2014 Mock Trial Case Released Today

The problem and rules for the 2014 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition are now available. This year’s problem involves allegations that a hit song climbing the country charts violates the copyright of a song penned by struggling singer-songwriter Jessie Jameson. The infringement suit claims that the hit song is substantially similar to Jameson’s and that the author had access to the work. The defense argues that similarities between the songs are merely scenes à faire – common themes, language and expressions that appear frequently in country songs – and that the defendant did not have access to the work. Witnesses such as Dr. Doe Raymie and Jordan “Catnip” Evergreen, and two songs written and recorded just for the competition, make this year’s case entertaining as well as educational.

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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
05 - 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

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

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

JAMES EVERETT FERRELL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

James Evertt Ferrell, Morrison, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter, Michael Lee Delisle, Mark Alexis Hudson, Assistant Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: COTTRELL

This is an appeal from a decision of the Tennessee Claims Commission dismissing a claim filed by James Ferrell alleging that his pickup truck was unlawfully taken from him. The State of Tennessee has filed a motion to dismiss the appeal for failure to file a timely notice of appeal. Claims Commissioner Hibbitt entered an order dismissing Mr. Ferrell’s claim on September 24, 2012. Mr. Ferrell filed a Motion to Reconsider that was denied on November 21, 2012. On December 3, 2013, Mr. Ferrell filed a Petition for En Banc Hearing. The Claims Commission denied the Petition for En Banc Hearing on February 26, 2013. Mr. Ferrell then filed a Motion to Reconsider En Banc Denial. The Claims Commission denied the Motion to Reconsider En Banc Denial on March 26, 2013. Mr. Ferrell filed his notice of appeal on April 24, 2013.


JASON FERRELL v. ROBERT MILLER and KAYLA IVEY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Herbert M. Schaltegger, Thomas R. Lewis, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jason Ferrell

J. Matthew Miller, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Robert Miller and Kayla Ivey

Judge: HIGHERS

While the defendant spouses were separated and living in separate counties, the defendant driver fatally shot himself during a police pursuit while driving a Toyota 4Runner vehicle which was to be awarded to him in the defendants’ pending divorce. Said vehicle struck the plaintiff, allegedly causing serious injuries. The plaintiff sued the defendant driver alleging negligence, and he sued the defendant spouse on claims of imputed negligence. Much later, the plaintiff sought to amend his complaint to assert a negligent entrustment claim against the defendant spouse. Because the plaintiff failed to have appointed, to substitute, and to serve an administrator ad litem prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, the trial court dismissed the negligence claims against the deceased defendant driver and the imputed negligence claims against the defendant spouse. It implicitly denied the plaintiff’s motion to amend. We affirm the circuit court’s dismissal of the claims against the deceased defendant driver and its dismissal of the imputed negligence claims against the defendant spouse; however, we remand for consideration of the request to add a negligent entrustment claim against the defendant spouse and for express findings.


IN RE JESSE J. C., ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Gary W. Wicks, Sr., Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jesse J. C., Sr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter and Mary Byrd Ferrara, Assistant Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.

Judge: DINKINS

Father appeals the trial court’s holding that termination of his parental rights to two children was in the best interest of the children. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


WILLIAM DAVID RUSSELL v. MARY BETH RUSSELL

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Christopher J. Pittman, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William David Russell.

Mark R. Olson, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mary Beth Russell.

Judge: FRIERSON

In this action, the trial court granted Wife a divorce on fault-based grounds against Husband and awarded $1,500.00 monthly in transitional alimony to Wife for a period of thirty-six months. Husband appeals. Determining the amount of alimony to be beyond Husband’s ability to pay, we modify the transitional alimony award to $1,000.00 monthly to Wife for thirty-six months. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM JAMAL HARRIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Alan R. Webb (at trial) and Lanni Marchant (on appeal), Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Jamal Harris.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Neal Pinkston, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, William Jamal Harris, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probationary sentences, contending that the State failed to adduce sufficient proof that the appellant committed new offenses. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


CLARENCE D. SCHREANE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Clarence D. Schreane, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Clarence D. Schreane, acting pro se, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s summary denial of habeas corpus relief. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Confidentiality of Department of Children’s Services Complaints

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-11-27

Opinion Number: 93


Clerk's Fee Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-4-105(g) Related to Motor Vehicles

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-11-27

Opinion Number: 94


Sale of Horsemeat for Human Consumption

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-11-27

Opinion Number: 95


Court Clerk’s Fees in Delinquent Tax Lawsuits

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-11-27

Opinion Number: 96


Enforcement of Kingsport Hotel/Motel Tax

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-11-27

Opinion Number: 97


Read Top 10 Changes to Tennessee's Uniform Trust Code

Tennessee's trust law underwent sweeping changes earlier this year, with the explicit goal of making Tennessee a leading contender in the national race for trust business. Tennessee practitioners can learn the top 10 changes by reading the feature article in the new December Journal by the lawyers of Knoxville's Holbrook Peterson Smith PLLC. Note that the printed version of this article contains minor formatting issues, but the online version is correct. Read the text version here or download a pdf. To kick off this holiday month, Tennessee Bar Association President Cindy Wyrick imagines in her column, "It's a Wonderful Association, Thanks to You!" what the state's legal landscape would look like if the TBA had never been "born."


Judge Looks Back as Retirement Nears

13th Judicial District Criminal Court Judge Leon Burns has  announced that he will retire in 2014 after serving over 38 years on the bench — longer than any other judge currently in the Tennessee Judicial Conference. Reflecting on his long career to the Herald Citizen, Burns offered a bit of advice for his successor: “Be careful that you don’t think too highly of yourself and get carried away with your position,” he said. “Treat people with the respect that anybody’s entitled to, regardless of who they are and what they’ve done. ... Do the best you can in deciding what to do according to the law — according to what you’re supposed to do.”


Women Striving for Parity in Judiciary

Advances in making Tennessee’s judiciary more diverse are evident: women now make up the majority of justices on the Tennessee Supreme Court; Deborah Stevens was recently appointed to serve as a Knox County Circuit Court judge; and Pam Reeves, when confirmed by the Senate, will become the first woman to serve as a federal judge in East Tennessee. However, progress has been slow Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee points out to Knoxnews: “We are not where we should be yet in terms of judicial diversity.” According to a report by the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at the University of Albany, State University of New York, Tennessee lags behind the national (27.1 percent) and Southeastern average (25.6 percent) with just 18.4 percent of women judges. Lee, other seasoned women attorneys and organizations such as the state and East Tennessee chapters of the Lawyers Association for Women are working to change that by addressing some of the dynamics cited for low advancement among women within the state’s judicial system. 


Legal Profession, Community Benefits from Leadership Training

Knox County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Stevens writes about the benefits of leadership training within the legal community in an opinion piece for Knoxnews. The former president and managing shareholder at Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop, Stevens praised law schools and legal organizations, including the Tennessee Bar Association, for expending time and money to develop leadership curriculums for lawyers. “As a profession, we must constantly find ways to re-energize our efforts to promote justice and public good.” she wrote. “With an increased focus on leadership skills for lawyers, I am confident that our community will see the benefit in our economy, government and in public service."


DOJ Faces Freedom of Information Act Suit

The U.S. Department of Justice is being sued over its refusal to publicly disclose a $2 million non-prosecution agreement prosecutors reached in 2012 with Houston-based ABC Professional Tree Services Inc. that employed undocumented workers. According to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed last Tuesday, prosecutors will not disclose a copy of the agreement between the government and ABC. The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression represents the challenger, Jonathan Ashley, a business reference librarian at the University of Virginia School of Law. The Blog of the Legal Times has more.


KBA to Provide Judicial Campaign Information

The Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) will provide an online resource to help voters learn more about local judicial candidates, Knoxnews reports. Scheduled for a January launch, a “Get to Know Our Judges” section of the KBA’s website will feature information about candidates seeking election to serve eight-year terms as judges in Knox County. The site will include biographical information about the candidates, as well as the courts that they are seeking to oversee, KBA Executive Director Marsha Wilson says. The county’s primary election is May 6, and general election is Aug. 7.


YWCA Legal Challenge Seeks to Curb Violence Against Women

The YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee recently kicked off its inaugural Legal Challenge with a breakfast event. District Attorney General Torry Johnson is chairing the effort, which seeks to engage the broader legal community in Nashville to become more aware of violence against women. Attendees included Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark and Mayor Karl Dean. The Nashville Business Journal has more on the event, starting on page six of this slideshow.


Textbook Complaints Set Stage for Legislative Debate

Complaints of bias in school textbooks are leading to several proposals that will likely be introduced in the upcoming legislative session, the Tennessean reports. Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, plans to introduce a bill to give more weight to public input in the approval of textbooks. Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, plans to propose legislation that would create an online site for parents, community members and educators to submit textbook reviews and analysis. Finally, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, has suggested potential changes to the composition of the state textbook commission — the 10-member group of educators that reviews and approves state textbooks. Nine of the current members are appointed by the governor.


Cleveland Attorney to Run for District AG

Republican Steve Crump has announced he is running for district attorney general for the 10th Judicial District, which includes Monroe, McMinn, Bradley and Polk counties. Crump earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee and has practiced in his hometown of Cleveland since 1994, The Cleveland Daily Banner reports. He spent almost 10 years as an assistant district attorney and has served as a special judge in General Sessions, Juvenile and Family Courts. “It is time for a new direction in the criminal justice system and our local approach to prosecuting crime,” Crump said in announcing his candidacy.


Putnam County Candidates Pick Up Election Petitions

More than 30 potential elected officials have picked up petition papers from the Putnam County Election Commission, the Herald-Citizen reports. Packets became available Nov. 22 and must be filed by Feb. 20 for the candidates to make it onto the primary ballot. County positions up for voting during the nominating election include general sessions court judge, parts I and II; circuit court clerk; and — for the first time in eight years — all 13th Judicial District offices: circuit court judge, parts I and II; chancellor; criminal court judge, parts I and II; district attorney general; and public defender.


Free Legal Aid Clinic Set for Franklin

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands is hosting a free legal clinic tomorrow at the Williamson County Public Library from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public with no appointment necessary. Visit HobNob Franklin for more information.


ABA Offers Retirement Benefits for the Legal Sector

Looking for a retirement plan for yourself or your employees? The ABA Retirement Fund provides unique, full service 401(k) plans specifically for the legal community. By leveraging the assets of its 3,800 client firms, the ABA plan offers packages typically available only to large corporations. For more information contact a regional representative at (800) 826-8901 or visit www.abaretirement.com.


3 Lawyers Suspended for Fee, IOLTA Violations

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Nov. 27 suspended three lawyers who did not pay their annual registration fee to the Board of Professional Responsibility and/or did not file a mandatory compliance statement that eligible client funds are held in accounts participating in the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. Those who have complied with the rules since the orders were issued, and for whom notification of a status change has been received from the Board of Professional Responsibility, are noted as reinstated. Read the orders and get the latest information.


 
 

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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