TBA Renews Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct Program

The TBA is renewing a program that invites judges and judicial candidates to agree to a campaign code aimed at preserving public faith in the integrity of the justice system. Announcing the effort today, TBA President Cindy Wyrick said, “Judicial elections are different. Judges must run on a pledge that they will conduct themselves in a fair and impartial manner if elected. A judicial candidate who might be asked to pre-judge a case or to comment on legal issues might have to step aside, or recuse himself or herself, if they already announced how they would rule.” The 2014 effort builds on the highly successful 2006 program, which saw 189 judicial candidates agree to abide by the code of conduct. Judicial candidates who agree to the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct during this election cycle will be listed on the TBA's website, which also will include general information about judicial campaigns and a voter guide called “Judging Judges.” Watch for details coming soon.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
03 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals

JESSIE UPCHURCH v. GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Randy N. Chism, Union City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

Jeffrey P. Boyd, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jessie Upchurch

Judge: ASH

The trial court awarded an employee 85% permanent partial disability to both ears. The employer has appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in finding the employee’s claim was not barred by the one-year statute of limitations in Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-203(b). We affirm the trial court’s determination that the employee’s claim was timely filed.


TN Court of Appeals

DONALD E. BLACKBURN, ET AL. v. GEORGE BLACKBURN, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

George D. Blackburn, Dilley, Texas, pro se.

Jerry H. Schwartz, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Betty Blackburn.

Julie C. Bartholomew, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Donald E. Blackburn, et al.

Judge: HIGHERS

Defendants challenge only the Chancery Court’s subject matter jurisdiction to enter an order regarding a 444 acre farm located in Fayette County. For the following reasons, we find the Chancery Court acted with subject matter jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the Chancery Court, therefore, is affirmed.


BROWNS INSTALLATION, LLC v. WATERMARK SOLID SURFACE, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

G. Kline Preston, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Watermark Solid Surface, Inc.

Michael P. Dolan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Browns Installation, LLC.

Judge: BENNETT

Subcontractor B hired subcontractor A to install bathrooms in fulfillment of subcontractor B’s contracts with general contractors. After it was terminated by subcontractor B, subcontractor A sued to recover payments owed for work subcontractor A completed before termination. Subcontractor B filed a counterclaim for damages and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The trial court dismissed subcontractor B’s counterclaim and found that subcontractor A was entitled to quantum meruit recovery. Discerning no error, we affirm.


JOHN R. ROBERTS, M.D. v. SAINT THOMAS HEALTH SERVICES d/b/a SAINT THOMAS HOSPITAL, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David Randolph Smith, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John R. Roberts, M.D.

Robert Shepherd Patterson, Amy D. Hampton, Jeffrey L. Allen, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Saint Thomas Health Services d/b/a Saint Thomas Hospital; Ascension Health Inc.

Judge: COTTRELL

St. Thomas Hospital suspended a surgeon’s hospital privileges and restored them less than three months later, as part of a settlement in which the doctor also waived a “fair hearing,” which was the next step in the hospital’s procedures. The surgeon subsequently sued the hospital, contending that it had not properly followed its own bylaws in regard to the suspension of his privileges and that he was therefore entitled to damages for breach of contract, defamation of character, and tortious interference with business relations. The hospital denied that it had violated any of its bylaws and asserted that it was entitled to immunity for its actions under the Tennessee Peer Review Law of 1967 and the Federal Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986. The trial court granted summary judgment to the hospital. Because the surgeon failed to show that the hospital did not follow its bylaws, because of his settlement and waiver of a fair hearing, the hospital was entitled to the immunity granted to the peer review process. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DAVID EUGENE BREEZEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Guy T. Wilkinson, Camden, Tennessee, for the appellant, David Eugene Breezee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Senior Counsel; Hansel Jay McCadams, District Attorney General; and James E. Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, David Eugene Breezee, was convicted by Benton County Circuit Court juries of two counts of rape of a child and two counts of incest. On appeal, the appellant contends that his effective thirty-two-year sentence is excessive. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMIE N. GRIMES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mark Chapman (at trial and on appeal); and Dwight E. Scott (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jamie N. Grimes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Hugh T. Ammerman, III, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Jamie N. Grimes, was convicted of selling .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, a Class A felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-417, -432. The trial court classified the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender, and sentenced him to twenty-five years. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that this offense should have been mandatorily joined with another offense for which he had previously been tried and convicted; (2) that his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial was violated; (3) that the indictment against him was defective because it failed to cite to the drug-free school zone statute; (4) that the State improperly withheld its “contract” with the confidential informant used in this case; (5) that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to view a transcript of an audio recording of the offense; (6) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction; and (7) that his sentence is void because the trial court checked the box for a release eligibility of thirty-five percent on the judgment form rather than the box for 100% of the minimum sentence as mandated by the drug-free school zone statute. Following our review, we affirm the Defendant’s conviction and sentence. However, we remand the case to the trial court for correction of a clerical error regarding the Defendant’s release eligibility.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM EUGENE HALL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick T. McNally and Paul J. Bruno, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, William Eugene Hall.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, and James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; Dan Alsobrooks, District Attorney General and Robert Wilson, Deputy District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Appellant, William Eugene Hall, was convicted of two counts of felony murder, three counts of first degree burglary, three counts of grand larceny, and one count of petit larceny. The Appellant received the death penalty for one of the murder convictions, a life sentence for the other, and an effective eighty-year sentence for the remaining convictions. The Appellant was unsuccessful in his original direct appeal. State v. Hall, 976 S.W.2d 121 (Tenn. 1998). The Appellant subsequently pursued post-conviction relief. This Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of that relief. William Eugene Hall v. State, No. M2005- 02959-CCA-R3-PD, 2008 WL 2649637 (Tenn. Crim. App., July 7, 2008). The supreme court, however, has granted the Appellant a delayed appeal. This appeal stems from the original and amended motions for new trial, which the trial court denied. Following our review, we affirm.


JERMEIL TARTER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gene G. Scott, Jr., Jonesborough, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jermeil Tarter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Joseph Eugene Perrin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Jermeil Tarter, appeals the Sullivan County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2005 conviction for sale of one-half gram or more of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school and his twenty-year, Range I sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because (1) of the manner in which counsel conducted voir dire regarding the issue of the Petitioner’s race, (2) counsel failed to advise him adequately regarding his right to testify or remain silent and the advantages and disadvantages of testifying, and (3) counsel failed to inform him fully regarding possible sentencing, the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case, and the benefits and detriments of going to trial or accepting a plea agreement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOSHUA TAYLOR

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Andrew Jackson Dearing, III (on appeal), and William Harold (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joshua Ryan Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle L. Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Ann L. Filer, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Joshua Taylor (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell and simple possession of marijuana. Pursuant to his plea agreement, the Defendant received an effective sentence of eight years. The plea agreement provided that the manner of service would be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement. The Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARCUS FRAZIER THOMPSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

C. Mark Donahoe, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marcus Frazier Thompson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Jody S. Pickens, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Marcus Frazier Thompson, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of five counts of aggravated robbery, Class B felonies. See T.C.A. § 39-13-402 (2010). He was sentenced as a career offender to ninety years to be served at sixty percent. On appeal he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions, (2) the State improperly exercised a peremptory challenge on the basis of a prospective juror’s race, (3) a witness’s testimony should have been excluded due to a violation of the rule of sequestration, and (4) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of ammunition found during a search of the Defendant’s apartment. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


MACK TRANSOU V. JERRY LESTER, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mack Transou, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, Jerry Lester, Warden.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Mack Transou, appeals the summary denial of his fourth pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. In 1999, the petitioner pled guilty to driving after being declared a habitual motor vehicle offender and received a two-year sentence, which was to be served in Community Corrections after ninety days incarceration. Based upon a blood sample taken from the petitioner as part of the intake process, he was later convicted, in two separate cases, of two counts of rape, one count of sexual battery, and one count of aggravated burglary. He is currently serving an effective thirty-four year sentence in the Department of Correction on those convictions. On appeal, he contends that the habeas corpus court erred in summarily denying his petition. Following review of the record, we affirm the court’s determination.


WENDOLYN WALDEN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Wendolyn Walden, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Petitioner, Wendolyn Walden, pled guilty to the sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine within a school zone. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief almost two years after pleading guilty, which the post-conviction court summarily dismissed. After a thorough review of the record, the briefs, and relevant authorities, we affirm the postconviction court’s judgment.


TN Attorney General Opinions

State Retirement Benefits—Effect of “Conviction” Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-35-124

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-10-21

Opinion Number: 78


Knox Criminal Court Clerk Under Fire

Knox County judges are trying to resolve a range of problems stemming from errors tied to the criminal court clerk’s office, Knoxnews reports. The paper based its reporting on interviews conducted last week. Among its findings, it uncovered allegations of improper arrests, dismissal of cases due to missing paperwork, and the hiring of a collection agency that has reported payments late and was selected without an open-bidding process. Clerk Joy McCroskey defends her office and workers saying, "I think some of it is disgruntled former employees." Given the issues, Knox County Commissioner Mike Hammond recently said he is considering a race against McCroskey in the Republican primary next summer. The paper has published several articles on the situation, including one this afternoon quoting Judge Andrew Jackson VI about the situation. WATE TV weighs in today as well, with news that the county sheriff has denied any responsibility for the improper arrests.


Judges Choose Andre as Middle District Leader

Williamson County General Sessions Court Judge Denise Andre was selected by her peers to serve as middle district vice president of the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference. She was named to the post at the conference’s fall meeting in Gatlinburg, The Tennessean reports. Andre was elected to the bench in 2006. In addition to her criminal and civil dockets, she is founder and presiding judge of the General Sessions DUI Court, an intensive program for repeat DUI offenders.


Moncier Challenges Governor’s Judicial Selection Order

Knoxville lawyer Herbert S. Moncier filed a federal lawsuit Friday accusing Gov. Bill Haslam and state elections chief Mark Goins of violating his constitutional rights, Knoxnews reports. He claims that by creating a new commission to appoint appellate judges in the absence of a legislatively constituted body, the state has infringed on his rights under the first and 14th amendments. Moncier says he wants to run next year to replace Judge Joseph Tipton, who is retiring from the Court of Criminal Appeals.


Mayor Issues Order to Resolve Rape Kit Backlog

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton has issued an executive order directing city police to test all unprocessed rape kits as soon as possible and to work to improve the treatment of rape victims, the Commercial Appeal reports. Wharton said Monday that he hoped the action would help the city find the money to process the 6,889 untested items in police custody. The order also urges the police department to convene a community conversation on how it responds to victims of violence, rape and sexual assault, and to work with local advocacy groups to develop policies for handling sexual assault cases in the future.


Prosecutor: No Charges in Campfield 'Robo Call' Case

Knox County District Attorney Randy Nichols has determined that no criminal charges are warranted against Ben Farmer, who has acknowledged responsibility for a telephone “robo call” poll about state Sen. Stacey Campfield. Farmer’s attorney said in an email Monday that his client has been embarrassed by the episode, which previously was characterized as a “computer glitch” during testing of polling operations by Cyragon LLC, a company owned by Farmer. Campfield also had questioned whether Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, who is opposing his re-election and previously was employed by Cyragon, was involved in the robo calls. Briggs has denied any involvement, Knoxnews reports.


Judge Allows Separate Pilot Suit to Proceed

A federal judge in Alabama has allowed a lawsuit against Pilot Flying J to be brought by Wright Transportation, despite Pilot’s claim the case should be dismissed given a pending class action settlement and an ongoing federal investigation. The judge rejected that argument noting that Wright, like 90 other companies, had opted out of the class action designed to settle claims that Pilot withheld millions of dollars in promised rebates. The proposed $40 million class-action settlement will be heard Nov. 25 in Little Rock, The Tennessean reports.


Nichols Seeks Circuit Court Judgeship

Nathan Nichols, an assistant district attorney general in Rutherford County, has announced he is seeking the Republican nomination for circuit court judge in the 16th Judicial District. The party will select its candidate during a May 6 primary, the Murfreesboro Post reports. The circuit judge hears all criminal cases filed in Rutherford and Cannon county circuit courts. Nichols currently prosecutes a wide range of criminal cases. He previously worked as a criminal investigator with the office and as a deputy clerk for the Cannon County Circuit Court.


Memphis Pro Bono Celebration Set for Oct. 29

Lawyers in Memphis will honor outstanding pro bono volunteers during a Pro Bono Reception and Celebration next Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The event, which will take place at Butler Snow, is hosted by the Memphis Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee, Memphis Area Legal Services and the Community Legal Center. Email Mary Lynes or call (901) 271-0660 to RSVP. Learn more about this and other Celebrate Pro Bono events across the state.


Memphis Law Grad Dies at 93

Leroy Lemayne Hidinger Jr. died Saturday (Oct. 19) in Memphis at the age of 93. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, Hidinger began pursuing a law degree at the University of Virginia but was interrupted by World War II. After the war, Hidinger completed his law degree at Southern Law University, which later became part of the University of Memphis. He went on to earn a master degree in business from the Wharton School. In 1950, he opened Cavalier Cleaners and operated the business for 62 years. Services will be held Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Memorial Park Funeral Home. The family will receive friends from 10 to 11:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. John's United Methodist Church Endowment Fund, 1207 Peabody Ave., Memphis, TN 38104, or the Church Health Center, 1196 Peabody Ave., Memphis, TN 38104. The Commercial Appeal has more on his life.


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Get Details on New Disciplinary Rules

Don’t be caught unaware! New rules governing disciplinary enforcement of attorneys go into effect Jan.1. Learn how these new rules will impact your practice at a CLE on Nov. 15 in Nashville. The three-hour course offers dual credit and will cover issues such as a new ban on anonymous complaints against attorneys, new power for the courts to appoint receiver attorneys, new recusal standards for hearing panel members, and clarification about TLAP agreements, the role of practice monitors and the use of private discipline. Learn more or register now.


 
 

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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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