Lewis to Receive ABA Presidential Citation

Former TBA President and Memphis attorney George T. "Buck" Lewis will receive a Presidential Citation from ABA President Laurel Bellows at the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon Aug. 12 in San Francisco. The presidential citation is a new award that allows the ABA president to recognize lawyers who have made "noteworthy contributions to the legal profession and the ABA," and who exhibit "outstanding leadership qualities." The luncheon is being held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting. Representatives from the Tennessee legal community will be in attendance to celebrate Lewis' recognition.

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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

KENNETH E. DIGGS v. DNA DIAGNOSTIC CENTER, GENETIC PROFILES CORPORATION, STRAND ANALYTICAL LABORATORIES, LLC, AND MEDICAL TESTING RESOURCES, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Petitioner/Appellant, Kenneth E. Diggs, self-represented.

Stephen D. Crawley and Tannera George Gibson, Memphis, Tennessee for Defendant/Appellee Genetic Profiles Corporation.

Stephen D. Crawley, Tannera George Gibson, and Shea Oliver, Memphis, Tennessee for Defendant/Appellee Strand Analytical Laboratories, LLC.

James E. Looper, Jr. and J. Bart Pickett, Nashville, Tennessee, for Defendant/Appellee DNA Diagnostic Center

Defendant/Appellee Medical Testing Resources, Inc., did not appear.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal arises from the dismissal of a complaint alleging fraudulent paternity testing. Discerning no error, we affirm and award attorney fees for a frivolous appeal.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE V. ERIC BLEDSOE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen Bush, Chief Public Defender and Harry E. Sayle III, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric Bledsoe.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Amy Weirich, District Attorney General; Marianne L. Bell, Assistant District Attorney; and Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Eric Bledsoe (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of aggravated rape, aggravated burglary, and theft of property over $1000. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of sixty-five years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence regarding his conviction for aggravated rape. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TONY VON CARRUTHERS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Tony Von Carruthers, Pro Se, Nashville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General, and John Campbell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

In 1996, Petitioner, Tony Von Carruthers, was convicted of three counts of first degree murder and sentenced to death on each count by a Shelby County Jury. See State v. Carruthers, 35 S.W.3d 516, 523 (Tenn. 2000). Petitioner subsequently sought postconviction relief for, inter alia, ineffective assistance of pretrial counsel for failing to retain an expert in the field of deoxyribonucleic acid (“DNA”) analysis. See Tony Carruthers v. State, No. W2006-00376-CCA-R3-PD, 2007 WL 4355481, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Dec. 12, 2007), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. May 27, 2008). After a hearing, the postconviction court denied relief, and this Court affirmed the post-conviction court’s judgment. Id. In December of 2011, Petitioner sought to have DNA analysis performed on a vaginal swab and a blanket pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001. The Shelby County Criminal Court denied relief. Petitioner appeals, arguing that the post-conviction court improperly denied relief. Because Petitioner did not establish the criteria for ordering DNA analysis under the Act, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CARLETHA JEFFERSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

R. Todd Mosley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carletha Jefferson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Betsy Wiseman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Carletha Jefferson, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced Appellant to an effective sentence of six years. On appeal, Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction for aggravated assault and that the trial court erred in denying her requests for judicial diversion and probation. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


DANNY PENDERGRASS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Clifton Corker, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danny Pendergrass.

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

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Danny Pendergrass, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he claimed that his guilty pleas were involuntarily and unknowingly entered and that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately investigate his case. Petitioner was charged in a 22-count presentment with multiple counts of rape of a child, incest, and aggravated statutory rape against the same victim. Petitioner entered best interests pleas to all counts and received an effective sentence of 25 years in confinement to be served at 100 percent. Following a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


VARIO TALLEY V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Eric Mogy, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Vario Talley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jennifer Morris, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Vario Talley (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for aggravated robbery and carjacking. In his petition, he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal followed. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that his counsel at trial was ineffective in failing to object to the admissibility of video surveillance evidence. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES RAY WALKER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James Ray Walker, Pro Se, Jackson, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; James L. Woodall, District Attorney General, and Ben Mayo, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, James Ray Walker, was indicted by the Madison County Grand Jury in January of 2011 for one count of official misconduct and one count of theft of property valued at less than $500. The events that gave rise to the indictments occurred in May of 2010 while Appellant was employed by the United States Postal Service in Jackson, Tennessee. After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of both offenses. As a result, the trial court sentenced Appellant to two years for the conviction for official misconduct. The trial court ordered Appellant to serve 90 days of the sentence in incarceration and the balance of the sentence on probation. Appellant was sentenced to thirty days for the theft of property conviction, to be served concurrently with the sentence for official misconduct. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal. On appeal, Appellant presents various allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. In addition, he asks this Court to determine if the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction and whether his sentence was “unfair.” After a review of the record, we determine that Appellant has waived any issues with respect to ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to support the issues with argument, citations to the record, or citations to authority. Moreover, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Appellant. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


Memphis Lawyer Nominated for Federal Judgeship

President Barack Obama has nominated University of Memphis general counsel Sheryl H. Lipman for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, the White House announced Thursday evening. If confirmed, Lipman would succeed Judge Jon P. McCalla, who is taking senior status later this month. Interim University of Memphis President R. Brad Martin praised the move saying, "Sheri Lipman is an outstanding choice to serve on the federal bench. She has served and continues to serve the University of Memphis and our community with great distinction, and I know she will do so as a federal judge as well. This is a wise choice and the entire University of Memphis community congratulates Sheri on her nomination." The Commercial Appeal has more.


New Law Firm Launches in Nashville's Hillsboro Village

A group of veteran Nashville attorneys has launched a new firm that will handle estate planning, probate, litigation and personal injury cases from an office in Hillsboro Village. The Nashville Post reports that Sean Martin and David Heller, formerly of DHPM, and sole practitioners Matt Potempa and Jennifer Sheppard have formed Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard. Martin will focus on personal injury cases, while the others will handle probate and estate planning work. Family law and probate attorney Jamie Machamer also will join the firm. "We have put together an exceptional team of attorneys and legal professionals," partner Potempa wrote on Facebook Thursday. "Our goal is to provide the absolute highest quality of legal representation to our clients and we are excited about this new venture."


Vault Ranks Baker Donelson Among Top 10 Firms

Baker Donelson has been ranked in the top 10 firms to work for in Vault Inc.’s 2014 edition of “Best Law Firms to Work For.” The firm also received a first place ranking in the category of transparency. The rankings are based on feedback from thousands of associates across the country who were asked to rate their law firms on a number of quality-of-life categories. Read more on the firm's website.


Commissioner Turns Down City Attorney Job

Williamson County Commissioner Travis Hawkins has turned down the job of Spring Hill’s new city attorney, the Tennessean reports. Mayor Rick Graham has been trying to negotiate an employment contract with Hawkins during the past week, but the potential for a conflict with Hawkins’ elected position as a county commissioner remained the sticking point. The board will take up the issue of how to go about choosing a new city attorney at its Aug. 12 work session.


State General Services Head to Step Down

Steve Cates, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of General Services, will step down from his position effective Aug. 20 and return to the private sector, the Memphis Business Journal reports. Cates, who is responsible for managing the state’s assets and liabilities, has been with the Haslam administration since Jan. 2011. “Steve has put a lot of work into bringing state government into the 21st Century,” Gov. Haslam said in a statement. “We now have a reliable inventory of state properties; we have a plan to maintain those properties instead of deferring maintenance costs until there is a crisis; we’re creating more functional and cost-effective work spaces for our employees; and we’re leveraging the state’s buying power to save taxpayer dollars. These are significant changes that are making state government better, and I am grateful to Steve’s dedication to see these projects through.”


Wyrick Urges Members to Call a Legislator

"Our legislators are not actually hearing from very many members of our profession," TBA President Cindy Wyrick writes in her August TBJ column. "On the other hand, they are hearing from a large number of doctors, dentists and business owners. … Life is about relationships, and those who influence us the most are those with whom we have built relationships of trust and respect. Your legislators are no different from the rest of us. … The time is now for our 12,000 members to take the steps necessary to become a powerful voice for our profession."


Ginsburg Claims to be Hardest Working Justice

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg completes her 20th year on the U.S. Supreme Court, she says she is not ready to retire or slow down anytime soon. In an interview with USA Today, the 80 year-old said she was still the hardest-working justice. "As long as I can do the job full-steam, I would like to stay here," she told the newspaper. "Last term was a good example. I didn't write any slower. I didn't think any slower. I have to take it year by year at my age, and who knows what could happen next year? Right now, I know I'm OK. Whether that will be true at the end of next term, I can't say." The ABA Journal has the story.


House OKs 40th Effort to Repeal Health Law

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation by a vote of 232-185 today to prevent the Internal Revenue Service from implementing any part of President Barack Obama’s health care law, WATE reports. Sponsor Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, said, "We simply want patients and families and doctors to be in charge of health care, not Washington, D.C., and not the IRS." Today's debate marked the 40th time the GOP-controlled House has voted to repeal all or part of the health care reform. Most of the measures have languished in the Democrat-controlled Senate.


 
 

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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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