TBA Honors 2013 YouTube Video Contest Winners

Students challenged to produce videos on the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary are being honored today by the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) as a part of the national Law Day celebration. Middle and high school students from across Tennessee produced three-minute videos exploring the role of the judiciary, with a focus on issues related to separation of powers and protection of individual rights. The 2013 theme, “The Least Dangerous Branch: The Importance of a Fair & Impartial Judiciary,” centered on Alexander Hamilton’s premise in Federalist Paper No. 78 that judiciary is “the least dangerous” branch of government because it “has no influence over either the sword or the purse.”

First place in the Middle School category goes to Alyssa Neuhoff of Signal Mountain, who was sponsored by Walden Home School. First place in the high school category goes to Jeff Carter from Memphis, who was sponsored by White Station High School. Neuhoff, Carter and their sponsoring groups each will receive a cash award of $500. The first-place winning videos also will be shown during the Lawyers Lunch at the TBA Convention in Nashville this June.

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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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


Daniel P. Bryant, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Molly D.

Lanis L. Karnes, Jackson, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem, Petitioner/Appellee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, and Jordan Scott, Assistant Attorney General, for the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee.


This is a termination of parental rights case. The trial court concluded that it was in the best interests of the child to terminate Mother’s parental rights on the grounds that Mother was incarcerated under a sentence of more than 10 years and her child was under the age of eight at time of sentencing, see Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(6), and that Mother was convicted of the intentional and wrongful death of the child's other parent, see Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1- 113(g)(7). Mother appeals. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


John P. Partin, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellants, James Taylor Milstead and Dana Underwood Milstead.

Thomas O. Bratcher, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Harold Martin.


Purchaser of land brought action to recover damages for shortage in acreage and road frontage of property purchased; sellers contended that sale was in gross rather than by acre. Trial court determined that there was a discrepancy between the amount of land both parties thought was being sold and the amount determined by a survey to have been sold, and that sellers did not own land which would provide access to the property; accordingly, it granted purchaser judgment for the discrepancy in the amount of land conveyed. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment.

With concurring opinion.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert J. Walker, J. Mark Tipps, John C. Hayworth, Jason W. Callen, and G. Brian Jackson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency.

Charles K. Grant, Nashville, Tennessee; Joe A. Conner and John M. Phillips, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Alton G. Burkhalter, Irvine, California, for the Appellees, Tower Music City II, LLC and PremierWest Bank.


In this condemnation action, the condemning authority appeals the jury’s valuation of property taken and award of compensation to landowner. Finding that the valuation of the property is within the range of opinions of fair market value testified to at trial, that the jury was properly instructed, and that the court’s conduct of the trial was proper, we affirm the judgment entered upon the jury’s verdict.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Trippe Steven Fried, New York, N.Y., for the appellants, Dennis Dean and Glenda Dean.

Keith Cameron Dennen and William Joseph Haynes, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mary Kelly Pitsenberger, as Executrix of the Estate of Dan Stephen Pitsenberger.


Executrix of an estate filed a complaint against the officers of a corporation in an effort to pierce the corporate veil and recover a debt she alleges is due from the corporation to the estate of her late husband. The trial court granted her motion for summary judgment and awarded her a $52,000 judgment. The individuals appealed, asserting genuine issues of material fact should have precluded the trial court’s award. We conclude the trial court erred in awarding damages at the summary judgment stage because material facts are in dispute regarding whether a debt actually exists and regarding the amount of money that is at issue.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael J. Flanagan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry Scott Reynolds.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; William Whitesell, District Attorney General; and J. Paul Newman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Larry Scott Reynolds (“the Petitioner”) was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to life imprisonment. The Petitioner subsequently filed for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied following an evidentiary hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, arguing that the postconviction court failed to make “sufficient findings of fact to allow meaningful review” and “erred in questioning the Petitioner and in making other comments” at the post-conviction hearing. The Petitioner also asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Matt Hooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Robert M. Brannon, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brandon Trae Wagster.


Brandon Trae Wagster (“the Defendant”) was indicted for driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. He filed a motion to suppress, challenging the legality of the stop of his vehicle. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted the Defendant’s motion and dismissed the charges against him. The State appeals. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and reinstate the Defendant’s charges.

Nashville Bar Law Day Luncheon Celebrates Equality

More than 500 Nashville lawyers gathered for the Annual Nashville Bar Association Law Day Luncheon with the theme, Realizing the Dream: Equality for All. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper proposed a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the right to vote in his Law Day remarks. Nashville lawyer David Raybin was the recipient of the Jack Norman Award, the highest award the NBA can give to a lawyer who practices primarily in the criminal justice system. Former Nashville Juvenile Court Judge Andy Shookhoff received the Liberty Bell Award for his work in advancing juvenile justice.

ABA Law Day Program Focuses on Gender Equality

Gender equality is the theme of an American Bar Association Law Day program tonight in Washington D.C., the ABA Journal reports. An ABA press release says the event will focus on topics such as realizing constitutional equality for women and appropriate roles of courts, legislatures and advocacy groups in advancing gender equality in our constitutional democracy. President Barack Obama issued a proclamation yesterday recognizing the Law Day theme of equality for all, and noting historical milestones such as the Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King’s call for equality, the Civil Rights Act and other rights legislation.

ETLAW Luncheon Honors State Supreme Court

The East Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women (ETLAW) held its annual Supreme Court Luncheon today honoring the justices and their work on behalf of the state. Each of the justices were scheduled to attend, with Chief Justice Gary Wade as the featured speaker. During the event, TBA Board of Governors member Tasha Blakney received the Spirit of Justice Award.

Haslam Signs New Workers’ Comp Law

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the state’s new workers’ compensation reform into law this week. The law overhauls the system by moving disputed cases out of the courts and into a new state agency overseen by a governor-appointed administrator. Supporters said the changes will make the system more fair, certain and efficient, while opponents slammed it as taking money away from injured workers. The Tennessean has the story.

Southern Law Firms Rise Again

The legal business climate in the South is booming according to the National Law Journal's Southern Report. Increasingly diverse local economies are helping legal professionals across the southern region recover from the recession. Nashville especially has become the “It” town of the moment, the report states. According to the most recent National Law Journal data, the 250 largest firms in the United States had 478 offices in the Southeast. Nashville’s Waller Landsen Dortch & Davis and Bass, Berry & Sims were ranked at numbers nine and 13, respectively, as the biggest of those offices by full-time equivalents. View the full list here.

Curb Records Sues Tim McGraw for Ownership

Curb Records has sued country music star Tim McGraw and his new label, Big Machine Records, in district court for alleged copyright infringement, the Nashville City Paper reports. After a failed 2011 suit for breach of contract, Curb is now asking a federal court to determine that McGraw’s new album “Two Lanes of Freedom” actually belongs to the Nashville label since it alleges he recorded the songs while still under contract with Curb. Further, the suit maintains that McGraw owes Curb a sixth album stemming from a 2001 settlement agreement.

Official’s Online Post Outrages Muslims

Coffee County commissioner Barry West’s anti-Muslim Facebook post outraged a number of national and local Islamic advocacy groups who are calling for an apology. Although he removed the offending photo, West said he didn’t understand why he was being “singled out” for posting it. The American Muslim Advisory Council, a statewide council devoted to promoting understanding between Tennesseans and Muslims, tweeted a screen shot of West’s post and encouraged people to call him and demand he apologize. “Regardless of whether you have Muslim constituents or not, you shouldn’t post this," said Drost Lokoye, a council board member. "A shotgun with a wink behind it? I feel threatened. This is not OK." The Tennessean has the story.

State Senator named GOP Emerging Leader

GOPAC, the Republican Party’s education and training center, has named Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, as one of the nation’s 21 “Emerging Leaders” for 2013. According to the Leaf Chronicle, the “Emerging Leaders” program is a yearlong initiative by GOPAC to coach, develop and promote promising state legislators. Green and the other honorees will attend an “Emerging Leaders’ Summit” in New York City, where they will take part in interactive seminars, leadership training and networking opportunities.

New TBJ Explores Why You are So Stressed

You're not crazy -- your job really IS more stressful than most. In the May Tennessee Bar Journal read the science behind thriving and well-being from David Shearon, as well as personal stories from your colleagues, Lisa Ramsay Cole, Sherie L. Edwards, Mary Griffin and Linda Warren-Seely. In Cole's article, read about the lifestyle transformations of Jason Long, Bill Harbison and John Tarpley. On the flip side of wellness and habits that are good for you, columnist Bill Haltom sides with Mississippi over his Constitutional right to buy a huge sugary orange soda.

Uncover Common Challenges for Business Lawyers

TennBarU's "Traps for the Unwary -- Common Challenges Facing Business Lawyers in Tennessee" covers four key areas of challenge for Tennessee business lawyers in today’s competitive and complex practice environment: filings with the Tennessee Secretary of State; practice under the Tennessee Business Corporation Act; practice under the Tennessee Limited Liability Company Act; and intellectual property ownership in the context of business formations. Through panel discussions, the presenters will expose incomplete and unclear elements of law in these key practice areas and share their “practical and prudential wisdom.” Specifically, in each area, the panelists will describe common issues faced by business law practitioners in Tennessee and share their insights on how to best resolve those issues. The May 6 Nashville program is designed to be useful for both transactional lawyers and litigators practicing in both public and private practice settings.


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.

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