Lawyers Urged to Take Part in Tuesday’s Primary

TBA President Cindy Wyrick writes in her recent Tennessee Bar Journal column that lawyers must be a voice in the coming judicial elections. The next opportunity to exercise that voice is during tomorrow’s primary races, which will determine the general election candidates for trial court, general sessions and municipal judges across the state. The TBA has a variety of resources to help lawyers and members of the public evaluate candidates on its  2014 Judicial Selection Information Center.

In addition, Knoxville lawyers Hanson Tipton and Keith H. Burroughs authored an opinion piece in today’s Knoxnews on why it is important to vote for qualified judicial candidates. The Knoxville Bar Association also has developed a “Get To Know Your Judicial Candidates” section on its website.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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 Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William T. Mullican, Franklin, Tennessee, (on appeal); and Vanessa Pettigrew Bryan, District Public Defender; and Robert W. Jones, Assistant Public Defender, Franklin, Tennessee, (at trial), for the appellant, Malcolm Wayne Bennett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Bradshaw, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Terry Wood, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Malcolm W. Bennett, was charged by indictment with Class C felony aggravated assault. In a negotiated plea agreement, he entered a “best interest” guilty plea to the amended charge of Class D felony reckless aggravated assault of the victim, a ten-year-old boy. The parties also agreed that Defendant would be sentenced as a Range II multiple offender, with the length and manner of service to be determined by the trial court. After the sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant to serve eight years in the Department of Correction. In this appeal Defendant argues that his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of the Criminal Appeals of Tennessee.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Bradley L. Henry (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee; and H. Randolph Fallin (at trial), Mountain City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jonathan Ray Chapman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulaney Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Anthony Wade Clark, District Attorney General; and Melanie Sellers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Jonathan Ray Chapman, was convicted of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to ten years in confinement. On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court erred by: (1) admitting his videotaped confession into evidence and (2) failing to admit a statement made by his girlfriend into evidence. Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Cedric Earl Johnson, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin E.D. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Pamela Anderson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Cedric Earl Johnson, appeals from the trial court’s summary dismissal of his post- conviction petition. On October 11, 2010, judgments of conviction were entered against Petitioner pursuant to his negotiated guilty pleas to attempted first degree murder, aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated burglary. Petitioner received an effective sentence of twenty-five years of incarceration. On February 1, 2013, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. On February 27, 2013, the trial court entered an order dismissing the petition with prejudice because it was filed outside the one-year applicable statute of limitations. On April 11, 2013, Petitioner filed his notice of appeal. In its brief, the State moves this court to dismiss the appeal because the notice of appeal was filed almost two weeks late. See Tenn. R. App. P. 4(a) (a notice of appeal must be filed within thirty days of entry of the judgment appealed from). We decline to dismiss the appeal and waive the timely filing of the notice of appeal. However, we affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


David K. Calfee, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ashley C.

Robert C. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on D’Vante P., the minor child (“Child”) of Ashley C. (“Mother”) and Sylvester P. (“Father”). The Child was taken into protective custody by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) on October 27, 2010, following investigation of lack of supervision in the home. On October 10, 2012, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both parents. The proceeding to terminate Father’s parental rights subsequently became a separate action, and Father is not a party to this appeal. Following a bench trial conducted on July 15, 2013, the trial court granted the petition as to Mother upon the court’s finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) Mother had failed to substantially comply with the permanency plans and (2) the conditions causing the removal of the Child into protective custody persisted. The court further found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the Child’s best interest. Mother has appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael K. Williamson, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Danny W. and Donna W.

Kathryn W. Olita and John W. Crow, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mandy W.


This is a grandparent visitation case. The grandparents filed a petition seeking to have a parenting plan established which designated them as primary caregivers or, in the alternative, provided them with “regular custodial time” with respect to a grandson who previously lived at their home. The juvenile court judge held that the Grandparents did not prove that the mother opposed visitation, and dismissed the petition. Concluding that the evidence does not preponderate against the court’s finding that the mother did not oppose visitation, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Investiture Set for New Court of Appeals Judge

The investiture of Neal McBrayer as judge for the Tennessee Court of Appeals is set for May 29 at 10:30 a.m. in the Historic Supreme Court Chambers of the state Capitol. A reception will follow and the public is invited to attend. McBrayer, a Maryville native, most recently served as an attorney in the Nashville office of Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada where he handled commercial litigation and bankruptcy law. He was appointed to the court by Gov. Bill Haslam in August 2013 to replace Judge Patricia J. Cottrell, who is stepping down at the end of the current term. The Daily Times has more on McBrayer's background and appointment.

Make a Big Impact with Big Payback Donation

Lawyers and others across Tennessee can show their support for the state Youth Court Program by taking part in The Big Payback, a 24-hour online giving campaign hosted by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday and running through 6 a.m. Wednesday, donors can designate their contributions to the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation for use by the Youth Court Program. The program now supports 21 youth courts across Tennessee, educating hundreds of students about our system of justice and reducing recidivism rates among juvenile offenders by half the rates of traditional programs.

NBA Memorial Service Set for May 15

The Nashville Bar Association (NBA) will hold its annual spring Memorial Service May 15 at the Downtown Presbyterian Church, 154 5th Ave. N., Nashville 37219. The service begins at 11 a.m. There will be a reception immediately following the service in the church’s Fellowship Hall. Family members and friends of the deceased are invited to attend. Attorneys to be honored are Samuel Butts III, James Campbell Jr., David Discenza, Brannon Huddleston, Arnold Lefkovitz, Charles Craig Morrow, J.L. "Jack" Thompson and Aaron Wyckoff.

Court Upholds Prayer at NY Town Meetings

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that mostly Christian prayers, delivered by a “chaplain of the month” before town meetings, do not violate the establishment clause, the ABA Journal reports. A 5-4 majority upheld the practice saying it “comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation.” While the suit had sought to limit prayers to those that do not reference a particular faith or belief, the majority found that such a “fixed standard” was “not consistent with the tradition of legislative prayer” and would actually force legislatures and courts to “act as supervisors and censors of religious speech.” Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissenting opinion in which she argued that town hall meetings do not need to be religion-free zones but that the town of Greece “did nothing to recognize religious diversity” until it was sued.

Chattanooga Bankruptcy Judge to Retire

Chattanooga Senior Bankruptcy Judge John Cook is retiring effective March 31, 2015, and the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is seeking applicants for his replacement. The term of office is 14 years. Salary is $183,172. Interested individuals may obtain an online application from the court. Applications must be received by May 27. The has more on the vacancy.

New Studies: Salaries, Billing Rates Still Low for Female Lawyers

A recent study reported in the ABA Journal found that female lawyers and judges earn about 82 percent of what their male counterparts make. And when it comes to billing rates, another study found that female law-firm partners are lagging behind their male counterparts. That analysis, reported by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, found that women partners on average earn 10 percent less for their services then male partners. The analysis also found that the gap begins at the junior lawyer level and is more pronounced among seasoned attorneys at major firms – even when female partners possess similar levels of experience and work in the same market.

Special Judge Named for Mosque Cemetery Case

Senior Judge Paul Summers has been appointed to hear a case over a county-approved cemetery at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, the Murfreesboro Post reports. After all judges in Rutherford County recused themselves, the Administrative Office of the Courts appointed Summers to preside over the matter between a group of residents and the Rutherford County Board of Zoning Appeals. Chancellor Robert Corlew, who heard previous matters regarding the mosque, recused himself in late March after an attorney for the mosque asked him step down.

City Wants to Use Grant for Federal Prosecutor

The city of Chattanooga is sitting on $300,000 from a federal grant intended to help crack down on crime, WRCB-TV reports. City officials said they plan on using the money to help fund a special federal prosecutor but need approval from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to change the grant’s purpose. Originally, the city applied for and was granted the money to hire a special prosecutor in the district attorney's office. City officials say they will submit the required paperwork in the next few weeks and should hear back from the DOJ within 30 to 60 days.

Legal Sector Jobs Fall in April

The legal services sector lost 1,200 jobs in April, the steepest one-month dip in employment numbers in five months, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s latest monthly report. There were still 700 more jobs in April compared to the same time last year, but the total number of legal jobs – 1,136,400 – is well below the 10-year high of 1,180,000 set in May 2007, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

Britton Named to NALP Planning Council

Karen Britton, director of admissions, financial aid and the Career Center at the University of Tennessee College of Law, is a new member of the Past Presidents Council of The National Association for Law Placement (NALP). As such, she will have a formal role in the organization’s long-range strategic planning process. The law school also reports that Britton will continue as a member of NALP’s Lawyer Career Pathways & Satisfaction Work Group, which is designing a research tool to measure law school graduate employment status and career satisfaction. A pilot program with 20 law schools, including UT, is currently underway. Results will be used to refine the tool for a national launch this summer.

Personalized Insurance Service

TBA Member Insurance Solutions provides association members with exclusive benefits, personalized service and pricing discounts through Graham Swafford, our insurance agent dedicated to serving TBA members. Whether you need professional liability insurance or guidance on other insurance needs, Graham is here for you.


Questions, comments: Email us at

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