Nominations Open For Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2014 Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Awards, which recognize the law firm and corporate legal departments that best exemplify extraordinary commitment to access to justice ideals and pro bono service. The awards will be presented at the Eighth Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala set for March 1 at Nashville's Hermitage Hotel. The initiative is a joint effort of the TBA Access to Justice Committee, the TBA Corporate Counsel Section and the Association of Corporate Counsel to help foster a coordinated approach to pro bono work and support for the access to justice community by corporate counsel in Tennessee. This partnership has raised over $350,000 in sponsorships by Tennessee corporate legal departments, law firms and other organizations and individuals. More information about sponsorships and award nominations may be found on the TBA website.

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
01 - 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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Corey A. Adams, Wartburg, Tennessee, Pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, Shauna Jennings, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Tennessee Department of Correction, Michael Allen, Dwight A. Barbee, Charles Bass and Derrick D. Schofield.


The Disciplinary Board of the Turney Center Industrial Complex convicted Petitioner of assault based upon his involvement in a gang stabbing of another inmate, the conviction was affirmed by the Commissioner of the Department of Correction. Petitioner then filed this common law writ of certiorari with the Chancery Court of Hickman County to challenge his conviction. The trial court granted the writ and the administrative record was filed with the trial court. Thereafter, on motion of the respondents, the trial court denied relief to Petitioner on the grounds the record demonstrated that the disciplinary board had not acted illegally, arbitrarily or exceeded its jurisdiction, and that Petitioner’s due process rights were not violated. Finding no error, we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael Cabage (at hearing) and J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robin Lynn Cooper.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Leslie Nassios, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Knox County jury convicted the Petitioner, Robin Lynn Cooper, of one count of attempted second degree murder, one count of rape, one count of aggravated rape, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, and three counts of aggravated kidnapping. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions. State v. Cooper, No. E2009-00291-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 2490768, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, June 21, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 20, 2010). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gregory P. Isaacs and Andrea B. Mohr, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Torrey L. Frazier.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; and Russell Johnson, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Torrey L. Frazier, appeals the Roane County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of second degree murder and resulting twenty-two-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Richard Spivey, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edwina Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and Emily M. Smith, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Edwina Johnson, pled guilty to one count of theft of property valued over $1,000 and one count of identity theft. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of three years, to be served on probation, consecutive to an effective threeyear sentence of incarceration imposed in a separate case. The Defendant’s probation officer filed a probation violation warrant alleging that she had violated the terms of her probation. After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered that she serve her sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it found she had violated the rules and conditions of her probation and when it denied her request for an alternative sentence. She further contends that the trial court erred because it found she had committed the probation violation on a date not within the term of her supervised probation period. After reviewing the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Lauren Zechman-Denney, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Jeffrey A. Simmons.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Finley, Senior Counsel, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; and Tom Miner, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Jeffrey A. Simmons, was convicted of four counts of aggravated sexual battery and received an effective sentence of thirty-two years. At the hearing on his motion for new trial, which was denied by the trial court, the Petitioner claimed the ineffective assistance of Initial and Trial Counsel. The Petitioner later filed a petition for postconviction relief, in which he alleged the ineffective assistance of Initial, Trial, and Successor Counsel. The post-conviction court granted partial relief in the form of a delayed appeal after it determined, contrary to this court’s conclusion in State v. Jeffrey Simmons, No. M2007-01383-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 27881 (Tenn. Crim. App. January 6, 2010), that the Petitioner had, in fact, filed a timely motion for new trial. The post-conviction court limited the delayed appeal to review of issues that were deemed waived by this court in the direct appeal. It dismissed the post-conviction relief petition reasoning that the ineffective assistance of counsel claims had been previously determined. In this consolidated appeal, the Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred by dismissing his petition for postconviction relief. Following our review, we conclude that the post-conviction court properly granted the Petitioner a delayed appeal for review of issues raised but not addressed in his direct appeal. Upon consideration of whether the trial court erred by instructing the jury after it appeared to be deadlocked, the only issue not reviewed by this court in the Petitioner’s direct appeal, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. We additionally conclude that the post-conviction court erred in dismissing the post-conviction petition with respect to the Petitioner’s claims of ineffective assistance of Successor Counsel. Accordingly, we reverse the post-conviction court’s dismissal of the portion of the petition that alleged ineffective assistance of Successor Counsel and remand for an evidentiary hearing. In all other respects, we affirm the post-conviction court’s dismissal of the petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of Initial Counsel and Trial Counsel.

Police Director Says MPD has 12,000 Unprocessed Rape Kits

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said yesterday that the total number of unprocessed rape kits in police possession will be about 12,000 — a number far higher than previously reported — even after an initial round of 2,226 kits are tested. Last month, Mayor AC Wharton issued an executive order directing city police to test all backlogged, unprocessed rape kits. Some of the untested kits date from the 1980s, a situation that has outraged advocates for rape victims. Armstrong told City Council members that clearing the entire backlog will cost more than $4.6 million, the Commercial Appeal reports.

Applications Accepted for Workers' Comp Judges

The State of Tennessee-Division of Workers’ Compensation is requesting interested and qualified attorneys to apply for the position of Workers’ Compensation Judge. All workers’ compensation claims involving illness or injury that occurred on or after July 2014, will be heard in the new workers’ compensation court. All interested applicants must complete a questionnaire by Dec. 1. For more information, contact the Division of Workers' Compensation Administrator Abbie Hudgens.

Pilot Settlement Reaches More than $70 Million

The class action settlement from truck stop chain Pilot Flying J over a fuel rebate fraud has reached over $72 million, the Memphis Business Journal reports. Documents filed on behalf of 10 trucking companies show Pilot Flying J's cash settlement offer is approximately $72 million and includes interest, costs of audits, administration and attorney fees.

Tennessee CASA Earns GM Foundation Grant

The General Motors Foundation today announced that Tennessee CASA is among 11 nonprofits in the state to receive grants totaling $75,000. Cheryl Hultman, Tennessee CASA executive director, said in a press release, "The GM Foundation grant to Tennessee CASA is very significant and will ultimately touch the lives of many children who have been appointed a CASA volunteer."

Lawyer Offers Scholarship Not to Go to Law School

Chicago attorney Matt Willens is offering a $1,000 “Anything But Law School” scholarship for a college graduate who goes on to graduate school, but avoids law school. Willins told the National Law Journal the scholarship is not a stunt, but an attempt to raise awareness about the rough job market for law graduates and to encourage students to pursue less risky careers. He also warns about the dangers of new graduates heading out on their own unprepared. “Becoming a good lawyer takes years of training," he said. "You have people out there who are practicing without training. They’re doing the best thing they can. Sometimes they do the right thing, and a lot of times they don’t. It’s a black mark on the profession of the law.”

Court to Review Regulatory Taking and Inverse Condemnation Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to hear a civil case regarding a subdivision plan that was denied approval by a planning committee. The property owners say the denial constitutes a regulatory taking in violation of the Tennessee Constitution and inverse condemnation. The Raybin Perky Hot List has a summary and forecast of the case.

Nashville Lawyer to Seek General Sessions Court Judgeship

Mark Richard Podis announced he is running for Davidson County General Sessions Court, Division II, Judge on the Democratic ticket in the May primary. Podis is the founding partner of Podis and Podis and has been practicing law in Nashville for 27 years. 

East Ridge Rep. to Run for Criminal Court Clerk

Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, today announced that he will run for Criminal Court clerk in Hamilton County, the Chattanoogan reports. The former mayor of East Ridge, Dean said he will continue to serve in his House District 30 seat through the upcoming legislative session.

Chattanooga Attorney to Run for Chancery Court Judge

Chattanooga attorney Pam Mcnutt Fleenor announced she will run for Hamilton County Chancery Court Judge Part I in the May 6 Republican primary. Fleenor is a trial practitioner at Duncan, Hatcher, Hixson & Fleenor, P.C and is licensed to practice in the state courts of Tennessee, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the U.S. Claims Court, the Chattanoogan reports.

Murfreesboro Attorney to Run for General Sessions Judge

Murfreesboro attorney Aaron Conklin announced he will seek the nomination of the Republican Party for General Sessions Judge in the May 2014 Rutherford County Primary. The seat is currently held by Judge Ben Hall McFarlin Jr. Conklin served as Assistant General Counsel for the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts for nine years. He currently serves as in house counsel for Venture Express.

Democrats Name New Executive Director

The Tennessee Democratic Party has named longtime pollster and strategist Alan Secrest as its new executive director, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Secrest will replace Kevin Teets, who left earlier this year.


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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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