TJC Foundation Seeks Donations for Paine Scholarship

In honor of the late Don Paine, the Tennessee Judicial Conference Foundation is accepting donations for the Donald Franklin Paine Scholarship. The scholarship is the organization’s largest endowment and rotates annually among students at each of the law schools in Tennessee. In a recent email, foundation president and retired judge Eddie Beckner encouraged Tennessee judges and lawyers to honor Paine's memory with a contribution to the fund. Those wishing to donate, should make checks payable to the Tennessee Judicial Conference Foundation and mail them to the attention of Suzanne Keith, Treasurer, 1903 Division St., Nashville, TN 37203.

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
07 - 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

JAMES BEVELS, SR. V. ALMA TUBBS AND DANNY TUBBS V. MID-SOUTH FLOORING, LLC, AND BRANDY BENARD AND DANNY BENARD, JR., INDIVIDUALLY AND D/B/A MID-SOUTH FLOORING, LLC

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Gary K. Smith and Ellen E. Fite, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendants/Counter- Plaintiffs/Third-Party Plaintiffs/Appellants, Alma Tubbs and Danny Tubbs.

John P. Wade, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellee, James Bevels, Sr.

Kevin D. Bernstein, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Third-Party Defendants/Appellees, Mid- South Flooring, LLC, and Brandy Benard and Danny Benard, Jr., individually and d/b/a Mid- South Flooring, LLC.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Joe Shirley, Senior Counsel, for the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee in defense of the constitutionality of Tennessee Code Annotated § 16-15-732(e).

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves removal from general sessions court to circuit court. The defendant tenants rented residential property from the plaintiff property owner. The owner filed a civil warrant in general sessions court against the tenants for unpaid rent. The tenants filed an application in the general sessions court to remove the case to circuit court; they asserted that the counterclaim they anticipated filing would exceed the jurisdictional limits of the general sessions court. The general sessions court granted the application for removal, the tenants filed their counterclaim in the circuit court, and the case proceeded in the circuit court for over two years. The circuit court then issued a sua sponte order directing the parties to show cause why the case should not be remanded to the general sessions court, because the removal statute does not apply in that county and because the tenants did not file a cost bond when the case was removed. The tenants objected to the remand on several grounds and alternatively asked the circuit court to retain jurisdiction over the counterclaim even if it remanded the original claim to general sessions court. The circuit court remanded the original claim to general sessions court holding, inter alia, that the tenants failed to file a proper cost bond in connection with the removal. It then held that the counterclaim and all other pleadings filed in the case were “null and void” and dismissed the counterclaim on that basis. The tenants now appeal. We reverse the circuit court’s decision that the tenants failed to file a proper bond, vacate that portion of the circuit court’s order declaring that all proceedings other than the original claim were a nullity, and remand for reconsideration in light of Rules 13.09 and Rule 42.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.


PATSY R. COWART, ET AL. v. LINDA M. HAMMONTREE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Sarah E. Kennedy, Athens, Tennessee, for the appellant, Linda M. Hammontree.

Russell J. Blair, Athens, Tennessee, for the appellees, Patsy R. Cowart, Debbie Buff, and David Buff.

Judge: SWINEY

Patsy Reba Cowart, Debbie Buff, and David Buff (collectively “Plaintiffs”) sued Linda M. Hammontree to establish a boundary line and quiet title on a parcel of real property located in McMinn County, Tennessee. Ms. Hammontree answered and filed a counterclaim for trespass and slander of title, among other things. After trial, the Trial Court entered judgment finding and holding, inter alia, that Plaintiffs had superior title to the disputed real property. Ms. Hammontree appeals to this Court raising issues regarding whether the Trial Court erred in finding that Plaintiffs rebutted Ms. Hammontree’s presumption of ownership pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-2-109, and whether the Trial Court erred in dismissing Ms. Hammontree’s claim for slander of title. We find and hold that the evidence preponderates against the finding that Plaintiffs rebutted Ms. Hammontree’s presumption of ownership, but that the Trial Court did not err in dismissing Ms. Hammontree’s claim for slander of title. We reverse, in part, and affirm, in part.


JACK STEVENS V. KARNS VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

W. Tyler Chastain and Margo J. Maxwell, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Jack Stevens and Emmett G. Stevens, Jr.

Jack Warner Piper, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Karns Volunteer Fire Department.

Judge: MCCLARTY

This is a declaratory judgment action in which Plaintiffs sought the return of property that had been donated to the Karns Volunteer Fire Department (“Fire Department”). Plaintiffs alleged that a reversionary clause in the warranty deed had been triggered when Fire Department began paying firefighters and charging subscription fees for its services. The parties filed competing motions for summary judgment. The trial court determined that the reversionary clause had not been triggered and granted Fire Department’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs appeal. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEITH BATES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Edwin Lenow, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Keith Bates.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Kate Edmands, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

A jury convicted the defendant, Keith Bates, of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and he was sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment. The defendant testified that he had been in jail around the time of the crime, and the State then questioned him about the timing of his imprisonment and release. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the trial court’s decision to allow the State to question him about the timing of his release from jail. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude there was no error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


ANITA KAY BROUGHTON V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Thomas J. Tabor, Jr., Tazewell, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anita Kay Broughton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Lori Phillips-Jones, District Attorney General; and Amanda Hathcock Sammons, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Anita Kay Broughton, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and received a sentence of life with the possibility of parole. On appeal, she contends that she received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Specifically, she contends that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to pursue a defense of diminished capacity despite ample proof that the petitioner suffered from a mental condition. She also challenges the accuracy of the post- conviction court’s order denying relief. Following review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TINA B. CARROLL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Martin E. Dunn, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tina B. Carroll.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; and C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Tina B. Carroll, pleaded guilty to promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, a Class D felony, and received a two-year sentence, suspended to supervised probation. A violation of probation warrant was subsequently filed, alleging that she had violated her probation by testing positive for narcotic drugs and marijuana. Appellant now argues that one of the laboratory reports was admitted in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-311(c)(1) and that there is not substantial evidence to support the trial court’s ruling. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEVIN ANTHONY GRAHAM

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard A. Spivey, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Kevin Anthony Graham.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy E. Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Alex Pearson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Kevin Anthony Graham, entered a guilty plea in the Hawkins County Criminal Court to the charged offense of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, a Class C felony, and requested that the trial court grant him judicial diversion or an alternative sentence. The trial court subsequently sentenced Graham to three years’ incarceration. On appeal, Graham argued that the trial court erred in denying (1) judicial diversion and (2) an alternative sentence. After reviewing the record on appeal, we reversed the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing and remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to enter an order sentencing Graham to serve ninety days’ confinement in the Hawkins County Jail with the remainder of his three-year sentence to be served on supervised probation. See State v. Kevin Anthony Graham, No. E2011-01382- CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3594361, at *12 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 22, 2012). The State filed a Rule 11 application, pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, requesting permission to appeal the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court. On January 8, 2013, the Tennessee Supreme Court granted the application and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of State v. Bise, 380 S.W.3d 682 (Tenn. 2012), and State v. Caudle, 388 S.W.3d 273 (Tenn. 2012). Upon reconsideration, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


DERRICK JOHNSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert C. Brooks, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Derrick Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Stephanie Johnson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Derrick Johnson, of first degree murder and aggravated assault. The trial court imposed a life sentence for the first degree murder conviction, with a consecutive six-year sentence for the aggravated assault conviction, to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgements of the trial court. State v. Derrick Johnson, No. W2008-02070-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 3623619, at *10 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Sept. 20, 2010) perm. app.denied (Tenn. Feb. 17, 2011). The Petitioner filed a petition for post- conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER LEWIS
With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Randy Chaffin, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Lewis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; Anthony Craighead and Beth Willis, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Putnam County jury convicted the Defendant, Christopher Lewis, of second degree murder, and the trial court imposed a fifteen-year prison sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court erred by denying the Defendant’s motion to sequester the jury; (3) the trial court erred by admitting photographs of the body of the deceased; and (4) the trial court erred by allowing certain witness testimony. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


BRUCE RELIFORD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael R. Working, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bruce Reliford.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul Goodman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

After his previous guilty-pleaded convictions were vacated, petitioner, Bruce Reliford, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery charges and was found guilty by a jury of felony murder. Following an unsuccessful direct appeal and denial of discretionary review by our supreme court, he filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal follows, in which petitioner alleges the following: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to properly communicate with him; (2) ineffective assistance of counsel by advising him to plead guilty to the aggravated robbery charges; and (3) the post-conviction court’s error in denying his motion to recuse. Following our thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Celebrate Cyber Monday at the TBA

Spend Cyber Monday (Dec. 2) at the TBA for a CLE program on “Old Law New Technology.” Sessions include discussions on Internet technology, intellectual property and related issues, the Global Online Freedom Act, recent ethical issues pertaining to computers and the Internet, and how attorneys can avoid becoming victims of cybercrime and protect their law practice. Lunch will be provided in addition to free Starbucks coffee and free Wifi. Can’t make it in person? Learn more or sign up now for the live webcast. Contact CLE Director Mindy Fulks for more information.


Lawsuits Target Black Friday Phantom Discounts

Beware of Black Friday discounts this holiday season, consumer advocates warn. According to the ABA Journal, unhappy shoppers have filed lawsuits claiming they bought merchandise touting discounts that turned out to be illusory. The Wall Street Journal reports that retailers often set starting retail prices so high that the discounted price will give them the profit margins they want— a strategy that isn’t deceptive according to Federal Trade Commission guidelines. Among the retailers facing suit over alleged phantom discounts are J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Jos A. Banks Clothiers.


Catholic Diocese Sues Feds over Health Reform

The Catholic Diocese of Nashville and other related groups have filed suit against the federal government over health care reform, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The suit argues that the groups do not qualify under the government’s narrow definition of “religious employers” in the guidelines defining exemption from coverage requirements, such as birth-control coverage. The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday agreed to hear arguments from for-profit companies Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., which also are objecting to being forced to provide coverage for contraceptives on religious grounds. 


Commissioner Intends to Maintain Post Despite Criminal Charges

Rutherford County Commissioner Matthew Young said he intends to return to attending commission meetings after missing three while facing criminal charges of domestic assault, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and extortion pertaining to counterfeit Justin Bieber concert tickets. Young, who represents the 16th District in central Murfreesboro, also faces two counts of felony theft charges from police in Nashville. The Daily News Journal has the story.


Judge Clears Way for Airline Merger Completion

U.S. District Court Judge Sean Lane has ruled that this month's settlement of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice did not upset American Airlines’ bankruptcy reorganization plan, which is built around the merger of American Airlines and US Airways into the world’s largest airline. The judge rejected a request by a group of consumers to temporarily block the deal. WRCB Channel 3 has the story.


Holleman Drops out of State Senate Race

Metro Nashville Councilman Jason Holleman announced today that he is dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination for a state Senate seat. The campaign has “given me the opportunity to take stock, to understand the demands that would be placed on me as senator and to recognize that those demands, while necessary for the progress of the state, would be shared by my children and family,” Holleman wrote in an email to supporters. Holleman, an attorney and second-term councilman representing the Sylvan Park area, had been expected to compete in Senate District 21 and face political activist Mary Mancini and attorney Jeff Yarbro for the Democratic nomination to succeed longtime state Sen. Douglas Henry, who plans to retire. The Tennesseean has more.


Investor Lawsuit Allowed to Continue in State Court

The Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday unanimously decided that a lawsuit filed by Jeffrey R. Cooper against a movie start-up could proceed in state court. Cooper’s suit claims Phillip, Richard and David Glasser misrepresented facts to induce him to invest $500,000 in their production company, Hi Def Entertainment. After Cooper requested dismissal of a similar action filed in California and a suit filed in federal court, the defendants sought to block the case based on a federal rule that precludes proceeding on a claim after two dismissals. The high court determined that the voluntary federal dismissals did not address the merits of the case and that the claims raised by Cooper were still viable in state court. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more.


LAET Holiday Open House Nov. 29

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host a holiday Open House Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at 502 South Gay St., Suite 404 in downtown Knoxville. Local lawyers are invited to enjoy the Krutch Park tree lighting at 6 p.m. and then stop by Legal Aid’s office to warm up and enjoy holiday goodies. Admission is free with a business card. Families are welcome! Visit www.laet.org for more information.


TBA Members Save at Office Depot

Save up to 60 percent on office supplies through the TBA's Office Depot benefit program! The TBA has partnered with this top national office supply company to offer discounted pricing for law firms large and small.


 
 

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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