30+ Law Schools to Take Part in TBA Diversity Job Fair

More than 30 law schools in Tennessee and surrounding states have signed up to participate in the 3rd Annual TBA Diversity Job Fair set for Aug. 23-24 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. This event provides legal employers in Tennessee the opportunity to interview diverse 2L and 3L law students for summer associate positions, clerkships and associate attorney positions. The employer registration deadline is June 7. To learn more, sign up online or contact TBA Programs Director Lynn Pointer. The TBA Diversity Job Fair is an initiative of the TBA Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
09 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
02 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals

JOE CHRISTOPHER WATSON v. THE PARENT COMPANY

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard R. Clark, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, The Parent Company.

Eric J. Burch, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellee, Joe Christopher Watson.

Judge: CHILDRESS

In 2007, the employee suffered a work-related back injury, for which he filed a workers’ compensation claim. After conservative treatment failed to provide relief, the employee obtained an unauthorized fusion surgery. The parties settled the workers’ compensation action in 2009. The settlement provided for “future medical benefits relating to the back injury” of 2007, while precluding future benefits for unauthorized care. In 2011, the employee sought authorization for a second surgery by an authorized surgeon. The employer refused. The trial court ordered the employer to pay for the second surgery, and the employer has appealed. After reviewing the record, we conclude that the employer has appealed an order that is not final and that this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear this appeal. Thus, this appeal is dismissed.


TN Court of Appeals

THOMAS GOODMAN RUTHERFORD v. MELODEY JOICE LAWSON RUTHERFORD
With separate concurring and dissenting opinions.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

George Davis, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Melodey Joice Lawson Rutherford

Paul A. Rutherford, Wende J. Rutherford, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Thomas Goodman Rutherford

Judge: HIGHERS

Mother, who spent greater time with the parties’ minor child, notified Father via certified letter of her intent to relocate out of state. Thirty-three days later, Father filed a petition in opposition to the move. The trial court allowed Father to oppose relocation, despite his failure to formally oppose the move within thirty days, noting that Mother had learned of Father’s opposition within the thirty-day period and that she had not relocated until “well after” Father filed his petition.

In this statutory construction case, we conclude that Tennessee’s parental relocation statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-108, mandates that a parent wishing to oppose relocation file a petition in opposition within thirty days of receipt of notice of the proposed relocation. If no written petition in opposition is timely filed, the parent proposing to relocate with the child shall be permitted to do so, notwithstanding the absence of harm or prejudice to the relocating parent due to the untimely petition. Because Father failed to file a written petition in opposition to Mother’s proposed relocation within thirty days of receipt of her certified letter, we find the trial court erred in conducting any further analysis pursuant to section 36-6-108. The decision of the trial court is reversed, and Mother is permitted to relocate to Omaha, Nebraska, with the minor child. Father’s request for appellate attorney fees is denied, and all remaining issues are deemed pretermitted.

 


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES WILLIAM AXFORD, II

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Tammy H. Womack, McMinnville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Dan Bryant and Trenena Wilcher, Assistant District Public Defenders (at hearing), for the appellant, James William Axford, II.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; and Tom Miner, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

In this delayed appeal, the defendant, James William Axford, II, contends that the trial court erred by revoking his probation and ordering that he serve in confinement the originally imposed sentence of three years for his convictions of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance, evading arrest, identity theft, and aggravated assault. Discerning no error, we affirm.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TERRANCE MEGEL JORDAN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Peter D. Heil (on appeal) and Jack L. Byrd (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terrance Megel Jordan.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Sarah N. Davis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Terrance Megel Jordan, was found guilty by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; rape, a Class B felony; aggravated statutory rape, a Class D felony; and evading arrest, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-502 (2010) (aggravated rape), 39-13-503 (2010) (rape), 39-13-506 (2010) (amended 2012) (aggravated statutory rape), 39-16-603 (2010) (evading arrest). The rape and aggravated statutory rape convictions were merged with the aggravated rape conviction, although the trial court later vacated the aggravated statutory rape count. For aggravated rape, he was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to thirty-five years, to be served at 100%. For evading arrest, he was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days. The sentences were imposed concurrrently. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions of aggravated rape and rape; (2) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the victim’s statements to a social worker; and (3) the assistant district attorney committed prosecutorial misconduct during the opening statement. We affirm the Defendant’s convictions, but we vacate the rape and aggravated rape judgments and remand the case for entry of a single judgment reflecting the merger of these convictions.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. THOMAS G. MCCONNELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Venus Niner, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Thomas G. McConnell.

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

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Thomas G. McConnell, appeals a certified question of law from the Williamson County Circuit Court, where he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”). The reserved certified question challenges on constitutional grounds a police officer’s basis for stopping his vehicle. The State concedes that the stop of the defendant’s vehicle violated his constitutional protection from unreasonable seizure and advocates reversal of the defendant’s conviction. Because we agree with the parties that the stop of the defendant’s vehicle was not supported by reasonable suspicion, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the charge against the defendant.


TITUS MILLER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Collins Morris, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Titus Miller.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Tom P. Thompson, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Titus Miller (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for possession of marijuana and evading arrest. In his petition, he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal followed. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that his counsel at trial was ineffective in failing to file a motion to suppress. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


MARCUS PEARSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Marcus Pearson, Clifton, Tennessee, for the appellant, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Roger D. Moore, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Petitioner, Marcus Pearson, challenges the trial court’s dismissal of his post-conviction petition as barred by the one-year statute of limitations. He contends, and the State concedes, (1) that the date the trial court used to determine the timeliness of the petition was incorrect and (2) that an evidentiary hearing is necessary. We agree. Accordingly, the trial court’s dismissal of the post-conviction petition is reversed, and the case is remanded for the appointment of counsel and an evidentiary hearing.


LOUIS TYRONE ROBINSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Louis Tyrone Robinson, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The pro se petitioner, Louis Tyrone Robinson, appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, arguing that the “suppressed” transcript of his trial sentencing hearing constitutes newly discovered evidence of his innocence. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.


MARIO RAMIREZ RODRIGUEZ v. ARVIL CHAPMAN, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mario Ramirez Rodriguez, Clifton, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; and Mark A. Fulks (on petition) and David H. Findley (on appeal), Senior Counsels, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Petitioner, Mario Ramirez Rodriguez, appeals from the Wayne County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for the writ of habeas corpus relief. On appeal, the Petitioner claims his allegations regarding the age of the victim, his incorrect release eligibility noted on the judgment form for Count 2, and the failure of the trial court to impose the required statutory fines, could be proven upon an evidentiary hearing and should not have been deemed merely clerical errors. We conclude that there is no reversible error in the judgment of the habeas corpus court and affirm.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RAY NEIL THOMPSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

C. Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; and Jonathan F. Wing (at guilty plea and sentencing), and Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), Assistant Public Defenders, for appellant, Ray Neil Thompson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Pamela Anderson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Ray Neil Thompson, entered an “open” plea to two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of evading arrest. The trial court determined that the Defendant was a Range III, persistent offender and imposed sentences of twenty-three years at 100% for each of the aggravated robbery convictions and a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days for the evading arrest conviction. The trial court further ordered that those sentences were to be served concurrently with one another but consecutively to a prior twenty-sevenyear sentence at 100% for aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Defendant argues that trial court erred by ordering 100% release eligibility for his aggravated robbery convictions pursuant to the provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-501(k)(2) and in imposing consecutive sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


ADRIAN DEANGELO TODD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Jeffrey Lee, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Adrian Deangelo Todd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Betsy Weintraub, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Adrian Deangelo Todd, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his second degree murder conviction. On appeal, the petitioner argues that the post-conviction court abused its discretion in denying his request for a continuance of the post-conviction hearing and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Duties and Liabilities of District Public Guardian

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-05-02

Opinion Number: 36


Constitutionality of Population Bracket Exemption to “Move on When Ready Act”

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 1913-05-08

Opinion Number: 37


Haslam to Wait for AG Opinion on Ag Gag Bill

Governor Bill Haslam said he will decide by Monday whether or not to veto the “Ag Gag” bill that requires people who document animal abuse to turn over their recordings to police within 48 hours. According to Nashville Public Radio, Haslam said he is expecting to hear soon whether Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper thinks the bill is constitutional. After that, he will decide whether to veto the bill, sign it into law, or let it become law without his signature. More than 33,000 people nationwide have signed an American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee petition urging Haslam to veto the bill.


New Website Compares Law School’s Job Data

A consortium of 28 law schools called Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers has created an interactive website that compiles school’s jobs data from various legal sources including the American Bar Association, U.S. News & World Report, the National Association for Legal Career Professionals and Law School Transparency. The site Law Jobs: By the Numbers allows users to customize searches of ABA jobs data. Users may compare law school employment statistics using any of those three formulas or enter their own search criteria, the National Law Journal reports. "The tool is a natural outgrowth of the law school employment data that is now available," said Alli Gerkman, incoming director of Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers. "It lets users create their own rates and, because we have made the formulas completely transparent and accessible, it teaches them how different criteria can impact the employment rates reported by schools, publications and organizations." 



Shelby Juvenile Court Battling for Budget Hike

Shelby County commissioners appear reluctant to grant the Juvenile Court’s request for a $1.6 million budget increase, the Commercial Appeal reports. Meeting Wednesday night, commissioners questioned the need for the increase that court officials say is necessary to fund measures required to be in compliance with a memorandum of agreement reached between the court, the county mayor’s office and the U.S. Department of Justice. Larry Scroggs, the court’s CAO and general counsel, said “We have been told we cannot safely operate a detention facility without having the mental health and medical comprehensive care. So what do we do? That is a huge issue."


LAET Volunteers Honored by Supreme Court Justices

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) last week hosted a special dinner and awards ceremony “Dinner with the Tennessee Supreme Court” in Johnson City. Chief Justice Gary Wade was joined by Justices Cornelia A. Clark and Sharon G. Lee to honor members of the Tri-Cities legal community who volunteer their time by helping others through Legal Aid’s Pro Bono Project. The Justices were introduced by David R. Yoder, executive director of Legal Aid. Deborah Yeomans, managing attorney for the Johnson City office, presented plaques to area attorneys, law firms, and local bar associations that donated time and legal services during the past year.


Home Studios to Remain in Limbo

After months of effort to legalize home music studios in Nashville, the Metro Council yesterday deferred action on the ordinance indefinitely. Currently, codes officials look the other way as hundred of musicians run professionals studios out of their homes. The proposal was intended to give them a way to operate within the law. Councilmember Megan Barry says she had just enough votes to approve her ordinance, but she chose to put it off. “I believe that a measure like this – balancing neighborhood concerns with business interests and the city’s music-oriented DNA – should be enacted by a large margin, not a narrow one.” She told Nashville Public Radio.


Penn. Judge’s Conviction Sparks Switch to Merit-Selection

Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was convicted by a jury of criminal corruption in connection with two Supreme Court campaigns, and sentenced Tuesday to three years of house arrest and two years of probation. The conviction over campaign corruption has sparked high-profile calls for Pennsylvania to switch to a merit-based selection system for picking judges, an option endorsed recently by four former Pennsylvania governors. Gavel Grab has the story.


Richard III Was Unlikely Champion of Equal Access to Justice

King Richard III had a soft side? Well, maybe not exactly, but Russell Fowler explains in this issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal how Richard's actions were among the first to acknowledge a need for equal access to justice.


Data Shows Rise in Minority Voting

African Americans voted in greater proportion to whites during the 2012 election, data released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates. For the first time, blacks were more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have cast a ballot in the November presidential vote -- both nationwide and in Tennessee. According to the Tennessean, the surge in black turnout shows the growing importance of minority voters.


Sen. Henry Says He Will Not Seek Re-Election

State Sen. Doug Henry, D-Nashville, told the Tennessean yesterday that he will not seek re-election for his seat in 2014. The 86-year-old was first elected to a House seat in 1955 and has held his current Senate seat since 1971. “During the last quarter century that I served with Sen. Henry, no one served with more dignity, greater intelligence and greater fidelity than Sen. Henry,” said Tennessee Democratic Party chairman Roy Herron, a former Tennessee state senator. “He is respected by all and loved by so many,” he continued. “The Tennessee Senate will miss his wise leadership and tremendous example.”


 
 

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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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