Tennessee Access to Justice Innovations Featured at National Conference

Attorneys from across the counry learned about Tennessee's access to justice initiatives and how to implement them during a series of sessions at the national Equal Justice Conference, sponsored last week in St. Louis by the American Bar Association and the National Legal Aid & Defender’s Association. Justice Janice Holder and Access to Justice Commission Chair Buck Lewis led an in-depth meeting for representatives from 10 organizations interested in implementing versions of OnlineTNJustice.org in their communities. Joining them in the presentation were TBA Access to Justice Coordinator Liz Todaro and representatives from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS). TBA Vice President Jonathan Steen was also part of the delegation of more than 20 Tennessee attorneys attending the conference. In all, Tennessee’s access to justice initiatives were featured in four panel presentations and workshops, reaching an audience of more than 100. See photos from the conference.

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
02 - 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









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TN Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

HOLLY D. BUTLER v. TIMOTHY K. VINSANT
CORRECTION: The majority opinion and partial dissent filed in this case on April 15, 2013, are withdrawn and replaced with the attached new versions.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jonathan A. Garner, Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy K. Vinsant.

Kimberley L. Reed-Bracey, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Holly D. Butler.

Judge: STAFFORD

Appellant appeals from the trial court’s denial of a motion to vacate a default judgment. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.


JOHN CHARLES WILSON, ET AL. v. TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Correction: On pages 1 and 5, John Charles Wilson has been removed as an appellant

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

William H. Thomas, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, Pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter, and Bruce M. Butler, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Judge: FARMER

The trial court dismissed Plaintiffs’ declaratory judgment action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs’ appeal. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

CLAYTON BEZUIDENHOUT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Bawer Jamil Tayip, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Clayton Bezuidenhout.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Smith, Associate Deputy Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Worrick G. Robinson, IV, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Clayton Bezuidenhout, appeals from the Williamson County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2009 guilty plea to theft of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1000. He contends that the trial court erred by concluding that the petition was untimely and that the one-year statute of limitations was not tolled. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SAMUEL L. GIDDENS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Samuel L. Giddens, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Appellant, Samuel L. Giddens, seeks relief from the trial court’s order denying Appellant’s “Motion Nunc Pro Tunc,” which sought amendment of a judgment to increase his pretrial jail credits. The trial court denied relief without having a hearing. We conclude that Appellant’s appeal must be dismissed because there is no appeal as of right from the denial of the motion filed by Appellant.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TIMOTHY P. GUILFOY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III (on appeal) and Bernard McEvoy (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy P. Guilfoy.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Sharon Reddick and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Timothy P. Guilfoy (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of two counts of rape of a child, four counts of aggravated sexual battery, and one count of assault. After a hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to twenty years for each of the rapes, ten years for each of the aggravated sexual batteries, and six months for the assault. The trial court ordered partial consecutive service, resulting in an effective sentence of seventy years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends as follows: (1) the trial court erred in allowing the State to ask leading questions of one of the victims; (2) the trial court erred in admitting two expert opinions; (3) the trial court erred in admitting recordings of phone calls between the Defendant and the victims’ mother; (4) the trial court erred in admitting the videotaped forensic interviews of the victims as substantive evidence; (5) the State’s election of offenses was ineffective; (6) the evidence is not sufficient to support his convictions; (7) cumulative errors entitle him to a new trial; and (8) his sentence is excessive. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we merge the Defendant’s two convictions of aggravated sexual battery entered on Counts One and Two into a single conviction of aggravated sexual battery. We also merge the Defendant’s two convictions of rape of a child into a single conviction of rape of a child. Finally, we merge the Defendant’s conviction of assault into his conviction of aggravated sexual battery entered on Count Three. In light of our holdings, we remand this matter for a new sentencing hearing. The Defendant’s convictions are otherwise affirmed.


GREGORY JUSTICE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeremy W. Parham, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gregory Justice.

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

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Gregory Justice, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his jury convictions for possession with the intent to sell or deliver one-half gram or more of a controlled substance, facilitation of the sale of less than one-half gram of a controlled substance, and felonious possession of marijuana, and his concurrent sentences of fourteen years, five years, and three years, respectively. The Petitioner contends that the convictions should be set aside and that he should be granted a new trial because (1) the count charging possession with the intent to sell or deliver more than one-half gram of a controlled substance was duplicitous, (2) he was denied his constitutional right to a trial by a jury and jury unanimity, and (3) trial counsel provided the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KENNETH LEWIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeff Woods, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Kenneth Lewis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Michael R. McCusker, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Kenneth Lewis, was indicted by a Shelby County Grand Jury for second degree murder, a Class A felony, and was convicted as charged. See T.C.A. § 39-13- 210 (2006). The trial court sentenced Lewis as a Range II, multiple offender to a sentence of thirty-five years at one hundred percent release eligibility. On appeal, Lewis argues: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his request to question a witness about the witness’s failure to appear at two prior court proceedings in his case; and (3) his sentence is excessive. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Haslam Vetoes ‘Ag Gag’ Bill

Gov. Bill Haslam today vetoed the so-called "Ag Gag" bill, which would have required images documenting animal abuse be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours, Knoxnews reports. Haslam cited three concerns that affected his decision: the measure’s questionable constitutionality, the possible unintended consequence of making it harder for district attorneys to prosecute animal cruelty cases, and allegations that the bill repeals part of Tennessee’s Shield Law. Animal rights groups, civil liberties groups and a wide range of celebrities applauded the decision.


Legal Aid Names New Managing Attorney, Staff

The Legal Aid Society has named Iska Hoole as managing attorney of its Tullahoma office. Prior to joining the agency, Hoole was a solo law practitioner. She also previously worked for legal aid from 1998 to 2003, served as a human rights representative for the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and as an attorney for the Tennessee General Assembly. The agency also recently announced that Joshua Thomas joined its Columbia office as a staff attorney. Thomas previously was an assistant district attorney in Gulfport, Miss., worked for the general counsel at The University of Southern Mississippi; and was a summer associate at Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada and a law clerk at Barrett Johnston.


Baumgartner Completes Probation

Former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner reportedly has completed two years of probation, clearing the way for his state criminal record to be expunged. With no objection from prosecutors, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood dismissed the case, WATE News 6 reports. Baumgartner, however, still faces a six-month federal sentence.


Judge: 'Balls Dropped' in Child Deaths

Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy said at a hearing Friday that after seeing case files of children who died as a result of abuse and neglect, it was clear that Department of Children's Services (DCS) social workers should have done more to protect the children. "There have been balls dropped by several individuals," she said in releasing 42 records of cases of children who died or nearly died after being under the supervision of DCS. McCoy also gave the state until May 31 to release records on 50 additional cases. Knoxnews has the story.


Fewer Memphis Juveniles Tried as Adults

More juveniles charged with crimes are being given a chance to turn their lives around, instead of being transferred to adult court. Since 2009, the number of juveniles charged as adults has declined each year, with 29 transfers so far this year compared to 99 last year. The Commercial Appeal reports that the decrease corresponds to the U.S. Department of Justice’s three-year probe into allegations of civil rights and due process violations at Shelby County Juvenile Court.


Appeals Court Upholds Nashville School Rezoning

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Friday upheld a lower court finding that Metro Nashville Public Schools’ controversial student assignment plan did not represent deliberate racial resegregation, and passed constitutional muster even though it led to more racially divided schools. However, the court made clear that its opinion “should not be understood as a judicial endorsement of [the plan’s] success,” The Tennessean reports.


Knox Prosecutors Contemplating 2014 Campaigns

As many as four prosecutors in the Knox County District Attorney General’s office may run for the top DA post or a criminal court seat that will be open when Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz departs next year. Charme Knight, who specializes in child abuse and child death cases in the office, is running to succeed her boss, DA Randy Nichols. She likely will face attorney Michael Graves in a Republican primary, Knoxnews reports. Meanwhile prosecutors Kevin Teeters (a Republican) and Leland Price (a Democrat) are telling their parties they will seek Leibowitz’s position. Their colleague Jason Honeycutt, a Republican, also said he is seriously considering a run for the seat.


2 Lawyers Transferred to Disability Status

The Tennessee Supreme Court on May 13 transferred the law licenses of Knox County lawyer Beverly Ann Buster Clemmer and Shelby County lawyer Jay L. Grytdahl to disability inactive status. The lawyers may not practice law while on inactive status. They may return to the practice of law after showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and they are fit to do so.


 
 

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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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