ABA Accepting Nominations for Appointments

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced it is accepting applications and nominations for the 2014-2015 Presidential Appointments to ABA standing committees, special committees, commissions and other entities and initiatives. The online application process opened this week and is available until Feb. 28.

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
01 - 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

CHARLES HAYNES v. FORMAC STABLES, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Justin S. Gilbert, Jonathan L. Bobbitt and Jessica Farris Salomus, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Haynes.

James M. Glasgow, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, and Michael Patrick McGartland and Eugene Emil Borchardt, Fort Worth, Texas, for the appellee, Formac Stables, Inc.

Judge: FARMER

Plaintiff filed retaliatory discharge suit against his former employer, Defendant. According to his complaint, Defendant’s owner engaged in illegal activity. Plaintiff complained to Defendant’s owner of the illegal activity and was subsequently terminated. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint because Plaintiff did not report the illegal activity to any person or entity other than the Defendant’s owner, who was a participant in the illegal activity. Plaintiff contends that where a company’s owner is a participant in illegal activity, reporting the illegal activity solely to the owner should not preclude a retaliatory discharge claim premised on refusal to remain silent. We do not agree and therefore affirm the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TORRIANO FLOYD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul K. Guibao (on appeal) and Larry E. Copeland, Jr. (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for appellant, Torriano Floyd.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Meghan Fowler and Josh Corman, Assistant District Attorneys General, for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Torriano Floyd, was convicted of two counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery. The trial court imposed two six-year sentences for robbery, to be served consecutively to each other, and one four-year sentence for attempted robbery, to be served concurrently, for an effective sentence of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal, he challenges the credibility of one of the witnesses as it pertains to sufficiency of the evidence and the imposition of partial consecutive sentence alignment. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JIMI L. GREENE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kandi Kelley Collins, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jimi L. Greene.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Rolf Hazlehurst, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Jimi L. Greene (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving on a revoked licence, and violating the financial responsibility law. He was sentenced as a career offender to a total effective sentence of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve eleven months and twenty-nine days in confinement, with the remainder of his sentence to be suspended to community corrections with several specific conditions. Subsequently, a community corrections violation warrant was filed. The Defendant admitted to the violations alleged in the warrant, and a hearing was held as to disposition. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s community corrections and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. The Defendant appealed the trial court’s ruling. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DANNY HOWARD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Neil Umstead, for the Defendant-Appellant, Danny Howard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Katherine B. Ratton and David M. Zak, Jr., Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Danny Howard, appeals his conviction for aggravated robbery. On appeal, Howard argues that the trial court abused its discretion (1) by permitting a juror to remain on the jury after learning that the juror worked with one of the State’s witnesses, and (2) by denying Howard’s motion for a mistrial based on an alleged Jencks violation. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TERESA ANN KINGSMILL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Teresa Ann Kingsmill.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Robert Homlar, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant, Teresa Ann Kingsmill, pled guilty to eight charges, all of which stemmed from her possessing or manufacturing methamphetamine. The trial court sentenced her to an effective sentence of twenty-one years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it sentenced her because it failed to adequately state its reasoning for the Defendant’s sentence in the record. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court did not err when it sentenced the Defendant. We, therefore, affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JEFFERY DESHAWN MITCHELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James R. Frazier, for the Defendant-Appellant, Jeffery DeShawn Mitchell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Robert Carter; District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Jeffrey Deshawn Mitchell, entered guilty pleas in Case No. 12- CR-136 to sale of a counterfeit substance, which he represented to be cocaine (count 1) and delivery of a counterfeit substance (count 2); in Case No. 12-CR-137 to sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine base (count 1) and delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine base (count 2); in Case No. 12-CR-138 to sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine base (count 1) and delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine base (count 2); and in Case No. 12-CR-139 to possession with the intent to sell .5 grams or more of cocaine base (count 1), possession with intent to deliver .5 grams or more of cocaine base (count 2), resisting arrest (count 3), and evading arrest (count 4). The plea agreement stated that the length and manner of sentencing in these cases would be determined by the trial court, and the trial court sentenced Mitchell as a Range I, standard offender to an effective sentence of seventeen years in confinement. On appeal, Mitchell argues that his sentence is excessive. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER RUTHERFORD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Christopher Rutherford.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Christopher Rutherford, was convicted by a jury of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, a Class E felony. The trial court denied the Defendant’s request for judicial diversion and imposed a two-year sentence, with 160 days’ confinement as “shock incarceration” and the balance on probation. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and the denial of judicial diversion. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ELTON BRENT STANFILL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Frankie Stanfill, Camden, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elton Brent Stanfill.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel J, McCadams, District Attorney General; and Ed N. McDaniel, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant, Elton Brent Stanfill, pleaded guilty to one count of initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine and one count of unlawfully using or possessing with intent to use drug paraphernalia. The trial court sentenced him to concurrent sentences of eight years for the methamphetamine conviction and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the unlawful drug paraphernalia conviction. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve ninety days in custody and placed him on Community Corrections for the remainder of his sentence. In July 2012, the Defendant’s Community Corrections officer filed an affidavit alleging the Defendant had violated his Community Corrections sentence. The trial court issued a warrant, and, after a hearing, revoked the Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial court erred when it revoked his Community Corrections sentence because the State failed to show that he had violated the conditions of his sentence and because he should have been given an opportunity for rehabilitation. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court did not err when it revoked the Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence and affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Spouse Shot after Divorce Mediation in Manchester

A couple going through a divorce had just left a mediation session at a law firm near the Manchester town square when one spouse allegedly shot the other. WSMV News 4 reports that the victim was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment.


Putnam County Bar Elects 2014 Officers

The Putnam County Bar Association recently elected the following officers for 2014: President Shawn Fry, Vice President Jason F. Hicks, Secretary Kelsy Austin Miller. Treasurer Dale Bohannon and Immediate Past President Rachel Moses.


DOJ Files Suit Against Memphis Tax Company

The Department of Justice on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court against Stephanie Edmond of Tax Factory, a Memphis tax preparation business, WREG reports. The complaint alleges Edmond and workers at the Tax Factory submitted returns with bogus credits, phony businesses and fabricated expenses in order to get clients higher refunds or lower their taxable income. The complaint says that a federal agent identified more than 2,300 returns with potential problems, with an estimated tax loss of $9.7 million over the last three years. Edmond’s husband, Kevin Williams, has denied the allegations.


Arson Suspected at Drug Court

The building that housed the Coffee County Drug Court sustained heavy damage in a fire that investigators believe was intentionally set. News Channel 5 reports that Manchester Police suspect arson, saying that it looked like the duct work had been pulled near the central heating unit and gas poured into the system. The Drug Court will have to move to a temporary office while repairs are made.


Less Than 20 Civil Cases Pending Against Pilot

An attorney for Knoxville-based truck stop chain Flying Pilot J said today that fewer than 20 companies have filed lawsuits against the company, despite nearly 60 refusing Pilot’s settlement offer. At a hearing before Knox County Circuit Judge Harold Wimberly, Pilot attorney Al Harb distributed a list  showing nine of the cases were pending in state courts, including actions in Texas and Louisiana, while seven were filed in federal courts. Harb says he expects the company will seek to consolidate the federal cases for pre-trial proceedings likely during a hearing on Jan. 30 when the federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is slated to meet in New Orleans. Knoxnews has more.


TJC Offers Free CLE, Training on Health Enrollment

The Tennessee Justice Center will offer two free CLEs designed to train lawyers on how to help others understand the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and enroll in the federal health care exchange. The first session will take place Dec. 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the offices of Community Health Systems, 4000 Meridian Blvd., Franklin 37067. The second course will be offered Dec. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, 165 Madison Ave., Memphis 38103. After the training sessions, which were funded through the TBA’s Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative, a free legal clinic will be held for the local community. For more information or to RSVP, contact kalexander@tnjustice.org.


Advanced Analysis of Criminal Law Set for Friday

The TBA Criminal Justice Section is presenting a program that provides an advanced analysis to the practice of criminal law. “Advanced Analysis for Competency, Evaluations & Sex Crimes” will be held Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will provide insight into psychological evaluations and competency testing for juveniles and adults, with special consideration given to cases involving sex crimes. The program also will discuss how to deal with a handwriting expert during trial.


Dayton Attorney to Run for General Sessions Judge

Attorney Larry Roddy said he will seek election as Rhea County General Sessions/Family Court judge. He is running as an independent in the Aug 7 county general election. Roddy, a Soddy-Daisy native, earned his law degree from the University of Memphis and is licensed to practice in all Tennessee courts. He has also practiced in U.S. District Courts in Chattanooga, Atlanta and Birmingham and the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has more


Shelby County Judge to Seek Re-election

Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Donna Fields has announced that she will seek re-election. Appointed to the bench in Feb. 2004 by Governor Phil Bredesen, Judge Fields has run unopposed and been re-elected twice. “I am grateful to have the honor of serving the people of Shelby County. I look forward to asking the voters to allow me to serve another term on the bench,” she said in a press release. A reception to kick off her campaign will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Local on Madison in Memphis.


2 More Consider Race for Bradley Circuit Court

Bradley County attorneys Sandra Donaghy and Andrew Freiberg have picked up papers to run for the circuit court seat currently held by Judge Carroll Ross, who is retiring. They join William J. Brown, who announced his intentions to run last month. Other candidates who picked up election papers include incumbents Circuit Court Judge Larry Puckett, Circuit Court Judge Michael Sharp, Criminal Court Judge Amy Reedy and General Sessions Judge Daniel Swafford. The Chattanoogan has more on these races and a prediction that General Sessions Judge Sheridan Randolph may face opposition from attorney Barrett Painter, a partner in the law firm of Chancey, Kanavos, Love and Painter.


All Hamilton Criminal Court Judges Seeking Re-election

Hamilton County’s three criminal court judges have all decided to seek re-election in 2014, the Chattanoogan reports. Judge Don W. Poole is running as a Democrat in the May primary, while Judge Barry A. Steelman and Judge Rebecca June Stern are running as Republicans. Read about their careers and credentials from the paper.


Survey Shows What People Want in a Lawyer

A new survey by the attorney rating company Avvo Inc. says that consumers want a lawyer who is confident and realistic, but reality show fans want lawyers who are aggressive and attractive. The three lowest-ranking characteristics people want in their lawyers are ambitious (12 percent), friendly (15 percent) and reassuring (18 percent). The Nashville Business Journal notes that responsiveness was the top factor, cited by 92 percent of respondents, followed by track record (80 percent).


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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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