Veile, Sheppeard Elected to BOG Seats

Tennessee Bar Association members have selected two new members to the Board of Governors in voting just completed. For Middle Grand Division Governor, Position 2, Franklin attorney David Veile of Schell & Davies LLC will fill the post for the upcoming year. For East Grand Division Governor, Position 1, Knoxville attorney Sarah Sheppeard of Sheppeard & Mynatt PLC will fill the position. Both will take office during the TBA Annual Convention in Gatlinburg this June. Voting took place between Feb. 24 and April 1, with results tabulated by an independent accounting firm.

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
05 - 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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Mark. R. Olson, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alissa Owen.

Stacey Turner Olson, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Darin Haas.


Wife appeals the trial court’s denial of her Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60 petition to set aside the marital dissolution agreement and permanent parenting plan in their final decree of divorce; she contends she entered into the agreements under duress due to coercion by her husband. The trial court concluded the marital dissolution agreement and permanent parenting plan were not entered into under duress; the court also found that the permanent parenting plan was in the best interests of the children. Finding the trial court applied the correct legal standards and the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings, we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jacob J. Hubbell, Columbia, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Erik E. Guerrero.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; and Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Maury County jury convicted the Petitioner, Erik E. Guerrero, of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, and nine counts of attempted first degree murder, and the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of life in the Tennessee Department of Correction. This Court affirmed the judgments and sentence on appeal. State v. Erik E. Guerrero, No. M2010-00851-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 3107722, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Dec. 21, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 17, 2011). The Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the postconviction court dismissed after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the postconviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial because his trial counsel failed to: (1) request a jury instruction on the natural and probable consequences rule; (2) adequately advise him of all of the considerations of not testifying in his own defense; and (3) to challenge the admissibility of his statements. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the post-conviction court did not err when it dismissed the petition. The post-conviction court’s judgment is, therefore, affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paula Ogle Blair, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert D. Mendenhall.

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

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Robert D. Mendenhall, was indicted in case number 2006-A-231 for two counts of solicitation to commit first degree murder and in case number 2006-C-2134 for two counts of theft of property valued at over $60,000, and four counts of violations of the Tennessee Securities Laws. Subsequently, Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of solicitation to commit first degree murder in case number 2006-A-231. He also pled guilty to two counts of theft of property over $60,000, one count of securities fraud by a device, scheme, or artifice, and securities fraud by sale of an unregistered security in case number 2006-C-2134. As a result of the guilty pleas, Petitioner received an effective sentence of forty years. He was represented by separate counsel in each case. Petitioner filed a timely pro se petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, among other things. After a hearing on the petition, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner challenges the denial of post-conviction relief. Upon review, we determine that Petitioner has failed to show clear and convincing evidence that he received ineffective assistance of counsel or that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ryan K. H. Nevin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Morris .

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

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Michael Morris, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in July of 2004 for possession of less than .5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell. Petitioner pled guilty to the charge in September of 2004 in exchange for a suspended four-year sentence and drug treatment. In September of 2012, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as time-barred. Petitioner appeals. After a review of the record, we determine that the post-conviction court properly dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief as time-barred by the statute of limitations. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


John M. Boucher, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Daniel A. Rogers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kenneth F. Irvine, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Daniel A. Rogers (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence, simple possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance, and driving on a suspended driver’s license. The Defendant also was convicted by the trial court of violating the implied consent law, resulting in the suspension of his driver’s license for one year. Following a sentencing hearing on his remaining convictions, the Defendant received a total effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days suspended to supervised probation after the service of sixty days. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that he was denied a fair trial when the trial court declined to provide a jury instruction regarding the State’s duty to preserve evidence, and he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Expanding County Board of Education

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-03-31

Opinion Number: 38

Qualifications for Constables

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-03-31

Opinion Number: 39

Written Stipulations Concerning Depositions

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-03-31

Opinion Number: 40

Recognition of Student Religious Groups by Post-secondary Educational Institutions

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-03-31

Opinion Number: 41

Providing Natural Gas Within City Limits

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-04-01

Opinion Number: 42

TBA Files Petition to Amend Judicial Recusal Rule

The Tennessee Bar Association yesterday filed a petition to amend Supreme Court Rule 10B governing the handling of all motions for the recusal or disqualification of judges. As part of this proposed amendment, the TBA recommends the court clarify that the proper standard of review for any appellate review of the denial of recusal motions is de novo, rather than abuse of discretions.

Former U.S. AG to Lead Belmont Law

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has been appointed dean of Belmont University College of Law, effective June 1, the university announced today. The news follows founding Dean Jeff Kinsler’s decision to return to a full-time faculty position. Gonzales joined Belmont Law in 2012 as the then-newly established Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law. He has taught courses in Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers, National Security Law and First Amendment Law, while also practicing at Nashville’s Waller law firm. Nashville Public Radio reports that Gonzales will resign from the law firm to serve as dean full-time.

Kingsport Lawyer Elected YLD Vice President

Kingsport lawyer Rachel Ralston Mancl with Hunter Smith & Davis will lead the TBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) in 2016-2017. She will take office in June as vice president, and then assume the office of president-elect in 2015 and president in 2016. Mancl was deemed elected April 1 after the filing deadline passed with no opposition. Mancl has been active in the YLD, serving as District 1 Representative and coordinator of the Wills for Heroes initiative in the eastern division of the state. She also is a member of the current Leadership Law class. Other officers elected were Secretary Troy Weston, Knoxville; Treasurer Steven W. King, Memphis; East Tennessee Governor Ian Hennessey, Knoxville; West Tennessee Governor Ashley Holliday, Jackson; and district representatives Erica Eberle, Cleveland; Jason Hicks, Cookeville; and Chasity Sharp Grice, Memphis. Contested races for Middle Tennessee Governor and District 2 Representative will be decided at the YLD’s Annual Meeting June 13 in Gatlinburg. Five open seats for district representatives also need to be filled. Learn more here.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Campaign Contribution Limits

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down aggregate limits on direct contributions from individuals to federal political candidates and committees, citing a First Amendment right to political association. The 5-4 decision overruled the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, which allowed restrictions on some campaign contributions to protect against corruption or the appearance of corruption. Justice Stephen G. Breyer dissented in today's opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. "Taken together with Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission," Breyer wrote, "today’s decision eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve." The ABA Journal has more.

Constangy, Brooks & Smith Announces 2014 Diversity Scholar

Charmarcus Floyd Sr. of Nashville is the recipient of the 2014 Diversity Scholars Award presented by national labor and employment law firm Constangy, Brooks & Smith LLP. Floyd, a second-year student at Belmont University College of Law, will receive a $2,000 scholarship in recognition of his accomplishments in academics, his commitment to diversity in the community, school or work environment, and his personal achievements in overcoming challenges to reach his goals. Constangy initiated the award program to recognize deserving law students and help defray the expense of law school, while promoting diversity in the legal profession.

April 22 Execution Delayed

A stay has been issued for the April 22 execution of Nickolus Johnson, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections confirmed yesterday. This is the second execution to be delayed after Billy Ray Irick's January date was postponed. Michele Wojciechowski, the communications director at the administrative offices of the courts, told the Nashville Scene the stay was likely. “When a case goes up on direct appeal, they have one year to file a motion for post-conviction relief," she said.

Plan Now to Attend TBA Convention in Gatlinburg

Registration is now open for the 2014 TBA Annual Convention June 11-14 in Gatlinburg. Sign up now to make sure you don't miss any of the compelling programming or fun social events. This year's gathering will be held at the Park Vista Doubletree Hotel in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. Among the featured speakers will be Keel Hunt, author of "Coup," the book that takes you behind the scenes of the dramatic political transition between Governors Blanton and Alexander; and Oliver Diaz, who spent much of his time on the Mississippi Supreme Court fighting attacks from special interest groups. His experience inspired John Grisham to write “The Appeal," a story of political and legal intrigue in a state where judges are elected in partisan elections. Find out more or register today.

Faith and Justice Alliance Summit April 7

The Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance Summit will be held Monday at the Ezell Center of Lipscomb University in Nashville, hosted by the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission. After the summit, people are invited to advertise their pro-bono clinics and initiatives. For more information or to register, contact Pro Bono Coordinator Christina Magráns.

Save on Auto Insurance with TBA Benefit

GEICO Auto Insurance offers competitive products and services. Eligible TBA members will receive a members-only 8 percent discount on auto insurance premiums. Check out the savings today!

Services Thursday for Former Tennessee Supreme Court Clerk

Nashville native Ramsey B. Leathers died Friday. He was 93. Leathers was a Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps during World War II, serving as a glider pilot. He was a graduate of Cumberland School of Law and practiced in Nashville briefly before being appointed Probate Master of the Davidson County Court. He later was appointed Tennessee Supreme Court Clerk, a position that included serving as Clerk to all Tennessee appellate courts, as well as Clerk to the Court of the Judiciary and Clerk to the Board of Professional Responsibility. He retired in 1987 after more than 20 years of service. Visitation was held today at 5 p.m. at Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home and will be held again tomorrow from 9:30 a.m. at St. David's Episcopal Church. Services will follow at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. David’s, 6501 Pennywell Dr., Nashville.

Soddy Daisy Judge Files for Re-election

Soddy Daisy City Court Judge Marty Lasley filed his qualifying papers to run for re-election on Monday. "The Soddy Daisy City Court Judge position is a serious office with great responsibilities," he said, "I pledge my very best efforts to continue to be fair, impartial, respectful and courteous to everyone who appears before our court." Judge Lasley is currently running unopposed, the Chattanoogan reports.

Attorney Announces Bid for Smyrna Judgeship

Attorney Lynn England Alexander has announced her candidacy for Smyrna Town Judge. Alexander has served as an administrative judge for the state of Tennessee since 2001, where she hears regulatory disputes involving citizens and state agencies for more than 70 state and local agencies. Alexander regularly conducts hearings and mediations for the cities of Nashville and Chattanooga, as well as due process hearings for the Department of Education’s Special Education Division, the Daily News Journal reports. The Smyrna Town Judge election is Aug. 7, with early voting from July 18 to Aug. 1. The term is eight years.

Rep. Rich to Retire from House

State Rep. Barrett Rich says he will not run for another term representing his rural West Tennessee district, the Memphis Daily News reports. The Somerville Republican has served three terms in the lower chamber of the General Assembly. Other incumbents who aren't seeking re-election this year include Republican representatives Vince Dean of East Ridge and Eric Watson of Cleveland, and House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner of Nashville.

Clarksville Councilman May Seek DA Post

Clarksville City Councilman Joel Wallace, who represents Ward 9, picked up a candidate petition yesterday to run against John. W. Carney Jr. for District Attorney General, the Leaf Chronicle reports. No rules prohibit a candidate from running for that office while maintaining a City Council seat, Montgomery County Administrator of Elections Vickie Koelman told the newspaper.


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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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