Smith to Step Down; Embattled Judges Get Meeting

The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission on Friday announced that Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jerry L. Smith has decided not to seek another term, leading the commission to drop plans to recommend he not be retained in next year’s election. For two other appellate judges facing possible negative recommendations, the commission said the judges could file written responses to its reports and appear at a Jan. 17, 2014, meeting where they would be allowed to speak about their performance. Appeals Court Judge Andy Bennett and Criminal Appeals Court Judge Camille R. McMullen appear on track to press forward with their campaigns, the Tennessean reports. Finally, the panel declined to hear from opponents of the retention election system, including Nashville attorney John Jay Hooker, who said afterward that he may sue the commission for not letting him speak.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - 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


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Thomas M. Horne, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Compass Group USA, Inc. d/b/a Canteen Vending Services.

George Todd East, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lorraine English.


An employee was injured when she fell from a stack of soft drinks while attempting to climb a wall to rescue and remove a feral cat from her employer’s premises. Her employer denied the claim, contending that she was on a private mission at the time of her injury and also that she had violated a safety rule by failing to use a ladder. The employee filed this action seeking workers’ compensation benefits. The trial was bifurcated. After the initial hearing, the trial court found that the employee’s action was related in part to her employment and, therefore, compensable. After a subsequent hearing, the court awarded benefits. The employer has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s findings on compensability and, in the alternative, that the claim is barred by Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-110(a) (2008). The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

TN Court of Appeals

With separate concurring opinion and dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


H. Franklin Chancey, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ike J. White, III.

Richard A. Smith and Stacy Lynn Archer, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, David A. Beeks, M.D.


This appeal involves the question of whether the trial court properly limited a medical expert’s testimony at trial regarding the standard of care in an informed consent health care liability action. In the case at bar, the defendant filed a motion in limine seeking to limit the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert at trial regarding risks that should have been disclosed to the plaintiff to only those risks that actually resulted in injury. The trial court granted the motion. A jury trial was held, and the jury found in favor of the defendant. Plaintiff appeals, asserting that the trial court committed reversible error when it restricted the ability of the plaintiff’s medical expert to testify about other known risks. Discerning no error, we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ira Ishmael Muhammad, Whiteville, Tennessee, pro se.

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

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Ira Ishmael Muhammad, appeals from the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which challenged his 11-year-old Hamilton County Criminal Court jury convictions of attempted second degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, attempted voluntary manslaughter, and felony reckless endangerment. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kevin McGee (on appeal) and Joshua Brand (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Reba Nell Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Reba Nell Woods, of three counts of selling twenty-six grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class A felony, and two counts of selling twenty-six grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced her as a Range III, career offender to an effective sentence of ninety years. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by refusing to sever the offenses, that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions, and that the trial court committed numerous reversible errors regarding the admissibility of evidence. Upon review, we conclude that the trial court erred by failing to sever the offenses and that the error was not harmless as to the appellant’s convictions in counts 3, 4, and 5. Therefore, those convictions are reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for new trials on those charges. We also conclude that although the evidence is sufficient to show that the appellant sold twenty-six grams or more of cocaine in counts 1 and 2, the evidence is insufficient to show that she did so within 1,000 feet of a park. Therefore, the case is remanded to the trial court for correction of those judgments. Finding no errors that warrant reversal of the appellant’s convictions for selling twenty-six grams or more of cocaine in counts 1 and 2, those convictions are affirmed. However, upon remand, the trial court is to consider whether the appellant’s mandatory thirty-year sentences should be served consecutively.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Authority of Juvenile Courts to Issue Orders of Protection

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-12-06

Opinion Number: 98

Regulation of Distribution of Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine by Tennessee Local Governments

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-12-06

Opinion Number: 99

Constitutionality of Proposed “Local Government Interference Protection Act”

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 1913-12-09

Opinion Number: 100

Constitutionality of Criminal Statute Regarding Admission of Minors to Movies

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-12-06

Opinion Number: 101

Authority Over Doe Mountain Recreation Authority

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-12-09

Opinion Number: 102

NBA Elects Officers, Names Award Recipients

Charles K. Grant took office as president of the Nashville Bar Association (NBA) during its annual meeting last week. A lawyer with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, Grant will be the first African American to serve in the role. Other meeting highlights included the election of President-elect Edward D. Lanquist Jr., First Vice President C. Dewey Branstetter Jr., Second Vice President John C. McLemore; Treasurer Nicole James; and Secretary Stacey Billingsley Cason. New board members named are Hon. Joe P. Binkley Jr., Irwin Kuhn, Claudia Levy, Sara Reynolds, Nathan Ridley and Bernadette Welch. Receiving awards were Byron Trauger, who was honored with the John C. Tune Public Service Award; Stephen A. Cobb, who received the Joseph G. Cummings Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award; Matt Pulle, who received Article of the Year Award; Karl Warden, who received the CLE Excellence Award; and the law firm of Ortale, Kelley, Herbert & Crawford, which was given the Pro Bono Leadership Award. Finallly, before stepping down, outgoing President Thomas J. Sherrard III presented NBA YLD President Robb Bigelow and Federal Court Committee Chairs Jessie Zeigler and Ken Bryant with the 2013 President’s Award.

Police Chief Named Chair of Drug Task Force Board

Franklin Police Chief David Rahinsky was unanimously elected chairman of the board for the 21st Judicial District Drug Task Force. The board consists of District Attorney General Kim Helper and the police chiefs and sheriffs from the four counties in the district: Williamson, Hickman, Perry and Lewis. The board meets quarterly and oversees the overall operation of the task force. The Tennessean has more on the story.

Cities Set to Hire Law Firm Lobbyists

Franklin and Brentwood are poised to have their own lobbyists when the General Assembly convenes in January. The Tennessean reports that the cities are reviewing a $35,000 contract to hire lobbyists at Frost Brown Todd who would track legislation and meet with leaders about issues pertaining to both cities. Since being selected by the cities through a bidding process, Frost Brown Todd has formed CivicPoint, a lobbying, government relations and public affairs entity, and has hired former state legislator and Republican Caucus Chair Debra Maggart as its senior vice president.

Memphis Lawyer, Former TBA Governor Dies at 67

Memphis lawyer and former TBA Board of Governors member Fred Moseley Acuff Jr. died Friday (Dec. 6) at the age of 67. Acuff earned his law degree from the University of Alabama in 1971 and began his legal career with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. In 1973, he moved to Memphis to begin private practice, and from 1979 to 2004, he was a partner with the law firm of Humphreys Dunlap Wellford Acuff & Stanton. After the firm merged with Farris Bobango, Acuff remained a partner and was working there at the time of his death. Acuff also served as chair of the TBA Litigation Section and was a member of the board of governors in the late 1990s. He also was active in the Memphis Bar Association, serving for seven years as board chair of Memphis Legal Placement. Visitation will be Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Canale Funeral Directors, 2700 Union Ave. Extended, Memphis 38112. Funeral services will be Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Grace St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 1720 Peabody Ave., Memphis 38104. Memorials may be sent to the church or to Wesley Senior Ministries Foundation, 1615 Appling Rd., Cordova, TN 38016.

Poll Finds Support Strong for Cohen

A new poll shows U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, with a large lead over potential challenger Ricky Wilkins. The poll, conducted by the Memphis polling firm Yacoubian Research, showed the incumbent receiving 76 percent of support among likely Democratic primary voters to 11 percent for Wilkins, who is an attorney in private practice. Thirteen percent were undecided. The poll, involving some 204 respondents in the 9th Congressional District, also found that Cohen led Wilkins in all age, race, gender and geographic groupings, with his greatest strength among African-American males and white females. The Memphis Flyer has more on the poll results.

Judge Carter Announces Run; Candidate Considers Clerk Posts

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Bobby Carter opened his re-election bid with bagpipes and pledges to be fair and impartial in his work. He also touted his efforts to reduce case backlogs in his court – moving from highest backlog to lowest, the Memphis Daily News reports. In other county races, Alfred L. Campbell picked up multiple qualifying petitions, including paperwork to run in the Democratic primary for probate court clerk, circuit court clerk and criminal court clerk.

Cleveland Lawyer Launches Sessions Bid

Cleveland lawyer Barrett Painter officially launched his campaign for Bradley County General Session Judge, Division 2, pledging to make the court more efficient with the highest level of honesty, integrity and fairness, the Cleveland Banner reports. The son of former Cleveland City attorney Harlen Painter, the younger Painter says he has had a front-row seat throughout life to see “the role and impact the judicial system has in the lives of the people.” Painter earned his law degree from Cumberland School of Law and began his career with his father at Bell & Associates. He later joined Logan-Thompson, where he served as county attorney for Bradley and Meigs counties. He currently practices with Chancey, Kanavos, Love & Painter.

Columbia Lawyer Launches Campaign for DA

Columbia lawyer Chaz Molder has announced his intentions to run for district attorney in the 22nd Judicial District, which includes Maury, Giles, Lawrence and Wayne counties. Molder also announced that J. Russell Parkes, a partner at his firm, will serve as campaign treasurer. Molder, a lifelong resident of Maury County, says he wants to make his community safer and make the DA’s office more efficient. Molder, who serves on the TBA YLD Board as Publications Committee chair, practices at Hardin, Parkes, Kelley, Carter & Bryant, where he focuses on criminal defense and general civil litigation.

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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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