Poll: Voters Want Tougher Judicial Campaign Disclosure Laws

Four out of five voters back stronger disclosure laws for judicial campaigns in state elections, according to the Center for American Progress, which commissioned a new poll. In 2012, a record-setting $29.7 million was spent on TV advertising to influence judicial contests across the nation, the Center said in relying on estimates from Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice, and half of that came from non-candidate groups. The poll also showed that 68 percent of respondents voiced support for non-partisan judicial elections, and a clear majority of voters favor merit selection systems for picking judges. Gavel Grab has the story.

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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
03 - 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

PHILLIP BURT v. DONALD L. MACTAVISH AND BARBARA W. MACTAVISH ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Curtis W. Isabell, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Phillip Burt.

Shelley S. Breeding and Bradley L. Henry, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Donald and Barbara MacTavish.

Judge: FRIERSON

This case presents the issue of whether the trial court properly dismissed the Appellees, Donald and Barbara MacTavish, as parties from the lawsuit below because Plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted pursuant to Rule 12 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Phillip Burt, Plaintiff below, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of all claims against Donald and Barbara MacTavish. We vacate the trial court’s order granting dismissal and remand for further proceedings.


DEAN MOORE, ET AL. v. PAUL BROCK, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Edward L. Boring, Pikeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dean Moore, Trustee for the Dean Henry Moore Living Trust.

Stephen T. Greer, Dunlap, Tennessee, for the appellees, Paul Brock, Russ Quay, Martha Quay, Sandra Quay, and April Quay.

Judge: SWINEY

Dean Moore, Trustee for the Dean Henry Moore Living Trust (“Plaintiff”), Bobby Sullivan, and Willis Songer sued Paul Brock, Sanford Quay, and Russ Quay (“Defendants”) 1 seeking, among other things, a declaration of a boundary line and a judgment for slander of title. After a bench trial, the Trial Court entered its order on June 19, 2012 finding and holding, inter alia, that Plaintiff has superior title over Defendants to the disputed real property, that the title Defendants claimed by quitclaim deed from Jerry Edmonds shall be held for naught, and that Plaintiff did not prove slander of title. Plaintiff appeals to this Court raising an issue regarding whether the Trial Court erred in dismissing his claim for slander of title. Defendants raise an issue regarding whether the Trial Court erred in finding for Plaintiff on the boundary line issue. We find that the evidence does not preponderate against the Trial Court’s findings with regard either to the boundary line dispute or to Plaintiff’s slander of title claim, and we affirm.


MARK BURELL PARRISH v. TAMMY JO SCOTT PARRISH

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

William E. Tallent, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mark Burell Parrish.

Lloyd R. Tatum, Henderson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tammy Jo Scott Parrish.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a divorce case in which the award of alimony in futuro is questioned. Appellant Husband and Appellee Wife were married for approximately thirty years. The trial court granted Husband a divorce, divided certain marital property and debt, and awarded Appellee Wife alimony in futuro in the amount of $850 per month until death or remarriage. Appellant Husband appeals only the award of alimony. From the totality of the circumstances, and specifically based upon Wife’s health issues, her level of education, her employment history, and past earnings, it does not appear that rehabilitation will be possible. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in the type and amount of alimony awarded. Wife’s request for attorney’s fees on appeal is denied. Affirmed and remanded.


TERA DANIELLE WARD v. JOHN PATRICK WARD

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Carrie W. Gasaway, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellant, John Patrick Ward.

Mary Frances Parker, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellee, Tera Danielle Ward.

Judge: KIRBY

In this divorce case, the father appeals the trial court’s designation of the mother as the primary residential parent of the parties’ daughter. The child was born after the parties separated; at the time, the father lived in New Jersey and the mother lived in Tennessee. Divorce proceedings were initiated in Tennessee when the child was six months old; both parents asked to be designated as the child’s primary residential parent. After a trial, the trial court declared the parties divorced and designated the mother as the child’s primary residential parent; the father was granted parenting time for one week per month. The father now appeals, challenging the trial court’s decision to declare the parties divorced and to designate the mother as the child’s primary residential parent. After a careful review of the evidence, we affirm the trial court’s decision to declare the parties divorced, and reverse the designation of the mother as the primary residential parent of the child. We vacate the parenting plan approved by the trial court and remand the cause for entry of an order and parenting plan designating the father as the child’s primary residential parent, with appropriate alternate parenting time for the mother.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHARLIE BURKS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James E. Thomas, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charlie Burks.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Tom Henderson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

The State filed a motion to correct a clerical error pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36, seeking to clarify sentence alignment for three sentences imposed upon appellant, Charlie Burks. Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order clarifying that appellant’s sentences were to be served consecutively. It is from this order that he now appeals. Based on our review, we dismiss the appeal.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANTONIO GRANDBERRY
With Dissenting and Concurring Opinion

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Neil Umsted, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antonio Grandberry.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy Weirich, District Attorney General; and Chris Larreau, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Antonio Grandberry (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of especially aggravated robbery. Pursuant to an agreement between the Defendant and the State, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to eighteen years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction. Additionally, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in not instructing the jury on the offense of facilitation of especially aggravated robbery. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction of especially aggravated robbery or any of the lesser-included offenses pertaining to robbery but is sufficient as to the lesser-included offense of aggravated assault. Accordingly, we modify the Defendant’s especially aggravated robbery conviction to aggravated assault and remand this matter for a new sentencing hearing.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DWAYLAN DUPREE HOUSE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert L. Thomas, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dwaylan Dupree House.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Julie K. Pillow, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Dwaylan Dupree House, contends (1) that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his jury convictions, (2) that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal and motion for new trial, and (3) that the trial court’s imposition of a ten-year sentence and $2,882.22 in restitution was excessive. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions for vandalism and burglary, reverse the sentence imposed, and remand for resentencing.


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. HERMAN MCKINLEY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Tony N. Brayton (on appeal) and Jim Hale (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Herman McKinley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Eric Christenson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Herman McKinley, was found guilty by a Shelby County jury of second degree murder, attempted first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and unlawful possession of a handgun as a convicted felony. Following a sentencing hearing, he was sentenced to an effective term of one hundred thirty-one years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the imposition of consecutive sentencing. Following review of the record, we affirm the convictions and sentences as imposed.


SIDNEY PORTERFIELD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul J. Bruno, Nashville, Tennessee, and Hershell D. Koger, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sidney Porterfield.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and John Campbell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Sidney Porterfield, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. See State v. Porterfield, 746 S.W.2d 441 (Tenn. 1988). After his petition for post-conviction relief was denied, the petitioner filed a motion to reopen post-conviction proceedings, maintaining that he was intellectually disabled and thus ineligible to be sentenced to death. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petitioner relief, and the petitioner appealed. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DANIEL E. POTTEBAUM, SR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal); and David Christensen, Brentwood, Tennessee (at post-conviction hearing); for the appellant, Daniel E. Pottebaum, Sr.

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

Judge: THOMAS

The Petitioner, Daniel E. Pottebaum, Sr., contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at his retrial and cites the following bases in support of that contention: (1) trial counsel’s failure to object to the Petitioner’s testimony from his first trial being read into the record at his second trial where he chose not to testify; (2) trial counsel’s failure to move for a severance of the domestic assault offense from the unrelated sexual abuse offenses; and (3) trial counsel’s failure to object to the jury instruction on flight. After reviewing the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Purchase of Used or Secondhand Items by Municipalities and Counties

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-06-10

Opinion Number: 44


Referendum on Deannexation

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-06-11

Opinion Number: 45


Constitutionality of Rule Limiting Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-06-17

Opinion Number: 46


A.A. Birch Scholarships Given to Belmont, UT Law Students

The two inaugural awards for the Justice Adolpho A. Birch Jr. Memorial Scholarship were presented to rising second-year Belmont University College of Law student Candace Meagan Carter and University of Tennessee College of Law student J. Nasrollashi, a rising third-year student. The family of the late Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Birch Jr. and the Napier-Looby Bar Foundation announced the establishment of the scholarships earlier this year. The scholarships, supported by the Adolpho A. Birch Jr. Legal Education Fund, are the beginning of an ongoing effort to recognize Justice Birch’s commitment to academic excellence, public service and diversity in the legal and judicial professions. Download the press release.


NALP: Law Grad Employment Picture is 'Mixed'

Overall employment rate for the law class of 2012 fell by 1 percent compared to a year ago, according to figures released Thursday by NALP. It marked the fifth straight year that the overall employment figure has fallen, although the actual number of jobs obtained by new graduates was up slightly, as was the median starting salary. "The employment picture remains decidedly mixed,” NALP executive director James Leipold said. “However, with the Class of 2012 we see the beginning of a rebounding private practice sector, particularly at large law firms—and, with that, we see some rebounding salary numbers.” The National Law Journal has the story. 


Obama Nominates Lawyers to FEC, FTC and FBI

President Barack Obama announced today the nominations of three lawyers to serve as commissioners on the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Election Commission. Obama nominated Ann Revel and Lee Goodman to the FEC and Terrell McSweeny to the FTC. Additionally, Obama nominated former deputy attorney general James Comey to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Blog of the Legal Times has more.


DOJ: Virgin Atlantic Deal Not an Antitrust Threat

The Department of Justice and the European Commission approved a deal for Delta Air Lines to buy a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic, stating the deal does not pose an antitrust threat. They concluded that Delta and Virgin Atlantic will still be competing against a strong alliance between American Airlines and British Airways, as well as other airlines. The deal still needs approval from the U.S. Transportation Department, which Delta hopes to get later this year. The Memphis Daily News has the story.


Democrat Leaders Oppose New Teacher Salary Schedule

Democratic leaders oppose the proposal by the state Department of Education that seeks to change the minimum teacher salary schedule, the Memphis Daily News reports. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the proposal could deter individuals looking to teach in Tennessee. According to WATE, the new schedule increases base pay, but reduces incremental pay steps from 21 to four. It also eliminates pay increases for training higher than a Master's degree. The Tennessee Board of Education approved the proposal 6-3 today.


Displaced Residents Seek Legal Help

Residents who have been displaced by a fire are now facing other problems, as some have apparently been told to sign documents without reading them by a management company, WRCBTV reports. Some of the residents knew to call Legal Aid, and were able to speak to attorney Emily O'Donnell, who offered help. Russel Fowler, who also works for legal aid, said, "These documents may be perfectly fine. When a person asks you to sign a legal document without looking at it , you should run and run fast."


Bone McAllester Norton Renovates Office

Nashville-based Bone McAllester Norton PLLC is renovating its downtown office space at the Nashville City Center by expanding in the building’s 18th floor. The Nashville business Journal reports that Bone McAllester, which has just over 30 attorneys, is adding more conference and general purpose meeting space as well as space to add more attorneys over time.


Attorney, Others Honored at 'Most Powerful Women' Event

The Nashville Post and partner CABLE on Wednesday hosted the third annual Most Powerful Women symposium at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The event brought almost 200 people to listen to a roundtable discussion among honorees Stacey Garrett of Bone McAllester, Sherry Stewart Deutschmann of LetterLogic, Jacky Akbari of the Nashville Career Advancement Center and Janet Miller of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.


Court Grants 4 Case Reviews

The Tennessee Supreme Court has granted review in two criminal cases and two civil matters, Raybin-Perky Hot List reports. The criminal case issues include an ineffective assistance of counsel claim in a death penalty case regarding mental health proof; and whether expunged convictions may still be challenged in post-conviction proceedings where there are lingering immigration consequences. On the civil front, the court will determine whether a trial court may require a prevailing party to draft a summary judgment order without offering its own legal reasoning, and whether an inmate in state custody, but in a privately operated facility, may only bring a lawsuit in the county in which the facility is located as opposed to the corporation headquarters in Nashville. 


Shelby County Attorney Suspended

Memphis attorney Karen Wilson Tyler was suspended June 19 for one year, retroactive to April 5, when she was temporarily suspended for failure to respond to a complaint. In September 2012, the board filed a petition for discipline alleging that Tyler failed to competently and diligently handle the administration of an estate, for making a statement against the integrity of a chancellor, and upon her failure to properly respond to a request for information from the board. Download the BPR notice.


Dyer County Lawyer Placed on Disability Inactive Status

The law license of Robert David Strickland was transferred to disability inactive status. He may return to the practice of law after reinstatement by the Tennessee Supreme Court upon showing of clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law. Download the BPR notice.


 
 

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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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