Judicial Evaluation Process Announced

The Tennessee Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission today announced the survey process to obtain input from attorneys on their experiences with appellate judges in the state. Over the next six weeks, lawyers who have participated in the appellate process, trial judges who have had cases appealed and reviewed in the appellate process, appellate court judges who have participated alongside other appellate judges in the appellate process, and court personnel who interact with appellate judges on a daily basis will be asked to evaluate that specific judge. The commission says that each survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. Surveys will be distributed beginning June 3 and will continue through July 16. Each survey will be anonymous and will remain open for 14 days. Read the notice from the commission.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - 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 Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Brandon L. Newman, James B. Webb, Trenton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dylan Haggard.

Barbara Hobock, Humboldt, Tennessee, for the appellee, Nitra Lynn Haggard.


After the trial court entered a final decree of divorce, the wife filed a motion to alter or amend, seeking a modification of the division of marital property. The trial court granted the motion to alter or amend, stating that the court was operating under a misconception concerning the wife’s position at trial, which rendered the division of marital property inequitable. The court awarded an asset previously awarded to the husband to the wife instead. Husband appeals. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Charles Taylor, Pro Se.

Charles Oldham, Pro Se.

Jerry Shattuck, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General and Ann Louise Vix, Senior Counsel, for the Appellee, Utility Management Review Board.


Respondent utility district commissioners appeal the trial court’s determination that a ground for removal from office added to Tennessee Code Annotated § 7-82-307(b)(2), as amended effective June 2009, may be applied retrospectively to acts occurring prior to the effective date of the amendment to remove them from office. They also appeal the trial court’s determination that the additional ground for removal of commissioners, “failing to fulfill the commissioner’s or commissioners’ fiduciary responsibility in the operation or oversight of the district,” is not unconstitutionally vague. We reverse retrospective application of the additional ground for removal contained in the statute, as amended, and remand.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Benjamin K. Dean, Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellant, A Way Out Bonding.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; and T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, A Way Out Bonding, appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s denial of its Petition to Operate a Bail Bonding Company. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court erred by summarily denying the petition without conducting a hearing. Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Phyllis Aluko, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth Gaines.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Terre Fratesi, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Kenneth Gaines, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury in September of 2009 with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of reckless endangerment. Appellant pled guilty to all three charges. Pursuant to an agreement with the State, Appellant was placed on judicial diversion for three years under the supervision of the department of probation. The State filed a petition for revocation of Appellant’s probation in March of 2011 after Appellant was charged with rape, failed to report the arrest, failed to pay court costs, and failed to pay probation fees. After a jury trial on the rape charge, Appellant was convicted of the lesser included offense of assault. The trial court approved the jury verdict, terminated Appellant’s judicial diversion, and set both matters for a sentencing hearing. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Appellant to six years for each aggravated assault conviction and two years for the reckless endangerment conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences to run concurrently with each other but consecutively to the six-month sentence Appellant received for the assault conviction, for a total effective sentence of six years and six months. Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal. On appeal, he challenges the termination of judicial diversion without a formal hearing and insists that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. After a review of the record, we conclude that Appellant’s rights to due process were not violated when the trial court made the determination that Appellant violated the terms of his judicial diversion contemporaneously with his trial on subsequent charges. Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Appellant to an effective sentence of six years and six months. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Howard L. Upchurch and Justin C. Angel, Pikeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ruby W. Graham.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Philip A. Hatch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Ruby W. Graham, appeals her White County Circuit Court jury convictions of attempt to possess with the intent to sell morphine, oxycodone, and marijuana, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the total fine imposed. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael Ryan Working, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Delmonta Hill.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich , District Attorney General; and Brooks Irvine, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Delmonta Hill, entered a best interest plea to reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-101 (2010). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to two years on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred (1) by failing to classify him as an especially mitigated offender and (2) by denying him judicial diversion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen R. Leffler, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tarence Nelson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Karen Cook and Carla Taylor, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Tarence Nelson, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for two counts of premeditated first degree murder. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged and sentenced by the trial court to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that: 1) the State failed to prove that Defendant did not act in self-defense; 2) the trial court erred by allowing into evidence a revolver found during the search of Defendant’s residence that was not the murder weapon; 3) the prosecutor misquoted Defendant during closing argument in an inflammatory manner; and 4) the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kevin T. Saulter, Talladega, Alabama, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Petitioner, Kevin T. Saulter, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis and a motion to reconsider the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Upon a review of the record, we are persuaded that the lower court was correct that the Petitioner is not entitled to relief. This case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Wilson County Domestic Animal Tax and Tennessee Anti-Rabies Law

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Reminder: Professional Privilege Tax Due June 1

All professional privilege tax returns filed on or after Jan. 1, must be filed electronically. Professional privilege tax returns can be filed electronically either by individuals, or by companies who file and pay for multiple individuals. The department will not be mailing taxpayers a Professional Privilege Tax Return for the $400 tax due June 1. Click here for a step-by-step guide to electronically file an individual professional privilege tax return. If you are a company filing and paying for multiple individuals, go here. Read more from the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

Hinton Named Chattanooga City Attorney

Wade Hinton, who led Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke's transition team, has been named city attorney. He succeeds longtime attorney Mike McMahan, Chattanoogan.com reports. In making the announcement, Berke said Hinton is “intelligent, hardworking and has proven himself to be an outstanding attorney and leader.” Hinton previously was deputy general counsel for Volkswagen Group of America’s Chattanooga operations and an attorney with Miller & Martin PLLC. He is a graduate of the TBA Leadership Law Program and a former member of the TBA Young Lawyers Division Board. He graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law in 1999.

LSC Launches New Tech Blog

The Legal Services Corporation has launched a new blog focused on technology in the legal aid community. The first post -- “Hacking for Justice” -- discusses LSC’s open data initiative, including a plan to provide information for the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 1. The goal of the initiative is to make LSC’s current data more accessible to the public as well as increasing the amount of data available. Through civic hacking, developers build applications and invent new solutions using publicly-released data to solve the challenges facing communities, cities, states and countries.

Meet CLE Deadline, Avoid $200 Fee With TBA Blast

If you have not yet met your 2012 CLE requirements, Friday is the deadline for mailing your CLE Affidavit of Completion and paying all fees to avoid a $200 late fee. To help you meet this deadline, the TBA will offer a Spring CLE Blast with 11 hours of dual live credits this Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Court Presents Cases for Boys and Girls State

The Tennessee Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Cookeville and Nashville this week as part of the SCALES Project. During the sessions, participants in the Boys State and Girls State programs will learn about the court system and the specific facts of the case they will hear. A total of four cases will be heard over a two-day period, with about 300 students sitting in on each session. In addition to the court’s presentation, the 1,200 Boys State and Girls State participants will learn about city, county and state government though hands-on learning and role-playing. The court is sitting at the invitation of Circuit Court Judge John J. Maddux Jr. of Cookeville, who has served as Tennessee Boys’ State chair for nearly 30 years.

Court Will Not Consider Challenge to Copyright Board

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to the authority of the Copyright Royalty Board, which sets royalty rates for musical works. The high court today refused to hear an appeal that the panel – made up of three copyright judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress – should be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The company bringing the suit also wanted to overturn the panel’s decision that noncommercial educational webcasters pay an annual fee of $500 per channel for a license authorizing the webcasting of unlimited amounts of music. The Memphis Daily News has this Associated Press story.

Charges Filed Against Memphis Judge

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct has filed formal charges against 30th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Kay Spalding Robilio for alleged misconduct in a domestic relations case, WMC-TV reports. According to the court's six-page complaint filed May 14, Robilio independently investigated facts regarding a post-divorce child custody case. The board alleges that in February 2012, Robilio conducted an independent investigation of a residence by making a personal visit to the home. In the complaint, chief disciplinary counsel Tim Discenza writes that "A judge shall not initiate, permit ... or consider other communications made to the judge outside of the presence of the parties concerning a pending or impeding proceeding.” Robilio has 30 days to respond.

Columbia Lawyer Loses Battle with Cancer

Columbia lawyer Glenn Lee Cox died Thursday (May 23) after a long battle with cancer. He was 65. Cox earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1978 and established his own law firm with a focus on creditors' rights. He faced cancer four times – in 1991, 2008, 2012 and 2013 – and was said to have battled the disease with the same strength and passion that he applied to representing his clients. In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the American Cancer Society or to the Macular Degeneration Foundation. The Columbia Daily Herald has more on his life.

Memorial Service Set for Nashville Lawyer

Nashville lawyer Alfred T. Adams Jr. died May 21 at the age of 85. A 1952 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, Adams practiced law in Nashville and was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly in 1953. He retired in 2002 and moved to Beersheba Springs where he took up residential construction, surveying, farming and beekeeping. Adams was a charter member of the Nashville City Club, director and general council of the Nashville Union Rescue Mission, and deacon and elder of the Downtown Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of one's choice. A memorial service honoring his life will be held June 20 at 11 a.m. at the Downtown Presbyterian Church. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m., The Tennessean reports.

TBA Convention: Deadline Now for Early Registration

Early registration for the 2013 TBA Annual Convention ends today, 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.


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.

© Copyright 2013 Tennessee Bar Association