Metro Considers Settlement in Shackled Mom Case

Five years after Juana Villegas went into labor while shackled to a hospital bed by the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, Metro Nashville is looking to pay her $100,000 in damages and $390,000 to her attorneys to end an ongoing lawsuit, The Tennessean reports. Following the incident, which garnered national attention, a federal judge ruled in Villegas’ favor and ordered Metro to pay her $200,000. A jury later awarded her attorneys $1.2 million in fees. But the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned both awards and ordered a retrial. The Metro Council was set to vote today to approve the settlement and end the case.

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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - 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 Supreme Court

CORRECTION: On page 2 of the opinion, within the third line, ".9 millimeter" has been changed to "9 millimeter"

Court: TN Supreme Court


Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal), Joan A. Lawson and J. Michael Engle (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Darelle Smith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Chris Buford and Katy Miller, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal concerns the appropriate response when a trial court learns during a jury’s deliberations that a juror exchanged Facebook messages with one of the State’s witnesses during the trial. A criminal court in Davidson County declined the defendant’s request to hold a hearing to question the juror and the witness to ascertain whether the communications required a new trial. The Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that the trial court had not erred by declining the defendant’s request for a hearing. State v. Smith, No. M2010-01384- CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 8502564 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 2, 2012). We disagree and, therefore, vacate the judgment and remand the case for a hearing consistent with this opinion.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Archie Sanders, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chandra L. Berry.

Bradley E. Trammell, Kavita Goswamy Shelat, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.


Plaintiff defaulted on her mortgage and Defendants advised Plaintiff of their plan to foreclose. Plaintiff then sought an injunction and a declaratory judgment. The trial court entered a temporary restraining order preventing foreclosure, which it dissolved after granting Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiff appeals the trial court’s grant of Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings. We affirm in part and reverse in part, and we remand for further proceedings.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephan L. Beasley, Sr., Clifton, Tennessee, pro se.

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

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Stephan L. Beasley, Sr., filed for habeas corpus relief from his conviction for first degree murder. The habeas corpus court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Timothy R. Chatmon, Manchester, Kentucky, pro se.

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

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Timothy R. Chatmon, filed in the Hamilton County Criminal Court a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking relief from his two convictions for possession of cocaine with the intent to sell. The habeas corpus court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Stites & Harbison Opens Memphis Office

Regional law firm Stites & Harbison has opened a new office in Memphis that will specialize in patents and intellectual property. The move adds a third office in Tennessee for the Louisville, Ky.-based law firm. Intellectual property law and health care attorney Cong ‘Connie’ Ding, who joined the Nashville office earlier this year, will be based in Memphis. Additional attorneys will follow soon. The new office is in the UT-Baptist Research Park at 20 South Dudley St., Suite 802, Memphis, TN 38103.

Williams Named Interim Sessions Judge

In a 13-6 vote, Williamson County Commissioners yesterday appointed fellow Commissioner Ernie Williams as interim General Sessions Judge. Williams prevailed over local attorney Lonnie Hoover to succeed former judge Al Nations, who retired Sept. 30. Williams has made it clear he will not run for election next year but will only serve until the temporary judgeship expires. Brentwood Home Page has more.

Governor Names Judge Scott to Child Protection Board

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has named Rutherford County Juvenile Court Judge Donna Scott as one of seven to represent the judicial branch in the Three Branches Institute. The institute is an initiative of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) that brings together members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches to strengthen the state’s child protection and juvenile justice systems. The group is looking at how the state’s child protection system works; how standardized assessments are used by the courts and DCS; whether to implement uniform data collection processes; how alternatives to incarceration may be used in juvenile cases; and how to allocate resources to support community-driven solutions. It will continue working through August 2014. WGNS Radio has the story.

Chattanooga Lawyer Elected Chair of Transportation Group

Steve Powers, a shareholder in Baker Donelson's Chattanooga office, has been elected chairman of the American College of Transportation Attorneys, a non-profit corporation comprised of a select group of transportation defense attorneys who serve as a confidential and reliable legal resource for the trucking industry. He will serve for two years. Powers previously served a two-year term as vice chairman. At his firm, Powers handles transportation litigation and regulatory matters. He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1979. has more on his experience.

Government Shut Down Hits Non Profit Groups

The government shut down is making it harder for Legal Aid of East Tennessee to serve East Tennesseans in need, Knoxville television station WBIR reports. "The poverty population has increased dramatically and our resources have decreased," Executive Director Dave Yoder told the station. "We rely heavily on federal funding -- legal services corporation, Department of Justice, Housing and Urban Development." In addition to the immediate problems, the group reports it has lost more than $1.3 million in funding in the last three years and now only serves 10 percent of those in need. Read more from the report.

TLAW Presents Career Panel at Belmont

The Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women is presenting a panel discussion on “How I Put My Law Degree to Work – Finding Your Niche in the Law”  Monday  from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Belmont University College of Law. The event is co-sponsored by the Belmont Women’s Law Student Organization and the school's Office of Career Services. Members of the legal community are invited to attend.

Conservatorship Case Story Literally Was ‘Old News’

A story in yesterday’s issue of TBA Today about a Nashville conservatorship case was based on an article in The Tennessean ... which was originally published in February. Although it appeared as breaking news yesterday in a news tracking service the TBA follows, nine-month-old news clearly does not meet the TBA's standard of providing current and relevant news to its members.

UPS Puts the Power of Logistics to Work for You

UPS is pleased to help TBA members save time and money through special services and shipping discounts. UPS puts the power of logistics to work for you every day by providing speed, outstanding reliability and technology tools so you can focus on your business -- not on your shipping. Learn more here.


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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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