Academy Offers Supreme Court Admissions Ceremony

If admission to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court is one of your career goals, don’t miss the opportunity to make it a reality during the 30th Annual TBA Academy, Nov. 12-13. A select group of Tennessee attorneys will be able to take part in this private ceremony before the court and enjoy other events at the court and the capitol. A reception and celebration dinner kick off the Academy, which also includes the opportunity to earn three hours of CLE credit.. The group will stay at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, where the TBA has obtained a special rate for Academy participants.

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
03 - 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

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANGELA M. MERRIMAN

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Gordon W. Smith, Associate Solicitor General; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa S. Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; and Darrell Julian, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Dan T. Bryant, District Public Defender, and L. Scott Grissom, Assistant Public Defender, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Angela M. Merriman.

Judge: HOLDER

The defendant was arrested for driving under the influence, reckless endangerment with a motor vehicle, reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, and violation of the implied consent law. The arresting officer recorded his pursuit and stop of the defendant’s vehicle using video recording equipment installed in his patrol vehicle, but the video recording was subsequently lost. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the State’s failure to preserve potentially exculpatory evidence would deprive her of a fair trial. Following a pre-trial evidentiary hearing, the trial court conducted an analysis under State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d 912 (Tenn. 1999), and dismissed several of the charges. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment, concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the charges. State v. Merriman, No. M2011-01682-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 524474, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 17, 2012). We granted the State permission to appeal. We apply a de novo standard of review and determine that, based on this record, the trial court did not err by finding that it would be fundamentally unfair to require the defendant to go to trial without the video recording. We also conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in choosing dismissal as an appropriate remedy for the State’s loss of the video recording.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

MICHAEL BRANDON ADAMS v. DWIGHT BARBEE, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael Brandon Adams, Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Michael Brandon Adams, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for the writ of habeas corpus from his guilty plea conviction for aggravated child abuse, for which he is serving an eighteen-year sentence at 100%. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in dismissing the petition. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


CALVIN EUGENE BRYANT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James O. Martin, III, for the Defendant-Appellant, Calvin Eugene Bryant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel M. Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Calvin Eugene Bryant, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief. The Petitioner argues on appeal that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to request a jury instruction on the lesser included offense of facilitation. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


ROBERT J. SKILLEN V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert J. Skillen, Clinton, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; and Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Robert J. Skillen (“the Petitioner”), proceeding pro se, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the indictment for his two convictions for sexual battery by an authority figure and four convictions for rape of a child is defective because it failed to allege any facts constituting an offense. The habeas corpus court summarily denied relief, and this appeal followed. We affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.


TN Court of Appeals

CHARLES H. ROBERTS v. MCCX DISCIPLINARY BOARD, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles H. Roberts, Wartburg, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Eric Andrew Fuller, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights and Claims Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) Disciplinary Board.

Judge: PER CURIAM

The order from which the pro se incarcerated appellant, Charles H. Roberts, seeks to appeal was entered on April 3, 2013. The Notice of Appeal was filed more than thirty (30) days from the date of entry of the April 3, 2013 order, even considering the date upon which the appellant placed the Notice of Appeal in the mail for filing with the trial court clerk (May 9, 2013). See Tenn. R. App. P. 20(g). Because the Notice of Appeal was not timely filed, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal.


Judge Sets Up Mediation in Meningitis Case

U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV is setting up a mediation program in an attempt to quickly settle the dozens of pending lawsuits filed by victims of the fungal meningitis outbreak that claimed the lives of 15 Tennesseans. Issued yesterday, the 13-page order follows closely the plan urged by victims’ lawyers. Two Nashville attorneys, Mark Chalos and Gerard Stranch, termed it an important victory. Chalos, who represents several victims, argued for the plan in a lengthy court session last week and said the order was “an important step for families to get justice.” The Tennessean has more.


General Sessions Judge to be Appointed

Williamson County Commissioners will appoint a new general sessions judge at the Sept. 9 commission meeting to finish the term of Judge Al Nation, who retires Sept. 30. His term ends Aug. 31, 2014. The commission is accepting applications to fill the position until Aug. 26. The Brentwood Home Page has more.


Al Jazeera America Launches Nashville Bureau

Al Jazeera America is set to launch next Tuesday, featuring some well known American broadcasting personalities, including former NBC anchor and native Nashvillian John Siegenthaler Jr. The network is opening 12 bureaus in American cities, including one in Nashville. The Nashville desk will be headed by former WSMV anchor Jonathan Martin. Martin expects that Al Jazeera America will have some negative perceptions to overcome and says he's prepared to confront them. Nashville Public Radio has the story. 


Chattanooga YLD Raises Money, School Supplies for Abuse Victims

The Young Lawyers Division of the Chattanooga Bar Association recently held a fundraiser for the Hamilton County Juvenile Court’s CASA program, the Hamilton County Herald reports. The fundraiser provided backpacks and other school items for children who are victims of abuse and neglect and receive services from CASA.


Opinion: Flexible Sentencing Would Help in Tennessee

In an editorial, the Tennessean praises Attorney General Eric Holder’s challenge to the nation’s mandatory minimum sentencing policy and sees a need for the same approach to Tennessee’s criminal justice system. According to the publication, the state prison population has risen 4.5 percent in the past 10 years, and county and jail populations have increased 42 percent. In 2012, the state Correction Department went $20 million over budget. In Tennessee, state officials seem to understand the urgency of the problem created by overcrowding and recidivism and have called for alternative sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders as well as more drug courts to offer judicial supervision, treatment services and other incentives.


Miller & Martin Joins Law Firm Sustainability Network

Chattanooga-based Miller & Martin has joined a group of top U.S. law firms that have come together to promote environmental sustainability under the newly incorporated Law Firm Sustainability Network (LFSN). The LFSN is a nonprofit organization of law firms and legal departments committed to promoting the benefits of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility throughout the legal industry. Founded in 2011, LFSN’s mission is to develop key performance indicators, foster knowledge-sharing, develop best practice guidelines, and recognize and promote sustainability innovations in the U.S. legal sector. The Hamilton County Herald has the story.


House Judicial Oversight Seeks Charging Committee in DA Case

The House Judicial Oversight Committee, tasked with the responsibility of investigating misconduct allegations against 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steven R. Bebb, recommended Wednesday that a charging committee be formed, the Cleveland Daily Banner reports. Though the attorney general's office found that none of the allegations it reviewed rose to the level of criminal charges, its final report stated Bebb and his office engaged in practices and recordkeeping that evidenced poor judgment, deficient recordkeeping and insufficient attention to the appropriate use of public resources.


Tea Party Searches for Challenger to Alexander

Tennessee Tea Party activists are launching a set of “vetting” sessions to find a challenger to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in next year’s Republican primary, the Tennessean reports. “Everybody has agreed that we need to get behind a single candidate and put our efforts behind someone who can challenge Lamar, debate his public record and basically just push back against the Republican establishment that is trying to bully and intimidate anyone who wants to run against him,” Nashville Tea Party president Ben Cunningham said.


Davidson County Lawyer Censured

Shawn Patrick Sirgo received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility on Aug. 12 for practicing law while his license was suspended. Download the BPR notice.


 
 

Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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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