'Father of Pro Bono' Featured for Pro Bono Month

October is Pro Bono Month, a good time to learn about one of Tennessee's "fathers of pro bono," Pleasant Miller. Read about him and his 19th century colleagues in this Tennessee Bar Journal article by Legal Aid of East Tennessee's Russell Fowler. Don't miss TBA President Cindy Wyrick's column, in which she dreams big about her hope for the profession.

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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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 Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ted I. Jones, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Darrell Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Anita Spinetta and Charles Summers, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Darrell Johnson, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery and facilitation of aggravated burglary, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the length of his sentences. We affirm the convictions and sentences. On remand, however, we direct the trial court to correct the judgments to properly effectuate merger of the alternative counts of aggravated burglary.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ardena J. Garth and Richard Kenneth Mabee, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Malcolm McKoy.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; William H. Cox, District Attorney General; and Cameron Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Malcolm McKoy, pled guilty to theft of property valued over $500 and burglary. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent four-year and six-year terms, suspended to be served on unsupervised probation. These sentences were to run consecutively to another sentence unrelated to this appeal. After two subsequent probation violations based on new arrests, the Defendant was arrested for aggravated assault. A probation violation warrant was issued based upon this arrest, and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a revocation of his probation. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Supreme Court and Solicitor General’s Office Not Stopped by Shutdown

Despite the government shutdown, the Supreme Court and the solicitor general's office are ready for opening day of the court's new term on Monday, the Blog of the Legal Times reports. The high court announced it will "continue to conduct its normal operations" at least through Oct. 11, drawing from available funds as has the rest of the federal judiciary. None of the nearly 500 court employees has been furloughed. It is unclear what will happen if the shutdown lingers beyond Oct. 11, especially if it continues beyond Oct. 16, the final day of the court's first cycle of arguments.

Memphis City Attorney Honored for Public Service

Memphis city attorney Herman Morris, Jr. is the 2013 recipient of the International Municipal Lawyers Association’s Joseph I. Milligan Jr. Distinguished Public Service Award, which recognized a government attorney for achievements in local government law. Morris is the first attorney from Memphis to receive this award, which was presented at the association’s 78th annual conference. "It is always an honor to be recognized by your peers," he said. "I am humbled, but know this award was due to the hard work of our fine city of Memphis legal department." Memphis Daily News has the story.

Several Attorneys Tapped for Nashville Leadership Program

The Nashville Young Leaders Council this week welcomed its 61st class, including eight attorneys and the TBA's Leadership Law coordinator. The 40 class members will attend 11 weekly sessions during which they will hear from speakers on topics such as fundraising, strategic planning and the legal responsibilties of board members. Class members will also intern on the board of a local nonprofit. Class participants include TBA Leadership Law coordinator Brittany Sims; Bradley Bakker of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC; Ashonti Davis of Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens & Cannada PLLC; David Green of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP; Dan Kuninsky of Bass, Berry & Sims PLC; Jay Lefkovitz of Lefkovitz & Lefkovitz; Thomas Motzny of King & Ballow; Ryan Richards of Harwell Howard Hyne Gabbert & Manner PC; and Mary Lauren Teague of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP.

Nashville Considering Study of Same-Sex Benefits

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean plans to appoint a Study and Formulating Committee to look at domestic benefits for same-sex partners of city employees, his office said yesterday. Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said the mayor agrees with a majority of Metro Council members who signed a letter asking him to “consider the provision of domestic partner benefits for Metro employees and to make the appropriate recommendations to the Metropolitan Employee Benefit Board.” The Tennessean has more.

LinkedIn Endorsements Could be Trouble for Lawyers

Lawyers should be careful of the “like” or “endorsement” features on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Information Week cautions. The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct has specific restrictions on lawyer advertising and solicitation of clients including Rule 7.1 that provides lawyers should not make any false or misleading communication about their services, and Rule 7.2 which prohibits reciprocal or quid pro quo endorsements. The article states perhaps the most appropriate thing for attorneys to do at this point is either to disable the endorsement feature (if that can be done) or disclaim any implication of special skills or abilities based on such endorsements.

Robertson County Appoints Clerk and Master

Rosemary E. Phillips has been appointed the Clerk and Master of Robertson County by Chancellor Laurence M. McMillan Jr. Phillips succeeds Kenneth Hudgens who is retiring after 35 years of service to the county. “We all wish Ken the best in his well-deserved retirement,“ Chancellor McMillan said in a press release. “I also look forward to working with Rosemary, who has distinguished herself as an accomplished attorney and who will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Clerk and Master position.”

TJC Announces New Board Members

The Tennessee Justice Center has appointed three new board members, Michele Johnson, managing attorney and incoming executive director, announced today in a press release. Andrew Branham, an attorney with Counsel on Call, Memphis; Lisa Wyatt, an attorney with Heathcare Corporation of America; and Dr. Buzz Sienknecht, a physician and board member of Medical Foundation will join the board. Rebecca K. McKelvey, an attorney at Stites & Harbison PLLC will serve as the new board chair.

Law Firm Leaders Focus on Empowering Women Attorneys

Top attorneys from several major firms participated on a panel at the Women in Law Empowerment Forum yesterday in Washington, DC. Panelists discussed ways law firms can help women succeed in the industry. "Firm management must set the expectations of what it expects of itself and its partners with respect to promoting partners at the firm," panelist Claudette Christian said. "What we really try to get are male partners in leadership roles to understand that it is their personal responsibility to promote women in the office." The Blog of the Legal Times has the story. 

Only Go to Law School if Truly Called, Lawyer Urges

In an opinion piece for the Millington Star, injury lawyer David Peel discourages young people from going to law school in the current climate unless truly called to the profession. Peel cites high debt and low job prospects as serious factors for recent graduates to consider, and offers alternative professions to pursue instead of law based on students’ interests. At the end, however, he states, “But if, like me, you are called to plead the case of the injured, little man against the Goliaths of the world, you must go and go now.”

Bristol Bar to Offer Free Monthly Clinics

The Bristol Tennessee Bar Association (BTBA) will begin offering monthly free legal advice clinics every second Saturday of each month to assist low-income individuals, WJHL reports. The first clinic will be held Oct. 12 at 9 a.m. at Bristol Faith In Action, 1534 Euclid Avenue Bristol, Va. "Many people have difficulty obtaining legal services due to the cost. So often, I hear from pro se litigants – those who are representing themselves – that they don't know where to turn, they don't know what to do next, and they don't feel as if they are even heard when they go to court,” BTBA Pro Bono Coordinator Suzanne Shackelford Queen said. “This is our opportunity, as volunteer attorneys, to help them navigate the legal waters and to give them a stronger voice so that they will be heard." The TBA has more about upcoming Celebrate Pro Bono clinics.

Judge Stranch to Keynote Chattanooga Program

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jane Branstetter Stranch will be the featured speaker at a Chattanooga program called The Sixth Circuit: A Year in Review. “The Chattanooga Chapter of the Federal Bar Association has put forth a lot of effort in coming up with a challenging and exciting program,” District Judge Curtis L. Collier. said. “It ought to benefit not only our local lawyers but any lawyer who would like to practice before the Sixth Circuit.” The program will be held Oct. 11 at the Chattanoogan Hotel. The Hamilton County Herald has more information.

UT Law Hosts Fall Festival Carnival Oct. 9

The University of Tennessee College of Law will host the Annual Fall Festival Carnival next Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities include a silent auction, carnival games and eating contests. All proceeds benefit UT’s ASB program. Contact Brad Morgan for more information

Rep. Watson Not Seeking Re-Election

Rep. Eric Watson announced today at a luncheon in Cleveland that he will not seek re-election to his House District 22 seat, and plans instead to run for sheriff of Bradley County. "I understand nothing lasts forever and everything has its season. And I feel like my season as a State Representative has neared its completion. I truly believe that my public service, my involvement with the law enforcement community, and my leadership role in different law enforcement capacities has prepared me for this next step in my life.” he said. The Chattanoogan has more.


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.

© Copyright 2013 Tennessee Bar Association