Proposed Election of AG Fails a Second Time

An attempt to change the selection process for Tennessee's attorney general failed again on the Senate floor Thursday. Brought by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the proposed constitutional amendment sought popular election of the AG. Currently, the AG is appointed to an eight-year term by the state Supreme Court. This was the second vote on the measure, and the AP reports Senate rules prohibit Beavers from bringing the measure to the floor again this session.

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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - 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

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TN Court of Appeals

With concurring opinion.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Brenda Rhoton Clark, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Robert H. Jackson and Sabrina S. Jackson.

William P. Holloway and Michael T. Fort, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellees, Dennis Johnson and Wanda Johnson.


Husband and wife in dependent and neglect proceeding who were each held in criminal contempt for violating an order that they have no contact with other parties to the proceeding appeal their convictions, the sentences imposed, and other rulings of the trial court. We affirm the holding that the husband was in contempt, vacate the sentence imposed and remand the case for resentencing. We affirm the holding that the wife was in indirect contempt and the sentence imposed; we reverse the holding that wife was in direct contempt. In all other respects we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Tusca R.S. Alexis, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marely Torres.

C. Diane Crosier, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, James Allen Austin.


The divorced father of an seven year old child filed a petition to transfer custody of the child from the mother to himself. The trial court heard expert proof that the child suffered from a rare genetic disorder that can cause grave neurological consequences if the child’s diet is not strictly controlled. The mother’s testimony indicated that she was unconvinced that the child had a disorder and that she was unwilling to adjust the child’s diet to meet his medical needs. The court found that there had been a material change of circumstances and that it was in the best interest of the child that custody be transferred to the father, with the mother’s visitation limited to fifty days per year. The mother argues on appeal that the trial court’s order should be reversed because it committed a number of procedural errors in the course of the custody proceedings. We affirm the trial court.

CORRECTION: Correct file attached.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Daniel L. Wischof, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellants, Steve Dickerson and Deborah Dickerson.

W. Kennerly Burger, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellees, Beta, LLC, and Sound Marketing, LLC.


Plaintiffs, husband and wife, filed this action on February 17, 2009, to quiet title to property they own in Williamson County, Tennessee. At issue was a Deed of Trust that secured a 1997 promissory note, with an original maturity date in 1998, executed by a South Carolina limited liability company of which the plaintiff husband was a member. Plaintiffs asserted, inter alia, that the statute of limitations for the 1997 note and deed of trust had lapsed; therefore, the deed of trust encumbering their property should be released. Defendant Beta, LLC, filed a counterclaim for judicial foreclosure asserting it was the assignee of an October 8, 1998 renewal note with a maturity date of October 1999, the maturity date of which was subsequently extended to October 2000 pursuant to a Change in Terms Agreement executed in October 1999. It is based on the Change in Terms Agreement that Beta insists the statute of limitations had not lapsed and it is entitled to enforce the deed of trust. Although Beta was unable to produce an original or photocopy of an October 1998 renewal promissory note or evidence that complied with Tenn. Code Ann. § 24-8-101 to prove it was a lost negotiable instrument, the trial court held that a copy of the 1999 Change of Terms Agreement was sufficient to established the existence of the October 1998 renewal note and the extension of the maturity date to 2000; thus the statute of limitations had not run and Beta was vested with the right to enforce the deed of trust. Therefore, the court dismissed Plaintiffs complaint to quiet title and ruled in favor of Beta on the issue of foreclosure. On appeal Plaintiffs contend that the evidence was insufficient to support the court’s rulings. Particularly, Plaintiffs contend the trial court erred in finding that the Change in Terms Agreement dated October 8, 1999, was sufficient to establish Beta’s claims under an October 1998 promissory note of which there is no copy. We have determined the trial court erred in finding that the evidence was sufficient to satisfy Beta’s burden of proof as the foreclosing party. We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, including a determination of the specific relief to which Plaintiffs may be entitled.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and R. Mitchell Porcello, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, Commissioner of Revenue of the State of Tennessee.

C. Michael Norton, Nashville, Tennessee, and B. Keith Williams, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Five Oaks Golf & Country Club, Inc.


A taxpayer sued for a tax refund based on two issues. In response to the commissioner’s motion for summary judgment, the taxpayer conceded one issue, which constituted about 70% of the amount contested, and moved for summary judgment on the other issue. The trial court ruled for the commissioner on the conceded issue and for the taxpayer on the other issue. Both sides sought attorney fees and expenses. The trial court determined that the taxpayer was the prevailing party. The commissioner appealed. Finding that there is no prevailing party, we reverse the trial court.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


J. Jeffrey Lee, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terry McRee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jennifer Nichols and Carrie Shelton, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A jury convicted the defendant of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and he was sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment. The defendant appeals, alleging that the trial court erred in: (1) denying his motion to suppress and admitting an incriminating statement he made to police; (2) refusing to allow him to introduce the contents of a learned treatise during the cross-examination of a witness; (3) limiting closing argument; (4) excluding character evidence; (5) denying his motions for judgment of acquittal and for a new trial on the basis of insufficient evidence; and (6) improperly applying the enhancing and mitigating factors during sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that there was no error, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gary F. Antrican, District Public Defender; and Parker O. Dixon, Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Timothy Neal Stiles.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Jason R. Poyner, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Timothy Neal Stiles, was convicted by a jury of theft of property valued over $1,000 but under $10,000, a Class D felony. After trial, defense counsel investigated the ownership of the stolen vehicle, along with other discrepancies at trial, and introduced this evidence at the sentencing hearing and the hearing on the motion for a new trial. The trial court denied his motion for a new trial, and the defendant appeals. He asserts as error that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the verdict; (2) a variance exists between the crime charged in the indictment and the proof at trial; (3) the State knowingly presented false testimony or withheld exculpatory material; and (4) the trial court refused to authorize the court reporter to transcribe the sentencing hearing. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude there was no error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Alvin Waller, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Alvin “A.J.” Waller, Jr., was convicted after a jury trial of especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony, aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and attempted voluntary manslaughter, a Class D felony. The trial court merged the attempted voluntary manslaughter conviction into the aggravated assault conviction and sentenced the defendant to ten years as a multiple offender on that count. The trial court sentenced the defendant to thirty years as a multiple offender at one hundred percent for the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction and ordered the two sentences to be served concurrently. The defendant appeals, challenging only the sufficiency of the evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence is insufficient to support the defendant’s conviction for attempted voluntary manslaughter. In all other respects, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen C. Bush, Shelby County Public Defender; Barry W. Kuhn, Assistant Shelby County Public Defender (on appeal); and C.J. Barnes, Assistant Shelby County Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Dwayne Wright.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Amy Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jennifer Nichols, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Dwayne Wright, was convicted of one count of aggravated rape, a Class A felony, and sentenced to twenty-four years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he raises five issues for our review: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction; (2) whether the trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion for the jury to visit the crime scene; (3) whether the trial court properly allowed the victim to testify regarding prior sexual abuse; (4) whether the trial court properly ruled that the victim’s statements were admissible under the excited utterance hearsay exception; and (5) whether the sentence imposed is proper. Following review of the record, we affirm the judgment and sentence as imposed.

Federal Judge Refuses to Halt Same-Sex Marriage Order

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger will not halt her order that three same-sex couples’ marriages be recognized by the state of Tennessee, despite State Attorney General Robert Cooper’s request that a preliminary injunction granting recognition be stayed, the Tennessean reports. In a nine-page ruling, Trauger states that because the scope of the ruling was small — it affects just three couples — it poses no risk to the state on any level. She also refutes Cooper’s claim that the couples will not face “irreparable harm” by not having their marriages recognized.

Judge Upholds Requirement for Memphis-Shelby County Consolidation

The 2010 federal court lawsuit over the failed attempt at consolidating the city of Memphis and Shelby County governments has failed as well with an order Wednesday from U.S. District Judge Thomas Anderson granting a motion for summary judgment by defendants in the case. The proposal for consolidation lost by a large margin in the county outside Memphis, although it was approved by a narrow margin within Memphis. The lawsuit filed in 2010 challenged on constitutional grounds the state law requiring that such a charter must be approved by dual majorities in separate referendums for consolidation to take place. The Memphis Daily News has more.

Report: Special Interest Money Increasing in Judicial Elections

Spending by special interest groups continues to rise in judicial elections, accounting for 27 percent of all the money spent on the races in 2011 and 2012, according to a new report by a Justice at Stake partner organization. This is a sharp increase from the 16 percent seen in the 2003 and 2004 elections, which held the previous high in outside spending. The report has detailed information about judges who raised the most money and donors who gave the most, and it also identifies funding trends. As an example, the report says that during his campaign for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2012, Roy Moore raised more out-of-state money than any other appeals court judge running in the country. Moore’s campaign took in $265,440 — or 41 percent of his total campaign contributions — from donors in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Australia and Canada. Gavel Grab has more.

Judges Lend Support to Domestic Violence Victims

Several judges attended the SafePlace Gala and Auction last week in Sevierville to support the cause to end domestice violence. “Domestic violence and abuse is a serious problem and one I have combated head-on as a judge," Judge Dick Vance told the group. "I have always, and will continue, to make stopping this atrocity a top priority of mine.” SafePlace serves victims of domestic violence in Sevier, Jefferson and Cocke counties. With more than 250 people in attendance, a significant amount of money was raised for the organization, the Herald News reported.

Memphis Law Awards Wilder Scholarship

Abigail Mabry is the 2014 recipient of the BankTennessee John S. Wilder Law School Scholarship. The scholarship is named in memory of John S. Wilder Sr., a former lieutenant governor of Tennessee, a former vice-chairman of BankTennessee’s board of directors and one of the founders of the bank. 
It is awarded annually to a University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law third-year student and Tennessee resident who has demonstrated, in the spirit of Wilder, a commitment to public service and to enhancing the common good. The Millington Star has the story.

AAA Opposes Weakening Helmet Law

AAA/The Auto Club Group today announced its opposition to a bill that would weaken Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet law, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The proposed bill will allow riders older than 25 years to ride without a helmet. Currently, all readers are required to wear a helmet, regardless of age. Senate and House subcommittees are slated to hear the bill next week.

Retired Chief Justice Endorses Fleenor for Chancellor

Pam McNutt Fleenor, Republican candidate for Hamilton County Chancellor, Part 1, has received the public support and endorsement of retired Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice William M. "Mickey" Barker. "I know Pam to be a Conservative politically, but have observed her dealings to be even-handed and objective by avoiding political entanglements," Barker wrote in his endorsement letter. "To maintain impartiality as judge, this is key." The Chattanoogan has more.

Incumbent Endorses Jones for DA

District Attorney General Bill Whitesell announced he would not seek re-election and has endorsed Assistant District Attorney Jennings Jones to be his replacement. Jones is running in the May 6 Republican Primary for District Attorney General, 16th Judicial District, which includes Rutherford and Cannon counties. The Murfreesboro Post has more.

TBA Members Now Save with UPS

As a TBA member you now can save up to 36 percent on UPS Next Day Air and up to 18 percent on UPS Ground Shipping! Visit UPS online to learn how this new member benefit can deliver greater efficiencies for your firm. Already a UPS customer? You also are eligible for this discount once you register your account on the UPS' TBA discount site.

Correct 'Dickerson' Opinion Now Available

An opinion in yesterday's TBA Today included an incorrect link to an opinion with a similarly named case. Here is the correct opinion and attachment for Steve Dickerson et al v. Regions Bank et al.


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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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