ABA: Withdraw Anti-Lawyer Campaign Ad

American Bar Association President James R. Silkenat today released a letter urging the Republican Governors Association and its chair, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, to retract its new video ad that attacks a South Carolina gubernatorial candidate for the criminal defense work he performed earlier in his career. Emphasizing that the ABA does not endorse political candidates, Silkenat noted that his letter does not support or oppose any candidate in the South Carolina race: "However, as leader of the nation’s largest lawyers’ organization, I am writing to express that the message the ad sends is wrong in the context of the American system of justice, and it must be rejected."

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
02 - 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

CONSULTING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC, ET AL. V. JOHN H. FRIEDMANN, SR.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Bruce N. Oldham, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, John H. Friedmann, Sr.

Russell E. Edwards and Michael W. Edwards, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Consulting and Financial Services, Inc. and Paul G. Crenshaw.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is the second appeal of this case, arising from the installation of tile flooring. In Consulting and Financial Services, Inc. v. Friedmann, No. M2011-00093- COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 1390621(Tenn. Ct. App. April 19, 2012), we held that the trial court’s measure of damages was correct, but remanded for re-calculation of the amount of damages. The remand was necessary because the original judgment included damage amounts that were based upon tile repairs to certain areas of the home, which repairs were not raised by Appellees/homeowners within the one-year warranty period. We did not, however, mandate the method by which the trial court could determine the adjusted amount. Upon remand, the only evidence presented was from the original contractor, who relied upon his original estimate. To arrive at the portions of the original estimate that were for the excluded areas, the contractor had his tile subcontractor submit separate estimates for those areas. The separate estimates were calculated using the current price-per-square-foot applicable at the time of remand, which was less than the price-per-square-foot that was used in the original estimate. To arrive at the adjusted damages amount, the trial court simply subtracted the separate estimate amounts from the original estimate. Appellant/Contractor appeals, arguing, inter alia, that the lower price-per-square-foot applicable at the time of remand should apply to the entire judgment, or, in the alternative, that the excluded amounts should be calculated using the same price as was used in the original estimate. The “law of the case,” based upon our holding in the first appeal, was that the judgment would be adjusted to exclude all costs associated with the excluded areas. Although we did not mandate that the trial court re-try the issue of damages, we did not preclude that option in our first opinion. However, it was implicit in our holding that, if the trial court chose to use the original estimate (which it did), then the total costs for the excluded areas would be calculated, at the same price used in the original estimate, and subtracted from the original estimate. Because the trial court used new estimates for the excluded areas, which were not calculated at the same rate as in the original estimate, the adjusted judgment did not remove the full amount for repairs to the excluded areas that were contemplated in the original estimate. Accordingly, the law of the case was not followed. Vacated and remanded with instructions.


DEBRA LYNN LLOYD v. HUSTON FOLEY LLOYD

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Huston Foley Lloyd, Tiptonville, TN, Pro Se.

Jennifer Noe, Ashland City, Tennessee, for the appellee, Debra Lynn Lloyd.

Judge: DINKINS

Husband in divorce proceeding appeals numerous issues relating to the trial court’s administration of the trial and valuation and division of marital property. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM MATTHEW BLACK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Manuel B. Russ (at trial and on appeal) and Lee Sprouse (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Matthew Black.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Hugh T. Ammerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, William Matthew Black, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of second degree murder, a Class A felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-210 (2010). The trial court imposed a Range I sentence of nineteen years’ confinement as a violent offender. On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court erred by admitting into evidence his police statement, (3) the trial court erred by permitting the State to strike potential jurors on the basis of race, and (4) the trial court erred by failing to include aggravated assault in the jury instructions. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


NEWT CARTER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Joseph T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Newt Carter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General, and Jody Pickens, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

A Madison County jury convicted Petitioner, Newt Carter, of aggravated rape and aggravated burglary. He received an effective sentence of twenty years to be served at 100 percent incarceration for the aggravated rape to be served consecutively to five years to be served at thirty percent incarceration for the aggravated burglary. State v. Newt Carter, No. W2009- 00600-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 2349207, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, June 11, 2010), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Nov. 12, 2010). Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief. After holding evidentiary hearings on the petition, the post-conviction court denied the petition. Petitioner appeals the denial of the petition and argues that he was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel. We have reviewed the record on appeal and conclude that the post-conviction court correctly denied the petition. Therefore, we affirm the denial of the petition for post-conviction relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RONALD W. DAMON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ben Hall McFarlin, III, (at trial and on appeal), Ken Burger (at trial), and Claire Burger (at trial), Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronald W. Damon.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and J. Paul Newman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Ronald W. Damon, was convicted by a Rutherford County Circuit Court jury of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, Class A felonies; aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-305 (2010) (especially aggravated kidnapping), 39-13-402 (2010) (aggravated robbery), 39-14-403 (aggravated burglary), 39- 12-103 (2010) (criminal conspiracy). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to consecutive terms of twenty-three years as a violent offender for each of the especially aggravated kidnapping convictions, eleven years as a Range I, standard offender for aggravated robbery, nine years as a Range II, multiple offender for aggravated burglary, and seven years as a Range II, multiple offender for conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal or a new trial, (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (3) the court erred in allowing an eight-day break in the trial between the proof and the closing arguments, (4) the court erred in excluding the testimony of a 9-1-1 operator regarding one of the victim’s statements, (5) the court erred in admitting testimony about a letter he wrote, (6) the court erred in admitting evidence of his prior bad acts, (7) the court erred in allowing the State to play portions of a video recording of his pretrial statement, (8) the court erred in allowing a jail inmate to testify without being subject to cross-examination about the truthfulness or falsity of his prior testimony in another matter, (9) the court erred in admitting testimony about his financial problems despite the witness’s lack of personal knowledge, (10) the court erroneously admitted evidence in his first trial that resulted in a hung jury but would have resulted in an acquittal if the evidence had not been admitted, and (11) the court erred during sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JULIE FULLER, a.k.a. JULIE COLE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Julie Fuller, a.k.a. Julie Cole, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se.

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

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Julie Fuller a.k.a. Julie Cole, appeals the trial court’s denial of her motion for correction of an illegal sentence and/or reduction of sentence. On August 9, 2012, the defendant pleaded guilty to theft of property over $10,000, a Class C felony. The defendant was sentenced as a persistent offender to serve ten years at thirty percent. On appeal, the defendant argues that her sentence was illegal and that the trial court erred and abused its discretion by failing to modify it. Following a review of the record, we reverse the trial court’s denial of the motion and remand to correct the judgment.


CRYSTLE D. RUTHERFORD V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Crystle D. Rutherford, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorney Generals, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Crystle D. Rutherford, appeals the summary dismissal of her pro se petition for post-conviction relief as untimely. In June 2010, she pled guilty to two counts of facilitation of first degree premeditated murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery. She is currently serving a total effective sentence of fifty years in the Department of Correction. In March 2013, the petitioner filed a pro se petition alleging multiple grounds for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition as untimely. On appeal, the petitioner addresses only her asserted grounds for relief, and she fails to address the finding of untimeliness. Following our review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the petition for post-conviction relief.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MITCHELL NATHANIEL SCOTT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kelly David Young, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mitchell Nathaniel Scott.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Brian K. Holmgren, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Mitchell Nathaniel Scott, entered a plea of guilty to one count of aggravated child abuse. Prior to a sentencing hearing, the defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the trial court denied. On appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion because he provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate a “fair and just reason” that would justify the withdrawal of his guilty plea. After a review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JUNIOR P. SAMUEL V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Junior P. Samuel, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Sharon Reddick, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Junior P. Samuel, appeals the post-conviction court’s summary dismissal of his petition for relief as time-barred. The petitioner is currently serving an effective thirtytwo year sentence in the Department of Correction following his convictions for five counts of rape and one count of sexual battery by an authority figure in 2008. In April 2013, the petitioner filed the instant pro se petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition after concluding that it was filed outside the statute of limitations. On appeal, the petitioner contends that the dismissal was improper because due process required tolling the statute of limitations. Specifically, he contends that he was mislead by appellate counsel into believing that appellate counsel was continuing the appellate process following the denial of the direct appeal. Following review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.


9 Apply for Court of Criminal Appeals

The Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments will consider nine applicants when it meets May 13 in Nashville to select nominees for the Court of Criminal Appeals vacancy, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. The candidates are Jeffrey Allen DeVasher
, Timothy Lee Easter
, Robert Neland Hibbett
, James Winn Milam
, Roger Eric Nell
, James Yeiser Ross Sr.
, Gregory Dale Smith
, Russell Fletcher Thomas
 and Thomas Edward Tigue
. Judge Jerry Smith will not seek to retain his seat in the August general election.


Defense Lawyers can Stay on Vandy Rape Case

Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins ruled yesterday that California attorney Albert Perez Jr. and retired judge Eugene Osko meet state requirements to stay on the legal defense team for Brandon Vandenburg, one of four former Vanderbilt University football players charged in the June 2013 rape of a female student inside a campus dorm. Watkins also said that Perez did not err in making statements about the case in a local TV news interview. The comments by Perez, "although colorfully opinionated, do not rise to the level of material prejudice," the judge wrote. The Tennessean has more.


UT to Remove Sen. Kefauver Exhibit

The University of Tennessee’s Hoskins Library is doing away with the historic exhibit dedicated to UT alum Sen. Estes Kefauver. The exhibit — which had been off limits to the public for years due to structural problems in the wing that contained it — was a shrine to Kefauver’s Washington office, including all furnishings and dozens of framed pictures of contemporary political figures like President John F. Kennedy. As a young lawyer, Kefauver stood up to the corrupt Crump political machine and challenged organized crime and his own region’s bitter network of segregationists. Read more about Kefauver at Metropulse.


Retired Justice Promotes Legalization of Marijuana

In an interview with NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens urges the legalization of marijuana and says history will view the prohibition against marijuana to be like that against alcoholic in the early 20th century. The ABA Journal reports the 94-year-old justice recently released a book titled “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” in which he argues for ending capital punishment and limiting gun rights.


Program Trains Students for 3 New Youth Courts

Nearly 100 Metro Nashville Public School students and teachers gathered earlier this week for the Davidson County Youth Court Training Conference. Three Nashville high schools -- Antioch, McGavock and Whites Creek  -- are preparing to implement new Youth Courts, diversionary programs which are now in place in 16 counties across the state. The courts  allow non-violent, first-time offenders the opportunity to have their cases heard by a jury of students their own age. TBA Youth Courts Coordinator Denise Bentley says that fewer than 7 percent of respondents who participate in Tennessee youth courts re-offend within a year.


Oklahoma Upholds Merit Selection

The Oklahoma state House yesterday defeated a proposal to change the composition of the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission with a 65-31 vote. “You’re injecting an extreme amount of partisanship into the process,” House Democratic leader Scott Inman said about the legislation to alter the merit-based process for choosing judges that has operated for nearly half a century. Gavel Grab has more.


Events Planned to Honor New District Court Judge

The Knoxville Bar Association today announced two events to recognize former TBA president and newly installed U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Reeves. The Chattanooga and Northeast Tennessee Chapters of the Federal Bar Association will host a reception honoring Judge Reeves at the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park May 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. RSVP to bchasse@hsdlaw.com or dessauer@hsdlaw.com. The investiture for Judge Reeves will be May 30 at the Bijou Theatre at 1 p.m., with reception to follow in the Courtyard of the Howard H. Baker Jr. United States Courthouse.


Justice O'Connor to Keynote Civics Conference in Nashville

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Janice Holder and 12 other jurists will address the annual conference of the Southeast Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates (SEABOTA) next week in Nashville. On May 2, O’Connor will speak on the crisis in civics education and how it impacts the civil justice system. Her presentation will be followed by a panel of Supreme Court justices speaking on civics, civility, access to justice, politics and trends impacting the courts. On May 3, O’Connor will speak on the importance of the independence of the judiciary. Learn more on the group’s website or by contacting its president, Knoxville lawyer Wayne Ritchie.


Knoxville Law Firm Hosts Candidate Forum

The Knoxville office of Pratt Aycock is hosting a forum on Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. for candidates running for Fourth Circuit Court judge. All four candidates -- Patti Jane Lay, Greg McMillan, Daniel Kidd and David Valone -- have committed to attend and take questions from members of the bar and the public. Pratt Aycock's office is located at 705 Gate Ln., Suite 202, Knoxville. RSVP to Natalie Ayliffe or call (865) 769-6969.


Shelby Early Voting Goes Countywide

Early voting in advance of the May 6 county primary election day kicked off today at 20 satellite locations across Shelby County. A list of the locations can be found at www.shelbyvote.com. Polls are open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Memphis Daily News has more.


Health Insurance Exchange Now Available Through TBA

Fast and easy health insurance enrollment is now available through the TBA Health Insurance Exchange operated by JLBG Health. Affordable health insurance coverage is important, but getting it can be complicated, frustrating and expensive. The TBA Health Insurance Exchange can help make the whole process simpler and easier to navigate.


 
 

Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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.


© Copyright 2014 Tennessee Bar Association