UT Law Students Spend Summer Helping Others

Five University of Tennessee College of Law students will spend their summer interning as law clerks at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. They will hone their legal skills while serving people who, without LAET, could not afford legal assistance. Student law clerks will work under the supervision of Legal Aid staff, and also provide support for volunteer attorneys participating in LAET’s Pro Bono Project. The internship is part of a long-running partnership between Legal Aid and the UT College of Law. Download the press release. 

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
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 Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Leonard Embody, pro se appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Benjamin A. Whitehouse, Assistant Attorney General; for the appellee, Robert E. Cooper, Jr.


This appeal arises from a challenge to the constitutionality of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307 (a)(1), a law restricting the carrying of firearms in Tennessee. Leonard Embody (“Embody”) challenged the validity of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307 (a)(1) in a 1 case filed against Attorney General and Reporter Robert E. Cooper, Jr. (“Respondent”) in the Chancery Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”) on grounds that the law violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Tenn. Const. Art. I, § 26. The Trial Court upheld the law as constitutional. Embody filed an appeal to this Court. We hold that Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307 (a)(1) is a valid regulation of the carrying of firearms that does not contravene either the Second Amendment or Tenn. Const. Art. I, § 26. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jimmy W. Bilbo and Brent J. McIntosh, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellants, Martis J. Kelley and Joseph Kelley, Sr.

Arthur P. Brock and William J. Rieder, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority.


This is a medical malpractice action filed pursuant to the Tennessee 1 Medical Malpractice Act (“the TMMA.”) The plaintiffs are wife and husband. The sole defendant is a governmental entity subject to the Governmental Tort Liability Act (“the GTLA”). The defendant operates a hospital in Chattanooga. The complaint alleges that wife was a victim of medical malpractice at the hospital in February 2010. On February 2, 2011, the plaintiffs sent the notice required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a) (2012), a part of the TMMA. On June 3, 2011, the plaintiffs filed suit against the Hospital Authority. The Authority filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to the provisions of Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12(6), arguing that the suit was not timely filed because it was not filed within the one-year statute of limitations, Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-305(b) (2012), set forth in the GTLA. The plaintiffs responded that the period of limitations was extended by 120 days by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(c) because the plaintiffs had complied with the pre-suit notice requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 29- 26-121(a). The trial court dismissed the complaint as untimely filed. The plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), Katie Weiss and J. Michael Engle (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Willie Earl Brown, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Smith, Associate Deputy Attorney General; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Sharon Reddick and Allegra Montgomery, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

This appeal arises from the second jury trial in this matter. At his first trial, a Davidson County jury convicted appellant, Willie Earl Brown, Jr., of eleven counts of rape of a child, and he received a sentence of seventy-four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, this court reversed his convictions based on the improper admission of evidence relating to uncharged sexual conduct and remanded for a new trial. See State v. Willie Earl Brown, Jr., No. M2009-00505-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 4396490, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 15, 2010). Following the remand, the parties amended the indictment to charge eight counts of rape of a child. At his second trial, the jury convicted him as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of eighty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal, appellant argues that (1) the State’s election of offenses failed to distinguish count seven from counts one and four; (2) the trial court erred by admitting the victim’s forensic interview; (3) the trial court erred by imposing a harsher sentence after appellant’s second trial; and (4) the trial court erred by imposing partial consecutive sentences. Following a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kristen Bargers Green, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ashley Mai Cook.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Ashley Mai Cook, was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder, for which she received consecutive sentences of life in prison and twenty years, respectively. In this petition for post-conviction relief, petitioner alleges that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to properly advise her with regard to whether to testify at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


C. Brent Keeton, Manchester, Tennessee for the appellant, Ernest Dodd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; and Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Ernest Dodd, was indicted by the Warren County Grand Jury in 2010 along with three other defendants for initiating a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine and promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine. Appellant was convicted by a jury of initiating a process to manufacture methamphetamine and attempt to promote the manufacture of methamphetamine. As a result, Appellant was sentenced to an effective sentence of nineteen years at thirty-five percent. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal. On appeal, he presents the following issues: (1) whether the trial court improperly denied Appellant’s motion in limine to exclude photographs of precursors to manufacturing methamphetamine; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (3) whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence; and (4) whether the convictions should be reversed for cumulative error. After a review of the record, we determine: (1) that the trial court properly admitted photographs of the precursors to manufacturing methamphetamine where the actual evidence was destroyed as hazardous material; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; and (3) the trial court properly sentenced Appellant. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paul A. Harr, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven O. Hughes-Mabry.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Joseph Eugene Perrin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Steven O. Hughes-Mabry, was convicted by a Sullivan County jury of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver within 1000 feet of a school zone, introduction of contraband into a penal institution, and driving on a suspended license. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of fifteen years, three years, and six months, respectively. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges (1) the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion for an investigatory stop; (2) the sufficiency of the evidence establishing that the possession offense occurred within 1000 feet of a school zone; and (3) the trial court’s refusal to impose sanctions against the State for failing to preserve the identity of a witness. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Memphis Attorney Loses Longtime Battle with Cancer

Elizabeth Collins, a partner with Thomason Hendrix in Memphis, died this morning (May 23) after a long battle with cancer. She was 50. Collins was a member of the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission and a Master in the Leo Bearman Sr. American Inn of Court. In 2011, she became the youngest person ever to receive the Jerome Turner Lawyer’s Lawyer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Memphis Bar Association. In 2012, the Commercial Appeal wrote an inspiring piece chronicling her journey. A memorial service will be held Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Idlewild Presbyterian Church with a reception to follow at the church.

Private Service Planned for Memphis Attorney

Memphis attorney Bill Clifton died last Wednesday (May 15) at his home of heart failure. He was 79. A graduate of Memphis State University and Southern Law School, Clifton became a partner in the law firm of Burch, Porter and Johnson. The celebrated lawyer Lucius Burch took a special interest in Clifton and was his valued mentor. Clifton opened his own law firm and maintained it until his retirement in the late 90’s. During his career, Clifton specialized in complicated criminal tax defense and had many celebrated cases, including the defense of the entertainer Jerry Lee Lewis. The family will hold a private memorial service by the ocean.

Waller Partner to Run for Circuit Judge

Joseph “Woody” Woodruff, a partner with Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis in Nashville, will run for Division I circuit judge in next May’s Republican primary, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Woodruff will run in the 21st Judicial District, which includes Williamson, Hickman, Lewis and Perry counties.

Bradley County Bar Elects New Officers

The Bradley County Bar Association recently elected its new leadership for the 2013-2014 term. Officers include: Jack W. Tapper, president; Ashley L. Ownby, vice president; Daniel W. Clanton, secretary; Rex A. Wagner, treasurer. All are attorneys who practice in Cleveland.

Daily Show to Take on TennCare Lottery

The Daily Show will be doing a spoof segment on Tennessee’s dialing-for-healthcare program, TennCare Spend Down, the Tennessean political blog reports. Tennessee launched Spend Down in 2010 to help people with low incomes and high medical bills gain access to TennCare who would not normally qualify for the state’s Medicaid program. The state has never set up an effective way to process applications so two to three times a year it opens up a telephone line, the blog states. People end up doing competitive dialing to get an application. Critics compare it to a lottery. Tennessee Justice Center staff attorney Michele Johnson confirmed that the show filmed footage at the TJC last week as part of the story.

Justice Clark Praises Legal Aid

Justice Cornelia Clark addressed the Legal Aid Society staff at their bi-annual meeting last Thursday, calling the employees the “unsung and ‘unplayed’ heroes of the ongoing efforts to improve access to justice in Tennessee.” She compared the employees to members of a marching band, the real virtuosos, saying "whatever part in the band you play - answering phones, filing papers, preparing legal documents, etc. - your work keeps the music playing: your work matters." The Administrative Office of the Courts has the story.

LMU to Offer Rejected Law Students a Second Chance

Duncan School of Law is giving applicants who do not make the initial admissions cut a second chance. The The Knoxville school has introduced “Admission Through Performance,” allowing rejected applicants to enroll in a free, four-week course on the Federal Rules of Evidence taught by Duncan faculty. If the applicants do well, they can earn a spot in the next year’s 1L class. "Standardized tests have been difficult for students at all levels of education, including the [Law School Admission Test]," interim dean Parham Williams told the National Law Journal. "The mission at LMU and its law school centers on service to underserved populations in Southern Appalachia. The Admission Through Performance is yet another way [the law school] is staying true to its mission."

Law Schools to Start Offering Masters Degrees

With enrollment down 15 percent over the last two years, some law schools have begun offering master’s degrees, the JD Journal reports. Nearly 30 law schools are offering a Juris Master program and testing whether this type of degree will be successful. Those interested in the advanced degree will not qualify for the bar, but will gain some legal knowledge that may make them marketable.


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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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