TBA Releases Senior Handbook for Lawyers, Public

The Tennessee Bar Association today released The Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors to help Tennesseans better understand federal and state benefits, new health care laws and a wide range of other issues of importance to older citizens. It is available for download on the TBA website and will be the subject of presentations across the state starting this week and continuing during March. TBA members also may use the handbook in counseling their clients and may customize the front page to add their own firm’s logo and branding. In addition, the TBA will offer CLE sessions to equip members to make optimal use of the handbook in their practices.

The handbook, a project of TBA President Cindy Wyrick, was produced by the Public Education Committee and a host of volunteer lawyers under the leadership of Knoxville lawyer Angelia Nystrom. “As difficult as it is to fathom, an average of 7,000 Americans are becoming senior citizens each day,” Wyrick said in announcing release of the handbook. “This trend is expected to continue for years, so it is important that we do something meaningful to assist this rapidly growing, but typically underserved, segment of the population.”

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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 Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Lisa M. Miller, Selmer, Tennessee, for the appellant, Beverly H.

Carma Dennis McGee, Savannah, Tennessee, for the appellees, Lavelle G. and Shasity M.

Melissa G. Stewart, Selmer, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem.


This is a termination of parental rights case. Mother/Appellant appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights on grounds of abandonment by an incarcerated parent pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-1-113(g)(1) as defined at Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-1-102(1)(A)(iv), and persistence of conditions pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-1-113(g)(3). Mother also appeals the trial court’s determination that termination of her parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Because there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support the trial court’s decision, we affirm and remand.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Melissa Anderson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Daniel Eduardo Gonzalez.

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

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Daniel Eduardo Gonzalez, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief as time-barred. He argues that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance for failing to advise him of the deportation consequences of his guilty plea as required by Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), and that due process considerations should operate to toll the statute of limitations. Following our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph L. Morrissey, Jr. (on appeal) and Ivan Lopez (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leonel Lopez, aka Leonel Lopez Ramos.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin E.D. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Katrin N. Miller, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Leonel Lopez, also known as Leonel Lopez Ramos, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of second degree murder and sentenced to twenty years as a violent offender in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction, and (2) the service of a convicted felon as the grand jury foreman invalidated the indictment against him as a matter of law. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Online Voting Begins in TBA Elections

Online voting in the Tennessee Bar Association election is now open. Watch for an email with your voting information in the next 24 hours if you are in either the Middle or East Grand Divisions. Both areas have contested elections for Board of Governors seats. For Middle Grand Division Governor, Position 2, Nashville attorney Jim Cartiglia of Waddey & Patterson PC is facing Franklin attorney David Veile of Schell & Davies LLC. In the East, Knoxville attorney Sarah Sheppeard of Sheppeard & Mynatt PLC is facing Chattanooga attorney David McDowell of Gearhiser Peters Elliott & Cannon PLLC for East Grand Division Governor, Position 1. Online voting will continue through March 3. After that, members in the East and Middle Grand Divisions who did not vote online will receive a paper ballot.

AG Urges Congressional Action on Data Breaches

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is urging Congress to require businesses to quickly alert consumers and law enforcement agencies of significant data breaches like those at Target and Neiman Marcus. In a video posted on the Justice Department's website, Holder said Congress should create a strong, national standard for notifying consumers whose information may have been compromised, empowering members of the public to protect themselves if they are at risk of identity theft. WSMV has more.

Primary Races Set for 5 Counties

The May 6 primary ballots are set for Bradley, Cocke, Hamblen, McMinn and Sevier counties. Learn more about the qualifying candidates.

Lawmakers Postpone Bill to Eliminate Shelby Circuit Courts

The state House Civil Justice Subcommittee last week decided not to take up legislation that would have eliminated two divisions of Shelby County’s Circuit Court. Instead, the committee “rolled” the bill (HB 2209 / SB 1484) for two weeks. It is now scheduled to be considered on March 5.

Bills Seek to Tackle Backlog of Rape Evidence

Tennessee is among at least 17 states that are proposing legislation to address the backlogs of untested rape kits dating as far back as the 1980s, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. State Sen. Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, is the sponsor of one bill requiring law enforcement agencies to inventory their rape kits. Another proposal, sponsored by Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, would require law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation within 10 days and require they be analyzed within six months.

Proposed Bills Limit Funding for UT Speakers

Proposed bills in the state House and Senate would limit or cut funding for University of Tennessee student groups to host campus speakers, the Columbia Daily Herald reports. In a backlash against the student-organized Sex Week — a week-long event promoting sexual health — Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, has introduced SB 1608, which would allocate speaker fees based on the membership size of student organizations. A companion bill, HB 2378, has been introduced in the House by Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet. A second proposal, SB 2493 / HB 2450, sponsored by Campfield and Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, would eliminate funding for all speakers. UT President Joe DiPietro said it was the first time in 40 years there was such concern over campus activities, but defended the university's open speaker policy.

Knoxville Marks 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Act

The City of Knoxville is hosting a citywide celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. One of the planned events is a free brown bag lunch Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event, which will take place in the Small Assembly Room of the City County Building, will feature a panel discussion on the topic “Voting, Voting Statistics and Districting." Speakers include state Rep. Joe Armstrong, City of Knoxville Deputy Mayor Bill Lyons and former mayor Daniel Brown. The panel will be led by moderator Robert Booker, a former state representative and Knoxville city councilman, and current executive director of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center. For more information, please contact Joshalyn Hundley, (865) 215-3867.

Gideon’s Army Screening Set for March 3

The Nashville Public Defender’s Office is hosting a screening of the award-winning HBO documentary Gideon’s Army. The showing will take place next Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Carmike Bellevue 8 Cinema. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online. The film, which premiered last year at the Sundance Film Festival, follows the stories of three young public defenders whose struggle against long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads causes them to challenge the assumptions of the current criminal justice system. The Nashville Public Defender’s Office reports that, like the lawyers featured in the film, it has joined a nationwide movement to reform indigent defense. Download a flyer about the event.

Racing Series Benefits Local CASA Agency

Rogersville lawyer Mark A. Skelton is again hosting the Skelton Law Racing Series, which this year includes a 10-mile road race, a four-mile road race and four trail races. Proceeds from the 8K and mile run, set for May 31, benefit CASA for Kids, which serves families in Sullivan and Hawkins counties. Events start in February and run through next fall.  Download a schedule of races or contact Skelton at (423) 272-4812 or markskelton@markskelton.com for more information.

Court Affirms Disbarment of Memphis Lawyer

In a unanimous opinion released last Friday, the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the disbarment of Memphis attorney George E. Skouteris Jr. for violating multiple rules of professional conduct. The court found that in handling six personal injury lawsuits between 2007 and 2011, Skouteris failed to safeguard clients’ funds in his trust account after settling their cases. The decision upholds a determination made by a Board of Professional Responsibility hearing panel as well as the Shelby County Chancery Court. In an opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, the Supreme Court found that the disbarment was not arbitrary, was supported by the evidence, and that any procedural errors were of no consequence due to the extent and severity of the misconduct.

Reduced-Rate Display Ads Available for Lawyers

Lawyers and firms now may promote outstanding achievements, new associates, new partners, mergers, awards or any other news in the Tennessee Bar Journal. These Professional Announcements are display ads, available at special, lower-rate pricing. Show your peers across the state about your accomplishments by placing an announcement in the Journal. For information, contact Debbie Taylor at (503) 445-2231 or Debbie@llm.com. To have an announcement placed in the April issue, please contact her as soon as possible.


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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