Federal Judges See Pay Increase as Salary Freeze Falls

All federal court judges received a 14 percent salary increase effective Jan. 1 because of a court ruling that erased pay freezes going back to 1995. According to Bloomberg, the size of congressional paychecks became a political issue during the 1990s, and lawmakers cancelled four automatic cost-of-living increases for themselves and the judiciary. That led to lawsuits, including a class action that the judges won. Washington lawyer Christopher Landau represented six judges who filed a 2009 lawsuit challenging the denial of pay raises.

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
03 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
00 - TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders

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TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


David A. McLaughlin and William T. Hackett, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carey P. Merrell.

Robert W. Ratton, III, and Roane Waring, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, The City of Memphis, Tennessee.


This is a Governmental Tort Liability action. Plaintiff/Appellant was injured when his motorcycle hit a pothole. Appellant sued the Appellee The City of Memphis for negligence. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that Appellant had failed to prove that the City had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition on its roadway so as to lift immunity under Tennessee Code Annotated §29-20-203(b). Accordingly, the court dismissed the lawsuit. We conclude that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s finding that the City had no notice of this dangerous condition. Affirmed and remanded.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, and Melissa Brodhag, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the intervenor/appellant, Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter.

George T. Underwood, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lisa Womble.

Howard B. Jackson and Ronald G. Daves, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, University Health System, Inc.


In the wake of her firing from the University of Tennessee Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, a nurse brought an employment action raising numerous claims. At the time the nurse originally began working at the medical center, it was owned and managed by the University of Tennessee and she was considered an employee of the university. In 1999, the university executed a lease and transfer agreement pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 49-9-112, by which the operation of the medical center was transferred to a private, nonprofit corporation. Hospital personnel, like the nurse, who had been university employees prior to the transfer, were thereafter “leased” by the private, nonprofit corporation from the university. This interlocutory appeal stems from the trial court’s sua sponte ruling that Tennessee Code Annotated section 49-9-112(a) is unconstitutional. We reverse the determination of the trial court.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals

With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Marcos M. Garza and John C. Barnes, Knoxville, Tennessee, for appellant, Stanley Jason Daniels.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Lori Phillips-Jones, District Attorney General; and Jared Effler, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Stanley Jason Daniels, pled guilty to sexual contact with an inmate and was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to one year to be served on probation. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his request for judicial diversion. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


R. Todd Mosley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antonio Dockery.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General, and Marianna Bell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Antonio Dockery, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for aggravated assault, stalking, and aggravated kidnapping. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of the offenses as charged in the indictment. As a result of the convictions, Appellant was sentenced to a total effective sentence of thirty-four years in incarceration. After the denial of a motion for new trial, this appeal followed. On appeal, Appellant presents the following issues for our review: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions; (2) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on aggravated kidnapping; (3) the convictions for aggravated assault and stalking violate double jeopardy; and (4) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of prior bad acts in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b). After a review of the record and the authorities, we determine: (1) that the evidence is sufficient to support the convictions; (2) Appellant’s convictions for aggravated assault and stalking do not violate double jeopardy where the trial court properly instructed the jury on the evidence to consider when reviewing the stalking charge; and (3) Appellant waived any issue with respect to the admission of prior bad acts for failing to raise the issue in a motion for new trial. Further, we determine that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on aggravated kidnapping by failing to give the instruction from State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559 (Tenn. 2012). The error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Consequently, Appellant’s aggravated kidnapping conviction must be reversed, and he must receive a new trial at which the jury is instructed in accord with White. The remaining judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General, and Garland Erguden, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Thomas E. Hansom, Memphis, Tennessee for the appellee, Mark Weatherly.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Mark Weatherly, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated assault. The jury acquitted Appellant of vehicular homicide and was unable to reach a verdict on the lesser included offense of reckless homicide and the other charged offense of aggravated assault. The trial court declared a mistrial with regard to these offenses. Appellant’s request for pretrial diversion was denied by the prosecutor. Appellant filed a writ of certiorari with the trial court. The trial court granted Appellant’s writ of certiorari and concluded that the assistant district attorney general had abused his discretion and ordered the prosecutor to enter into a memorandum of understanding that placed Appellant on pretrial diversion. This Court granted the State’s application for interlocutory appeal. After a thorough review of the record, we find that the trial court’s decision is supported by a preponderance of the evidence and affirm.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Preparation of County Budget under County Financial Management System

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-01-15

Opinion Number: 9

Sen. Kyle to Run for Chancery Court Judge

State Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis announced today that he is running for Shelby County Chancery Court judge, the Commercial Appeal reports. The seat is to be vacated by Gov. Bill Haslam’s appointment of Chancellor Arnold Goldin to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. As minority leader, Kyle is the top-ranking Democrat from Memphis in the statehouse, where he has served in the Senate since 1983. “I will be a fair judge who will work hard to ensure that our citizens get their day in court,” Kyle said. “I have a proven track record in the Senate of making the right decision, and that is one of the reasons my colleagues elected me their leader.”

1 More Joins Race for Circuit Court Seat

William Brown has picked up papers to run for the Bradley County Circuit Court seat being vacated by Judge Carroll Ross, who is retiring. He joins Sandra Donaghy and Andrew Freiberg who previously picked up papers. Amy Armstrong Reedy has picked up paperwork to run for re-election to the Bradley County Criminal Court. The Cleveland Banner has more. 

3 Bid for Sullivan County Judgeship

Three Republican candidates have picked up petitions to run for the Sullivan County Criminal Court judicial seat being vacated by Robert Montgomery, TriCities reports. The three candidates -- Ricky A.W. Curtis, Jim Goodwin and John D. Parker Jr. -- will compete in the Republican primary May 6. Montgomery was appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals in August.

Dickson Attorney to Run for Judge

White Bluff resident and Dickson County attorney Leonard Belmares has announced his candidacy for White Bluff Municipal Court Judge. Belmares has interned with the 23rd Judicial District Attorney General’s Office in Charlotte and is in private practice with the Baker Law Group PLLC in Charlotte, where he handles criminal defense cases. The Tennessean has more.

Campbell County Attorney Makes Chancery Bid Official

Elizabeth C. Asbury announced that she is running to be chancellor for the 8th Judicial District. Asbury has practiced law in the district since graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1985. She maintained a private practice from 1985 to 1993 and served as an assistant district attorney from 1993 to 1998, The Oneida Independent Herald reports.

Haslam on Legislative Agenda

Gov. Bill Haslam today spoke to reporters about various bills he intends to support this legislative session. The Republican governor said he will support a school voucher bill similar to the one he proposed last year that once again will be limited to students from low-income families attending failing schools. He had the measure withdrawn when Senate Republicans sought to expand to a larger number of children. Knoxnews reports that Haslam also said he is proposing legislation to require a prescription for more than a 20-day supply of cold medicines that are used to make methamphatamine. The bill is meant to target the purchase of large amounts of medicines from a variety of stores, which is known as “smurfing.”

Bill Would Reduce Shelby County Circuit Court Judges

A bill introduced by Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey, chair of the Judiciary Committee, would abolish Divisions 1 and 5 of Shelby County Circuit Court effective Sept. 1, the start of the next eight-year judicial term. The Memphis Bar Association's Bar Bulletin notes that the bill, SB1484, also would remove the two judgeships from the county's general election ballot this August. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the committee next Tues., Jan. 21, at 2:30 p.m.

Court Hears Cases on Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones, Recess Appointments

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case challenging the Massachusetts law that created buffer zones prohibiting protestors from standing within 35 feet from the entrance of an abortion clinic. Protestors sued over the limits on their activities at Planned Parenthood health centers in Boston, Springfield and Worcester, claiming the law is an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. According to the Washington Post, predicting outcomes is difficult because Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who probably is key to the court’s ultimate decision, kept his own counsel. Normally an active participant in the court’s major cases, the justice did not pose a single question to the three lawyers who argued the case.

This week, the high court also refereed the dispute between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans over the president’s power to temporarily fill high-level positions without Senate approval — a practice that has accelerated in recent years due to partisan gridlock in Congress. The Supreme Court appeared on Monday to lean toward Congress in the fight over presidential recess appointments, politicalticker notes. A ruling by the court against the Obama administration could invalidate hundreds of decisions by the National Labor Relations Board — the federal agency at the center of this legal storm.

Bahner Honored for Service by Chattanooga Kiwanis

T. Maxfield “Max” Bahner has been named the recipient of the Kiwanis Club of Chattanooga’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding leadership. Bahner, who has lived in Chattanooga for more than 50 years, is a founding member, Life Fellow and former president of the Chattanooga Bar Association. The award will be presented during a recognition luncheon on Jan. 28. The Chattanoogan has more.

Baker Donelson Named to Fortune’s Best Companies List

Fortune recently released its annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, naming Memphis-based Baker Donelson number 31 — a big jump from the law firm's 45th ranking in 2013. Among the reasons the publication listed for its rank, more than half of the staffers are women and the firm employs a dedicated pro bono attorney. The only other company in Tennessee to make the list was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was ranked 30. CNN has the full list. 

2014 Law Student Leadership Class Named

Law students selected for the TBA Diversity Leadership Institute's class of 2014 will begin programming Friday in Nashville in conjunction with the TBA Leadership Conference. The six-month leadership and mentoring program — chaired this year by Memphis attorney Ahsaki Baptist and Nashville lawyer Brian Winfrey — is sponsored by the TBA's Young Lawyers Division. This is the program's fourth year.

Class members are: Candace Carter and I'Ashea Dihigo from the Belmont College of Law; Beverly Conner, James Edwards, Brenda Gadd, Joy Ruth Gallagher, Ernie Gilkes, Elizabeth Goetz, Emily Harvey and Tamika Parker from the Nashville School of Law; Jesse Oakes from the Duncan School of Law; Sara Garner, Michael Kapellas, Aurelia Patterson, LaTanyia Walker, Rodrequez Watson and Brittany Williams from the University of Memphis School of Law; and Alandis Brassel, Katori Brown, Noah Mason and Jessica Nwokocha from Vanderbilt University Law School.

Hamilton County Lawyer Censured

Philip Rubin Strang received a public censure on Jan. 13 for paying a personal expense from funds in his trust account resulting in an overdraft. Later, he issued a check to a client for funds collected for the client, but there were insufficient funds in the trust account to cover the check. Download the BPR notice.

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GEICO Auto Insurance offers competitive products and services. Eligible TBA members will receive a members-only 8 percent discount on auto insurance premiums. Check out the savings today!


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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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