AG Opinion: Haslam Can Appoint Judges

Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper issued an opinion yesterday stating Gov. Bill Haslam has the legal authority to fill judicial vacancies, despite the expiration of the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission this summer. Following a 2009 change in state law, the governor “has the authority to appoint any qualified person to fill a judicial office that becomes vacant after the termination and wind-down of the Judicial Nominating Commission,” the opinion states. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has more.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
01 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - 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 Appeals

PENELOPE LYNNE ALLEN v. GORDON CARMACK ALLEN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen Walker Pate, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gordon Carmack Allen.

Russell E. Edwards, Michael Wayne Edwards, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Penelope Lynne Allen.

Judge: COTTRELL

Mother and Father were divorced in 2001 and the Final Decree required Father to pay a fixed amount to Mother each month as child support in addition to a percentage of his fluctuating income. Father was also ordered to provide Mother with proof of his income on a quarterly basis. In response to Mother’s motion to modify in 2003, the trial court averaged three years of Father’s gross income and increased Father’s monthly child support payments. Mother moved in 2011 to hold Father in contempt of court for failing to continue providing her with proof of his income and sought a child support arrearage based on Father’s failure to pay a percentage of his fluctuating income for the years 2003 through 2010. The trial court awarded Mother the arrearage she sought and found Father was in civil contempt for failing to continue providing Mother with proof of his income. The court awarded Mother her attorney’s fees based on Father’s civil contempt. Father appealed, and we reverse the trial court’s judgment. The governing statute requires child support payments to be for a definite amount, not an amount that fluctuates. The existing order did not include the requirement that Father provide proof of income. Therefore, we also reverse the trial court’s award to Mother of attorney’s fees incurred in the civil contempt proceedings.


WILLIAM J. DENNING v. CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Christopher W. Cardwell and Mary Taylor Gallagher, Nashville, Tennessee, Andrew E. Tauber, Washington, DC and Kendra L. Smith Canonsburg, PA, for the appellant, CSX Transportation, Inc.

James Bryan Mosely, Murfreesboro, Tennessee and Joshua Leizerman, Toledo, Ohio, for the appellee, William J. Denning.

Judge: FARMER

This appeal arises from a jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff in an action filed pursuant to the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”). Defendant appeals denial of its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and the trial court’s determination that post-judgment interest is properly awarded in the amount provided by Tennessee Code Annotated § 47-14- 121 and not federal law. On cross-appeal, Plaintiff appeals the trial court’s decision to exclude certain evidence and its determination that post-judgment interest is properly calculated from the date the trial court entered judgment on the jury verdict rather than the date the jury rendered its verdict as provided by Tennessee Code Annotated § 47-14-122. We affirm denial of Defendant’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and the trial court’s evidentiary decisions. We also affirm the trial court’s determination that postjudgment interest is properly awarded at the rate provided by Tennessee Code Annotated § 47-14-121. We reverse the trial court’s determination that post-judgment interest accrues from the date provided by federal law. We hold that state law controls the calculation of post-judgment interest to be awarded in FELA actions adjudicated in state court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

JARRELL A. CAMPBELL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jarrell A. Campbell, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Leslie Price, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to dismiss or in the alternative to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Petitioner, Jarrell Antonio Campbell, has appealed the habeas corpus court’s order dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus in which Petitioner alleged that his conviction for possession of less than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver was void because it was not ordered to be served consecutively to a previous conviction for which he was on parole at the time he committed the offense. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court was correct in dismissing the petition for habeas corpus relief and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Authority of Governor to Fill Judicial Vacancies

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-10-09

Opinion Number: 76


Courts to Remain Open Through Oct. 17

Although a federal budget impasse has not yet been resolved in Congress, federal courts will remain open through Oct. 17 and possibly Oct. 18, the Department of Justice announced today. "When no funding mechanism was in place on Oct. 1, 2013, the Judiciary projected that fee income and no-year appropriated funds would enable court operations to continue for 10 business days," the department says in a website update today. The ABA Journal has more.


Shelby County Judge Charged with Misconduct

Shelby County General Sessions Court Judge John A. Donald has been charged with retaliating against an attorney who had filed a complaint against him. The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct filed a five-page complaint following a probe by a three-member investigative panel. Donald did not return two messages left at his office by the Commercial Appeal, but his attorney, Theresa Patterson, said that the complaint is “without merit’’ and that “we will be vigorously defending’’ Donald.


Bar Exam Results Expected Friday

Results from the July Tennessee bar exam will be released Friday. The list of successful candidates will be posted on the TBA.org website as soon as they are available.


Woman Cited for Bringing Gun to Courthouse

A woman received a state citation yesterday morning for bringing a loaded handgun to Nashville’s courthouse. The Tennessean reports that Sara Mitchell had the gun in her purse and was stopped at a security checkpoint at the Justice A.A. Birch Building. She admitted she did not have a permit to carry the gun, and told police she bought the gun for home protection and had forgotten it was in her purse.


Nashville Attorney Honored for Panel Work

Nashville attorney Patrick Frogge was recognized yesterday as Panel Lawyer of the Year at the 22nd Annual Criminal Justice Act Appreciation Banquet, sponsored by the office of the Federal Public Defender. The banquet honors the contributions of 65 court-appointed private attorneys who take cases representing federal defendants who lack funds to hire a private lawyer. “A panel lawyer is a good Samaritan,” said Father Charles Stroebel, who was one of the three who “roasted” and praised Frogge for his work. “(Frogge) has been a constant good Samaritan.” The Tennessean has the story.


Vandy Law Professor Wins Palmer Prize

Vanderbilt law professor Ganesh Sitaraman was named the winner of the 2013 IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law/Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize for his book “The Counterinsurgent’s Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars.” The award was established in 2007 and honors an exemplary work of scholarship exploring the tension between civil liberties and national security in contemporary American society. Vanderbilt News has more.


GOP Chairman Accuses ACLU of Scare Tactics

State Republican Party Chairman Chris Devany is accusing the American Civil Liberties Union-Tennessee of using “scare tactics” to “intimidate” Tennessee public schools on the issue of prayer at high school football games. Last week, the ACLU-Tennessee sent a letter to school superintendents warning about reports of “school-sponsored prayer in numerous” football programs, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. In his own letter to superintendents, Devany charges that the ACLU missed a basic principle of the First Amendment and misrepresented a point in the U. S Supreme Court case Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe concerning prayer in public schools.


Bennett to Run for Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge

J.B. Bennett has announced his candidacy for Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge, Division 1, in the Republican primary, the Chattanoogan reports. Judge Jacqueline Bolton recently announced her decision not to seek re-election. Bennett is a shareholder at Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams, where he has practiced for over 20 years.


2 Assistant DAs May Face Off for DA Post

Neal Pinkston and Boyd Patterson— both members of Bill Cox’s staff— are rumored to have been making rumblings about running for his district attorney position in the Republican primary elections next May. Cox announced recently that he would not run for an eight-year term in the upcoming election. The Chattanoogan has more.


Justice O’Conner Remains Strong Proponent for Merit Selection

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner yesterday spoke in favor of judicial merit selection during a “fireside chat” with First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bruce Selya at Roger Williams University School of Law, the Providence Journal reports. O'Connor opposes election of judges, and said states are better off with appointed judges because merit-selection appointment leads to higher quality judges, and keeps political money and advertising out of it.


Knox County Lawyer Suspended

Thomas Francis diLustro has been temporarily suspended for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. Download the BPR notice.


Sumner County Lawyer Censured

Tonya Hunt Crownover of Hendersonville was publically censured for committing the unauthorized practice of law by representing a client after she has been administratively suspended for failing to comply with her continuing legal education requirements. Download the BPR notice.


Court Suspends 9 Inactive Lawyers for Fee Violation

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order on Sept. 26 suspending nine lawyers who have assumed inactive status but have not paid the required annual inactive status fee to the Board of Professional Responsibility. The fee is due on or before the first day of the attorney’s birth month each year. See the list of those suspended and reinstated.


51 Reinstated from CLE Suspension

A large number of Tennessee-licensed lawyers recently completed their 2012 CLE requirements and were returned to active status by the state Supreme Court. See the list of those reinstated.


ABA Offers Retirement Benefits for the Legal Sector

Looking for a retirement plan for yourself or your employees? The ABA Retirement Fund provides unique, full service 401(k) plans specifically for the legal community. By leveraging the assets of its 3,800 client firms, the ABA plan offers packages typically available only to large corporations. For more information contact a regional representative at (800) 826-8901 or visit www.abaretirement.com.


 
 

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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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