Are Online Law Degrees the Next Big Thing?

As law schools shrink and face cash problems, many believe online LL.M programs are “the next big thing” and a good way for the schools to tap into new markets, the JD Journal reports. Schools shed their staff and faculty and ramp up enrollment with their virtual arm in order keep expenses low and avoid the fate of Seton Hall, Pacific McGeorge School of Law and Vermont School of Law, which had to dramatically downsize. Pepperdine Law professor Paul Caron added that the law degree does not significantly improve a job candidate’s resume, however, and that it doesn’t justify the costs.

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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

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TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Cyrus Lucius Booker, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

J. Anthony Arena, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gerald Wallace Ardry


In this case arising out of a car accident, the defendant challenges the jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs on several bases, including comments and arguments of plaintiffs’ counsel and the evidence regarding loss of earning capacity. We find no reversible error and affirm the judgment of the trial court in accordance with the jury’s verdict.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Russell J. Blair, Athens, Tennessee, for the appellant, Andy Kenneth Miller, Jr.

Ashley Harrison Shudan, Loudon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Estate of James E. Miller.


In this action, a creditor brought a claim against the decedent’s estate for the value of cattle and equipment. With the personal representative for the estate filing an exception to the claim, the creditor filed an amended claim, seeking to enforce an attached handwritten contract. The trial court dismissed the amended claim as both untimely and asserting a new and different cause of action. On appeal, the creditor raises two issues: whether the trial court erred (1) by finding that the claimant was not entitled to actual notice of the probate proceedings pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 30-2-306(d) (2010) and (2) by dismissing the amended claim pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 30-2-307(e)(2) (2010). Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Aleania Smith and Howell H. Sherrod, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellants, Lori and Jeffrey Wilhoit.

James E. Rasnic, Bristol, Virginia, for the appellees, Joshua Andrew Rogers and Englewood Lawn & Landscape, LLC.


This case involves an automobile accident wherein a refrigerator being hauled by Defendants fell from a truck and collided with Plaintiffs’ vehicle. Plaintiff, Lori K. Wilhoit, was driving the vehicle and filed suit regarding her personal injuries and the property damage to her vehicle. Her husband, Jeffrey Wilhoit, also asserted claims regarding property damage to the vehicle and loss of consortium with and services of his wife. A jury trial was held in November and December 2011. As the matter of liability was stipulated, the only issues submitted to the jury related to the amount of damages, if any, suffered by Plaintiffs. The jury returned a verdict awarding Plaintiffs $3,200 for property damage and zero damages for all other claimed injuries. Plaintiffs have appealed. We affirm the jury’s verdict regarding property damage and Mr. Wilhoit’s claims, but we reverse in part the jury’s verdict regarding a portion of Ms. Wilhoit’s injuries and medical expenses. We remand this case for further proceedings regarding Ms. Wilhoit’s damages.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


D. Mitchell Bryant, Athens, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dalton Lister.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Robert Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and A. Wayne Carter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Dalton Lister, was convicted of first degree felony murder; two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, a Class C felony; and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-12-101, -12-103, -13-202(a)(2), -13- 402. The Defendant received an effective sentence of life with the possibility of parole. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s convictions; (2) that the trial court erred by admitting recorded statements made by the Defendant; (3) that the trial court erred by not requiring the State to produce statements made by an investigator pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 26.2; and (4) that the trial court erred by not allowing the Defendant to cross-examine a codefendant regarding the co-defendant’s pending charges. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael Smith, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se (on appeal); and Javier Bailey, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial).

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul F. Goodman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Michael Smith, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of assault, a Class A misdemeanor, and aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and sentenced as a multiple offender to concurrent terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days and seven years, respectively, in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this pro se appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in constructively amending the indictments in its charge to the jury; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (3) the State failed to provide sufficient notice in the indictment regarding the charge of aggravated burglary; (4) the trial court erred in failing to recuse itself prior to trial; (5) the trial court erred in failing to apply the appropriate standard to adjudicate the non-structural constitutional errors he raised in the motion for new trial; (6) he was denied a fair trial by the trial court impermissibly restricting his cross-examination of the victim; (7) he was denied a fair trial because the State did not give advanced notice that Officer Michael Garner would testify at trial; (8) the State knowingly introduced false testimony and evidence; (9) he was denied a fair trial because the trial court failed to make a determination regarding the admissibility of his prior convictions before he chose not to testify; (10) the State violated the Jencks Act by failing to provide a recording of a conversation between Kimberly Chrestman and the prosecutor; (11) he was denied a fair trial by Kimberly Chrestman’s testifying about his prior bad acts; (12) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct in closing argument; (13) the trial court failed to give appropriate jury instructions; (14) the trial court erred in its sentencing determination; and (15) the trial court erred in revoking his bond. After review, we conclude that the trial court erred in constructively amending the indictment in its charge to the jury and that the defendant’s convictions must be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial. In the event of further appellate review, we have assessed the defendant’s remaining issues and discern no additional error.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Constitutionality of Statute Regulating Use of Bank Names, Trademarks, and Loan Information

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-07-11

Opinion Number: 54

Juvenile Court Moving to Digital Files

The Chattanooga Juvenile Court is moving from paper files to digital record keeping, the Chattanoogan reports. The firm DigiPoint Solutions has been hired to scan 11,900 files at the Third Street main office and 13,550 files at the child support center at a cost of $149,000. "We no longer will have to roll carts with massive files into the courtrooms," Juvenile Court Clerk Gary Behler said. "The judge and magistrates will have laptops where they can quickly access records."

KBA Accepting Comments on Court Rules

The Knox County Criminal Court is soliciting written comments regarding the proposed amendments to the Criminal Court Local Rules from judges, lawyers, bar associations, members of the public and any other interested parties. The deadline for submitting written comments is July 31. Written comments should be addressed to: Marsha S. Wilson, KBA Executive Director Knoxville Bar Association P.O. Box 2027 Knoxville, TN 37901. Visit for more information. 

TBI to Find out Who Made Campfield Automated Calls

Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols said Wednesday he is asking the TBI to proceed with an investigation into whether someone broke state anti-harassment laws by sending repeated automated calls to voters asking their opinion of Sen. Stacey Campfield. Knoxnews reports that Byron Dodson, Campfield’s executive assistant at the state Senate, said his Nashville office logged 53 calls from Knoxvillians angry over receiving repeated calls from “Citizen Opinion Research.” Campfield contends the calls appeared programmed to keep calling back the same number until the respondent gave an unfavorable opinion of the lawmaker.

Madison County Bar Elects First Black President

Hewitt Chatman has been elected as the first black president of the Madison County Bar Association, the Jackson Sun reports. Chatman, a public defender, was vice president of the association and served on the board for several years. A graduate of the University of Michigan at Flynt, Chatman also graduated with a degree in personnel management from Central Michigan University and was licensed to practice law in Michigan in 1985.

Haslam Appoints Gobble to Tennessee Board of Patrol

Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Tim Gobble of Clevelend to the state Board of Parole, filling the remainder of the term left vacant by the resignation of Charles Taylor. Mr. Gobble’s appointment becomes effective next Tuesday, and the term expires Dec. 31, 2015. “Tim has demonstrated his commitment and responsibility throughout an extensive career in public service, and we are fortunate to have him on the Board of Parole,” Governor Haslam said. The Chattanoogan has the story.

Knox PD Sponsors Book Drive

The Knox County Public Defender’s Office is conducting a Community Law Office Book Drive for Inmates throughout the month of July. Last year, lawyers donated almost 800 books. Books should be paperbacks without any writing on them. Spanish language and self-help books are especially appreciated. Donations can be dropped off at the Knoxville Bar Association, Public Defender’s Office or City County Building. For more information contact Jessica Greene at (865) 594-4262 or Laura Chambers (865) 594-3024.

Democrats Close to 'Nuclear Option' in Filibuster Fight

Democrats took steps toward dramatically limiting Senate filibusters by threatening to use the so-called "nuclear option" to jam through rules changes. Republicans warn the move would destroy bipartisan cooperation in the chamber. "The vast majority of my Democratic caucus wanted to move forward and change the rules," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid following a closed meeting in which Democratic leaders advocated banning filibusters of executive branch appointments, which they argue Republicans have abused. Democratic leaders said they have votes to force the change using a parliamentary tactic that Republicans complain violates Senate rules. WCYB has the story.

Hopper Lee Joins TBA CLE Staff

Lauren Hopper Lee is the TBA's new CLE coordinator. She holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in social work from Tennessee State University. Most recently she worked with volunteers in a staff role at St. Luke’s Community House, working with families in West Nashville. She has also interned at the Tennessee General Assembly. Hopper Lee replaces Lisa McNamara on the continuing legal education staff, joining Mindy Thomas-Fulks, Kaisha Bond and Steve King.


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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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