Frierson Investiture Set for Tuesday Morning

Gov. Bill Haslam will administer the oath of office to Tennessee’s newest Court of Appeals judge, Thomas R. Frierson II, Tuesday at 9:45 a.m. at the Morristown-Hamblen High School West. Dignitaries, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Charles Susano Jr., Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain and Morristown Mayor Danny Thomas will be on hand to give remarks. A reception will follow the ceremony. Haslam appointed Frierson in February to fill a vacancy created when Judge Herschel P. Franks retired at the end of 2012. Prior to his appointment, Frierson was a chancellor in the Third Judicial District, serving Greene, Hamblen, Hancock and Hawkins counties. The AOC reported the news.

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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - 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 Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gerald Branden Fitzpatrick.

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

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Gerald Branden Fitzpatrick, was convicted in the Davidson County Criminal Court of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him to eleven years in confinement to be served at 100%. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction; (2) the trial court erred by failing to grant his motion for judgment of acquittal when the minor victim placed the date of the crime outside the dates alleged in the indictment; (3) the trial court erred by allowing the victim to testify through anatomical drawings rather than verbal testimony, which permitted the State to lead the victim; and (4) the trial court erred by allowing two State witnesses to give hearsay testimony. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Brandon L. Newman and James B. Webb, Trenton, Tennessee (on appeal); David Camp, Jackson, Tennessee (at trial), for the Defendant-Appellant, Tolbert Cates Kail.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Garry G. Brown, District Attorney General; and Edward L. Hardister, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Tolbert Cates Kail, was convicted by a Crockett County jury of two counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class B felony, sexual exploitation of a minor with fifty images or less, a Class D felony, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a Class A misdemeanor, and assault, a Class B misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced Kail as a Range I, standard offender to an effective sentence of twelve years at 100%. On appeal, Kail argues (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; and (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to sever. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth Miller.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and John Zimmerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Kenneth Miller, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of conspiracy to deliver 300 grams or more of cocaine, delivery of 300 grams or more of cocaine, and possession with intent to deliver 300 grams or more of cocaine. In this appeal, he contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


J. Daniel Rogers, Medina, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Eugene Spivey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David Findley, Senior Counsel; Garry E. Brown, District Attorney General; and Hillary Parham, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Eugene Spivey, appeals the Crockett County Circuit Court’s denial of postconviction relief from his conviction of second degree murder, a Class B felony. In this appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that he entered an involuntary and unknowing guilty plea. In the alternative, he argues the State withheld exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 1196-97 (1963). Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby Chancery Court Proposes Rules Amendments

The Shelby County Chancery Court has proposed amendments to its local rules that will take effect July 1. The court is accepting public comments through June 14. Comments or questions should be submitted by 4:30 p.m. Central to Donna L. Russell, Clerk and Master, Chancery Court of Shelby County, 140 Adams Ave., Room 308, Memphis, TN 38103.

Jury Convicts for 2nd Time in Christian-Newsom Case

After seven trials, an episode of judicial corruption and 302 court appearances, the six-year saga to bring to justice those responsible for the torture-slayings of Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian is one step closer to reality, Knoxnews reports. On Friday, a Davidson County jury, brought to Knoxville to hear a retrial of the case, found George Thomas guilty of the carjacking, kidnapping, rape and slaying of the young couple. But the jury gave Thomas’ defenders what they asked for, opting to impose a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. Senior Judge Walter Kurtz, who is overseeing the case, could add time to the sentence when he considers whether to label Thomas a dangerous offender. That proceeding is set for June 4.

Rhea County Commission to Renew Jail Talks

The Rhea County Commission will once again renew talks of purchasing property for the construction of a new jail or justice center at its meeting this week, The Herald-News reports. According to a meeting agenda released by the county executive’s office, commissioners will discuss two properties currently under consideration for the project.

Memphis Law Professor, Program Honored

University of Memphis School of Law professor Lee Harris has been named among the most influential minority law professors in the nation by the magazine Lawyers of Color. Harris has taught at the school since 2005 in the areas of contracts, corporations and mergers and acquisitions. Before joining the Memphis faculty, he worked at Baker Donelson in Memphis. Harris earned his law degree from Yale and was a visiting student at the London School of Economics. The publication also recently recognized the school's Tennessee Institute for PreLaw as a successful program giving diverse high school students the opportunity to be eligible for law school admission.

Justice Holder Featured in ABA Blog

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder is featured in a recent post on Exchange, the blog of the ABA Center for Pro Bono. Holder shares her insights about the role of the judiciary in promoting pro bono service and reflects on Tennessee’s access to justice initiatives. When asked about the challenges of promoting pro bono service, Holder acknowledged the volume of cases as well as the need to help employers create an environment and culture that encourages pro bono work. And for those who think they are too busy to volunteer, Holder has this advice: “The response that you get from someone who truly needs legal services … is something you cannot replicate in any other aspect of your professional life. So once you do it, even though you think you don’t have the time, you tend to get pretty hooked. That’s when you start to remember why you went to law school — to help other people.”

Young Lawyers Complete MBA Leadership Program

A group of 19 young lawyers recently graduated from the Memphis Bar Association’s 2012-2013 Leadership Forum. They are: David Biggers, Anne Davis, Jake Dickerson, Amber Floyd, Lisa Gill, Adam Johnson, Brooks Kostakis, Christina Kurdilla, Gabrielle Lewis, Omar Malik, Laura Martin, Michael C. McLaren, Melisa Moore, Ruchee Patel, Shayla Purifoy, Robert Ratton, Maya Siggers, Tony Silva and Mary Wagner. In addition to leadership training, the group made several presentations to middle school and high school students and conducted a legal clinic for veterans. See photos from the graduation ceremony.

Still Need a Hotel Room for Convention?

The TBA room block at the convention headquarters hotel, the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel, is now full. However, the TBA has made arrangements for attendees to receive a special $239 per night rate at the Hermitage Hotel, located one block from the Sheraton. Make reservations at this five-diamond-rated hotel by calling (888) 888-9414 or visiting the hotel’s website.

Columns Cover Common Law, Parenting Plans, Impeachment

If you haven't yet had a chance to read all of this month's Tennessee Bar Journal, be sure not to miss the works of Journal columnists John Day, who writes about common law, Marlene Eskind Moses, who explains how and when to modify permanent parenting plans, and Don Paine, who tells readers about the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson.

Obama Speech to Address Drones, Guantanamo Bay

President Barack Obama will discuss the legality of his administration's secret drone program and other counterterrorism practices during a speech Thursday at the National Defense University, a White House official told the Associated Press. The speech is an attempt to be more "transparent" with the public about the controversial drone program that has become the centerpiece of the White House's efforts to combat terrorism. The president also is expected to discuss efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, which he has promised to do. WRCB-TV Chattanooga has more on the story.


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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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