2 Appeals Court Judges Say They Will Not Run in 2014

Court of Appeals Judge Patricia J. Cottrell and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Joseph M. Tipton have notified Gov. Bill Haslam that they will not seek retention in the August 2014 election. The departures will create vacancies on the two appeals courts as of Sept 1, 2014 and the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) has elected to complete the nominating process for these two openings prior to June 30. Candidates interested in applying for either opening can find the application and more information here.

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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

HERBERT S. MONCIER v. BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Herbert S. Moncier, Knoxville, Tennessee, pro se appellant.

Sandy Garrett, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Board of Professional Responsibility.

Judge: CLARK

An attorney suspended from the practice of law for eleven months and twenty-nine days, with all but forty-five days of the suspension probated, was assessed costs associated with the proceedings that resulted in his suspension pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, section 24.3. The attorney timely filed a petition seeking relief from costs, and a panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility convened and conducted a hearing on the petition. The panel denied the petition, and the attorney has appealed to this Court, as permitted by Rule 9, section 24.3. Having carefully and thoroughly considered the record and each of the nine issues raised, we affirm the panel’s decision denying the petition for relief from costs.


TN Court of Appeals

PAMELA RENEE CANTRELL v. JESSIE ARVIL CANTRELL

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Pamela Renee Cantrell, Sparta, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Cindy Howell Morgan, Sparta, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Jessie Arvil Cantrell.

Judge: DINKINS

Former wife appeals the assessment of past child support to her and the court’s disposition of her motion to hold former Husband in contempt of court. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. THEOTUS BARNETT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen Bush, District Public Defender; and Barry Kuhn, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, (on appeal); and Rusty White, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, (at trial), for the appellant, Theotus Barnett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Pamela Flemming and Kirby May, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

The defendant was convicted of especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony, and aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. He was sentenced to twenty-five years for the kidnapping conviction and to a consecutive ten years for the aggravated robbery, for a total effective sentence of thirty-five years. On appeal, the defendant claims that: 1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; 2) the trial court erred by failing to apply a mitigating factor at sentencing; and 3) the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. After a careful review of the record, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. VINCENT CLIFTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kathleen A. Ball (on appeal) and David Stowers (at plea and sentencing hearing), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Vincent Clifton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jose Leon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Vincent Clifton (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated burglary, one count of employing a firearm during a dangerous felony, and one count of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, with no agreement as to his sentences. After a hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of thirty-five years. The trial court also ordered the Defendant to serve his thirty-five-year sentence consecutively to a previous sentence. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in sentencing him. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. We remand the case solely for correction of a clerical error on one of the judgment orders.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARLO DAVIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

C. Anne Tipton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marlo Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and David Michael Zak, Jr., Stephanie Zander Johnson, and Robert William Ratton, III, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Marlo Davis, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of second degree murder and reckless homicide. Subsequently, the trial court merged the reckless homicide into the second degree murder conviction and imposed a sentence of forty years. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges (1) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions; (2) the mutually exclusive nature of the verdicts and whether the offenses were properly merged; (3) the admission of prior inconsistent statements by a witness, who had no memory of making those statements at the time of trial, as substantive evidence; (4) the imposition of the maximum forty-year sentence in violation of Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004); and (5) the cumulative effect of these errors. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DEAN HEATH

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles Mitchell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dean Heath.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Ray Lepone and Tracye Jones, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Dean Heath, of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the murder convictions and imposed a total sentence of life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction for the murder conviction and a concurrent twenty-five-year sentence for the especially aggravated robbery conviction. On appeal, the appellant argues that the trial court erred in finding him competent to stand trial and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction of felony murder. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

RODNEY McALISTER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Rebecca S. Mills, Ripley, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rodney McAlister.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Joni R. Livingston, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Rodney McAlister, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2009 conviction for vandalism of more than $1000 but less than $10,000 and his five-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CARLOS PONCE DeLEON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Donna Orr Hargrove, District Public Defender, and Michael J. Collins, Assistant District Public Defender, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carlos Ponce DeLeon.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Richard A. Cawley, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Carlos Ponce DeLeon, entered best interest guilty pleas to theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony, two counts of automobile burglary, Class E felonies, theft of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1000, a Class E felony, and two counts of theft of property valued at $500 or less, Class A misdemeanors. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-402, 39-14-103, 39-14-105 (2010). He was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to six years for the theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000 conviction, four years for each automobile burglary conviction, three years for the theft of property value at more than $500 but less than $1000 conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for each theft of property valued at $500 or less conviction. The trial court ordered partial consecutive sentencing for an effective ten-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that his effective sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Former State House Speaker Dies at 89

Attorney William Logan “Dick” Barry died Wednesday in a Lexington nursing home at the age of 89. Barry, who once served as publisher of the Lexington Progress newspaper, was elected to the state House in 1954 and became floor leader in 1958. In 1963, with the support of Gov. Frank Clement, he was elected speaker. He served in that position until 1967, when he joined the Ellington administration and served until  Ellington left office in January 1971, with the inauguration of Republican Gov. Winfield Dunn. In accordance with Barry’s wishes, no formal funeral service is planned and at this point no memorial service has been scheduled.


Haslam on Medicaid Expansion: We’ll Know by Summer

Gov. Bill Haslam said he should know this summer whether the state can strike a deal with the federal government for an alternative plan for offering health coverage to more poor people, the Nashville City Paper reports. Encouraged by ongoing talks with the federal Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services,, Haslam said the key now is ensuring flexibility in the state’s program.


State Takes Tough Stand on Human Trafficking

Tennessee is credited with developing one of the most comprehensive anti-human trafficking programs in the nation, WKRN reports. Survivors and advocates against trafficking gathered at a conference in Nashville on Thursday, where they shared their stories and applauded Tennessee for taking a tougher stand. The state’s new laws create harsher penalties on traffickers and extend the window of time for prosecutors to pursue cases. Furthermore, authorities will be able to prosecute people paying for sex as traffickers.


Applications Sought for Judicial Nominating Commission

The Administrative Office of the Courts is now accepting applications for a seat on the Judicial Nominating Commission due to the death of Elizabeth T. Collins. The position on the commission will be appointed by the Speaker of the Senate to an unexpired term that ends June 30, 2013 – the date the statutory provisions for the nominating commission expire. Applicants may be either an attorney or non-attorney, but must have lived in West Tennessee for one year prior to the appointment. All applications must be received by noon on May 30.


Law Firms Cautious on Adding Office Space

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting record highs, home prices rebounding and interest rates remaining low, observers are watching to see when the office market will join the recovery. It might be a while. Experts believe that law firms, which take up about 17 percent of all U.S. office space and are typically the takers of the newest and best space in large markets, will remain cost-conscious and occupy less space than in previous years. “Our research people have told us that law firms will now be taking 25 percent less space on average,” says Elizabeth Cooper, an international director for brokerage with Jones Lang “I don’t think we’re going to see a day soon of a law firm taking excess space. It’s now all about being lean and mean.” The National Real Estate Investor has the story.


Justice Lee Recalls Father’s Sacrifice

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Gail Lee spoke to the 12th Judicial District Bar Association in Sewanee where she shared the story of her father’s sacrifice and bravery while incarcerated in a German prison camp during World War II. A  Hamilton County Herald piece relates the justice’s speech and overarching message about appreciating the sacrifices of our veterans. “There’s a lesson in this story for all of us,” Justice Lee said in conclusion. “As we face adversity of a much, much lesser scale, we need to remember each day is a gift. We should face each day with optimism, hope, and determination to succeed. We must never forget the sacrifices our veterans have made for our freedom.”


Carwash Association Awards Longtime Counsel

Attorney Bruce Kramer of Apperson Crump PLC in Memphis was honored with the Crystal Award by the International Carwash Association for his 20 years of service as general counsel. The association, which was started in Memphis in 1955, is comprised of 15,000 professional car wash operators, retailers and suppliers in 25 nations, the Memphis Daily News reports.


Swearing In Scheduled for May 29

The swearing-in ceremony for the Hon. Deborah C. Stevens, Knox County Circuit Court Division III, will be held  Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the small assembly room of the City County Building in Knoxville. Gov. Bill Haslam will be in attendance. A reception will immediately follow the ceremony.


Knoxville Lawyer Suspended

The Supreme Court of Tennessee temporarily suspended the law license of Daniel Rafael Solla upon finding his continued practice of law poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Effective May 22, Solla is precluded from accepting any new cases and he must cease representing existing clients by June 21.  Download the BPR notice.


 
 

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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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