Senate Bills Present Judicial Pay Plans

The Senate Judiciary Committee today set the stage for revealing judicial salaries for the next eight years. Sen. Mark Norris presented SB 2598, which will address state court judicial salaries, and SB 1747 by Sen. Ken Yager will be amended to make adjustments to the salaries of general sessions judges. Constitutionally,  judicial salaries must be fixed and can only be adjusted according to law for an entire term.

In keeping with the cancellation of all raises for state employees, no judges will see any increase in their $165,000 base salary or cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the first nine months of the term, beginning Sept. 1, 2014. Effective July 1, 2015, the COLA would be reinstituted. After that, $5,800 per year raises would be granted effective Sept. 1, 2016; Sept. 1, 2018, and Sept. 1, 2020. General Sessions judges would see their pay increase delayed and adjusted in the same fashion, with rate adjustments scaled by population of their jurisdictions.

Scheduled salary adjustments for district attorneys, public defenders, assistants and related offices were originally part of the bill, but will also be delayed. Salaries for those positions do not have the same constitutional protection.

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
02 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


David L. Cooper, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lawrence F. Ling.

Kitty Boyte and Catherine C. Dugan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Associated Wholesale Grocers.


In this workers’ compensation action, the employee alleged that he sustained a compensable aggravation of his pre-existing spinal condition. The trial court ruled that he failed to satisfy his burden of proof and dismissed the complaint. The employee has 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 in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Jerre M. Hood, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jennifer Gray.

Frank Thomas and Leighann D. Ness, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Zanini Tennessee, Inc.


The trial court dismissed the employee’s workers’ compensation action because the employee had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies prior to filing suit as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-203(a)(1) (2008). The employee’s 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 in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


John S. Golwen, Christopher G. Lazarini and Ryan Robert Baker, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc.

Christopher S. Campbell, Laura S. Martin and Margaret R. Johnson, Memphis, Tennessee, and Dale Ledbetter, Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the appellee, Maury Bronstein, IRA.


The trial court vacated an arbitration award in favor of Respondent Morgan Keegan on the ground of evident partiality. Finding Petitioner failed to introduce evidence to support allegations of evident partiality, we reverse and remand to the trial court for confirmation of the arbitration award.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Steven Anderson, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jessica Banti, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Steven Anderson, filed what he designated was his fourth petition for habeas corpus relief attacking his 1994 convictions for aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, and second degree murder. The convictions were the result of guilty pleas pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement resulting in an effective sentence of 50 years’ incarceration. The State filed a motion for summary dismissal because the claims had been brought three previous times, and no colorable claim was alleged. The habeas corpus trial court granted the motion and dismissed the petition for habeas corpus, and also a petition for writ of error coram nobis. The coram nobis petition is not in the appellate record. Petitioner appeals, and after a thorough review, we affirm pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Daniel J. Taylor, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Michael Anthony Foster.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Rolf Hazlehurst, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Michael Anthony Foster, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. The trial court merged the reckless endangerment conviction with the aggravated assault conviction and sentenced Foster to eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Foster argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated assault and that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment showing that Foster was charged with and convicted of aggravated assault pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39- 13-102(a)(1)(A)(iii), which is a Class C felony.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Matthew Jackson, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; and C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Matthew Jackson, appeals from the Lake County Circuit Court’s order denying his requested habeas corpus relief. In his petition, Petitioner attacked his convictions for two counts of aggravated rape, one count of aggravated kidnapping, and one count of aggravated robbery. He was convicted following his entry of guilty pleas in the Robertson County Circuit Court in 2001. The record shows there were no agreements as to sentencing except the parties agreed all sentences would be served concurrently. In this habeas corpus petition, Petitioner asserts he was sentenced to an illegal sentence because the trial court did not inform him of the following consequences of his guilty pleas: (a) mandatory registration as a sex offender; and (b) mandatory sentence of community supervision for life in addition to incarceration. Petitioner also sought habeas corpus relief on the ground that his guilty pleas were not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered. The trial court denied Petitioner habeas corpus relief to the extent of not setting aside the convictions or the sentences. However, the trial court remanded the cases to the Robertson County Circuit Court for entry of corrected judgments for the aggravated rape convictions regarding registration as a sexual offender and community supervision for life. We affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court of Lake County.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph A. McClusky (on appeal) and Jake Erwin (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terry Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Theresa McCusker and Muriel Malone, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Terry Johnson, of one count of second degree murder, three counts of attempted second degree murder, and one count of possession of a firearm during a dangerous felony. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty-six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions and the trial court’s refusal to allow the appellant to introduce evidence of the deceased victim’s involvement in an unrelated murder. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Anthony Washington, Henning, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and D. Gregory Gilbert, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Anthony Washington, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. The Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred by summarily dismissing his petition as having been untimely filed and failing to state a cognizable claim. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Applicants Sought for 2 Appellate Court Vacancies

The Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments is accepting applications for two upcoming appeals court vacancies created by Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jerry L. Smith’s announcement that he will not seek to retain his seat in the August general election, and Court of Appeals Judge Holly M. Kirby’s appointment to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Candidates for the Court of Criminal Appeals must reside in the Middle Grand Division and apply by April 25. A public hearing on applicants will be held May 13 in Nashville. Candidates for the Court of Appeals must reside in the Western Grand Division and apply by April 30. A hearing on those candidates will be held May 16 in Memphis.

Judicial College Recognizes Tennessee Judges, Lawyers

The National Judicial College presented “Advancement of Justice Awards” to the Tennessee Supreme Court, the court's Access to Justice Commission, the Frist Foundation, Senior Judge Don R. Ash and UT Law Professor Penny White during an event Monday in Nashville. The awards were presented following the “Access to Justice: Tearing Down the Barriers” program hosted by Baker Donelson. See photos from the event and learn more.

Nashville Bar Foundation Awards Nearly $25K in Grants

The Nashville Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Nashville Bar Association, has awarded $24,925 in grants to four area nonprofits to support their law-related educational and charitable initiatives. The recipients are: the Family Center was given $2,000 to develop a new child abuse prevention program that will help lawyers more effectively respond to abuse cases; the Legal Aid Society was given $10,000 to expand legal assistance for immigrant and refugee communities; Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee was given $1,500 to educate the legal profession on how to deal with clients who have personality disorders, high anxiety or mental illness; and Nashville Community Education was given $1,425 to expand The People’s Law School, a program that offers a series of free legal classes to the public about important legal issues.

Retired 6th Circuit Judge Won’t Face Ethics Charges

Former 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Boyce Martin Jr. will not be charged with wrongdoing following a U.S. Justice Department probe of his travel expenses, a spokesperson for the retired judge told Cincinnati-area reporters. The U.S. Judicial Conference dropped its ethics probe of Martin when he announced his retirement last summer, but referred the allegations to the Justice Department. Martin, who had blamed administrative errors for any mistakes that were made, agreed to repay $138,500 in travel expenses for the four-year period in question. The ABA Journal has the story.

Legal Aid Announces New Volunteer Lawyer Program

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has launched a program that will connect volunteer lawyers with clients in all 48 counties it serves. The new Volunteer Lawyers Program replaces the Nashville Pro Bono Program, which helped low income people in Davidson and Williamson counties. The new regional program will support the work of all eight Legal Aid Society offices. One component of the new program pairs Nashville law firms with Legal Aid’s rural offices. The first partnership to be formed is Bone McAllester Norton PLLC and Legal Aid’s Gallatin office.

Rutherford Courts Evacuated Monday for Bomb Threat

The Rutherford County Judicial Building was evacuated Monday after a call came into the Court Clerk’s office around 9 a.m., the Daily News Journal reports. The caller reportedly said, “The bomb is going to go off in 20 minutes.” The building’s security team evacuated employees and visitors as deputies searched the building for signs of a bomb. The county’s judges were evacuated to a safe, undisclosed location. The scene was declared safe around 11 a.m. after Tennessee Highway Patrol dogs searched the five-floor building but did not find a bomb. Detectives will now focus on identifying the individual who called in the threat.

Support Youth Courts Through Facebook Grant Challenge

The Tennessee Legal Community Foundation, which supports youth courts across the state, is one of several hundred nonprofits taking part in a Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee Facebook campaign that could net it a $1,000 grant. To support Tennessee youth courts, visit the Community Foundation's Facebook page, "like" the $1,000 Comment Contest image pinned to the top of the page, and write "Tennessee Youth Court Program" in the comment section. The grant challenge runs through April 4 at noon.

UT Law 1Ls Participate in First Year Advocacy Competition

University of Tennessee College of Law student Ben Morrell was named the 2014 Advocacy Idol in the school’s First-Year Advocacy Competition. The competition is sponsored by the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution and the Moot Court Board, and is funded by alumnus and former adjunct professor Michael Galligan, a partner at Galligan and Newman in McMinnville. Judges from across the state, including Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Jeff Bivins, Camille McMullen and Roger Page; Circuit Court Judges Tammy Harrington and Ben Hooper; General Sessions Judges Chuck Cerney and Robert Headrick; Juvenile Judge Brandon Fisher; and Knoxville Municipal Judge John Rosson – presided over the rounds in which 22 first-year students put their advocacy skills to the test.

Attorney: Reports of Clerk’s Exoneration Premature

A motion to dismiss contempt of court charges against Hawkins County Clerk of Courts Sarah Davis, which was filed last week, has not been acted on by the judge assigned to the case and reports of Davis' exoneration are premature and “troubling,” the clerk's defense attorney tells the Rogersville Review. TBA Today reported on March 25 that the charges against Davis had been dismissed based on a story in the Kingsport Times News.

Linguistic Expert Who ID’d J.K. Rowling Speaks Wednesday

Dr. Patrick Juola, the man whose linguistic analysis proved that J.K. Rowling is the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling – a novel published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith – will speak at the University of Tennessee College of Law Wednesday at noon in Room 132. His topic will be “Forensic Stylometrics and Linguistic Evidence.” Dr. Juola is professor of Computer Science and director of the Evaluating Variations in Language (EVL) Laboratory at Duquesne University. The lecture, which is cosponsored by the university’s Linguistics Program and Department of Computer Science, is free and open to the public.

Reminder: Memphis Law Hosts ‘Race Judicata’ Saturday

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Student Bar Association will host the annual “Race Judicata” this Saturday. All proceeds benefit Memphis Area Legal Service, which provides free legal service to the elderly and low-income families. The race is open to the public. Runners and walkers are welcome.

No April Fools: This Issue Really Is Full of Snakes

The Journal covers a slithery subject in the April issue: Knoxville lawyer Joe Jarret writes about poisonous serpents and religious expression in Tennessee. See what else is in the new issue.

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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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