Ex-Conservator Ordered to Pay Abuse Victims

U.S. District Judge Kevin H. Sharp awarded nearly $700,000 to a mentally disabled Clay County couple victimized by sexual and financial abuse for more than six years by a court-appointed conservator Walter M. Strong. "Defendant had complete control over plaintiffs' lives and their money and he used that control for his own needs and evil desires," Sharp wrote in a 12-page order issued Tuesday. The case first came to light last year as the state General Assembly was considering a series of reforms in the state conservatorship laws. Those changes, including provisions to provide additional protections to wards, were approved and went into effect July 1. The Tennessean has the story. 

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
07 - 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 Court of Appeals

JOSEPH H. JOHNSTON v. DAVIDSON COUNTY ELECTION COMMISSION, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

John B. Carlson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph H. Johnston.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Janet M. Kleinfelter, Deputy Attorney General, for the appellee, Davidson County Election Commission, Albert Tieche, Administrator of Elections (individually), and the State of Tennessee.

Judge: DINKINS

Write-in candidate for election to the Council of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County appeals the dismissal of his challenge on constitutional grounds to the statute requiring that, fifty days before an election, write-in candidates for offices in the election submit a notice to the county election commission requesting that their votes be counted. Determining that the statute is constitutional as written and as applied, we affirm the decision of the trial court.


RHONDA POTTER, ET. AL. V. WILLIAM DALE PERRIGAN, M. D., ET. AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Mark N. Foster and Allison M. Kirk, Rockwood, Tennessee, for the appellants, Rhonda Potter and George Wiley Potter, II.

P. Alexander Vogel, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the intervening appellant, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

Judge: MCCLARTY

This is a medical malpractice action. Plaintiffs timely filed a complaint after properly sending pre-suit notices to Defendants. After voluntarily dismissing the initial complaint, Plaintiffs filed a second complaint pursuant to the saving statute with an attached certificate of good faith and a copy of the original pre-suit notices. Defendants moved to dismiss the second complaint for failure to comply with the notice requirements set out in Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(a). The trial court agreed and dismissed the action. Plaintiffs appeal. We reverse the decision of the trial court.


IN RE: GUARDIANSHIP OF MINOR CHILDREN OF LORENZEN WRIGHT

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Christopher F. Donovan, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sherra Robinson Wright.

Ruby Wharton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Herbert Wright.

Dorothy Johnson Pounders, Guardian Ad Litem.

Judge: FARMER

This is an appeal from a probate court order in a guardianship case. In a prior action involving the same parties, the circuit court established a trust to hold insurance proceeds due to Minor Children and appointed Mother trustee. Subsequently, the present case was initiated when Grandfather petitioned the probate court to be appointed guardian over separate pension funds due to Minor Children. Mother also sought to be appointed guardian over the pension funds initially, but she later withdrew her request. Despite Mother’s withdrawal, the probate court investigated Mother’s personal finances and became concerned with her management of the previously established trust. The probate court appointed a guardian ad litem to further investigate Mother’s management of the trust. We hold that the probate court acted beyond the scope of its jurisdiction in doing so and therefore vacate the court’s judgment in part and remand for further proceedings.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

DAVID NEAL DAVIS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Luke A. Evans, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant David Neal Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; William Whitesell, District Attorney General, and Laural A. Hemenway, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, David Neal Davis, was indicted by the Rutherford County Grand Jury on four counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of attempted aggravated sexual battery. The trial ended in a mistrial. Petitioner was subsequently charged in a superseding indictment with two counts of rape of a child, eight counts of aggravated sexual battery, solicitation of a minor, and attempted aggravated sexual battery. Petitioner was convicted of rape of a child, attempted rape of a child, seven counts of aggravated sexual battery, two counts of child abuse, and one count of attempted solicitation of a minor. See State v. David Neal Davis, No. M2009-00691-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 1631828 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Apr. 19, 2011), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Aug. 31, 2011). He was sentenced to an effective sentence of twenty years. His convictions and sentence were affirmed on appeal. Id. at *1. Among other things, Petitioner subsequently sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. After a lengthy post-conviction hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, finding that Petitioner failed to show clear and convincing evidence that he received ineffective assistance of counsel or that he was otherwise entitled to post-conviction relief. Petitioner appeals, arguing that the post-conviction court improperly denied relief where trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) requesting a mistrial; (2) failing to adequately investigate the case, including failing to call certain witnesses at trial; (3) failing to request mental health records of the victim; (4) failing to use the prior recorded statement of the victim at trial; (5) failing to object to testimony regarding evidence of other crimes not charged in the indictment; (6) failing to properly cross-examine the mother of the victim; and (7) failing to object to the State’s usage of the video interview of Petitioner. Additionally, Petitioner complains that the post-conviction court improperly determined that one of Petitioner’s issues was not proper for post-conviction relief and that the cumulative effect of all the errors at trial did not violate Petitioner’s rights. After a thorough review of the record, we determine Petitioner failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Consequently, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LAYTHANIEL HANEY, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James R. Hickman, Jr., Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Laythaniel Haney, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulaney Faugh, Assistant Attorney General; James Dunn, District Attorney General; and William Brownlow Marsh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Laythaniel Haney, Jr., was convicted by a Cocke County Criminal Court jury of the delivery of a controlled substance and received a fifteen-year sentence as a career offender. In this delayed appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by finding that 1) he was not prejudiced by jurors’ falling asleep during the trial and 2) he was not prejudiced by his being under the influence of drugs at the trial. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MOHAMMED R. ISLAM

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Glenn R. Funk, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mohammed R. Islam.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General, and Chris Buford, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

In the October 2011 term, Appellant, Mohammed Rafiqul Islam, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, three counts of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated burglary, and four counts of violation of an order of protection. Appellant pled guilty to two counts of kidnapping, three counts of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of violating an order of protection. The trial court sentenced Appellant to an effective sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, Appellant argues that the trial court erred in setting the length of the sentence, in denying alternative sentencing, and in imposing consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that there was no abuse of discretion. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


LOREN JANOSKY v. STANTON HEIDLE, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Loren Janosky, Pikeville, Tennessee, pro se.

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

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Loren Janosky, appeals from the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which challenged his 2003 convictions of aggravated rape and especially aggravated kidnapping. Discerning no error, we affirm.


ANTONIO DWAYNE JOHNSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antonio Dwayne Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and John Finklea, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Antonio Dwayne Johnson, appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of selling one-half gram or more of cocaine, a Class B felony, and resulting twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JIMMIE LEE REEDER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

James L. Baum, Burns, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jimmie Lee Reeder.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle L. Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Dan Mitchum Alsobrooks, District Attorney General; and Wendell Ray Crouch, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Jimmie Lee Reeder, pled guilty in the Cheatham County Circuit Court to two counts of domestic assault and received consecutive sentences of eleven months, twenty-nine days to be served on supervised probation. Subsequently, the trial court revoked his probation and ordered that he serve the balance of his sentences in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court improperly combined his probation revocation hearing with a sentencing hearing for additional convictions and that the trial court should have dismissed the probation revocation proceeding because it violated his rights to due process and a speedy trial. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANDREW SCOTT TAYLOR

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joshua P. Weiss, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Andrew Scott Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Brian Finlay, Lance Pope, and Jason Demastus, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Andrew Scott Taylor, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his renewed motion to withdraw his nolo contendere pleas to attempted aggravated stalking and harassment, Class A misdemeanors. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we agree with the trial court that it had lost jurisdiction to amend the appellant’s judgments of conviction. Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


Second Lawsuit Filed over Rape Kit Backlog

The second federal lawsuit since December was filed against the city of Memphis over the backlog of more than 12,000 untested rape kits, the Memphis Daily News reports. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three women allegedly raped by Anthony Alliani during a string of rapes covering a decade. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for all three women arguing that the failure to test the rape kits and investigate the complaints is negligence and a violation of due process guarantees and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.


Judge: Beware of Jury Duty Phone Scam

Hamilton County residents report that a man identifying himself as a lieutenant with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has called them saying they failed to appear for jury duty and must purchase a Green Dot Card to avoid going to jail. Court officials who work with jurors say there have been other similar calls. In each case, the "victim" had never been given a jury summons, the Chattanoogan reports. "This is a complete fraud that our citizens should be beware of," General Session Judge Christie Sell said after being alerted to the scam. "It is a travesty when someone tries to undermine the justice system in this way." If you receive such a call or have information on those perpetrating this scam, contact the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 209-8940.


Changes Proposed to Public Interest Loan Forgiveness Program

The Obama Administration’s proposed FY 2015 budget includes changes to student loan and public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) programs that may concern law students and young lawyers. These changes include a proposed cap of $57,000 on the amount of loans that can be forgiven under PSLF, a limit on the types of loan payments qualifying for forgiveness and limits on eligibility for income-driven repayment options. The ABA YLD's newsletter The Affiliate reports that a White House petition has been started by some law students seeking to have the administration modify its proposal.


DOJ Trains Cops to Help Transgender Crime Victims

The U.S. Justice Department has launched a program to train local police to better respond to transgender crime victims. The program is being overseen by the department's Community Relations Service, which was established under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. News Channel 9 reports the program is an acknowledgment that transgender people are more often victims of violent crime, although they often do not report it.


What Happens Next in College Football Union Case?

After yesterday’s ruling that Northwestern University football players can unionize, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog takes a look at what may happen next. The blog reports that the university plans to appeal, which would send the case to the full National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), whose members are appointed by the president and approved by Congress. Given the high-profile nature of the case, the NLRB may solicit submissions from outside labor unions and employers, lengthening the decision-making process. The eventual NLRB decision could also be appealed by either side, and would then move to a federal appeals court. If the ruling stands, Law Blog predicts teams could bargain directly with conferences, which in turn could lead to the players receiving a cut of conference revenues.


A Look At Mideast Judicial Systems

An Egyptian court's decision this week to sentence to death 529 alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood after a two-session trial has triggered criticism from governments and rights groups around the world. The proceedings have raised deep concerns among human rights activists over the lack of due process. The Associated Press explores the judicial systems of other Middle Eastern counties including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel. WATE has the story.


House Joins Senate in Approving Christian/Newsom Bills

The state House joined the Senate today in unanimously approving two bills named in honor of torture-murder victims Channon Christian and Chris Newsom. Sponsored by Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, and Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, SB 1796, designated the “Chris Newsom Act,” revises the rules for a judge acting as a “13th juror” at the conclusion of a criminal trial. SB 1797, designated the “Channon Christian Act,” puts new restrictions on what criminal defendants and their attorneys can do in trying to portray a victim in a negative light before a jury. Knoxnews has more.


Seminar to Explore Details of Health Care Law

A panel of experts will explore the details of the Affordable Care Act during the Health Care Reform Seminar April 3 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Dale Condor, attorney at Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC, will join fellow panelists Tim Finnell, founder and president of Group Benefits LLC, and Mitch Graves, president and CEO at Health Choice LLC. Dr. Scott Morris, founder and CEO of the Church Health Center, will deliver the keynote address. Seating is limited. Register or learn more.


Rep. DesJarlais Files for Re-election

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais officially filed for re-election with the Tennessee State Division of Elections yesterday, the Daily News Journal reports. DesJarlais, who represents the Fourth Congressional District, has been ranked as the fourth most conservative member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the most conservative in Tennessee by National Journal Magazine. He has also faced controversy surrounding his 2001 divorce proceedings, details of which were made public during the final weeks of the last election. Read more from Politico.


Williamson County Lawyer Suspended

John Jay Clark was suspended from the practice of law for one year, which is to be served on probation subject to the conditions that he engage a practice monitor, comply with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program recommendations and pay restitution and costs. Download the BPR notice.


Knox County Lawyer Disbarred

Thomas Francis diLustro was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on March 25. In 2012, a petition for discipline was filed against diLustro based upon three complaints of misconduct. A panel determined diLustro failed to represent his clients in a diligent manner, failed to keep clients reasonably informed about the status of their cases, failed to promptly respond to numerous reasonable requests for information, forged his client’s signature to a parenting plan and submitted the document to the court for approval, falsely testified under oath regarding the signature on the Parenting Plan and failed to act promptly to correct an erroneous child support order. Download the BPR notice.


Protect Your Practice with the Bar Plan

Protecting your practice and your family from an unexpected loss is a priority for many TBA members. The Bar Plan program provides TBA members with the most comprehensive and fairly priced professional liability coverage available. Learn more online.


 
 

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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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