New Guide Clarifies Legal Info v. Legal Advice

Need help determining when you are giving legal advice and when it's just legal information? The Tennessee Access to Justice Commission has developed guidelines to help. Originally intended to provide assistance to court staff and attorneys assisting in self-help centers, the guidelines grew to become something that anyone assisting self represented litigants could use. The Tennessee Supreme Court has now endorsed this policy, which the commission's Self-Represented Litigants Advisory Committee developed. Learn more at the court's access to justice website, www.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


David A. Stuart, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellants, Dennis Michael Harris and Judy A. Harris.

Jonathan Swann Taylor, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Risk Management Trust.


This appeal concerns whether certain exclusions in a coverage document are permissible. Dennis Michael Harris (“Harris”), then a patrolman with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, was injured when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Mickey Deanne Haynes (“Haynes”). Harris and his wife, Judy A. Harris, (collectively, “the Plaintiffs”) sued Haynes and the alleged owner of the vehicle, Richard H. Furrow, in the Circuit Court for Anderson County (“the Trial Court”). The Plaintiffs also raised claims against Anderson County’s motor vehicle liability coverage provider, Tennessee Risk Management Trust (“TRMT”), for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. TRMT filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that under the relevant coverage document (“the Coverage Document”), Harris was excluded from uninsured coverage as he was an employee of Anderson County who had received workers compensation. The Trial Court granted TRMT’s motion. The Plaintiffs appeal. We hold that Anderson County was self-insured through TRMT, and, therefore, the uninsured/underinsured motorist statutes do not apply. The Coverage Document excluded employees such as Harris from uninsured coverage. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Kay Farese Turner and Madeline L. Nolan, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alexander A. Rogin.

Mitchell D. Moskovitz and Adam N. Cohen, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Joelle L. Rogin.


This appeal involves various financial issues related to a divorce. The trial court: (1) calculated both parents’ incomes for purposes of child support; (2) required Father to pay a portion of the children’s private school tuition; (3) entered a permanent parenting plan giving Mother final authority over major decisions regarding the children; (4) divided the marital property; (5) denied Father’s request for transitional alimony; (6) awarded Father alimony in solido; and (7) denied both parties’ requests for attorneys fees. We: (1) reverse the trial court’s determination that Father is willfully and voluntarily underemployed; (2) vacate the trial court’s calculation of Mother’s income; (3) vacate the trial court’s ruling requiring Father to pay a portion of the children’s private school tuition; and (4) remand for appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law. We affirm as to the remainder of the issues presented. Vacated in part, reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Guadalupe Arroyo.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Philip Morton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Guadalupe Arroyo, pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide and received an effective sentence of twenty-four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. He appealed his sentence twice, and this court remanded his case to the trial court both times. See State v. Guadalupe Arroyo, No. E2002-00639-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 1563209, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. March 27, 2003); State v. Guadalupe Arroyo, No. E2003- 02355-CCA-R3-CD, 2004 WL 1924033, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 30, 2004). After the second remand, the trial court again sentenced petitioner to twenty-four years. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that he was unconstitutionally denied the right to appeal the trial court’s last sentencing order. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition twice, and petitioner successfully appealed both times. See Guadalupe Arroyo v. State, No. E2006-01037-CCA-R3-PC, 2007 WL 3144999, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 29, 2007); Guadalupe Arroyo v. State, No. E2008-01220-CCA-R3-PC, 2009 WL 2503152, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 17, 2009). Eventually, the post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing and denied post-conviction relief. Petitioner now appeals, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and requesting a delayed appeal. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Derrick Lamar Cole.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian Matthew Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Derrick Lamar Cole, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s ordering that his sentences be served consecutively, rather than concurrently, upon the revocation of his probation, a position with which the State concurs. Following our review, we conclude that the trial court erred; therefore, we reverse the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentences and remand for entry of an order that the sentences be served concurrently.

With separate concurring and concurring and dissenting opinions.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Quentin Scott Horton, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Paresh J. Patel.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; and Lisa S. Zavogiannis, District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Paresh J. Patel, entered guilty pleas to two counts of distributing a synthetic cannabinoid, Class A misdemeanors, for which he received consecutive terms of eleven months and twenty-nine days on supervised probation. On appeal, he argues the trial court erred in denying him judicial diversion. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

General Sessions Judge to Retire

Williamson County General Sessions Judge Al Nations will retire at the end of September, the Administrative Office of the Courts announced. “I am incredibly grateful to the citizens of Williamson County for the opportunity to serve the community for 18 years as a judge and 25 as a school teacher and administrator,” Judge Nations said. “Williamson County has been very good to me.”

Documentary Looks at State Capitol’s History

A new documentary highlighting the history of the Tennessee State Capitol was released earlier this month as the first part of a project that eventually will include a virtual tour of the Capitol building and its grounds, and feature stories about the building and influential people in Tennessee history.

 When completed, the entire project will be burned onto DVDs that will be distributed to schools throughout the state. The project is a result of the Tennessee General Assembly's approval of Public Chapter No. 557, sponsored by Representative Jim Coley and Senator Ken Yager. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more.

Judge Temporarily Blocks Release of Baumgartner File

U.S. Magistrate Clifford Shirley temporarily blocked the release of a file detailing the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s probe of former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, who resigned amid a prescription painkiller scandal. The families of torture-slaying victims Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom and the Knoxville News Sentinel have been fighting to make the file public but have been stymied by a state law specifically exempting TBI files from the Open Records Act.

Haslam Defends Ties to Lobbyist

Gov. Bill Haslam defended his ties to political advisor Tom Ingram after published emails showed the lobbyist’s efforts to influence senior officials in his administration, the Tennessean reports. Haslam and his chief of staff, Mark Cate, said Ingram and his firm had no special access to the governor or his advisers. Emails obtained and released by WTVF-TV show Cate, Ingram and his partner discussing the firm’s clients over weekends and holidays, as well as when Cate was traveling in the Bahamas. Haslam did not deny that Ingram had lobbied his staff while also being kept on retainer, but he said those efforts were not inappropriate. “The question is, did anything happen there that shouldn’t have happened?” Haslam said. “I don’t think it has.”

Opinion: First Amendment Rights and Journal’s New World

An opinion piece in the Tennessean examines the new global world -- quite literally -- of journalism that is challenging both the notions and definitions of a free press and who is a journalist. Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, uses Glenn Greenwald as an example of this new challenge: Greenwald is a writer for the British newspaper The Guardian who lives most of the time in Brazil and is a central figure in the sensational disclosures of covert surveillance programs conducted by the U.S. Policinski points out the plight of First Amendment advocates and government advocates of a proposed national “shield law” protecting journalists and sources, who face a thorny problem of deciding in upcoming months who is covered by that law and who is not.

Nashville Lawyer Suspended

The law license of Barbara S. Freemon of Nashville was suspended by the Tennessee Supreme Court for one year. A petition for discipline was filed against Freemon on March 8, based upon two complaints. The first complaint alleged that Freemon, who agreed to serve as trustee for an inter vivos trust set up to manage her brother’s assets, did not return the trust assets to the named beneficiaries upon his death. The second complaint alleged that Freemon accepted a non-refundable fee to represent clients in a codes dispute, promising to file an action within 45 days. Freeman failed to file any action on their behalf yet refused to refund the full fee to the clients. Download the BPR notice.

12 Lawyers Reinstated After Administrative Suspension

A dozen Tennessee-licensed lawyers have been reinstated after being administratively suspended for failure to meet 2012 CLE requirements, failure to submit the 2013 BPR fee and/or IOLTA report, or failure to submit the 2012 BPR fee and/or IOLTA report. See the updated lists at the links above.

Ways to Deal with Judicial Diversion Violations

What happens when a defendant who is on judicial diversion violates the terms of the diversion agreement? It may not be as black and white as you think. Knoxville lawyer Wade Davies explains alternatives to revocation of judicial diversion in his Journal column this month.

Portrait Unveiling Scheduled for Thursday

The ceremony/portrait unveiling for Honorable Thomas W. Phillips will be held tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. in the brick courtyard of the Howard Baker Courthouse in Knoxville. A reception will immediately follow in the 4th floor chambers area. All members of the bar are invited. For more information, call the Knoxville Bar Association at (856) 522-6522.

GOP Lawmakers Split on Immigration Bill

Tennessee GOP House members remain critical of the immigration reform bill that their fellow Tennessee Republicans, senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, helped pass in the Senate. The House Republican Conference meets today to decide what, if any, route to take on the issue. Congressional Democrats insisted Tuesday they will not agree to any immigration bill that lacks a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States. The Tennessean has more.

GOP Calls for Delay in Individual Healthcare Mandate

Congressional GOP leaders called Tuesday for a delay in requiring that individual Americans carry health insurance. If the White House can grant a one-year delay for employers -- as the administration did just last week -- individuals should get the same consideration, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and other senior Republicans said in a letter to the president. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration has no intention of delaying the individual mandate. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has the story.


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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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