Court Outlines Process for Honoring Pro Bono Work

The Tennessee Supreme Court has released details about its program to honor attorneys who volunteer at least 50 hours of pro bono service each year. Under the program, attorneys meeting the court’s minimum goal of 50 pro bono hours will be named “Attorneys for Justice” and will be honored at regional events throughout the state. Honorees will receive a certificate, presented by a Supreme Court justice, and have their names included on an honor roll published by the court. Finally, recipients will be able to use an “Attorneys for Justice” seal on firm websites and in marketing materials. Attorneys will be considered for recognition in 2014 based on pro bono hours performed in 2013. Law offices also may submit applications for the honor. Download the court’s nomination form. Learn more on the AOC website.

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
03 - 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


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Darrell J. O’Neal, Jonathan R. Feild, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rodney V. Johnson.

O. John Norris, III, Pamela R. Irons, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Trane U.S. Inc., et al.


Plaintiff sued his former co-worker, and months later, he filed an amended complaint naming his former employer and several other employees as additional defendants. The trial court granted a motion to dismiss the claims asserted against the new defendants, finding them barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. Plaintiff appeals, arguing that the claims should have been deemed timely pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 15.03 and/or Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-1-119. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


William H. Horton, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Troy Steven Potter.

Phillip C. Lawrence, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Christa Gilman Potter.


This case focuses on the proper classification and distribution of the parties’ assets incident to a divorce. Troy Steven Potter (“Husband”) filed a divorce complaint against Christa Gilman Potter (“Wife”) on August 17, 2011. The parties proceeded to trial in August 2012 on the issues of alimony and classification and division of property. The court awarded transitional alimony to Wife and divided the parties’ assets and debts. Husband appeals the trial court’s classification and division of property. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Ben H. Houston, II, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Samantha B.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


This is a termination of parental rights case focusing on Travion B. and Davion B., the minor children (“Children”) of Samantha B. (“Mother”). The Children were taken into protective custody by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) on January 24, 2011, after the younger child suffered a head injury. On October 6, 2011, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother. Following a bench trial spanning four days, the trial court granted the petition upon its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Mother had committed severe child abuse. The court further found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. 1 Mother has appealed. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ilya I. Berenshteyn, Bristol, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Eugene Crawford, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy E. Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Teresa A. Nelson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Robert Eugene Crawford, Jr., was convicted by a Sullivan County jury of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect. The trial court imposed consecutive terms of twenty-five years for each of these convictions. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statements to the police; (2) he was entitled to disclosure of grand jury materials; (3) reenactment photographs of the abuse were improperly admitted into evidence; (4) he should have been permitted to conduct individual voir dire of the potential jurors; (5) the trial court improperly limited his cross-examination of two witnesses; (6) his investigator should have been permitted to testify as a lay witness about the Defendant’s susceptibility to suggestion and the investigation techniques used; (7) he should have been allowed to present evidence from his mental evaluation about his reading comprehension difficulties; and (8) the trial court made several erroneous sentencing determinations, including the denial of his right to allocution, the length of the sentences imposed, and the imposition of consecutive sentencing. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James A. H. Bell and Edward L. Holt, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eugene O. Dale.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Charles D. Minor, Leslie Ann Longshore, and Boyd Patterson, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Eugene O. Dale, pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor, where the number of materials possessed was greater than fifty and less than one hundred, a Class C felony, subject to a reserved certified question of law that challenged the trial court’s denial of appellant’s motion to suppress evidence. The trial court imposed the agreed-upon sentence of eight years with a release eligibility of thirty-five percent. On appeal, appellant argues that the warrant authorizing the search of his computer was not supported by probable cause because the affidavit for the search warrant relied upon unconstitutionally obtained information. Following our review of the parties’ arguments, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Taylor D. Forrester, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tyrone Leon Nelson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and James Walter Freeland, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


A Tipton County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Tyrone Leon Nelson, charging him with possession of more than one-half ounce of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of the lesser offense of facilitation of possession of more than one-half ounce of marijuana with intent to deliver, and possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony. Defendant was acquitted of the paraphernalia charge. The trial court sentenced Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the facilitation charge and three years for the firearm charge to be served concurrently for an effective three-year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred by failing to grant his motion for acquittal of the conviction for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony when the jury acquitted him of the underlying felony, and (2)the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for facilitation of possession of more than one-half ounce of marijuana with intent to deliver. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Judge Ponders Remaining Issues in Schools Suit

With voters in the six suburbs of Memphis all approving the formation of municipal schools districts, Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays wants to hear from all sides in a pending lawsuit challenging the suburbs’ authority to create those districts, the Memphis Daily News reports. Mays asked the parties to present any remaining issues and argue their positions on two points: whether a 2013 law that lifted the ban on municipal districts statewide effectively ends the need for a ruling in the case, and whether the creation of suburban districts violates the Equal Protection Clause. Attorneys for Shelby County have argued that new suburban schools would racially resegregate public education in the area. Suburban leaders have denied that will happen.

Child’s Death Highlights DCS Computer Issues

A Chattanooga couple accused of child abuse and murder returned to court today in a case that is shedding new light on how computer problems within the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) impacted caseworkers’ ability to protect children. In this case, a 4-year-old died Dec. 19, 2011, after suffering multiple blunt force injuries. Prosecutors believe the child was beaten by his mother and her live-in boyfriend. In the weeks before the death, at least three claims of child abuse were called into DCS by family members and educators. But in a mix-up that DCS later blamed on its computer system, the abuse reports were assigned to different caseworkers with the result that neither fully knew the extent of the allegations.

Franklin Firm Launches New Practice Area

The Franklin law firm of Thompson Burton has launched an employment law practice, adding to its existing services in commercial real estate, business litigation and direct sales/advertising law. Leading the new practice group will be Nashville lawyer J.K. Simms, the Nashville Post reports. Simms previously chaired the Labor and Employment Practice Group at Cornelius & Collins. Simms graduated from the TBA Leadership Law program in 2011 and now serves on the program’s steering committee.

Republican Mayor Considers Alexander Challenge

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, a Republican, says he may challenge U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in the 2014 primary, but he will not be at a political forum next week organized by the Nashville Tea Party. Asked how he would counter Alexander’s war chest and name recognition, Burchett said, “It would be a grassroots campaign.” Meanwhile, the Nashville Tea Party says its own candidate, yet unidentified, could formally join the race as early as next week. Knoxnews has more.

Webinar Looks at Anti-LGBT Laws in Russia

The National LGBT Bar Association is hosting a webinar focusing on laws enacted in Russia that prohibit the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors. The program, scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, is being offered to the first 90 lawyers and law students who RSVP. The webinar also will cover the European Court of Human Rights case of Alekseyev v. Russia, which directed Moscow officials to allow lesbian and gay pride events to be held. See the line up of speakers or register.

Free Domestic Violence Training for Lawyers, Advocates

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence is offering a statewide legal advocacy training session Sept. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tennessee Health Management in Antioch. Robin Kimbrough, legal counsel for the group, will conduct the training for lawyers and advocates. Topics will include the basics of civil and criminal law in cases of domestic and sexual violence, the role of advocates and attorneys, tips on avoiding the unauthorized practice of law, and benefits for immigrant victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking. The training is free but reservations are requested. Learn more or register here.

Enter for a Chance to Win a Tablet Computer

UPS, the TBA's newest benefit partner, wants you to save up to 36 percent on shipping and have the chance to win a tablet computer in the process. Here’s how it works. Sign up for a new UPS account by Sept. 26 and receive one entry into the promotion. Find out more or sign up today.


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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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