Study: Tenn. Attorneys Giving More Time to Help Others

Tennessee attorneys have nearly tripled the amount of time they give to pro bono work, the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission reports in a study released today. It found that 9,736 attorneys practicing in Tennessee provided 804, 9461 hours of pro bono in 2011, an average of nearly 83 hours per attorney and nearly triple the amount volunteered in 2009. “This is exactly what we had hoped to see,” Buck Lewis, chairman of the Access to Justice Commission, said. “The profession is stepping up and contributing more than ever before to assist those in need of legal services. It is extremely encouraging to see this level of participation.”

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
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 Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William A. Kennedy, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James A. Adkins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and Amy Hinkle, Assistant District Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, James A. Adkins, entered a best-interest plea of guilt to driving while declared a motor vehicle habitual offender, failing to obey a traffic-control device, violation of the financial responsibility law, and reckless aggravated assault. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court erred when it denied his request for alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Brent O. Horst, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Upton Dabney, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark Bryan Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Beth Elana Willis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Upton Dabney, Jr., pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-1003 (2010). Although the Defendant agreed to a six-year sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court, the court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to one year’s confinement and ten years on community corrections. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) his ten-year community corrections sentence is excessive and (2) the trial court erred by ordering one year’s confinement. We reverse the ten-year community corrections sentence and remand the case for the trial court to enter a judgment reflecting a sentence of one year’s confinement and five years on community corrections.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ricky A.W. Curtis, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tracy H. Graves.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; Dan E. Armstrong, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Hamblen County jury convicted the Defendant, Tracy H. Graves, of driving under the influence (“DUI”) second offense, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his DUI conviction because his vehicle was not in a location named in the indictment. After a thorough review of the record and the relevant authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael J. Flanagan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Forrest Melvin Moore, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Grover Christopher Collins, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Forrest Melvin Moore, Jr., was convicted at a bench trial of second offense driving under the influence (DUI) and second offense DUI while his blood alcohol concentration was .20% or more, Class A misdemeanors. See T.C.A. § 55-10-401 (2012). He was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days, with forty-five days to be served. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress and that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. We affirm the Defendant’s convictions but vacate the judgments and remand the case for entry of a single judgment noting merger of the two offenses.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Martha L. Patlan-Cano.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Katie Miller, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Martha Patlan-Cano, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions of first degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse and resulting effective sentence of life plus twenty years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Statewide Drug Court to Open in Morgan County

What the state is calling the first statewide drug recovery court in the nation will open next month in Warthog, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. In Tennessee, drug courts operate largely within judicial districts and offer alternatives to jail time for nonviolent drug offenders through recovery centers. The centers are designed to rehabilitate drug abusers and help reincorporate them into society.

DOJ to Challenge Voting Rights Act Ruling

In response to last month’s Supreme Court ruling invalidating key parts of the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department is asking a federal court in San Antonio to require the state of Texas to obtain advance approval before putting in place future political redistricting or other voting changes. Holder called the Voting Rights Act "the cornerstone of modern civil rights law" and said that "we cannot allow the slow unraveling of the progress that so many, throughout history, have sacrificed so much to achieve." WRCB has the story.

Compounding Center Blamed for Meningitis Outbreak Declared Insolvent

The New England Compounding Center, which has been blamed for the deaths of 15 patients treated in Tennessee, has been declared insolvent by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Henry J. Boroff. Judge Boroff granted the request by the Nashville attorney representing a McMinnville man whose wife died in last year's fungal meningitis outbreak. With the declaration of the center’s insolvency, the widower can file suit in Tennessee under the provisions of the state product liability statute. WBIR has the story. 

Internet Tax Opponents Protest Obama’s Visit to Chattanooga

Opponents to the a new internet sales tax are planning to protest President Barack Obama’s visit to the Amazon distribution center in Chattanooga next Tuesday, the Chattanoogan reports. The group says Amazon is pushing the new Internet sales tax, which passed the Senate in May and currently awaits a vote in the House. Obama plans to tour the distribution center as part of his campaign to promote middle class jobs. "Tuesday's speech will focus on manufacturing and high wage jobs for durable economic growth, and the President will discuss proposals he has laid out to jumpstart private sector job growth and make America more competitive, and will also talk about new ideas to create American jobs," a White House staffer said.

West Confirmed as Associate Attorney General

Tony West was confirmed as associate attorney general in a 98-1 Senate vote today, making permanent his position as third in command at the U.S. Department of Justice. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. released a statement praising West's work with the department since his return there in 2009. "As a key member of the department's senior management team, he has led with integrity, acting always in the best interests of the American people and in accordance with the finest traditions of public service," Holder said. The Blog of the Legal Times has more.

Meet CLE Deadline with Summer Blast Friday

Need a few CLE hours before the July 31 CLE requirement deadline? The TBA is offering programs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, July 26. The Summer CLE Blast will offer 7 hours of dual CLE credit. Take as many or as few hours as you need. Register online at TennBarU.

GOP to Oppose Court Nominees

Just one week after the Senate hashed out a compromise for approving seven of President Barack Obama's nominees to run government departments, agencies and boards, Republicans on Wednesday signaled their opposition to Obama's plan for filling vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, WRCBTV reports. Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the committee, said law professor and former senior Justice Department official Cornelia "Nina" Pillard's nomination wasn't necessary because the D.C. circuit doesn't have enough work to justify filling its three vacancies. The D.C. circuit has 11 judgeships authorized by Congress. Republicans have proposed moving two of the vacant seats to other circuits with larger caseloads and eliminating the third seat altogether.

Cooper Only Tenn. Rep. to Oppose Restricting NSA Surveillance

Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper was Tennessee’s only congressman to vote against new restrictions on the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records and other sensitive data, Nashville Public Radio reports. Cooper justified his stance in favor of the NSA data collection programs, saying they’ve been ruled constitutional by every judge who’s reviewed them.

Senate Approves Student Loan Bill

A Senate bill passed Wednesday would link interest rates on federal student loans to the financial markets, providing lower interest rates right away but higher ones if the economy improves and markets  rise. Undergraduates this fall would borrow at a 3.9 percent interest rate, graduate students at 5.4 percent and parents at 6.4 percent. The rates would be locked in for that year’s loan, but would recalibrate each year. Liberal members of the Democratic caucus were vocal in their opposition to the potentially shifting rates included in the Senate measure, which passed with support from both parties, 81-18. The Tennessean has the story.

Lawyers Get Creative with Business Cards

Despite the pervasiveness of electronic communication, one paper product that has remained popular among lawyers is the business card. But in a sea of tasteful, traditional, beige business cards, some wonder how you and your firm can stand out. The ABA Journal highlights some of the most unique -- and bizarre -- legal business cards, including one from Nashville lawyer Nicholas D. Waite.

LAET Offers Free Legal Clinics for Elderly and Low Income Residents

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will offer two free legal clinics for elderly and low-income individuals on Aug. 20 at 4 p.m. and Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. Both sessions will be held at Memorial Park Community Center in Johnson City. Volunteer attorneys will assist individuals with preparing simple last wills and testaments, powers of attorney and living wills. For more information, contact LAET’s Johnson City office at (423) 928-8311 or (800) 821-1312.


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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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