National Bar Leaders Focus on Judicial Merit Selection

Bar leaders from across the country learned about challenges to judicial merit selection and retention in Tennessee and other states at a presentation today during the National Conference of Bar President's annual meeting in San Francisco. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur moderated the session, which featured TBA Immediate Past President Jacqueline Dixon, along with Iowa State Bar Immediate Past President Cynthia Moser and Gwynne Young, immediate past president of the Florida Bar. While much of the debate to date in Tennessee has taken place in the legislature, both Florida and Iowa were recently involved in extensive public campaigns leading up to elections.

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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 Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


W. Gerald Tidwell, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, H. Owen Maddux.

Krisann Hodges and Kevin D. Balkwill, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

Judge: CLARK

This direct appeal involves a disciplinary proceeding against a Chattanooga lawyer arising out of his representation of two clients. With one member dissenting, a hearing panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility determined that the lawyer should be suspended from the practice of law for nine months. The lawyer appealed to the Chancery Court for Hamilton County, and the trial court upheld the nine-month suspension, concluding that the evidence supported the finding of the hearing panel’s majority that the lawyer’s misconduct caused potential injury to one of his clients. In this appeal, the lawyer argues that (1) the hearing panel erred by refusing to set aside the default judgment entered against him based on his failure to respond to the petition for discipline; (2) the record contains no evidence of potential injury resulting from his misconduct; and (3) the hearing panel ascribed too much weight to his prior history of discipline when considering aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Based on our review of the record, we, like the trial court, affirm the hearing panel’s decision to suspend the lawyer’s license to practice law for nine months.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James D. Estep, III, Tazewell, Tennessee, for the appellants, William Ned McCoy and Carolyn McCoy.

Douglas T. Jenkins, Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Richard Lee Bales and Shelia M. Bales.


William Ned McCoy and Carolyn McCoy (“Plaintiffs”) sued Richard Lee Bales and Shelia M. Bales (“Defendants”) alleging, in part, that Defendants had encroached upon real property owned by Plaintiffs, and seeking, in part, a determination with regard to a boundary line. The case was tried before a jury, and the Trial Court entered judgment upon the jury’s verdict finding and holding, inter alia, that the property is owned by the parties as set out in the Dennis Fultz survey dated February 29, 1996. Plaintiffs appeal to this Court raising an issue regarding whether the evidence supports the jury’s verdict. We hold that material evidence supports the jury’s verdict, and we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William Bart Highers, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Keith C. Buckalew.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence R. Whitley, District Attorney General; and Bryna L. Grant and Jayson C. Criddle, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Keith C. Buckalew, was convicted by a Sumner County Criminal Court jury of solicitation of a minor to observe sexual conduct, a Class E felony, and assault, a Class B misdemeanor, and was sentenced to respective terms of four years and six months, to be served consecutively. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in allowing the hearsay testimony of two minors under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule; (2) the trial court erred in failing to limit, in the second trial, the victim’s testimony about the defendant’s touching her breast; and (3) the trial court erred in failing to limit testimony of the State’s witnesses regarding the defendant’s consumption of alcohol. We conclude that the defendant has waived review of these claims and, accordingly, affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


T. Wood Smith, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shawn Anthony Jones.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, District Attorney General; and Cecil C. Mills, Jr., and Ritchie Dale Collins, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Green County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Shawn Anthony Jones, of one count of first degree premeditated murder, three counts of first degree felony murder, and one count of attempted first degree premeditated murder. The trial court merged the murder convictions and sentenced the appellant to life. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the appellant to twenty-five years for the attempted murder conviction and ordered that he serve the sentence consecutively to the life sentence. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by (1) allowing the State to introduce into evidence unduly prejudicial photographs of the victims, (2) failing to suppress his statements to police, (3) refusing to allow him to show that a co-defendant told police she kicked open the door to the victims’ home, and (4) failing to grant his motion for a mistrial when the prosecutor commented on his failure to testify. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Today's News

Joint Investiture Ceremony for 3rd District Judges Aug. 14

Gov. Bill Haslam will conduct a joint investiture ceremony for two newly appointed judges in the Third Judicial District. Circuit Court Judge Mike Faulk and Chancellor Doug Jenkins will be sworn in next Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Church Hill Middle School, 211 Oak Street, Church Hill. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will immediately follow the ceremony.

Reminder: Click Your Heels for Gender Equity

Don't forget to "Click Your Heels" for gender equity as part of the ABA's virtual march tomorrow. Held in conjunction with the ABA's Day of the Woman, the effort is designed to raise awareness about gender inequality in the workplace, including at law firms where studies show women are not compensated at the same levels as men. To participate in the “march,” visit the ABA's gender equity page, and vote "yes" for gender equality. Learn more about the issue and the work of the ABA task force on the group's website.

Grants Available to Help Pro Se Litigants with Child Support Issues

The Administrative Office of the Courts is making approximately $200,000 in grant funding available through its Access and Visitation Grant for the development or continuation of initiatives that help self-represented litigants deal with child support issues. To receive funding, initiatives must address the needs of divorced or never-married parents, and focus on services to help them resolve issues related to parenting, visitation and child support. Proposals must be received by Sept. 13. Click here for more information and to download the grant application.

Veteran Attorneys Open New Law Firm

With a combined 50 years of legal experience, Chattanooga attorneys Alix Michel and David Ward have formed their own firm. Formerly with Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, the pair will operate a general practice firm focusing on personal injury, long term care, professional and medical malpractice, defense of health related board investigations and other civil matters. “Our practice has made us legal problem solvers. Understanding your client and their needs, and tailoring a solution to their unique very satisfying,” Michel said. The firm of Michel and Ward is located in Chattanooga's Business Development Center at 100 Cherokee Blvd. The firm may be reached at (423) 602-9521. The Hamilton Herald has more.

Williamson County CASA Hires New Executive Director

Marianne Schroer has been hired as the new executive director of Williamson County CASA (WCCSA). She will take over as of Sept. 3, the Nashville Post reports. Schroer has more than 30 years experience as a licensed psychological examiner and has an extensive background in nonprofit work. “Marianne possesses a unique set of skills that will only enhance this challenging and critical role,” Alex Marks, WCCASA board president, said in a release. “With a background in both the nonprofit and counseling sectors, the board believes that she is in the position to quickly make a deep imprint on the community we serve. We are looking forward to seeing the ripple effects of her work.”

Judge Bailey Reflects on Career

Former Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Suzanne Bailey is enjoying retirement after 30 years on the bench. In an editorial in the Hamilton County Herald this week she reflects back on her career. A 1975 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Bailey began working with juveniles on one of her very first cases. She was so touched by the experience, she asked to be placed on the appointment list at juvenile court. “I enjoyed taking appointments there. We didn’t get paid...but my heart attached to juvenile court and the children who came through there,” she says. Bailey went on to become the first woman elected to any judgeship in the county when she became juvenile judge in 1982. Bailey, who retired in April, says her only advice to successor Judge Rob Philyaw is simple: “Have the heart of a servant.”

Former Nashville Lawyer, Obama Advisor Joins Equity Firm

Nancy-Ann DeParle, a former Nashville attorney and one of President Barack Obama’s chief advisors on health care reform, has joined the private equity firm Consonance Capital Partners, the Tennessean reports. The firm, located in New York City, focuses exclusively on investing in the U.S. health care industry. From 2009 to January 2013, DeParle served in the Obama White House, first as counselor to the president and then as director of the White House Office of Health Reform, where she spearheaded Obama’s effort to enact the Affordable Care Act and managed initial implementation of the law. Earlier in her career, she was commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

State Architect Named Head of General Services

Robert E. Oglesby, who currently serves as state architect, will become the new commissioner of the state Department of General Services, the Memphis Daily News reports. Oglesby will replace Steve Cates who is stepping down effective Aug. 20 to return to private business.

Courthouse Dog to Join Legal Process

The 13th Judicial District is partnering with the Children’s Advocacy Center in Cookeville and other organizations to bring the comfort of a dog to those involved in the stressful experience of the legal process. It is the second district in the state to utilize a dog at the courthouse. “This is an incredible tool for us," said Ellen O'Neill-Stephens, a former Washington state prosecutor and Courthouse Dogs member. "The dog offers emotional support to everyone involved in the process." The Crossville Chronicle has the story.

Haslam: Still No Decision on Medicaid Deal

After announcing a wellness plan aimed at getting Tennesseans to eat better, exercise more and avoid tobacco products yesterday, Gov. Bill Haslam said he is still talking with federal officials about a deal to provide health care coverage to more low-income individuals. Haslam said he is planning a trip to Washington, D.C., later this month to figure out whether the two sides can come to an agreement on a way to expand coverage without growing the state’s TennCare Medicaid program. “We’re very serious about trying to see what the best long-term answer is for Tennessee,” Haslam said. The Nashville City Paper has the story.

Obama to Sign Student Loan Bill

The White House said President Barack Obama would today sign a bipartisan bill lowering the costs of borrowing for some 11 million students. The legislation links student loan interest rates to the financial markets. It has been awaiting the president's signature since it was given final approval by the U.S. House of Representatives following a lengthy process to forge a compromise. The Memphis Daily News has the story.


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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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