Court Welcomes New Attorneys to the Practice of Law

The Tennessee Supreme Court welcomed a new class of attorneys to the practice of law in Tennessee during ceremonies today in Nashville. Close to 200 new attorneys successfully passed the bar exam in February and were eligible for consideration for admission. Prior to the afternoon ceremony at War Memorial Auditorium, the TBA hosted the new admittees and their families at a luncheon and open house at the Tennessee Bar Center. See photos from the events.

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
08 - 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

JEAN MEADOWS, ETC. V. TARA HARRISON, ETC., ET. AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Kevin W. Shepherd, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Tara Harrison, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Jerome King, and Geoff King.

R. Stephen Merritt and Cynthia C. Blair, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jean Meadows, individually and as a General Partner of and on behalf of Double J Company.

Judge: MCCLARTY

In this case, Partner and Decedent created Double J Company for the purpose of buying and selling real estate. One month following the creation of Double J Company, Decedent personally purchased the Property, which he thereafter deeded to Double J Company. Following Decedent’s death, Partner filed a complaint against Heirs and the estate for partition. Heirs objected, arguing that Partner and Decedent never formed a valid partnership and that the Property was subject to the administration of Decedent’s estate. Following a hearing, the trial court deemed the Property partnership property and ordered the sale of the Property. Heirs appeal. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT JASON BURDICK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Vanessa P. Bryant, Kent K. Stanley (on appeal), Dana M. Ausbrooks (at trial), Franklin, Tennessee; John Herbison, Nashville, Tennessee (at trial); Fletcher Long, Edward T. Farmer (at trial), Springfield, Tennessee; and Carrie Gasaway, Clarksville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Robert Jason Burdick.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Jessica Borne, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Williamson County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Robert Jason Burdick, of rape, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated burglary. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of thirty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress, the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions, and the trial court’s jury instructions regarding the kidnapping offense in light of State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559 (Tenn. 2012). Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WESLEY DAWONE COLEMAN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph P. Atnip, District Public Defender and Kate L. Moore, Assistant District Public Defender, Dresden, Tennessee, for the appellant, Wesley Dawone Coleman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Thomas A. Thomas, District Attorney General, and Heard B. Critchlow, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Wesley Dawone Coleman, was indicted by the Obion County Grand Jury for aggravated burglary, theft of property valued at over $500, and evading arrest. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of theft of property valued at over $500, aggravated burglary, and evading arrest. As a result of the convictions, Appellant received an effective sentence of ten years. Appellant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence for the theft and aggravated burglary convictions as well as his sentence. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Appellant as a Range II, multiple offender, to ten years in incarceration.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TONY DIXON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

John M. Boucher, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tony Dixon.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General, and Takisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Knox County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Tony Dixon, of attempted aggravated burglary. The trial court sentenced the appellant as a Range I, standard offender to three years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, the trial court’s admission of hearsay evidence indicating that the victim did not consent to the appellant’s entering the apartment, and the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury that an accomplice’s testimony must be corroborated. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. COREY D. GILBERT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Corey D. Gilbert.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; Steve Garrett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

A Montgomery County jury convicted the Defendant, Corey D. Gilbert, of first degree felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery. The trial court imposed a mandatory life sentence for the felony murder conviction and a three-year sentence for the attempted aggravated robbery conviction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the evidence supporting his conviction for attempted aggravated robbery as the underlying offense for the felony murder conviction. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. STEPHEN M. HERNANDEZ

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Lonnie Maze, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stephen Hernandez.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General, and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Stephen Miguel Hernandez, and co-defendant, Justin Dexter Brummett, were indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in October of 2010 for first degree murder and aggravated robbery. After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of felony murder and the lesser included offense of facilitation of aggravated robbery. As a result of the convictions, Appellant was sentenced to life in prison for the felony murder conviction and five years for the facilitation of aggravated robbery conviction, to be served concurrently with the life sentence. After the denial of a timely motion for new trial, Appellant appealed. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, particularly the credibility of his accomplice’s testimony. After a thorough review of the record and authorities, we determine that the testimony of co-defendant Brummett was sufficiency corroborated by other State witnesses. Further, the jury assessed the credibility of the witnesses and determined that the evidence was sufficient to support convictions for felony murder and facilitation of aggravated robbery, a task within their province. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


ORLANDO M. LADD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph W. Fuson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Orlando Ladd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General, and Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Orlando M. Ladd, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for possession with intent to sell or deliver in a drug-free zone, evading arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of felony simple possession of a controlled substance. He entered a negotiated plea to possession with intent to sell or deliver, evading arrest and one count of simple possession. He received an effective sentence of twelve years to serve at forty-five percent incarceration to be served concurrently to a twelve-year sentence he was already serving at the time of sentencing. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that he entered his guilty plea unknowingly and involuntarily. The post-conviction court held a hearing and denied the petition. Petitioner appeals that denial to this Court. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the petition was properly denied, and we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


JAMES WALLIE ROBERTSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James Wallie Robertson, Clifton, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; and T. Michael Bottoms, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, James Wallie Robertson, appeals the Lawrence County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 1995 guilty pleas to first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, automobile burglary, two counts of forgery, and passing a forged check and his effective sentence of life imprisonment plus twenty-five years. He contends that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his petition without appointing counsel or holding an evidentiary hearing. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LEE WEAVER, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Guy T. Wilkinson, District Public Defender, Camden, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lee Weaver, Jr..

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel McCadams, District Attorney General, and Ed N. McDaniel, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Lee Weaver, Jr., was indicted by the Hardin County Grand Jury for one count of aggravated assault based upon an altercation with his wife which resulted in her broken arm; one count of felony evading arrest; one count of reckless endangerment; and one count of resisting arrest. He entered a negotiated plea to the charges which resulted in an effective sentence of three years. Appellant requested alternative sentencing. After a hearing, the trial court denied his request. On appeal, Appellant argues that the trial court erred in denying his request to serve his sentence in Community Corrections or in the alternative to some form of probation. After a review of the record, we conclude: (1) that Appellant is not eligible for Community Corrections because he committed aggravated assault which is an offense against a person; and (2) that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying probation because it was necessary to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offense. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Group Challenges Law Limiting Anti-Discrimination Protection

Lawyers for local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists were in the Tennessee Court of Appeals Monday arguing for their right to go to trial after a lower court dismissed their case last year, the Nashville City Paper reports. The lead plaintiff on the case is former Belmont University women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe, whose exit from the school in 2010 prompted national media coverage. In response, the Metro Council passed a law demanding that companies working with the government have nondiscrimination policies that include protections for sexual orientation. The state legislature responded by passing a measure that prohibits cities from extending protection to groups not mentioned in the Tennessee Human Rights Act. The groups are challenging that law. The state argues the suit should be dismissed because none of the plaintiffs were actually harmed by the law.


TRO Imposed on Governor’s Plan to Cut Workers

Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to lay off more than 200 state workers hit a snag yesterday when Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Amanda McClendon signed a temporary restraining order requested by state employees. McClendon scheduled a hearing for Monday to hear more about the suit, which alleges that the government is running afoul of a provision that 60-day notice be given prior to termination in order to give employees “career counseling, job testing and placement efforts.” The suit seeks a permanent injunction barring layoffs without notice, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.


Former Public Guardian’s Shopping Fees Reduced

More than a year after the Davidson County public guardian double-billed a ward to take her on a shopping trip, the judge in the case has ordered a repayment. The trip still cost Marlene Spalding $1,462.50, but now she won’t have to pay twice. The Tennessean exposed the double billing and the cost of the shopping trip. On Monday, Davidson Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy reduced the guardian’s final request for fees to account for the double billing. The guardian has since resigned and 40 open cases have been assigned to new conservators.


Report: Lawmakers Skirting Merit Selection in Rhode Island

Rhode Island lawmakers and other elected officials came under fire recently from Common Cause Rhode Island, which accuses legislators and the governor of skirting the intent of the state's merit selection law. Though the law requires the governor to fill a judicial vacancy within 21 days of receiving a list of candidates from the Judicial Nominating Commission, the legislature has routinely enacted legislation allowing the governor to appoint any candidate recommended for the same court in the prior five years. Critics say the practice has whittled away at the merit selection system and turned the courts into bastions of cronyism. Gavel to Gavel has the story.


Know Your Bank Fraud History; Punch Up POA Forms

Nashville lawyer Katie Edge writes in the recent Tennessee Bar Journal about Tennessee's famous bank robbers -- with the spotlight on the Butcher brothers and other fraudsters. In her column, Knoxville lawyer Monica Franklin says to avoid the "plain Jane" durable financial power of attorney and gives tips to punch up the forms you use for DPOAs.


List of Award Nominees Omitted Several Lawyers

A news item in yesterday’s issue of TBA Today listed young lawyers in Nashville who are finalists for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville’s Emerging Leader Awards. Attorneys among the group that should have been included are Miranda Christy and Corinne Martin with Stites & Harbison, who have been nominated in the environment and sustainability category; and Meagan Frazier with Smith Harris & Carr, who has been nominated in the government and public affairs category. See the list of all finalists.


Davidson County Lawyer Takes Inactive Status

The law license of Samuel Wilson Bartholomew Jr., was transferred to disability inactive status on June 11. Bartholomew may not practice law while on disability inactive status. He may return to the practice of law after showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to practice law. Download the BPR notice.


Services Friday for Chattanooga Lawyer

Chattanooga attorney Ralph Russell Armstrong died Saturday (June 8) at the age of 83. Armstrong, the father of 10th Judicial District Criminal Court Judge Amy Reedy, earned his law degree and undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve and Army ROTC, and was a member of the Hamilton County Bar Association. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, 3405 Peerless Road in Cleveland. The family will receive friends from noon to 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 2151, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN, 38101. The Administrative Office of the Courts reported the news.


 
 

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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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