TBA Recognizes 2014 CCPBI Award Winners

Attorneys from Caterpillar Financial Services Corp. in Nashville and the Knoxville office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz were honored Saturday during the Eighth Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala in Nashville. Baker Donelson was recognized for two projects undertaken in partnership with Legal Aid of East Tennessee: serving as a Pillar Law Firm, representing people seeking to obtain a conservatorship over a disabled adult and working to bring “Project H.E.L.P.” – a program that provides legal assistance to homeless men, women and children – to the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission. CAT Financial was recognized for an ongoing partnership with Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), which offers immigration legal services, education and advocacy. In addition, the gala raised nearly $60,000 to support pro bono activities across the state. See photos from the event or learn more about the initiative.

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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
01 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
02 - 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 Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ardena J. Garth, District Public Defender, and Richard Kenneth Mabee, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Montez Dewayne Birt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Jason Demastus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Montez Dewayne Birt, pled guilty to aggravated burglary and received a sixyear, suspended sentence. Thereafter, a violation warrant was filed, and following a hearing, the trial court revoked the sentence and ordered the Defendant to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement based upon his failure to report to his probation officer. The Defendant appeals the revocation and order of total incarceration. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Constitutionality of Legislation Amending the “Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act”

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-02-27

Opinion Number: 24

Legislation Relative to State Preemption of Weapons Regulation

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-02-27

Opinion Number: 25

Court Names 3 to Full Terms on ATJ Commission

The Tennessee Supreme Court last week appointed Gail Vaughn Ashworth and Sharon R. Ryan to full three-year terms on the court’s Access to Justice Commission. They will serve through March 31, 2017. Ashworth was originally appointed to fill the unexpired seat of Bill Young, while Ryan was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Maura Abeln Smith. The court noted that both lawyers had made “valuable contributions” through “exemplary service to the commission” and should be appointed to full terms. The court also named Ann Jarvis Pruitt to the commission for a three-year term beginning April 1. She replaces Francis S. Guess, whose term expires on March 31. Download the court's order.

LAET Grant Serves More, Yields More than Anticipated

A one-year grant that was expected to provide $250,000 in local benefits instead has resulted in more than six times that amount in half the time, Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) reports. Last fall, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga awarded LAET $20,000 to help low-income women and children escape abusive situations, rebuild their lives and achieve financial stability and security. The “Women in Crisis” program was expected to serve 50 women and their families over a 12-month period. In the first six months, however, LAET staff has served 28 victims and their families, and have identified $1.6 million in public benefits they qualified for but were not receiving.

Profiles Show Diverse Career Paths for Female Attorneys

A recent story in the Nashville Ledger looks at five female attorneys “at the top of their games.” The group includes a sole proprietor practicing consumer bankruptcy, an immigration attorney, a corporate litigator, a lawyer for the long-term care industry and a former public defender turned labor lawyer for the U.S. government. Each of the five women has found a different path to success that reflects her personality and interests, the author writes, and as a group they reflect the diversity of career paths for women in law.

Tonight's 'Gideon's Army' Screening Postponed

The screening of the HBO documentary Gideon’s Army, set for tonight in Nashville, has been postponed because of icy weather conditions, according to the event host, the Nashville Public Defender's Office. In an email, Public Defender Dawn Deaner said they are in the process of rescheduling the event and will provide an update as soon as possible.

Sex Week Comes to UT College of Law

While “Sex Week” at many undergraduate institutions conjures up images of crazy co-eds, at the University of Tennessee College of Law, the event will have a more academic feel. This Friday at 2 p.m., faculty presenters Wendy Bach, Michael Higdon and Joy Radice will participate in a panel discussion on “The Right Kind of Wrong: Sex & the Law.” The event will focus on the legal treatment of gender, sex and sexuality, pondering issues such as the future of gay marriage, gender discrimination in the workplace and transgender rights. Faculty member Joan Heminway will moderate.

Save the Date: AWA Golf Tournament Set for May 30

Lawyers and interested individuals are asked to save the date for the 3rd Annual Association for Women Attorneys (AWA) Foundation Golf Tournament at Mirimichi Golf Course in Millington May 30. The activities begin at 1 p.m. with a shotgun start. The entry fee of $150 includes scramble entry, lunch, drink tickets, prizes, a gift bag and a chance to win a new car from Lexus of Memphis. An environmental tour of Mirimichi is also available at 4:30 p.m. For more information and registration, please visit the AWA website for a flyer.

Justices Decline to Re-enter Immigration Debate

A former Pennsylvania coal town and a Dallas suburb lost a lengthy battle to enact anti-immigrant laws Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their appeals, the Associated Press reports. The high court has held since 2012 that immigration issues are largely a matter for federal agencies, not local governments, to regulate. The ruling Monday involved efforts by the city of Hazleton, in northeastern Pennsylvania, and Farmers Branch, Texas, to enforce housing and employment rules aimed at people in the country illegally, a strategy copied by dozens of other cities that faulted federal efforts to control immigration. WRCB-TV has the story.

Court Will Not Hear German Home-School Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from a German family seeking asylum in the United States because their home country does not allow home-schooling, the Times News reports. The justices rejected an appeal from the Romeikes, who are residents of Morristown, Tenn. The couple had agued that the German government is persecuting them because they want to raise their children in accordance with their Christian beliefs. Last year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their claim as well based on the theory that U.S. law does not grant asylum to every victim of unfair treatment.

New TBJ Explains Firms' HIPAA Obligations

Law firms acting as business associates to health care providers and other entities associated with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) must comply with large parts of the act. John V. Arnold's story in the April Tennessee Bar Journal outlines and explains what firms need to do. Also in this issue, Russell Fowler explores the history of lawyer Milton Brown, who in the 1830s took on an unpopular client because of his belief that everyone is entitled to legal representation. Also, Humor columnist Bill Haltom of Lewis Thomason shakes his head at the latest ranking of Top 100 Jobs from U.S. News & World Report -- and gives his thoughts on where "lawyer" comes in.

Save on Auto Insurance with TBA Benefit

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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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