Ceremonies Welcome New Lawyers to Tennessee

Nearly 200 new attorneys were sworn in to the practice of law during ceremonies today in Nashville. Between the two admission sessions, many new lawyers and their families attended a luncheon and open house at the Tennessee Bar Center. Along with being an important event for the Tennessee legal community, the ceremonies also were a celebration for many families, with 19 new lawyers being introduced to the court by parents who are also lawyers. In addition, a number of the new admittees were introduced by spouses, brothers, fiances, former Boy Scout leaders, father-in-laws, step-fathers and former professors. Additional ceremonies have or will be taking place in Knoxville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Jackson.

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
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 Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Mart G. Fendley, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nathan Alan Riedel.

Lawrence James Kamm and Helen Sfikas Rogers, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kristen Elizabeth Riedel.


Father appeals the parenting plan naming Mother primary residential parent entered by the trial court in this divorce action. We remand for further proceedings, if necessary, and findings regarding the comparative fitness of the parties.

Tiffany Shockley, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Terry Street v. Mental Health Cooperative, Inc.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Clinton L. Kelly, Henderson, Tennessee, and Thomas Boyers, V., Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellants, Tiffany Shockley, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Terry Street.

Wendy Lynne Longmire and T. William A. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mental Health Cooperative, Inc.


The trial court dismissed Appellant’s medical malpractice and wrongful death case for failure to comply with the pre-suit notice requirement found in Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-26-121(a). Appellant’s pre-suit notice contained a misnomer, naming the Appellee’s fundraising entity, rather than Appellee, as the proper defendant. The trial court determined that under the Tennessee Supreme Court’s holding in Myers v. AMISUB (SFH), Inc., 382 S.W.3d 300, 307 (Tenn. 2012), substantial compliance was not effective to satisfy the statutory requirement for pre-suit notice. Furthermore, because the type of notice required under Section 29-26-121 precedes the filing of the lawsuit, it is not the same type of notice as required for correction of misnomers in pleadings under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 15.03; thus, this rule will not operate to cure the misnomer in the pre-suit notice. Because the Appellant failed to show extraordinary cause for failure to comply with the pre-suit notice, we affirm the trial court’s order dismissing this matter. Affirmed and remanded.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robin R. Flores, Chattanooga, Tennessee (on appeal); Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender; and Blake Murchinson, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Guy L. Hines.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; and William Hall, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant was found guilty after a trial by jury of one count of robbery, a Class C felony, and one count of assault, which, depending on the circumstances, can be either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class B misdemeanor, but which the trial court treated as a Class A misdemeanor. The defendant was sentenced to four years for the robbery and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the assault. On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred by failing to dismiss the robbery charge due to a defect in the indictment. The defendant also claims that the trial court erred in an evidentiary ruling and by failing to grant him a new trial on the grounds that the prosecutor made improper comments during voir dire. After carefully reviewing the record and the arguments of the parties, we find that the defendant’s arguments lack merit, but we conclude that the trial court erroneously classified the defendant’s assault conviction as a Class A misdemeanor when it was properly classified as a Class B misdemeanor. We modify the judgment of the trial court accordingly and impose a modified sentence of six months on this count. The judgments of the trial court are otherwise affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen Bush, District Public Defender; Phyllis Aluko (on appeal) and Trent Hall (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Sylvester Smith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Pamela Fleming, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Sylvester Smith, of aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony, and two counts of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-304, -14-403 (2010). The trial court merged the two counts of aggravated burglary and sentenced Smith as a Range III, persistent offender to fifteen-years imprisonment with a forty-five percent release eligibility for the aggravated burglary conviction. For the aggravated kidnapping conviction, Smith was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to twenty-years at one hundred percent release eligibility. The sentences were to be served consecutively for a total effective sentence of thirty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Smith argues that the trial court erred in: (1) failing to properly instruct the jury on aggravated kidnapping pursuant to State v. White; (2) sentencing him based on insufficient evidence; (3) excluding Smith’s written statement to the police as inadmissible hearsay; (4) admitting into evidence hearsay statements in violation of Smith’s right to confrontation; (5) permitting improper impeachment of Smith based on prior convictions; (6) imposing excessive sentences; and (7) depriving Smith of his due process rights based on cumulative error. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Copyright Infringement Awards, Increases for Appointed Counsel Covered in This Issue

Nashville lawyer Tim Warnock writes about the best ways to set an appropriate award of statutory damages in a copyright infringement case in the latest issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal. In his regular column, Knoxville lawyer Wade Davies discusses policy changes on mandatory minimum sentences in federal court, rate increases for appointed counsel and more. The Tennessee Supreme Court has raised the caps on payment for counsel representing indigent defendnats in non-capital first-degree murder and Class A and B felonies, Davies writes.  "If anyone thinks people are getting wealthy from representing poor people at state expense, take a look at the rule. The rates have not changed since 1994. The state pays $40 per hour for out-of-court work and $50 for in-court, which does not include the time spent in court waiting."

Sounds Hire Waller to Lobby for Ballpark

The Nashville Sounds’ ownership group, MFP Baseball, has hired the government relations team at the Waller firm to lobby the Metro Council for a new 10,000-seat baseball stadium at the historic Sulpher Dell site. Waller attorney James Weaver also lobbied for the Sounds’ last attempt to build a new ballpark in 2006. The council approved that plan by a 28-9 vote, but it fell apart more than a year later amid spending squabbles between the AAA franchise (which was under different ownership at the time) and its development partner. The Tennessean has more.

Lawmakers Review Textbook Selection Process

Tennessee lawmakers are holding hearings this week to review the state’s textbook selection process, the Tennessean reports. The Senate Education Committee and the Senate Government Operations Committee held the hearings yesterday and today to seek clarity regarding the structure and function of the Tennessee Textbook Commission. The commission recently came under fire by a group of parents for having adopted textbooks containing alleged inappropriate language and a controversial interpretation of historical facts.

Boutique Law Firm Launches in Downtown Nashville

Nashville attorneys John Ray Clemmons and J. Michael Clemons have launched Clemons & Clemons, a civil litigation and general practice law firm located in downtown Nashville across from the Metro Courthouse. “Michael and I observed a gap in the local legal services industry," Clemmons said in a news release. "Young professionals and small-business owners need affordable, competent legal representation to kick-start and navigate their entrepreneurial endeavors and to protect their families." The Nashville Business Journal has more.

Justice Scalia to Visit Memphis Law Dec. 16

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will visit the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law to speak with law school students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Memphis community on Dec. 16. Justice Scalia will speak at a luncheon at the Peabody Hotel from noon to 1 p.m., with a private program for Memphis Law students at the law school immediately following. The luncheon is open to the public; individuals or organizations interested in purchasing a table or tickets should contact Paula Bethge at (901) 678-4922.

Haslam to Honor Tennessee Veterans Nov. 6

Gov. Bill Haslam will recognize four veteran state employees and honor more than 525,000 veterans living in Tennessee. Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Tennessee Military Department Major General Terry “Max” Haston will join Haslam during a ceremony at the Tennessee Tower Plaza in Nashville tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the event will be relocated to the Old Supreme Court Chambers on the first floor of the Capitol, the Leaf Chronicle reports.

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.

Rutherford County Attorney to Run for General Sessions Judge

Rutherford County attorney Kevin Hodges announced yesterday that he will seek the Republican Party’s nomination for General Sessions Judge during the May 2014 primary. The seat is currently held by Judge Ben McFarlin. Hodges is a longtime civil servant and former Navy submariner. He served as a police officer in Rutherford County before earning his law degree. He now practices in civil, criminal, Social Security/disability and family law, the Daily News Journal reports.

Murfreesboro Attorney to Seek General Sessions Judgeship

Murfreesboro attorney Barry Tidwell yesterday announced his candidacy for General Sessions Judge, Part II, for Rutherford County. The post is currently held by Judge David Loughry, who has been a General Sessions Judge in Rutherford County since 1990, the Tennessean reports. “I believe that the duty of a judge, first and foremost, is to follow the law and constitution and to avoid at all cost legislating from the bench," Tidwell said in a press release. "Our government is divided into three distinct branches for a reason, and as General Sessions Judge I will apply the law without making the law."

Rutherford County Lawyer Temporarily Suspended

Brandon Michael Booten was temporarily suspended from the practice of law upon finding that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. Download the BPR notice.


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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