Wade: Quality Work Motivated Defense of Judges

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade says he does not believe politics was involved in the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission’s tentative recommendation against new terms for three appellate court judges and wants to make sure no one thinks he is injecting politics into the mix, Humphrey on the Hill writes in a blog post today. As previously reported, Wade defended three judges set to receive negative recommendations, saying they have done “quality work” and deserve new terms. Since initially making those comments, Wade says he and Charles Susano Jr. -- who spoke out in support of one of the three -- have been accused of “injecting politics” into the situation. “Neither Charlie nor I believe this is a partisan issue,” he said. “We know there was some rational basis for each of the decisions [the members of the commission] made...I have never seen a commission more prepared than this one was for making its recommendations...They have done a very difficult job in a relatively short period of time.”

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.

02 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
06 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - 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









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TN Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


CHRISTINE STEVENS EX REL. MARK STEVENS v. HICKMAN COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE SERVICES, INC. ET AL.
With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Joshua L. Hunter and Kara Beth Hunter, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Estate of Halford Whitaker, M.D.

C. Bennett Harrison, Jr. and Brian W. Holmes, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Hickman Community Health Care Services, Inc. d/b/a Hickman Community Hospital.

Richard D. Piliponis and Michael Reed Griffin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Christine Stevens, Next of Kin of Mark Stevens, deceased, and on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries of Mark Stevens.

Judge: LEE

More than sixty days before filing suit, the plaintiff gave written notice to the potential defendants of her healthcare liability claim against them. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26- 121(a)(2)(E) (2012) requires that a plaintiff’s pre-suit notice include a HIPAA compliant medical authorization that permits the healthcare provider receiving the notice to obtain complete medical records from every other provider that is being sent a notice. Contrary to the statute, the plaintiff provided a non-HIPAA compliant medical authorization that only permitted the release of medical records to plaintiff’s counsel. After the plaintiff filed suit, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint based on noncompliance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E). The trial court denied the motion, ruling that plaintiff’s noncompliance was excused by extraordinary cause. We hold that the plaintiff was required to substantially comply with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) and failed to do so, and that her failure to comply is not excused by extraordinary cause. We dismiss the plaintiff’s case without prejudice.


TN Court of Appeals

LOUIS W. ADAMS v. MEGAN ELIZABETH LEAMON ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Dan Channing Stanley and Eric B. Foust, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Louis W. Adams.

Paul Campbell, III, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Megan Elizabeth Leamon and Cynthia Karlette Leamon.

Nathan Evans, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

Judge: FRIERSON

This is a motor vehicle accident case wherein the jury’s verdict resulted in an award of compensatory damages to the plaintiff of $317,000.00. The defendants filed a motion seeking a new trial or, in the alternative, a remittitur of the amount of damages awarded. The trial court granted the remittitur, finding that the damages awarded by the jury were excessive and unsupported by the evidence. The trial court also ruled that if the plaintiff rejected the remittitur, a new trial would be awarded. The plaintiff accepted the remittitur under protest, subsequently filing the instant appeal. We vacate the trial court’s judgment and remand this case for a new trial solely on the issue of damages.


SPENCER D. LAND ET AL. v. JOHN L. DIXON ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Everett L. Hixson, Jr., Phillip E. Fleenor, and Adam U. Holland, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellants, Spencer D. Land and Action Building and Development, LLC.

James T. Williams and Zachary H. Greene, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, John L. Dixon, John Dixon and Associates, Inc., and Henry B. Glascock dba The Henry B. Glascock Company.

Judge: SUSANO

The plaintiffs – purchasers of a tract of land at auction – brought this action alleging professional negligence in the conduct of the auction, misrepresentation, and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (“the TCPA”). The trial court dismissed the complaint, finding that it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. On plaintiffs’ first appeal, we affirmed the dismissal of the misrepresentation and TCPA claims. Land v. Dixon, No. E2004-03019-COA-R3-CV, 2005 WL 1618743 (Tenn. Ct. App. E.S., filed July 12, 2005) (“Land I”). We vacated the dismissal of the claim for professional negligence, and remanded the case for trial of that issue. After remand, the trial court granted the defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment and their subsequent motion in limine, holding that plaintiffs were precluded, under our holding in Land I, from presenting evidence of the defendants’ alleged misrepresentations as an aspect of their professional negligence claim. The jury returned a verdict for the defendants on the professional negligence claim. In this second appeal, we hold the trial court did not err in its ruling excluding evidence of misrepresentations and in limiting the negligence claim of the plaintiffs to the conduct of the defendants in their capacity as auctioneers. We further find no prejudicial error in the trial court’s jury charge regarding comparative fault and auctioneer discretion. We affirm the trial court’s judgment based on the jury verdict.


JOHNNY PYLE v. BETTY MULLINS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Donna Keene Holt, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Johnny Pyle.

Brian H. Trammell, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Betty Mullins.

Judge: SUSANO

Johnny Pyle sued Betty Mullins for personal injuries sustained in a three-vehicle accident.1 Mullins admitted liability. The issue of damages was tried to a jury. At the close of the proof, the jury returned a verdict awarding Pyle $15,000 in compensatory damages. The trial court, in its role as the thirteenth juror, affirmed the verdict. Pyle appeals. He claims the verdict should be set aside because of a lack of material evidence to support the verdict, erroneous evidentiary rulings, and the failure of the court to instruct the jury regarding a preexisting condition. On our review, we conclude that there is no reversible error. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


H. JEWELL TINDELL ET AL. v. CALLIE A. WEST ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Callie A. West, Knoxville, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

James M. Cornelius, Jr., and James P. Moneyhun, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, H. Jewell Tindell.

Judge: SUSANO

This is the second appeal in this boundary line dispute between neighbors. Following (1) the original trial, (2) the release of our opinion in the first appeal, and (3) the subsequent issuance of the mandate, the defendants, husband and wife, filed a motion “to void or set aside the judgment” pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02. The trial court denied the motion. The defendant Callie A. West appeals, raising issues regarding the propriety of the court’s earlier trial rulings. We hold that defendant Mrs. West waived these issues, either by failing to raise them at the first trial, or by failing to raise them in the first appeal. We affirm the trial court’s judgment that Mrs. West has not established a Rule 60.02 ground for relief from the final judgment.


ELIZABETH KAY TOMES v. MICHAEL JOE TOMES

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Roger Alan Maness, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elizabeth Kay Tomes.

Sharon T. Massey, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Michael Joe Tomes.

Judge: BENNETT

In this divorce case, Wife appeals the trial court’s determination that she was not entitled to an award of alimony. We find the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to award alimony and affirm the trial court.


SCOTT J. WEXLER v. JAMES REED, JR. ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Scott J. Wexler, Brighton, Michigan, appellant, pro se.

No appearance by or on behalf of the appellees, James Reed, Jr., and Robert Rankin.

Judge: SUSANO

Scott J. Wexler sued James Reed, Jr., and Robert Rankin in the General Sessions Court for Knox County to recover damages based on an alleged fraudulent sale of goods. The general sessions court awarded a judgment in Wexler’s favor in the amount of $2,000, the purchase price of the goods, plus costs. Defendants appealed to the trial court. After a bench trial, the court awarded a judgment in favor of Wexler, but reduced the amount to $1,025 including interest. Wexler appeals. We modify the judgment to reinstate the award 1 of $2,000 plus costs.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MORRIS WAYNE ADCOCK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

G. Frank Lannom and Melanie R. Bean, for the Defendant-Appellant.

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

Judge: MCMULLEN

Defendant-Appellant, Morris Wayne Adcock, was indicted by a Davidson County Grand Jury for aggravated assault and domestic assault. A jury convicted him of the lesser included offense of simple assault and the charged offense of domestic assault, Class A misdemeanors. The trial court merged the simple assault conviction with the domestic assault conviction and sentenced Adcock to eleven months and twenty-nine days in the county jail. On appeal, Adcock argues: (1) the trial court erred in failing to rule on the defense’s objection to one of the prosecutor’s questions to Joshua Jernigan; (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct; (3) the cumulative effect of the errors entitles him to relief; and (4) his sentence is excessive. Upon review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TRAVIS LEE DOBSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William B. Bullock (at guilty plea and sentencing), Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and Caleb B. McCain (on appeal), Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for appellant, Travis Lee Dobson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Trevor H. Lynch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Travis Lee Dobson, pled guilty to one count of vehicular homicide as a Range I, standard offender, and the trial court imposed twelve years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by imposing the maximum sentence and by denying any form of alternative sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


GARY WAYNE GARRETT v. AVRIL CHAPMAN, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gary Wayne Garrett, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to dismiss or in the alternative to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Petitioner, Gary Wayne Garrett, has appealed the Wayne County Circuit Court order dismissing his second petition for writ of habeas corpus in which Petitioner alleged that the trial court failed to order mandatory pre-trial jail credits. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court was correct in dismissing the petition and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CLAY STUART GREGORY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael J. Flanagan (at trial), William D. Massey and Joseph A. McClusky (on appeal).

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Dan M. Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Margaret F. Sagi and Lisa Donegan, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Clay Stuart Gregory, was convicted by a Humphreys County jury of aggravated robbery, first degree felony murder, and premeditated first degree murder. The first degree murder convictions merged into a single conviction for which the trial court sentenced the Defendant to life in prison. The trial court then sentenced the Defendant to eight years for aggravated robbery to be served concurrently to his life sentence. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) the trial court erred when it refused to grant the Defendant’s recusal motion; and (3) the trial court improperly denied the Defendant’s motion to suppress. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


QUAMINE JONES v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

R. Todd Mosley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Quamine Jones.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Alexia Crump, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Quamine Jones, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder by a Shelby County jury. See State v. Quamine Jones, No. W2007-01111-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 4963516, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App, at Jackson, Nov. 21, 2008), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Apr. 27, 2009). Petitioner’s conviction was affirmed on direct appeal, and the supreme court denied permission to appeal. Id. Petitioner later sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing on the petition, the post-conviction court denied relief. Petitioner appeals, challenging the denial of post-conviction relief. After a review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court because Petitioner has failed to demonstrate that the record preponderates against the post-conviction court’s findings. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEENAN SCOTT MCNEAL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk, for the Defendant-Appellant, Keenan Scott McNeal.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Matthew Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant, Keenan Scott McNeal, was convicted by a Blount County jury of possession of 0.5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine with intent to sell or distribute within 1,000 feet of a child care facility, a Class B felony, and received a sentence of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction. Upon our review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANTONIO MARQUES PEEBLES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal); and Chad Hindman and J. Michael Engle (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antonio Marques Peebles.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle L. Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn and Megan King, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Antonio Marques Peebles, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court jury conviction of aggravated robbery, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the statements he made to law enforcement officers and the evidence obtained following his arrest, that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and that the sentence imposed was excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. STANLEY ROOKS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen Bush, Chief Public Defender and Tony N. Brayton, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stanley Rooks.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Charles Summer, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Stanley Rooks, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of attempted aggravated robbery, and one count of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of thirty-four years. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions because the identification by the victim was not reliable. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Judge: Senate Rules Change Means 'Severe' Harm for Courts

Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson IV says the Senate’s decision to eliminate filibusters for most judicial nominees will have a severe impact on the federal judiciary. Writing in the Washington Post's opinion section yesterday, Wilkinson, argues it is important to maintain a bipartisan confirmation process to “keep the courts above political rancor.” Under the new rules, he writes, “Even those with the most rigid and absolute beliefs can spend a lifetime on the federal bench without a scintilla of bipartisan support." Wilkinson was among the finalists then President George W. Bush considered for the U.S. Supreme Court.


Conservator Argues for ‘Absolute Judicial Immunity’

Ginger Franklin, who testified at one of the TBA’s hearings on conservatorship abuses last fall, has sued her former court-appointed conservator Jeanan Stuart, WSMV reports. The court appointed Stuart after Franklin suffered a brain injury in 2008. After Franklin recovered, she found Stuart had allowed her condo to go into foreclosure, liquidated the contents of her home and allowed her car to be towed and sold at auction. In 2010, Franklin won a two-year fight to free herself from the conservatorship. Now, she is suing Stuart in civil court for damages. Stuart's attorney, Bill Hubbard, argued during a motion hearing that Stuart should not be held liable, arguing she has immunity because she was working under the court's direction. "Conservators are entitled to absolute judicial immunity," Hubbard told Circuit Court Judge Hamilton Gayden.


Trooper Disciplined After Blocking Judge from Courthouse

A Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper has retired after facing discipline for stopping Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Camille McMullen from entering the state Supreme Court building in June, Knoxnews reports. Trooper Brent Gobbell, who had four prior disciplinary actions on his record, was reprimanded and docked a day’s pay. According to an official discipline memo from Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons, Gobbell demonstrated “an utter disregard” for proper procedures in rejecting the judge’s identification card.


DA: Lawyer in Vanderbilt Rape Case Destroyed Evidence

The Nashville district attorney's office on Friday accused Albert Perez Jr. -- who is representing Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg on rape charges -- of destroying evidence in the case. As first reported in the Nashville Scene, the DA's motion alleges that two witnesses said the California attorney “was directly involved with the destruction or attempted destruction of evidence in this case." The DA also filed a motion to disqualify Perez as Vandenburg's lawyer. Last week, Perez accused the DA of withholding evidence needed to prepare for trial.


Court to Hear 6 New Cases

The Tennessee Supreme Court has granted review to six new cases. Among the civil questions it will consider are those seeking clarification about the pre-suit notice in health care liability cases, jury instruction regarding foreseeability limited to the day of the event, and construction of the Tennessee Human Rights Act. New criminal cases granted review include the standard for ineffective assistance claims, inconsistent/mutually exclusive verdicts regarding merger of offenses, and waiver of lesser-included offense instructions. The new issue of the Raybin-Perky Hotlist reviews the cases and offers predictions as to how each may be decided.


Lay Announces Campaign for Circuit Judge

Knoxville attorney Patti Jane Lay today announced her candidacy for Fourth Circuit judge. She will run as a candidate in the May 2014 Republican primary. "I have been thinking about this decision for some time, and I concluded I would like the chance to contribute my experience, especially to helping children and families who are going through difficult times," Lay said. The court hears family law matters such as divorce, orders of protection and appeals from juvenile court. For the past 10 years, Lay has served as special master for the court. She previously practiced law in Knoxville.


Nashville’s Mondelli Announces Re-election Bid

Davidson County General Sessions Judge Michael F. Mondelli announced today that he is running for re-election. He currently is completing his third eight-year term, which has included three stints as presiding judge. In making the announcement, Mondelli touted his work centralizing the process of seeking after-hour search warrants and his service as president of the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference and chair of the Justice Integration Services (JIS) agency, which provides computer services and technology support for Nashville’s court system.


Challengers Surface in 2 Williamson Judicial Races

Voters may see several candidates for two of Williamson County's judicial seats in the May primary election, The Tennessean reports. On the first day candidates could obtain qualifying petitions, Waller attorney Joseph “Woody” Woodruff picked up a petition to run for Division I Circuit Court, which currently is held by Robbie Beal. On the same day, Franklin city judge Murrey “Tom” Taylor picked up papers to run for the General Sessions Court seat held by Ernie Williams. Williams was named to the post last month after Judge Al Nations retired. He has said he will not stand for election.


Juvenile Clerk Announces Intent to Run

Hamilton County Juvenile Court Clerk Gary Behler announced last week that he would seek re-election to the post, Chattanoogan.com reports. Behler argued he has a strong track record, bringing greater fiscal responsibility, enhanced customer service and increased efficiencies to the office. Saying there is more work to be done, however, he also laid out plans for the future including remote video hearings for those incarcerated at county facilities and e-filing for attorneys practicing in juvenile court.


2 Additional Inactive Lawyers Suspended

Two inactive lawyers were suspended on Friday for failure to pay their annual inactive fee. Download the order or see the list of all those suspended and reinstated to date.


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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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