Chattanooga Lawyer, Former TBA President Dead at 74

Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA President Charles J. Gearhiser died Monday (June 17) at 74. A 1961 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Gearhiser was an original founder of the firm of Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon PLLC, where he practiced until his death. Early in his career, Gearhiser was law clerk to U.S. District Judge Frank W. Wilson, and served in that position during the historic Jimmy Hoffa trial in 1964. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Tennessee, and then as a part-time U.S. Magistrate. While in private practice, Gearhiser made a name for himself as a prolific litigator, trying over 100 cases before Tennessee juries. His areas of expertise included federal criminal defense, professional liability defense, and product liability, personal injury, commercial and business cases. Gearhiser also has worked to improve the profession, serving as president of the Chattanooga Bar Association, chair of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation, member of the Judicial Performance Program Committee and a charter member of the Tennessee chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He served as president of the TBA from 2001-2002 after serving on the association’s board of governors from 1999 to 2001 and during two earlier stints in 1992 and 1994.

Visitation will be held Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 E. Brainerd Rd., Chattanooga 37421. A service honoring his life will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Gearhiser’s late wife, Joy. Donations may be sent to 7625 Hamilton Park Dr., Suite 22, Chattanooga, TN 37421.

Today's Opinions

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00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
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TN Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List
CORRECTED LIST FROM 6/17/13: On page 3, the appellate court case number has been added to the case of Jeannie McGinnis Caldwell v. The Vanderbilt University DBA Vanderbilt University Medical Center et al; on page 3, the trial court case number has been added to the case of In Re: Angel F. et al; and on page 11, the trial judge has been corrected to Judge Dan Michael and the appellate judge has been corrected to Judge Alan Highers in the case of Patricia Ann Gho Massey v. Gregory Joel Casals.

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE EX REL. PAUL ALLEN, ET AL. v. THE CITY OF NEWPORT, TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David S. Wigler and Adam S. Moncier, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, State of Tennessee ex rel. Paul Allen, Jeff Evans, Hawley Transport Services, Jack Briggs, Steve Smith, Estella Gray & Ann Kyker, Kaye Ramsey, Evelyn Smith, Craig Chrisman, Tennessee Tobacco Sales, Inc., and Betty Bewley.

Charlton R. DeVault, Jr., Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Newport, Tennessee.

Judge: MCCLARTY

The City of Newport sought to annex certain properties in Cocke County, Tennessee. A number of affected parties objected to the annexation and filed a complaint against the City. The trial court allowed the plaintiffs to amend their complaint to allege that the City was barred from annexing their properties because it had defaulted on a prior plan of services from an earlier annexation. The City filed a motion to dismiss. The trial court granted the City’s motion on the ground that the statutory amendments on which the plaintiffs relied to support their claim could not be retroactively applied. The plaintiffs appeal. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.


IN RE JAKAEHA A. L., ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Meghan A. King, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ebony C. L.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter, and Marcie E. Greene, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.

John W. Stephenson, Knoxville, Tennessee, Guardian ad Litem.

Judge: MCCLARTY

This is a parental rights termination appeal. The Department of Children’s Services petitioned to terminate the parental rights of the mother2 to her daughters, ages three and one. The ground alleged was severe child abuse against a half sibling for which the mother was sentenced to more than two years imprisonment. After conducting a hearing, the trial court terminated the mother’s parental rights pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1- 113(g)(4) and (5) upon finding that termination was in the best interest of the children. The mother appeals. We affirm.


IN THE MATTER OF: JOZIE C.A.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael A. Carter, C. Timothy Crocker, J. Noble Grant, III and Ryan Landry Hall, Milan, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Arnold.

Elizabeth G. Ford, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Karen Rosebrough.

Judge: FARMER

The trial court granted Mother’s petition to modify custody and name Mother primary residential parent. We affirm.


ANDREW DOUGLAS SPRAGUE v. MARY NELLE SPRAGUE
CORRECTION

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

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

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

Judge: SUSANO

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 $2,124.32, 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).


FRANDA WEBB, ET AL. v. FIRST TENNESSEE BROKERAGE, INC., ET AL.
CORRECTION: Opinion previously filed on 4/23/13 is withdrawn and replaced by the attached opinion.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Mark D. Griffin, Kristine L. Roberts, and William E. Routt, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, First Tennessee Brokerage, Inc., and Michael Conaty.

John A. Lucas and Lane E. McCarty, Alcoa, Tennessee, for the appellees, Franda Webb, and D.P., a minor, by and through his legal custodian, Franda Webb, citizens and Residents of Knox County, Tennessee.

Judge: MCCLARTY

In this appeal, we are asked to determine whether the trial court properly denied the defendants’ motion to compel arbitration and to stay proceedings. The defendants assert that Ms. Webb signed an agreement to arbitrate “all controversies” when she opened the brokerage account with them. The trial court determined, inter alia, that the arbitration agreement was not enforceable under state law, that Ms. Webb did not agree to arbitration, and that the account representative fraudulently induced Ms. Webb to enter into the agreement. We affirm the decision of the trial court only as to arbitration; we vacate any findings that go to the merits of the underlying case and remand for further proceedings.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

DON MASK BROWN, JR. V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Don Mask Brown, Jr., pro se, appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Don Mask Brown, Jr., (“the Petitioner”) was convicted by a jury of second degree murder and aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of fifty-five years’ incarceration. The Petitioner, pro se, subsequently filed a petition for post- conviction relief. The post-conviction court summarily denied relief, and this appeal followed. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.


PATRICK DEVIN CAMP v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kenneth D. Hale, Bristol, Tennessee (on appeal); and Lynn Dougherty (at post-conviction hearing), Bristol, Tennessee, for the appellant, Patrick Devin Camp.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; and Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Petitioner, Patrick Devin Camp, appeals as of right from the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Pursuant to the terms of a negotiated plea agreement, the Petitioner pled guilty to second degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated kidnapping and received an effective sentence of forty years. On appeal, the Petitioner challenges the voluntariness of his guilty plea and the performance of trial counsel. Specifically, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, leading to an involuntary plea, because trial counsel (1) failed to adequately communicate with him; (2) failed to inform him of State v. Dixon, 957 S.W.2d 532 (Tenn. 1997), due process issues; (3) failed to inform him of the factors involved in a consecutive sentencing determination; (4) failed to properly investigate the case; (5) failed to assess his mental status; (6) “abandoned” the Petitioner’s request to withdraw the plea; and (7) “never intended to fully represent [the Petitioner].” Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. PAUL ROBERT CARRIER, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Randy C. Camp and David W. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Paul Carrier.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; and Garry Brown, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Paul Robert Carrier, Jr., who was a police officer, was indicted by the Gibson County Grand Jury for one count of reckless homicide for a shooting death that occurred while he was on duty. Following a change of venue, he was tried by a jury in Montgomery County. The jury convicted him as charged. The trial court sentenced Appellant to two years incarceration and denied his request for judicial diversion. On appeal, Appellant argues that the trial court erred in allowing certain testimony at trial and in denying his request for judicial diversion. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not err and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CASEY COLBERT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul K. Guibao (on appeal), and Arthur Horne and Murray Wells (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Casey Colbert.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy Weirich, District Attorney General; and Stacy McEndree and Kevin Rardin, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Casey Colbert (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of first degree felony murder; attempted aggravated robbery; employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; two counts of bribing a witness; and two counts of coercing a witness. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment for the murder conviction. After a hearing, the trial court merged the two convictions for coercing a witness into a single conviction and sentenced the Defendant to six years for the attempted aggravated robbery conviction; six years for the firearm conviction; six years for each of the bribery convictions; and four years for the coercion conviction. The trial court ordered partial consecutive service for an effective sentence of life plus twenty-two years, all to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is not sufficient to support his murder conviction; (2) the trial court erred in consolidating the offenses against the witness with the other offenses; (3) the prosecutor engaged in improper argument; (4) cumulative errors entitle him to a new trial; and (5) his sentence is excessive. Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we hold that the trial court committed error in consolidating the indictments. As to the Defendant’s convictions of first degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery, we hold that the trial court’s error was harmless. As to the Defendant’s convictions for bribing and coercing a witness, we hold that the error was not harmless. Accordingly, we reverse the Defendant’s convictions of bribing and coercing a witness and remand those charges for further proceedings. Because the Defendant did not employ a firearm during the commission of a “dangerous felony,” as that term is defined by statute, we reverse the Defendant’s conviction of that offense. We affirm the Defendant’s convictions of first degree felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery, and we remand this matter for a new sentencing hearing on those offenses.


TONY ARNESS DEGRAFFREED v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard McFall, Covington, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tony Arness Degraffreed.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Jason Poyner, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Tony Arness Degraffreed, appeals from the denial of his petition for post- conviction relief, wherein he challenged his Tipton County Circuit Court jury conviction of rape of a child. In this appeal, he contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.


MITCHELL DARNELL EADS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mitchell Darnell Eads.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha M. Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Mitchell Darnell Eads, filed in the Claiborne County Criminal Court a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to object to the admission of certain evidence at trial and by erroneously stipulating at the sentencing hearing that the petitioner was a career offender. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner currently appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. JEREMY J. EDICK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Rickey W. Griggs, Assistant Public Defender, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeremy J. Edick.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Bob Gray, Assistant District Attorney, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Jeremy J. Edick (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of one count of rape of a child, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, one count of solicitation of rape of a child, and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of fifty years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence regarding his conviction for rape of a child. He also argues that the trial court erred in ordering partial consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


THOMAS W. FARR v. TONY HOWERTON, WARDEN AND STATE OF TENNESSEE
CORRECTION: On page 1, the spelling of John Bledsoe's name has been corrected.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Thomas W. Farr, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; and Russell Johnson, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Thomas W. Farr, appeals the Morgan County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his effective thirty- eight-year sentence is void. Upon review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


JAMES GIBBS v. JERRY LESTER, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James Gibbs, pro se, Henning, Tennessee, as the appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

James Gibbs (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the trial court erred in not giving him his proper community corrections credit. The habeas corpus court dismissed his petition without a hearing, stating that the Petitioner failed to allege a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief and that he failed to establish that his sentence had expired. The Petitioner now appeals. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we hold that the Petitioner has failed to demonstrate that his sentence has expired. Accordingly, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment denying relief.


MIKEL C. HAMRICK v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mikel C. Hamrick, Henning, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Glen Baity, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Mikel C. Hamrick, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for reinstatement of his probationary sentence. Because the trial court correctly concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to reinstate the defendant’s probation, we affirm.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRANDON L. KIRK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Roger E. Nell (on appeal), District Public Defender; and Timothy J. Richter (at trial), Assistant Public Defender; for the appellant, Brandon L. Kirk.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jason White, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Brandon L. Kirk, contends (1) that the evidence presented at trial is insufficient to sustain his jury conviction for attempted second degree murder and (2) that the effective twenty-two year sentence imposed by the trial court is inconsistent with the purposes and principles of sentencing because the trial court failed to state the facts it considered in mitigation and to make the requisite findings to impose consecutive sentencing. After our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


CHAUNCEY MOORE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ryan C. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chauncey Moore.

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

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Chauncey Moore, was indicted by a Davidson County Grand Jury for one count of attempting to commit premeditated murder and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. He entered a guilty plea to the lesser included offense of attempt to commit manslaughter and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Petitioner was sentenced to two years at thirty percent for the attempt to commit voluntary manslaughter conviction and six years at 100 percent for the employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony conviction. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that he was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel and that he entered his guilty plea unknowingly and involuntarily. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to prove any of his allegations that counsel’s representation was ineffective and that his plea was entered knowingly and voluntarily. Therefore, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of the petition.


LEON MORRIS v. HENRY STEWARD, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Leon Morris, Tiptonville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Leon Morris, appeals from the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. QUINCY D. MOUTRY, ALIAS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

John M. Boucher, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee (at trial); and Cameron D. Bell, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Quincy D. Moutry, alias.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha M. Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Quincy D. Moutry, alias, was convicted by a jury of multiple offenses arising from a carjacking in March of 2008. He received an effective twenty-seven-year sentence for those convictions. In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by allowing the State to amend the date of the offenses alleged in the presentment after the jury had been sworn. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, the judgments are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LESERGIO D. WILSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal); and Gary Tamkin and Mary Kathryn Harcombe (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lesergio D. Wilson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Tom Thurman and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Lesergio D. Wilson, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court convictions of felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motions to suppress both the statement he made to police and the evidence seized in his traffic stop, that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive service of his sentences. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Today's News

TBA Board Fills 3 Vacancies at Saturday Meeting

The TBA Board of Governors, meeting Saturday in Nashville, named three lawyers to fill vacancies on the body. They are: Jackson lawyer Michelle Sellers with Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell, who was named West Tennessee Grand Division Governor (Position 1); Memphis lawyer Brian Faughnan with Thomason Hendrix Harvey Johnson Mitchell, who was named West Tennessee Grand Division Governor (Position 2); and Sewanee lawyer Donna Pierce with The University of the South, who was named 4th District Governor.


Paper: AG’s Independence, Influence Makes Him a Target

A string of high-profile opinions during this past legislative session has shown the influence the attorney general has on public policy debates, the Tennesseean reports, suggesting these opinions have made him a target for legislators. Citing opinions issued on topics from animal cruelty to guns in trunks to Vanderbilt University’s nondiscrimination policy, the article maintains that this clout has made Attorney General Robert Cooper a target for those who argue the post requires more public accountability. Seven separate bills were introduced this year seeking to change the way the AG is selected or to change his duties. After nearly seven years in office, Cooper says he is uncertain whether he will seek reappointment after his term ends Sept. 1, 2014.


Panel Wary of Charter School for Juveniles in Custody

Former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton’s plan to extend his charter school network to Nashville hit a roadblock after a review committee “picked apart his plan and recommended denial,” The Commercial Appeal reports. Herenton’s Thurgood Marshall School of Career Development is designed to help high school students in juvenile custody learn entrepreneurial skills. A similar school will open in Shelby County this fall. The Nashville review committee, however, said the application lacked the details needed for the group to understand how the school would operate. The Nashville school board will vote on the recommendation June 25.


Polsinelli Enters Tennessee Market with Chattanooga Office

The Kansas City, Mo., based law firm Polsinelli has opened a regional office in Chattanooga to serve clients from Nashville to Atlanta in corporate, finance, mergers and acquisitions, and real estate matters. The firm, which has offices around the country, works with a variety of industries including chemical manufacturing, health care, oil and gas exploration and real estate. Gregory M. Leitner, formerly with Husch Blackwell, will lead the Chattanooga office. Joining him are K. Chris Collins, Ralph M. Killebrew Jr. and Dustin J. Manning. Read more on the firm’s website.


TBI Rejects Families’ Request to See Baumgartner Files

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has declined to give the parents of murder victims Channon Christian and Chris Newsom access to its files on former judge Richard Baumgartner, who presided over early trials in the murder case but later was removed from office, WATE-TV reports. The parents had requested access to the files arguing that since prosecutors and defense attorneys were able to see the documents, the victims' families should be able to see them as well. "I'm not sure what we'll find, but we should be allowed to see those files and gain knowledge as to what was taking place during that period of time," said Hugh Newsom, father of Chris Newsom. The parents have filed a petition with the court to see the sealed documents but are awaiting a ruling in the matter. They also have asked the court for time to respond to the TBI’s decision.


President Taps Lawyer to Lead Gitmo Closure

President Barack Obama has chosen Clifford Sloan, a high-powered Washington lawyer with extensive experience in government, to be the State Department's special envoy for closing down the prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Sloan, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, has been an informal advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry but also has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations. His task will be to bridge the deep divide between the administration and the Congress, which will be no easy job. As the Associated Press points out, shortly before his appointment was announced, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation prohibiting the president from using defense funds to close the facility. WATE has the story.


State Election Officials to Review Arizona Ruling

Tennessee election officials say they plan to review yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that Arizona’s voter identification requirement is inconsistent with federal law, the Associated Press reports. Two years ago, Tennessee enacted legislation that allows election officials to purge noncitizen residents from election rolls. Under the law, anyone listed as a noncitizen has 30 days to present proof of citizenship or be removed from the rolls. A spokesperson for the Secretary of State says election officials will review the ruling to see if it affects Tennessee law. The Memphis Daily News has the story.


Memphis Judge, Nashville Lawyer Receive TLAP Awards

Memphis Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft has been given the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program’s (TLAP) first Judicial Volunteer of the Year Award. He was recognized for his participation in the Judicial Assistance Group (JAG) – a network of Tennessee judges who volunteer their time to make sure TLAP’s consultation, intervention, expertise and assistance is available to other judges and lawyers. The group also named Nashville lawyer Becky Freeman its attorney volunteer of the year and presented her with the Stephenson Todd Award. Freeman is an attorney with Metro Nashville’s General Sessions Court Probation Department. Read more about the winners in this press release from the program.


Former Memphis Attorney Disbarred

The Tennessee Supreme Court on May 21 disbarred former Memphis lawyer William T. Winchester and ordered him to pay restitution to five clients. Since August 2011, Winchester has been serving a two-year suspension in another case of misconduct. He also was suspended in 2010 for failure to pay his professional privilege tax and in 2011 for failing to comply with continuing legal education requirements. The latest action was taken in response to 10 complaints of ethical misconduct alleging lack of diligence, lack of communication, incompetent representation, abandoning a law practice, and misrepresentations to clients, other lawyers and the Board of Professional Responsibility. Download the BPR notice.


Gibson County Lawyer Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court summarily and temporarily suspended Gibson County lawyer Gregory Wayne Minton from the practice of law on June 14 after determining that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court. Download the BPR notice.


California Lawyer Placed on Disability Inactive Status

By order of the Tennessee Supreme Court entered June 10, the law license of Cindy Lynn Burgess of Napa, Calif., was transferred to disability inactive status. Burgess may not practice law while on inactive status. She may return to the practice of law after showing by clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and she is fit to resume the practice of law. Read the BPR notice.


 
 

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