Incoming Chairs Gather at TBA for Orientation

Tennessee attorneys from across the state gathered over the weekend to learn about the Tennessee Bar Association and how to be successful leaders of the sections and committees they will head during the upcoming TBA membership year. The group also heard from TBA President-Elect Cindy Wyrick, who outlined her priorities for the coming year and gave a preview of some of the initiatives she will be pursuing. Wyrick, as well as the new committee and section chairs, will take office at the TBA Annual Meeting in June.  See photos from the event.

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - 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


Peter J. Arant, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Karen M. C.

Michael S. Jennings, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Daniel Scott Harnsberger and Tabitha Rife Harnsberger.

Jeff Davis, Hixon, Tennessee, guardian ad litem.


This case involves an appeal by a mother of the termination of her parental rights to her daughter. We conclude that the grounds for termination have been established by clear and convincing evidence. Further, there is clear and convincing evidence in the record that termination of the mother’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Phillip G. Hollis, Camden, Tennessee, for the appellants, Tina Raymer, Larry Raymer and wife, Linda Raymer.

Terry J. Leonard, Camden, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jeff Finch.


This appeal involves a dispute over property allegedly owned by a partnership. The plaintiff and defendant lived together for about six years but never married. It is undisputed that they formed a partnership during that time for the purpose of buying and selling real estate. The parties bought, renovated, and sold numerous properties, and after they separated, they equally split the remaining profits from the property sales. However, they could not agree as to who owned the house where the parties were currently living and various items of personal property acquired during their relationship. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that all of the disputed property was partnership property and that each party held a one-half undivided interest in the property. Accordingly, the court declared that the parties owned the disputed real property as tenants in common, and it awarded the plaintiff a judgment for one-half of the value of certain personal property. The court also awarded attorney’s fees to the plaintiff. The court further concluded that the defendant had fraudulently conveyed partnership property to her father, a co-defendant, and the court set aside the sale and held that the defendant was responsible for repaying to her father the amount he paid for the fraudulently conveyed property. The defendants appeal. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand the cause for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


William E. Phillips, II, Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert E.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Derek C. Jumper, Assistant Attorney General, General Civil Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Dana L. Scott, Kingsport, Tennessee, guardian ad litem for the minor, James C. E.


This is a termination of parental rights case in which the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services sought to terminate the parental rights of Robert E. and Susan E. to James C. E. The trial court terminated Robert E.’s parental rights, finding that he had abandoned James C. E. and that termination of his parental rights was in the best interest of James C. E. Robert E. appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Justin C. Angel, Pikeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Hayes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Philip Hatch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, James Hayes, pled guilty in the White County Criminal Court to driving under the influence (DUI) and reserved a certified question of law concerning whether the police had reasonable suspicion to stop his vehicle. Upon review, we conclude that the appellant failed to properly certify his question of law. Therefore, we are compelled to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Paul Kinard.

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

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, James Paul Kinard, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for three counts of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery and resulting effective sentence of seventy-five years in confinement to be served at 100%. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal) and Mike Engle (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sampson Joseph McCoy.

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 appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Sampson Joseph McCoy, pled guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to aggravated assault and received an eight-year sentence. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court was to determine the manner of service of the sentence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that the appellant serve his entire sentence in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his request for alternative sentencing. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Vincent P. Wyatt, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marie Delaluz Urbano-Uriostegui.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Smith, Associate Deputy Attorney General; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Kristen Menke and Sharon Reddick, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Davidson County grand jury indicted appellant, Marie Delaluz Urbano-Uriostegui, for one count of aggravated child abuse and one count of aggravated child neglect, both Class A felonies. A jury found appellant guilty of aggravated child abuse and not guilty of aggravated child neglect. The trial court sentenced appellant to serve sixteen years at 100% in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal, appellant raises the following issues: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to prove that appellant caused the victim’s injuries; (2) whether the prosecutor’s comments during closing arguments constituted reversible error; (3) whether the trial court erred by improperly admitting an expert in child maltreatment; (4) whether trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to obtain a medical expert to testify on appellant’s behalf; and (5) whether newly discovered evidence justifies a new trial. Discerning no error in the proceedings, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Earl R. Vantrease, Jr., pro se, Mountain City, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Kim Helper, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


In 2003, a Putnam County jury convicted the Petitioner, Earl Vantrease, Jr., of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to serve sixteen years, at 35%. In 2006, the Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, contending that his judgment was void. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, and this Court originally affirmed. Earl Vantrease, Jr. v. Wayne Brandon, Warden, No. M2006-02414-CCA-R3-HC, 2007 WL 2917783, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Oct. 9, 2007), petition rehearing granted, Dec. 14, 2007. The Petitioner filed a motion for a rehearing, provided additional documentation, and this Court reversed itself and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing on the merits of the Petitioner’s habeas corpus petition. Id. at *6. After an evidentiary hearing, the habeas corpus court again dismissed the Petitioner’s petition for habeas corpus relief. The Petitioner did not appeal, but, instead, he filed a second petition for habeas corpus relief. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the Petitioner’s second petition for habeas corpus relief. On appeal, the Petitioner contends the habeas corpus court erred when it dismissed his second petition. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s dismissal of the Petitioner’s application for writ of habeas corpus.

Reminder: Privilege Tax Must be Paid Electronically

Paper notices went out last week from the Tennessee Department of Revenue reminding lawyers that the 2013 professional privilege tax must be paid electronically by June 1. For a step-by-step guide to electronically filing an individual return visit the department's website. Companies filing and paying for multiple individuals can get details here. The department will not mail a Professional Privilege Tax Return for the $400 tax due next month. Questions should be directed to the Electronic Commerce Unit at (866) 368-6374 for in-state calls or (615) 253-0704 for Nashville and out-of-state calls. Download the notice.

Opinion: Federal PD Warns of Sequester Impact

Federal public defender Beth Ford writes in over the weekend that all federal defender offices have had their budgets cut by more than 10 percent and most will furlough staff from 13 to more than 30 days because of the sequester. She argues that the impact of the cuts on the courts and Americans’ constitutional rights are devastating. For the courts, she predicts the effect will include a delay in cases, new ineffective assistance of counsel claims, convictions set aside and creation of an uneven playing field between prosecutors and defenders, who no longer will be able to hire their own experts. While the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon vs. Wainwright, Ford warns that if these predictions prove true, Gideon “will become just another empty promise.”

Baker Donelson’s Tax Chair Steps Down

Chattanooga lawyer Carl E. Hartley has stepped down as head of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz’s Tax Department after serving in the position for 10 years, the firm announced today. He has been succeeded by Alton E. Bayard III, a shareholder in the firm’s Baton Rouge office. Hartley, also a shareholder, will continue to focus on federal, state and local taxation, as well as corporate law and non-profit organization matters. A 1973 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Hartley also previously served as chair of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Tax Section.

Robertson Co. Agrees to Jail Reforms

Robertson County has agreed to changes at its jail after a federal investigation found constitutional rights violations. The Nashville City Paper reports that the U.S. Department of Justice filed the civil rights complaint against the county as well as a settlement agreement on April 26. The agreement lays out a plan to bring the Robertson County Detention Facility up to standards through policy, training and employment changes. The department’s 2011 investigation found problems involving inadequate food, mental health care and supervision of inmates on suicide watch. But it praised the county for expeditiously responding to complaints and taking corrective actions.

Butler Snow Showing Off New Nashville Office

Butler Snow O'Mara Stevens & Cannada has opened its new office and conference center at The Pinnacle at Symphony Place. The law firm occupies two floors and more than 46,000 square feet in the new downtown building. According to the Nashville Business Journal, Butler Snow is the sixth-largest law firm in Nashville, with more than 40 local attorneys. See a slideshow of the office on the journal’s website.

Sumner Teen Court Holding Fundraiser This Week

The Sumner County Teen Court program will host its annual scholarship benefit dinner and silent auction on Thursday.  The event will take place at Hendersonville Christian Academy, 355 Old Shackle Island Rd., Nashville 37075. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by contacting Tammy Kellogg at (615) 451-6035. The annual event honors the legacy of Mary Ann Williams, who spent 20 years with the Department of Children Services and was instrumental in creating the state’s first teen court in Sumner County, the Tennessean reports.

Pro Bono Night Set for June 27

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host its Annual Pro Bono Night on June 27 in Chattanooga. Judge Marie Williams will serve as master of ceremonies at the event, which honors local attorneys who provided pro bono legal assistance over the past year. Awards will be presented to outstanding volunteers and supporters of access to justice work, including U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Max Bahner of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel. The law firm of Miller & Martin and the Hamilton County Herald also will be honored at the event, which will be held at the Bessie Smith Hall, 200 East M.L. King Blvd. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Matt Smith at (423) 756-4013 x1105, or visit the event website.

Services This Week for Brentwood Lawyer

Brentwood lawyer Jerald Christian Bangerter Jr., 47, died May 3 after a long battle with cancer. A 1995 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School and Army veteran (with service in Desert Storm), Bangerter worked at Wagner, Watson and Pettit in Hawaii; and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, HCA and Vanderbilt University in Nashville. For the last nine years, he has worked as chief compliance officer at LifePoint Hospitals in Brentwood. Visitation will be Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1100 Gray Fox Ln., Franklin. The funeral will take place Thursday at 10 a.m. at Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens, 9090 Hwy. 100, Nashville. A graveside service will immediately follow the funeral and a celebration of Bangerter’s life will follow the graveside service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Kidney Cancer Association, Wounded Warrior Project, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Missionary Fund or charity of the donor’s choice.

Former Memphis Lawyer Dies

Former Memphis lawyer Frank Tamble Stegbauer died April 30 in Naples, Fla. He was 88. Stegbauer graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law. After serving in World War II, he returned to Memphis to begin a career in the maritime industry. He served as chair and board member of the Memphis Port Commission, chairman of the board of the American Waterways Operators and first chairman of the Coast Guard Towing Safety Advisory Committee. He worked at Warner and Tamble, a family maritime business, and then became co-owner of Southern Towing Company. In 1986, he became the majority owner of the company. He retired in 2008 and relocated to Florida. Funeral services were held this past weekend in Memphis. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Avow Hospice, Office of Development, 1095 Whippoorwill Ln., Naples, FL 34105 or the charity of one’s choice. The Commercial Appeal has more on his life.


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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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