Convention: New Approaches in Law Practice Succession

As the population ages, Tennessee lawyers are being asked to assist in winding down the practice of sole practitioners who have made no plans for the continuation, transition, or retirement of their practices. Lawyers planning ahead for their own transition are also looking for guidance. Join attorneys Hugh Kendall and Marisa Combs in a special program at the TBA Annual Convention to learn the best practices in planning or handling law practice succession. Get more information now on the TBA Convention, June 12-15 in Nashville.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
09 - 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

MARTIN WILLIAM HUFFMAN v. ANGELA SHAYNE HUFFMAN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jacob Thomas Thorington, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Martin William Huffman.

No appellee brief filed.

Judge: BENNETT

This is the second appeal of a post-divorce decision concerning child support. In the first appeal, we determined that the trial court erred in failing to make the required findings to justify an upward deviation in child support, thus we vacated the award of child support and remanded for a determination of the appropriate amount. Following the hearing on remand, the trial court set the appropriate amount of child support and determined that Father had overpaid child support. The court did not award Father a judgment or credit in the amount of his overpayment, and Father appeals. We conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to award Father a credit or judgment in the amount of his overpayment.


JOHN McLAUGHLIN v. JOHN L. TWEEDALL, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Arthur F. Knight, III, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John McLaughlin.

J. Stephen Hurst, LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellees, Gary A. Bruewer and Lori Bruewer.

Gary S. Dawson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, John L. Tweedall and Leigh Tweedall.

Judge: PER CURIAM

The final judgment from which the appellant seeks to appeal was entered on December 3, 2012. The only Notice of Appeal “filed” by the appellant on December 28, 2012, was submitted to the trial court clerk via facsimile transmission in violation of Rule 5A.02(4)(e) of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Because the Notice of Appeal was insufficient to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court, this appeal is dismissed.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. NORA HERNANDEZ

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Drew Justice, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nora Hernandez.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Chris Vernon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Nora Hernandez, appeals from the Williamson County Circuit Court’s order revoking her probation and denying her bid to vacate her convictions and sentences. Because this court lacks jurisdiction of the claim relevant to the defendant’s motion to vacate, that portion of the appeal is dismissed. Because the record supports revocation of her probation, the judgment of the trial court ordering the same is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RAYNELL HOPSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal) and Michael Graves (at revocation hearing), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Raynell Hobson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; and Debbie Malone, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant pled guilty to aggravated assault, and the trial court sentenced him to four years, suspended after three months and nineteen days in confinement. In January 2012, the Defendant’s probation officer filed an affidavit alleging that the Defendant had violated the terms of his probation. After a hearing on the allegation, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it ordered him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authority, we conclude that the trial court did not err. The trial court’s judgment is, therefore, affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DOMINIC LYONS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Megan King, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Sunny Eaton and Richard McGee, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Dominic Lyons.

Judge: WITT

In this interlocutory appeal, the State challenges the trial court’s ruling suppressing the outof- court identification of the defendant via a photograph array and the subsequent in-court identification by the same witness at the suppression hearing. The State contends that the trial court erred by deeming the identification procedure unduly suggestive. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GLENN LYDELL McCRAY
With concurring in part and dissenting in part opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), Kristin Neff (at trial), and Joseph Michael Engle (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Glenn Lydell McCray.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Hugh T. Ammerman, III, and Michelle Delgato, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Glenn Lydell McCray, was found guilty by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony, two counts of aggravated assault, Class C felonies, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-305 (2010) (especially aggravated kidnapping), 39-13-102 (2010) (aggravated assault), 39-17-1307 (2010) (felon in possession of a firearm). He was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to thirty years for especially aggravated kidnapping, eight years for each aggravated assault, and three years for illegal possession of a firearm. The trial court ordered consecutive sentences for the especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault convictions, for an effective forty-six-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction, (2) the court improperly instructed the jury regarding the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction, (3) the court erred by failing to merge the aggravated assault convictions, and (4) the court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing. Although the jury was not properly instructed regarding the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction, we conclude that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL McVAY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Brett B. Stein, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael McVay.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Carrie Shelton, Assistant District Attorney General; and Brooks Yelverton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

A Shelby County jury convicted Defendant, Michael McVay, with rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, rape, and sexual battery by an authority figure. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve 25 years for rape of a child, 20 years for aggravated sexual battery, 20 years for rape, and 10 years for sexual battery by an authority figure. The trial court ordered all sentences to run consecutively, with a 100% release eligibility for the first three counts - child rape, aggravated sexual battery, and rape, and a 35% release eligibility for count four, sexual battery by an authority figure, for an effective sentence of 75 years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant presents the following issues: (1) the trial court erred by excluding evidence of the victim’s sexual behavior; (2) the trial court erred by excluding evidence of the victim’s prior complaint of sexual assault; and (3) the trial court erred by imposing an excessive sentence. Additionally, the State contends the trial court improperly sentenced Defendant on two of his four convictions. After thorough review, we affirm Defendant’s convictions. However, the trial court’s sentencing order is vacated in part and this case is remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.


TROY ALLEN PRUITT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

B. Nathan Hunt, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Troy Allen Pruitt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and John E. Finklea, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Troy Allen Pruitt, appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his 2007 convictions in that court of aggravated robbery and fraudulent use of a credit card. Because the petitioner failed to establish his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and because binding law-of-the-case determinations from his direct appeal defeat his claim of prejudice, we affirm the order of the post-conviction court.


BRUCE L. ROBINSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Bruce L. Robinson, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Julie K. Pillow, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Bruce L. Robinson, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief as time-barred, arguing that the United States Supreme Court’s recent holding in Missouri v. Frye , __ U.S. __, 132 S. Ct. 1399 (2012), established a new constitutional right that did not exist at the time of his guilty pleas, thereby requiring retroactive application. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court summarily dismissing the petition as time-barred.


QUANTEL TAYLOR v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

S. Jasper Taylor, IV, Bells, Tennessee, for the appellant, Quantel Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Garry G. Brown, District Attorney General; and Hillary Lawler Parham, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Quantel Taylor, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner entered “best interest” guilty pleas to second degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery, and received agreed upon sentences of 20 years for each offense to be served concurrently at 100 percent. In this direct appeal, Petitioner asserts that the trial court erred by denying post-conviction relief because Petitioner’s trial counsel was ineffective and his plea was involuntarily and unknowingly entered. The postconviction court erred by granting the State’s prehearing motion to quash subpoenas and by refusing to allow Petitioner to present an offer of proof at that hearing. However, in light of the proof at the post-conviction hearing the error, though flagrant, was harmless. The judgment is therefore affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KELVIN WINN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul K. Guibao (on appeal) and Larry Copeland (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kelvin Winn.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Reginald Henderson and Kirby May, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Kelvin Winn, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree felony murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the identification of him from a photographic array; (2) the trial court erred in allowing a jailhouse informant to testify without limitations; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the State to lead witnesses over his objection; (4) the trial court erred in allowing the introduction of duplicative photographs; and (5) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Shelby County Public Defender Office Wins National Grant

The Shelby County Public Defender's office has been chosen to receive a 2013 Training & Technical Assistance Grant supported by the Department of Justice and Bureau of Justice Assistance. The office's website reports that Shelby was one of six public defender offices chosen to receive eight months of training in client-centered advocacy techniques from the Bronx Defenders in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation.


NYC Implements Mandatory Pro Bono Reporting

As part of his Law Day address, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced the implementation of mandatory reporting of pro bono service for all attorneys practicing in the state. The new reporting requirement took effect yesterday and includes both the number of hours of voluntary legal service performed as well as the amount of voluntary financial contributions made in support of poor and underserved clients.

Also becoming effective yesterday was an amendment to New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct, which increased the number of pro bono service hours that lawyers are “strongly encouraged to provide each year” from 20 hours to 50 hours. The Court specified, “pro bono service and financial contributions remain completely voluntary in New York.” View the full press release.


Nashville Woman Assigned New Conservator

Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy assigned Nashville resident Shannon Hill a new conservator and increased her monthly allowance, the Tennessean reports. Despite Hill’s battle to win release dating back to 2009, Kennedy declined to dissolve the conservatorship due to concerns expressed by one of her doctors. Kennedy replaced Hill’s cousin as conservator with the nonprofit Guardianship and Trust Co., which regularly handles conservatorships in his court.


Bus Drivers Win Suit Against MNPS

District Court Judge John T. Nixon granted three former Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) bus drivers a summary judgment, agreeing with the drivers’ assertion that MNPS breached their contracts. According to the Nashville City Paper, the drivers claim their year-to-year contracts were not renewed but no reason was given for their job termination, which violated their due process rights. The court case is proceeding to determine the damages that will be awarded.


Tennessee to Enter Period of Uncertainty

The Tennessee General Assembly's decision not to extend the life of the state Judicial Nominating Commission is drawing national attention. The Gavel Grab website reports on the situation noting that the state will soon enter a period without a mechanism to replace judges who quit or retire. The website quotes Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade saying that no appellate judges plan to retire before the next retention judicial elections set for August 2014. With help from senior judges and other trial judges, Wade said, “[W]e should be able to cover any illnesses or unexpected deaths throughout the remainder of the term without any undue delay to the litigants and their attorneys” at the trial level.


Republicans Push to Reshape Constitution

More than a dozen constitutional amendments were introduced by lawmakers during this year’s state legislative session. Only two passed both houses and now go before voters: one proposes a prohibition of a state income tax, and the second would establish a new way of naming judges to the state Supreme Court and appellate courts. The Nashville Ledger reports that the Tennessee Constitution is designed to be difficult to change, although that did not stop legislators from trying.


Carr Announces Bid for GOP Primary

State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lacasses, has officially announced he is running in the 4th congressional district GOP primary next year, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Carr joins Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, as a challenger to embattled incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarais. “I am running for Congress because our country is in crisis and Tennesseans are hungry for strong, principled leadership,” Carr said. “The only way to change the culture in Washington is to change the men. And women we send there.”


Two Shelby County Lawyers Temporarily Suspended

On April 30, attorneys Charlotte Prather Milton and William Leon Hendricks Jr. of Shelby County were summarily and temporarily suspended. Milton failed to respond to the Board regarding a complaint of misconduct. Download the BPR notice. Hendricks was suspended upon a finding that he poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Download the BPR notice.


Washington County Lawyer Temporarily Suspended

Washington County lawyer Bryan Bradley Martin was summarily and temporarily suspended upon finding he failed to respond to the Board regarding a complaint of misconduct. Download the BPR notice.


 
 

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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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