Watchdog Group: Courthouses Not Needed

Investigative online newspaper Tennessee Watchdog warns that taxpayers could spend more than $165 million to replace federal courthouses in Nashville and Chattanooga even though a new audit by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggests replacements are not needed. The GAO report, according to the paper, found fault with the Nashville plan, saying the current building has more courtrooms than it does judges. In Chattanooga, it found that the current facility has the same number of judges and courtrooms. One of the GAO’s requirements for supporting new courthouses is the need for at least two additional courtrooms. Tennessee is not alone in the assessment. The report found that of the 12 courthouses planned across the country, only two are really needed.

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
13 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - 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

GLASSMAN, EDWARDS, WYATT, TUTTLE & COX, P.C. v. B. J. WADE ET AL.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Adam Jacob Eckstein, David Clark Wade, and Matthew Paul Gabriel, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, B. J. Wade and Shannon Crowe.

John A. Day and R. Burke Keaty II, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Glassman, Edwards, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox, P.C.

Judge: HOLDER

A law firm filed suit against a former partner and a former paralegal. Both former employees filed motions to compel arbitration. The trial court consolidated the cases and stayed discovery except as to the issue of whether the cases were subject to arbitration. Subsequently, the trial court ordered the parties to engage in mediation and to disclose “all necessary documents to conduct a meaningful attempt at resolution” despite the prior order limiting discovery. After the trial court denied their motion to vacate the order, the former partner and paralegal sought an extraordinary appeal to the Court of Appeals under Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, which was denied. We granted extraordinary appeal. We hold that the trial court erred in ordering discovery without limiting the scope of discovery to the issue of arbitrability, in contravention of the unambiguous language of the Tennessee Uniform Arbitration Act, and erred in referring the parties to mediation in an effort to resolve all issues. We vacate the order of the trial court, and we remand the case to the trial court for a determination on the motions to compel arbitration.


TN Court of Appeals

MICHAEL T. and DANA N. BERNIER v. ROBERT (“SHAWN”) and JAMIE MORROW

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Philip C. Kelly and Gwynn K. Smith, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellants, Robert (“Shawn”) and Jamie Morrow.

William L. Moore, Jr., Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellees, Michael T. and Dana N. Bernier.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case presents the question of whether certain notes on a final subdivision plat constitute restrictive covenants, which prevent the purchasers of property in the subdivision from installing an experimental wetland sewage disposal system on their property or on an easement for the benefit of their property. The trial court concluded that the plat notes constitute restrictive covenants preventing the installation, and permanently enjoined the purchasers from installing or constructing such a system on their own property or on the easement. We affirm and remand.


IN RE: BRIDGESTONE CORPORATION, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Steve North, Madison, Tennessee; Richard L. Denney, Lydia JoAnn Barrett, Norman, Oklahoma; Robert L. Langdon, J. Kent Emison, Lexington, Missouri, counsel for the appellants, Nos. 05C-1552 (Torres), 05C-1555 (Rodriguez), 05C-1556 (Santin), 05C-1560 (Hernandez); Douglas S. Johnston, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, counsel for the appellants, Nos. 05C-1561 (Rivera Ruiz), 05C-1570 (Crispo Valdiva).

Stephen A. Marcum, Huntsville, Tennessee; Gregory G. Garre, Roman Martinez, Washington, DC, for the appellee, Ford Motor Company.

A. Scott Ross, James F. Sanders, Nashville, Tennessee; Marc R. Brousseau, Denver, Colorado; Scott G. Edwards, Dallas, Texas; Craig A. Morgan, Austin, Texas; Warren E. Platt, Phoenix, Arizona, for the appellees, Bridgestone Corporation and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC.

Judge: COTTRELL

This appeal arises out of the second consolidated case to be tried in a number of related cases involving accidents that occurred in Mexico and allegedly were caused by defective tires and/or vehicles. The trial judge denied the plaintiffs’ motion that he recuse himself. The motion was based upon allegations of the appearance of bias or prejudice. Having reviewed the filings in this appeal under the required de novo standard of review, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion.


CAPTAIN D’S REALTY, LLC v. EP-D, LTD.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Leo Bearman, Jr., Charles K. Grant, and Elizabeth B. McCostlin, Memphis, Tennessee, for Plaintiff/Appellant, Captain D’s Realty, LLC

Henry C. Shelton, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for Defendant/Appellee, EP-D, Ltd.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves the interpretation of a commercial lease. The lease gave the plaintiff tenant two successive options to extend the term of the lease, provided the tenant gave timely notice of its intent to exercise the renewal option. The tenant exercised the first renewal option, but did not give timely notice of intent to exercise the second option. The lease also contained language giving the tenant a grace period to exercise the option if the lessor gave notice that the lessor had not received notice of renewal. The lessor did not give the written notice to the tenant. The tenant filed a lawsuit against the defendant lessor, seeking a declaratory judgment and damages for breach of contract. The plaintiff tenant asserted in the lawsuit that the tenant had the grace period to exercise the renewal option because the lease required the lessor to give written notice, and the lessor had failed to do so. Both parties filed dispositive motions based on their interpretations of the lease. Construing the lease, the trial court held that the grace period was never triggered so the tenant’s renewal option lapsed and granted a judgment in favor of the lessor. The tenant appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.


ADRIAN FIELDS v. BYRON WILLIAMS and STERLING MARSHALL

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Lewis K. Garrison, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Adrian Fields.

Robert L. Gatewood, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Byron Williams and Sterling Marshall.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is an appeal from the circuit court’s dismissal of Appellant’s appeal from general sessions court. Upon filing the appeal, Appellant paid costs in the general sessions court pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 8–21–401(b)(1)(C)(i), but did not submit a surety bond under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 27-5-103. The circuit court held that failure to post the surety bond under Section 27-5-103 resulted in a lack of subject matter jurisdiction in the circuit court. Accordingly, the trial court granted Appellees’s motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Based upon this Court’s recent decision in Bernatsky v. Designer Baths & Kitchens, LLC, No. W2012-00803-COA-R3-CV, 2013 WL 593911 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 15, 2013), we reverse the dismissal and remand for further proceedings.


HEALTHMART USA, LLC and GREGG LAWRENCE v. DIRECTORY ASSISTANTS, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Cynthia Sherwood McKenzie and Anton L. Jackson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Directory Assistants, Inc.

Phillip Byron Jones, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Healthmart USA, LLC and Gregg Lawrence.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is the second appeal of this case, involving the question of whether Appellant acted in good faith in seeking to enforce an arbitration clause in a consulting contract, which was entered by and between Appellant and Appellee. The trial court determined that Appellant failed to act in good faith in unilaterally demanding arbitration in a forum of its choice, in setting an arbitrary deadline, and then in unilaterally accelerating the deadline. We affirm the decision of the trial court that Appellant breached the duty of good faith and remand with instructions to consider whether Appellant’s lack of good faith operates as a waiver of its right to seek arbitration pursuant to the contract.


JAMIE AND FRANKYE T. v. CRYSTAL G.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

R. Holland Matthews, Columbia, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Crystal G.

Michael D. Cox and Seth M. Lasater, Columbia, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Jaime and Frankye T.

Judge: DINKINS

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights for abandonment by willful failure to visit, contending that her failure to visit the children was not willful and that termination of her parental rights was not in the children’s best interest. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment terminating her parental rights.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES LYON, II
CORRECTION: On page five (5) of the opinion, within the CONCLUSION, the cost assessment has been changed from James Lyon, II to read as, "As Mr. Lyon is a juvenile, costs of the appeal are assessed against the State of Tennessee".

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

B. Jeffery Harmon, District Public Defender, and Robert G. Morgan, Assistant Public De fender, Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Lyon, II.

Rcbert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCCLARTY

The appellant, a juvenile, appealed the juvenile court's revocation of his probation and commitment to the custody of the Department of Children's Services. The trial court, upon the juvenile's timely appeal, affirmed the ruling of the juvenile court. We affirm.


CARRIE MOBLEY v. MARK ADAM MOBLEY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

John W. Cleveland, Sr., Sweetwater, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carrie Mobley.

Randy Sellers, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mark Adam Mobley.

Judge: SUSANO

This is divorce case pertaining to the marriage of Carrie Mobley (“Mother”) and Mark Adam Mobley (“Father”). The parties were married for 15 years. They have three minor daughters (collectively “Children”). Following a two-day trial, the court divorced the parties, divided their marital property, and made decrees regarding the custody of the Children. With respect to the Children, the trial court designated Father as the primary residential parent; it then ordered a 50/50 shared residential parenting arrangement. Following the divorce, the court found Mother to be in willful contempt of multiple provisions of its judgment. It sentenced her to ten days in jail on each of five counts. The court suspended the sentences on condition that there be no further violations. Mother appeals. She challenges the trial court’s judgment as to (1) the designation of Father as the primary residential parent, (2) portions of the residential parenting schedule, and (3) the inclusion of a “paramour provision” in the divorce judgment. In addition, she appeals the contempt findings, sentences, and award of fees to Father on the contempt proceedings. We reverse in part and affirm in part.


STATE OF TENNESSEE EX REL. SUZANNA R. PHILLIPS (BOBBITT) v. ANTHONY PHILLIPS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and, Warren Jasper, Senior Counsel, for the appellant, the State of Tennessee ex. rel. Suzanna R. Phillips.

Anthony Phillips, pro se appellee.

Judge: SWINEY

This appeal concerns an overcollection of child support by the State in a Title IV-D matter. Anthony Phillips (“Father”) and Suzanna R. Phillips (“Mother”) divorced, and Father was ordered to pay child support. Later, Father’s child support obligation was suspended on account of his disability status. The State of Tennessee (“the State”) garnished Father’s Social Security checks to satisfy an arrearage. The Chancery Court for Monroe County (“the Trial Court”) found that Father had paid his arrears and, in fact, had overpaid. The Trial Court ordered the State to reimburse Father the overpayment and to pursue Mother for the overpayment sum. The State appeals, arguing that the Trial Court lacked authority because of the State’s sovereign immunity to render such an order. We affirm as modified.


GARY POWERS v. SHERRY DENISE POWERS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David W. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gary Powers.

Terri Smith Crider, Humboldt, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sherry Denise Powers.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case involves the construction of the parties’ marital dissolution agreement. Father appeals the transfer of his case from circuit court to chancery court, the trial court’s dismissal of his petition for a declaratory judgment, and the trial court’s ruling finding him in breach of the post-majority support provision of the marital dissolution agreement and awarding Mother attorney fees. We reverse as to the attorney fee award, but affirm as to the remainder.


ESTATE OF DAVID HOLT RALSTON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

W. Kennerly Burger, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Estate of Fred R. Hobbs and Sherry Hobbs.

Rachel Ralston, Michael Scott Lattier, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Estate of David Holt Ralston, Deceased, by John Ralston, Personal Representative.

Judge: COTTRELL

The trial court granted summary judgment to a judgment creditor of the decedent’s estate on a claim that the decedent fraudulently deeded an interest in real property to his wife so she would receive it free from the claims of his legitimate creditors after his death. The trial court’s judgment was based on circumstances surrounding the property transfer that satisfied the elements of fraudulent conveyance under both Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-3-305(a)(1) and (a)(2). The widow denies that there was any fraudulent intent behind the transfer of the disputed property to her, but insists that it arose naturally from the love and affection that existed between husband and wife. We affirm the trial court.


JOSEPH WINFRED REEVES v. FELICIA KIMBERLY REEVES

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph Winfred Reeves, Lakeland, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

Felicia K. Johnson (Reeves), Warner Robins, Georgia, appellee, pro se.

Judge: HIGHERS

At the time of the parties’ divorce, both parties lived in Tennessee, and Mother was named primary residential parent. Shortly thereafter, Mother was allowed to relocate to Georgia with the children, and Father’s requests that he be named primary residential parent were denied. Following the move, the parties were unable to agree to a parenting plan, and the circuit court resolved the remaining parenting issues and transferred future disputes to Georgia. On appeal, the pro se parties raise numerous issues related to various decisions of the trial court. We affirm in part and we reverse in part, and we remand for further proceedings.


IN RE: SHYRONNE H., ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Andrew L. Wener, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danielle H.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Leslie Curry, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services

Judge: HIGHERS

Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights with respect to the six children at issue in this appeal. She concedes that grounds exist for termination, but she claims that termination is not in the children’s best interest. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

SANDRA BEAVERS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Andrew J. Brown, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sandra Beavers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and Cynthia LeCroy-Schemel, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Petitioner, Sandra Beavers, pled guilty to sale or delivery of less than .5 gram of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Petitioner as a Range II offender to ten years, with one year to be served in confinement and the remainder on supervised probation. After her release from jail, the Petitioner violated a condition of her probation that required that she successfully complete the Next Door rehabilitation program, and the trial court revoked her probation. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel due to her attorney’s failure to communicate with her and failure to request a bond hearing. 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.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES L. DOWELL, III & RIVERA L. PEOPLES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles Walker, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James L. Dowell, III.

David A. Collins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rivera L. Peoples.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Davidson County jury convicted the defendants, James L. Dowell, III, and Rivera L. Peoples, of five counts of aggravated robbery and five counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. The trial court sentenced each defendant to an effective sentence of 100 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant Dowell asserts that the trial court erred when it: (1) denied his motion to dismiss for breach of an immunity “Cooperation” agreement with the State; (2) admitted into evidence a form in which Defendant Peoples disclosed Defendant Dowell’s phone number; (3) admitted into evidence items obtained from Defendant Peoples’s Chevrolet Impala; (4) allowed Agent Richard Littlehale to testify as an expert witness; (5) denied his motion for acquittal; (6) failed to define “substantial interference” for the jury; and (7) imposed a sentence of 100 years. Defendant Peoples asserts that: (1) the evidence is insufficient as to his convictions; (2) the trial court erred when it allowed Agent Richard Littlehale testify as an expert witness; (3) the trial court erred when it failed to define “substantial interference” for the jury; and (4) his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL DAVID FIELDS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Timothy R. Wilkerson (on appeal); Wayne Culbertson (at trial); and Matthew King (at trial) Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael David Fields.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Greeley Wells, District Attorney General; and Barry P. Staubus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Michael Fields, was indicted by the Sullivan County Grand Jury for two counts of first degree murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, and two counts of especially aggravated robbery. After a jury trial, he was convicted as charged. The jury determined that the sentence for the first degree murder counts should be life without parole. The trial court merged the first degree murder convictions into the first degree felony murder convictions. The trial court imposed a twenty-five-year sentence for each especially aggravated robbery conviction. The twenty-five-year sentences were ordered to run concurrently to the life sentences. The two life sentences were ordered to run consecutively to each other and consecutively to a previously imposed sentence of life plus forty years. Appellant presents several arguments on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to change venue; (2) the trial court erred in denying his request for the trial judge to recuse himself; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial when there was juror contact with the prosecuting officer; (4) there was prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument; (5) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement to police; (6) the trial court erred in excluding the testimony of Appellant’s proffered expert witness, Dr. Charlton Stanley; (7) the trial court erred in allowing the use of a stun belt on Appellant during the trial; (8) the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal; (9) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; and (10) the trial court erred in imposing the sentence for especially aggravated robbery and in ordering consecutive sentences. Appellant argues several smaller miscellaneous issues concerning evidentiary rulings, closing argument of the State, the denial of his request to have both of his attorneys present separate closing arguments, the denial of funds to pay an expert witness, and the failure to assure that Appellant received his prescribed medication in jail. After a thorough review of the record, we find no error. Therefore, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRIAN KERR

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Larry Samuel Patterson, Jr., Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brian Kerr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Caleb Bayless, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Brian Kerr (“the Defendant”) was convicted after a jury trial of driving under the influence, reckless driving, and failure to maintain his lane of travel. The trial court also found that the Defendant had violated the implied consent law. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days, suspended to probation after service of ten days in confinement. The Defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence for each conviction. The Defendant also contends that the trial court erred in instructing the jury regarding the Defendant’s failure to submit to a blood alcohol test when the trial court had not yet ruled on whether the Defendant violated the implied consent law. Lastly, the Defendant contends that, if the trial court first rules that a defendant violated the implied consent law and then gives the jury instruction regarding the defendant’s failure to submit to a blood alcohol test, the trial court is indirectly commenting on the evidence in violation of Article VI, Section 9 of the Tennessee Constitution. Upon our thorough review of the record, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions for driving under the influence and failure to maintain his lane of travel. However, we reverse and dismiss the Defendant’s conviction for reckless driving.


JOHN JOSEPH KRATOCHVIL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

John Joseph Kratochvil, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Hunter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, John Joseph Kratochvil, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis regarding his conviction for second degree murder, for which he is serving a Range II, thirty-five year sentence. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by denying him relief. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Proposed Criminal Offense of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-04-29

Opinion Number: 35


Judge Optimistic about DCS’ New Leadership, Processes

U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell, who is overseeing changes at the Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS), expressed cautious optimism that the agency's new leadership can resolve some of its problems, the Associated Press reports. At a hearing Monday, lawyers for the department said DCS has created a process for tracking and reviewing the deaths and near deaths of children the agency has tried to help. Campbell said the department was addressing the concerns he raised in January but he is waiting to see the final results. WATE News 5 in Knoxville has the story.


Judge: No Proof Pilot Tampering with Witnesses

Knox County Circuit Court Judge Harold Wimberly today dismissed a bid by a Georgia trucking company to block Pilot Flying J from contacting customers in the wake of a federal probe into its fuel rebate program. Wimberly ruled the Georgia firm, which is suing Pilot for allegedly withholding rebates, lacked proof of its claims that Pilot was tampering with witnesses. The Georgia company had argued that Pilot's efforts to reach out to customers to offer rebates while the investigation was ongoing amounted to witness tampering. Meanwhile, petitions to certify class action suits against Pilot have been filed in Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas. Knoxnews has more on both of these stories.


Legal Aid Partners with HIV Charity

Legal Aid of East Tennessee – through its Erlanger Health Law Partnership and Pro Bono Project – recently hosted a clinic at Chattanooga CARES. This first-of-its-kind clinic helped HIV-positive individuals take control of the legal aspects of their health by drafting powers of attorney and wills. Pro Bono Project Director Charlie McDaniel said the event was the first in a series of “Health Empowerment Clinics” that will take place in the city. For more information contact Legal Aid at (423) 756-4013.


Judge Rethinks School Board Composition

U.S. District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays is considering whether he should change the terms of the 2011 consent decree that so far has governed the path to consolidation of Shelby County’s two public school systems, the Memphis Daily News reports. Mays today raised the possibility of changing the structure of the new school board that will take effect on Sept. 1, saying the current plan might raise equal protection concerns and could result in more than 400,000 Shelby County citizens being represented by school board members they did not elect.


Journalism Hall of Fame Inducts 2 with Legal Ties

A number of new honorees were inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame last week, the Daily Times reports. Among them was Chris Clark, retired chief news anchor for Nashville’s WTVF-TV NewsChannel 5, who played a strategic role in convincing the Tennessee Supreme Court to allow cameras in courtrooms. Clark is the longest tenured news anchor in Tennessee with his 41-year stint at the station. He currently is a mass communication instructor at MTSU. Also inducted was John Seigenthaler, chairman emeritus of The Tennessean, founding editorial director of USA Today and founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. He also is the first to serve as MTSU’s Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies.


Court Weighs in on Law Firm Suit

The Tennessee Supreme Court has sent back to the trial court a dispute between a Memphis law firm and a former partner and paralegal to determine whether arbitration is appropriate. The law firm of Glassman, Edwards, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox filed a lawsuit against the two former employees, alleging fraud and breach of duties to the firm. Both asked the trial court to send their cases to arbitration. After the firm asserted arbitration was not required and other disagreements arose, the trial court expanded the scope of discovery and mediation to cover all aspects of the parties’ disputes. In an opinion issued today, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in expanding the case to issues other than enforceability of arbitration provisions.


Former MBA President Dies After Long Illness

Memphis lawyer and former Memphis Bar Association president Susan M. Clark died this morning after a long battle with cancer. Details regarding funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as they are available, the MBA reports.


New Law Day Events Added to State Round Up

Law Day events continue this week with a number scheduled for tomorrow, May 1. Events added to the list of activities taking place across the state include a luncheon in Greeneville hosted by the Northeast Tennessee Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and an evening session with U.S. Attorney Bill Killian hosted by the Bradley County Bar Association. See the latest information on the TBA website.


Investiture for New Juvenile Judge on Wednesday

An investiture ceremony for new Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw will take place Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Juvenile Court, 1600 E. 3rd St., Chattanooga. Philyaw replaces Judge Suzanne Bailey, whose retirement is effective at the end of April.


CASA Plans Fundraiser, Volunteer Training

CASA of Northeast Tennessee will hold its 5th Annual Benefit Motorcycle Ride on May 11 at Smith Brothers Harley Davidson in Johnson City. Registration begins at 10 a.m. The ride starts at 11 a.m. A $10 donation is requested per rider. Food and drinks will be provided after the ride. The event also will feature a corn hole tournament from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information contact the agency at (423) 461-3500 or admin@casanetn.org. In other news, the agency also recently announced it would conduct training for new volunteers on May 28.


Knoxville Lawyer Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended the law license of Knoxville lawyer Whitney Suzanne Bailey on April 26 for her failure to respond to a complaint of ethical misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court. Download the BPR release.


 
 

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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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