Gov. Haslam Signs Conservatorship Bill

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law the first major revisions in more than a decade to the state law that governs the process of placing state residents under the control of a court-appointed conservator. The new statute, which will take effect July 1, was the product of a series of hearings held across the state by the TBA. Speaking about the legislation, House sponsor Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, said that the “intent of this law is to clarify the process, to make sure people aren’t being taken advantage of.” The Tennessean has the latest developments. TBA members will be able to learn more during a program at the 2013 TBA Convention in Nashville that focuses on changes in the law that came out of the last General Assembly session.

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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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 Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ryan C. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James G. Coons, II.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Katrin Miller, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: CRAFT

James G. Coons, II ("the petitioner") filed for post-conviction relief from his open plea of guilty to the lesser included offense of Second Degree Murder and received a maximum Range II sentence of 40 years in the Department of Correction. Specifically, he asserts that counsel did not investigate or prepare for trial properly or advise him properly as to the possibilities of sentencing. The petition was denied and this appeal followed. Upon a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Roger E. Nell, District Public Defender, Clarksville, Tennessee, and Charles S. Bloodworth, Sr., Asst. District Public Defender, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerrico D. Graves.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and John Finklea, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: CRAFT

The Appellant, Jerrico D. Graves, appeals as of right from the trial court’s revocation of his probation for Aggravated Assault. Although admitting to the violation, the appellant argues that ordering the original sentence of six years to be served in the Department of Correction was not ‘the right thing to do” because of his mental health issues. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s revocation of probation and the appellant's sentence to the Department of Correction.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Donna L. Hargrove, District Public Defender, Fayetteville, Tennessee, and Michael J. Collins, Assistant District Public Defender, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Henry Smith, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Christopher Collins, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: CRAFT

The appellant, William, Henry Smith, Jr., appeals his Bedford County jury conviction for Driving while Motor Vehicle Habitual Offender, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. He also states that his six year sentence in the Department of Correction was excessive. Finding the evidence sufficient and the sentence proper, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Court Agrees to Hear 2 New Civil Cases

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently agreed to hear two civil cases. The first addresses business liability when customers injure third parties. The suit will test whether businesses have a duty to take steps to protect customers from reasonably foreseeable risks, which in this case involved an inebriated customer who was expelled from the store and then caused a car accident in the parking lot. The second case concerns surrogacy agreements and the rights of a surrogate who changed her mind about giving up the child. The Raybin Perky Hot List has a summary of each case.

Wimberly Lawson Opens Chattanooga Office

The Knoxville-based law firm Wimberly Lawson Wright Daves & Jones PC has opened an office in Chattanooga. The firm is currently sharing space with the law office of Bob E. Lype & Associates at 6181 Vance Rd. Wimberly Lawson, which focuses on labor and employment, commercial, business, insurance and immigration law, has offices in Knoxville, Nashville, Cookeville and Morristown. has more on the firm’s plans.

Adams and Reese Expands to South Carolina

Adams and Reese, a New Orleans-based law firm with a Tennessee presence in Memphis and Nashville, has merged with Columbia, S.C.-based firm Ellis Lawhorne, to create a new office in that state. Nashville attorney Gif Thornton, who chairs Adams and Reese's executive committee, said "The merger is beneficial for both firms with Adams and Reese expanding its regional footprint and Ellis Lawhorne extending its reach for its clients” into six southern states and the nation's capital. Read more on the firm’s website.

Chattanooga Bar Foundation Names New Fellows

The Chattanooga Bar Foundation has elected its 2013 class of fellows. They are: Judge Suzanne Bailey, Wade K. Cannon, Larry L. Cash, William G. Colvin, Lee Davis, Richard B. Gossett, H. Wayne Grant, Jennifer H. Lawrence, Linda J. Norwood, Dana B. Perry, Judge Christie M. Sell and Richard C. Wagner.

DOJ Offers 2 Victim Assistance Fellowships

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is seeking applicants for two fellowship programs. The first is open to lawyers who have experience working on legal or policy issues related to pro bono legal assistance, crime victim legal issues or victims’ legal rights. The candidate selected will assist OVC build capacity for the provision of free legal assistance to victims of crime. The second fellowship will focus on developing communication strategies to reach victims, service providers and other professionals, and proposing ways to better leverage OVC’s existing resources for victims. Each fellowship is designed to span a four-year period with funding of $135,000 provided in the first year. Applications must be submitted by June 10.

Opinion: Remove Public Guardian from Office

A recent editorial in the Tennessean urges Davidson County Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy to remove Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart from office, citing reports that she has overbilled clients and charged a lawyer rate for countless tasks that have nothing to do with legal expertise. Kennedy recently removed Stuart from a pending case and said he would not assign others to her until reviewing her conduct.

Court to Hear Case Testing Prayer at Government Meetings

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday agreed to hear a First Amendment case involving town board meetings in Greece, N.Y., that include prayer. It will be the first time in three decades that the court has taken a case involving the constitutionality of prayer at the opening of a government meeting, SCOTUSblog reports. It was one of five cases accepted for the October term. The others deal with the right of airline passengers to sue over frequent flyer issues, whistleblower protections for contract employees, constitutionality of home searches when only one resident gives consent, and the burden of proof in patent cases when infringement claims also are made.

NBA Holds Annual Memorial Service Thursday

The Nashville Bar Association (NBA) will hold its annual memorial service this Thursday to honor the lives and legal careers of lawyers and judges who died this past year. The event will begin at 11 a.m. at the Downtown Presbyterian Church. A reception will follow in the church’s Fellowship Hall. This year’s service will remember Charles Galbreath, Houston Hagar, Judge Shelton Hatcher Jr., Mary Schaffner, Martin Simmons, Tom Ware and William Wommack.


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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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