Blaze, Eason Now Lead Access to Justice Commission

University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Douglas Blaze is the new chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, while Miller & Martin lawyer and former TBA President Marcy Eason is the new vice chair. Blaze replaces Memphis lawyer and former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis, a shareholder with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. During his time as chair, Lewis implemented a number of initiatives, including programs that utilize technology to help bridge the geographic and logistic barriers that prevent Tennesseans in need from accessing pro bono services. The statewide toll-free line 888-aLEGALz and web-based service Online Tennessee Justice now provide legal information and advice to a greater extent than available in any other state. The court also named Ann Jarvis Pruitt, executive director of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), as a new commission member. She fills the seat of Nashville business leader and human rights activist Francis Guess, who is rotating off the commission. See an updated roster of commission members.

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
11 - 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 Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


TN Court of Appeals

PEPPER & BROTHERS P.L.L.C. v. BRETT JONES

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Brett Jones, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se. appellant.

Roger Alan Maness, Clarksville, Tennessee for the appellee, J. Ross Pepper, Pepper & Brothers PLLC.

Judge: CANTRELL

A homeowner who was sued by a contractor hired an attorney to defend against the suit. The homeowner and the attorney entered into a contract whereby the attorney would charge $225 per hour, calculate the bill in quarter hour increments and bill monthly. The homeowner made his monthly payments as the litigation progressed, but after he became dissatisfied with the service he was getting, he stopped paying . He subsequently discharged the attorney and hired other counsel. The attorney sent the homeowner a final bill for $8,529. The homeowner paid $4,000 and offered to settle the remainder for a lesser amount. The attorney refused and brought suit against the homeowner for the unpaid balance. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the attorney. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE V. RODNEY EVANS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

T. Scott Jones, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rodney Evans.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Lori Phillips-Jones, District Attorney General; and LaTasha Wassom, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Rodney Evans (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days’ probation after service of the forty-eight (48) hour minimum in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the results of the blood alcohol test. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JUSTIN EVAN DAVIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael Auffinger (on appeal and at trial) and Robert Dalton (at trial), Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Justin Evan Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin E.D. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Justin Evan Davis, was found guilty by a Marshall County Circuit Court jury of selling and delivering one-half gram or more of cocaine, Class B felonies, in case number 12CR157 and in case number 12CR158. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417 (2010). The trial court merged the respective convictions in each indictment and sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of twelve years’ confinement. The Defendant’s twelve-year sentence in 12CR157 was ordered to be served consecutively to convictions in two unrelated cases. On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEVIN LEE JOHNSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kristin B. Green, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kevin Lee Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Andrew Lee Wright and Richard Aron Cawley, Assistant District Attorney Generals, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant was convicted of being a habitual motor vehicle offender, driving under the influence, and failure to appear and was sentenced to an effective term of nine years and six months. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing the sentence because it is excessive and contrary to law. After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JOHN E. LANE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Pepper Bowser, Rutledge, Tennessee, for the appellant, John E. Lane.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; James B. Dunn, District Attorney General; and Tonya D. Thornton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, John E. Lane, stands convicted of one count of first degree murder. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to object to two pictures of the deceased victim’s body and wounds that were displayed on a projector during the trial. Following our review of the parties’ arguments, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


JOHNNY L. MCGOWAN, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Johnny L. McGowan, Jr., Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The petitioner, Johnny L. McGowan, Jr., appeals as of right from the Morgan County Circuit Court’s orders denying his petitions for writs of habeas corpus and error coram nobis. The petitioner challenges his 1993 Rutherford County Criminal Court convictions of three counts of aggravated assault for which he received a total effective sentence of five years’ incarceration. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. IZZ-ALDIN AHMED MUSTAFA
With concurring opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; James B. Dunn, District Attorney General; and Gregory C. Eshbaugh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Amber D. Haas, Assistant District Public Defender (on appeal); and Bryan E. Delius, Sevierville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellee, Izz-Aldin Ahmed Mustafa.

Judge: WITT

In this appeal as of right, the State challenges the trial court’s grant of the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during a traffic stop of the defendant, claiming that the trial court erred by concluding that the defendant had been seized without legal justification. Discerning no error, we affirm.


JEFFREY S. NICHOLS v. STANTON HEIDLE, WARDEN, and STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey S. Nichols, Pikeville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; and James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Jeffrey S. Nichols, pro se, appeals the Bledsoe County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus regarding his 2005 convictions for nine counts of aggravated sexual battery and five counts of rape of a child for which he received an effective seventeen-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by denying him habeas corpus relief because (1) the judgments in case numbers 02-530 through 02-538 for his aggravated sexual battery convictions do not contain the required community supervision for life provision and (2) the rape of a child convictions in case number 02-706, which required the victim to be under age thirteen, concerned a thirteen-year-old victim. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DEMETRIUS MARCELLE SMITH

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jay Underwood, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Demetrius Marcelle Smith.

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

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Demetrius Marcelle Smith, appeals the revocation of his probation by the Hamilton County Criminal Court. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in revoking his probation and ordering his sentence into execution. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the Hamilton County Criminal Court.


RANDALL TURNER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Randall Turner, Pikeville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; and William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Randall Turner, pleaded guilty to first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated robbery, for which he received agreed-upon sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole and thirty years. The pro se petitioner filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief, in which he requested DNA analysis of his “clothing, pants, shoes and socks” as well as a witness’s “pajamas.” The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition, and this appeal follows. On appeal, petitioner argues that the post-conviction court should have: (1) recused itself from considering his case; (2) appointed counsel to represent petitioner; and (3) granted his petition for DNA testing. After our review of the parties’ briefs, the scant record before this court, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


MYRON JAY WILSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Paul Bruno (on appeal and at hearing) and Patrick Newsom (at hearing), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Myron Jay Wilson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Bradshaw, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Laural A. Hemenway, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Myron Jay Wilson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of trial counsel and that his guilty pleas were knowing and voluntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.


JOSEPH CHI-CHOI WONG v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph Chi-Choi Wong, Whiteville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Tammy Meade, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

Following his convictions of promoting prostitution and money laundering, the petitioner, Joseph Chi-Choi Wong, filed a petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as untimely. On appeal, the petitioner challenges the summary dismissal of his petition. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court Passes on Range of Controversial Appeals

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to enter the controversy over businesses refusing to serve gay and lesbian customers, Scotusblog reports, turning aside an appeal from the owners of a photography studio who had refused to work with a lesbian couple. The decision leaves intact an appellate court ruling that the studio violated state law prohibiting discrimination. In other significant denials, the court refused to hear a case upholding a ban on direct corporate contributions to federal candidates, declined to hear a case expediting a challenge to the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s telephone data gathering, refused to hear a case on testing federal court power to overturn an arbitration award, and denied a case assessing whether death-row inmates have a right to know the method of their execution in advance. The justices did grant one appeal to be reviewed in the next term. That case tests what information a party in a state court case must provide to have the case transferred to federal court.


Report: Rodriguez Decision ‘Could be Blow’ to Immigrants

The Associated Press reports that the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Friday decision in the case of Jose Rodriguez “could be a blow to immigrants who were never told that they can still be deported for a crime that has been wiped off their criminal record.” AP reporter Shelia Burke interviews immigration advocates, including the attorney who brought the case on behalf of Rodriguez, who say the decision closes an avenue for immigrants to be able to correct bad legal advice they have received in the past. The case also exposes a rift between state and federal law, they claim, since an immigrant can have a criminal record expunged by a Tennessee court but the conviction still can be used by the federal government in deportation proceedings.


Judge Approves Dismissal of Contempt Charges

The special judge hearing a contempt of court case against Hawkins County Clerk of Courts Sarah Davis has dismissed the charge, The Rogersville Review reports. Senior Judge Ben H. Cantrell of Nashville also ordered that "facts recited in the prosecutor's notice of dismissal" be stricken from the record. Cantrell said he decided to strike the prosecutor’s language after determining it was “simply his version of what he thinks he could prove.” Cantrell went on to say that the court “does not presume that the facts are true. They are strenuously disputed by the defendant and should be stricken from the record since the defendant has not had her day in court to refute them." The judge’s ruling ends a long running saga stemming from an encounter between Davis and Judge J. Todd Ross regarding staffing of the courtroom.


UT LawMeets Team Wins Best Draft

Following a regional win in March, the University of Tennessee College of Law’s LawMeets team competed in New York City last week. The team received top honors in the drafting category, bringing home the award for best draft. The team also placed third overall in the National Transactional LawMeets Competition, which provides a moot court experience for students interested in transactional practice. The law school's newsletter, The Informant, has more.


Boy Scouts to Honor Judge McAfee

Boy Scouts in Claiborne County will honor 8th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge John McAfee for his outstanding leadership and kindness at a Good Scout Award Dinner on Tuesday. The event, which benefits scouting programs in the county, begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Woodlake Golf Club. McAfee will be given an award for his service in the U.S. Army Reserve. Contact Zach Ross at (865) 963-9898 or zachary.ross@scouting.org to reserve a spot. Read more about McAfee’s service record in the Claiborne Progress.


Retiring Judges Honored by Legislature

The Tennessee General Assembly has paid tribute to two longtime judges in the 13th Judicial District who are retiring from the bench this year, WJLE reports. Resolutions honoring Criminal Court Judge Leon Burns Jr. and Circuit Court Judge John Maddux, both of Cookeville, were introduced by Sen. Charlotte Burks and adopted unanimously by both chambers. Judge Burns has served on the bench for 38 years. Judge Maddux has served for 30 years.


Belmont Hosts 1st Golf Fundraiser for Legal Aid Society

The Belmont Legal Aid Society (BLAS) is hosting its first annual charity golf tournament. All proceeds will benefit BLAS legal clinics and programs. Teams are needed to compete in the tournament, which is set for April 21 at 12:30 p.m. The event will be held at the Old Natchez Country Club. Entrance fees are $125 for individuals or $500 for a team of four. Gold sponsorships are available for $1,000. Hole sponsorships are $250. Learn more about the event or submit this registration form.


Memphis Judges Host Supreme Court Reception

The judges of the 30th Judicial District, in cooperation with the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, will host a reception for members of the Tennessee Supreme Court on Friday. The event will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the 4th Floor Gordon Ball Reading Room of the law school. RSVP to Judge Robert “Butch” Childers at robert.childers@shelbycountytn.gov.


MBA Event in Memphis to Feature ‘Scandal’ Lawyer

The National Black MBA Association will host its first regional symposium in Memphis on April 10. The keynote speaker for the event will be attorney and crisis management expert Judy Smith, the inspiration behind the hit TV show “Scandal.” The day also will feature thought leader panels and networking opportunities with local, regional and national business leaders and employers.


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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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