TBA Executive Honored at ABA Event

The Tennessee Bar Association and several of Tennessee's law schools joined together to honor TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at a reception Saturday during the annual ABA Midyear Meeting in Chicago. The "Tennessee Reception" is a mainstay of ABA meetings and provides an opportunity to recognize Tennessee lawyers serving in the ABA. Ramsaur serves as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, representing the National Association of Bar Executives. See photos from the event at the link above.

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
07 - 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


TN Court of Appeals

DOG HOUSE INVESTMENTS, LLC v. TEAL PROPERTIES, INC., ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David Lee Cooper, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Teal Properties, Inc. and Jerry Teal.

Rebecca Blair and John Bradfield Scarbrough, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Dog House Investments, LLC.

Judge: FARMER

The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff Lessee in this action for breach of contract and promissory fraud. It also awarded Plaintiff punitive damages and prejudgment interest at the rate of eight percent per annum. We affirm.


MARK EDWARD HOLIFIELD v. MICHELE LYNN BILLINGS HOLIFIELD

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

C. Timothy Crocker, Michael A. Carter, J. Noble Grant, III and Ryan Landry Hall, Milan, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mark Edward Holifield.

Mitchell David Moskovitz, Erin Y. Phillips and Mary Morgan Whitfield, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Michele Lynn Billings Holifield.

Judge: FARMER

Plaintiff Husband appeals the trial court’s division of marital property and awards of transitional alimony, alimony in futuro, and alimony in solido in this divorce action. Finding no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court, we affirm. Husband also appeals the trial court’s judgment holding him in contempt for failing to comply with the trial court’s order to pay to Wife one-half of a health savings account. We affirm on this issue. Wife’s request for attorney’s fees on appeal is granted.


DAVID G. YOUNG, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CITY ADMINISTRATOR FOR THE CITY OF LAFOLLETTE v. CITY OF LAFOLLETTE ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jon G. Roach, Emily A. Cleveland, and Brian R. Bibb, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, City of LaFollette.

David H. Dunaway, LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellee, David G. Young.

Judge: FRIERSON

In this retaliatory discharge action brought by a former city administrator of the City of LaFollette, Tennessee (“LaFollette”), the trial court, following a bench hearing, denied LaFollette’s motion to strike the city administrator’s demand for a jury trial. The trial court, however, granted LaFollette permission for interlocutory appeal on the question of whether the city administrator’s request for a jury trial properly may be granted pursuant to the Tennessee Public Protection Act (“TPPA”), see Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-304 (Supp. 2013), despite the non-jury provision of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”), see Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 29-20-307 (Supp. 2013). We conclude that the non-jury requirement of the GTLA applies to this TPPA claim. We therefore reverse the trial court’s denial of LaFollette’s motion to strike the city administrator’s jury demand, and we remand to the trial court for further proceedings without a jury.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMAAL L. BYRD

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ryan David Hanzelik (on appeal and at trial) and Fred Hanzelik (at trial), East Ridge, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jamaal L. Byrd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Brian Finley and Matthew Rogers, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Jamaal L. Byrd, appeals from his Hamilton County Criminal Court jury conviction of voluntary manslaughter, claiming error in the jury instructions provided by the trial court and in the trial court’s failure to admit certain evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT EDWARD FRITTS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mart S. Cizek, for the Defendant-Appellant, Robert Edward Fritts.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; David S. Clark; District Attorney General; and Sandra N.C. Donaghy and Victoria E. Bannach, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Robert Edward Fritts, appeals his conviction for first degree premeditated murder, for which he received a sentence of life without parole. On appeal, he argues that (1) the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce expert testimony regarding Fritts’s gang affiliation, and (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOHNNY L. MCGOWEN, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Johnny L. McGowen, Jr., Pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and James Sledge, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Johnny L. McGowen, Jr., pled guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to aggravated assault and received an eight-year sentence to be served in confinement. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by refusing to grant his motion to reduce his sentence to probation. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TAVARUUS MONTREL MOSS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard Kenneth Mabee (on appeal) and Blake Murchison (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Tavaruus Montrel Moss.

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

Judge: WITT

Charged by the Hamilton County Criminal Court grand jury with aggravated robbery, the defendant, Tavaruus Montrel Moss, pleaded guilty to facilitation of aggravated robbery and agreed to a three-year sentence of split confinement consisting of 11 months and 29 days in jail with credit for time served and the balance of the sentence to be served on supervised probation. The trial court entered the judgment on August 9, 2012, but on January 17, 2013, the State obtained a probation revocation warrant that alleged that the defendant had incurred new criminal charges, that he had failed to report his arrest to his probation officer, that he had failed to provide proof of lawful employment, that he had failed to report for probation, that his whereabouts were unknown, and that he had failed to pay his probation fees. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked the defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement. In his timely appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred by revoking his probation and ordering him into confinement. Because the record supports the trial court’s order, we affirm.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TEDDY R. ROBBINS, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Teddy R. Robbins, Jr..

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; William P. Phillips, District Attorney General; and Thomas E. Bartlay, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Teddy Russell Robbins, Jr., was indicted by the Scott County Grand Jury for domestic assault, aggravated assault, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape based on acts committed against his wife. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of all the offenses as charged in the indictment. As a result, he was sentenced to an effective sentence of fifty years in incarceration. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal. On appeal, Appellant argues: (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions for especially aggravated kidnapping and rape; and (2) the trial court erred by refusing to grant a mistrial. After our review, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying a mistrial where the juror in question was dismissed from the jury pool and the trial court issued a curative instruction. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ELGIE SYKES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Juni S. Ganguli (on appeal) and Paul Guibao (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elgie Sykes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Kate Edmands and Glen C. Baity, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

Following a retrial, the defendant, Elgie Sykes, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Based upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


PERLEY WINKLER, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

W. Tyler Weiss, Madisonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Perley Winkler, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; R. Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and James Stutts and Paul Rush, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Perley Winkler, Jr., appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2008 Monroe County Criminal Court convictions of two counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of attempted aggravated arson, claiming that the State withheld material evidence at trial, that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial, and that the post-conviction court erred by refusing to allow the petitioner to treat his trial counsel as an adverse party. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Appeal Filed in Nashville Nondiscrimination Case

Plaintiffs who sued the state over a law that overturned a Nashville nondiscrimination ordinance filed a lengthy appellate brief on Friday, the Tennessean reports. Nashville’s ordinance, enacted in 2011, extended the city’s ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity to the employees of city contractors. A suit was filed challenging the law but a lower court ruled the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue because they failed to show harm. Since then, the plaintiffs argue, the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act opens new avenues to examine such laws.


Butler Snow Expands to New York, Hires 2

Mississippi-based Butler Snow has expanded into the New York market and has named Stanford G. Ladner, a 1976 graduate of Catholic University of America Law School, as head of the new office. He will work in the Public Finance, Tax Incentives and Credit Markets Group. The firm also announced that David M. Cohen, a 1986 graduate of Fordham University School of Law, joins the office as a member. He will serve in the Product Liability, Mass Tort and Environmental Group. Learn more about the new hires on the firm's website or in this Memphis Business Journal article.


Party Politics Takes Center Stage in Chancery Race

In announcing his candidacy for Anderson County chancellor, Clinton lawyer Phil Harber quickly drew some battle lines, Knoxnews reports. Harber said he is “the only true conservative and the only true Republican” seeking the party’s nomination in the May 6 primary. Without naming names, Harber said his only opponent to date is a lifelong Democrat “who has now crossed party lines to distance himself from the Democrats.” He was referencing fellow Clinton lawyer Michael Farley, who also is seeking the GOP nomination. They are running for the seat held by current Chancellor William Lantrip, who is retiring.


Former Judge Brown Considers DA Race

Former Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown has a qualifying petition out to run in the Democratic primary for district attorney general, the Memphis Daily News reports. His entry into the race would be the only opposition Republican incumbent Amy Weirich has drawn from either party so far. Brown, who has until Feb. 20 to make his decision, said, “I haven’t quite made up my mind if I’m going to do this because I’ve got some business matters that I’ve got to wrap up and get secure. But I would love to do it.” Brown’s syndicated court show, “Judge Joe Brown,” was cancelled by CBS last March ending a 15-year run as the second highest-rated court show on television.


Chattanooga Democrat Announces for Floyd Seat

Eric McRoy announced Friday he will run for an open seat in the state House of Representatives. The 34-year-old IT professional is running for the Democratic nomination in the 27th District. If elected, he says he plans to focus on health care access and tougher criminal penalties for people who abuse children and the elderly. McRoy initially planned to run against state Rep. Richard Floyd for the Hamilton County district, but Floyd announced last week he would not seek re-election. Election Commissioner Tommy Crangle announced Thursday he will seek the Republican nomination.


Paine Column on Thornton Trial, Judge Cotton's Book Reviewed

This issue includes another one of the late Don Paine's final "Paine on Procedure" columns. This month is "Law Student Kills Medical Student: The Trial of James Clark Thornton." Also in February, Chancellor Andrew Tillman reviews Judge James L. Cotton's new book, The Greatest Speech Ever: The Remarkable Story of Abraham Lincoln and His Gettysburg Address. The book includes a foreword by former Sen. Howard Baker Jr.


Knox Lawyer Censured for Trust Account Violations

Knox County lawyer Stephen Todd Hastey received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court on Feb. 4. The court imposed the discipline after it determined that Hastey used trust account funds to pay personal and business expenses; used trust account funds to pay a filing fee for a client though the money was intended for another purpose; and paid a medical provider from personal funds after a trust account check went unprocessed for 10 months and funds were no longer available to cover the payment. Download the BPR notice.


Health Insurance Exchange Now Available Through TBA

Fast and easy health insurance enrollment is now available through the TBA Health Insurance Exchange operated by JLBG Health. Affordable health insurance coverage is important, but getting it can be complicated, frustrating and expensive. The TBA Health Insurance Exchange can help make the whole process simpler and easier to navigate.


 
 

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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