Discrimination Provisions Upheld

The Tennessee Supreme Court today denied a petition by the Board of Professional Responsibility which would have expanded the application of the prohibition on manifestations of invidivual bias and prejudice. In maintaining the current focus on the way in which the lawyer conduct impacts the administration of justice, the Court preserved the rule advocated and defended by the TBA. The Court noted that more than 300 pages of comments were received during the comment period and commented on the "scope and clarity” of the present rule. Download a copy of the court order. For a look at the TBA comments, click here

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
02 - 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 Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert D. Arnold, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerry Dean Harkleroad.

Steven R. Finney, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellee, Linda Althea Turner Harkleroad.


This appeal concerns a requested post-divorce modification of alimony in futuro. Husband sought a reduction in his support obligation owed to Wife, alleging that he had not received a paycheck in two years and that Wife was eligible for Medicare and no longer in need of his assistance for health insurance coverage. Following a hearing, the trial court reduced Husband’s health insurance obligation but held that Husband failed to prove a material change in circumstances that necessitated a modification in the remainder of his support obligation. Husband appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Lauren Armstrong Carroll, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sheila A.

Beth Boniface, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellee, Donna O.

Dale Darby, Morristown, Tennessee, Guardian ad Litem.


This case concerns the termination of the mother’s parental rights. The subject child is the second born to the mother. The petitioner is a friend of the mother with whom the child has lived continuously for several years. We have determined that the record contains clear and convincing evidence to support terminating the mother’s parental rights on the three grounds relied upon by the trial court: abandonment for failure to visit and to provide support and persistence of conditions. The record further supports the conclusion that terminating the mother’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Accordingly, we affirm the findings of the trial court.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jeffrey Devasher (on appeal), and Melissa Harrison and Mike Engle (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Demeko Gerard Duckworth.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Katrin Miller, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Demeko Gerard Duckworth, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of two counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and one count of employing a firearm during a dangerous offense, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motion to sever offenses, that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and that the trial court erred by imposing partially consecutive sentences. Because we discern no reversible error, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed in all other respects.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


W. Tyler Weiss, Madisonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jonathan Fortener.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and James Stunts, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Jonathan Fortener, appeals the Monroe County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner was convicted of one count of second degree murder and sentenced to a term of twenty-five years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying the petition because trial counsel was ineffective in that he had reason to know of mitigating factors, failed to investigate those mitigating factors, and failed to hire an expert to present evidence of the mitigating factors at the sentencing hearing. The petitioner also faults the post-conviction court for failing to allow testimony at the post-conviction hearing regarding traumatic brain injuries. Following our review of the record, we affirm the denial of relief.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Constitutionality of Requirement to Produce Evidence in Animal Cruelty Case

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-05-09

Opinion Number: 39

Today's News

1st District Chancellor Johnson Announces Retirement

Chancellor G. Richard Johnson has announced he is retiring after 25 years on the bench effective June 30, the Administrative Office of the Court reports. Chancellor Johnson is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and received his law degree from the University of Tennessee. He was seated to the bench in 1988, after serving many years in private practice. The Judicial Nominating Committee is now accepting applications for the Chancery Court post, which serves Carter, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties. Applications are due by May 29.

Appeals Court Backs MNPS in Rezoning Ruling

A federal appeals court has upheld U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp’s prior ruling that found Metro Nashville Public Schools’ (MNPS) controversial student assignment plan did not represent deliberate racial segregation, the Tennessean reports. The opinion, issued today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, states that the rezoning plan did not have a “segregative intent” and passes constitutional muster even though it did lead to more racially divided schools. The decision marks another victory for MNPS in the four-year legal battle waged after it rezoned African-American students who live in parts of Bordeaux closer to their homes in the historically low-performing Pearl-Cohn High School cluster.

Jurors Chosen for Christian-Newsom Retrial

Jurors were chosen this morning for the retrial of 2007 Christian-Newsom torture-slaying defendant George Thomas, Knoxnews reports. Sixteen jurors were picked from 117 potential jurors who showed up for duty. There are eight women, five of whom are black, and eight men, all white. Jurors, who were chosen from Davidson County because of heavy publicity about the case in East Tennessee, will be bused over the weekend to Knoxville. They will stay in an area hotel and be transported together to court.

Nelson Mullins Expands with 2 Nashville Attorneys

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP has expanded its Nashville office with two new, experienced attorneys. Kevin Doherty joins as a partner in the area of insurance regulatory law. Cynthia Wiel joins as Of Counsel also practicing in the captive area. She also concentrates on insurance regulatory law, business law, healthcare law, municipal utility law and wine and liquor regulation. The firm has more than 470 attorneys and government relations professionals practicing from offices in Atlanta, Boston, Tallahassee, Tennessee, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the Carolinas.

Republicans Back Obama’s Student Loan Plan

House Republicans are willing to support an idea in President Barack Obama’s budget proposal to help college students avoid a costly hike on their student loans, according to Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee. Obama’s plan links the interest rates on student loans to market rates. To calm the fears of runaway interest rates, Kline said his proposal would also include a cap on interest rates that was not part of Obama’s proposal. "At the end of the day, we believe that what we've done with this bill is make sure that the borrowers, whether they're graduates or undergraduates or parents, can take advantage of the lower rates when they're available," Kline said. The Memphis Daily News has the story.

GOP Boycotts Health Care Advisory Board

House and Senate Republican leaders told President Barack Obama they will refuse to nominate candidates to serve on the 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would have the power to force payment cuts on insurers, drug companies and other service providers if Medicare costs rise beyond certain levels. House Speaker John Boehner, who joined Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell in the boycott, said the House will vote again to repeal the health care act. According to the Memphis Daily News, a Democratic count finds the House has tried some 36 times to repeal or defund all or part of Obama’s landmark health care overhaul since it became law in 2010.

Drug Court Honors 100th Graduate

The 23rd Judicial District Drug Court will honor its 100th graduate, Ashley Lloyd, in a graduation ceremony next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Circuit Courtroom in Charlotte, the Leaf Chronicle reports. The court serves citizens of Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys and Stewart counties. The drug court program promotes responsibility and accountability and teaches participants to become productive citizens in the community. It is an alternative to incarceration and integrates chemical dependency treatment and community resources with the criminal justice system.

Sequestered Juries in Shelby County In Question

Shelby County has more sequestered juries than other counties because there is so much business, Memphis District Attorney Amy Weirich tells WREG. In addition to protecting jurors from outside information, the county also provides physical protection, catered lunches, hotel accommodations, and entertainment during cases that get a lot of media attention. The sheriff’s offices budgets $300,000 a year for jury sequestration.

Free Legal Clinic Saturday

A free legal advice clinic will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library located at 3030 Poplar Ave. in Memphis. Initiated in October 2007, the Saturday Legal Clinic is sponsored by the Memphis Bar Association and Memphis Area Legal Services. This month’s clinic is sponsored by the attorneys and staff at Evans Petree and FedEx. Contact Linda Warren Seely of Memphis Area Legal Services by email or at (901) 523-8822 for more information.


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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