Memphis Law Student Wins 2014 Hastings Competition

The TBA Environmental Law Section today announced that William McDonald "Mac" Plosser, a third-year student at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, is the winner of the 2014 Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition. The writing competition is sponsored by the Environmental Law Section in memory of Jon Hastings, one of the founding members of the section. Plosser's paper "Into The Fracking Fray: Advocating For A Balanced Approach To Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation In Tennessee" addresses the recent expansion of hydrofracturing to extract natural gas nationwide and how that issue has been addressed in Tennessee. In response to conflicts between local and state control in other states, the author proposes a balanced role that preserves both local zoning power and state regulatory authority.

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
02 - 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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Carroll C. Johnson, III and Timothy R. Holton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jesse Bentley, by and through his next friend and mother, Tonie Bentley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Joseph F. Whalen, Assistant Solicitor General, and Stephanie A. Bergmeyer, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Jimmie C. Miller and Meredith B. Humbert, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wellmont Health System d/b/a Wellmont Bristol Regional Medical Center.

Charles T. Herndon, IV and Elizabeth M. Hutton, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jeffrey McQueary, M.D.

Andrew T. Wampler, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, David O. Marden, D.O.


This is a health care liability action in which Defendants sought dismissal, claiming that the action was barred by the three-year statute of repose, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-116, as interpreted by Calaway v. Schucker, 193 S.W.3d 509 (Tenn. 2005). Plaintiff alleged that the Court’s interpretation of the statute was unconstitutional as applied to his case. The trial court disagreed and dismissed the case. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Carl R. Ogle and C. Scott Justice, Jefferson City, Tennessee, for the appellants, Christina A. Brown, individually and as next friend of Joshua S. Brown and Jaleigh J. Brown, and Daniel Robert Nevins, personal representative for the Estate of Barbara Ann Monnett.

Joseph M. Huffaker and John C. Howell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Marisol Juarez, Advance Auto Parts, Inc., and Advance Stores Company.


This appeal involves Plaintiffs’ motion to set aside an order to dismiss for failure to prosecute in a personal injury action. The trial court denied the motion. Plaintiffs appeal. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Dan Richard Alexander, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Audra Ann Norfleet.

Melissa A. King, Peter M. Napolitano, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Daniel Anthony Norfleet.


This is an appeal from a finding of contempt. When the parents of a six year old girl divorced, they agreed to name the father as the child’s primary residential parent. The mother subsequently acted in a hostile and uncooperative way towards the father, and her parenting time was reduced. Shortly thereafter, the father filed a petition for contempt, alleging that the mother had failed to pay court-ordered child support for four consecutive months. Following a hearing, the trial court held the mother in contempt. She argues on appeal that the trial court erred by trying criminal and civil contempt in the same proceeding. She also argues that the trial court’s order was invalid, because it did not specifically state that her actions were “willful.” We affirm the trial court.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Elijah Truitt, Pro Se, Nashville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General, and Dan Hamm, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Elijah Truitt, pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of greater than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell in Davidson County. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to eleven years for possession of cocaine and two years for possession of a firearm to be served consecutively. Petitioner was placed on community corrections. Petitioner’s community corrections sentence was eventually revoked and he was ordered to serve his original sentence as imposed. The trial court filed an amended judgment reflecting the revocation and imposition of the sentence. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus arguing that his sentence was illegal. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner’s arguments are meritless. Therefore, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Elaine Heard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lakeisha Margaret Watkins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Brian Holmgren, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Lakeisha Margaret Watkins, was convicted by a jury of four counts of aggravated child abuse, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and one count of attempted child neglect. The trial court sentenced her to an effective sentence of forty years. On appeal, this court reversed and dismissed one of the aggravated child neglect convictions based on insufficient evidence. State v. Lakeisha Margaret Watkins, No. M2009-02607-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 2682173, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 8, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. 2011). Petitioner’s sentence was unaffected by this court’s decision. In her post-conviction petition, petitioner alleged that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied her petition, and she now appeals from that denial. Specifically, petitioner argues that trial counsel should have moved to suppress petitioner’s statements to police, that he did not ensure she understood the significance of her decision not to testify at trial despite being aware that she had a learning disability, and that he should have called a witness at trial or at the sentencing hearing to testify about her learning disability. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bar Pass Results Due Out Friday

Results from the February Tennessee Bar Exam will be released Friday by the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners. Watch the website for the results as they become available.

New ATJ Plan Focuses on Analysis, Rural Needs, Family Law

The Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission has released a new strategic plan that assesses legal needs across the state and analyzes how well those needs are being addressed by existing programs. Developed as a roadmap to guide the commission’s work through 2016, the plan also identifies two targets for increased services: rural areas and family law. One other goal is to launch 20 new faith-based initiatives in the next two years through the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (TFJA). This week, TFJA brought more than 100 religious leaders and legal professionals from across the state to Nashville to explore new opportunities for collaboration in delivering much-needed civil legal assistance to underserved Tennesseans. See the full 2014 Strategic Plan or learn more about the TFJA Summit.

Employment Up Slightly for New Law Grads

Law school graduates last year obtained long-term, full-time legal positions at a slightly higher pace than those from the year before, the American Bar Association reported Wednesday. In data compiled by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, 57 percent of the class of 2013 -- the largest graduating class ever -- had jobs requiring bar passage compared to 56.2 percent in 2012. Another 10.1 percent of graduates landed jobs where a law degree was an advantage. That is also up slightly. Learn more from the ABA survey.

Gay Marriage Court Cases Moving Ahead

Court cases testing bans on gay marriage are moving ahead in a number of states across the country, including Tennessee, where last month a couple in Knoxville made history by having a woman listed as “father” on a birth certificate. Parents of the new baby are lead plantiffs in a lawsuit testing the legality of their New York marriage in Tennessee, the Huffington Post reports. Judge Aleta Trauger has issued a preliminary order requiring Tennessee to recognize their marriage, and the marriages of two other gay couples, while the case in on appeal. USAToday provides a roundup of other cases across the country.

DA Candidates to Discuss Domestic Violence

Domestic violence will be the focus of an upcoming candidate panel in Nashville, where the three candidates running to be Davidson County District Attorney will share the stage. The event is sponsored by the YMCA and the Legal Aid Society and will feature its managing attorney for Nashville, DarKenya Waller, as moderator. The forum runs from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Monday at Woodmont Christian Church, 3601 Hillsboro Pike in Nashville.

House, Senate Pass Haslam Budget

Gov. Bill Haslam’s $32 billion budget won House and Senate approval today, as amendments proposing pay raises for teachers and state employees were rejected by lawmakers, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The budget approved today mirrors changes introduced by Haslam’s administration last week, which eliminated previously proposed pay raises for teachers and state employees. The changes were aimed at closing a budget gap of around $160 million.

Madison County Lawyer Suspended

Jackson lawyer Angela Joy Hopson was suspended on April 7 by the Tennessee Supreme Court for one year. However, the court allowed Hopson to serve the year on probation so long as she pays restitution in the amount of $2,760 and engages the services of a practice monitor.

TBAImpact Connects Lawyers to Legislative Issues and Lawmakers

TBA now provides resources for those who want to follow legislative action. On TBAImpact, members can learn about issues important to lawyers, track legislation pending before the General Assembly and contact their legislators to express their opinions. The TBA has a long tradition of advocating on behalf of its members in the state legislature. TBAImpact will enhance these efforts, giving you an opportunity to weigh in on issues important to the profession. Log in to your TBA account, then click on the TBAImpact tab to make sure your voice is heard. Get started here.


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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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