Obama: More Nominations, Fewer Confirmations

President Barack Obama has surpassed his predecessor, President George W. Bush, for nominations made to the federal bench at this point in his presidency, Gavel Grab reports. Obama has submitted 271 judicial nominations compared to 240 for Bush in a corresponding time period. Obama lags behind Bush for judges who have been confirmed however. The Senate has confirmed 76 percent of his nominees, putting 203 judges on the bench, compared to 90 percent and 215 judges for Bush.

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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - 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 Appeals

TERESA POWELL HUDSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SURVIVING SPOUSE AND EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF ROBERT MELVIN HUDSON, DECEASED V. TOWN OF JASPER

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Ronald D. Wells and Stacy Lynn Archer, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Town of Jasper.

Jennifer H. Lawrence and David H. Lawrence, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Teresa Powell Hudson, Individually and as Surviving Spouse and Executrix of the Estate of Robert Melvin Hudson, Deceased.

Judge: CLEMENT

This is a wrongful death action against the Town of Jasper. The surviving spouse of the decedent, who died of complications resulting from a myocardial infarction, alleges that the town was negligent and negligent per se by failing to register its three automated external defibrillators with the emergency communications district dispatch as required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 68-140-703 and that such negligence contributed to the decedent’s injuries and death. The town filed a Rule 12.02(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted on the basis the statute did not create a private right of action; the trial court denied the motion to dismiss but granted a Tenn. R. App. P. 9 interlocutory appeal. We have determined there is no express language creating a private right of action in the statute, and, looking to the statutory structure and legislative history of the statute, we have also determined the legislature did not intend to create a private right of action by implication. Therefore, we reverse and remand with instructions to grant the motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and enter judgment accordingly.


CATHLEEN JACKSON V. ROGER L. KASH

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Todd Faulkner, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roger L. Kash.

Fred C. Dance, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Cathleen Jackson.

Judge: CLEMENT

The issues on appeal in this financially catastrophic divorce proceeding include who is liable for the debt of $240,000 that Wife incurred after the complaint for divorce was filed. The trial court held Wife liable for the entire sum and Husband jointly and severally liable for $75,889.59 of that amount upon the finding that $75,889.59 was used to preserve the parties’ principal marital asset, the residence, pending its sale. Husband contends this was error for he expressly refused to be liable for this debt. The court also awarded a judgment against Husband in favor of Wife for $101,714 of expenses she incurred to maintain the marital residence. Wife was awarded one half of Husband’s pension and $75,000 of her attorney’s fees as alimony in solido, and sixty months of rehabilitative alimony, at $1,250 per month. Husband contends that all of these awards were error. Husband, however, provided no transcript of the evidence or statement of the evidence; therefore, there is no evidence before this court upon which to find that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s findings. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s findings of fact in all respects. Further, we find no error with the trial court’s legal conclusions or judgments by classifying the award as alimony in futuro. All other rulings by the trial court are affirmed.


IN RE: ESTATE OF BUFORD TAYLOR, DECEDENT, ET AL. v. SUNTRUST BANK, SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Donald Capparella and Candi Henry, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Julie Frankenfield, Thomas Hamer, Jr., Carole Ann Hamer, and Mary Elizabeth Hamer.

Mary Beth Boone, Brunswick, Georgia, and P. Brocklin Parks, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Gerald Huffman and Dorothy Jean Riley Hale.

Judge: SWINEY

Gerald Huffman and Dorothy Jean Riley Hale (“Petitioners”) filed suit seeking to terminate the testamentary trust of Buford Taylor (“the Trust”) and have the remaining assets distributed. Petitioners filed a motion for summary judgment asserting, in pertinent part, that contingent remainder beneficiary Tommy Hamer previously had received an advancement of his portion of the Trust, and therefore, his heirs were not entitled to any further distribution from the Trust. After a hearing, the Trial Court granted the motion for summary judgment after finding and holding, inter alia, that an affidavit given by Sherrie Hamer was not properly before the court, and that Tommy Hamer previously had received an advancement of his portion of the Trust and, therefore, his heirs were not entitled to any portion of the remaining Trust assets. The heirs of Tommy Hamer appeal the grant of summary judgment to this Court. We find and hold that neither Tenn. Code Ann. § 24-1-203 nor Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-2-101 bars consideration of the affidavit of Sherrie Hamer, and that there are genuine issues of material fact precluding a grant of summary judgment. We, therefore, reverse the grant of summary judgment.


YENNY WALKER v. JANEK PAWLIK

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael T. Fort, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Janek Pawlik.

Audrey Dorrough Seamon, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Yenny Walker.

Judge: SWINEY

This appeal arises from the granting of an order of protection. Yenny Walker (“Walker”) dated Janek Pawlik (“Pawlik”). Walker broke off the relationship and later filed a petition for an order of protection against Pawlik. The general sessions court entered an order of protection. Pawlik appealed to the Circuit Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”). After a hearing, the Trial Court granted Walker an order of protection against Pawlik based on a finding of stalking. Pawlik appeals, arguing that the evidence preponderates against the Trial Court’s finding that he was stalking Walker. After reviewing the record, we find that the evidence does not preponderate against the Trial Court’s finding of stalking. Also, in keeping with Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-617 and relevant case law, we remand for the Trial Court to determine and award to Walker her reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred in defending this appeal. We affirm the Trial Court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JEFFERY W. DEAN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

R.N. “Bo” Taylor, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffery W. Dean.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Bradshaw, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Jason White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Jeffery W. Dean, challenges his convictions for aggravated kidnapping and carjacking, for which he received concurrent sentences of thirteen years. In this appeal, he contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain either of his convictions. Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


HENRY ALFRED HONEA v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Eric J. Burch, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Henry Alfred Honea.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; and C. Michael Layne, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Henry Alfred Honea, appeals the Coffee County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2006 convictions for first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, evading arrest, and being a felon in possession of a handgun, and his effective sentence of life without parole plus 153 years. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JUAN LA SEAN PERRY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Juan La Sean Perry, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; and Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Maury County jury convicted the petitioner, Juan La Sean Perry, of second degree murder in November 2005, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-five years in the department of correction. This court affirmed his conviction and sentence. See State v. Juan La Sean Perry, No. M2007-00903-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 1875165, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 28, 2008), no perm. app. filed. Nearly five years later, petitioner filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court dismissed as untimely. On appeal, petitioner contends that due process principles should toll the statute of limitations and requests that this court remand for an evidentiary hearing. Following our review, we affirm the circuit court’s summary dismissal of the post-conviction petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. TRACY A. ROBERSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Donna Miller (on appeal) and Robin R. Flores (at trial), Chattanooga, Tennessee for the appellant, Tracy A. Roberson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Neal Pinkston, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Hamilton County jury convicted the Defendant, Tracy A. Roberson, of one count of aggravated burglary, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated rape, one count of theft of property valued under $500.00, one count of theft of property valued over $1,000.00, and one count of theft of property valued over $60,000.00. For these convictions, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of sixty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant claims that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence obtained through an invalid search warrant; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for especially aggravated kidnapping, theft of property valued over $1,000.00, and theft of property valued over $60,000.00; (3) the trial court failed to merge his convictions for aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and theft; (4) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on especially aggravated kidnapping; (5) the trial court erred when it ordered consecutive sentencing; (6) the trial court demonstrated bias against the Defendant; and (7) the cumulative effect of the errors deprived the Defendant of a fair trial. We conclude that there was insufficient evidence to support the Defendant’s conviction for theft of property valued over $60,000.00, and we modify the conviction to theft of property valued over $10,000.00. We further conclude that the theft of property valued under $500.00 should be merged into the aggravated robbery conviction. We affirm the trial court’s judgments in all other respects. The case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Bank of America Found Guilty of Fraud

A jury in federal court found Bank of America and a former Countrywide Financial executive guilty of fraud, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Jurors concluded Bank of America, through its Countrywide Financial acquisition, had fraudulently sold mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of an internal program called "The Hustle."


Judge Questions Plans for New Judicial Building

Chancellor Robert Corlew III is concerned that county leaders haven't secured enough land to build a future judicial building in Murfreesboro. During an interview with the Daily News Journal, Corlew questioned the county's purchase of land a block north of the existing Judicial Building to build a new one to serve the fast-growing county. Corlew said the county might need to divide up the courts with the criminal courts being at one location and perhaps the civil courts remaining in the existing location.


Cohen Looks to Expand Voter ID Access

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, introduced legislation yesterday to expand the number of places where people could obtain the photo identification required for voting in Tennessee, the Tennessean reports. The bill, known as the Voter ID Accessibility Act, would amend the nation’s “motor voter law” by ensuring that state and federal offices that already let visitors register to vote would also tell them about state voter ID requirements and give them the chance to obtain a free ID. According to the Commercial Appeal, the legislation serves as an effort to circumvent the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that upholds the state’s Voter ID law and bans the use of Memphis library-issued photo identification cards.


3 Hamilton County Judges to Seek Re-election

Three Hamilton County Circuit Court judges announced they will be seeking re-election: Judge Jeffrey Hollingsworth, Division 2, Judge Neil W. Thomas, Division 4, and Judge Marie L. Williams, Division 3. Judge Jackie Bolton announced earlier that she is not seeking re-election. The Chattanoogan has more.


Rutherford County Judge to Seek Re-election

Circuit Court Judge Keith Siskin, Division 3, has announced his candidacy for re-election, the Tennessean reports. Siskin serves in Division 3 of the Circuit Court for Rutherford and Cannon Counties. He was appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2012 and received the highest rating among all applicants by the Rutherford/Cannon County Bar Association.


Services Set for Memphis Attorney, Former JFK Appointee

Memphis attorney James Clark Blackburn died yesterday (Oct. 23) at the age of 79. A graduate of the University of Arkansas law school, Blackburn moved to Memphis in 1959 where he practiced law for 40 years until his retirement. He was appointed a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by President John F. Kennedy and served on a special committee to investigate police brutality in Memphis after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Visitation will be 12:30 p.m. Saturday with service immediately following at 1:30 p.m. at Neshoba Unitarian Universalist Church in Cordova. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Arts Memphis, the Wolf River Conservancy, or a charity of the donor’s choice.


Alexander: Bill Would 'Force' Administration to Provide Answers about Obamacare

Republican state Sen. Lamar Alexander told Fox News yesterday that he is going to introduce a bill next week to “force” the administration to provide answers about the Affordable Care Act rollout. The Chattanoogan reports that the proposal would require the administration to provide weekly reports to Congress andto  states on enrollment, efforts to resolve the site’s technological problems and information about the organizations that have contracted as navigators.


Davidson County Lawyer Suspended

Dana L. Nero of Nashville was suspended from the practice of law for three years, with 11 months and 29 days as an active suspension retroactive to June 11, 2012, and the remainder probated. A petition for discipline was filed last April alleging Nero advised a witness that they did not have to appear in court even though she had been subpoenaed, that she failed to communicate with a client and provide him with his file following his conviction, and that she accepted a fee for which she did not perform any service. Download the BPR notice.


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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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