TALS Announces Access to Justice Winners

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) today announced its 2013 Access to Justice Honorees. Award recipients include Gordon Bonnyman, founding executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, Harrison McIver III, executive director of Memphis Area Legal Services and Charity Miles Williams and Emily O’Donnell, both from Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The Access to Justice Dinner will be held Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville.

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
07 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals

DANNY RAY GROOMS v. CITY OF TRENTON, TENNESSEE ET AL.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Jay E. DeGroot, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danny Ray Grooms

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Second Injury Fund

John D. Burleson and Matthew R. Courtner, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Trenton, Tennessee

Judge: CHILDRESS

The employee, a sanitation worker, was struck in the groin area when he fell onto a bed frame. Within a few days, he developed swelling and infection of same. His treating physician testified that the condition was not caused by the work injury, and an evaluating physician testified that the employee’s condition was consistent with the injury. The trial court found that the swelling and infection were not related to the work injury and dismissed employee’s complaint. The employee appealed. We affirm the judgment 1 of the trial court.


TN Court of Appeals

TRACY HEPBURN V. CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Tracy Thomas Hepburn, Mountain City, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

James Irvin Pentecost and Melissa K. Van Pelt, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Corrections Corporation of America.

Shauna Ales Jennings, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Correction.

Judge: PER CURIAM

Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.


STEPHANIE CHRISTMON LEEPER v. KEITH ANTHONY LEEPER

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Thomas C. Jessee, Johnson City, Tennessee for Defendant/Appellant Keith Anthony Leeper

No appellate brief filed on behalf of Plaintiff/Appellee Stephanie Christmon Leeper

Judge: KIRBY

This is a post-divorce appeal. In this second appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court’s ruling on his obligation as to certain expenses. After a careful review of the record, we affirm.


MICHAEL M. SHOFNER v. EDDIE MAHAFFEY v. MIDSTATE FINANCE COMPANY, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jonathan R. Perry, Franklin, Tennessee; Matthew Quentin Bastian, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eddie Mahaffey.

Charles Craig Northcott, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for the appellee/defendant, Midstate Finance Company, Inc.

Judge: COTTRELL

A trial court granted Third-Party Defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute where Third-Party Plaintiff took no steps to pursue his claims against Third-Party Defendant more than six years after Third-Party Plaintiff was granted a new trial, and where Third-Party Plaintiff failed to comply with the trial court’s scheduling order, thereby causing additional delays. Third-Party Plaintiff appealed, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment. Trial courts have broad discretionary authority to control their dockets and proceedings, and the court here did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Third-Party Plaintiff’s complaint against Third-Party Defendant.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LADARIUS DEVONTE MAXWELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gregory D. Gookin, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ladarius Devonte Maxwell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Ladarius Devonte Maxwell, challenges his jury convictions for two counts of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony, and two counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, alleging that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court improperly imposed consecutive sentencing. After a thorough examination of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


TYRONE E. MONTGOMERY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Tyrone E. Montgomery, Wartburg, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe and Lacy Elaine Wilber, Assistant Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

In this consolidated appeal, the pro se petitioner, Tyrone E. Montgomery, appeals as of right from the Hamilton County Criminal Court and the Morgan County Circuit Court’s orders denying his petitions for writs of habeas corpus. In case number E2011-02629-CCA-R3-HC, the State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the judgment of the Hamilton County Criminal Court. Because the petitions raise identical claims, we also affirm the judgment of the Morgan County Circuit Court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KWANE MORRIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul J. Springer, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kwane Morris.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Colin A. Campbell and Tracye N. Jones, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Kwane Morris, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of facilitation of first degree murder and received a twenty-two-year sentence for that conviction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement to the police that was involuntary and coerced; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; (3) the trial court erred by limiting his cross-examination of a State’s witness for possible bias; and (4) the trial court erred by failing to give a jury instruction on accomplice testimony. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JEREMY MULKEY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert L. Jolley, Jr., Knoxville, TN, for the Defendant-Appellant, Jeremy Mulkey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea D. Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; R. Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and Steve Morgan, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

Pursuant to Rule 3 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, the State appeals the manner of service of the sentence ordered by the Criminal Court for McMinn County. As a Range I, standard offender, the Defendant, Jeremy Mulkey, entered a plea of guilty to vandalism of $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony, vandalism of $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, a Class C felony, and reckless endangerment, a Class E felony. The trial court sentenced the Defendant, consistent with the plea agreement, to concurrent terms of four years for Class D felony vandalism; four years for Class C felony vandalism and two years for reckless endangerment. After conducting a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence in the community corrections program. In doing so, the State argues that the trial court abused its discretion because the Defendant pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, a crime against the person, and therefore, failed to meet the minimum statutory requirements to be sentenced under the Community Corrections Act. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-36-106 (2012). Upon review, we reverse and remand for resentencing.


CORNELIUS RICHMOND v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Cornelius Richmond, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; and D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Cornelius Richmond, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief from his 2003 convictions for robbery and three counts of forgery and resulting thirty-three-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that (1) his three forgery convictions are void because they should have been merged into a single conviction and (2) his multiple sentences violate principles of double jeopardy. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


DAYLON DEMETRIC ROBERTS v. DAVID SEXTON, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Daylon Demetric Roberts, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Daylon Demetric Roberts, appeals the Johnson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus regarding his convictions for first degree felony murder. The trial court merged the convictions into one judgment and sentenced petitioner to life imprisonment. State v. Daylon Demetric Roberts, No. 03C01-9403-CR- 00117, 1994 WL 540555, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 5, 1994), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Mar. 6, 1995). Petitioner argues that the judgment of the trial court was void due to a defective indictment. The State filed a motion to dismiss asserting that petitioner’s indictment was legally sufficient. The habeas corpus court granted the State’s motion and dismissed the petition. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRANDON ROLLEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Brandon Rollen, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Theresa Smith McCusker, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Appellant, Brandon Rollen, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion for correction of clerical errors in four aggravated robbery judgments. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying the motion. We reverse the trial court’s order dismissing the motion and remand the case to the trial court for consideration on the merits pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 and Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1.


Feds Boost Health Care Fraud Investigations, Including in Tenn.

Federal agencies are continuing to boost their efforts to investigate health care fraud, including in Tennessee, the Tennessean reports. Over the past four years, the Obama administration has recovered more than $14.9 billion in health care fraud judgments, settlements and administrative impositions, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “If you trace back what our office has done in the last couple of years, you’d see a significant increase” in these types of fraud cases, said David Rivera, the acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. Tennessee health care institutions such as Vanderbilt University, LifePoint Hospitals and HCA Holding have all recently faced fraud investigations.


Famous Lawyers Who Didn’t Practice Law

In an opinion piece for the Millington Star, injury lawyer David Peel points out a number of famous people with law degrees who never actually practiced law, proving that a law degree can be a benefit in whatever career you choose. When would-be students speak with him about going to law school, he mentions journalist Geraldo Rivera, communist leader Fidel Castro, author Washington Irving, Ghandi and many more.


Let Youth Explore Career Options, Sheriff Says

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall encouraged a group of business leaders, educators and lawyers to provide young people with opportunities for career exploration during an Exploring Impact Breakfast this morning at the Tennessee Bar Center. Hosted by the Tennessee Youth Court Program and Steve Blackmon, president and CEO of Rogers Manufacturing, the event drew attention to the Boy Scouts Explorers program. “Exploring allows youth to taste, explore and feel their [career] environment,” Hall said. “Exploring allows youth to figure out what they want to be and what they want to do.”


Ethics Complaint Against Halsam Dismissed

The Tennessee Ethics Commission voted Wednesday to dismiss a complaint against Gov. Bill Haslam that said he failed to disclose how much he had paid his former chief campaign strategist Ted Ingram for political advice in the years following the 2010 election, the Memphis Daily News reports. Earlier this week, the commission declined to fine Ingram and his partner, Marcille Durham, for failing to disclose a lobbying relationship. Former state Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester brought the complaint against the governor and filed a similar one with the Registry of Election Finance. That complaint is still pending.


Learn About Comparative Fault, Cemetery Law

John Paul Nefflen writes about comparative fault in audit malpractice cases in this issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal.  Also, Don Paine explains "cemetery law" -- and a surprising situation involving the body of a former Tennessee Supreme Court justice.


Chattanooga Bar to Celebrate Constitution Week

The Chattanooga Bar Association will celebrate Constitution Week with three main events next week, the Hamilton County Herald reports. Monday at 6 p.m. at the Hamilton County Courthouse, Judge Neil Thomas III and historian Linda Moss Mines will lead a seminar on “Contempt of Court: The Ed Johnson Case.” Tuesday at noon, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and others will “ring the bells” of the courthouse celebrating our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. Lastly, Thursday at 4 p.m. students from local schools will gather at the Chattanooga City Hall to read the Preamble to the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.


Rutherford County Commission Votes to End Partisanship

The Rutherford County Commission voted 12-8 last night to ask the Republican and Democrat parties not to hold primaries for 21 commission seats in 2014. Commissioner Jeff Jordan called for the resolution asking the parties to stay out of commission elections. Commissioner Robert Stevens of Smyrna joined the eight in the minority vote who opposed asking his fellow Republicans in particular to change their minds about holding a primary for commission seats May 6 to nominate candidates for the Aug. 7 county general election.“It’s not our decision,” said Stevens, an attorney who noted that state law gives political parties the option to hold primaries to nominate candidates for the commission. “It’s not our place.” The Daily News Journal has the story.


Former Johnson City Commissioner May Take on Rep. Hill

Former Johnson City Commissioner Phil Carriger said yesterday that he is seriously considering running against incumbent state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, for the Seventh House District seat, the Johnson City Press reports. “I haven’t made a firm decision yet, but I’ve been doing some research,” he said. “The guy in there’s an incumbent, and it would be a tough spot to fill. If I do decide to run, I’ll likely announce sometime in October.”


Walker County, Ga., not Tenn.

Many of our readers were curious to know when Tennessee added Walker County to our state ranks after reading our story Thursday "Walker County Courthouse Closed due to Furlough." You did not miss major annexation news; Walker County is in Georgia, bordering Hamilton County. 


Find Employment Leads on JobLink

TBA’s JobLink is a job seeking and recruitment tool available at no charge. Whether you have a position to fill or are seeking employment, this site will guide you through a simple process to post your information. Get started!


House OKs Rep. Black’s Health Care Bill

In another effort to undo part of the 2010 health care reform law, the House of Representatives passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Diane Black that would bar federal subsidies for people participating in newly created health insurance exchanges until the Obama administration sets up a system to verify if they are eligible. According to the Tennessean, the vote marked the 41st time the GOP-controlled House has tried since 2011 to repeal or delay the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Democratically controlled Senate is not expected to take up Black’s bill, and the president has threatened to veto it if it would pass.


 
 

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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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