Ramsey Confirms ‘Confidential Plan’ to Defeat Justices

Nashville’s News Channel 5 revealed last night that it had obtained a “confidential Republican plan” that outlines a campaign to oust three members of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The plan, put together by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey's office, appears designed to remove the justices to free up seats for new Republican appointees and to increase the likelihood that a Republican attorney general is appointed, the station reports. The document suggests that the justices could be “portrayed as soft on crime and anti-business.” Ramsey also confirmed to the station that he has been presenting a slide show to business leaders to highlight what he sees as "anti-business" court decisions and to encourage them “not to sit on the sidelines." He also confirmed that he has been working with the Republican Attorneys General Association to get funding for the effort. The Tennessean carried a similar story today and questioned why Ramsey is pushing for the justices’ defeat after he worked with them to craft an amendment for the November ballot that changes how Tennessee selects appellate judges. Ramsey maintained there was no contradiction between the two efforts. Both stories included reaction from Lew Conner, a prominent Republican lawyer and former appeals court judge, who called Ramsey's document "an unwarranted, unjustified attack on the independence of the judiciary."

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
08 - 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 Court of Appeals

LENA BARNER v. BURNS PHILLIPS, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF THE TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David A. Kozolowski, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lena Barner.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Dereck C. Jumper, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Burns Phillips, Action Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Charles J. Mataya, Kristi M. Wilcox and John Patrick Rogers, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Seton Corporation, d/b/a Baptist Hospital, Inc.

Judge: FARMER

This case involves Employee’s right to unemployment compensation benefits. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development denied Employee’s claim for unemployment compensation benefits after finding that she voluntarily quit her job based on her belief that she would soon be terminated. Employee appealed that finding in the trial court, where she also contended that she was denied her due process rights of notice and representation during the agency proceedings. The trial court upheld the denial of benefits, finding substantial and material evidence that Employee voluntarily quit her job, and finding that Employee was not denied due process during the agency proceedings. We affirm.


DONNA BOBO v. STATE OF TENNESSEE REAL ESTATE COMMISSION

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Joseph F. Whalen, Acting Solicitor General; Nicholas G. Barca, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee Real Estate Commission.

Kim G. Sims, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Donna Bobo.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is an appeal from an administrative decision permanently revoking a real estate broker’s license. The Chancery Court reversed the decision of the administrative panel, finding that the decision was not based on substantial and material evidence, that the procedure utilized violated both statutory and constitutional principles, and that the administrative panel demonstrated “evident partiality.” We reverse the decision of the Chancery Court and reinstate the decision of the administrative panel. Reversed and remanded.


ROBERT C. LITTON v. JENNIFER M. LITTON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

W. Justin Adams, Nashville, Tennnessee, for the appellant, Jennifer Marie Litton.

No brief filed for the appellee, Robert C. Litton.

Judge: HIGHERS

In the parties’ divorce, the trial court denied Wife’s request for spousal support and her request for reimbursement for medical expenses incurred. We affirm.


BRENDA DIANNE COOK RAYFIELD v. TONY DALE RAYFIELD

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Kevin W. Shepherd, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tony Dale Rayfield.

Craig L. Garrett, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brenda Dianne Cook Rayfield.

Judge: MCCLARTY

This appeal arises from a divorce action. The husband appeals the trial court’s division of marital property and debt and the award of compensatory and punitive damages to the wife for injuries she allegedly sustained at the hands of the husband. We affirm.


LEONA RUTH SALYER, ET. AL. v. COURTNEY L. LINNEN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Thomas C. Jessee and Thomas D. Dossett, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellants, Leona Ruth Salyer and Jack Salyer.

Jack M. Vaughn and Cory Swainston, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Courtney L. Linnen.

Judge: MCCLARTY

is is a personal injury action in which Plaintiff sued Defendant for injuries she sustained as a result of a two-vehicle accident. The jury found the parties equally at fault, and the trial court affirmed the jury’s verdict. On appeal, Plaintiff argues that the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence and that the trial court erred in limiting testimony concerning Defendant’s acceptance of fault at the scene of the accident. We affirm.


WESTERN FARM PRODUCTS, LLC v. SUMNER COUNTY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Thomas V. White and George A. Dean, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Western Farm Products, LLC, Inc.

Leah May Dennen, Gallatin, Tennessee; A. Scott Derrick and Jack W. Robinson, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sumner County, Tennessee.

David M. Amonette, Gallatin, Tennessee; Louis W. Oliver, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for intervening respondents, Thomas Neal, Jr., Lester Lonzo Luce, Carol Dee. Luce, John J. Simons, and Allyson Simons.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Elizabeth P. McCarter, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, as the Amicus Curiae.

Judge: DINKINS

Land owner applied to the Sumner County Board of Zoning Appeals for a conditional use permit to operate a quarry with accessory asphalt and concrete plants and rock crushing facilities. After a public hearing, the Board denied the application. The land owner filed a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of the Board’s decision; the trial court affirmed the Board’s denial. Finding no error, we affirm the decision of the trial court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RICKY NEAL FORSTER, II

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee; Raymond Mack Garner, District Public Defender; and Matthew Elrod, Assistant District Public Defender (at revocation hearing), Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ricky Neal Forster, II.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Sarah Keith and Deborah Malone, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Appellant, Ricky Neal Forster, II, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and received an effective six-year sentence, suspended to probation. A probation violation warrant and an amendment thereto were issued, alleging violations of the terms and conditions of probation by: (1) testing positive for marijuana; (2) using controlled substances; (3) failing to complete a drug rehabilitation program as instructed; (4) failing to make payments toward court costs and restitution; and (5) garnering new criminal convictions. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked appellant’s probation, which appellant now claims was an abuse of discretion. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JONATHON C. HOOD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jonathon C. Hood, Decherd, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle L. Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steven M. Blount, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Jonathon C. Hood, appeals from the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, he contends that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief from the imposition of ongoing punishment in the form of fines. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. COURTNEY KNOWLES

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Juni S. Ganguli, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Courtney Knowles.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin E.D. Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jennifer Nichols and Samuel Winnig, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Courtney Knowles, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of rape of a child, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.


JOYCE E. MONDAY, ET AL. v. EARL D. THOMAS, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Lynda W. Simmons, Livingston, Tennessee, for the appellants, Joyce E. Monday and James Paris Monday.

Terrill Lee Adkins and Hannah Sylvia Lowe, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Earl D. Thomas; Hugh Taylor and Rick Taylor, individually; Hugh Taylor, Rick Taylor and Greg Taylor, d/b/a J.S. Leasing, Inc. and Taylor Enterprises, Inc.

Judge: FARMER

The trial court dismissed this tort action as barred by the statute of limitations upon determining that Plaintiffs had failed to comply with Rule 4.03(1) of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure where they failed to return alias summonses until 235 days after they were issued. We reverse in part, vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. HAROLD MORRIS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kent Lowery Booher, Harriman, Tennessee (at trial); and Robert L. Vogel, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Harold Morris.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Frank A. Harvey, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Harold Morris, was convicted of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; and aggravated burglary, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-402, -13-502, -14-403. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of twenty-five years to be served at one hundred percent. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence and (2) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss on the grounds that his right to a speedy trial had been violated. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LEE C. PALMER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

A. Philip Lomonaco, Knoxville, Tennessee, for Lee C. Palmer, the appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Sarah Keith and Deborah Malone, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Lee C. Palmer (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of one count of felony reckless endangerment and one count of driving under the influence. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that she is entitled to a new trial because the trial court afforded her only three peremptory challenges instead of the statutorily required eight. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SHANA SCHAFER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Stephanie Johnson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Clairborne H. Ferguson (at hearing and on appeal), and Andrew Plunk (at hearing), Memphis Tennessee, for the appellee, Shana Schafer.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Shelby County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Shana Schafer, for driving while under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”) and DUI with a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of greater than .08 percent. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of the blood alcohol test based upon a violation of State v. Sensing, 843 S.W.2d 412 (Tenn. 1992). The trial court granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress, and the State filed for an interlocutory appeal. The trial court granted the State’s application, and, on appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred when it granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress. As such, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


RONNIE WOODALL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ronnie Woodall, Pikeville, Tennessee, pro se (on appeal); and Juni Ganguli, Memphis, Tennessee (at hearing), for the appellant, Ronnie Woodall.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and David Zak, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Ronnie Woodall, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of rape of a child. In this appeal, the petitioner contends that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at trial, that the State failed to disclose favorable evidence, and that the post-conviction court erred by failing to address each of the issues raised in the petition for post-conviction relief. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Primary Voters to Determine Candidates Across Tennessee

Voters went to the polls across Tennessee today to take part in primary elections, with many judicial and other local offices on the line. While election results were unavailable at TBAToday press time, here is a listing with links to county election commissions across Tennessee. Many will be posting election results tonight as they become available.


High Spending, Attack Ads Dominate in NC Court Race

The lead up to primaries in North Carolina indicate the Supreme Court race in that state is “shaping up to be another high-spending contest with a TV ad blitz at the center of the action,” according to Justice at Stake (JAS). Public records show that one independent group, Justice for All North Carolina, still has $650,000 in its coffers after spending $540,000 on televisions ads in major markets. The ads target incumbent Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson, who is facing a primary challenge, and allege that she has not been tough on child molesters. Another report from JAS indicates that more than $1 million in total has already been spent in the race. The North Carolina Bar Association has responded with a statement condemning advertising and commentary that unfairly attacks candidates based on the performance of their duties as officers of the court.


ABA Forms Task Force on Cost of Legal Education

The American Bar Association has formed a new task force charged with examining the cost of a legal education, how law school is financed, what role student loans play and the impact of overall educational debt. The ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education also will consider current practices in the use of merit scholarships, tuition discounting and need-based aid. Members of the task force include Memphis lawyer Lucian Pera, a partner at Adams and Reese and treasurer of the ABA.


Collier to Take Senior Status

U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Collier, the senior federal judge in Chattanooga, is taking senior status, the Times Free Press reports. Collier, a native of Arkansas, is a former federal prosecutor. He has served on the bench for 19 years as the first and only black U.S. district judge in eastern Tennessee. According to the paper, those mentioned as replacements include federal Magistrate Susan Lee, attorneys Celeste Creswell, Lee Davis, Leah Gerbitz and Travis McDonough, chief of staff to Mayor Andy Berke.


3 Law Students Presented with 'Best Note' Award

The University of Memphis Law Review is honoring the law school's top three law review scholars with its  "Best Note" Award for articles published this year. Award recipients are Kyle Cummins of Memphis, Everett Hixson of Chattanooga and Emma Redden of Germantown. Cummins is editor-in-chief of the law review. Redden serves as managing editor and Hixson serves as research editor. All three will graduate this month. Cummins will clerk with U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson and then join Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada. Hixson is joining Duncan, Hatcher, Hixson & Fleenor. Redden is going to work for Baker Donelson.


Rape Kit Backlog: Legislature Wants Data Before Dollars

In the waning days of the legislative session, lawmakers defeated a proposal that would have provided $2 million to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits statewide. Senate Republican leader Mark Norris says the proposal was rejected because the legislature wants to know the size of the problem before authorizing money to fix it. He tells the Memphis Daily News that the legislature also is asking localities to explain how their situations came to exist and to offer a credible plan for eliminating backlogs. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is collecting the information and is expected to report to the legislature on its findings. Until then, the state has repurposed $500,000 in federal money to help the city of Memphis work through its backlog.


Knoxville Dinner to Honor Judge Irwin

The Knoxville Leadership Foundation is hosting an event on May 22 to honor Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin and raise money for Amachi Knoxville, a mentoring program operated by the foundation for children with incarcerated parents. The dinner will take place at the Orangery from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The annual Legends Event highlights an individual who has had an impact on youth in the community. Tickets are still available.


Chattanooga Lawyer to Sign New Book Saturday

Chattanooga lawyer Jerry H. Summers has spent 40 years handling criminal defense and civil cases and now shares his experiences in a new book “The Turtle and The Lawyer,” The Chattanoogan.com reports. Summers says he wrote the book to encourage readers that “life is not solely about the successes one achieves but is even more about the failures one survives.” He will be signing copies of the book Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Book Company, 3205 Ringgold Rd. Proceeds will be donated to a number of organizations, including the University of Tennessee College of Law, Special Olympics and the Orange Grove Center.


Federal Courts Librarian Dies

Federal courts librarian Joe Daugherty McClure died Friday (May 2) at the age of 64. A Clarksville native, McClure earned his law degree from the Nashville School of Law and was employed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals as the federal courts’ librarian in Middle Tennessee for 28 years. He also was a member of the Tennessee and Montgomery County bar associations and the Tennessee Library Association. Services were held today with internment at the Smith Cemetery in Big Rock. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Smith Cemetery Maintenance Fund, 270 Big Rock Rd., Big Rock, TN 37023. The Tennessean has more on McClure's life.


Putnam Lawyer Suspended for Not Responding to Complaint

The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Putnam County lawyer Samuel Joseph Harris from the practice of law on May 2 after finding that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the court. View the BPR notice.


TBA Members Now Save with UPS

As a TBA member you now can save up to 36 percent on UPS Next Day Air and up to 18 percent on UPS Ground Shipping! Visit UPS online to learn how this new member benefit can deliver greater efficiencies for your firm. Already a UPS customer? You also are eligible for this discount once you register your account on the UPS' TBA discount site.


 
 

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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