BPR Gets More Power to Collect Unpaid Fees

The Tennessee Supreme Court has added a provision to Rule 13 that will permit the Board of Professional Responsibility to deduct unpaid costs from attorneys’ entitlement to compensation for indigent defense. Under the new provision to the rule, effective Jan 1., the Administrative Office of the Court’s audit process for such fee claims will take into consideration any unpaid amounts due the BPR.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
03 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
02 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals

LISA G. DIXON v. NISSAN NORTH AMERICA, INC. ET AL.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Frank C. Lynch, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellants, Nissan North America, Inc. and Ace American Insurance Company.

Barry H. Medley, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lisa G. Dixon

Judge: CANTRELL

The issues in this case are (1) whether the evidence supports an award of 8% to the body as a whole for an injury covered by the Workers’ Compensation statutes of this state, and (2) whether the trial judge erred in multiplying that award by a factor of six in the final judgment. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We conclude that the medical proof supports the trial court’s finding of an 8% anatomical impairment and that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s finding that the employee is entitled to receive permanent partial disability benefits of six times the anatomical impairment rating. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment awarding the employee permanent partial disability benefits of 48% to the body as a whole.


TN Court of Appeals

IN RE ALLISON N.A. ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Larry G. Roddy, Dayton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rebecca A.B.

No appearance by or on behalf of appellant, Jerry W.E.B.

Judge: SUSANO

This is a termination of parental rights case regarding Allison N.A., David M.B., and Raven H.B. (“the Children”), the minor children of Rebecca A.B. (“Mother”) and Jerry W.E.B. (“Father”). Mother and Father are divorced and reside in different states. Mother and the Children resided in Tennessee in a home with Mother’s then-boyfriend, Troy R. (“Boyfriend”). The Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) removed the Children, then ages eight, four and three, respectively, from Mother’s care after Boyfriend was arrested for a physical assault against the youngest child. Relatives, with whom the Children were first placed, proved not to be able to care for them. DCS obtained custody and the Children entered foster care. Thereafter, they were adjudicated dependent and neglected. Father was located and he was notified of the Children’s situation. He did not seek custody. More than a year after the Children were placed in foster care, DCS filed a petition to terminate both parents’ rights. After a trial, the court granted the petition based on its finding that multiple grounds for termination exist as to both parents and that termination is in the Children’s best interest. Both findings were said to be made by clear and convincing evidence. Mother and Father appeal. We affirm.


NICOLE GOESER, ET AL. v. LIVE HOLDINGS CORPORATION, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Daniel Lyn Graves II, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellants, Nicole Goeser, Wife and next, Friend of Benjamin Goeser, Deceased, and Nicole Goeser, Individually.

Russell E. Reviere, Keely N. Wilson, Erin Melton Shea, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellees, Live Holdings Corporation, Johnny’s Bar and Grill, Jonathon Steinberg, Individually, Hank Wise, Individually, and Marathon Properties, LLC.

Judge: COTTRELL

A patron at a sports bar shot and killed a man without threat or warning. The widow of the murdered man and his daughter filed separate lawsuits which were later consolidated, naming the owner of the bar as defendant, and claiming that the victim’s death was the result of inadequate security on the premises. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment contending that he did not violate any duty owed to the plaintiffs, because the shooting that occurred was completely unforeseeable under the circumstances. The trial court granted the summary judgment motion. We affirm.


CECILIA GONZALEZ v. MAURICIO GONZALEZ

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Matthew R. Macaw, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cecilia Gonzalez.

Jeff Mueller, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mauricio Gonzalez.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case involves the propriety of the trial court’s dismissal of a Rule 60.02 Motion to Set Aside a Final Judgment. The trial court previously dismissed Mother’s Petition for Divorce, after finding that the marriage was void due to Mother’s preexisting marriage in Chile. Mother subsequently filed a Rule 60.02 Motion, with supporting documentation purporting to show that she was never legally married in Chile. The trial court refused to set a hearing and dismissed the Rule 60.02 Motion. We conclude that the trial court erred in dismissing Mother’s Rule 60.02 Motion. Reversed and remanded.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

JOHNNY L. HEITZ v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gene G. Scott, Jr., Jonesborough, Tennessee, and J. Matthew King, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Johnny L. Heitz.

Robert E. Cooper Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and Leslie A. Foglia, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Johnny L. Heitz, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his aggravated kidnapping conviction and resulting thirty-year sentence. He contends that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to object to two statements made by prosecutors during closing argument. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES DENNIS LAMB

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk and George H. Waters for the appellant, James Dennis Lamb.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Matthew L. Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, James Dennis Lamb, pled guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court to two counts of theft of property valued one thousand dollars or more and two counts of writing worthless checks valued $500 or less and received an effective four-year sentence to be served on supervised probation. Subsequently, the trial court revoked the appellant’s probation and ordered that he serve the balance of his effective sentence in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering that he serve the sentence in confinement. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GREGORY MATHIS and ELZA EVANS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gregory Mathis.

Jason Chaffin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elza Evans.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Pamela Sue Anderson and Rachel Marie Sobrero, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

Following a jury trial, the Defendants, Gregory Mathis and Elza Evans, were each convicted of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-305, -13-402, -14-403. The trial court sentenced Defendant Mathis to an effective sentence of 126 years and Defendant Evans to an effective sentence of two lifetimes without the possibility of parole. In this appeal as of right, the Defendants raise the following issues: (1) Defendant Evans contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to sever his trial from Defendant Mathis’s trial; (2) both Defendants contend that the especially aggravated kidnapping offenses were essentially incidental to the aggravated robbery offense; (3) both Defendants contend that the evidence was insufficient to sustain their convictions; and (4) both Defendants contend that the trial court erred in imposing their sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRENT ROWDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Eric C. Davis, Dothan, Alabama, for the appellant, Brent Rowden.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and J. Douglas Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

A Wayne County Jury convicted Defendant, Brent Rowden, of second-degree murder (County One), tampering with evidence (Count Two), and attempted initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine (Count Three). He received concurrent sentences of thirty-seven years as a Range II multiple offender for second-degree murder, thirteen years as a persistent offender for tampering with evidence, and thirteen years as a persistent offender for attempted initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. The trial court ordered Defendant’s effective thirty-seven-year sentence to be served consecutively to an eight-year sentence in Lawrence County. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress his statements to police. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, the matter is remanded to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment in Count One to reflect Defendant’s offender status as Multiple rather than Career.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SUSAN DESHON WINTERS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

C. Brent Keeton, for the Defendant-Appellant, Susan Deshon Winters.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Charles Michael Layne, District Attorney General; and Marla R. Holloway, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Susan Deshon Winters, was indicted by a Coffee County Grand Jury for bribery of a public servant (count 1), possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver (count 2), possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver (count 3), and possession of drug paraphernalia (count 4). See T.C.A. §§ 39-16-102; 39-17- 417(a)(4), (c)(1); 39-17-417(a)(4), (g)(1); 39-17-425. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Winters entered guilty pleas to the charged offenses, with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of the sentences. The trial court subsequently sentenced Winters as a Range I, standard offender to an effective sentence of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Winters argues that the trial court abused its discretion in denying her a sentence of split confinement. Upon review, we affirm the judgments for bribery of a public servant, possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia. However, because the record indicates that Winters entered a guilty plea to the indicted offense of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, a Class B felony, rather than the offense of possession of less than .5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony, we reverse the judgment in count 2 and remand the case for resentencing on that conviction.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Private Act Requirement that General Sessions Court Use Services of County Probation Office

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-09-04

Opinion Number: 70


Retroactivity of Annexation Moratorium

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-09-04

Opinion Number: 71


Pilot Founder Opens Up about Raid

In a Question and Answer released by truck-stop chain Flying Pilot J, James A. Haslam II —- the founder of Pilot and father of current CEO Jimmy Haslam and Gov. Bill Haslam -— gives his first detailed remarks about the events surrounding the government raid of the Knoxville-based company. "It was the second worst day of my life," he said. "When Jimmy, Bill and Ann’s mother died that was obviously the worst day of my life, but this was a very difficult day for me as well." He added, "I’ve spent my life building this company with a pristine reputation of people doing the right thing, supporting our community, being a good corporate citizen, taking care of our customers and our team members, and I’m going to spend the rest of my life rebuilding that reputation." Knoxnews has more.


Retired Agent: Uncollected Fines Hurting Drug Task Force

The West Tennessee Drug Task Force may be forced to close next year because fines designated to fund the task force are not being assessed or collected, the task force's former head says. Donny Blackwell, who retired as special agent in charge of the task force on Aug. 31, told the Jackson Sun that 28th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Clayburn Peebles has declared drug offenders indigent and waived the fines that would fund the task force. Blackwell said other fees that cover court costs are rarely waived. “I have not seen many drug dealers over the years that had a legitimate job,” Blackwell said. “On paper they are indigent because they do not have a legitimate job. But I have seen these same indigent drug offenders make multiple bonds for thousands of dollars to get out of jail and then hire and pay a private attorney thousands of dollars to represent them.”


Judge Sets Deadline in Life Care Centers Lawsuit

Federal prosecutors won't know until next spring if a massive whistle-blower Medicare fraud lawsuit against Life Care Centers of America can proceed to trial. The case was filed in 2008 and merged with a similar 2012 lawsuit, which involves allegations that the company provided unnecessary, often harmful, therapies to patients in its assisted living facilities to maximize Medicare billings. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has more about the case and the Cleveland, Tenn., based company.


Reeves Could be Confirmed in Record Time

Former TBA president and Knoxville attorney Pamela Reeves’ nomination to federal judgeship may be quicker than anyone expected, Metro Pulse reports. President Barack Obama’s nominees to the federal bench have been taking an average of 218 to 227 days to be confirmed, but the recent filibuster “fix” worked out between Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republicans has sped up the nomination process. Reeves, who was nominated in May, could be confirmed when the Senate returns from the Labor Day recess or shortly thereafter.


DCS Partners with TBI to Improve Caseworkers' Training

The CPS Investigations Academy is a new joint venture between the Department of Children’s Services and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation intended to increase the level of instruction for child protective services workers. Taught by TBI agents and national child abuse investigation experts, the three-week program will graduate its first class in December. “In many cases, DCS makes the determination whether a crime has been committed,” said TBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Margie Quinn, who oversees TBI investigations into sex trafficking. “But in some cases, you may not have a worker trained well enough to make that determination,” the Tennessean reports.


Feds Won’t Enforce Same-Sex Veteran Ban

The Obama Administration announced yesterday that it will stop enforcing a law that blocks benefits to partners of military veterans in same-sex marriage, the Times News reports. In a letter to congressional leaders, Attorney General Eric Holder said that a provision in federal law on benefits to veterans and their families defines "spouse" to mean a person of the opposite sex. He says that definition leaves out legally married same-sex couples, and runs afoul of the June Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. "Decisions by the Executive not to enforce federal laws are appropriately rare," Holder told Congress. "Nevertheless, the unique circumstances presented here warrant non-enforcement."


Memphis Law Firm Expands in Middle Tennessee

The Memphis-based law firm Martin, Tate, Morrow and Marston PC has opened an office in Lawrenceberg, its first foray into Middle Tennessee, the Memphis Business Journal reports.  “For the past five years, the number of Martin Tate’s clients in the Middle Tennessee/Nashville area has increased substantially. We’re opening this office to make the law firm more accessible to them,” Lee Piovarcy, the new office’s resident partner, said in a news release.


Waller Awards UT Law Diversity Scholarship

Maria Alejandra Dalton is the third recipient of Waller law firm’s Diversity Endowed Scholarship at the University of Tennessee College of Law. Established in 2011, the $30,000 scholarship is the cornerstone of Waller’s efforts to support the law school’s diversity recruiting program and honors students whose lives have been guided by the examples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Knoxnews has more.


Kookogey Backs Out of Senate Run

Kevin Kookogey announced today that he will not challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander for a Senate seat next August, scrapping three months of preparation for a campaign. According to the Tennessean, the former Williamson County Republican Party chairman hopes to avoid “infighting” among tea party activists, who already have one candidate running against the incumbent senator. “What became apparent to me was that there was going to be divided loyalties,” Kookogey said. “Both sides appeared to have their supporters, and it didn’t appear they were going to yield to each other.”


Nobel Prize Winning Law Prof Dies At 102

Nobel-prize winning attorney Ronald Coase died Monday (Sept. 2) at the age of 102, the ABA Journal reports. The University of Chicago law professor and economist wrote the most-cited law review article of all time. In addition, the New Yorker's blog Rational Irrationality wrote that Coase “was transformed into an icon of the political right. His famous ‘Coase theorem’ was used to justify a hands-off approach to big business on the part of politicians, regulatory agencies, and judges, leaving pollution and other economic problems to the corrective powers of the free market.”


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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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