Nominations Sought for 2013 Access to Justice Awards

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is accepting nominations for two access to justice awards now through July 29. The first, the Riney Green Award, recognizes those who promote inter-program cooperation and statewide collaboration to strengthen access to justice in Tennessee. The second, the New Advocate of the Year, recognizes attorneys or paralegals who have been employed for less than five years and have a track record of affirmative, creative and effective advocacy on behalf of individual clients or the local community. Nominations for both awards should be submitted to TALS Executive Director Ann Pruitt via email to Award winners will be recognized at this fall’s Equal Justice University scheduled for Oct. 8-11 in Nashville.

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
04 - 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


Harold G. Walter, Memphis, Tennessee, for Defendant/Appellants, Eugene Gibson and Cheryl Gibson.

Douglas M. Alrutz and Amber D. Floyd, Memphis, Tennessee for Plaintiff/Appellee, BancorpSouth Bank.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves the enrollment of a foreign judgment. The plaintiff creditor sought to enroll in Tennessee a deficiency judgment obtained in Arkansas. The defendant debtors contended that the Arkansas judgment should not be given full faith and credit in Tennessee, alleging inter alia the fraud exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the constitution. The trial court enrolled the Arkansas judgment, and the debtors appeal. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gregory E. Bennett, Seymour, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tineaka P.

Andrew J. Crawford, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shannon P., Sr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


This is a termination of parental rights case focusing on the five minor children (“the Children”) of Tineaka P. (“Mother”) and Shannon P., Sr. (“Father”). The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both parents on June 14, 2011. The petition alleged several grounds for termination, including severe child abuse, abandonment based on willful failure to support the Children, persistent conditions, and substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan. Following a bench trial, which concluded in February 2012, the trial court granted the petition as to Mother after finding by clear and convincing evidence that Mother had committed severe child abuse, that she had abandoned the Children due to her willful failure to pay child support, that she had failed to substantially comply with the permanency plan, and that the conditions leading to removal persisted. Father was granted an additional ninety days to attempt to improve his situation, and a hearing date was set for May 10, 2012, regarding the termination of his parental rights. At the conclusion of the bench trial on May 10, the court also terminated Father’s parental rights after finding by clear and convincing evidence that Father had failed to substantially comply with the permanency plan and that the conditions leading to removal persisted. The trial court also found that termination of both parents’ parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. Mother and Father have appealed. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Douglas T. Jenkins, Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Darrell Brewer and Lorraine Brewer.

Jeffrey M. Ward, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Hawkins County, Tennessee.

William S. Nunnally, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Lyle Douglas Vaughan, Syble Vaughan Trent, Andrew J. Shanks, Jean Shanks, and Barbara Shanks.


In a prior appeal of this matter, we affirmed the trial court’s determination that a road in dispute was private rather than public. Ten months after our decision, the defendants, the Brewers, filed a Rule 60.02 motion to vacate with the trial court based upon newly discovered evidence. The trial court overruled the motion. The defendants appeal. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Phillip M. Jacobs, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ramon Williams.

Jon S. Jablonski, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Dana Randolph.


This is an appeal from the trial court’s final order modifying the visitation schedule as required upon remand from a prior appeal. See In re Iyana R.W., No. E2010-00114-COAR3- JV, 2011 WL 2348458 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2011). The trial court denied the father’s attempt to modify custody of the minor child and ordered the case transferred to the Davidson County Juvenile Court as the more convenient forum for any further proceedings. The father appeals. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Adam W. Parrish, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph Beasley Seay.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Tom P. Thompson, District Attorney General, and Linda Walls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Joseph Beasley Seay, was indicted by the Wilson County Grand Jury for one count of possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine; one count of driving on a canceled, suspended, or revoked license; and one count of driving on a canceled, suspended, or revoked license, second offense. Appellant filed a motion to suppress the cocaine discovered during the search of a pill fob on his key ring. He subsequently pled guilty to one count of possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine and reserved a certified question for appeal. The remaining counts were dismissed. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Appellant was sentenced to eight years as a Range I, standard offender. After a review of the record on appeal, we have concluded that the trial court did not err in denying Appellant’s motion to suppress. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael L. Smith, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; and C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Michael L. Smith, appeals from the trial court’s summary dismissal of the pro se petition for habeas corpus relief filed by Petitioner. After a thorough review of the record and the briefs, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert Hardy, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Demario Darnell Thompson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey Dean Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian Matthew Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Demario Darnell Thompson, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony, possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, a Class E felony, possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, a Class E felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-1324, 39-17-417, and 39-17-425 (2010). The trial court merged the two convictions for possession of marijuana into a single count of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell. The court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to four years’ confinement for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, two years’ confinement for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, and eleven months, twenty-nine days’ confinement for possession of drug paraphernalia and ordered partial consecutive sentencing for an effective six-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Henry Forrester, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerry Orlando Weaver.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Dave Clark, District Attorney General; and Sandra N.C. Donaghy, Assistant District Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


An Anderson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Jerry Orlando Weaver, of two counts of facilitation of less than one-half gram of cocaine for sale or delivery, and the trial court sentenced him to twelve years for each conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences to run consecutively for a total effective sentence of twenty-four years. The Petitioner appealed, contending that the trial court erred when it sentenced him as a career offender and when it ordered consecutive sentences. State v. Jerry Orlando Weaver, No. E2009-01767- CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 2490762, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, April 28, 2010), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. This Court dismissed the appeal based upon the Petitioner’s failure to timely file his notice of appeal and because none of the Petitioner’s issues warranted consideration in the “interest of justice.” The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief. As a result of the petition, the post-conviction court granted the Petitioner a delayed appeal. Accordingly, the Petitioner proceeds with his appeal to this Court. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the Petitioner’s delayed appeal lacks merit. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bone McAllester Launches New Practice, Adds Former U.S. Attorney

The Nashville law firm of Bone McAllester Norton has launched a criminal defense and government investigations practice, and has hired former U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough and current Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Little in the Middle District of Tennessee for the group. They both will start Aug. 1. Current Bone McAllester employee James Mackler, a former senior trial counsel in the Judge Advocate General Corps., also will join the practice group. Yarborough left the Middle Tennessee prosecutor’s office in 2010 and has been working at the Nashville law firm of Walker Tipps & Malone. Read more on the firm’s website and on Nashville

Wooten Named President of Trial Judges Association

Macon County Judge John Wootten Jr. is the new president of the Tennessee Trial Judges Association, which represents circuit, chancery and criminal court judges across the state. Wootten, who serves in the 15th Judicial District, will hold the position until June 2014, though appointment to a second term is usually pro forma, he told the Macon County Times. Wootten was in private practice and worked for 14 years as an assistant district attorney general before going on the bench.

Pilot Settlement Approved, Grand Jury Allegedly Convened

U.S. District Judge James M. Moody today granted preliminary approval to a proposed settlement agreement between Pilot Flying J and eight trucking companies that had sued over allegations of fuel rebate fraud. The agreement reportedly includes full repayment of any amount owed plus six percent interest, attorneys fees and an “incentive award” for each plaintiff. According to Pilot, at least 13 other suits outside the class are pending in other courts and as many as 4,000 could be members of the class. Meanwhile, news of a federal grand jury investigation into the company’s activities broke last week. Knoxnews has more on both developments.

Knox Panel Interviews Trustee Applicants

The Knox County Commission interviewed 12 applicants for the county trustee position on Monday, Knoxnews reports. During the public session, commissioners made it clear they want the new trustee to run the office more openly than it has been. Each of the applicants supported opening up financial records and many spoke about increasing morale in the office following the arrest and resignation of former trustee John J. Duncan. The commissioners announced they would review resumes over the next week and vote on candidates next Monday.

Former ABA President Honored with Service Award

William T. “Bill” Robinson III, immediate past president of the ABA, will be presented with the National Center for State Courts’ Distinguished Service Award at the Conference of Chief Justices next week in Vermont, the ABA reports. He is being recognized for his work supporting sufficient funding for federal and state courts. Robinson, member in charge of the Northern Kentucky offices of Frost Brown Todd, also is licensed in Tennessee and is a member of the TBA.

Review: 'Zubulake's e-Discovery' a Must-Read for Lawyers

If your practice involves e-discovery at all, you know the name Laura Zubulake. Read a review of her new book, Zubulake's e-Discovery: The Untold Story of My Quest for Justice, in this issue. "Her lawsuit resulted in a historic jury verdict and landmark e-discovery opinions that have proven influential not just nationally but also in Tennessee, having been cited by courts across the state," Nashville lawyer Russell Taber writes in his review. "While the Zubulake decisions are well known, her book reveals for the first time what really happened behind the scenes and how she did what she did."

Memphis Homeless Clinic Moved to Sept. 19

The Project Homeless Connect legal clinic originally scheduled for August in Memphis has been moved to Sept. 19. The event, which brings together a variety of resources and services in one place for the day, will include a “street clinic” offered by the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office to help those with unpaid court costs and fines, and a civil legal clinic to help those with child support, collections and landlord/tenant issues. For more information or to volunteer contact the Memphis Bar Association at (901) 527-3575 or

Services This Week for Lawyer, Minister

Lawyer and minister Alonzo D. Welch died Sunday (July 14) at age 95. A native of Mississippi and a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law, Welch later attended and taught at Lipscomb University in Nashville. He also was a long-time minister in the Churches of Christ, serving full-time at churches in Memphis and Nashville. Following many years of ministry, Welch established several charitable organizations including the Mississippi Christian Foundation, Sunnybrook Children’s Home, Natchez Trace Academy and Sunset Hill retirement facility. Visitation will be Thursday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Wright and Ferguson Funeral Home in Jackson, Miss. A memorial service will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Meadowbrook Church of Christ, also in Jackson.


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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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