Commission Recommends 3 for Supreme Court Opening

Gov. Bill Haslam will choose from two Memphis judges and a Memphis attorney to fill the upcoming opening on the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. Meeting Wednesday in Nashville, the Governor’s Commission on Judicial Appointments interviewed candidates for the position and recommended Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Christopher B. Craft, 62; Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Holly M. Kirby, 57; and John Brook Lathram, 66, a partner in the Memphis office of Bass, Berry & Sims. The new justice will join the court following the retirement of Justice Janice M. Holder next September.

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
00 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Terry J. Leonard, Camden, Tennessee, for the appellant, Linda Carten.

David T. Hooper, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellees, Mr. Bult’s, Inc. and Dallas National Insurance Company.


An employee died from “traumatic asphyxiation” after a front-end loader accidentally pushed him into a trailer loaded with garbage. The employee’s widow sought workers’ compensation death benefits. The employer denied that the employee was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and raised the affirmative defenses of willful misconduct and willful failure to use a safety device. Following a trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of the employer, and the employee’s widow appealed. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A. DeVasher, Assistant District Public Defender (on appeal); and Kristin Stangl and Katie Weiss, Assistant District Public Defenders (at trial), for the Defendant-Appellant, Jawaras Beauregard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Thomas-Spain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Jawaras Beauregard, was indicted by the Davidson County grand jury for attempted especially aggravated robbery and attempted first degree premeditated murder. He was convicted by a jury of the charged offense of attempted especially aggravated robbery and the lesser included offense of attempted voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to nine years for the attempted especially aggravated robbery conviction and as a Range II, multiple offender to a concurrent sentence of five years for the attempted voluntary manslaughter conviction. On appeal, he argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the victim’s identification of him in a photographic lineup; and (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


C. Richard Hughes, Jr., District Public Defender; and Jeanne L. Wiggins, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Sterling Jerome Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and James Harvey Stutts, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Sterling Jerome Davis, was convicted by a Monroe County jury of possession of 300 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell, a Class A felony; possession of more than one-half ounce but less than ten pounds of marijuana with intent to sell, a Class E felony; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II offender to concurrent terms of forty years at 35% for possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, four years at 35% for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, and eleven months, twenty-nine days for possession of drug paraphernalia. The defendant raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence; (2) whether the trial court improperly limited defense counsel’s questioning of venire members; (3) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the convictions; (4) whether the trial court erred by admitting into evidence the defendant’s petition for a hearing on a forfeiture warrant; (5) whether the prosecutor engaged in improper closing argument; and (6) whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Debbie L. Zimmerle, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Alvin Harding.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General, and Brent A. Cooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Michael Alvin Harding, appeals his Maury County Circuit Court jury convictions of the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine and the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, that the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury, and that the 15-year sentence was excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jaimee H. Underwood, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Ricky D. Netherton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Tom P. Thompson, Jr., District Attorney General; and Tom H. Swink, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Ricky D. Netherton, appeals the Macon County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for first-degree and second-degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Reeves’ Nomination Sent to Full Senate

The Senate Judiciary Committee decided today on a voice vote — without discussion — to send Knoxville attorney and former TBA president Pamela Reeves’ nomination for federal judge on to the full Senate for consideration. Reeves was nominated to the judicial post in May by President Barack Obama to replace U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Phillips, who retired in July. Knoxnews has more.

Memphis Judicial Nominee Appears Before Senate Committee

Memphis District Court nominee Sheryl H. Lipman appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday with two other district judgeship nominees from Illinois and Washington state, and a Kansas Supreme Court justice tapped for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Lipman, who is general counsel for the University of Memphis, was nominated by President Barack Obama for the Western District of Tennessee post after Judge Jon P. McCalla announced he was taking senior status. During the confirmation hearing Lipman was asked about the Derrick Rose eligibility scandal that invalidated the University of Memphis’ 2007-08 basketball season and about her role with Planned Parenthood. According to the Commercial Appeal, no date has been set for a confirmation vote.

Former Knox County Judge Released from Prison

Former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner has been released from a federal work camp after serving most of the six-month sentence he received for lying to cover up his mistress’ involvement in a federal drug conspiracy. Attorney Donald A. Bosch said Tuesday that Baumgartner is on home detention for two weeks to finish out the remaining sentence and is barred from speaking to the media until his detention is complete. According to Knoxnews, Baumgartner is appealing his federal conviction.

TBA Announces Leadership Law Class of 2014

The Tennessee Bar Association has announced the members of its 2014 Leadership Law (TBALL) class. This year’s class will have 33 members from across the state. Programming begins with an opening retreat in January and concludes with graduation ceremonies during the 2014 TBA Annual Convention next June in Gatlinburg. Now in its 11th year, TBALL is designed to equip Tennessee lawyers with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in their profession and local communities.  Read more about the new class.

Knox Firm Honored at Philanthropy Day Event

Knoxville law firm Eldridge & Blakney P.C. was recognized today for the firm’s service to the community and for its support of Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The honor came on the occasion of National Philanthropy Day. Eldridge & Blakney was among nine other individuals and organizations recognized during a luncheon hosted by the Great Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

League of Women Voters Discuss ID Law

The League of Women Voters of Blount County discussed Tennessee’s voter identification law last night during a panel presentation at Maryville College, the Daily Times reports. Three panelists — Blount County Administrator of Elections Libby Breeding; Dr. Frances Henderson, associate professor of political science at Maryville College; and state Rep. Bob Ramsey — discussed the requirements for registering and voting in Tennessee and the law’s impact on voters. 

GOP Group Seeks Impeachment of AG Holder

Eleven Republican lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives plan to seek the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder in a resolution that was to be introduced today, the ABA Journal reports. According to various news sources, the group has drafted four articles of impeachment citing Holder for allegedly refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas relating to the botched gun-tracking program, Operation Fast and Furious; failing to enforce multiple laws, including some drug laws and the Defense of Marriage Act; failing to prosecute any IRS employees accused of showing bias in their handling of tax-exempt applications by conservative groups; and misleading Congress about his knowledge of an investigation of a Fox News reporter in a probe of classified leaks. The group’s leader, U.S. Rep. Pete Olson of Texas, says more lawmakers may be on board by the time the measure is introduced.

Knoxville Lawyer John Smartt Dies

Knoxville lawyer John Madison Smartt, 94, died on Wednesday (Nov. 13) at Shannondale Healthcare Center in Knoxville. A memorial service will be held at Second Presbyterian Church, 2829 Kingston Pike in Knoxville at 1 p.m. on Nov. 30, with receiving of friends to follow in the church Fellowship Hall. During World War II he served as an Army officer before returning to the University of Tennessee and receiving his law degree in 1948. He was the UT Director of Alumni Affairs from 1948 to 1969 before joining the law firm of Fowler Rowntree & Robinson, and later was with Ambrose Wilson Grimm & Durand. He co-coordinated the Tennessee Law Institute from 1972-1988. He was chair of the Knoxville Bar Association's Memorials Committee for many years and was one of the founding members of the KBA's Senior Section. Read his obituary in Knoxnews.

Anderson County Public Defender Seeking Re-Election

Tom Marshall has announced he is seeking a fourth consecutive eight-year term as public defender for the Seventh Judicial District. A Democrat, Marshall was appointed to the post in 1989 by Gov. Ned McWherter. Knoxnews has the story.

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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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