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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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - 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 Criminal Appeals

ANTON CARLTON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Anton Carlton, Whiteville, Tennessee, pro se.

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

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Anton Carlton, appeals the Hardeman County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief from his 2005 Rutherford County Circuit Court conviction of especially aggravated kidnapping for which he received a 25-year Department of Correction sentence. Upon our review, we affirm the order of the Hardeman County Circuit Court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL DAVID FIELDS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen M. Wallace, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael David Fields.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel, Criminal Justice Division; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Teresa Ann Nelson and Amber D. Massengill, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Sullivan County jury found the Defendant, Michael David Fields, guilty of reckless homicide, felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and two counts of especially aggravated burglary. The trial court merged the reckless homicide conviction with the felony murder conviction and imposed a mandatory life sentence for felony murder. The Defendant appeals, claiming he was denied his right to a speedy trial. After a thorough review of the record and relevant law, we conclude that the trial court properly found there was no violation of the Defendant’s right to a speedy trial. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TRINIDAD MARTINEZ FLORES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III, Nashville, Tennessee, (on appeal) and Bill Lane, Nashville, Tennessee, (at trial), for the appellant, Trinidad Martinez Flores.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and John Zimmerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

A Davidson County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Trinidad Martinez Flores, and six co-defendants. In Count One, Defendant and all co-defendants were charged with conspiracy to sell more than three hundred pounds of marijuana in a school zone. In Count Two, he and two co-defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. In Count Five, Defendant and four co-defendants were charged with possession with intent to deliver three hundred pounds or more of marijuana in a school zone. In Counts Six through Sixteen, Defendant and one co-defendant were charged with money laundering. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of the offenses. The trial court sentenced Defendant to twenty years for conspiracy to sell three hundred pounds of marijuana in Count One; eight years for conspiracy to commit money laundering in Count Two; twenty years for possession with intent to deliver three hundred pound of marijuana in Count Five; and eight years for each count of using proceeds from the sale of marijuana to conduct financial transactions with the intent to promote the sale of marijuana in Counts Six through Sixteen. The sentence in Count Two was ordered to be served consecutively to the sentence in Count One; the sentence in Count Five was ordered to be served consecutively to the sentence in Count Two; the sentence in Count Six was ordered to be served consecutively to the sentence in Count Five; and the sentences in Counts Seven through Sixteen were ordered to be served concurrently with the sentence in Count Six for an effective fifty-six-year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for possession of marijuana, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering; (2) the trial judge committed plain error by failing to recuse himself; and (3) the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RICHIE P. HAWKINS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mack Garner (at hearing), Maryville, Tennessee, and J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Richie P. Hawkins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Matthew Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

In May 2010, the Defendant, Richie P. Hawkins, pled guilty to promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine, and the trial court sentenced him, as a Range III offender, to serve twelve years on community corrections. The Defendant’s community corrections officer filed an affidavit, alleging that he had violated his community corrections sentence by being convicted of burglarizing an automobile and domestic assault. After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s community corrections sentence and ordered the Defendant to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial court erred when it ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement rather than reinstating his community corrections sentence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RONNIE PAUL TRUSTY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

David S. Stockton, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Ronnie Paul Trusty.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Jason Poyner and James Walter Freeland, Jr., Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Ronnie Paul Trusty, appeals his Tipton County Circuit Court jury conviction of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. We affirm the conviction and sentence. In addition, we remand for correction of clerical errors in the judgments.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Eligibility of Home School Students for Hope Scholarship

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-07-10

Opinion Number: 53


State’s Newest Judge Sworn In

Douglas T. Jenkins of Rogersville was sworn in as chancellor of the Third Judicial District yesterday, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. Criminal Court Judge John D. Dugger, Jr. performed the ceremony.  Jenkins, 45, has practiced in Rogersville since 1997.  The vacancy was created by the appointment of Chancellor Thomas R. Frierson to the Tennessee Court of Appeals earlier this year. The Third Judicial District serves Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins and Greene counties.


Cameras in Courts: 'Good Theatre but Bad for Justice'

An opinion piece in the Memphis Commercial Appeal suggests it may be time to get television cameras out of the courtrooms, or at least encourage judges to exclude electronic media from high-profile trials. Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group says that excessive media coverage and commentary “may be good theatre but bad for justice.” Citing coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial, Parker says it is the court’s responsibility to protect the defendant’s rights to as fair a trial as possible, which means ensuring a “neutral and detached environment.”


Judge Rules Apple Violated Antitrust Laws

Southern District Judge Denise Cote ruled this morning that Apple violated antitrust laws when it orchestrated a conspiracy to fix e-book prices with major publishers Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster, the National Law Journal reports. Cotes's ruling came in an action brought by the U.S. Justice Department's Antitrust Division and State of Texas v. Penguin Group (USA), brought by 33 states and U.S. territories. In a statement, Assistant Attorney General William Baer called the decision "a victory for millions of consumers who choose to read books electronically."


CASA Needs More Volunteers

The Manchester-based nonprofit organization CASA Works needs more volunteers to assist children in Franklin, Bedford and Coffee Counties’ juvenile court systems. "Judge Thomas Faris has let us know that there are 200 kids in Franklin County who could potentially use the assistance of a CASA volunteer,” development coordinator Mindon Whalen told the Herald Chronicle. “Only 10 percent of those children are currently being served.” If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer for CASA Works, call (931) 728-0126 or visit www.casaworks.org.


Services Friday for Longtime Murfreesboro Lawyer

William T. “Bill” Sellers died Tuesday (July 9) at 91. A veteran of World War II, Sellers graduated from the University of Virginia Law School and began practicing in Murfreesboro in 1950.  Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Woodfin Memorial Chapel in Murfreesboro. Visitation will begin one hour before the service. Burial with military honors will follow in Evergreen Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro or the charity of your choice . Online condolences may be left for the family at www.woodfinchapel.com.


Student Loan Bill Fails in Senate

Senate Republicans and a few Democrats blocked a White House-backed proposal that would have restored 3.4 percent interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for one more year, the Memphis Daily News reports. Lawmakers are racing the clock to restore lower rates before millions of students return to campus next month to find borrowing terms twice as high as when school let out. Without congressional action in the coming weeks, the increase could mean an extra $2,600 for an average student returning to campus this fall, according to Congress' Joint Economic Committee.


Brush Up on Campaign Ethics with TennBarU

Interested in campaigning for a public office? “Running for Office 2013: Tennessee Campaign Ethics” is an advanced level CLE program for state and local lawmakers, judges, candidates for judicial or legislative positions, campaign chairs and campaign treasurers. It will include all aspects of the law and ethics of election for office in 2013. The July 22 program will begin at 8 a.m. and include an analysis of the election law, campaign finance compliance, and an analysis of the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct that touches on judicial elections. Register online at TennBarU or email CLE Director Mindy Fulks for more information.


Free Legal Clinic Scheduled for Saturday

The monthly free legal clinic in Memphis will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library. This month’s clinic is sponsored by The Hardison Law Firm and Glassman Edwards Wade & Wyatt. Volunteer attorneys and support staff are needed to assist at the clinic. Learn more or volunteer on the Memphis Bar Association’s website.


KBA Starts Habitat House Saturday

The Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) will hold its first building day this Saturday for the seventh house bar members have erected. Work will take place every Saturday from July 13 to Aug. 24. The association predicts it will need 150 volunteers and $20,000 to complete the project. To volunteer, donate or get more information contact KBA Executive Director Marsha Wilson at (865) 522-6522 or mwilson@knoxbar.org.


Veterans Legal Clinic Set for July 23

A clinic to assist veterans with legal questions and issues will be held July 23 from noon until 2 p.m. at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs office at 1407 Union Ave. in Memphis. Organizers say most cases involve family law, employment, criminal and debt collection issues. Volunteers do not have to be certified by the VA to provide assistance at this event. Those interested in being involved should contact the Memphis Bar Association at (901) 527-3575 or afritz@memphisbar.org.


 
 

Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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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