140+ Judicial Candidates Sign Code of Conduct

More than 140 judicial candidates running for election this year have signed the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct, in the first release of names by the TBA today. The list includes justices and judges facing retention elections, as well as judges and challengers in contested elections. The code of conduct program invites judicial candidates to agree to a campaign code aimed at preserving public faith in the integrity of the justice system. Since the effort was announced last fall, the TBA has been gathering information about judicial candidates and informing them about the code of conduct program. Learn more about the Code of Conduct or see the list of those who have agreed to abide by it on the TBA's Judicial Selection Information Center. Judicial candidates who have not yet signed the pledge but desire to do so should email or call TBA staff member Karen Belcher, (615) 383-7421.

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.

02 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - 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

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DEWAYNE COLLIER aka PATRICK COLLIER
CORRECTION: On page 5, 2nd full paragraph, deleted extra space between "deposited" and "on." On page 11, end of last paragraph, corrected year in Henley citation from "1976" to "1972." On page 14, in footnote, corrected "People v. Novack" to "People v. Novak".

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Phyllis Aluko, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, DeWayne Collier.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Damon Griffin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant of aggravated statutory rape, and the trial court imposed a sentence of four years. On appeal, the defendant, who was forty-two years old at the time of the offense, argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction because the testimony of the fourteen-year-old female victim, a consenting accomplice in the crime, was not adequately corroborated by other proof. The Court of Criminal Appeals found that the victim qualified as an accomplice to the crime but affirmed the conviction, holding that her testimony was sufficiently corroborated by the evidence in the record. This Court granted review to determine whether a victim of statutory rape qualifies as an accomplice such that his or her testimony must be corroborated in order to support a conviction. We hold that the testimony of a victim of statutory rape does not require corroboration. Because the evidence is sufficient to sustain the conviction, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.


TN Court of Appeals

BEVERLY BEAL, ET AL. v. BENTON COUNTY, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert T. Keeton, III and Laura A. Keeton, Huntingdon, Tennessee, for the appellants, Beverly Beal, et al.

Brandon O. Gibson, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellees, Benton County, et al.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case results from a county employee’s assertion that the county’s decision to require some employees to contribute to their insurance premiums, while not requiring a contribution from others, violates equal protection. The trial court granted summary judgment to the county, concluding that the legislation was rationally related to a legitimate government interest. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm and remand.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARTY M. CLARK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Jeremy B. Epperson, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marty M. Clark.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Jody Pickens, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: CLARK

A Madison County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Marty Clark, charging him with possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of possession of cocaine and attempted possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court imposed a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days for possession of cocaine and six months for attempted possession of drug paraphernalia to be served concurrently with each other and consecutively to an unrelated case. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; and (2) that the trial court erred in refusing to give the absent material witness instruction to the jury. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. GARY S. HOLMAN
With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard L. Gaines, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gary S. Holman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faught, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Gary S. Holman, stands convicted of aggravated burglary, employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, false imprisonment, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery. He is currently serving an effective sentence of life plus eleven years. On appeal, the defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred by not allowing extrinsic evidence to be used to impeach a witness under Tennessee Rules of Evidence Rule 613(b);(2) that the trial court erred by allowing prejudicial photographs of a victim into evidence; and (3) that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Following review of the record, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the convictions. However, the petitioner’s remaining two issues are waived for failure to prepare an adequate record on appeal. As such, the judgments of conviction are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ERICA LAWRENCE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul Goodman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Barry W. Kuhn, Assistant Public Defender; and Dianne Thackery, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Erica Lawrence.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, Erica Lawrence, was indicted, along with her co-defendant Charles Bragg, by the Shelby County Grand Jury for first degree felony murder. Defendant filed a motion to suppress a statement she gave to police in which she admitted that she was present during the murder but stated that her co-defendant committed the murder. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress, and the State filed an application for an interlocutory appeal, which this court granted. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings, and therefore, we affirm the decision of the trial court to grant Defendant’s motion to suppress.


WILLIE LEWIS TOLBERT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Willie Lewis Tolbert.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; Randall Eugene Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Willie Lewis Tolbert, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, one count of carjacking, and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon. Pursuant to petitioner’s plea agreement, the trial court imposed a sentence of eight years. Petitioner applied for probation, which the trial court denied, and the trial court ordered petitioner to serve his sentence in confinement. Petitioner filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. Following an evidentiary hearing, the postconviction court denied relief. On appeal, petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel: (1) failed to properly communicate with petitioner prior to his guilty plea submission hearing; (2) failed to adequately advise petitioner regarding whether he would receive probation; and (3) made an incorrect prediction that petitioner’s case would be dismissed in general sessions court. He further argues that these errors rendered his guilty plea involuntary. After our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRYAN WILLIAMS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Harold R. Gunn, Humboldt, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bryan Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Garry G. Brown, District Attorney General; Edward L. Hardister and Hillary Lawler Parham, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Bryan Williams, was convicted of two counts of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony; aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony; four counts of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; aggravated assault, a Class C felony; ten counts of felony violation of community supervision conditions, a Class E felony; six counts of misdemeanor violation of community supervision conditions, a Class A misdemeanor; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; and indecent exposure, a Class B misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-102, -13-304, -13-305, -13-502, -13-511, -13-526, -14-403, -17- 418. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of sixty-two years to be served at one hundred percent. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) that the rape victims were actually accomplices to the crimes and that their testimony was uncorroborated; (3) that the State was allowed to reopen its proof to the prejudice of the Defendant; (4) that the State raised issues in its rebuttal argument that had not been raised in the Defendant’s closing argument; and (5) that the Defendant “was sentenced improperly.” Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Process Underway to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy

The Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments is now accepting applications for a vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court that will be created by the retirement of Justice William C. Koch Jr. on July 15. Interested applicants must be licensed attorneys who are at least 35, have been a resident of the state for five years and have been a resident of the Middle or Western grand divisions of the state. Applicants must complete the designated application and submit it to the Administrative Office of the Courts by Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. Central time. The commission will interview all qualified applicants on March 5 in Nashville.


Clinics Settle False Claims Act Charges

Two East Tennessee orthopedic clinics have agreed to pay a combined $1.85 million to settle False Claims Act allegations, the Department of Justice said Friday. Tennessee Orthopedic Clinics in Knoxville will pay $1.3 million and the Appalachian Orthopedic Clinics in Kingsport will pay $550,000 for “knowingly bill[ing] state and federal health care programs for reimported osteoarthritis medications,” Knox News reports. The medications, known as viscosupplements, are lubricants approved for treatment of knee pain. The government had alleged that the clinics “knowingly purchased deeply discounted viscosupplements that were reimported from foreign countries and billed them to state and federal health care programs” although they were not eligible for reimbursement.


New Name for Nashville Law Firm

The Nashville entertainment law firm of Ansel L. Davis & Associates has become Davis Dirickson PLLC after firm attorney Landon Dirickson was named partner. Dirickson, a native of Tulsa and a graduate of the University of Tulsa Law School, has been with the firm since 2005. He will continue to represent existing clients and focus on expanding the business. The firm focuses on negotiating agreements for artists, producers, songwriters and executives. Its address and phone number will remain the same. The Nashville Business  Journal reported the news.


Nuns Get Temporary Relief from Contraception Mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday offered a short-term compromise that would continue to exempt a group of Denver nuns from meeting a birth control mandate for their nursing home employees. Under the arrangement, the nuns can declare themselves a religious nonprofit organization opposed to birth control and continue to be exempt while their case is heard by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court’s action came after Justice Sonia Sotomayor blocked the contraceptive coverage mandate for the nuns just hours before the health law went into effect.


Services Tomorrow for Retired Knox Chancellor

Retired Chancellor Frederick D. McDonald died Saturday (Jan. 25) at the age of 85. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, McDonald served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps in the Pentagon and later in the 3rd Infantry Division in Korea. McDonald moved to Knoxville in 1968 to practice law. He was first appointed to the Knox County Chancery Court in 1973 by former Gov. Winfield Dunn. During his 25-year tenure, McDonald presided over several high profile cases and served as president of the Tennessee State Judicial Conference. The family will receive friends this evening from 5 to 7 p.m. at Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel, 6200 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919. Funeral services will be tomorrow (Jan. 28) at 10 a.m. Internment will follow at Highland Memorial Cemetery, 5315 Kingston Pike. Knox News has more on his life.


Personalized Insurance Service

TBA Member Insurance Solutions provides association members with exclusive benefits, personalized service and pricing discounts through Graham Swafford, our insurance agent dedicated to serving TBA members. Whether you need professional liability insurance or guidance on other insurance needs, Graham is here for you.


 
 

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