax Revenue to Private Property Owners Association

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-04-24

Opinion Number: 32

Unfair Trade Practices in the Insurance Business

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-04-24

Opinion Number: 33

Distribution of Basic Education Program Funds to Charter Schools

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-04-24

Opinion Number: 34

Today's News

Editorial: Legislators Shirk Duty to State, Judicial Branch

In a scathing editorial, the Knoxville News Sentinel's editorial board blasts lawmakers for failing to renew the Judicial Nominating Commission, which will cease to exist on July 1. According to Tennessee Bar Association Executive Director Allan Ramsaur, there will be no constitutional way to replace a judge or justice who resigns, retires or dies in office after that date. The editorial states that an independent judiciary is vital to the freedom and well being of the state, and accuses legislators of failing to do the state’s business at a basic civic-minded level.

ABA Task Force Debates Law School Reform

During a daylong conference hosted by the American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of Education this week, law professors, practitioners, judges and bar association leaders struggled for agreement about what is driving the rising cost of legal education, and how schools and regulations should responds to the declining job prospects for new lawyers and flagging interest in law degrees. According to the National Law Journal, the task force hopes to release preliminary recommendations during the late summer or early fall, with a final report to follow in mid-November, said former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard, its chairman. Members already have heard from several hundred people in public hearings and through written comments, he said.

California, New Jersey Consider Joining New York With 'Pro Bono Mandate'

Last year, the New York State court system announced its first-of-its-kind 50-hour pro bono requirement for new attorneys. Effective in 2015, every applicant must have completed 50 hours of pro bono legal work. The National Law Journal reports that leaders of the State Bar of California are now poised to adopt a similar rule this fall, while a task force of ­judges, legal educators and attorneys in New Jersey is weighing the merits. In Tennessee, there is no similar requirement for new lawyers or practicing lawyers; however 50 hours of pro bono per year is an aspirational goal outlined in Supreme Court Rule 6.1. Learn more about that in this issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal.

State Wins $40 million for Charitable Donations

Tennessee will receive approximately $40 million to distribute to charitable purposes after reaching a settlement agreement with National Health Investors (NHI) and National Healthcare Corporation (NHC), the Nashville Business Journal reports. In 2007, the receiver for nonprofit organizations SeniorTrust and ElderTrust filed suit against NHI and NHC for selling financially troubled nursing homes to nonprofits at prices significantly above fair value. “We believe this settlement is in the best interest of the public and upholds the appropriate use of Tennessee charities,” said Attorney General Bob Cooper. “The Court will ultimately determine how these funds can be used for charitable purposes, and the Office of the Attorney General will seek and welcome public input in that process.”

Ignition Interlock Bill Aims to Reduce DUIs

A new bill to require ignition interlocks for first time offenders and lower the intoxication rate awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature, WATE reports. The ignition interlock device requires drivers to blow into the device and if there is no alcohol present then they will be able to start the vehicle. The new law also requires a camera attachment to ensure the person taking the test is the person driving. According to state lawmakers, the bill could result in up to 10,000 more drivers with this safe guard on their vehicle. Since 2011, there have been 7,670 ignition interlocks ordered, although the number is only about a quarter of the number of people convicted of DUIs.

Former AG Supports Plowshare Action at Y-12

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark testified Tuesday that ongoing production of nuclear weapons at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge could be considered unlawful because it violates some tenets of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty aimed at eliminating weapons. Clark testified on behalf of the three protestors, known as the Transform Now Plowshares, who are facing multiple felony counts for breaking into Y-12 in July, cutting through security fences and defacing the exterior of the plant’s storage center for bomb-grade uranium. The trial is set to begin May 7, Knoxnews reports.

New Law Blocks Out-of-State IDs for Voting

In the ongoing debate on voter IDs regulations, a new amendment approved by state legislators will now prevent IDs issued by other states from being used to vote. In a statement, Secretary of State Tre Hargett said, “This change mirrors similar laws in other states, including Indiana. Indiana’s photo ID law has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court.” WREG also notes that the Tennessee Supreme Court has said that Memphis public library photo ID cards can be accepted until it makes a final ruling on an appeal.

Students Reflect on Constitutional Rights Through Sumner Bar Program

Nine Hendersonville High School students and two students from the Paralegal Education program at Volunteer State Community College participated in the Sumner County Bar Association’s seminar, A Re-Examination of the Mary Surratt Trial. The students viewed the film “The Conspirator” and listened to a panel discussion on the constitutional rights that Surratt was denied during her trial. The panel was moderated by Judge Tom E. Gray and included Judge Dee David Gay, attorneys James E. Mackler, David Raybin and Justice Penny White. The Tennessean has the story.

Get a Lesson in Real Estate Essentials

If you are new to commercial real estate, “Real Estate Essentials: A Primer in Commercial Real Estate for Tennessee Lawyers” will provide you with the basics you need to know. Attendees will start the May 9 program with an overview of the current commercial real estate market in Tennessee. Speakers will address areas of growth, concerns, trends, and surprise issues. Topics include a summary of the commercial real estate law and specific issues with commercial landlord and tenant law.


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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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