TBA President Joins in Yes on 2 Campaign Launch

TBA President Cindy Wyrick today joined Gov. Bill Haslam and Yes on 2 Honorary Co-Chairs former Gov. Phil Bredesen and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson for the Yes on 2 Campaign kickoff. The Yes on 2 Campaign is supported by a business coalition that hopes to raise the funds necessary for mass campaign activities, including television commercials urging the adoption of the amendment. “I was very pleased to be present for the launch of the Yes on 2 campaign, as the TBA shares the campaign’s very important goal of passing the Judicial Selection Amendment, or Amendment 2," Wyrick said. "The TBA believes that adoption of the amendment is the best way to ensure stability and consistency in our judicial system and to maintain our fair and impartial courts."  The TBA Board of Governors determined that it should favor adoption of the amendment with the advent of the Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments, because it is the best way to further the TBA’s long-standing policy of supporting merit selection for judges and the use of retention elections.

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
06 - 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 Court of Appeals

CHRISTOPHER LANCE ALLEN v. ROBBIE MARIE ALLEN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Brad W. Hornsby and Heather C. Parker, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robbie Marie Allen.

Bert W. McCarter and Aaron J. Conklin, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, Christopher Lance Allen.

Judge: BENNETT

Mother appeals the trial court’s denial of her petition to modify child support. We reverse and remand for entry of a judgment setting child support in accordance with this opinion and for an award of attorney fees to Mother.


FELISHA BROWN ET AL. v. KAREN L. SAMPLES ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Joshua R. Walker, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Robert E. Pryor, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Felisha Brown and Donald Brown, individually and as parents and next of kin of Silas Brown, deceased.

Judge: SUSANO

This is a medical malpractice action brought against the State of Tennessee 1 and others. The issue as to the appealing State is whether the plaintiffs complied with the pre-suit notice requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121 (2012 & Supp. 2013). The State argues that the plaintiffs were required to send the pre-suit notice applicable to their claim against the State to either (1) the Attorney General of Tennessee or an Assistant Attorney General, or (2) the Division of Claims Administration of the State. The Tennessee Claims Commission denied the State’s motion to dismiss, finding (1) no statutory authority requiring that pre-suit notice as to the State be served upon one of the parties alluded to by the State, and (2) that the State received adequate pre-suit notice in this case. We affirm and hold that the plaintiffs complied with Section 121’s pre-suit notice requirements by providing notice to the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, a health care provider, which entity is a division of an agency of the State of Tennessee and also a named defendant in this case.


PETROS GOUMAS v. JIMMY MAYSE ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Carol Ann Barron, Dayton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Petros Goumas.

Paul Campbell, III, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Jimmy Mayse and Barri Mayse.

Judge: SUSANO

The issue in this slip-and-fall premises liability case is whether the trial court correctly granted summary judgment to the defendants. Petros Goumas (“plaintiff”), the fiancé of the daughter of defendants Jimmy Mayse and wife, Barri Mayse, was staying at the defendants’ house for an extended visit. Plaintiff was working outside in the yard, helping to clear away dead brush and trees from the property, when he stepped on a rock, slipped, fell, and broke his arm. The trial court held that plaintiff presented no proof that the rock (1) was in any way unusual or posed any particular danger, (2) was hidden or concealed, or (3) created any kind of defective or dangerous condition. The court concluded that there was no proof of a known or foreseeable unreasonable risk of injury created by the condition of defendants’ property. Consequently, the court held, as a matter of law, that defendants owed no duty to plaintiff. He appeals. We affirm.


ANNIE HARRIS v. METROPOLITAN DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING AGENCY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Phillip L. Davidson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Annie Harris.

Tyler Chance Yarbro and Margaret Behm, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency.

Judge: CLEMENT

Former tenant of an apartment complex whose lease was terminated for an alleged breach sued alleging violations of the Tennessee Human Rights Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-101 et seq. Specifically, the former tenant contends the defendant failed to make reasonable accommodations in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-601(b)(2)(B); she also contends it intentionally discriminated against her due to her disabilities in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-311(e). The defendant denied all claims and moved for summary judgment contending the plaintiff could not establish essential elements of her claims; it also contended it terminated the lease on legitimate, nondiscriminatory grounds. The trial court summarily dismissed the complaint, finding there were no genuine issues of material fact as to whether the landlord violated the Tennessee Human Rights Act. We affirm.


LISA RAWLINGS REDMON v. BRENT ALAN REDMON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Angela Snider and Gayra M. Hall, Jackson, Tennessee, for Appellant Lisa Rawlings Redmon

George Douglas Norton, Jr., Selmer, Tennessee, for Appellee Brent Alan Redmon

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves post-divorce parental relocation. The parties were divorced in Tennessee, and the mother was designated as the primary residential parent for the parties’ minor child. After the divorce, the mother graduated from a nurse practitioner program and obtained a job offer in Mississippi. She notified the father of her intent to relocate with the parties’ child. The father objected and filed a petition opposing her relocation. At trial, the father argued that the proposed relocation did not have a reasonable purpose under Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-108(d)(1), in that the mother failed to apply for nurse practitioner jobs in Tennessee. The trial court agreed with the father and denied the mother permission to relocate with the child. The mother appeals. We hold that, by failing to submit proof of comparable jobs in Tennessee for which the mother was qualified, the father did not meet his burden of proving that the mother’s proposed relocation did not have a reasonable purpose. Therefore, we reverse.


IN RE S.H. ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Arthur Bass, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, V.H.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Leslie Curry, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Judge: SUSANO

V.H. (“Mother”) appeals the order terminating her parental rights to her four minor children, S.H., R.L.R. III., M.B and K.C.B. (“Children”). The Children were placed 1 in the temporary custody of the Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) based on allegations of lack of supervision, physical abuse, and Mother’s drug use. The Children were subsequently adjudicated as being dependent and neglected. After a trial, the court found that there was clear and convincing evidence to establish the existence of multiple grounds for termination and that termination was in the best interest of the Children. Mother appeals. She challenges the court’s denial of her motion to continue the trial and its best interest determination. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

KENNETH ALLEN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Donna Orr Hargrove, District Public Defender; and Michael J. Collins, Assistant Public Defender, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth Allen.

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

Judge: WOODALL

Following a jury trial in 2008, Petitioner, Kenneth Allen, was ultimately convicted of two Class B felony cocaine offenses and two Class C felony cocaine offenses. He was sentenced to serve an effective sentence of thirty years as a career offender. The trial court ordered the effective thirty-year sentence to be served consecutively to an unrelated sentence of ten years for additional drug convictions for which his probation had been revoked. See State v. Kenneth Gregory Allen, No. M2009-00070-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 24, 2010). Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition attacking his 2008 convictions. After an evidentiary hearing the trial court denied relief. Petitioner has appealed arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRANDON CHURCHMAN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Cornelius K. Bostick, Anna R. Smith, and Rochelle McCrackin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brandon Churchman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Alanda Dwyer and Abby Wallace, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant was convicted by a jury of reckless homicide, first degree (felony) murder and two counts of facilitation of attempted first degree murder. These convictions all sprang from an incident in which shots were fired at three men in a car during an attempted robbery. To establish the defendant’s identity as the murderer the State introduced evidence at trial of a separate carjacking and shooting committed by the defendant and an accomplice several hours prior to the homicide. The defendant, who had pled guilty to the attempted first degree murder of the carjacking victim prior to trial on the instant charges, asserts on appeal that the two incidents were subject to mandatory joinder and that he could not be tried for the charges in the present indictment after he had pled guilty to the attempted first degree murder. He also appeals the trial court’s decision to admit the evidence of the carjacking, the trial court’s limits on cross-examination of a witnesses, the trial court’s evidentiary decisions regarding hearsay, and the trial court’s denial of a mistrial. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that there was no error and we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JEFFERY NEWTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Howell G. Clements (on appeal and at trial) and Paul D. Cross (at trial), Monteagle, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffery Newton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and David McGovern, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Jeffery Newton, was convicted by a Marion County Circuit Court jury of attempt to commit aggravated assault, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102 (2010). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to two years and nine months with thirty days to serve in confinement and the remainder to serve on probation. On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court erroneously denied his motion to dismiss the indictment, (3) the trial court erred during jury instructions, and (4) his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. HENRY WAYNE RUSSELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Manuel Benjamin Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Henry Wayne Russell.

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

Judge: WOODALL

A Davidson County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Henry Wayne Russell, charging him in Counts One, Three, and Five with rape; and in Counts Two, Four, and Six with statutory rape by an authority figure. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty as charged in the indictment. The trial court merged the convictions in Count Two with Count One; Count Four with Count Three; and Count Six with Count Five. The trial court imposed a sentence of fifteen years for each count of rape as a Range II offender for a total effective sentence of thirty years. On appeal, Defendant argues that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for statutory rape by an authority figure; (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion under Tenn. Rule Evid. 412 to allow evidence of C.L.’s sexual behavior; (3) the trial court erred by advising Defendant that the State would be permitted to cross-examine him concerning his prior felony drug convictions; (4) the trial court erred by allowing a forensic social worker to testify concerning the victim’s medical history; (5) the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of attempted rape; and (6) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


WALTER WARE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Beau E. Pemberton, Dresden, Tennessee, for the appellant, Walter Ware.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin E.D. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Thomas A. Thomas, District Attorney General; and Kevin D. McAlpin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Walter Ware, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Based upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


1 in 25 Sentenced to Death Are Likely Innocent, Study Says

A new study suggests that about one in 25 people who are sentenced to death are likely innocent, the ABA Journal reports. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that while only 1.6 percent of those on death-row are exonerated and released, the actual figure is likely a minimum of 4.1 percent when statistical assumptions are applied to the cases of people who are removed from death row and given life sentences.The new study also refutes a statement made by Justice Antonin Scalia in a concurring opinion in 2007 in which he wrote that American criminal convictions have an error rate of 0.027 percent “or, to put it another way, a success rate of 99.973 percent.”


State to Criminalize Moms Using Drugs while Pregnant

Gov. Bill Haslam today signed legislation allowing women who use drugs while pregnant to be criminally charged for harm done to their infants, the Tennessean reports. “The intent of this bill is to give law enforcement and district attorneys a tool to address illicit drug use among pregnant women through treatment programs,” Haslam wrote in a statement. Tennessee officials have wrestled with what to do about the growing numbers of infants born dependent on drugs. The law brings back criminalization, which lawmakers had eliminated two years ago as the state moved toward programs that incentivize expecting mothers to get into treatment.


Feds Investigate Sex Assaults at Vanderbilt

The U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights office is investigating Vanderbilt's handling of sex crimes in response to a complaint filed by six current and former female students, the Tennessean reports. The students charge that women were discouraged from going forward with reports of sexual violence, university staff failed to follow through after incidents, education efforts were lacking and help for victims was not readily available. The opening of the Vanderbilt review comes as the Obama administration announces a series of steps it plans to take to try to reduce the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses. That effort includes pushing colleges and universities to become more transparent in their reporting of incidents.


County Asks High Court to Reject Mosque Lawsuit Appeal

Attorneys for Rutherford County say that the U.S Supreme Court should reject hearing an appeal about the county’s method for notifying the public of plans for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, the Daily News Journal reports. The document is in response to the plaintiffs' request that the high court hear their case that started in September 2010 when they sought to stop construction of the mosque. In 2013, the Tennessee Supreme Court declined to hear the case.


Same-Sex Marriages Invalidated ... For Now

The marriages of three same-sex Tennessee couples who are suing the state have been invalidated, at least temporarily, by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. In March, U.S District Court Judge Aleta Trauger granted a temporary injunction, forcing the state to recognize the couples’ out-of-state marriages. On Friday, the 6th Circuit put the lower court’s order on hold because it says "the law in this area is so unsettled." The Memphis Daily News has the story.


Two in Running for 17th District Circuit Court

Lincoln County resident Brooke C. Grubb has announced his candidacy for 17th Judicial District Circuit Court judge, the Elk Valley Times reports. Grubb currently serves as an assistant district attorney general in the district. A 1998 graduate of the Nashville School of Law, Grubb worked as a deputy for the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department while attending law school. Grubb also is a lieutenant colonel in the Tennessee Army National Guard with 26 years of service, including two deployments to Iraq. He will face incumbent Judge Forest Durard, who was appointed last summer to replace retiring Judge Robert Crigler. Durard, also a graduate of the Nashville School of Law, worked as an assistant district attorney, assistant public defender and in private practice for 20 years before being named to the bench. The general election is set for Aug. 7.


GOP Circuit Court Contenders Profiled

The Jackson Sun profiled Kyle Atkins and Edward Martindale, contenders for the 26th Judicial District’s Republican primary for Circuit Court Judge in Division III. The district is made up of Madison, Chester and Henderson counties. The winner of the primary will run against Circuit Court Judge Nathan Pride, who is on the August ballot as an independent.


Court Hears Arguments in Cellphone Privacy Cases

The Supreme Court seemed wary Tuesday of allowing police unbridled freedom to search through cellphones of people they arrest, taking on a new issue of privacy in the face of rapidly changing technology, WATE reports. The court heard two cases today involving a drug dealer and a gang member whose convictions turned in part on evidence found on their cellphones. A key question is whether Americans' cellphones, with vast quantities of sensitive records, photographs and communications, are a private realm much like their homes. Decisions are expected by late June.


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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.


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