Belmont Law Receives Provisional ABA Accreditation

Belmont University College of Law has been granted provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association (ABA). Responding to the news, Belmont University Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, "The granting of provisional accreditation by the ABA validates the outstanding work being done by our administration, faculty and staff to develop a law program of the highest quality focused on preparing practice-ready attorneys.” Under ABA rules, provisionally accredited law schools are entitled to all the rights of fully accredited law schools. Law schools must be provisionally accredited for at least two years before applying for full accreditation. The recognition comes just in time, as Belmont’s first class will graduate in 2014. Learn more about the school.

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
05 - 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

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TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Appeals

CORRECTION: On page one (1) of the opinion Trial Judge has been corrected to Joshua L. Rogers, Child Support Magistrate.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Paul A. Justice, III, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donald Howard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Warren A. Jasper, Lead Counsel, and Jennifer L. Cole, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee ex rel. Tonya Dotson.


The father of one child appeals the trial court’s finding of ten counts of criminal contempt for failing to pay ten weekly child support payments and the imposition of consecutive sentences of ten days for each count for a total sentence of 100 days in jail. Petitioner introduced little evidence other than proof that the father had not paid child support; the father defended the petition insisting he did not have the ability to pay support. Medical records introduced into evidence, along with the testimony of the father and his optometrist, established that the father suffered from an autoimmune medical condition that substantially impairs his vision and prevents him from working in bright light, including sunlight, and from working in a hot environment. Additionally, the father has a tenth grade education and is a convicted felon, facts which further impair his employability. Considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, we are unable to conclude that a trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the father had the ability to pay and that his failure to pay support was willful. Accordingly, his conviction of ten counts of contempt for willfully failing to pay child support is reversed.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Ricky Lee McVey, II, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steve Van Duyn.

David E. Waite and Beverly D. Nelms, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Ronald Jones, individually and as trustee of the Ronald Jones Revocable Living Trust.


This is an interlocutory appeal as of right pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B from the denial of a motion to recuse the trial court judge from presiding over a civil action in which one of the Defendants served on a non-profit board with the trial court judge. Having reviewed the Plaintiff’s petition for recusal appeal pursuant to Rule 10B of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court, we affirm the Trial Court’s denial of the motion to recuse.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gregory Dye Smith and Christopher Brett Jaeger, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Barry Martin Thomas.

James Leroy Weatherly, Jr., for the appellee, Jennifer Anne Kraus.


In this appeal from the Final Decree of Divorce, the father of the parties’ four minor children challenges the division of marital property, the permanent parenting plan, an upward deviation in child support of $16,875 per year to help pay for private school for three of the children, and a $50,000 judgment for the mother’s attorney’s fees. We affirm the division of the marital property and the parenting schedule. As for requiring the father to pay up to $16,875 per year toward private school costs of three of the children, we have determined that the trial court failed to apply the correct legal standard for such an upward deviation and find that the father does not have the financial means to pay an upward deviation. As for requiring the father to pay $50,000 of the mother’s attorney’s fees, we have determined that she was given 60 percent of the marital assets and her income is substantially more than that of the father’s, thus, applying the ability to pay and the need standard, we find no basis for requiring the father to pay the mother’s attorney’s fees at trial or on appeal. Thus, we reverse the award for attorney’s fees.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Herbert S. Moncier, Knoxville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, Talmage M. Watts, Assistant Attorney General, and Janet Irene M. Kleinfelter, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Nancy S. Jones, Board of Professional Responsibility, Leda Hollabaugh, Clarence Halmon, State of Tennessee, Harry P. Ogden, John S. Hicks, and Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowtitz, P.C.


Petitioner appeals the dismissal of his complaint, which asserted numerous claims relating, inter alia, to the practice monitor condition of his suspension from the practice of law. The trial court dismissed the complaint finding the defendants in the action were immune under either sovereign immunity, judicial immunity, quasi-judicial quasi-prosecutorial immunity, qualified immunity, or Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 27 immunity. The trial court further found that the action was a collateral attack on the ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court regarding Petitioner’s suspension; thus, it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to rule on matters in the disciplinary proceedings. We affirm the trial court’s ruling on all claims except for the Public Records Act, which we remand to the trial court for a determination of whether the records requested are subject to inspection and whether they have in fact been made available for inspection.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


David T. Black, Melanie E. Davis, and Andrew S. Trundle, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Rufus Everett, Delight Everett, and Lilla Farner.

John T. Johnson, Jr., and Brandon L. Morrow, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.


Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company (“Tennessee Farmers”) sued W. Phillip Reed, Personal Representative of the Estate of Carol LaRue; Rufus Everett; Delight Everett; and Lilla Farner seeking a declaratory judgment with regard to rights and obligations under a commercial general liability insurance policy. Tennessee Farmers filed a motion for summary judgment. After a hearing the Trial Court entered its order on June 12, 2012 granting Tennessee Farmers summary judgment after finding and holding, inter alia, that the insurance policy was not ambiguous, that the phrase “property damage” in the insurance policy did not include the type of loss allegedly suffered by the Everetts and Ms. Farner, and that the commercial general liability insurance policy provides no coverage to W. Phillip Reed as Personal Representative of the Estate of Carol LaRue for the claims filed by the Everetts and Ms. Farner. Rufus Everett, Delight Everett, and Lilla Farner (“Defendants”) appeal to this Court. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals

With concurring opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dawn Deaner and Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal), and Jonathan D. Wing (at hearing), Nashville, Tennessee for the Appellant, Michael D. Boone.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


This direct appeal presents a certified question of law pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. After the trial court denied his motion to suppress, the Defendant, Michael D. Boone, entered a guilty plea in the Davidson County Criminal Court to possession with intent to sell or deliver .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine, a Class B felony, and possession with intent to sell or deliver not less than one-half ounce or more than ten pounds of marijuana, a Class E felony. The trial court ordered the agreed sentence of twenty-four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Boone properly reserved the following certified question of law: “Does the affidavit of probable cause in the warrant . . . contain sufficient information to establish a nexus between the residence to be searched and criminal activity; and, if so, does the affidavit further contain reliable information of ongoing criminal activity so as to establish probable cause . . . ?” After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court did not err when it determined the affidavit provided sufficient probable cause to support the search warrant. As such, we affirm the trial court’s order denying the Defendant’s motion to suppress, and we affirm the Defendant’s judgments of conviction.

With concurring opinions.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A. DeVasher, Assistant Public Defender, (on appeal); and Jonathan F. Wing and Kristin Stangl, Assistant Public Defenders, (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marcus Terrell Church.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General, Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Ben Ford and Elizabeth Foy, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Marcus Terrell Church, was indicted by a Davidson County Grand Jury for aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping. His first trial ended in a mistrial. At a subsequent trial, Defendant was convicted as charged. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of fifteen years as a Range II offender for aggravated robbery and twenty-five years as a Range I offender for especially aggravated kidnapping. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress identification evidence; (2) the trial court improperly admitted evidence that Defendant committed an unrelated purse-snatching during the kidnapping in this case; (3) the trial court erred in admitting hearsay testimony concerning Defendant’s nickname; and (4) the trial court improperly sentenced Defendant. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Nominating Commission Expediting 3 Appointments

The Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission, which will cease to exist at the end of this month, is expediting its action on naming successors to three judges who have announced they will retire. Though the judges won’t step down for more than a year, the commission will hold hearings on their replacements and send recommendations to the governor before June 30. And in case the governor rejects the first list of candidates, the commission plans to submit two lists for each vacancy. Commenting on the situation, TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur said, “The failure of the General Assembly to act and create some mechanism leaving nothing in place really is irresponsible.” Despite the situation though, he said it would be preferable for the governor not to act on the new nominees but instead urge the legislature to create a new commission. “That would resolve the uncertainty now surrounding several aspects of the situation,” he said in an interview with Knoxnews. It also would avoid litigation over the appointments. “The worst case is to have the judges appointed and there then to be some decision later that their appointment was irregular…”

AOC Seeks Proposals for Analyzing Indigent Claims Payment System

The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts is seeking proposals from firms to analyze the indigent claims payment process and make recommendations that may lead to re-engineering the system. Proposals also should include the development and validation of requirements of any revised payment system.

Young Lawyers Honored by Nashville Chamber

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville today announced the finalists for the 2013 Nashville Emerging Leader Awards (NELAs). Finalists in the legal services category are Chris Bowles of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings; Andrae Crismon of the Legal Aid Society; Matt Potempa, attorney at law; Gabe Roberts of Sherrard & Roe; and Casey Gill Summar of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville. Potempa is a member of the TBA Young Lawyers Division Board. Gill is the incoming chair of the TBA Entertainment & Sports Law Section. A reception to honor the finalists will be held June 27 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bridge Building. The Awards Ceremony will be Aug. 1 at Lipscomb University’s Collins Alumni Auditorium.

Initial Reports Positive from Boys & Girls Club Program

An $800,000 grant from the Tennessee Office of Justice Programs is funding a three-year initiative in Columbia that refers juveniles from the city’s heaviest crime areas to the Boys & Girls Club. The program is limited to those who have committed first- or second-time minor offenses. Since the start of the program, 28 juveniles have been referred, mostly for truancy or shoplifting, The Columbia Daily Herald reports. Though it is too early to measure the impact of the program, young people who have participated say they found new friends and decided to stay off the streets.

Courts Must Use Sentencing Guidelines in Effect at Time of Crime

The U.S. Supreme Court today found that judges may not use newer, more stringent sentencing guidelines on old cases. The 5-4 ruling came in the case of Marvin Peugh, who was convicted of five counts of bank fraud, sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2 million dollars. Peugh had argued that his sentence was unfair because 2009 guidelines were used instead of the more lenient 1999 guidelines that were in effect at the time of his offenses. The high court agreed and sent the case back to the appeals court. SCOTUSBlog has the story.

Court to Decide 23 Cases Before Summer Break

Following today's decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, 23 cases from the October 2012 term remain to be decided. The court is expected to release the rest of its rulings between Thursday and the end of the month, when it traditionally breaks for a summer recess. Read about the pending cases on

TLAW/TBA CLE Programs Look at Glass Ceiling, Business Development

Attorneys interested in learning the best practices for recruiting and retaining diverse legal talent are invited to attend "Report from the Glass Ceiling Initiative," a CLE program produced jointly by the Tennessee Lawyers' Association for Women (TLAW) and the Tennessee Bar Association. It is being offered Friday at 8:30 a.m. during the TBA Annual Convention in Nashville. Following that session will be another joint offering, "Growing your Law Practice," which starts at 10:15 a.m. Both offer 1.5 hours of CLE credit. If you are not registered for the convention, you can still attend either or both of these courses. You can get registration information through TLAW at or from the TBA at its convention registration desk onsite at the Sheraton Downtown Nashville hotel.

Run for Fun (and a T-Shirt, Of Course)

The Race Gestae 5K run returns to the TBA Convention this year, with proceeds benefitting the Tennessee Lawyer Assistance Program’s William B. Cain Revolving Loan Fund. If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so at the convention registration desk. The race will be Saturday at 6:30 a.m., starting in front of the Sheraton Hotel and passing through Bicentennial Mall before joining the Music City Bikeway along the Cumberland River and heading back through downtown to finish in front of the Capitol. TBA President Jackie Dixon notes that it is “not only beautiful, but entertaining, educational and not too difficult.”

Jackson Lawyer Dies Saturday

Gayden Drew IV, 60, died Saturday (June 8). A graduate of the University of Memphis School of Law, Drew also attended the University of Missouri Law School where he specialized in mediation and consultation. He practiced law in Jackson, where he was president of the Jackson Law Association. Drew also was active in the community, serving as president of the Jackson YMCA and on the board of the Jackson Country Club. A private memorial service will be held at Memorial Park’s Fireside Chapel. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Church of the Holy Communion or Trezevant Episcopal Home in Memphis. The Commercial Appeal has more on his life.

Courthouse Celebration Set for June 29

The Hamilton County Courthouse will host a free concert and laser light show on June 29 from 7 to 10 p.m. as part of the Hamilton County Courthouse Centennial Celebration. Live music from Sweet Georgia Sound, food vendors and children’s activities also will be featured. The Chattanoogan reported the event.


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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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