Court of Appeals Judge Highers to Retire

Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Alan E. Highers has notified Gov. Bill Haslam that he will not seek re-election when his term expires Aug. 31, 2014. The decision creates a vacancy in Western Section of the court. Because statutory authority for the Judicial Nominating Commission expires June 30, the commission will meet June 29 in Jackson to interview and select nominees for the seat. Qualified applicants should submit an application by noon Central on June 19. Highers is the third appellate judge to announce retirement plans, joining Court of Appeals Judge Patricia J. Cottrell and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Joseph M. Tipton. The commission will meet June 27 in East Tennessee and June 28 in Nashville to interview candidates for those seats.

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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


Nancy Leonard Harvey, Somerville, Tennessee, for the Respondent/Appellant, Kristen Gammell.

Paul David Coombs, Eads, Tennessee, for the Petitioner/Appellee, Cynthia Gammell (no brief filed).

Judge: KIRBY

This case involves an appeal from juvenile court to circuit court. The maternal grandmother of the child at issue filed a petition in juvenile court against her daughter, seeking courtordered visitation with her grandson. The respondent mother of the child filed an answer denying all of the grandmother’s allegations and also filed a counter-petition for injunctive relief against the grandmother. The juvenile court granted the grandmother’s petition for court-ordered visitation but did not adjudicate the mother’s petition for injunctive relief. The mother then appealed to the circuit court. The circuit court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The mother now appeals. We affirm the decision of the circuit court, vacate the orders of the juvenile court based on subject-matter jurisdiction, and remand to the juvenile court, with specific instructions, for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender (on appeal); Leslie S. Hale, Assistant District Public Defender (on appeal); Steve McEwen, Mountain City, Tennessee (on appeal); and Frank L. Slaughter, Jr., Bristol, Tennessee (at trial) for the appellant, Gwendolyn Hagerman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and Amber Massengill, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Gwendolyn Hagerman, was found guilty by a Sullivan County Criminal Court jury of five counts of rape of a child. See T.C.A. § 39-13-522 (1997). She was sentenced as a Range I offender to twenty years for each conviction, to be served at 100% as a child rapist. The trial court ordered partial consecutive sentencing, for an effective sixtyyear sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; (2) there was a material variance between the presentment, the bill of particulars, the election of offenses, and the proof; (3) the trial court erred in denying her motion to dismiss the charges due to pre-accusation delay; (4) the trial court erred in declining to conduct an in camera review of Department of Children’s Services records; and (5) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Charles S. Mitchell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jasper Lee Vick.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Chris Lareau, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Jasper Lee Vick, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing he was denied the right to a speedy trial and he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jeremy W. Parham, Manchester, Tennessee, (on appeal); and James Phillips and Wayne Clemons, Clarksville, Tennessee, (at trial), for the appellant, Robert Aaron White.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Robert Nash and J. Lee Willoughby, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Robert Aaron White, was indicted by the Montgomery County Grand Jury for one count of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Both counts of aggravated assault and the firearm offense were dismissed prior to trial. Defendant was convicted by a petit jury of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder and sentenced by the trial court to serve 23 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Defendant appeals his conviction and asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred by refusing to allow Defendant to cover his facial tattoos during trial. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Special Supreme Court to Hear Judicial Selection Suit July 19

A special Tennessee Supreme Court has set oral arguments in the case of Hooker et al. vs. Haslam et al. for July 19 at 1 p.m. in the Nashville Supreme Court Courtroom. Each side will have one hour for arguments, including any rebuttal. The suit, which challenges the constitutionality of an appellate court appointment by the governor, will be heard by a special Supreme Court since all sitting justices recused themselves from the case. The special court consists of Andree S. Blumstein, J. Robert Carter Jr., James R. Dedrick, W. Morris Kizer and Monica N. Wharton. The final panel was set after three of the governor’s initial appointees -- William M. Barker, George H. Brown Jr. and Robert L. Echols -- asked to be recused when John Jay Hooker questioned their impartiality.

Obama Nominates 3 to D.C. Court of Appeals

President Barack Obama today nominated three judges to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and challenged opponents to stop the "political obstruction" holding up his nominees. The three named today are Patricia Millett, head of the Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and former member of the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office; Cornelia "Nina" Pillard, an experienced Supreme Court litigator who has worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office and Georgetown University; and U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins, a former public defender in Washington D.C. who helped establish the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and spent nine years in private practice. Read more about the nominees in the White House announcement.

New Class Action Filed Against Pilot in Nashville

A Nebraska trucker has filed a class-action suit in federal court charging that Pilot Flying J, the national truck-stop chain, secretly reduced promised rebates. The suit, filed Friday, is the first to be filed in Nashville, though nearly identical suits have been filed by Pilot customers in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois and Florida, The Tennessean reports. The suits charge that Pilot’s scheme violated consumer protection statutes and amounted to fraud. James A. Haslam III, Pilot’s CEO, has denied any knowledge of the rebate-cutting scheme and has vowed to repay truckers with interest for anything they are owed.

Bradley County Bar Names New Leadership

The Bradley County Bar Association has elected new officers. Jack Tapper, who is known locally for his coordination of a series of public education seminars known as Community Legal Forums, has been named president. He succeeds William J. Brown. Others taking office are Vice President and President-Elect Ashley Ownby, Secretary Daniel Clanton and Treasurer Rex Wagner. In an interview with the Cleveland Banner, Tapper talks about his goals for the year, which include providing more pro bono services and getting more members involved in the association’s activities.

Knoxville Lawyer Reinstated by Court

Knoxville lawyer Whitney Suzanne Bailey was reinstated to the practice of law on May 31 by order of the Tennessee Supreme Court. However, the court imposed several conditions on her reinstatement, including an evaluation by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and engagement of a practice monitor. Bailey, who had been temporarily suspended on April 26 for failing to respond to a request for information, also was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding. Download the BPR notice.

Federalist Society Hosts Book Author

The Memphis Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society will present legal affairs columnist and author Adam Freeman, who will discuss his latest book, “The Naked Constitution: What the Founders Said and Why It Still Matters” next Monday at The Majestic Grille. Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to noon with the program running from noon to 1 p.m. The cost is $30 for Federalist Society members and $35 for non-members. The Majestic is located at 145 S. Main St. To register, email Greg Grisham or call him at (901) 462-2616.


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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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