DA Hopefuls Discuss How They'd Run Office

The three Democratic candidates running to replace Davidson County District Attorney Torry Johnson appeared for the first time together as candidates as part of an hour-long discussion at The Temple in Belle Mead last night. Attorney Glenn Funk, former mayoral aide and prosecutor Diane Lance and former Assistant District Attorney Rob McGuire each discussed how they would run certain parts of the attorney general’s office, including sentencing standards, the consistency of bond amounts and the speed of indictments. The Tennessean has more.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - 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

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TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


H. Franklin Chancey, Bert H. Bates, and B. Lynn Perry, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the petitioners, Michael S. Becker and Lorraine Becker.

J. Randolph Bibb, Jr., Robert F. Chapski, and Whitney Henry Kimerling, Nashville, Tennessee, for the respondent, Ford Motor Company.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves a question of law concerning the interpretation and application of Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-1-119 (2009) certified by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Based on the undisputed facts, the District Court has asked this Court to determine whether, after a defendant asserts a comparative fault claim against a non-party tortfeasor who was known to the plaintiff when the original suit was filed, Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-1-119 permits the plaintiff to amend its complaint to assert a claim directly against the tortfeasor named by the defendant, even though the statute of limitations on that claim has expired. We hold that the application of Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-1-119 is not restricted to tortfeasors who were unknown to the plaintiff when its original complaint was filed. Therefore, Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-1-119 permits a plaintiff to file an amended complaint against the tortfeasor named by the defendant within ninety days after the filing of the answer or amended answer in which the defendant first asserts a comparative fault claim against the tortfeasor.

TN Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


David T. Hooper, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellants, United Parcel Service, Inc. and Liberty Mutual Insurance Corporation.

B. Keith Williams and James R. Stocks, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, George Hollars.


In this workers’ compensation appeal the employer asserts that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that the employee’s injury was permanent. The employee, a package car driver for United Parcel Service, experienced two episodes of heat exhaustion while at work. The trial court found the heat exhaustion to be permanent and awarded benefits for permanent partial disability and the employer appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We reverse the decision of the trial court.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


C. Phillip M. Campbell and Gary K. Smith, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Clifton A. Lake and Charleen J. Lake.

Kenneth R. Rudstrom, Memphis, Tennessee, and James E. Singer, Atlanta, Georgia, for the appellee, The Memphis Landsmen, LLC.

Molly A. Glover, Anna Vergos Blair, Eric J. Lewellyn, Aaron Robert Parker and Steven N. Snyder, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metrotrans Corporation.

Kirk A. Caraway, Heather Webb Fletcher and James Branson Summers, Memphis, Tennessee,for the appellee, Budget Rent A Car System, Inc.


This appeal is from a jury verdict in a negligence and products liability case. Plaintiff- Husband suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was a passenger on a bus that collided with a concrete truck. Plaintiff-Husband and Plaintiff-Wife filed suit against the bus manufacturer, the bus owner, and the bus owner’s franchisor. The jury found that the Plaintiffs suffered $8,543,630 in damages, but apportioned 100% of the fault for the collision to the owner of the concrete truck, with whom the Plaintiffs reached a settlement prior to trial. Plaintiffs appealed. We find that the jury’s verdict was proper and is supported by material evidence. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Tricia Herzfeld, for the Defendant-Appellant, Mashaal Arradi.

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


The Defendant, Mashaal Arradi, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of three counts of tax evasion and one count of theft of property valued at over $1,000 but under $10,000. He received an effective sentence of three years, to be released after serving 10 days incarceration, and was ordered to pay restitution. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in (1) permitting admission of unreliable scientific evidence through a nonexpert witness; (2) allowing multiple references to 404(b) evidence without a jury-out hearing; (3) permitting the felony theft charge to be based on an aggregation of evidence; (4) permitting multiple references to the Defendant’s Yemeni background and Arabic language; and (5) allowing instances of prosecutorial misconduct. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

CORRECTION: The corrections are both on page 11, second full paragraph and both are for the State v. Carson case.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


David A. Collins, for the Defendant-Appellant, Billy Coffelt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Ben Ford, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Billy Coffelt, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of postconviction relief from his convictions for aggravated assault, three counts of misdemeanor theft, four counts of false imprisonment, and felony escape. In his appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based upon allegations that Counsel failed to move for an election of offenses; failed to pursue a claim based on the dismissal of one of the Petitioner’s co-defendant’s charges on appeal; and failed to request a jury instruction on the “natural and probable consequences” rule for criminal responsibility or raise it as a ground for relief on direct appeal. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paul K. Guibao, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Franklin Fitch.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; DeShea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General, Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Stacy McEndree, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Franklin Fitch, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Subsequently, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel were ineffective. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Tom W. Crider, District Public Defender; J. Daniel Rogers (on appeal), and Linda L. Moore (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, Trenton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joey Godwin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Garry G. Brown, District Attorney General; and Larry Hardister and Jason C. Scott, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Joey Godwin, was convicted of two counts of the sale of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, for which he received consecutive sentences of thirty years each. He appeals his convictions and sentences on the following grounds: (1) the evidence underlying the convictions was insufficient to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences; and (3) the trial court erred in finding that the State did not improperly exercise some of its peremptory challenges during jury selection. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Exemption from the Real Estate Broker License Act

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-03-06

Opinion Number: 27

McGee Appointed 24th District Chancellor

Carma Dennis McGee of Savannah was appointed chancellor in the 24th Judicial District today by Gov. Bill Haslam. She replaces Chancellor Ron E. Harmon, who died Sept. 14. McGee will serve immediately upon her appointment and be up for election this August. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more.

Judicial Candidate Requests Historical Wall at Courthouse

Attorney Catherine “Cate” White, who is running for Hamilton County Circuit Court judge, has asked the County Commission and County Mayor Jim Coppinger to post a Historical Wall at the County Courthouse. She said it would include the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta, the Star Spangled Banner, the National Motto, the Preamble to the Tennessee Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Lady Justice, the Chattanoogan reports.

Hamilton County Deputy Clerk & Master Retires

Chief Deputy Clerk & Master Judy Hillyer is retiring after more than 35 years of service to Hamilton County. As Chancery Court office administrator, Hillyer handled personnel matters, purchasing, accounting, and the budget. The Hamilton County Herald has more.

Media Coalition: Vandy Records Should Be Public

In a new court filing, a media coalition led by the Tennessean argues that text messages and other documents it is seeking in a Vanderbilt University rape case are public records that no law or policy can shield from public view. Metro government, the state attorney general’s office and the alleged victim in the case argued against releasing the records in briefs filed in Davidson County Chancery Court, saying their release would harm the victim and compromise the defendants’ ability to receive a fair trial. Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Russell Perkins has said he intends to hold a final hearing Monday and rule in the case the following day.

Senate Passes ‘Amelia’s Law’ in Memory of Slain Teen

The Tennessee Senate yesterday unanimously passed SB1962, known as Amelia's Law, WATE reports. Sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, the bill is named in memory of Amelia Keown, the Maryville teenager who was killed in a car wreck by a prison parolee in August 2012. The legislation calls for a transdermal monitoring device for parolees whose crimes were directly related to drugs and alcohol. Similar to an ankle bracelet, it would test the person's blood every 30 minutes. The bill will now go to Gov. Bill Haslam. If he signs, the bill will take affect July 1.

Assistant DA to Seek Circuit Court Judgeship

Rutherford County Assistant District Attorney General Nathan Nichols is seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for Circuit Court Judge for Division II of the 16th Judicial District, which includes Cannon and Rutherford counties. Division II hears one-half of all Circuit Court criminal cases filed in Rutherford County and all of the Circuit Court criminal cases filed in Cannon County. The Cannon Courier has more.

Fourth District Judge Running for Re-election

Circuit Court Judge Richard R. “Dick” Vance has announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for re-election as Circuit Court Judge, Part II, of the Fourth Judicial District, the Herald News reports. Judge Vance was first appointed by Gov. Don Sundquist in 1997 to fill the vacancy in Part II, after Judge William R. Holt Jr. retired. He was re-elected without opposition in 1998 and again in 2006. The district includes Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson and Sevier counties.

Shelby County Democrats Censure 4 Members

The Shelby County Democratic Party censured four of its members yesterday, including two members of the General Assembly. State Sen. Reginald Tate, Rep. Joe Towns and state executive committee member Hazel Moore were censured for attending a fundraiser for Circuit Court Clerk Jimmy Moore, a Republican who is running for re-election. County Commissioner Sidney Chism was censured on claims he tried to talk Democratic sheriff candidate Bennie Cobb out of running, the Commercial Appeal reports. Chism denies the allegations.

Services Monday for Former CBA President

Chattanooga attorney Harold A. “Hal” Schwartz Jr. died Wednesday. He was 71. A graduate of Baylor School in Chattanooga, he received his undergraduate degree from Yale University, his LL.B from the University of Pennsylvania and his LL.M (in taxation) from New York University. He served as president of the Chattanooga Bar Association and the Chattanooga Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and was a Tennessee Bar Foundation  Fellow. The family will receive friends Monday from 10-11 a.m. at Mizpah Congregation, immediately followed by funeral services. Memorial contributions may be made to National Parkinson Foundation, Gift Processing Center, P.O. Box 5018, Hagerstown, MD. 21741 or to the Miller Schwartz Fund at Mizpah Congregation, 923 McCallie Avenue in Chattanooga.

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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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