Applications Available for Appeals, Supreme Court Seats

The AOC late yesterday announced the application process to fill the Tennessee Supreme Court seat currently held by Justice Janice M. Holder and the Court of Appeals seat held by Judge David R. Farmer. Both Holder and Farmer announced earlier this year they would not seek retention in the August 2014 general election. The Governor’s Commission on Judicial Appointments, announced yesterday, will accept applications for both positions through Oct. 31. The commission will hold a public hearing Nov. 12 in Jackson for the Court of Appeals seat and on Nov. 13 in Nashville for the Supreme Court position.

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
10 - 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

AMERICAN TRAFFIC SOLUTIONS, INC. v. THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Thomas Anthony Swafford, Jack Robinson Dodson, III, and Rocklan W. King, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, American Traffic Solutions, Inc.

Pamela S. Lorch, Senior Counsel, Office of the Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter.

Judge: MCCLARTY

This appeal concerns the application of a statutory amendment to a contract the plaintiff had with the city. The plaintiff claims the amendment to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55- 8-198, effective July 1, 2011, violates article I, section 20 of the Tennessee Constitution. In the alternative, the plaintiff argues that the amendment does not apply to existing contracts. The trial court concluded that the retroactive application of the amendment was not a constitutional violation. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.


LARRY BURCHFIELD ET AL. v. TIMOTHY J. RENFREE, M.D.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Loring Justice and B. Chadwick Rickman, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Larry and Dinnie Burchfield.

James H. London, Libba Bond, and R. Scott Durham, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Timothy J. Renfree, M.D.

Judge: FRIERSON

This is a health care liability action wherein the trial by jury resulted in a judgment for the Defendant, Dr. Timothy Renfree. Plaintiffs, Larry and Dinnie Burchfield, filed this lawsuit against Dr. Renfree alleging that he negligently performed surgery on Mr. Burchfield’s right arm and caused nerve damage. After the jury returned its verdict in favor of Dr. Renfree, the Burchfields filed post-trial motions seeking relief from the judgment and alleging numerous errors in the administration of the trial. The trial court denied the post-trial motions and affirmed the jury’s verdict as thirteenth juror. The Burchfields appealed. We vacate the jury’s verdict, finding reversible error in the administration of the trial, and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

YOVONDA SHERITH CHAMBERS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Thomas S. Santel, Jr. and Blake A. Garner, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Yovonda Sherith Chambers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Trevor H. Lynch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Yovonda Sherith Chambers, appeals the denial of her petition for postconviction relief, arguing that she received ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty pleas were unknowing and involuntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. JAMES EARL EVANS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ryan C. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Earl Evans.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Jeff Burks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

James Earl Evans (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant was sentenced to ten years’ probation. Upon the filing of a probation revocation warrant, the Defendant was taken into custody, and a revocation hearing was held. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his original sentence of ten years’ incarceration. The Defendant has appealed the trial court’s ruling, asserting that the trial court erred in sentencing him to his original sentence in confinement. Upon a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JUSTIN GIBSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeremy W. Parham, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Justin Gibson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Sean B. Duddy and Kelly A. Lawrence, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Justin Gibson, entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence, first offense. He agreed to a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days, all of which was suspended after seven days’ incarceration. As a condition of his guilty plea, the Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging the warrantless search of his home as not justified by either consent or exigent circumstances. After a thorough review of the applicable law, we conclude that the officer’s entry into the Defendant’s home was supported by neither exigent circumstances nor as a part of the community caretaker function; therefore, the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant’s motion to suppress. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the charge against the Defendant.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM RICHARD HICKS, ALIAS BILLY RICHARD HICKS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick T. Phillips, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Richard Hicks, alias Billy Richard Hicks.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kenneth F. Irvine, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, William Richard Hicks, alias Billy Richard Hicks, appeals from his convictions for various alcohol- and driving-related offenses, which we will detail, the most serious of which were DUI, tenth offense, and violation of the habitual motor vehicle offender (“HMVO”) statute. He was sentenced as a Range III, persistent offender to six years for each of these convictions, with the HMVO sentences to be served consecutively and the DUI and misdemeanor convictions to be served concurrently, for an effective sentence of eighteen years. From these sentences he appeals, arguing that his sentences are excessive and that the court erred in ordering they be served consecutively. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment in Case No. 91142, Count 5, to reflect the length of the defendant’s sentence as eleven months, twenty-nine days, which was omitted.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JARRETT INMAN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert L. Vogel, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jarrett Inman.

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

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Jarrett Inman, pled guilty in the Roane County Criminal Court to rape of a child, a Class A felony, and was sentenced to seventeen years at 100% in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea and his petition for writ of error coram nobis based on newly discovered evidence of the victim’s recantation. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


DAVID ENRIQUE LEON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Hilary H. Duke, Dickson, Tennessee (on appeal); and Talmage Woodall, Franklin, Tennessee (at hearing), for the appellant, David Enrique Leon.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Senior Counsel; Dan M. Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Billy H. Miller, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, David Enrique Leon, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery convictions, arguing that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.


NICHOLAS OVERBAY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeremy E. Harr, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Nicholas Overbay.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel, Assistant Attorney General; and Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Nicholas Overbay, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief for his conviction for first degree murder and attempted first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.


BRODERICK JOSEPH SMITH v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Broderick Joseph Smith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Hunter Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Broderick Joseph Smith, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. XAVION LYNDON UNDERWOOD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Brian T. Boyd, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Xavion Lyndon Underwood.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Xavion Lyndon Underwood, was convicted of aggravated robbery, for which he received a ten-year sentence. He appeals his conviction and sentence, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred in sentencing him. Upon our review, we discern no error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


ANTHONY WHITED v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Anthony Whited, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Tom P. Thompson, Jr., District Attorney General; and Brian W. Fuller, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Anthony Whited, appeals the summary dismissal of his pro se petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he presented a colorable claim for relief and that he should, therefore, have been afforded the assistance of post-conviction counsel and an evidentiary hearing. We agree. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for the appointment of post-conviction counsel and an evidentiary hearing.


TN Attorney General Opinions

County Election Commissioner Serving on County Board of Public Utilities

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-10-17

Opinion Number: 77


Tishler to Lead Legal Aid Fundraising Campaign

Waller partner and chair John Tishler will serve as 2014 campaign chair for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands’ Campaign for Equal Justice. “He is a strategic and business-savvy lawyer who is talented at motivating people,” Legal Aid Executive Director Gary Housepian said in announcing Tishler’s appointment. “His selfless attitude and manner are a perfect fit for the committee, and he has already shown his commitment to the campaign.” Learn more about the campaign and see a full list of the campaign committee.


Judge Stair to Retire in 2014

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Richard Stair Jr., whose time on the bench dates back to 1986, announced yesterday he would not seek reappointment when his term ends on Sept. 30, 2014. As required, Stair notified the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati of his intent, the News Sentinel reports. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Stair previously worked as a lawyer with his father, Richard Stair Sr. He was appointed to the bankruptcy bench in October 1986, and from 1993 to 2000 served as chief bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee.


Miller & Martin Adopts New Model For Pro Bono

Miller & Martin PLLC will become the first Chattanooga firm to adopt the Pillar Law Firm Model for its pro bono efforts. Working with Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET), Miller & Martin has chosen to designate housing as its area of focus for pro bono activities, becoming Legal Aid’s main resource for cases in that practice area. “This model will serve as a way of streamlining our work in coordinating pro bono cases with the right firms for those in need in our area,” said Charlie McDaniel, Pro Bono Project Director at LAET.


21st Drug Court Has New Head, Fundraiser on Monday

Williamson County attorney Vince Wilcox has been named the new coordinator for the 21st Judicial District Drug Court, which provides alternative sentencing programs for non-violent offenders in Williamson, Hickman, Perry and Lewis counties. The court’s board said it was impressed with Wilcox’s education, credentials, job experience and enthusiasm for the job. Wilcox had been working for the district’s public defender. Prior to earning his law degree at the Nashville School of Law, Wilcox worked in the music business. He also earned a master degree in counseling. Read more in the court's press release. In addition to announcing the new hire, the drug court announced it would hold its annual Community Breakfast Fundraiser at 7:30 a.m. Monday at Puckett’s of Franklin. For more information contact the court at (615) 595-7868 or info@21dc.org.


Blount County Event Draws Attention to Domestic Violence

A documentary about a domestic violence murder titled “Telling Amy’s Story” was the focal point at this year’s Blount County domestic violence candlelight vigil. Held at the Maryville College’s Clayton Center for the Arts, the event was sponsored by the Blount County Task Force Against Domestic Violence, the East Tennessee Victims’ Rights Task Force and the Blount County Community Health Initiative, the Blount County Daily Times reports.


UT Law Profs Author New Book on Civil Procedure

University of Tennessee College of Law professors George Kuney and Donna Looper have authored a new book: A Civil Matter: A Guide to Civil Procedure and Litigation, both as a print edition and an e-book. Published by West, the book is a concise overview of the civil litigation process under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and follows a diversity car accident case from the district court to post-trial proceedings and settlement before retrial. The authors report that the book is intended as an introduction and overview for those unfamiliar with civil litigation and who need to develop a detailed understanding of the nuts and bolts of the process quickly and efficiently.


2 CLEs Offered Next Week as Enticement for Pro Bono Work

Celebrate Pro Bono month continues next week with two free CLEs for those who agree to take a case from their local legal aid office. Elvis Law: The State and Federal Cases Dealing with the King of Rock & Roll will be presented in Jackson on Oct. 21 and in Chattanooga on Oct. 24. Learn more about these events and others across the state on the TBA website.


Memphis Law Hosts Admissions Workshop

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will host an admissions workshop and recruitment fair Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. The university’s pre-law adviser and the law school’s dean of admissions will speak and then representatives from six area law schools will be available to talk to interested students. In addition to Memphis, schools represented include the University of Tennessee, University of Mississippi, Mississippi College, Baylor University and Belmont University School of Law. Interested students should make reservations by emailing Penny Rogers or calling her at (901) 678-5403, the Memphis Daily News reports.


Red Shoe Masquerade Raises Funds for CASA

CASA of Northeast Tennessee will host its Eighth Annual Red Shoe Masquerade and Silent Auction Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City. Dress is cocktail attire. Red shoes are encouraged. The event is the agency’s primary fundraiser and community awareness activity for the year. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.casanetn.org or call (423) 461-3500. All proceeds will support the group's work with abused and neglected children.


Protect Your Practice with the Bar Plan

Protecting your practice and your family from an unexpected loss is a priority for many TBA members. The Bar Plan program provides TBA members with the most comprehensive and fairly priced professional liability coverage available. Learn more online.


 
 

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.


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