TBA Convention: Deadline Near for Early Registration

Early registration for the 2013 TBA Annual Convention ends Tuesday, so sign up now to avoid extra costs. Along with 12 hours of premium CLE programming, this year’s convention features sessions to help you thrive as a lawyer and an evening out at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where you will experience great food and live music to go along with your tour of this internationally renowned center. Hotel rooms are filling up fast, but availability remains at the Hermitage Hotel, one block from convention headquarters. You can make reservations at this five-diamond-rated hotel by calling (888) 888-9414 and asking for the TBA rate.

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
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

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


Connie Reguli and Megan Woodson Miller, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert LaFever.

Rebecca C. Blair, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, the Estate of John Leonard Burke.


Robert LaFever appeals the Trial Court’s order of July 12, 2012 dismissing his notice of will contest after finding and holding, inter alia, that the Last Will and Testament of John Leonard Burke had been admitted to probate in solemn form and could not be challenged in a later will contest. We affirm the Trial Court’s July 12, 2012 order.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Andrew Pate, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bernard H.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Mary Byrd Ferrara, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


This is a termination of parental rights case focusing on the four minor children (“the Children”) of mother, Kelly H. (“Mother”) and father, Bernard H. (“Father”). A termination petition was filed by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) after the third custody episode involving these parents. The petition alleges the sole statutory ground of severe child abuse. Following a bench trial, the trial court granted the petition upon its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Mother and Father had committed severe child abuse pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-113(g)(4) and § 37-1-102. The court further found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. Father has appealed. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


E. Covington Johnston, Jr., Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Daniel David Colby.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; Dan Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Ray Couch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Daniel David Colby, was charged in a presentment returned by the Dickson County Grand Jury with two counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony. He subsequently was allowed to plead guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, in lieu of the greater offense of rape of a child. Defendant submitted to the trial court’s determination the length and manner of service of the sentences following a hearing. The trial court imposed the minimum sentence of eight (8) years for each conviction and ordered the sentences to be served consecutively. In Defendant’s only issue on appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review, we affirm the sentences and the imposition of consecutive sentencing, but remand to the trial court for entry of appropriate amended judgments which set forth all pretrial jail credits to which Defendant may be entitled, and for correction to show the convictions are in Dickson County rather than Anderson County.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


B. Nathan Hunt, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Omar Theron Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Arthur F. Bieber, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Omar Theron Davis, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2006 Montgomery County Circuit Court convictions of aggravated rape, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, and theft of property valued over $500, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the order of the Circuit Court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Richard A. Spivey, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Toni S. Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Kent Chitwood, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: CRAFT

The appellant, Toni S. Davis, entered a plea of guilty to six counts of the sale and delivery of Suboxone, a Schedule III controlled substance used for treatment of opioid addiction. The trial court denied her request for judicial diversion, instead imposing concurrent two-year suspended sentences. The appellant challenges the denial of judicial diversion and also the imposition of a special condition of her probation that she must petition the trial court if she wishes to remain in her Suboxone treatment program for opiate addiction past six months. Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Brian T. Boyd, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Kimar Rashad Peoples.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Jeff Burks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Kimar Rashad Peebles, of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (2) the trial court erred when sentencing him. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Donna L. Hargrave, District Public Defender; Michael J. Collins and William Harold, Assistant Public Defenders; for the appellant, Scotty Wayne Poarch.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Smith, Associate Deputy Attorney General; Charles Crawford, District Attorney General; Weakley E. Barnard and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorneys General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Scotty Wayne Poarch, challenges (1) the length of his sentence imposed by the trial court as a result of his guilty pleas and (2) the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing. After a review of the record and the applicable authorities, we discern no error in the trial court’s determinations and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Court Seeks Comments on Rule 10 Amendment

The Tennessee Supreme Court is seeking comments on a proposed amendment to Rule 10 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court, which encompasses the Code of Judicial Conduct. In an order issued Tuesday, the court said the amendment would fix a “possible oversight" in the reporting requirements for continuing part-time and pro tempore part-time judges. Written comments should be submitted to the court by June 20. They can be addressed to: Mike Catalano, clerk, Re: Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 10, “Application,” Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37219.

Judge Removes Public Guardian

Davidson County Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy today permanently suspended Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart, who had come under fire for her billing practices. Stuart, who had held the job for five years, submitted a resignation letter effective in a week, the Tennessean reports. Her letter was forwarded to members of Metro Council along with a letter from Kennedy announcing her termination.

States Try to Keep Lethal Drug Suppliers Secret

States that impose the death penalty have been facing a shortage of drugs used in executions and are reacting in various ways, writes former New York Times reporter Raymond Bonner in a recent Pro Publica article. In California, state prosecutors are calling for a return of the gas chamber. In four states -- Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and South Dakota – the approach has been to amend public records laws to exempt the names of drug suppliers from disclosure. Death penalty opponents have waged successful efforts to convince companies not to provide lethal drugs after learning of new supply chains through freedom of information requests and local news coverage.

LSC Seeks Comments on Private Attorney Regulations

The Legal Services Corporation is seeking comments on whether it should revise its regulations covering private attorney involvement in legal services. Current rules require LSC grantees to expend an amount equivalent to 12.5 percent of their grant to encourage the involvement of private attorneys in the delivery of legal assistance. Some have suggested that this requirement poses a number of challenges to grantees as they seek to expand pro bono resources and assistance. The agency is accepting written comments from those interested in contributing to the discussion. Comments should be submitted by Oct. 17.

Judicial Building in Murfreesboro Evacuated

Still under the threat of a severe thunderstorm and minutes after the area was hit by heavy rain and hail, court officers at the Rutherford County Judicial Building evacuated the building, sending everyone outside. A Rutherford County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman told The Daily News Journal that "Due to the electricity being out and for public safety, citizens were evacuated for about 40 minutes."

Knoxville Lawyer Calls for New Approach to Jury Trials

In a recent opinion piece on Knoxnews, Knoxville lawyer Wayne A. Ritchie suggests that civil jury trials are becoming endangered as the resources and time needed to navigate the legal system increase. One solution being used in other jurisdictions is the Short, Summary and Expedited (SSE) trial model. Ritchie writes that a study of courts using this model reveals that locally-tailored approaches can successfully streamline litigation. Ritchie, who is serving as president of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Southeastern Chapter, says the organization has endorsed the concept and will be advocating for SSE trials in Tennessee. Read more about the concept in his article.

Duncan Law Offers Free LSAT Prep

The Duncan School of Law will present a series of three Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) workshops to help those taking the admissions test next month. The series begins June 1 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with Intro to Logic Games and Reading Comprehension. The second session will be held June 3 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. and cover Logical Reasoning and Writing. The third and final session will be held June 5 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. and cover Diagnostic Exam and Live Analysis. The workshop and all materials will be provided at no charge, however, registration is required. Contact Trish Carroll at (865) 545-5304 or law.admissions@LMUnet.edu for more information or to register. The Claiborne Progress reported the news.

2 Drug Courts Honor 100th Graduate

Two drug courts in the state recently honored their 100th graduate. In Chattanooga, 46-year-old Jonas Richardson Jr. became the Hamilton County Drug Court’s 100th graduate after working on his recovery for two years. Richardson, who had been arrested at least 96 times and was long addicted to crack cocaine, was one of six to graduate. The Times Free Press reports that Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern took a moment to tell Richardson's story to the crowd and confess her initial doubts. "Thankfully I was wrong about that," she said. In addition, the 23rd Judicial District Drug Court in Charlotte recently honored its 100th graduate. A packed courtroom watched as Judge Robert Burch presented a certificate and plaque to Ashley Lloyd, who thanked those in attendance for being her family for the past two years and showing her that a much better life and future exists. The Leaf Chronicle has more.

Memphis Law Honors BLSA Students

The University of Memphis School of Law recently honored eight African American students who graduated this month. The special ceremony, known as The Kenneth Cox Ceremony, recognizes each graduating Black Law Student Association (BLSA) member for his or her contribution to the law school’s academic, cultural and professional environments. The ceremony is named in honor of one of the law school’s first African-American graduates, Kenneth Maurice Cox. This year’s honorees are Angela Harris, Shalondra Pickford, Courtney Smith, Laura Smittick-James, William Terrell II, Kenneth Walker II, Natasha Wells and Thomas Williams.

Fundraiser Planned for Madison County CASA

The Jackson-Madison County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division is hosting “Pour Your Heart Out for CASA” – a wine tasting and fundraiser for the Madison County CASA program. The event will take place May 30 at 5:30 p.m. at Flatiron Grille, 1160 Vann Drive, Jackson 38305. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online. For more information contact Terica Smith at terica.n.smith@gmail.com.

Event to Benefit Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts

Arts Immersion, presented by the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville and the Nashville Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, will take place June 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the W.O. Smith School. The event will feature live performances, visual art and a silent auction – including opportunities to co-write with top songwriters. All proceeds benefit Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts, which has provided $1 million worth of free legal and business help to over 1,000 low-income artists and 300 nonprofit arts organizations over the past five years. Tickets are $40 and are available at the door or online. Food, beverages and valet parking will be provided.


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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