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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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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 Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joshua L. Brand (at trial and on appeal) and Rachel C. Welty (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brian Alan Lambright.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Bradshaw, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Brian K. Holmgren and Mindy J. Morris, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Brian Alan Lambright, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of four counts of aggravated child abuse, Class A felonies, which the trial court merged into two convictions and sentenced the defendant to twenty-two years on each conviction, to be served consecutively, for an effective term of forty-four years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the sentences imposed by the trial court. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


M. Jeffrey Whitt (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, and William Andrew Kennedy (at trial), Blountville, Tennessee, for appellant, Jordan Peters.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and Kent L. Chitwood, Jr., and Leslie Anne Foglia, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Sullivan County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant of one count of delivering psilocin, a Schedule I drug, within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class A felony; one count of delivering psilocin, a Class B felony; and two counts of casual exchange, a Class A misdemeanor. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged each casual exchange conviction into a conviction for delivering psilocin and sentenced the appellant to an effective fifteen years in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the felony convictions; that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to cross-examine the confidential informant (CI) about her prior convictions; that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to question the CI and her husband about their prior drug use; that the trial court should have instructed the jury on entrapment; that cumulative errors warrant a new trial; and that his effective fifteen-year sentence is disproportionate to the crimes. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court committed reversible error regarding the appellant’s cross-examination of the CI. Therefore, the appellant’s convictions are reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


B. Nathan Hunt, for the Defendant-Appellant, Mario A. Reed.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and John Finklea, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Mario A. Reed, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Criminal Court of Montgomery County. He was convicted of aggravated burglary, two counts of aggravated rape, and theft under $500, and received an effective sentence of forty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal, he claims that he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Reeves, Lipman Re-nominated for Judicial Posts

Two Tennessee attorneys nominated for the federal bench were re-nominated by President Obama on Monday, along with 52 other nominees who had not received Senate confirmation before the holiday break. The renominations were necessary because Republican Senators refused to allow the pending nominees to be “held over” to the new session as in the past, the Blog of Legal Times reports. That means that Knoxville lawyer Pamela Reeves, who won Judiciary Committee support in November for her nomination to the Eastern District of Tennessee court, will now face another committee vote before her nomination can be considered by the full Senate. Memphis attorney Sheryl Lipman, who was nominated in May for the Western District of Tennessee court, had appeared at a hearing before the committee in September, but had not yet come up for a committee vote.

Prosecutors Present Legislative 'Wish List'

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference presented six items it plans to lobby for in the upcoming legislative session. Topping the list will be a push to consolidate serial child sex abuse suspects’ cases, as opposed to trying multiple cases when there are victims in different jurisdictions. The Tennessean reports on the full list.

Rematch Likely for 26th District Post

Two candidates who faced off two years ago in the 26th Judicial District Circuit Court Division III judicial race plan to run again this year, the Jackson Sun reports. Judge Nathan Pride, who won the 2012 election to replace Judge Roger Page when he was appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals, will again face Jackson attorney Edward Martindale. Unlike the 2012 race, which included four other candidates in a non-partisan contest, this year’s August election will be partisan. Martindale is running as a Republican and Pride as an independent.

Chancellor Lyle Seeks New Term

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle has announced her candidacy for re-election in the May 2014 Democratic primary. Now entering her 19th year on the bench, Lyle earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Tennessee. She earlier practiced with the Texas law firm of Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski and later with the Nashville firm of Trabue, Sturdivant and DeWitt. She is married to former Circuit and Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz. Attorney David Garrison has been named as her campaign treasurer.

Chancellor McCoy Seeking Re-election

Chancellor Caroll L. McCoy has filed a nominating petition with the Davidson County Election Commission to seek re-election as Davidson County Chancellor, Part II. “Since my election to the bench in 1996, I have endeavored to conduct myself according to the highest standards expected of a member of the judiciary,” Chancellor McCoy says in a press release. "If the citizens of Davidson County will entrust me with another term, I will continue to conduct the Chancery Court, Part II, with honesty, respect, integrity, efficiency and intelligence.”

DC to NE: A Capitol Idea?

Curing the dysfunction and acrimony that plague Washington is simple enough, one Senate candidate says, just move the Capitol to … Nebraska. Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse of Nebraska threw out the idea in a television spot aired during weekend football games. While the Midland University president and former Bush official says he doesn’t really think the idea will stick, he told Breitbart News that the “thought experiment” is meant to represent the average American’s frustration with Washington, suggesting that if you can’t put enough Nebraska into Washingon, maybe it’s time to move Washington to Nebraska.

Running for Office May Get Easier for City Employees

If Hamilton County Councilman Chris Anderson’s ordinance passes, Chattanooga city employees would no longer be required to take a leave of absence after starting to campaign or qualifying to run for one of the 31 partisan races up for grabs this year. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the proposal would reverse the city's code in order to allow city employees to continue to work while running for office. The ordinance would also expand the current rules that allow employees to keep their jobs if they win, as long as the new responsibilities don't conflict with their city duties.

Shelby Judicial Posts Draw Candidates

In the first week to pick up petitions for the August judicial elections in Shelby County, judicial candidates have accounted for most of the activity at the Shelby County Election Commission. Juvenile Court Chief Magistrate Dan Michael has pulled a petition to run for Juvenile Court judge in the nonpartisan race to succeed outgoing Judge Curtis Person Jr. Shelby County Chancellor Kenny Armstrong, Germantown municipal judges Bob Brannon and Raymond Clift, and General Sessions Civil Court judges Lynn Cobb and Lonnie Thompson also took out qualifying petitions this week. Silvio Ronald Lucchesi pulled a petition for General Sessions Criminal Court judge, Republican State Rep. Ron Lollar picked up his petition for re-election, and Democrat Ricky Dixon pulled a petition for the Democratic primary for State Senate District 29, the seat currently held by Democrat Ophelia Ford. The deadline to file petitions for a place on the August ballot is April 3. The Memphis Daily News has the story.

Build Your Research Skills With Fastcase Courses

If you resolved to improve your legal research skills this year, the TBA is ready to help you succeed. The TBA is offering a series of free one-hour webinars to help you better use the Fastcase online research platform that is available to all TBA members at no charge. The three courses will be repeated each month during 2014 and carry one hour of general CLE credit.

Here are the three courses:
• Introduction to Legal Research. Covers basic Fastcase features with a focus on case law searches and statute searches.
• Advanced Tips for Enhanced Legal Research. Provides a quick refresher on case law search basics as well as a number of research tips that highlight advanced features.
• Boolean (Keyword) Search for Lawyers. Designed for users who are already familiar with the basics of Fastcase but are new to Boolean (keyword) searches.

Services Wednesday for Memphis Attorney

Memphis attorney Cecil Douglas Smith, 74, died Friday (Jan. 3) after a long illness. A Memphis native, Smith was a scholarship track athlete at the University of Memphis, where he later went on to receive his law degree. Following graduation, he joined the IRS as a federal estate tax examiner, living and working in Knoxville. Upon returning to Memphis, he entered practice in the area of estate planning and later became a partner in the firm of Apperson-Crump. Visitation will be held at the Memphis Funeral Home Poplar Chapel on Wednesday from 5-8 p.m., with funeral services following on Thursday at 2 p.m. in the Wilson Chapel of Christ United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made to Christ United Methodist Church or to Dixon Gallery and Gardens.

Nashville Passes on 2016 GOP Convention

Nashville declined an invitation to bid on hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention, the Tennessean reports. In an emailed statement, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. President Butch Spyridon told the newspaper that the dates under consideration were already booked.

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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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