Appellate Clerk's Offices to Close for System Upgrade

The Tennessee Appellate Court Clerk’s Office will install a new digital tracking system for the appellate courts later this month, allowing for greater access to information for lawyers, litigants and the general public. The new case management system will provide online and mobile access to digital copies of motions, orders, opinions and judgments at no cost. The installation process will begin at 4:30 p.m. CDT Aug. 21. New filings submitted to any of the appellate courts after that time will be filed on Aug. 26. This will extend by two business days filing deadlines for any matter with the appellate courts. The Tennessee Supreme Court has entered an order declaring the clerk’s office “inaccessible” for purposes of filing documents on Aug. 22 and 23. Exceptions will be made for emergency motions. The AOC reported the news today.

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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
02 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - 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









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 Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

BENEFIT CONSULTING ALLIANCE, LLC v. CLARKSVILLE MONTGOMERY COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

William K. Lane, III, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Benefit Consulting Alliance, LLC.

Carol M. Joiner, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Clarksville Montgomery County School System, et al.

Judge: COTTRELL

Consulting group that served as the agent of record for a trust established to provide insurance to employees of a county school system filed a complaint alleging a violation of the Open Meetings Act when a group of trustees met for lunch with one of the consulting group’s employees and later changed the school system’s agent of record when the employee formed a different association with another company. The trial court found that no violation of the Open Meetings Act occurred at the lunch meeting because no decision was made during the lunch. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.


TERRI ANN KELLY v. WILLARD REED KELLY
With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard A. Schulman and McKinley S. Lundy, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Willard Reed Kelly.

Jennifer H. Lawrence, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Terri Ann Kelly.

Judge: SWINEY

This appeal arises from a divorce and child custody determination. After 18 years of marriage, Terri Ann Kelly (“Wife”) sued Willard Reed Kelly (“Husband”) for divorce in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). The Trial Court, among other things, awarded Wife alimony and custody of the parties’ son, Will. Husband appeals, raising several issues. We reverse the Trial Court in its award of custody of Will to Wife. We modify the Trial Court’s division of the marital estate and its award of alimony to Wife. Finally, we affirm the Trial Court as to its award of attorney’s fees to Wife. We affirm, in part, as modified, and reverse, in part, the judgment of the Trial Court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANDRE BENSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Phyllis Aluko, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for appellant, Andre Benson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Kirby May, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Andre Benson, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury in July of 2009 with aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of the offenses as charged in the indictment. He was sentenced as a Range II, Multiple Offender to fifteen years in incarceration for the aggravated robbery conviction and thirty-five years as a Violent Offender for the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently, for a total effective sentence of thirty-five years at 100 percent. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant initiated this appeal. The following issues are presented for our review: (1) whether Appellant is entitled to relief from his kidnapping conviction as a result of the holding in State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559 (Tenn. 2012); (2) whether the trial court violated Appellant’s right to confront witnesses by admitting preliminary hearing testimony of the victim at trial after it was determined the victim was incompetent to testify at trial; (3) whether the trial court improperly admitted excited utterances of the victim; (4) whether the trial court erred in admitting expert witness testimony about the victim’s mental state; (5) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (6) whether the trial court improperly sentenced Appellant; and (7) whether cumulative error affected Appellant’s constitutional due process rights. After a review of the evidence and applicable authorities, we determine: (1) the trial court properly determined that the victim was unavailable at trial such that the State could utilize her preliminary hearing testimony; (2) the trial court properly admitted excited utterances of the victim; (3) Appellant waived any issue with regard to hearsay admitted during the testimony of Jarian Henry based on the failure to object to the evidence; (5) Appellant is entitled to relief from his aggravated kidnapping conviction based on White because the issue has been fairly raised and we conclude that the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; (6) the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction for aggravated robbery; and (7) the trial court properly sentenced Appellant. Accordingly, Appellant’s aggravated robbery conviction is affirmed, but a new trial is required on the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction. Therefore, this case is remanded for further proceedings as set out in this opinion.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEDRICK CARWELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Tony N. Brayton (on appeal) and Jim Hale and Ben Rush (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Kedrick Carwell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Kate Edmands, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Kedrick Carwell, was convicted of carjacking, a Class B felony, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. The trial court sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to fifteen years for the carjacking conviction and as a violent offender to ten years for the firearm conviction, to be served consecutively. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Based upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LUIS GUILLEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Juni Ganguli, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Luis Guillen.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Marques T. Young and Ann Schiller, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Luis Guillen, was found guilty after a trial by jury of one count of aggravated rape, a Class A felony, and one count of aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony. He was sentenced as a violent offender to twenty-five years for the aggravated rape and to a consecutive ten years for the aggravated kidnapping, for a total effective sentence of thirtyfive years. On appeal, the defendant claims that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that his sentence is excessive. After reviewing the record and the arguments of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


LARRY HUNT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Juni S. Ganguli, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry Hunt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Charles Summers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Larry Hunt, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape and resulting effective sentence of thirty-two years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. However, because the post-conviction court failed to make any findings of fact or conclusions of law in its denial of the petition, we reverse the judgment of the postconviction court and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JERMAINE OWENS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph S. Ozment, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jermaine Owens.

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

Judge: SMITH

The Shelby County Grand Jury indicted Appellant for two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count for each victim; two counts of especially aggravated robbery, one count for each victim; and two counts of aggravated rape. At the conclusion of a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of all counts. The trial court sentenced Appellant to an effective sentence of 125 years. On appeal, Appellant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his identification in the photographic lineup presented to one of the victims, that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not err in denying the motion to suppress the line-up results or imposing consecutive sentences. Further, we hold that the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JACOB ANDREW RELLER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jacob Andrew Reller, Dandridge, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; James B. (Jimmy) Dunn, District Attorney General; and Gregory C. Eshbaugh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Jacob Andrew Reller, was convicted by a Sevier County Circuit Court jury of driving under the influence (DUI), a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. § 55-10-401 (2012). He received an eleven-month, twenty-nine-day sentence with all but ten days suspended. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction, (2) the prosecutor failed to produce exculpatory evidence, and (3) the trial court erred in finding evidence of the Defendant’s alibi and Officer Wilder’s impeachment irrelevant. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. EDWARD WARREN WISE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), Melissa Harrison and Randi A. Hess (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Edward Warren Wise.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Hunter and Brian Ewald, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Edward Warren Wise, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to a Range I sentence of six years in confinement. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce the preliminary hearing testimony of a witness who died prior to trial and also challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DAVID CHARDWICK WOOTEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, David Chardwick Wooten.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Kristin Menke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, David Chardwick Wooten, of two counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and the trial court sentenced him to ten years for each conviction to be served concurrently. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; (2) the State’s inadequate election of offenses deprived him of his constitutional right to a unanimous verdict for count 2; and (3) the trial court should have granted his request for a mistrial when a State witness testified that he refused to take a polygraph examination. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Mandatory Sprinkler Requirement for Residential Dwellings

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-08-01

Opinion Number: 61


New Court for Drug-Dependent Moms to Open in Knoxville

Knox County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin announced this week that a new drug court for drug-dependent moms will open Sept. 1, Knoxnews reports. Under the program, Knox First Family Recovery will work with the mothers, and judges gradually will give them more time with their kids as they progress. Irwin unveiled the court at the 30th annual Joint Conference on Juvenile Justice, which drew nearly 500 juvenile judges and court workers from across the state. Funding for the effort will come from a federal grant administered by the state. Dirk Weddington, a Juvenile Court magistrate, will help supervise the program and work with local treatment providers.


6th Circuit: Conflicting Rules on Campus Speakers Justify Suit

A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated itinerant preacher John McGlone’s lawsuit against the University of Tennessee and ordered the school to resume allowing him to speak on campus. The decision reversed U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Phillips’ dismissal of the case. The appellate opinion found that the school has conflicting policies for approving on-campus speakers, lending plausibility to McGlone’s claims that the policies are unconstitutionally vague and violate his First Amendment rights. The editorial board of the News Sentinel today called on UT to revise its policies to remove any doubt about how campus speakers are selected. It also argued that the new policy must be "as expansive and inclusive as possible” since “colleges and universities should be free speech laboratories.”


Report: Small Towns Doing Without Courthouse

A story from National Public Radio today highlights the challenges small towns face as courthouses close due to shrinking budgets. In the town of Coalinga, Calif., for example, traffic court is conducted by video streaming but for small claims cases and criminal arraignments, everyone — including police officers — has to travel more than an hour to Fresno. Last year, travel expenses cost the police department about $25,000. Even residents without business before the court bemoan its closure. As one mother reflected on the fact that her sons would not be able to observe court in action, she said “It's like they are missing out on an American experience because trial by jury, that's what we're all about.”


Best Law Firms for Women Named

Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers today released their list of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. Of the firms on this year’s list, 78 percent have one or more women among their top 10 rainmakers, up from 69 percent last year. The list is based on factors such as representation of women in the workforce and leadership positions, flexibility, compensation and development and retention of female lawyers. All 50 firms offer flex-time and reduced hours and 48 allow lawyers working reduced hours to be eligible for equity partnership. The ABA Journal has the full list plus links to a press release and executive summary.


Tennessee Joins Brief Supporting Prayer at Town Meetings

The State of Tennessee has joined with Texas, Indiana and 20 other states in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that prayers by mostly Christian clergy members before legislative meetings are not unconstitutional. The brief cites a history of legislative prayer and the American culture of religious accommodation to argue that, “The establishment clause does not require officials either to edit historically permissible religious expressions or scrub them from the public square.” The brief was filed in response to the court’s decision to hear the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway in its October term. The ABA Journal has more on the story while SCOTUSBlog has details on the case.


U.S. Attorney Sued to Remove Supreme Court ... in 1870

In this month's issue, Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA president Sam Elliott looks back into history and tells the surprising story of when the U.S. attorney sued to remove half the Tennessee Supreme Court. Another former TBA president, Knoxville lawyer Don Paine, gives practical advice for collecting a judgment. Read these and more in the August Tennessee Bar Journal.


Lipscomb Offers Training in Advance of Pro Bono Clinic

Nashville’s Lipscomb University will hold a pro bono clinic training session for lawyers on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Institute for Civic Leadership's conference room on the third floor of the Ezell Center. Dinner will be provided. Palmer Williams from the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission will explain the clinic process and attendees will receive reference material to prepare for upcoming legal clinics. The first clinic will be held Aug. 22 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information and to RSVP contact Randy Spivey, academic director for the school’s Institute for Law, Justice and Society, at (615) 966-2503 or randy.spivey@lipscomb.edu.


Auto Race Benefits Pro Bono Work

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host "Solo in the Park" -- an auto competition and fundraiser -- on Aug. 17 and 18 at Chilhowee Park in Knoxville. Drivers will compete separately in a timed skill and handling competition. Registration is $35. Spectators are asked to make a $5 per family donation. Ride-alongs (helmets provided!) cost $10. Dave Yoder, executive director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee, has issued a challenge to area attorneys: beat his time and he will make a $250 to LAET. In addition, LAET lawyer Terry Woods has agreed to match the contribution if he is beaten. Proceeds from the event benefit LAET and the Knoxville Family Justice Center, which provides services to domestic violence victims. Download a flyer about the event. For more information contact Yoder at (865) 251-4961.


Former Nashville Lawyer Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order summarily and temporarily suspending former Nashville lawyer Robin Kathleen Barry from the practice of law after finding that she failed to respond to the Board of Professional Conduct regarding a complaint of misconduct. Download the BPR notice.


Services Wednesday for Lawyer, Real Estate Developer

R. Stephen Tingle, a Chattanooga-area lawyer-turned-commercial-real-estate-developer, died last Saturday (Aug. 3) at the age of 67. A resident of Signal Mountain, Tingle graduated from the Atlanta Law School and developed a successful law practice in Rossville. He then worked for many years as a commercial real estate developer. Funeral services will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 8451 E. Brainerd Rd., Chattanooga 37421. The family will receive friends at 10 a.m. Burial will follow the service at Hamilton Memorial Gardens. Memorial contributions may be made to Make-A-Wish East Tennessee, 510 S. Willow St., Chattanooga, TN 37404; or Faces, The National Cranio Facial Association, P.O. Box 11082, Chattanooga, TN 37401. Chattanoogan.com has more on Tingle's life.


 
 

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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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