Deadline for Loan Repayment Program Extended

The John R. Justice Loan Repayment Program application deadline has been extended to 4:30 p.m. Central time on Dec. 20. Any qualifying District Attorney or state or federal public defender may apply for the award. Those who have previously received an award are given priority consideration, but they must submit a new application to the Tennessee Student Assistance Corp. They are not guaranteed funding.

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
00 - 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

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TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Nick Perenich, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jennifer L.

Kelli Barr Summers, Brentwood, Tennessee for the appellant, Sergio G.R.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter and Ryan L. McGehee, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


The trial court terminated the parties’ parental rights based on a finding of severe child abuse and abandonment and determined that the termination of parental rights was in the best interest of the children. We find clear and convincing evidence to support the trial court’s determination that the parties engaged in severe child abuse and that termination of their parental rights is in the children’s best interest. We affirm the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Connie Reguli, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Patton, Jr.

Cheri Patton, pro se.


During the pendency of this divorce action, the trial court found Husband in criminal contempt for failing to pay pendente lite support on five occasions and sentenced Husband to ten days per count for a total sentence of fifty days. Husband was not booked or jailed for contempt but he was detained for two hours during the court’s lunch recess. During the recess, Husband’s trial counsel filed a notice of appeal. Husband was returned to the courtroom thereafter, and he and his counsel participated in the divorce hearing, which commenced after lunch. Following the conclusion of a short divorce hearing, the court took notice of the appeal from the contempt action and granted a stay of the sentence pending this appeal; Husband was then released. This appeal followed. We have concluded that the evidence upon which the five counts of criminal contempt were based was inadmissible and there is no other evidence to support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Husband had the ability to pay the support when it was due. Therefore, we reverse the finding of five counts of criminal contempt.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joseph D. Barton, Millington, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellant, Brian W. Groves

Gary E. Veazey, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellee, Robb Thompson

Judge: KIRBY

This is a collateral attack on an order entered by a general sessions court. The plaintiff tenant leased residential property from the defendant landowner. The tenant fell behind in his rent, so the landowner filed a forcible entry and detainer action in general sessions court against the tenant and obtained a judgment for the past-due rent. The tenant did not appeal that judgment. Months later, the tenant filed the instant lawsuit in chancery court to set aside the general sessions court judgment. The tenant alleged in the chancery court complaint that the general sessions court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the FED action because the landowner did not give the tenant a statutorily-required notice of termination of the lease. The chancery court below agreed with the tenant and set aside the general sessions judgment as void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The landowner now appeals. We reverse the decision of the chancery court and remand with directions to dismiss the tenant’s lawsuit in its entirety.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Frank Harvey, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Catherine Emma Swan, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and A Wayne Henry, Loudon, Tennessee, for the Amici Curiae Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty; Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Tennessee Medical Association; Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee; National Child Protection Training Center; Institute for Science in Medicine; First Star; and Donald N. Duquette.


Jacqueline Crank (“the Defendant”) was convicted after a bench trial of one count of misdemeanor child abuse or neglect. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days, suspended to probation. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges the constitutionality of the “spiritual treatment exemption” provision set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-15-402(c). The Defendant also contends that, if this Court affirms her conviction, this matter must be remanded for a hearing under Tennessee’s “Preservation of Religious Freedom” statute, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated section 4-1-407. Upon our thorough review of the record and relevant authority, for the reasons stated herein, we conclude that it is not necessary to address the constitutional issue or to remand this matter. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


David N. Brady, District Public Defender; Marshall Judd, Kay Bradley, and Cynthia Lyons, Assistant Public Defenders, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jonathan Andrew Dietz.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; Beth Willis and Anthony Craighead, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


A Putnam County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Jonathan Andrew Dietz, charging him with rape. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty as charged. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve ten years at one-hundred percent in the Department of Correction as a violent offender. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the trial court improperly admitted a video of Defendant, according to the State, attempting to rub the victim’s DNA off his genitalia while he was in the police interrogation room and (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his rape conviction. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Lance R. Chism, Memphis, Tennessee, for appellant, Corey Finley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General, and David Zak, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Corey Finley, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of attempted first degree murder. State v. Corey Finley, No. W2005-02804-CCA-R3-CD, 2007 WL 1651879, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, June 7, 2007), perm. app. granted, (Tenn. Oct. 15, 2007), aff’d after remand, No. W2007-2321-CCA-RM-CD, 2008 WL 726567 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Mar. 18, 2008), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Sept. 29, 2008). He was sentenced to twenty-three years. Id. at *8. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that he was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied the petition after an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner has appealed to this Court. After a thorough review of the record on appeal, we conclude that Petitioner has not proven that he was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel. Therefore, we affirm the postconviction court’s denial of the petition.

With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Sandra Franklin, Pro Se, Nashville, Tennessee

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General, and Walter Freeland, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

In 2009, Petitioner, Sandra Hendricks Franklin, was convicted by a Tipton County jury of first degree murder. As a result, she received a sentence of life imprisonment. Petitioner’s conviction and sentence were affirmed by this Court on appeal. See State v. Cassandra Hendricks Franklin, No. W2009-01087-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 2265439, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, June 3, 2010), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Nov. 10, 2010). In May of 2012, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief in which she claimed, among other things, that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition for relief as untimely. Petitioner appeals. After a review of the record and authorities, we determine that Petitioner has failed to show that her claims fall within the statutory exceptions to the one-year statute of limitations for post-conviction claims as listed in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-102(b) or that due process requires the tolling of the statute of limitations. Consequently, the judgment of the post-conviction court dismissing the petition is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Nathaniel Colburn, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Russell Lenox Hamblin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Russell Lenox Hamblin, appeals from the trial court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief following on evidentiary hearing. Petitioner asserts that his trial counsel and his appellate counsel (separate attorneys) rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. After a review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gerald L. Melton, District Public Defender; and Russell N. Perkins, Assistant Public Defender, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bobby D. Parker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; Shawn Puckett, Assistant District Attorney General; and Allyson S. Abbott, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Rutherford County, Defendant, Bobby D. Parker, was convicted of three counts of attempted aggravated robbery and one count of attempted aggravated burglary. Defendant was sentenced as a career offender for each conviction, with sentences of 15 years imposed for each attempted aggravated robbery and 12 years for the attempted aggravated burglary. The trial court ordered two of the 15-year sentences to be served concurrently with each other but ordered them to be served consecutively to the third attempted aggravated robbery sentence. The attempted aggravated burglary sentence was ordered to be served consecutively to the other sentences, for an effective sentence of 42 years. In this appeal, Defendant raises two issues: (1) the trial court committed reversible error by overruling his objection to a peremptory challenge exercised by the State, and (2) the trial court imposed an excessive sentence by applying improper enhancement factors. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Bryce W. McKenzie (on appeal), and Andrew E. Farmer (at trial), Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jack Price.

Timothy J. Gudmundson (at trial and on appeal), Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry Thomas Cochran.


Following a jury trial, the Defendants, Jack Price and Larry Thomas Cochran, were convicted of attempted first degree premeditated murder, a Class A felony; aggravated assault, a Class C felony; and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, a Class C felony. Defendant Cochran was also convicted of resisting arrest and criminal impersonation, Class B misdemeanors. Both Defendants were sentenced to an effective twenty-five years’ incarceration for their respective convictions. In this appeal as of right, the Defendants raise the following issues: (1) both Defendants argue that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding by the jury of premeditation; (2) Defendant Cochran argues that issuance of a criminal responsibility instruction was in error; (3) Defendant Cochran contends that admission of his co-defendant’s statements against him violated Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968); and (4) both Defendants contend that the trial court erred by submitting enhancement factors to the jury and by allowing the prosecutor to charge those factors, and that their sentences were excessive. Following our review, we affirm the Defendants’ convictions but, because the trial court utilized an unauthorized sentencing procedure, remand the case to the trial court for resentencing in accordance with this opinion.

Remote Video Interpreter Program Launches in Sumner County

A pilot program allowing language interpreters to provide services remotely through internet connection was launched this week in Sumner County General Session Judge James Hunter’s courtroom. The first remote session was held for five cases this week. The interpreters worked via laptop using a video and audio feed of the court proceedings. The interpreter can see and hear the courtroom activities, while those in the courtroom can see and hear the interpreter. The Administrative Office of the Courts received funding from the Office of Criminal Justice Programs to launch the one-year pilot project.

Retired Hamilton County Judge Shares Laughs, Stories at Portrait Unveiling

Retired Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Ronald Durby laughed and shared stories with friends, former colleagues and others in a standing-room-only courtroom during his portrait unveiling ceremony yesterday. Durby was elected as a General Session Court judge in 1996 after serving 10 years as clerk and master of Chancery Court. A line of well-wishers shook hands and had their photographs taken with the retired judge next to his portrait, which will be displayed in his old courtroom. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has more.

LAET Steps in to Stop Eviction

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) has taken on the case of a disabled resident who is challenging a Chattanooga Housing Authority eviction, WRCB Channel 3 reports. Jeffrey Henson suffers from cerebliar degeneration and gets around with the help of an electric wheelchair that has scratched doors, dented doorframes and scuffed the walls of his apartment. Wednesday, a judge granted a restraining order blocking the eviction until the case is heard in court next month, or a settlement is reached. "He's being evicted essentially for being disabled," LAET attorney Emily O'Donnell said, "and that's a violation of state and federal fair housing law."

New Dean to Speak at Bar Foundation Lunch

Peter Letsou, the new dean of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, will be the featured speaker for the Memphis Bar Foundation’s luncheon on Oct. 8. The event, being held at the Peabody Hotel, will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Letsou will discuss his vision for the law school and how his plans will impact the Memphis legal community. In addition, new foundation fellows will be recognized, grants will be awarded to local non-profit agencies and the Irvin Bogatin Awards will be presented to University of Memphis law students. For reservations, contact Charlotte Gean at (901) 527-3574

Court Square CLE Series in Johnson City Friday

The Tennessee Bar Association’s award-winning Court Square CLE Series heads east as it continues its progression throughout the state. The next program will be held in Johnson City tomorrow (Sept. 27) at 9 a.m. The three-hour program is designed to provide attorneys with the latest developments in multiple areas of the law. To register, visit TennBar U or call director Mindy Fulks at (615) 383-7421 for more information.

Supermarket Wine Bill Could Be Revived

House Local Government Committee Chair Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, today said he is willing to reconsider the wine in supermarkets bill this coming session. Hill, who cast the deciding vote against the bill last year, said he is willing to take the parliamentary steps needed to reverse the vote as long as proponents commit to a full debate about the bill and proposals to amend the measure, the Memphis Daily News reports.

Wilson County Lawyer Censured

Adam W. Parrish of Lebanon was publically censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court for charging a fee for his services representing an indigent criminal defendant to whom he was appointed. Parrish was not entitled to charge a fee for his services following the first tier appeal without moving to withdraw during the 14-day period in which an attorney is entitled to withdraw from the appointed representation. Download the BPR notice.

Knox County Lawyer Suspended

Knoxville lawyer Raymond Andrew Shirley was suspended for one year for failing to diligently prosecute a case on behalf of his clients, comply with court-ordered discovery and settle a pending lawsuit as requested by his clients. As a result of his inactions in the matter, the case was dismissed by the trial court, of which Shirley failed to notify his clients. Download the BPR notice.

Early Voting Expands in District 91 Primary

Early voting in the special Democratic primary election for State House District 91 expands tomorrow to three satellite locations, the Memphis Daily News reports. The early voting satellite locations are open through Thursday, Oct. 3, with regular voting taking place on Oct. 8.

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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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