Comments Sought on Proposed Rule 21 Amendments

The Tennessee Supreme Court filed an order today soliciting comments regarding proposed amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 21, which governs the requirements of continuing legal education for lawyers licensed to practice in Tennessee. The comment period ends March 20, 2014. 

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.

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

CORRECTION: Case incorrectly listed on original Cert List as a GRANT; listed correctly on AMENDED Cert List as Rule 11 Denied, with a motion Granted: NASHVILLE - ROSALYN L. CAFFEY v. METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY ET AL. - M2012-00883-SC-R11-CV.

Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Kenneth E. Hill, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael V., Sr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Derek C. Jumper, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


This is a termination of parental rights case focusing on Michaela V.; Michael V., Jr.; and Tyler V., the minor children (“Children”) of Michael V., Sr. (“Father”). The Children were taken into protective custody by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) on August 22, 2008. On January 5, 2011, DCS filed a petition to terminate Father’s parental rights. Following a bench trial held on October 12, 2011, the trial court granted the petition upon its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Father had abandoned the Children by willfully failing to provide financial support during the four months preceding the filing of the petition. The court further found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. Father has appealed. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Kelli L. Thompson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Lawrence D. Sellick and Sheri A. Sellick.

C. Douglas Fields, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Gene S. Miller and Lois J. Miller.


This is the second appeal of this property dispute involving the Parties. The Sellicks initially brought suit to determine whether the Millers had obtained an easement to use Farm Road for the benefit of Parcel 5.07. The Sellicks also complained that concrete slabs encroached upon the agreed-upon Farm Road easement for the benefit of Parcel 5.02. This court held that the Millers did not have an easement to use Farm Road for the benefit of Parcel 5.07. Upon remand, the Parties reached a settlement agreement in which the Millers agreed to a removal of the portion of their driveways on Parcel 5.02 that encroached upon Farm Road. Shortly thereafter, the Millers filed a petition for contempt, alleging that the Sellicks had violated the agreement. The Sellicks responded in kind by filing their own petition for contempt. Following a hearing, the trial court entered a mutual restraining order, found Mr. Miller in contempt for failing to remove a gate as agreed, ordered Mr. Sellick to undertake repairs to the driveways owned by the Millers, and disposed of the remaining issues between the Parties. The Sellicks appeal. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

RUBY HAILEY, As Administrator of the Estate of Beatrice Jackson v. WESLEY OF THE SOUTH, INC., d/ba WESLEY at DYERSBURG

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Paul J. Springer, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ruby Hailey, As Administrator of the Estate of Beatrice Jackson

Craig C. Conley, Julia Kavanagh, Memphis, Tennessee, Christy Tosh Crider, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wesley of the South, Inc.


Plaintiff’s Complaint was dismissed for failure to comply with the requirements of the Medical Malpractice Act. The trial court denied Plaintiff’s second Motion to Alter or Amend, and Plaintiff appealed to this Court. We dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to Plaintiff’s failure to timely file an appropriate notice of appeal. Plaintiff then filed a third Motion to Alter or Amend in the trial court, which the trial court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff filed a second appeal to this Court. We dismiss the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Charles S. Kelly, Sr., Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Tina Woods Butler.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffery D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Joni R. Livingston, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Tina Woods Butler, entered pleas of nolo contendere to six counts of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, Class D felonies, and ten counts theft of property valued over $500 but less than $1,000, Class E felonies. See T.C.A. §§39-14-103, -105(a). After denying her request for judicial diversion, the trial court sentenced Butler as Range I, standard offender to two-year sentences for each of the Class D felonies and to one-year sentences for each of the Class E felonies. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently for a total effective sentence of two years on community corrections. On appeal, Butler argues that the trial court erred in denying her judicial diversion. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael R. Working, Memphis, Tennessee, for appellant, Carlos Jones.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Chris Lareau, Assistant District Attorney General, for appellant, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Carlos Jones, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and especially aggravated robbery, and the trial court imposed an effective forty-year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Following an unsuccessful direct appeal, petitioner sought postconviction relief in the Shelby County Criminal Court, alleging multiple instances of ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief, and petitioner now appeals the judgment of the post-conviction court, claiming that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to adequately communicate with him prior to trial. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Leonard G. Belmares, II, Charlotte, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marvin McCall.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Dan M. Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Carey J. Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Marvin McCall, entered a plea of nolo contendere to theft in case no. CR5297. The trial court sentenced him to four years to be served in Community Corrections. In case no. CR5699, the Defendant pleaded nolo contendere to aggravated burglary and aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced him to four years in Community Corrections to be served consecutively to case no. CR5297. After two subsequent arrests and the issuance of a probation violation warrant, the trial court revoked probation and ordered incarceration for the remainder of the Defendant’s sentence. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred: (1) when it failed to dismiss the violation of probation warrant, and (2) when it revoked an expired probation sentence. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we reverse and dismiss the trial court’s judgment revoking the Defendant’s expired probation sentence in case no. CR5297, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment in case no. CR5699.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Bryce Benjet (on appeal, pro hac vice), New York, New York; Hershel Koger (on appeal and at trial), Pulaski, Tennessee; Craig M. Cooley, (at trial, pro hac vice), New York, New York, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Randall Mills.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Charles F. Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner-Appellant, Randy Mills, appeals the partial denial of his “Motion to Reopen Post[-]Conviction Petition and Other Relief.” On appeal, he argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying him a new trial on all of the charges in this case for which he was convicted; (2) the general sessions counsel’s and trial counsel’s 2003 post-conviction testimony regarding his admission of guilt as to some of the charges is inadmissible as substantive evidence of his guilt on retrial; and (3) the trial court erred in failing to adjudicate the merits of his state and federal constitutional law claims. Although not raised by the Petitioner, the State argues that the trial court’s agreed order, which was entered after the filing of the Petitioner’s notice of appeal, is null and void because the court no longer had jurisdiction of the case. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment granting a new trial in count 2, the conviction for rape of a child–penile penetration, in light of the newly discovered DNA evidence; however, we reverse the judgment denying a new trial on the remaining charges for which he was convicted, and we remand the case to the trial court for entry of an order also granting the Petitioner a new trial on counts 1, 4, 5, and 6.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Juni S. Ganguli, on appeal, and Kimkea L. Harris, at trial, for the Defendant-Appellant, Joshua Smith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Nicole C. Germain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Joshua Smith, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated robbery. He was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to a term of ten years imprisonment at the Department of Correction to be served at thirty percent. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the trial court improperly denied the Defendant’s motion to suppress; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction; and (3) the trial court erred in imposing an excessive sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Legal Community Mourns Don Paine

The death of former TBA President Donald F. Paine on Sunday (Nov. 17) brought out many thoughts and memories from those in the Tennessee legal community who had worked with him, learned from him, served under his leadership at the Tennessee Bar Association in 1986-1987 or had just benefitted from his friendship. Read the compilation of some of those reactions that were posted on TBA electronic forums, social media sites or through individual messages. Log in and add your comments or email them to TBAToday. Arrangements are incomplete but will be announced when available.

Behm, Wurzburg Inducted to Women’s Hall of Fame

Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark recently participated in the induction of six Tennessee women into the state’s Women's Hall of Fame, including two lawyers. Those inducted were attorneys Margaret Behm and Jocelyn Wurzburg, Dr. Wilsie Bishop, Inez Crutchfield, Dr. Shirley Raines and the Rev. Becca Stevens. The honor is bestowed by the Tennessee Economic Council on Women to those whose lives reflect exceptional accomplishments and devotion to improving the economic status of women and girls in Tennessee. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more.

Elvis’s IP Rights Sold

Authentic Brands Group, a New York City intellectual property corporation, has bought Elvis Presley’s intellectual property and the right to operate Graceland from CORE Media Group, becoming the latest of four companies to own a majority share in the intellectual property assets of the late Memphis entertainer. Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, continues to own Graceland and the artifacts of her father’s life, The Memphis Daily News reports. Authentic Brands will work with the licensing and merchandising rights, which come with a library of images, artworks, movie posters, recordings of Presley’s music and his television appearances.

Rainey Kizer Names New President

Dale Thomas, a partner in the law firm of Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC, will succeed John Burleson to become the firm’s next president Jan. 1, the Memphis Daily News reports. Thomas has been associated with Rainey Kizer since graduating with honors from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1988. 

DCS Seeks Budget Increase for More Caseworkers

A federal court order that requires the Department of Children’s Services to limit the caseloads of foster care workers has encouraged agency officials to propose a $2 million increase in state dollars next year to hire and train more child protective services workers. As the number of children coming into foster care continues to climb, DCS plans to hire 45 more caseworkers, give them additional training and equip them with computer tablets to better documents child abuse and neglect cases in the field. The Tennessean has the story.

Supreme Court to Allow NSA Phone Surveillance

The U.S. Supreme Court will allow the National Security Agency’s surveillance of domestic telephone communication records to continue for now, CNN reports. Without comment yesterday, the justices rejected an appeal from privacy rights group The Electronic Privacy Information Center, which filed its petition directly with the high court claiming a secret federal court improperly authorized the government to collect electronic records.

Rutherford County Mayor to Seek Third Term

Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess announced yesterday that he will seek re-election in 2014 for a third four-year term. During an interview at his office at the County Courthouse in Murfreesboro, the 74-year-old Republican said he decided to run again to help the county of 275,00 people complete projects to respond to growth, such as the new judicial building. The Daily News Journal has the story.

Deputy DA to Run for Criminal Court Judge

Deputy district attorney Gary McKenzie announced his candidacy for criminal court judge for the 13th Judicial District, a seat currently held by Judge Leon Burns, who is not seeking re-election. McKenzie serves as the lead prosecutor of homicide and violent crimes in Cumberland, White and Dekalb counties. He is also a captain in the Army National Guard as an attorney serving as both a prosecutor for the military, as well as defense counsel for soldiers. MySpartaNews has more.

Early Voting Ends in Shelby County

Early voting in the last elections of 2013 in Shelby County ended Saturday with more than 7,500 Memphians casting early votes in the citywide referendum on a half percent sales tax hike. More than 1,000 voted in the special general election for Tennessee House District 91, the other race on the Memphis ballot within a smaller area of Memphis. Election day in both races is Thursday. The Memphis Daily News has the story.

Murfreesboro Lawyer Disbarred

Derek A. Artrip was disbarred Nov. 14 by the Tennessee Supreme Court. In 2012, Artrip was temporarily suspended for failure to respond to two disciplinary complaints of misconduct for abandonment of practice and neglect of client matters. Although he sought reinstatement, Artrip failed to meet the conditions of reinstatement and, therefore, he has remained on suspension since that time. Download the BPR notice.

Alabama Lawyer Disbarred

Lance William Parr of Birmingham, Ala., was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Nov. 18. Parr had been suspended from practicing law before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee for neglecting his cases, failing to communicate with his clients and opposing counsel, failing to protect his clients interests, demonstrating incompetence and abandoning his practice. Download BPR notice

TBA Offers CLE Your Way

Remember to use the three hours of free CLE programming that comes with your TBA membership. Members can use this credit to cover all or part of the cost of live programs across the state, weekly webcasts or any of the 300-plus online courses offered in both video and text formats. Find a course 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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