YLD Election Petitions Due April 1

Young lawyers interested in running for leadership positions within the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) have until April 1 to file a nominating petition with YLD Secretary Troy Weston. Positions open this year include vice president (who must be from the Eastern Grand Division), East Tennessee Governor, Middle Tennessee Governor, West Tennessee Governor, Secretary, Treasurer and even-numbered District Representatives. Petitions should be submitted no later than April 1 at 11:59 p.m. Central to Weston by email at tweston@eblaw.us or by fax to (865) 544-2015. Questions about the election should be directed to Weston at (865) 544-2010. Read the full election notice or visit the YLD’s election webpage for details about length of term and qualifications for office.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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

JOHN JAY HOOKER ET AL. v. GOVERNOR BILL HASLAM ET AL.
CORRECTION: Typographical error corrected in Footnote 1 on page 2 of the opinion.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

John Jay Hooker, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se, appellant

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Janet M. Kleinfelter, Deputy Attorney General, for the appellees.

Judge: BLUMSTEIN

We granted permission to appeal to determine whether certain provisions of the Tennessee Plan, Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 17-4-101 through 17-4-109 (2009), which governs the way in which Tennessee appellate judges are initially selected and thereafter stand for reelection, violate the Tennessee Constitution. We hold that the issue of the constitutional validity of the Judicial Nominating Commission/gubernatorial appointment process under the Tennessee Plan is moot, and we decline to rule on this issue. We further hold that the retention election portion of the Tennessee Plan satisfies the constitutional requirement that the judges of the appellate courts be elected by the qualified voters of the State and does not violate the Tennessee Constitution. We likewise hold that the election of judges to the Tennessee Court of Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee on a statewide basis does not violate the Tennessee Constitution. Accordingly, the portion of the judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to the issue of the constitutional validity of the Judicial Nominating Commission/gubernatorial appointment process under the Tennessee Plan is vacated and that claim is dismissed. We affirm the portions of the judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to the constitutional validity of the retention election portion of the Tennessee Plan and the constitutional validity of the election of Tennessee intermediate appellate court judges on a statewide basis.


TN Court of Appeals

MARSHA HICKS v. JENNIFER PRAHL

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Donna Keene Holt, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marsha Hicks.

James C. Cone and Ryan E. Jarrard, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jennifer Prahl.

Judge: FRIERSON

This negligence action arose from an automobile accident occurring on October 8, 2009, in Knox County. The plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit on September 7, 2010, alleging that the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle, causing the rear-end collision. A jury trial was held November 8-13, 2012, at the conclusion of which the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff filed a motion for new trial and a supplemental motion for new trial. The trial court denied these motions, determining that the evidence preponderated in favor of the jury’s verdict. The plaintiff timely appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.


In re JORDAN H.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey A. Armstrong, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeff D. B.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Warren Jasper, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee ex rel. Shelia G.

Judge: FRIERSON

In this child support enforcement action, the trial court granted the State, on behalf of the minor child’s mother, an arrearage award of $16,753.49 against the child’s father. The trial court found that the father’s sole source of income was his federal Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) and ordered the father to pay his entire lump-sum SSI payment to Child Support Enforcement. Father appeals. We affirm the trial court’s judgment only as to the amount of the arrearage. We reverse the portion of the trial court’s judgment attaching the father’s SSI benefits and remand for correction of the judgment.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHAVIS RICARDO DOUGLAS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael Meise, Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chavis Ricardo Douglas.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Anton Jackson and Pamela Anderson, Assistant District Attorneys General for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant, Chavis Ricardo Douglas, pled guilty to possession of 300 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver, possession of between one-half ounce and ten pounds of marijuana with intent to sell or deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, felon in possession of a weapon, and two counts of possession or casual exchange of marijuana. After the entry of his guilty plea, but before sentencing, the Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the trial court denied after a hearing. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of forty-two years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant claims that the trial court erred when it did not find a “fair and just reason” to allow the Defendant to withdraw his plea. After a thorough review of the applicable law and the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ADONTA LASHA GRIGGS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Mack Garner, District Public Defender, and George Waters, Assistant District Public Defender (at hearing), for the appellant, Adonta Lasha Griggs.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Matthew Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Adonta Lasha Griggs, appeals as of right from the Blount County Circuit Court’s revocation of his community corrections sentence and order of incarceration. The Defendant contends (1) that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his community corrections sentence because there was not “sufficient evidence” for the trial court to conclude a violation occurred and (2) that even if a violation occurred, the trial court abused its discretion by placing his original sentence into effect, instead of ordering a sentence of split confinement. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s revocation of the Defendant’s community corrections sentence.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DONALD KING

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Sean McKinney, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donald King.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Andrea Green, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Donald King, of sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a drug free school zone. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it limited the scope of cross-examination of two witnesses, and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we discern no error in the judgment of the trial court. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANGELA K. PENDERGRASS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jerry H. Summers and Marya L. Schalk, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Angela K. Pendergrass.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Cameron Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Angela K. Pendergrass, appeals her Hamilton County Criminal Court bench trial conviction of driving under the influence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SAIDRICK TIWON PEWITTE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Saidrick Tiwon Pewitte.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin E.D. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian M. Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

A Madison County Circuit Court jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Saidrick Tiwon Pewitte, of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell; possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to deliver; possession of a Schedule III controlled substance (dihydrocodeinone) with the intent to sell; possession of dihydrocodeinone with the intent to deliver; and possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417, -1324 (2011). He received a total effective sentence of twenty-eight years in the Department of Correction. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DAVID WAYNE RICHARDS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Matthew King, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, David Wayne Richards.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; C. Berkeley Bell, District Attorney General; and Alex Pearson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, David Wayne Richards, pled guilty in the Hawkins County Criminal Court to possession of a Schedule III controlled substance with intent to deliver. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to two years, one day with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. The trial court ordered that the appellant serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his request for judicial diversion or alternative sentencing. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Bebb: Paper Engaged In ‘Disgraceful Witch Hunt’

Tenth Judicial District Attorney General Steve Bebb said Monday that the Chattanooga Times Free Press carried out "a disgraceful witch hunt" against him. In a statement reported by Chattanoogan.com, Bebb also chastised state legislators "who put personal and professional gain” over fulfilling their oaths of offices. The state Board of Professional Responsibility dismissed complaints against Bebb last week, closing a nearly two-year chapter for the retiring DA, who had served 23 years as a criminal court judge before taking over as district attorney general.


Corlew Recuses Himself from New Mosque Suit

Chancellor Robert Corlew III on Monday recused himself from hearing a lawsuit challenging construction of a cemetery at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, the Daily News Journal reports. Attorneys for the center argued Corlew should not hear the case since he previously ruled against the mosque in a decision regarding whether adequate public notice was given before the center received approval for construction. Corlew, who has announced his retirement, defended his track record in the construction case saying he tried it in a fair and impartial way. The new suit seeks to halt construction of a cemetery approved in January by the zoning board, arguing the center has not presented new soil and traffic studies as directed.


Court Clerk’s Contempt Charge Dismissed

Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus reportedly filed an order yesterday dismissing a contempt of court charge against Hawkins County Clerk of Courts Sarah Davis. The clerk had been charged with contempt of court on Feb. 3 by General Sessions Judge J. Todd Ross after the two had a dispute about whether a cost collection clerk should report to the courtroom, the Times News reports.


DA Fires Longtime Prosecutor, Names New Claiborne Lead

Eighth Judicial District Attorney General Lori Phillips-Jones has fired Jared Effler, a 14-year prosecutor in the district who is challenging her in the Aug. 7 DA race, Knoxnews reports. The firing occurred Friday after Effler held a campaign event and received a key endorsement Thursday night. Phillips-Jones said the campaign event and endorsement had nothing to do with her decision but that the move was “in the best interests of the office” since Effler had asked for 60 days of paid leave to campaign. “We have a lot of courts to cover and a lot of work. I didn’t feel I could accommodate that request,” she said. Effler said he would establish a private practice and continue to campaign. Also on Monday, Phillips-Jones named David Ballard with the Campbell County firm of Basista, Balloff and Pollard as Effler's replacement as lead prosecutor in Claiborne County.


Bomb Threat Targets Hardin County Courthouse

The Hardin County Courthouse in Savannah was evacuated after a bomb threat Monday morning, according to WBBJ News 7. The call, which came in around 8:40 a.m., contained a threat to blow up the courthouse if court was held that day. A second call at 10:45 a.m. reiterated the threat with the caller saying, "I swear to God. If there is any court anywhere I will deploy the bomb." The courthouse was later cleared and court resumed at 1 p.m. Deputies said nothing was found on the scene but officials are working to trace the call.


Belmont Teams Take Top 2 Spots in Advocacy Competition

Trial advocacy teams from Belmont University College of Law took first and second place in the regional competition for the 2014 American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition. Both teams went undefeated until they met each other in the championship round. The team of Emily Cole, Dayne Geyer, Robert Martin and Patrick Ober narrowly bested Ardath Griffin, Rachel Hogan, Ron Laffitte and Sara Page to take the regional title. The winning team now advances to the national tournament in Santa Monica, Calif. The teams are coached by Middle Tennessee attorneys Margaret Garner and Andrew Caple-Shaw.


Washington County Courthouse Renovations Back on Track

Washington County commissioners voted Monday to revive a courthouse renovation project that was started in January 2013 but had languished after the state fire marshal temporarily stopped the project. Commissioners approved $150,000 to finish renovations on the second floor. The Johnson City Press has the story.


Memphis Law Hosts Symposium on Tuskegee Study

The University of Memphis Health Law Institute will host its inaugural Health Law Symposium April 3-4. The theme of the two-day event is Race, Research, and Rights: The Legacy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. The program will feature two special guests: civil rights attorney Fred Gray, who brought a class action suit on behalf of syphilis study survivors, and James Jones, author of Bad Blood, an account of the study. The event will kick off with the screening of a documentary and an informal discussion with Gray and Jones on Thursday night. On Friday, sessions will cover how the study continues to impact ethnic and racial minorities in research and treatment settings.


Inactive Lawyers Suspended for Failure to Pay Fee

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order March 5 suspending 11 lawyers who assumed inactive status but did not pay the required annual inactive status fee to the Board of Professional Responsibility. In January 2012, the court adopted amendments to Rule 9, Sections 20.1, 20.2 and 20.8, which included the new fee requirement. The fee is due on or before the first day of the attorney’s birth month each year. See the list of those suspended.


18 Lawyers Reinstated After Administrative Suspension

A number of Tennessee-licensed lawyers have been reinstated after being administratively suspended for failure to meet CLE requirements in 2010, 2012 and 2013; failure to submit the 2012 and 2013 annual BPR fee; and failure to submit the 2012 IOLTA report. They are now noted as reinstated. See the updated lists at the links above.


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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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