TBALL Class Launches with Opening Retreat

The 2014 class of the TBA Leadership Law program kicks off today with an opening retreat at Montgomery Bell State Park. The 33 attorneys from across the state were selected from several hundred nominees. After this weekend’s retreat, the group will meet monthly, learning about leadership in the legal profession, issues in the courts, policymaking in state government and the importance of community service. Among speakers at the opening retreat are Covington lawyer Houston Gordon, Memphis lawyer Lewis Donelson, Nashville attorney Bob Tuke and TBA President Cindy Wyrick.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Najee E.L. H., Pro se.


This appeal arises from the transfer of a child custody case to Texas. The lower court issued an order naming Mother primary residential parent of the parties’ child and granting Father certain visitation rights. According to Father, Mother did not allow Father visitation with the child despite the court’s order. Father filed a petition seeking to hold Mother in contempt. At a preliminary hearing on the matter, the lower court dismissed Father’s petition and ruled that all further proceedings in the matter be held in the court of appropriate jurisdiction in Texas, where Mother was supposedly living. Father appealed. After reviewing the record, we have determined that the lower court’s findings do not support its decision; we therefore vacate the order of the lower court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Donna F. Thompson, Dyer, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Brandon O. Gibson, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lynn Ward.


Homeowner appeals the trial court's order dismissing her complaint against the Deputy Circuit Court Clerk of Crockett County. The complaint alleged that the Deputy Clerk failed to properly issue a writ of possession regarding the homeowner's real property. The trial court dismissed the complaint pursuant to Rule 12.02(6) of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Discerning no error, we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roderick Sammual Chadwick.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Roderick Sammual Chadwick, was convicted by a jury of attempted voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, for which he received concurrent sentences of twelve years and fifteen years, respectively, as a Range III, career offender. Upon his guilty plea to another count in the indictment, being a felon in possession of a handgun, he received an additional six-year sentence to be served consecutively, for an effective sentence of twentyone years. Following an unsuccessful direct appeal, petitioner filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief. The court denied relief after conducting an evidentiary hearing. This appeal follows, in which petitioner claims multiple instances of ineffective assistance at trial and on direct appeal. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ernest Jackson.

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


Ernest Jackson (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of sale and delivery of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the Defendant’s conviction for delivery of cocaine into his conviction for sale of cocaine and sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of fifteen years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions for sale and delivery of cocaine. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Judicial Nominees Delayed at Hearing Today

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today tried to renew its push to confirm a long slate of judicial nominees, but Republicans took advantage of a courtesy given the minority party to postpone consideration of nominees the first time they appear on the agenda for a vote. The 29 judges set for a vote today -- including Knoxville lawyer Pamela Reeves and Memphis attorney Sheryl H. Lipman -- will now have to wait another week for committee consideration, The Blog of Legal Times reports. Reeves is awaiting confirmation to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, while Lipman is awaiting confirmation to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Their nominations must be reconsidered because Republicans did not allow pending nominees to be “held over” to the new session, which began this week.

Panel: Elder Abuse Crimes Expected to Grow

At a community hearing yesterday in Memphis, a panel of experts warned that as the country’s population ages, incidents involving adult abuse, neglect or exploitation will continue to increase. Each of the panelists -- Memphis Police Col. Mike Ryall, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, University of Memphis law professor Andrew McClurg and assistant commissioner of the state Department of Human Services Pat Wade -- had personal or professional horror stories to relate. Weirich reported that rapes of elderly people in nursing homes were on the rise, while Ryall talked about financial scams and private caretakers that target the elderly. McClurg argued for more education and enforcement saying, “We’ve just done a terrible job protecting our elders. The predators are experts. They’re con artists. These people are professionals. Never underestimate them.” Read more in the Commercial Appeal.

Bradley Arant Forms Privacy and Information Security Team

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings announced today that it has formed a new Privacy and Information Security Team that will focus on representing clients with privacy and data security issues. Firm partners Paige M. Boshell and Amy S. Leopard will serve as co-chairs of the new group. Boshell practices in the firm’s Banking and Financial Services and Intellectual Property Practice groups. Leopard practices in the Health Care Practice Group. They report that the team will bring together a cross-disciplinary group of lawyers with experience helping clients minimize the risk of data breaches, deal with any breaches or attacks and comply with privacy laws and regulations.

Memphis Litigation Support Firm Announces Merger

Memphis-based Alpha Legal Solutions announced this week that it has merged with Litigation Resource Group, a legal technology company founded by Robb Helt in Fort Smith, Ark. According to Kathy May, founder of Alpha Reporting Corporation and CEO of Alpha Legal Solutions, the merger will widen the company’s trial technology client base and heighten the level of capability demanded by attorneys to better service their clients in trials, mediations and arbitrations. Helt has relocated to Memphis and will serve as president of Alpha Legal Solutions. He brings significant experience to the table having supported 500 jury trials, mediations and arbitrations including the massive BP oil spill litigation and serving as lead trial technology consultant for Halliburton.

Report: Lewis Thomason Merger About Growth, Not Savings

The merger of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell and Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop was more about culture and geography than money, said Michael Keeney, managing shareholder of Lewis Thomason’s Memphis office. In an interview with the Memphis Business Journal, Keeney reports that the two firms discussed the merger for most of 2013 and concluded the move would benefit both. “When you’re in a professional services organization like a law firm, the people and the culture really need to work. Most of our practice areas were very complementary, and at the end of the day each firm improved its depth and breadth of services with this merger.” Keeney also points out that the firm has “about an equal amount of lawyers in all of the cities” where it has offices and will not have a headquarters, though some central management will occur in Knoxville. “We’re very much a state-based firm” and “geographical diversity is critical,” he said.

Nashville Company Settles Suit Against Pilot

Nashville trucking firm Western Express has settled its lawsuit over rebate fraud against Pilot Flying J, the Memphis Daily News reports. The company had alleged that it lost more than $75 million in rebates that were wrongly withheld. It was among several trucking firms that declined to participate in Pilot's $85 million class-action settlement with 5,500 customers in November. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Jail Evacuated After Smoke Fills Building

Charges may be filed against an inmate if authorites can determine who was responsible for the fire that caused the Coffee County Jail and Justice Center to be evacuated Wednesday afternoon, the Manchester Times reports. Inmates were placed in a fenced area behind the jail while firefighters searched the building. According to Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves, toilet paper sent through the ductwork “probably caused” the building to fill with smoke. The origination of the smoke was traced to one cell holding 26 people, Graves says, so the investigation continues.

LegalZoom Withdraws IPO

Online legal help company LegalZoom withdrew plans for an initial public offering (IPO) after a private investor stepped forward with a $200 million offer, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports. A company backed by European private equity firm Permira will now become the largest stakeholder in the company. LegalZoom chief executive John Suh said the cash infusion will allow the company “to continue to focus on the innovation of products and services.”

Bailey Named to Fill Term of Rep. Curtiss

The White County Commission voted this week to appoint Paul Bailey, a Republican candidate for the state Senate seat now held by Charlotte Burks, D-Monterey, to serve out the unexpired term of Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta, who resigned from office on Jan. 1. White is a member of the commission but abstained from the vote. He said he would not seek election to the House seat following his appointed term as he remains “100 percent committed” to seeking election to the District 15 seat now held by Burks, who has announced she will not to seek reelection. Humphrey on the Hill has more.

Wilkins, Others Pull Petition for Memphis Offices

Memphis attorney Ricky E. Wilkins has pulled a qualifying petition to run in the August Democratic primary for the 9th Congressional District against incumbent Representative Steve Cohen. Wilkins has been considering the run for some time though polls show strong support for Cohen. In another local race, Memphis City Court Judge Tarik Sugarmon and Juvenile Court Chief Magistrate Dan Michael picked up qualifying petitions for juvenile court judge. They would face off to replace current judge Curtis Person Jr. who is not seeking re-election. The Memphis Daily News reports.

Police-Officer-Turned-Lawyer Jumps into DA Race

Rutherford County attorney Chuck Ward announced Tuesday he has decided to seek the Republican nomination for attorney general in the 16th Judicial District, the Murfreesboro Post reports. The office is currently held by Bill Whitesell, who has served as district attorney since 1995 and has announced he will not seek re-election. Ward spent eight years working for the Murfreesboro Police Department while attending the Nashville School of Law. He has practiced law in Rutherford County for more than 21 years. “I will use my experience as a police officer, in addition to over two decades in the courtroom in both criminal and civil litigation, to bring a fresh perspective to the district attorney’s office,” Ward said.

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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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