5 Apply for Judicial Nominating Commission

The Administrative Office of the Courts has received five applications for a seat on the Judicial Nominating Commission, which was created by the death of commission member Elizabeth Collins. The newly appointed commissioner will serve out the remainder of Collins’ term, which ends June 30 – the date the statutory provisions for the nominating commission expire. The applicants are: Bradford D. Box, Thomas Verner Smith and Art D. Wells of Madison County; and Charles T. Tuggle and Stacie Smith Winkler of Shelby County. The comment period is now open. Comments should be submitted before 4:30 p.m. June 13.

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
06 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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


B. Lynn Morton and Nick T. Tooley, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Corcoran.

Russell E. Edwards and Michael W. Edwards, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Angela Carroll.


Unmarried Father and Mother of infant child filed petitions to establish initial custody, calculate parenting time, set child support, and determine residential sharing schedule. Father sought to have the child bear his surname. The trial court entered a parenting plan and denied Father’s request to change the child’s surname. Father appeals and assigns as error certain parenting plan provisions, the trial court’s award to Mother of her attorney fees, and the trial court’s decision not to change the child’s surname. Mother appeals the trial court’s calculation of the number of days of parenting time for purposes of determining child support. Finding that the court miscalculated the number of days of parenting time, we remand for a redetermination of child support. We also remand the attorney fee award for reconsideration. In all other respects, we affirm the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael Savage, Livingston, Tennessee, for the appellants, Bryant Coley, Sr., Bryant Coley, Jr., Etta Coley and Eleisha Coley.

C. Douglas Fields, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Cumberland Lakes POA. S. Roger York, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Mike Di Sorbo and Michelle Di Sorbo, as trustees and natural parents and next friends of Aldo Michael Di Sorbo, a child under 18 years of age.

Property owners, Bryant Coley, Sr., his son, Bryant Coley, Jr., and their wives, filed a declaratory judgment action against fiduciaries, Mike Di Sorbo and Michelle Di Sorbo,1 after the Di Sorbos refused the Coleys access to a road that crossed their ward’s property. The Coleys requested that the court declare the road a public road and enjoin the interference of its use. Following a bench trial, the court found that the “route” in question was not a dedicated public road. Consequently, it dismissed the complaint. The Coleys appeal. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Josh A. McCreary and James C. Cope, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellants, Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission et al.

David B. LaRoche, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Murfreesboro Post Publishing, LLC.

Joe M. Brandon, Jr., Murfreesboro, Tennessee and J. Thomas Smith, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellees, Kevin Fisher et al.

Douglas R. Pierce, Nashville, Tennessee for the Amicus Curiae, Public Notice Resource Center, Inc.


The main issue in this case is whether Rutherford County provided adequate notice, under the Open Meetings Act, concerning a planning commission meeting to vote on the site plan for a mosque. We have concluded that the trial court erred in finding the notice provided to be inadequate under the Open Meetings Act. In all other respects, we affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Warren A. Jasper, Senior Counsel, and Randle W. Hill, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, State of Tennessee ex rel. Wendy Harrison.

Cindy H. Morgan, Sparta, Tennessee, for the appellee, Danny Scott.


This appeal arises from a post-divorce petition to modify the father’s child support obligation as set in 2000 under a previous version of the child support guidelines. The dispositive issue is whether there is a “Significant Variance” in the father’s income as required by Department of Human Services Rule 1240-2-4-.05(2)(b)(1) to allow a modification. The trial court found no significant variance in the father’s income; nevertheless, it modified his child support obligation, setting it at the presumptive amount as calculated under the current child support guidelines and using the parties’ current income. W e have determined the trial court’s finding of no significant variance was based upon a mathematical error, and we find there is a significant variance entitling the father to a modification of his child support obligation. Accordingly, we affirm the modification of the father’s support but on different grounds than those relied upon by the trial court.

With dissenting opinion

Court: TN Court of Appeals


J. Terry Holland, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stephanie Lawson Miller.

John E. Eldridge, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Stephen Lee Miller.


Stephanie Lawson Miller (“Mother”) appeals the Trial Court’s April 26, 2012 order finding and holding her in criminal contempt for violating the parties’ Permanent Parenting Plan. Mother raises issues on appeal regarding whether Stephen Lee Miller (“Father”) proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mother had violated the Permanent Parenting Plan, whether Mother could be jailed for said contempt, whether the parties’ minor child has a constitutional right to exercise his religious beliefs, and whether the Trial Court erred in failing to consider the testimony of the child. We find and hold that Father did prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mother violated the Permanent Parenting Plan, that Mother could be jailed for said contempt, that the Trial Court did not err in refusing to consider the child’s testimony about his religious decision making, and that the issue of whether the child has a constitutional right is not properly before this Court. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michele L. Coffman, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Andrew Douglas Sprague.

Sandra J. Bott, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mary Nelle Sprague.


In this post-divorce case, the issues are twofold: whether the trial court erred in awarding Mary Nelle Sprague (“Mother”) a judgment against her former spouse, Andrew Douglas Sprague (“Father”), in the amount of $5,604.65 for uncovered medical expenses pursuant to the terms of the parties’ parenting plan; and whether the trial court erred in the process of holding Father in criminal contempt of court. We modify the medical expense award by decreasing it to $2,214.32, the amount claimed by Mother and the amount established by the proof. Further, we reverse the criminal contempt finding because Father was not provided adequate notice of the criminal contempt charges as required by Tenn. R. Crim. P. 42(b).

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney Genera; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kevin Allen, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Mike Whalen, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Joshua E. Webb.

Sherif Guindi, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Larry J. Alston.

Robert R. Kurtz (on appeal) and Vanessa Lemons (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kris T. Young.

Judge: WITT

In this appeal as of right, the State challenges the Knox County Criminal Court’s setting aside the jury verdicts of guilty of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony and ordering dismissal of the charges. Because the trial court erred by setting aside the verdicts and dismissing the charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary, the jury verdicts are reinstated, and the case is remanded to the trial court for sentencing. Although the trial court erred by dismissing the firearms charge on the grounds named in its order, error in the indictment for that offense nevertheless requires a dismissal of those charges. Finally, the defendants’ convictions of aggravated robbery and the sentences that accompany them are affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A. DeV asher, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); and J. Michael Engle, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Clark Beauregard Waterford, III.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Katrin Novak Miller and Brian Ewald, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Clark Beauregard Waterford, III, was indicted for first degree premeditated murder. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder and sentenced to forty years as a Range II, multiple offender. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for second degree murder; (2) that the trial court erred in deciding that the Defendant’s two prior convictions for aggravated assault would have been admissible for impeachment purposes if the Defendant had decided to testify at trial; and (3) that the trial court erred by imposing the maximum sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

8 Apply for Chancery Court Vacancy

The Judicial Nominating Committee will hold a public meeting in Johnson City on June 14 to interview eight attorneys who have applied to fill the Chancery Court vacancy in the 1st Judicial District. The opening is created by the retirement of Chancellor G. Richard Johnson, which is effective June 30. The candidates are Charles Keith Bowers Jr., Gregory H. Bowers, Suzanne Sweet Cook, James Collins Landstreet II, William Larry Monk Jr., John Chase Rambo, Lois Bunton Shults-Davis and Regina L. Shepherd. Learn more about the candidates on the courts’ website.

Investiture Ceremony Held for Knoxville Judge

Knox County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Stevens was sworn in yesterday by Gov. Bill Haslam, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. Judge Stevens was appointed in February to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Wheeler A. Rosenbalm. The ceremony was a formality, as Judge Stevens was officially sworn in and began performing her duties in March for the 6th Judicial District.

Juvenile Court Receives $1 Million for Upgrades

After debate over a budget increase request, the Shelby County Commission has approved more than $1 million to give to the juvenile courts after the U.S Department of Justice found problems with discrimination and children not being given their constitutional rights, WREG reports. The state is also giving $1 million. The commission also approved $300,000 to pay for the monitors who will come down from the DOJ to inspect and make sure the county is following orders. Although all don't agree, Commissioner Terry Roland says “the reason why we’re in this situation is because the pool of lawyers over there are mad they’re only making $40 an hour."

Editorial: Driving Changes in Legal Education

In a guest editorial for The New Normal, an ongoing series about changes occurring in the delivery of legal service, Kyle McEntee points out three main driving changes needed to improve the legal profession: decrease law school cost and debt accumulation; improve the bench and bar by redefining the law school mission to be more of a professional school rather than graduate school; and transform the profession’s structure to match the future’s needs. McEntee is a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School and cofounder of the blog Law School Transparency. Read more from the ABA Journal.

Alexander Makes Conservative Case for Online Sales Tax Bill

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, laid out the conservative case for the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bi-bipartisan effort to allow states to collect sales tax from out-of-state online retailers when purchases are shipped in-state. “This is the way to avoid the state income tax," Alexander said to a room of Nashville business leaders. "If a large percent of people who owe the sales tax don't pay it, you're going to look somewhere else for the tax revenue to do the things that have to be done. The only other place to look in Tennessee is the income tax." The Memphis Business Journal has the story.

Right Firms, Wrong Profession

A story in yesterday's TBA Today referred to a merger between two groups, which were identified as law firms. However, neither Mauldin & Jenkins nor Hazlett, Lewis & Bieter are law firms.

Reception for New Bankruptcy Judge, June 7

The MBA Bankruptcy Section will host a reception honoring the newly appointed Judge Jimmy L. Croom on June 7 at 5 p.m. in the historic Reading Room on the 4th Floor of the University of Memphis School of Law. After the reception, the section will treat Judge Croom to a Redbirds game, beginning at 7:05 pm. To RSVP and for more information, contact Claire Reno at claire@renofirm.com or (901) 685 5646.

Free Legal Clinic in Memphis June 8

A free legal clinic will be held June 8 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., in Memphis. This month’s clinic is sponsored by the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association and is open to all members of the public in need of legal advice. Initiated in October 2007, the Saturday Legal Clinic is sponsored by the Memphis Bar Association and Memphis Area Legal Services and is a project of the Access to Justice Committee, a collaborative effort of local bar associations and non-profit organizations to provide legal services to those in need. Volunteer attorneys provide free legal assistance to those in need on a first come, first served basis. For more information about the clinic or to volunteer, click here.

Shelby County Lawyer Censured

Shelby County attorney Richard Mark Nummi received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility for accepting employment as general counsel for a Tennessee company while not licensed to practice law in Tennessee. He did not apply for registration as in-house counsel within the time frame, resulting in the unauthorized practice of law. Download the BPR notice.

Funeral Saturday for Memphis Attorney

Memphis attorney Etandra Fenae Miller Douglas died last Thursday (May 23) at the age of 41. She was a graduate of the University of Memphis and Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. The visitation will be tomorrow from 4 to 7 p.m. at N.J. Ford & Sons Funeral Home. Services will be noon on Saturday at New Sardis Baptist Church, 7739 E. Holmes Rd. Burial will be in Forest Hill Cemetery in Midtown.


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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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