Leadership Conference Features Education, Honors

More than 100 Tennessee attorneys and law students packed the Tennessee Bar Center during Saturday's educational programming at the 2014 TBA Leadership Conference in Nashville. Those gathered heard a preview of the new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors developed by the TBA's Public Education Committee, a glimpse at the growing Tennessee Youth Court program and an update on legislation likely to come before the Tennessee legislature this session. The group then headed to the War Memorial Auditorium for the annual TBA Public Service Luncheon,  where Clarksville mayor, lawyer and former State Rep. Kim McMillan spoke to the nearly 200 people gathered (see video of the luncheon here). "I believed I could made a difference," she said about why she has run for public office seven times. "The thing that makes it important to live a life of public service is to ask 'If I don't do it, who will?' That's why I do what I do." Also at the lunch, the TBA Public Service Awards were presented. Those honored were Chattanooga lawyer Charles "Buz" Dooley, who was named the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year; Johnson City attorney Deborah Yeomans, who earned the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year award; and Belmont University law student Katie Blankenship, who was named the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. Five firms were also recognized at the event for adopting formal pro bono policies.

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
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
00 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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 Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Roger Brent Banks, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The pro se petitioner, Roger Brent Banks, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to sentence him as a child sexual predator and that he therefore should be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas to aggravated sexual battery. The State acknowledges that the petitioner is entitled to habeas corpus relief because he was erroneously sentenced as a child predator but argues that the appropriate remedy is the entry of corrected judgments to reflect that the petitioner is to serve his three sentences for aggravated sexual battery at 100% as a violent offender, rather than as a child predator. We agree with the State. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the habeas court and remand for entry of corrected judgments to reflect the petitioner’s correct sentencing status.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


C. Mark Donahoe, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Daniel Clarke Doyle.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Hansel J. McCadams, District Attorney General; and R. Adam Jowers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Daniel Clarke Doyle, pled guilty to statutory rape, a Class E felony, in the Carroll County Circuit Court and was sentenced to one year and six months in the county jail, suspended to supervised probation upon serving eighteen days. On appeal, he challenges the trial court’s imposition of a sentence of split confinement instead of a grant of judicial diversion or full probation. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Neil Umsted, Memphis, Tennessee for the appellant, Frederick Herron.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Terri Fratesi, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Frederick Herron, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for one count of rape of a child. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged and sentenced by the trial court to serve 25 years at 100%. Defendant appeals his conviction and asserts that: 1) the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the State to admit into evidence a video recording of the victim’s forensic interview; 2) the trial court abused its discretion by ruling that the State could ask Defendant about prior arrests and an unnamed prior felony conviction if Defendant chose to testify; 3) the State failed to ensure a unanimous verdict by electing an offense that occurred on an unspecified date, and the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction for the offense; 4) the trial court should have granted a mistrial after a State’s witness testified about Defendant’s alleged prior DUI conviction; 5) the trial court abused its discretion by excluding a letter written by the victim to her sister; and 6) the cumulative effect of the trial court’s errors deprived Defendant of a fair trial. Having carefully reviewed the parties’ briefs and the record before us, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Milly Worley, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jason McCallum.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Bradshaw, Assistant Attorney General; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; and Renee M. Creasy, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Jason McCallum, appeals the Dyer County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 conviction for sale of one-half gram or more of methamphetamine in a drug-free school zone and his eighteen-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph S. Ozment, Memphis, Tennessee, (on appeal) and Larry Copeland, Memphis, Tennessee, (at trial) for the appellant, Ken Parker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Paul Hagerman, Assistant District Attorney General; and Robert Ratton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Shelby County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Ken Parker, charging him with first degree murder and attempted second degree murder. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of facilitation of first degree murder and attempted second degree murder. The trial court imposed a sentence of twenty years for facilitation of first degree murder and ten years for attempted second degree murder with the sentences to be served concurrently with each other and consecutively to a life sentence that Defendant had received in a separate case. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of certain writings and drawings found on Defendant’s person and in his backpack at the time of his arrest; and (3) that the trial court erred by not requiring the State to elect which facts it relied upon to establish the offense of attempted second degree murder. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James E. Thomas (on appeal) and Jeff Woods (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Courtney Wesley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin E.D. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Chris Lareau, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Courtney Wesley, was convicted of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of ten years and four years, respectively. Appellant now challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After careful review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Nonprofit Corporation Act Clears First Hurdle

The Senate Commerce Committee today unanimously recommended for adoption the TBA’s 90-page bill, SB 1505/HB 1442, to adopt comprehensive amendments to the Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation Act. The measure, sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jack Johnson, R- Franklin, is the result of a three-year effort chaired by Nashville attorney Richard Johnson.

Lipman Nomination Heads to Full Senate

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Memphis attorney Sheri Lipman to be the new U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee. Her nomination now goes to the full U.S. Senate for approval. The Memphis Daily News has more. 

Baker Donelson Boosting Nashville Office

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz has announced the addition of 15 attorneys in its Nashville office over the last month as the firm beefs up its ranks and targets growing its business line of practice, particularly in its real estate and tax group. The Nashville Business Journal reports that the increase in those areas reflects a broader trend of growth, as the firm’s Nashville office has had nearly 30 percent growth over the past 14 months. “Part of our plan has been strategic," managing partner Scott Carey said. "The guiding principle is not growing for growth's sake, but doing it in a way to benefit our clients."

Suicide and the Legal Profession

Recent data from the Center for Disease Control suggests that lawyers rank fourth in proportion of suicides by profession. Due in part to professional stress, lawyers are 3.6 times more prone to suffer from depression than non-lawyers, a condition identified by the American Psychological Association as the most likely trigger for suicide. Many state bar associations are working to curb this disturbing trend, CNN reports. Eight out of the 50 bar associations they reviewed are so concerned about suicide, they took measures such as adding a “mental health” component to mandatory CLE. In Tennessee, the Supreme Court created the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) to help attorneys with alcohol and drug abuse, depression and suicide. Since its inception in 1999, TLAP has helped more than 300 attroneys. Read more about TLAP and other impaired lawyer resources in a 2011 issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal

DA Recuses Her Office in Murder Trial

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich has recused her office from a new trial of a murder case saying the office's involvement in the case has become a "distraction," the Memphis Flyer reports. Last month Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Henderson was reprimanded by the Tennessee Supreme Court after he pleaded guilty to the charges of misconduct and violating state rules governing prosecutors in the murder trials. Weirich said Henderson’s actions were not responsible for the turnovers in the case, but that the attention generated by his censure has become a distraction.

Proposed Legislation Targets Racial Profiling

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen on Friday proposed legislation aimed at addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system, WREG reports. The new laws would identify cases of racial profiling and penalize those responsible for it. Cohen is asking U.S. Attorneys to examine racial profiling in their areas and engage their communities to find ways to eliminate it. A panel of prosecutors, defenders, civil rights, and faith-based leaders would be asked for input. “Law enforcement officers do a great service and we need them so much but they need to spend their time based on actual probable cause and not racial stereotypes,” Cohen said.

Justice at Stake Recalls Citizens United Decision

Spending by special interest groups in judicial races has surged by more than 50 percent over the previous record since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision four years ago today, Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg noted in a statement today. The decision allowed unlimited political spending by corporations and unions. Brandenburg writes. “The deluge of special interest and political campaign cash signals a race to the bottom in judicial elections, and they are becoming barely distinguishable from mudslinging political contests for executive or legislative offices.”

Comments Sought on Proposal to Change Certification of Specialization

The Tennessee Supreme Court filed an order today soliciting public comments to proposed amendments to Supreme Court Rule 21, Section 10 and 1.01 and Rule 8. The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization had earlier filed a petition seeking changes to the process for certifying Tennessee lawyers as specialists. Under its proposal, the commisison would no longer certify Tennessee lawyers, but would maintain and publish a roster of lawyers who have obtained certification from an ABA-accredited organization. The deadline for submitting written comments is May 21.

Haslam, Bredesen Join Forces in Judicial Selection Campaign

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen are joining forces in a drive to keep appointment of state appellate judges in the hands of governors. According to the Tennessean, Haslam’s Republican administration plans to support a campaign to win passage of a proposed constitutional amendment that will be on ballots statewide this fall.

Juvenile Court Judge Readies Campaign

Chief Juvenile Court Magistrate Dan Michael says he is prepared if opponents try to make a campaign issue out of reforms underway at the court. In 2009, the U.S Justice Department began a comprehensive investigation of the court that found “serious and systemic failures” in the juvenile justice system in Memphis and Shelby County, noting that black children disproportionately faced harsher punishments than white children and were disproportionately transferred to the adult criminal justice system for trial as adults. “If that is the issue that is raised, bring it on,” Michael said of the report’s harsh conclusions. “I don’t feel like I’m part of the problem. I feel like I am the solution. I’ve been there long enough. I know the system. I know what needs to be changed.” The non-partisan judicial race is on the Aug. 7 ballot. The Memphis Daily News has the story.

AWA Annual Banquet Jan. 23

The Association of Women Attorneys will host its 34th annual banquet and silent auction on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Tower Center in Memphis. Linda Warren Seely, director of Pro Bono Projects and Campaign for Equal Justice for Memphis Area Legal Services, will receive the organization’s Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award for outstanding achievement in the legal profession. The Commercial Appeal has more.

11 Lawyers Suspended for Fee, IOLTA Violations

The Tennessee Supreme Court has suspended 11 lawyers who did not pay their annual registration fee to the Board of Professional Responsibility and/or did not file a mandatory compliance statement that eligible client funds are held in accounts participating in the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. The orders were signed Jan. 14. Those who have complied with the rules since the orders were issued, and for whom notification of a status change has been received from the Board of Professional Responsibility, are noted as reinstated. Download the orders and get the latest information.

Find Employment Leads on JobLink

TBA’s JobLink is a job seeking and recruitment tool available at no charge. Whether you have a position to fill or are seeking employment, this site will guide you through a simple process to post your information. Get started!


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