LAET Honors Pro Bono Stars at Event

Legal Aid of East Tennessee tonight is honoring attorneys and firms who donated their time serving pro bono clients over the past year. U.S. Rep Chuck Fleischmann will be receiving the Chief Justice William M. Barker Equal Access to Justice Award for his lifelong commitment to access to justice. Also being honored is Chattanooga attorney Max Bahner of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel P.C., who is receiving the Bruce C. Bailey Volunteer Lawyer of the Year Award for his work on two challenging, litigation-heavy and compelling cases. A third award will be presented to Miller & Martin PLLC, which is being named the Pro Bono Firm of the Year for its strong support for Legal Aid of East Tennessee.

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
05 - TN Court of Appeals
12 - 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

PEARLIE MAE DUNIGAN, Next of Kin/Personal Representative of Estate of GROVER DUNIGAN, Deceased v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Pearlie Mae Dunigan, Chattanooga, Tennessee, pro se

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William Young, Solicitor General, Pamela S. Lorch, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal involves a claim for damages filed with the Tennessee Claims Commission, arising out of the death of an inmate while he was housed in a state penitentiary. The Claims Commission denied the claimant’s motion for a default judgment. Thereafter, the Claims Commission determined that the gravamen of the complaint was for medical malpractice, and consequently, it granted the State’s motion to dismiss based upon the claimant’s failure to comply with various provisions of the Medical Malpractice Act. The claimant appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm.


SAMUEL E. FOSTER ET AL. v. WALTER WILLIAM CHILES, III ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

John D. Agee and Bradley D. Williams, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellants, Samuel E. Foster and Mary Foster.

F. Michael Fitzpatrick and Rachel Park Hurt, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Covenant Health and Parkwest Medical Center.

Stephen C. Daves, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Walter William Chiles, III, M.D. and Knoxville Urology Clinic, P.C.

Edward G. White, II, and B. Chase Kibler, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Gordon Lee Collins, M.D. and Anesthesia Medical Alliance of East Tennessee, P.C.

Judge: SUSANO

This is a health care liability case. Samuel E. Foster and his wife, Mary Foster, timely filed a complaint after properly sending pre-suit notices to the potential defendants as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a) (2012). After nonsuiting their first lawsuit, they timely filed a second complaint in which they alleged the same cause of action against the same defendants. The second complaint alleged compliance with section 121(a), citing the notices already properly sent before the first complaint was filed. The trial court dismissed the second complaint with prejudice based upon the court’s determination that plaintiffs failed to satisfy the notice requirement of section 121(a). We hold that plaintiffs complied with section 121(a)’s notice requirement by giving a written notice of their potential health care liability claim to each defendant at least 60 days prior to the filing of their second complaint. We further hold that section 121 does not mandate dismissal with prejudice for noncompliance with its terms, and that plaintiffs’ inadvertent failure to file – with the second complaint – proof of their service of the subject notices does not warrant dismissal with prejudice. We vacate the trial court’s order of dismissal and remand for further proceedings.


LISA HOWE, ET AL. v. BILL HASLAM, as Governor of the State of Tennessee, in his official capacity

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Abby R. Rubenfeld, Nashville; Shannon P. Minter, Amy Whelan, Christopher Stoll, San Francisco, CA; James E. Hough, Leah Andrea Ramos, Benjamin Smiley, New York, NY, for the appellants, Lisa Howe, Erik Cole, Erica Gilmore, Mike Jameson, Shirit Pankowsky, Marisa Richmond, Wesley Roberts, The Tennessee Equality Project, and The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, Adam B. Futrell, Assistant Attorney General, William J. Marrett, Jr., Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bill Haslam, as Governor of the State of Tennessee, is his official capacity

Judge: HIGHERS

Plaintiffs filed a complaint asserting a constitutional challenge to HB600. The trial court, however, dismissed the complaint because it found Plaintiffs lacked standing because they had failed to allege an injury-in-fact, that their claims were not ripe for review, and that they were merely seeking an advisory opinion. Plaintiffs timely appealed to this court. However, we dismiss the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and we remand the case to the trial court for resolution of Plaintiffs’ Motion and Memorandum to Amend Complaint and for further proceedings, as necessary, consistent with this opinion.


LARRY SNEED V. THE CITY OF RED BANK, TENNESSEE A MUNICIPALITY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Nathan D. Rowell, Dan. R. Pilkington, and Brian R. Bibb, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, the City of Red Bank, Tennessee, a municipality.

R. Jonathan Guthrie, McKinley S. Lundy, Jr., C. Leland Davis, and Bryan H. Hoss, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Larry Sneed.

Judge: MCCLARTY

After his discharge as the Chief of Police for Red Bank, Tennessee, Larry Sneed filed suit against Red Bank pursuant to the Tennessee Human Rights Act and the Tennessee Public Protection Act. He requested a jury trial on both claims. Red Bank filed a motion to transfer to circuit court and to proceed without a jury pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. The trial court transferred the case and ordered the case to proceed without a jury on the Tennessee Public Protection Act claim. Relying on University of Tennessee of Chattanooga v. Farrow, E2000-02386-COA-R9-CV, 2001 WL 935467 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 16, 2001), the court held that the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act did not preclude a jury trial on the remaining claim. Red Bank pursued this interlocutory appeal. We reverse the decision of the trial court and hold that the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act applies to claims brought against a municipality pursuant to the Tennessee Human Rights Act; therefore, that claim must also be tried without a jury.


AMY WHEATLEY SPARKMAN v. JASON AARON SPARKMAN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David W. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jason Aaron Sparkman

C. Timothy Crocker, Michael A. Carter, J. Noble Grant, III, Ryan L. Hall, Milan, Tennessee, for the appellee, Amy Wheatley Sparkman

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal involves post-divorce proceedings arising out of numerous disputes between the parties. The only rulings that are challenged on appeal are the trial court’s conclusions that: (1) Father was required to pay uncovered medical expenses for the children’s counseling, pursuant to the divorce decree; and (2) Father must pay $14,000 of Mother’s attorney’s fees. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court’s decision on both issues.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

EDGAR BAILEY, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Edgar Bailey, Jr., Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; and Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Convicted of felony murder, three counts of aggravated assault, and setting fire to personal property, petitioner, Edgar Bailey, Jr., filed the instant petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging that the indictment under which he was tried and convicted for felony murder was defective in that it did not bear a return date from the grand jury and that the State withheld it from him prior to trial. He further claims that the allegedly defective indictment constitutes newly discovered evidence for the purpose of error coram nobis proceedings. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.


KENNETH COLEMAN BENEFIEL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Shon D. Johnson, Paris, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Kenneth Coleman Benefiel.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Hansel Jay McCadams, District Attorney General; and Scott A. Rich, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Kenneth Coleman Benefiel, appeals the Henry County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his guilty plea to soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-529(a), (e)(1). On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was entered unknowingly and involuntarily. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


GEORGE CAMPBELL, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Lance R. Chism, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, George Campbell, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General, and Kirby May, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, George Campbell, Jr., was convicted by a jury in Memphis of felony murder and aggravated assault and sentenced to life in prison in 1994. See State v. George Campbell, Jr., No. 02-C-01-9408-CR00165, 1996 WL 368224, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, June 28, 1996), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Jan. 6, 1997). His convictions and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. Id. Petitioner later sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief and this Court affirmed the decision of the post-conviction court. See George Campbell, Jr. v. State, No. W2002-00703-CCA-R3-PC, 2001 WL 1042112, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Sept. 10, 2001), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Dec. 27, 2001). Then Petitioner sought relief via the writ of habeas corpus on the basis that his convictions were void for various reasons. The trial court denied relief and this Court affirmed the denial of habeas corpus relief on appeal. See George Campbell, Jr. v. Bruce Westbrooks, No. W2002-02086-CCA-R3-CO, 2003 WL 22309471, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Oct. 6, 2003). Petitioner also sought redress in the form of a motion of writ of error coram nobis in which he claimed that newly discovered evidence may have resulted in a different judgment at trial had the evidence been admitted at the trial. See George Campbell, Jr. v. State, No. W2007-00820-CCA-R3-CO, 2008 WL 2219305, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, May 28, 2008). This Court affirmed the dismissal of the petition for writ of error coram nobis on the basis that it was untimely and “nothing in the record implicate[d] any due process concerns that would require that the statute of limitations be tolled.” Id. at *2. Petitioner filed a second petition for writ of error coram nobis that is the subject of the appeal herein. After a hearing concerning the timeliness of the petition, the trial court entered an order finding that Petitioner’s claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations pertaining to coram nobis petitions and that due process did not require the rolling of the statute of limitations. After a thorough review of the record, we agree with the determination made by the trial court. The petition was filed more than one year after the judgment became final. Further, Petitioner has shown no reason that due process would require the tolling of the statute. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL ALLEN GIBBS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Patrick Dollar, Medina, Tennessee (at trial); and J. Daniel Rogers, Medina, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Michael Allen Gibbs.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Garry G. Brown, District Attorney General; and Jerald M. Campbell and Edward Larry Hardister, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Michael Allen Gibbs, was convicted by a Haywood County jury of first degree felony murder, especially aggravated burglary, and attempted especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by failing to give a jury instruction on accomplice testimony. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court should have instructed the jury with respect to the legal status of the State’s witness but that the error was harmless. However, because the Defendant’s conviction for especially aggravated burglary is precluded by statute, that conviction is modified to one for aggravated burglary with imposition of a five-year sentence. We affirm the judgments of the trial court in all other respects.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LASHUN GRAY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph S. Ozment (on appeal) and Larry Eugene Copeland, Jr., (at trial), Memphis Tennessee, for the appellant, Lashun Gray.

Coleman Garrett (at trial and on appeal) and David Stowers (on appeal), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stanley Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul Hagerman and Neal Oldham, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendants, Lashun Gray and Stanley Williams, were tried jointly before a Shelby County Criminal Court jury. Defendant Gray was convicted of attempt to commit first degree murder, a Class A felony, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202, 39-12-101, 39-17-1324 (2010). He was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to consecutive sentences of twenty-four years for the attempted first degree murder conviction and ten years for the firearm violation, for an effective thirty-four-year sentence. Defendant Williams was convicted of first degree murder, attempt to commit first degree murder, a Class A felony, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. See id. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the first degree murder conviction and as a Range I, standard offender to consecutive terms of twenty-four years for the attempted first degree murder conviction and ten years for the firearm violation, for an effective sentence of life plus thirty-four years. On appeal, Defendant Gray contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for attempted first degree murder, (2) the trial court erred by allowing the medical examiner to testify about the effects of a gunshot wound on a living person, and (3) the court erred during sentencing. Defendant Williams contends that (4) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for attempted first degree murder and the firearm violation, and (5) the court erred in instructing the jury regarding criminal responsibility. We affirm the Defendants’ convictions, but because of inappropriate sentences, we reverse the Defendants’ judgments for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and remand the case for entry of judgments reflecting six-year sentences.


MARIO GREEN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Sean Hord, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mario Green.

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

Judge: BIVINS

Mario Green (“the Petitioner”) was convicted by a Shelby County jury of two counts of second degree murder. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced the Petitioner to twenty years’ incarceration. The Petitioner subsequently filed for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied following an evidentiary hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. After reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


LARRY KEITH HUDDLE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ilya I. Berenshteyn, Bristol, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry Keith Huddle.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and Julie Canter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

In June 1998, petitioner, Larry Keith Huddle, entered a “no contest” plea to one count of attempted aggravated sexual battery. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he received an eightyear sentence, with thirty-five percent release eligibility, to be served in community corrections. His sentence expired in 2004, but he remained under community supervision for life. In 2011, petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he pleaded guilty without knowing that he would be subject to community supervision for life. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition, finding that the petition was not timely. On appeal, petitioner contends that Ward v. State, 315 S.W.3d 461 (Tenn. 2010), announced a new rule of constitutional law that should be applied retroactively, which would toll the statute of limitations and render his petition for post-conviction relief timely. He further argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that the State now carries the burden of proving that the failure to advise him of the condition of community supervision for life was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Following our review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


EDWARD THOMAS KENDRICK, III v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ann C. Short (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee; Jeffrey Schaarschmidt and Jason Demastus (at post-conviction hearing), Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Edward Thomas Kendrick, III.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Lacy Wilbur, Assistant Attorney General; Bill Cox, District Attorney General; and Lance Pope, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Edward Thomas Kendrick, III (“the Petitioner”) was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder. This Court affirmed the Petitioner’s conviction on direct appeal. The Petitioner filed for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal followed. Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we are constrained to conclude that the Petitioner established that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, because it is reasonably likely that a jury would have convicted him of a lesser degree of homicide absent the deficiencies in his trial counsel’s performance. Accordingly, we must reverse the Petitioner’s conviction and remand this matter for further proceedings.


GREGORY G. KILGORE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William F. Kroeger, Springfield, Tennessee, for the Appellant, George G. Kilgore.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel, Criminal Justice Division; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Arthur Bieber, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

Following a bench trial, a Montgomery County Circuit Court convicted the Petitioner, Gregory G. Kilgore, of aggravated robbery and possession with the intent to sell or deliver .5 grams or more of cocaine. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to twelve years for each conviction to be served concurrently, in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, and this Court affirmed the conviction. State v. George C. Kilgore, No. M2009-01539-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 2483546, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, June 21, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. October 20, 2010). The Petitioner timely filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. The Petitioner appeals the post-conviction court’s denial, claiming that his attorney’s failure to adequately cross-examine a witness and to procure a surveillance video constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record, the briefs, and relevant authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.


VERSHAWN MCCOY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert C. Brooks, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Vershawn McCoy.

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

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Vershawn McCoy, was convicted by a Shelby County jury for second degree murder. The trial court sentenced him to a twenty-year sentence to be served at 100%. He unsuccessfully appealed to this Court. State v. Vershawn McCoy, No. W2009-01222-CCAR3- CD, 2010 WL 4540076 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Nov. 9, 2010). Subsequently, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that he was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied the petition after an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner now appeals the denial of his petition. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has been unable to prove either deficient performance on the part of trial counsel, or prejudice even if deficient performance had been found. Therefore, we affirm the denial of the petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES SCOTT O’BRIEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Roger E. Nell, District Public Defender (on appeal); and Edward Swinger, Nashville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, James Scott O’Brien.

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

Judge: WITT

The defendant, James Scott O’Brien, appeals the Robertson County Circuit Court’s order that he serve in confinement nine months of the 30-month sentence imposed for his conviction of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. Because the record supports the sentencing order, we affirm.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. COLTON D. WHITELOW

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Danny H. Goodman, Jr., Tiptonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Colton D. Whitelow.

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

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Colton D. Whitelow, was indicted for first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and aggravated assault. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of the lesser included offenses of voluntary manslaughter and reckless homicide and acquitted of the aggravated assault charge. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-211, -215. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective ten-year sentence. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the length of his sentences were excessive; and (2) that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Confusion Mounts About Choosing Holder’s Successor

Justice Janice Holder’s announcement yesterday that she will retire after her term ends in August 2014 has come at a time when changes in the selection process for judges are both under way and under consideration, complicating and confusing procedures for filling her seat. The announcement came too late for Tennessee’s Judicial Nominating Commission to suggest successors before the commission’s legal authority expires Sunday. Gavel Grab reports that spokespeople for Gov. Bill Haslam and the Administrative Office of the Courts have expressed that it is unclear how Justice Holder’s seat will be filled.


The King of Legal Advertising?

Lots of lawyers know Lucian Pera as an expert on the rights and wrongs of legal advertising, but the Memphis attorney was also singled out this week for his skills in marketing. In the ABA Journal piece “50 simple ways you can market your practice,” the author notes Pera’s practice of skipping the traditional holiday card at Christmas to send out cards celebrating Elvis’ birthday. "For a number of people I do business with, my connection to Memphis is important,” Pera says. “I want them to think about Memphis and think about me, and I don't want there to be more than a half second between those two thoughts.” The Adams and Reese attorney was also featured this week in a podcast on legal advertising ethics from The Life of the Law. Also joining that discussion was Nashville lawyer Matt Hardin of Rudy, Wood, Winstead, Williams & Hardin.


Franklin Man Charged in Romney Tax Scheme

The U.S. Justice Department said a federal grand jury in Nashville indicted and charged Micheal Mancil Brown of Franklin with six counts of wire fraud and six counts of extortion in a scheme involving former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s income tax returns during the 2012 campaign. Brown is accused of having an anonymous letter delivered to the PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP accounting firm in Franklin last August, demanding that $1 million in digital currency be deposited to a Bitcoin account to keep some of Romney's income tax returns from being released. The Nashville City Paper has the story.


Gov. Haslam Hurting Over Pilot Flying J Investigation

Gov. Bill Haslam is hurting over the scandal his family is enduring over the Flying Pilot J investigation, the Nashville Scene reports. Citing a front page article in the Wall Street Journal, the Scene quotes Haslam as saying it is difficult to concentrate. "It's my father, my brother," he says. "I have a job to do, but that doesn't mean that inside you aren't hurting." The article also delves into the Flying Pilot J finances and Jimmy Haslam’s acquisition of the Cleveland Browns football team.


State Child Support Forum Held Today

State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, hosted a community meeting today at the Kingdom Center in Chattanooga to inform parents of child support laws and hear their concerns. Hundreds of people have complained that they have been put in jail, had their driver's licenses revoked and lost housing because they did not earn enough money to pay child support and living expenses, Favors told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The forum intended to teach parents about legal aspects of child support and the federal grant programs available in Hamilton County that can provide specific assistance to parents. As of Tuesday there were 23,729 open child support cases in Hamilton County, said Christopher Garrett, director of communications with the Tennessee Department of Human Services.


Court Rules Companies Have Religious Rights

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit said today that companies, whether for profit or not, have religious rights. Arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Christian bookstore chain Mardel Inc. challenged a part of the 2010 healthcare overhaul requiring that employee health insurance plans include free contraceptive coverage. The court sent the case back to a federal district judge for further consideration but ruled that the two companies could likely make their case although it stopped short of blocking the contraceptive mandate. The Wall Street Journal law blog has the story (Subscription required.)


Senate Passes Immigration Bill

In a 68-32 vote, the Senate today passed the most sweeping, historic immigration legislation in decades, the Tennessean reports. The measure will offer the hope of American citizenship to millions of people, while promising a military-style surge to secure the border. The measure now heads to the House, although prospects there are not nearly as good as many conservatives oppose the reform.


State Cracks Down on Gang Violence

Gov. Bill Haslam held a ceremonial bill signing in Memphis yesterday for legislation (HB 196/SB 202) that rewrites and simplified the criminal gang offense enhanced punishment law. According to the Chattanoogan, gang-related crimes are of increasing concern across Tennessee, in the state’s rural and urban communities, and the bill changes the definition of “criminal gang offense” from a vague and broad definition to a specific list of offenses that will make it easier for prosecutors to seek a greater sentence.


State Lawmakers Split On Syrian Involvement

Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais, R-Jasper, has introduced legislation that would forbid U.S. military involvement in Syria, Nashville Public Radio reports. It’s the opposite position of fellow Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, who has been outspoken in support of pressing for a more active role in Syria. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, along with Republicans representatives Diane Black, Jimmy Duncan and Phil Roe have expressed reservations about increased U.S. involvement. Sen. Lamar Alexander says U.S. intervention is likely, but the administration should consult with congress first. And he said the president should avoid getting U.S. forces involved in another war in the Middle East.


Save the Date: Tennessee Judiciary Museum

The Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society will unveil Phase II of the Tennessee Judiciary Museum on Dec. 5. The evening will feature a short program with cocktails and heavy hors d’oerves at the Hermitage Hotel followed by a tour of the museum. For more information, contact Linda Knight at (615) 244-4994.


Humphreys County Lawyer Suspended

Humphreys County lawyer James Phillips Bradley was suspended on June 25 for allegedly signing his client’s name to a petition in a child-endangerment matter and notarizing the signature as that of the client. Thereafter, he filed the petition with the trial court and obtained an ex parte custody order. The trial court dismissed the petition upon learning that Bradley had signed the client’s name. In addition to suspension, Bradley must attend an ethics workshop and pay the board’s costs, expenses and court costs. 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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