TJC Puts Bonnyman in Hot Seat to Raise Funds

Gordon Bonnyman was in the hot seat as friends and foes alike took turns sharing stories and poking fun at the Tennessee Justice Center co-founder during a roast/fund raiser Tuesday night in Nashville. With emcee Phil Williams starting the fun, the roast was on. Featured roasters were Stewart Clifton, former Tennessee Gov. Sundquist (below), Allston VanderHorst, Dana Dye, former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, Matt Wiltshire and Michele Johnson. See photos from the event.

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
07 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - 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

FREDA BOYCE and MARVELL BOYCE v. LPP MORTGAGE LTD.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Archie Sanders, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Freda Boyce and Marvell Boyce.

Cannon F. Allen and J. Bennett Fox, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, LPP Mortgage LTD.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case involves the application of the doctrine of res judicata. The parties previously engaged in litigation in the General Sessions Court regarding possession of a foreclosed property. The homeowners attempted to assert that the mortgage company did not have proper title to the property prior to initiating foreclosure proceedings. The parties and the trial court all apparently concluded that the General Sessions Court lacked jurisdiction to inquire into the merits of the title based on Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-18-119. Accordingly, the General Sessions Court entered judgment in favor of the mortgage company. The homeowners subsequently filed an action in the Chancery Court, alleging that the mortgage company committed fraud in foreclosing the property because it had not acquired proper title to the property. The Appellee, having hired a new attorney, asserted that the issue should have been alleged as a defense to the General Sessions Court action, and was, therefore, barred by the doctrine of res judicata. The Chancery Court agreed and dismissed the homeowners’ action on the basis of res judicata. We affirm and remand.


ASHLEY HAYES v. BARRIE CUNNINGHAM

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey O. Powell, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Barrie Cunningham.

Harold Frederick Humbracht, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Ashley Hayes.

Judge: BENNETT

Singer brought action for breach of contract against musical tribute show Producer. Producer did not attend trial and his counsel moved to withdraw immediately prior to trial. The court heard Singer’s evidence and entered judgment in Singer’s favor. Producer retained new counsel and moved for a new trial on the basis of excusable neglect. The trial court denied the motion for a new trial and Producer appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.


WILLARD HARRISON IMAN, JR. v. MEGAN BLANCHFIELD IMAN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Sharon T. Massey, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Willard Harrison Iman, Jr.

Mark A. Rassas and Julia P. North, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Megan Blanchfield Iman.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case involves post-divorce modification of a parenting schedule. Mother sought modification of the schedule after moving to Florida to be nearer to Father and the minor child. The trial court considered the case and modified the schedule to allow Mother more time with the child. Father appeals, arguing that the trial court no longer had jurisdiction to hear the dispute, that the trial court should have declined jurisdiction on the basis of forum non conveniens, that Mother failed to prove a material change in circumstances, and that the modification was not in the child’s best interests. We affirm the trial court’s rulings with regard to jurisdiction, application of the forum non conveniens doctrine, and a material change in circumstances. However, because the trial court failed to make a finding that modification was in the child’s best interests, we vacate the remainder of the order and remand to the trial court for the entry of an order containing appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law as to whether modification is in the child’s best interests. Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.


IN RE: ADOPTION OF JORDAN F. J.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Brandon L. Newman, Trenton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony A. and Laurie A.

No attorney listed for appellee.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a termination of parental rights and adoption case. The trial court granted Appellee/Father’s motion for involuntary dismissal at the conclusion of Appellants’ proof. Because the trial court failed to make the required findings of fact and conclusions of law under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.02(2), and because we are unable to determine the trial court’s reasoning from the record, we vacate and remand.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE V. ANGELO JOHN AMALIO, ALIAS ANGELO GUSTAVO AMALIO

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Hilary Hodgkins (on appeal) and Andrew D. Watts (at plea and restitution hearings), Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Angelo John Amalio.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Jason Demastus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Angelo John Amalio, alias Angelo Gustavo Amalio (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of public intoxication. The plea agreement provided that the Defendant would serve an effective sentence of five years to be suspended to supervised probation following service of eleven months, twenty-nine days’ incarceration, with restitution to be determined by the trial court. After the restitution hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to pay $3,600 in restitution to the victim. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the amount of restitution imposed by the trial court and claims that the trial court failed to consider the Defendant’s ability to pay. Upon a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RANDALL CAGLE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kenneth D. Quillen (on appeal) and Dale M. Quillen (at hearing), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randall Cagle.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle L. Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Kate Yeager, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Randall Cagle, pled guilty to four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class D felony, and was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to an effective sentence of eight years, suspended to supervised probation. As a condition of his guilty plea, the defendant attempted to reserve a certified question of law pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure regarding the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized during the search of his residence. After review, we conclude that the certified question is overly broad and, as a result, this court is without jurisdiction to consider the appeal. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.


VERLIN RALPH DURHAM V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Verlin Ralph Durham, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Tony Clark, District Attorney General; and David Crockett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Verlin Ralph Durham, appeals the dismissal of his petition for the writ of habeas corpus. The petitioner is currently serving a life sentence in the Department of Correction following his first degree murder conviction. On appeal, he contends that the dismissal of the petition was error because the indictment in his case was facially void and that his conviction is illegal because he was convicted pursuant to a prior repealed statute. Following review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.


JARRON DEONTÉ KING v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kara Everett, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jarron Deonté King.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Rob McGuire and Sarah Davis, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Jarron Deonté King (“the Petitioner”) pleaded guilty to one count of second degree murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, three counts of attempted especially aggravated robbery, and one count of aggravated assault. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of twenty-seven years’ incarceration. The Petitioner subsequently filed for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied following an evidentiary hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in conjunction with his plea submission hearing and that his plea was constitutionally invalid. Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. HAROLD LYONS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Harold Lyons.

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

Judge: THOMAS

In May 2010, the Defendant, Harold Lyons, was indicted for possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and selling less than .5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, a Class B felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-417, -425, -432. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia and the lesser-included offense of facilitation of the sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine, a Class D felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-11-403. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range III, persistent offender, to an effective ten-year sentence to be served in confinement. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for facilitation of the sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine and (2) that the trial court erred by denying the Defendant’s request for an alternative sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


BRANDON OSTEIN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

C. Dudley Lightsey, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brandon Ostein.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Brandon Ostein, pleaded guilty to possession of over 300 grams of cocaine with intent to sell in a drug-free school zone. In accordance with petitioner’s plea agreement, the trial court imposed the minimum sentence of fifteen years to be served at one hundred percent in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Petitioner filed the current petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel: (1) failed to communicate with petitioner prior to his entering the guilty plea and (2) failed to properly advise him regarding his sentencing range. He further argues that these errors, compounded with the trial court’s failure to inform him of the applicable range of punishment, rendered his guilty plea involuntary. Following our review of the parties’ arguments, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TYLER JAMES REED

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Margaret E. Garner and Carrie W. Gasaway (on appeal); John E. Herbison, Edward T. Farmer, and Fletcher W. Long (at trial), Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tyler James Reed.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Lawrence Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and C. Ronald Blanton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Tyler James Reed, stands convicted of felony murder committed in the perpetration of a burglary, aggravated burglary, and employment of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court sentenced him to life in prison for the murder conviction, six years for the aggravated burglary conviction, and six years for the firearm conviction, with all sentences to be served consecutively in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, appellant argues that (1) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress all of the statements he made on October 30, 2009, and the physical evidence obtained as a result of those statements; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support the murder and aggravated burglary convictions; (3) the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury regarding self-defense and voluntary intoxication; and (4) he is entitled to a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. Following our careful review of the record, the arguments of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Enforceability of Private Act Creating DeKalb County Democratic Party Executive Committee

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-11-19

Opinion Number: 90


Supreme Court Applies Term Limits to 2 Commissions

The Tennessee Supreme Court filed two orders today. The first amends Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, Section 12.01 to impose three-year term limits on members of the Board of Law Examiners. The second order amends Rule 31, Section 19 to impose three-year term limits on members of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission. It also formalizes the practice of limiting the commission chair to a two-year term. Download the orders at the links above.


Court Seeks Comments on Changes to CLE Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court filed an order yesterday soliciting comments on amendments to Supreme Court Rule 21, which have been proposed by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Education. Comments should be filed by March 20, 2014. Download the order, petition and appendix.


Couples Suing for Marriage Equality File Petition for Protection

Four legally married same-sex couples, who recently filed a federal lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s refusal to respect their marriages, today asked the district court for immediate protection of their families while the lawsuit proceeds. The petitioners argue such an order is necessary because the state’s refusal to respect their marriages is putting their families at risk of serious harm. The four couples filed suit on Oct. 21, arguing that Tennessee laws prohibiting recognition of their marriages violate the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection, due process and the right to travel between and move to other states. The case is being handled locally by Nashville lawyers Abby Rubenfeld, William Harbison, Scott Hickman, Phil Cramer and John Farringer; Memphis lawyer Maureen Holland; and Knoxville lawyer Regina Lambert with support from the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Read more in a press release from the group or download the motion for preliminary injunction and supporting memo.


7 Tenn. Lawyers Admitted to U.S. Supreme Court

Seven Tennessee lawyers were admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court during admission ceremonies last week in Washington, D.C. The annual event, known as TBA Academy, is two-day program that includes continuing legal education seminars, a tour of the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol, and the swearing in ceremony. Lawyers admitted were Daniel Berexa, Molly Glover, Gregory Groth, Angela Bolton Rauber, TBA President-elect Jonathan O. Steen, David Veile and District Attorney General Randy York. See photos from the event.


DOJ: Bankers Need to Do More to Clean Up Profession

The U.S. Department of Justice’s second in command, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, told a group of bankers and lawyers gathered at a money laundering conference that too many financial institutions have failed in their duty to ensure that businesses are run cleanly. "Despite years of admonitions by government officials that compliance must be an important part of a corporation's culture, we continue to see significant violations of law at banks, inadequate compliance programs, and missed opportunities to prevent and detect crimes," he said. The comments come amid an international probe into possible manipulation of foreign exchange rates. "You will be hearing more about these investigations," Cole said. Read more in the Memphis Daily News.


Study: Inconsistent Rape Data Creates Confusion

Sexual assault incidents are badly underreported and poorly counted, a new national study concludes. The review, by the National Research Council, examined various methods of counting assaults and found conflicting results. These discrepancies, according to the researchers, create confusion among the public, law enforcement, policy makers and advocacy groups, and limit the ability of support service agencies to help victims. The study concluded that some 80 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, but recommended ways to improve data collection of these cases. The Tennessean has more.


Reminder: Comments on Judge Bryant Due Dec. 2

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee is seeking comments from members of the bar and the public as to whether U.S. Magistrate Judge John S. Bryant should be recommended for reappointment to a new eight-year term. Bryant's current term will expire on Aug. 2, 2014. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. Central time on Dec. 2. They may be submitted via email to Keith Throckmorton, the court clerk, or by mail to Clerk of Court, Estes Kefauver Federal Courthouse, 801 Broadway, Room 800, Nashville, TN 37203. Read the details in the public notice.


Former Presidential Hopeful Returns to Lawyering

Former U.S. Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards reactivated his license in May and, according to a CNN affiliate, will return to the practice of law in his native North Carolina. WCYB reports that Edwards and David Kirby (who joined Edwards in forming a law firm in 1993) have opened Edwards Kirby in Raleigh. The announcement is Edwards’ first public move since being acquitted of campaign finance charges last year and weathering a messy divorce. Edwards, who says he “was born to” practice law, plans to expand his scope this time around to include cases of social injustice. The firm reports that in addition to personal injury claims, it is working on several bad faith insurance, price fixing and discrimination cases.


Visitation for Paine Set for Sunday Afternoon

Friends of Donald F. Paine will be received at Mann Heritage Chapel, 6200 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919, on Sunday (Nov. 24), from 2 to 4 p.m. Burial will be at a private service at Old Gray Cemetery. Paine died early Monday morning (Nov. 18) at the age of 74. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Legal Aid of East Tennessee, 502 S. Gay St., Suite 404, Knoxville 37902. Read more about Paine's life in this press release from his firm, Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers, or read remembrances from those who worked with him, learned from him, served under his leadership at the TBA in 1986-1987, or benefited from his friendship.


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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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