Access to Justice Project Wins Frist Grant

The Frist Foundation has agreed to fund a comprehensive, statewide study of the legal needs of low-income and homeless Tennesseans. The study, to be conducted by the University of Tennessee's College of Social Work Office of Research and Public Service, will include an updated needs assessment, identifying the civil legal needs of low-income Tennesseans, as well as the effectiveness of the current system for meeting these needs. “The Frist Foundation ... has been generous to the bench and bar of this state for many years," former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Drowota said of the grant. "This most recent gift to the Access to Justice Commission will help the bench and bar of this state address the legal needs of those who need and deserve our help."

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - 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









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

DONALD HARP AND MARY HARP v. METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Saul Solomon and J. Brooks Fox, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

Rocky McElhaney and Taylor C. Sutherland, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Donald and Mary Harp.

Judge: BENNETT

In this governmental tort liability action involving two metropolitan government employees, Employee 1 drove a school bus into Employee 2, resulting in serious injuries. Employee 2 and his wife filed suit under the Governmental Tort Liability Act against metropolitan government alleging that Employee 1 was negligent while acting in the course and scope of her employment and that, therefore, metropolitan government was liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Metropolitan government filed a third-party complaint against Employee 1 seeking to recover lost wages and medical expenses paid to Employee 2. The trial court determined that statutory removal of metropolitan government’s immunity for injuries caused by Employee 1’s negligence resulted in Employee 1’s immunity from liability. Accordingly, the trial court entered judgment for Employee 2 and his wife against metropolitan government. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

JAMES D. BEAIRD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeremy W. Parham, for the Petitioner, James D. Beaird.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Bradshaw, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rob McGuire, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, James D. Beaird, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his conviction for first degree felony murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based upon allegations that Counsel failed to exclude or introduce certain evidence at trial and failed to conduct a reasonable investigation prior to trial. Additionally, he asserts that the cumulative errors made by Counsel entitle him to relief. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHAD WALTER COOK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ardena J. Garth and Richard Kenneth Mabee (on appeal) and Blake Murchison (at trial), Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chad Walter Cook.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Matthew Rogers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Chad Walter Cook, pled guilty in the Hamilton County Criminal Court to two counts of selling one-half gram or more of methamphetamine and received an effective eightyear sentence to be served on supervised probation. Subsequently, the trial court revoked his probation and ordered that he serve his sentences in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his original sentences. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SHANNON ANN MANESS and DARYL WAYNE MANESS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kandi Kelley Collins, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellants, Shannon Ann Maness and Daryl Wayne Maness.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General, and Jody Pickens, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellants, Daryl and Shannon Maness, were each indicted by the Chester County Grand Jury for two counts of aggravated statutory rape. After a jury trial, Appellants were found guilty as charged. They were each sentenced to an effective sentence of three years. The trial court denied Appellants’ request for alternative sentencing. On appeal, Appellants argue that the trial court erred in denying their motions in limine requesting the exclusion of certain sexually explicit photographs, that the evidence was insufficient to support their convictions, and that the trial court erred in denying their request for alternative sentences. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not err in denying the motion in limine and that the evidence was sufficient. However, we conclude that the trial court based the denial of alternative sentencing on deterrence grounds without sufficient evidence as required under State v. Hooper, 29 S.W.3d 1 (Tenn. 2000). Therefore, we affirm Appellants’ convictions, but remand for a new sentencing hearing.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. OTIS MELVIN, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Vanessa Pettigrew Bryan, District Public Defender; and J. Gregory Burlison, Assistant Public Defender, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Otis Melvin, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle L. Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Kim Helper, District Attorney General; and Stacey B. Edmondson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Otis Melvin, Jr., was convicted by a Perry County jury of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103, -105 (2010). The trial court denied Melvin’s request for judicial diversion and sentenced him as Range I, standard offender to one year in the Department of Correction. The sentence was suspended to two years on supervised probation. Melvin was also ordered to pay $7,022.11 in restitution to the Social Security Administration. On appeal, Melvin argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court abused its discretion in denying him judicial diversion. Upon review, we affirm the theft conviction and the two-year probationary sentence imposed by the trial court. However, we remand the matter for entry of an amended judgment consistent with this opinion.

QAWI NUR, aka DARRIUS JAMES v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gregory D. Allen (on appeal) and Juni Ganguli (at hearing), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Qawi Nur, aka Darrius James.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Alexia Crump, Anita Spinetta, Charles Summers, and David Zak, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Qawi Nur, also known as Darrius James, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROY PIERSON JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Barry W. Kuhn, on appeal, and Timothy J. Albers and Lawrence Morton, at trial, for the Defendant-Appellant, Roy Pierson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilbur, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Kirby May, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Roy Pierson, Jr., was convicted by a Shelby County jury for possession of one hundred or more recordings that did not clearly and conspicuously disclose the name and address of the manufacturer in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-139 (Supp. 2009). He received a sentence of twenty-five months in the workhouse to be served at thirty percent. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the trial court improperly denied the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (3) the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress evidence seized from his business. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


MAURICE SHAW v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gary F. Antrican, District Public Defender; and David S. Stockton, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Maurice Shaw.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Jason R. Poyner, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Maurice Shaw, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.


KEITH WILLIAMS v. JOE EASTERLING, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Keith Williams, Pro Se, Whiteville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; and Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Keith Williams, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated assault, one count of assault, and one count of domestic assault in case numbers 5338, 5767, 6756, and 6757 in Haywood County over a period of several years. For each of the convictions, Petitioner was sentenced and ordered to serve the sentence on probation. Several probation violation reports were filed against Petitioner. Eventually, probation was revoked. Petitioner sought habeas corpus relief in Hardeman County on the basis that his sentences had expired. The habeas corpus court dismissed the petition for relief without a hearing, finding that Petitioner failed to show that his judgments were void or that his sentence had expired. Petitioner appealed. After a review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court because Petitioner has failed to show that his sentences have expired or that the judgments are void.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Expungement of Criminal Records for Multiple Convictions

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-01-22

Opinion Number: 12


Commission Sends 3 Names to Gov. for Chancery Opening

The Governor's Commission for Judicial Appointments has submitted attorneys Charlies L. Trotter Jr., Carma Dennis McGee and Vicki Hodge Hoover as nominees to Gov. Bill Haslam for the Chancellor opening in the 24th Judicial District. The vacancy was created by the death of the Hon. Ron. E. Harmon last year. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more. 


New Legislative Tool Keeps TBA Members Up-to-Date

The TBA is expanding its legislative advocacy efforts through TBA Impact, a tool to make sure your voice is heard in the halls of the General Assembly on issues important to sustaining and improving the practice of law. The TBA has a long tradition of advocating on behalf of its members in the General Assembly. TBA Impact will enhance these efforts, giving you an opportunity to weigh in on issues important to the profession. TBA Impact also will connect you with your legislators on key issues in the legislature. Log in to your TBA account, then click on the TBA Impact tab to make sure your voice and the profession is heard in the General Assembly.


Attorneys Honored at CBA Annual Meeting

The Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA) honored seven attorneys at the 116th Annual Meeting yesterday. Michael N. St. Charles of Chamblis Bahner Stophel was awarded the Ralph M. Kelly Humanitarian Award; Lee Davis of Davis & Hoss was awarded the President’s Award; B. Paul Hatcher of Duncan Hatcher Hixson & Fleenor was awarded the Albert Hodge Volunteer Award; William P. Aiken Jr. was awarded the Harry Weil Zealous Practice of Law Award; Paul R Leitner of Leitner Williasm Dooley & Napolitan was awarded the Joe Chambliss Lifetime Achievement Award; and H. Eric Burnette of Burnett Dobson & Pinchak and Kirby Yost of Chambliss Bahner & Stophel were jointly awarded the Young Lawyer Division Volunteer of the Year Award. To learn more about the honorees, visit the CBA website.


AG Appeals Discrimination Ruling

The state attorney general’s office is appealing Davidson County Judge Hamilton Gayden’s ruling that the seven-man, two-woman makeup of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission is discriminatory, making the commission invalid. An Associated Press report on WSMV says that state law requires the commission to have a makeup approximately that of the state’s population in terms of race and gender. On the advice of the attorney general’s office, the commission held its regularly scheduled meeting last Friday.


AG Urges Target Customers to Take Advantage of Free Credit Monitoring

State Attorney General Bob Cooper is urging all Tennessee residents who shop at Target stores to take advantage of one year or free credit monitoring being offered by the retail company in the wake of the massive data breach. Last month, Target reported the payment card information of approximately 40 million customers had been obtained by hackers. In addition, Cooper says "consumers should take the proactive steps of monitoring their bank account activity, and changing their PIN numbers and passwords.”


Virginia AG Won’t Defend Gay Marriage Ban

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring today declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and said he won’t defend it in federal lawsuits. Herring, a Democrat and former state senator, stressed marriage equality as part of his campaign last year. His narrow election and Terry McAuliffe's victory as governor marked a major change in Virginia politics with Democrats replacing conservatives in top executive positions. "It's time for the commonwealth to be on the right side of history and the right side of the law," he said at a news conference. CNN's PoliticalTicker blog has more. 


House Committee to Vote Next Week on Wine In Grocery Stores Bill

The House Local Government Committee will vote Tuesday on HB610, which would allow wine to be sold in grocery stores. The measure failed to win approval in the committee by one vote last year, however, the bill’s sponsor Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, says opposing sides are close to striking a deal that should lead to passage. He expects a compromise amendment to be put before the committee before a vote is taken. Lundberg declined to outline the tentative compromise, but indicated it would not exclude “big box” retailers such as Walmart and Costco from selling wine, Knoxnews reports.


Judicial Candidates Face Special Challenges

As the judicial campaign season starts to heat up, candidates and their supporters are looking over the special challenges they face in trying to win over voters while still operating within  ethical guidelines. The Memphis Daily News looks over these challenges and how General Sessions candidate David Pool and Juvenile Court candidate Dan Michael are navigating them. “People need to pay more attention to the judicial elections,” Michael told the newspaper. "Educate yourself. Know who the judges are. Know what their experience is."


Hamilton County Accountant to Run for Congress

Accountant Lenda Sherrell announced she has filed paperwork to run for U.S. Congress in Tennessee’s 4th District. Sherrell said her campaign will prioritize solutions for expanding the middle class and the state economy, not partisan politics. The Chattanoogan has more.


Candidate Says He Can Use Funds From Legislative Race for Clerk Campaign

State Rep. Vince Dean said he has obtained clearance from the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance to use excess funds from his 2012 legislative race to run for Criminal Court clerk, the Chattanoogan reports. Rep. Dean is seeking the Republican nomination for Hamilton County Criminal Court clerk in the May primary election. Incumbent Gwen Tidwell, a Democrat, is also running. Brian White is another Democrat contender.


Shelby County Lawyer Censured

Katherine Evett Smith received a public censure on Jan. 22 for improperly using her trust account as an operating account for more than one year. On three occasions, Smith commingled client settlement funds with the lawyer’s funds. In another matter, after receiving client settlement funds, Smith issued payment to a client’s medical provider by cashier’s checks. The medical provider did not receive the cashier’s checks and notified Smith in writing four times. Five months later, Smith issued new cashier’s checks to the provider. As such, Smith failed to promptly deliver funds to a third party, which the third party was entitled to receive. In another matter, Smith failed to file a final judgment on a petition for custody for five months and failed to respond to requests for information from her client. Download the BPR notice.


Williamson County Lawyer Censured

Tiffany Marcilynne Johns received a public censure on Jan. 22. The Board of Professional Responsibility found she violated Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3.3(a) (candor to the tribunal) and 3.5(b) (ex parte communication with tribunal) for her behavior in a child custody matter in Kentucky.  Read the full BPR notice.


TBA Members Save at Office Depot

Save up to 60 percent on office supplies through the TBA's Office Depot benefit program! The TBA has partnered with this top national office supply company to offer discounted pricing for law firms large and small.


 
 

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.


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