8 Judges Named to New Workers’ Comp Court

Eight judges were appointed today to the recently formed Workers’ Compensation Court by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The court was created by the comprehensive workers’ compensation law passed by the General Assembly in 2013. Brian Addington of Kingsport, Joshua Baker of Nashville, Lisa Knott of Knoxville, Pamela Johnson of Knoxville, Allen Phillips of Jackson, Jim Umstead of Memphis, Thomas Wyatt of Chattanooga and Ken Switzer of Nashville will begin work prior to July 1, when the law goes into effect. Switzer will be the court’s chief judge, the Nashville Business Journal reports.

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - 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

IN RE D.W.M., Jr.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


David K. Calfee, Cleveland, Tennessee, for Respondent/Appellant, D.W.M., Sr.

Sally C. Love, Cleveland, Tennessee, for Respondent/Appellant, J.A.B.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr. and Leslie Curry, Nashville, Tennessee, for Petitioner/Appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves termination of parental rights. While she was pregnant, the mother of the child at issue made threats to harm herself and the unborn child. Both of the parents are mentally impaired. The mother has other serious disorders as well, and the father is a registered sex offender. The state took the child into protective custody four days after the child was born. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both parents on grounds of mental incompetence and persistent conditions. After a trial, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that the Department of Children’s Services had established grounds for termination and that termination of parental rights was in the child’s best interest. Discerning no error, we affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Craig Lamonte Beene, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; and Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The pro se petitioner, Craig Beene, appeals the summary dismissal of a petition for habeas corpus relief. Petitioner alleges he did not enter a knowing and voluntary guilty plea. The habeas court found he had litigated this issue in his post-conviction hearing, and it was not a proper subject for habeas corpus relief. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


C. Brad Sproles, Kingsport, Tennessee, for Stormy Condry, the appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Julie Canter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Stormy Condry (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to two counts of attempt to commit aggravated assault and reserved a certified question of law concerning the retroactivity of an amendment to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-107 (Supp. 2011). The Defendant contends that the amendment should be applied retroactively so as to render her conduct noncriminal. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we reject the Defendant’s argument and affirm the trial court’s judgments.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Tommy Ethen Doyle, Linden, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joshua Ethen Doyle.

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


The defendant, Joshua Ethen Doyle, appeals a certified question of law pertaining to the stop of his vehicle, and the denial of a motion to suppress the breath alcohol test. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael Anthony Lewis, pro se, Mountain City, Tennessee, as the appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Michael Anthony Lewis (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for a writ habeas corpus regarding his conviction for attempt to commit first degree premeditated murder. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, and this appeal followed. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Francis X. Santore, Jr., Greenville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronald Lee West, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General ; C. Berkeley Bell, District Attorney General; and Richie Collins, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Ronald Lee West, Jr., appeals from his jury convictions for initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine, Count 1, and possession of drug paraphernalia, Count 2. In this appeal, he alleges (1) that the evidence presented at trial is insufficient to sustain his conviction in Count 1; (2) that the trial court erred in refusing to grant his request for a mistrial after improper character evidence was admitted by a witness at trial; and (3) that the trial court also erred in declining to apply any mitigating factors, resulting in a longer sentence. Upon consideration of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Legislature's Authority to Eliminate Specific Judicial Positions

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Opinion Number: 54

3 Advance to Governor for Criminal Appeals Court Post

Timothy Lee Easter of Williamson County, James Winn Milam of Robertson County and Roger Eric Neil of Montgomery County have been selected as the top candidates to fill the upcoming vacancy on the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals. The Governors Commission on Judicial Appointments interviewed all nine of the candiates for the post today in Nashville before deciding on the three who will go to Gov. Haslam for consideration. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more.

Election Worker Fired Over Double Voting

An election worker has been dismissed after six people voted twice in Davidson County last week, the Tennessean reports. Staffers blame a clerical error for letting half a dozen people vote twice, once during early voting and again on Election Day. Commissioner Tricia Herzfeld, an attorney with Ozment Law, says that mistake — and potentially others — are serious enough that she may not agree to certify the results at the commission's next meeting on May 19. Nashville Public Radio reports Davidson County Election Administrator Kent Wall said five of the people voted early in the same precinct. Although he wouldn’t pinpoint the exact precinct, he said “we know who they are. We know how they voted.” Mark Goins, the state’s election administrator, said he’s recommended the six voters be turned over to the District Attorney’s office for possible prosecution.

Tennessee Lawmakers Push for Royalty Reform for Songwriters

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker today joined Sen. Orrin Hatch at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe to introduce the Senate version of the Songwriters Equity Act, which seeks to increase royalty payments to songwriters and music publishers, the Tennessean reports. The legislation is viewed by professional songwriters as critical to updating the copyright law they say is outdated. Resistance is expected to come from digital radio service providers, such as Pandora. U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, have also signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation.

Former Court Clerk Arrested on Theft Charges

Former Franklin County Circuit Court deputy clerk Jennifer K. Hopkins is free on $5,000 bond, following her arrest last week on theft charges stemming from a State Comptroller investigation. The Comptroller’s Division of Investigations released findings on Dec. 19 that showed a Franklin County deputy court clerk had failed to deposit $3,046.25 in a local bank and allegedly diverted cash collections. The Herald Chronicle has more.

Sallie Mae, DOJ Reach Student Loan Settlement

Student lender Sallie Mae has agreed to pay $60 million to resolve allegations that it charged military service members excessive interest rates on their student loans, the Justice Department announced today. Federal officials estimate that roughly 60,000 service members will be eligible for compensation as part of the settlement. An independent administrator will be assigned to distribute the reimbursements. As part of the deal, Sallie Mae also will ask the three major credit bureaus to delete negative credit histories resulting from the overcharges, WRCB News 3 reports.

Clay Aiken Declared Winner in N.C. Primary

Former “American Idol” entertainer Clay Aiken has been declared the winner of the hotly contested Democratic primary race for the 2nd Congressional District in North Carolina. Second-place finisher Keith Crisco died yesterday. His campaign manager, Christine Botta, says Crisco had decided just before he died to concede to Aiken, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Williamson CASA Fundraiser Set for May 21

Williamson County CASA will hold its 2014 Voices for Children event May 21 at the Franklin Theater. Billed as “An Evening with Music City Hit-Makers,” the event will feature some of Nashville’s hottest songwriters accompanied by the Nashville Studio Symphony. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour as well as a silent and live auction to be followed by the show. Items to be auctioned include a mandolin signed by Dolly Parton and a football signed by Tennessee Titans’ quarterback Jake Locker. All proceeds will support the work of Williamson County CASA. Tickets are $125.

Gideon's Promise Tour Stops in Memphis May 29-30

Gideon’s Promise, a program that trains young public defenders working in the South, will stop in Memphis later this month as part a four-city tour. On May 29, the founder of Gideon’s Promise, Jon Rapping, will host a social event at Local Gastropub from 6 to 8:30 pm. The event, “Burgers & Brews,” is free and open to the public but reservations are required. On May 30 from 2:30 to 6 p.m., the group’s award-winning documentary, "Gideon’s Army" will be shown in the Wade Auditorium at the University of Memphis School of Law. The screening will be preceded by a panel discussion including Shelby County Public Defender Stephen Bush and representatives from Gideon’s Promise. Learn more here.

Reduced-Rate Display Ads Available for Lawyers

Lawyers and firms now may promote outstanding achievements, new associates, new partners, mergers, awards or any other news in the Tennessee Bar Journal. These Professional Announcements are display ads, available at special, lower-rate pricing. Show your peers across the state about your accomplishments by placing an announcement in the Journal. For information, contact Debbie Taylor at (503) 445-2231 or Debbie@llm.com. To have an announcement placed in the next issue, please contact her as soon as possible.


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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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