State Files $10M Claim in Meningitis Case

Tennessee this week filed a $10 million claim in the New England Compounding Center’s bankruptcy case – a move aimed at recouping money it has spent on fines, penalties and administrative expenses related to the meningitis outbreak. However, officials acknowledge they probably will never see that much money, The Tennessean reports. Either way, some victims’ advocates were not happy with the decision saying the state’s claim would siphon funds away from injured patients.

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
04 - 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

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOHN THOMAS HUMMONS IN RE: DANNY BLANKENSHIP BONDING COMPANY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joel H. Moseley, Sr., Joel H. Moseley, Jr., Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and Lee Richard Sparks, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant/surety, Danny Blankenship Bonding Company.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Appellant bonding company, Danny Blankenship Bonding Company, filed a petition for exoneration of bond in the Madison County Circuit Court case of State v. John Thomas Hummons, case number 12-162. The petition was denied by the trial court. In this Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 10 appeal by the appellant, we reverse the ruling of the trial court and remand with instructions for the trial court to enter an appropriate order granting the petition to exonerate Appellant bonding company from the defendant’s bond.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JEROME MAURICE TEATS
With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick T. McNally (on appeal and at trial) and James Todd (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerome Maurice Teats.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Sobrero and Pamela Anderson, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Jerome Maurice Teats (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of one count of aggravated robbery and four counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. The trial court subsequently imposed an effective sentence of fifty years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, the Defendant raises the following issues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to disqualify the district attorney general’s office; (3) his convictions for especially aggravated kidnapping must be reversed on due process and double jeopardy grounds; (4) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on criminal responsibility; (5) the evidence was not sufficient to support his convictions; (6) cumulative error; and (7) his sentence is excessive. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM JAMES WATT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Michael Engle (at trial) and Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William James Watt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Bradshaw, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Sharon Reddick, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, William James Watt, of three counts of rape of a child and three counts of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court sentenced the Defendant, a Range I, standard offender, to twenty-five years at 100 percent for each of the rape of a child convictions and to ten years at 100 percent for each of the aggravated battery convictions. The court ordered the Defendant to serve some of the sentences consecutively, for a total effective sentence of thirty-five years, at 100 percent. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain two of his convictions for rape of a child and one of his convictions for aggravated sexual battery; (2) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for substitution of counsel and to continue his trial; and (3) his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Sale of Alcoholic Beverages at Locations Owned by the City of Clarksville

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-01-09

Opinion Number: 3


Government-Owned Convention Centers

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-01-09

Opinion Number: 4


Inspection Fees for Out-of-State Pharmacies Licensed in Tennessee

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-01-09

Opinion Number: 5


State Authorization of Public Charter Schools

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-01-09

Opinion Number: 6


AG: Charter Authorizer ‘Likely’ Constitutional

A proposal to give the state new power to approve charter school applications after being denied by local school boards “would likely withstand any facial constitutional challenge,” Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper wrote in a legal opinion released Thursday. The opinion primarily relies on Cooper’s finding in September that the state’s charter school law is constitutional and the general principle that the legislature has broad powers to amend laws, the Tennessean’s In Session Blog reports. Among his findings, Cooper writes that the bill does not infringe on any fundamental right, does not target any suspect class of people and has a "reasonably conceivable rational basis," making it constitutionally defensible.


Justice to Schools: Abandon Overly Zealous Discipline

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday issued new guidelines encouraging the nation's schools to abandon “overly zealous discipline policies” that send students to court instead of the principal's office, the Times Free Press reports. Attorney General Eric Holder said problems often stem from well-intentioned policies that can inject the criminal justice system into school matters. He also said the department, in studying the issues, found that racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem. The Commercial Appeal looks at how the guidelines have been received by Memphis educators.


Law Firm Announces Winners in Respect Contest

The Nashville law firm of Kinnard Clayton & Beveridge recently announced the results of its 5th annual Respect Contest, which asks area fifth-graders to answer two questions through original artwork: "What is respect"? and "Why is it important"? This year’s first-place winner was Brendan Callis from St. Edward School. He received $1,000 for his school, $1,000 for the charity of his choice (St. Jude Children’s Hospital) and $100 for himself. Second place went to Michael Williams with Two Rivers Middle School, who designated the Susan G. Komen Foundation for his donation, and third place went to Daysia Y. Bryant with Meigs Middle School, who designated Locks of Love for her donation. Law firm lawyer Jenney Keaty recognized the winners at a ceremony at the Davidson County Courthouse.


Knoxville Lawyer Launches Campaign Against Alexander

Knoxville lawyer Terry Adams today launched a campaign to secure the Democratic nomination to take on Republican incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander. Adams runs a seven-attorney law firm and owns a title company in Knoxville. He said he already has secured support from the current and four prior heads of the Tennessee Democratic Party. Former Tennessee Democratic Party chair Bob Tuke, who lost to Alexander in 2008, has been named his campaign treasurer. Nashville counseling company executive Larry Crim has also declared plans to seek the nomination.


Madisonville Lawyer Seeks Criminal Court Post

Madisonville lawyer Van Irion recently announced he will seek the 10th Judicial District Criminal Court judgeship, Chattanoogan.com reports. Irion, who ran for the state’s 3rd Congressional District in 2010, is in private practice, handling patent, general civil and criminal law matters. He previously served as transactions attorney for the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, where he managed the university’s patent portfolio. He also taught as an adjunct professor at the College of Law.


Senate Moves Wilkins Nomination to Final Vote

The Senate on Thursday advanced a key judicial nominee of President Barack Obama, voting to move forward with the nomination of Robert Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A final vote is expected on Monday. Once confirmed, Wilkins will be the third of Obama's nominees to the court to move forward in the past month. In December, the Senate used revised rules to bypass a filibuster and confirm Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard to the court. The Blog of Legal Times reports.


Nashville Rep. Introduces Medical Marijuana Bill

State Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, introduced legislation this week that would allow qualified patients authorized by their physicians to engage in cannabis therapy, the Johnson City Press reports. The bill outlines medical use under the Safe Access program, which would be regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and the state Board of Pharmacy. Under the program, caregivers could give patients a card that qualifies them to purchase medical marijuana at selected pharmacies or “dispensaries.” Qualifying medical conditions include cancer, glaucoma, immune-deficiency diseases, chronic pain, nausea and seizures.


Jasper Lawyer Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended the law license of Jasper lawyer Jesse Walker Dalton III for one year on Jan. 7. The court directed Dalton to serve three months on active suspension with the remaining nine months to be served on probation so long as he engages a practice monitor and undergoes assessment by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. The court also noted that Dalton is currently suspended for noncompliance with CLE requirements and the new suspension will begin once he is reinstated from that suspension. The court found that Dalton was late for, missed and fell asleep during court and client meetings; failed to timely return clients’ phone calls; appeared in the office with slurred speech, glazed eyes and disheveled dress; and failed to deposit a cash retainer into his trust account. Download the BPR notice.


Memphis Lawyer Suspended for Trust Account Violations

Memphis lawyer William T. Maxwell was suspended from the practice of law on Jan. 7 for one year retroactive to July 19, 2012, the date he was transferred from disability inactive status to active status. The court imposed the suspension after Maxwell self-reported that he misappropriated funds from his real estate trust account but later returned the funds. Prior to any reinstatement, the court directed that Maxwell engage a practice monitor and comply with any recommendations of the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. Download the BPR notice.


Protect Your Practice with the Bar Plan

Protecting your practice and your family from an unexpected loss is a priority for many TBA members. The Bar Plan program provides TBA members with the most comprehensive and fairly priced professional liability coverage available. Learn more online.


 
 

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.


© Copyright 2014 Tennessee Bar Association