Legal Leaders Tackle Topic of Declining Enrollment

Administrators from law schools across Tennessee offer their thoughts on declining law school enrollment in the current issue of the Nashville Ledger. Among them is Vanderbilt Law Dean Chris Guthrie, who told the publication that smaller class sizes will benefit today’s 1Ls several years down the road. “We’ll begin to see in 2015 that law schools collectively will be graduating fewer students, so that will help with whatever market imbalance may be in place,” he said. Some believe, however, that focusing on the number of lawyers misses an important point. “For a long time there’s been this notion among lawyers that law schools were generating ‘too many’ law grads,” TBA Executive Director  Allan Ramsaur said. “Lawyers are not a commodity, and it’s not just a certain number you need. You need the top graduates from a number of law schools to round out a bar and have it meet the needs of society. There has never been too many good lawyers or good law graduates.”

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
07 - 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

ARLEEN CHRISTIAN v. EBENEZER HOMES OF TENNESSEE, INC. D/B/A GOOD SAMARITAN NURSING HOME

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Terry Renease Clayton, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Arleen Christian.

Michael T. Schmitt, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Ebenezer Homes of Tennessee, Inc., d/b/a Good Samaritan Nursing Home.

Judge: DINKINS

Visitor to a nursing home who was injured when a door swung into her brought suit against the nursing home, alleging that the door constituted a dangerous and defective condition and that the nursing home failed to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuries to visitors. The nursing home filed a motion for summary judgment which was granted on the basis that the door did not constitute a dangerous or defective condition. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.


JONATHAN DUANE CHRISTY v. MITCHELL B. DUGAN, ADMINISTRATOR AD LITEM OF THE ESTATE OF LAURA ANTOINETTE LONG, DECEASED

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Anita Lynn Vinson Coffinberry, Erin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jonathan Duane Christy.

Lynn Vo Lawyer, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mitchell B. Dugan.

Judge: DINKINS

In this action for damages related to a motor vehicle collision, Plaintiff appeals the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Defendant. Plaintiff contests Defendant’s compliance with summary judgment requirements and the trial court’s consideration of extraneous evidence in reaching its decision. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


ADEDAMOLA O. ONI, M.D. v. TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & TENNESSEE BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Sue A. Sheldon, Senior Counsel; Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners.

James Warren White and Kenneth Ray Jones, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee Adedamola O. Oni, M.D.

Judge: BENNETT

This appeal arises out of disciplinary proceedings against a physician before the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners. The proceedings were instituted after the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct disciplined the physician. The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners revoked the physician’s medical license and the physician appealed to the chancery court pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 4-5-322. The chancery court reversed and vacated the order revoking the physician’s medical license. The Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners appealed. For the reasons set forth herein, we reverse in part, affirm in part, and remand for reconsideration.


PNC MULTIFAMILY CAPITAL INSTITUTIONAL FUND XXVI LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, ET AL. v. BLUFF CITY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Venita Marie Martin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bluff City Community Development Corporation

Robert L. Crawford, Joseph B. Reafsnyder, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, PNC Multifamily Capital Institutional Fund XXVI Limited Partnership, et al

Judge: HIGHERS

The trial court appointed a receiver for the appellant nonprofit corporation and held its president in contempt for repeated failures to comply with the court’s previous orders. The nonprofit corporation appeals. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

CHRISTOPHER SCOTT CHAPMAN v. HENRY STEWARD, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Christopher Scott Chapman, Pro Se, Tiptonville, Tennessee.

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

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Christopher Scott Chapman, pled guilty to aggravated assault in Davidson County in 2005. As a result, he was sentenced to four years in incarceration. The sentence was suspended, and Petitioner was ordered to probation. In 2008, Petitioner was indicted by the Sumner County Grand Jury for attempted first degree murder. After a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of the lesser included offense of aggravated assault. Petitioner was sentenced to six years in incarceration to be served consecutively to the Davidson County sentence. Petitioner filed two petitions for writ of habeas corpus in August and September of 2012 in the Lake County Circuit Court challenging the Sumner County conviction. The petitions were denied because they were unverified and did not present proper grounds for habeas corpus relief. Petitioner filed two additional petitions for habeas corpus relief in Lake County, again challenging the Sumner County conviction for aggravated assault. The habeas corpus court denied the petitions, determining that the claims were not cognizable in a petition for habeas corpus relief. Petitioner appeals, arguing that the habeas corpus court improperly denied habeas corpus relief. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that the habeas corpus court properly denied habeas corpus relief where Petitioner failed to show that his judgment was void.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES HARDING DALTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mike Urquhart, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Harding Dalton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Thomas Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, James Harding Dalton, pleaded guilty to especially aggravated burglary, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-14-404 (2010). The trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to eleven years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the court erred in sentencing. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER LEE DAVIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William K. Cather, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Lee Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Tom P. Thompson, District Attorney General; and Jason Lawson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Christopher Lee Davis, was convicted of attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony; aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; carjacking, a Class B felony; and attempted especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony. On direct appeal, our supreme court affirmed the appellant’s convictions but remanded for resentencing on the issue of consecutive sentencing. See State v. Davis, 354 S.W.3d 718, 721-22 (Tenn. 2011). On remand, the trial court again ordered partial consecutive sentencing, which resulted in an overall effective sentence of forty-nine years. On appeal, the appellant challenges the imposition of consecutive sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GEORGE ANTHONY FLEVARIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; K. Justin Hutton, Assistant District Public Defender (on appeal), Todd East, Kingsport, Tennessee (at trial) for the appellant, George Anthony Flevaris.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and William Harper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

Defendant pled guilty to fourteen counts of aggravated burglary, Class C felonies; one count of burglary of an automobile, a Class E felony; four counts of theft of property with a value in excess of $10,000 but less than $60,000, Class C felonies; seven counts of theft of property with a value in excess of $1,000 but less than $10,000, Class D felonies; one count of theft of property with a value in excess of $500 but less than $1,000, a Class E felony; and five counts of theft of property with a value less than $500, Class A misdemeanors. The defendant was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to six years for each aggravated burglary, two years for the burglary of the automobile, six years for each Class C felony theft of property, four years for each Class D felony theft of property, two years for each Class E felony theft of property, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for each misdemeanor theft of property. The trial court ordered partial consecutive sentencing, resulting in an overall effective sentence of twenty-two years. The defendant now appeals the trial court’s sentencing decision, urging that the trial court erred in its application of certain enhancement and mitigation factors. Because a trial court’s mere error in the application of statutory enhancing and mitigating factors no longer provides any basis for reversing a defendant’s sentence, and because the defendant’s sentences are generally consistent with the principles and purposes of the Sentencing Act, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAY EARL HAYNES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

H. Tod Taylor, Assistant Public Defender, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for appellant, Jay Earl Haynes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; and Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Jay Earl Haynes, was indicted by the Dyer County Grand Jury in August 2009, for two counts of rape in connection with the anal rape of the two mentally-incapacitated grandsons of Appellant’s live-in girlfriend. Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions because he could not have known that the victims were mentally incapacitated and that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that there is ample evidence upon which a reasonable trier of fact could find that Appellant knew of the victims’ mental incapacity and that his criminal activity was so extensive as to support the imposition of consecutive sentences. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LEMAN EARL RUSSELL, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

H. Tod Taylor, Assistant District Public Defender, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leman Earl Russell, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; and Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General, and Karen Burns, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Leman E. Russell, pled guilty to one count of possession of over .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver in Dyer County in January 2006. He received a sentence of ten years with six months incarceration and nine and a half years on Community Corrections. Because of various violations and adjudications, Appellant was placed on probation on February 3, 2011. On September 27, 2011, a probation violation warrant was filed alleging that Appellant violated the terms of his probation. After a hearing, the trial court revoked Appellant’s probation and ordered him to serve his original ten-year sentence in confinement. Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal. After a review of the record and authorities, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in revoking Appellant’s probation and imposing his original sentence because there was evidence to support the conclusion of the trial court that a violation of the conditions of probation occurred. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES DANIEL VAUGHN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Carthel L. Smith, Lexington, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Daniel Vaughn.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Angel R. Scott, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

James Daniel Vaughn (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of one count of second degree murder and three counts of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of twenty years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions.


Trucking Firm Lawyer Advises Clients to Reject Pilot Settlement

Drew McElroy, an attorney for Georgia-based Atlantic Coast Carriers, said he is advising his clients and others not to join the settlement with Pilot Flying J that was approved earlier this week by U.S. District Judge James M. Moody in Little Rock, The Tennessean reports. McElroy said the eight firms that have accepted the offer will be getting little more than what had already been promised by Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam.


Battle to Release Baumgartner Files Hits Potential Roadblock

Defense attorneys for former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner have filed a motion for “relief” from U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley’s order to redact personal identifiable information within the entire Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report probing Baumgartner’s prescription drug abuse. Attorney Donald A. Bosch called the order onerous for his firm and suggested three alternatives including extending the deadline, removing the compact disc from public record or removing it and replacing it with an electronic copy of the 155 pages of the file that Judge Kerry Blackwell already released. Knoxnews has the story.


Rutherford and Cannon Counties Debut New Court Website

The Circuit Court for Rutherford and Cannon counties has launched a new website. According to a press release, the new website is part of the ongoing effort to make the court more open and accessible to the public. “We want to remove the cloud of mystery from court proceedings,” Judge M. Keith Siskin said. The new website allows members of the public to download court-approved forms, and to research statutes and rules applicable to their cases.


Baker Donelson Expands Memphis Office

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC is expanding its downtown Memphis office, the Memphis Business Journal reports. In addition to renewing its lease at the 415, 658-square-foot First Tennessee building at 165 Madison Ave, the firm is renovating and finishing out the 16th and 17th floors and increasing its office footprint from 92,189 square feet to 107,027 square feet.


Judge Refuses to Discharge Law School Student Debt

Judge Karen Caldwell of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee affirmed a bankruptcy court’s denial of Robert Bentley Marlow’s attempt to discharge $250,000 in student loan debt. Marlow graduated from the Samford University Cumberland School of Law in 2009 and has not held steady employment since finishing school, according to the opinion. He has worked sporadically as a landscaper, construction worker and collector of aluminum cans and scrap medal in addition to receiving financial assistance from family members. Judge Caldwell found that Marlow had not established that repaying his loans would represent an undue hardship. Rather than intensely looking for a job, Marlow spent the bulk of his time filing pro se lawsuits against the Tennessee bar examiners and other government entities, she noted. The National Law Journal also noted a similar case in Michigan to highlight that student loan debt typically can’t be discharged in bankruptcy like other form of debt.


Panel OKs Cuts to Police Hiring Program

A GOP controlled House panel moved yesterday to eliminate funding for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) — a Clinton-era program that helps local governments hire police officers. Driven by deepening automatic spending cuts, the program, slated to get $440 million in President Barack Obama's budget, would instead get "zeroed out" in a spending bill to fund the Justice Department for the upcoming 2014 budget year, WRCB reports.


GOP Sponsor Pushes for VRA Updates

The House Republican sponsor of the Voting Rights Act updates said Wednesday that Congress must pass a new anti-discrimination law before the 2014 elections that restores the federal supervision the Supreme Court struck down in June. "The Supreme Court said it's an obligation of Congress to do this. That's a command of a separate but co-equal branch of government to do that," Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, told reporters Wednesday after urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to get moving on the issue. WRCB has the story.


Bipartisan Senate Group Pushes Reporter Shield Law

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday pressed forward with a reporter shield bill that includes new Justice Department guidelines for investigations that involve the media, the Memphis Daily News reports. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the new Justice Department guidelines on Friday, which would make it harder for prosecutors to obtain journalists' phone records without advance notice. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, said they hoped to have the legislation to a Senate committee as early as this week.


Program on Blanton Scandal a Private Event

The First Amendment Center notes that its event on Friday with key players in the “coup” that ousted governor Ray Blanton from office is by invitation only. The event features a reception and book signing at 5:30 p.m. followed by the panel discussion at 6 p.m. For more information contact the center at (615) 727-1600.


 
 

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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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