TBA Announces 2014 Video Contest Winners

Winners in the TBA’s 2014 YouTube Video Contest were announced today, with Jack Tucker of Signal Mountain winning first place in the middle school category for his video “A Four Day School Week” and Caroline Rogers of Knoxville taking top honors in the high school category for her video “Ban Mountaintop Removal.” This year’s contest challenged students to produce three-minute videos addressing the statement “There ought to be a law…” Students were asked to identify an issue affecting their communities and either propose a new law or suggest taking one off the books to address the situation. Submitted videos addressed a range of topics, including environmental protection, public safety, civil rights and educational policy. Tucker and Rogers each will receive a cash award of $500 and their videos will be shown during the Lawyers Lunch at the TBA Convention in Gatlinburg this June. Watch the winning videos.

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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

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


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jacob J. Hubbell, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Matthew B. L.

Lawrence D. Sands, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellees, Jennivy P. A. L. S. and Cody B. S.


Father of one child appeals the termination of his parental rights on the grounds of abandonment by wilful failure to support and visit and the finding that termination of his parental rights would be in the child’s best interest. Finding no error we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


J. Brent Bradberry, Dresden, Tennessee, for the appellants, Tony C. Bigham and Allison Marie Dalton.

William Dalton Bowen, Milan, Tennessee, for the appellee, Reneese Nicole Carter.


The trial court awarded summary judgment to Defendant in this will contest. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Allen Woods and Larry Woods, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Phillip H. Morson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Michael Markham, Senior Counsel, for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.


A doctor employed by a state mental health facility lost his job in a reduction in force. He claims this action was the result of complaints he made about the facility. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Because the doctor failed to present evidence to establish an issue of material fact (after the defendants shifted the burden to the doctor), we affirm the trial court’s decision.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Benjamin C. Mayo, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Susan D. Korsnes, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellee, Tray Dontacc Chaney.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant was indicted for first degree premeditated murder, attempted first degree murder, carjacking, aggravated assault, employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, and felony evading arrest. After the defendant was determined to be competent to stand trial, counsel filed a motion asking that the defendant be allowed to present expert proof of a mental disease or defect to show that he could not form the requisite state of premeditation. The State objected to the introduction of this evidence, and the defendant responded by asserting that, while the expert witness could not state unequivocally that he could not form the requisite intent, the testimony was admissible as bearing on the defendant’s intent. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the State’s motion to bar this testimony. The State then requested, and the trial court granted, the filing of a Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9 appeal, which this court granted. Following our review, we agree with the State that the proferred evidence is inadmissible, reverse the order of the trial court, and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jacob W. Fendley, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Johnathan R. Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Dan Brollier, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Johnathan R. Johnson (“the Defendant”) was convicted on two counts of driving on a suspended driver’s license, one count of possession of .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine with intent to sell or deliver, one count of possession of contraband in a penal institution, and one count of simple possession of marijuana. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motions to suppress certain evidence; (2) the trial court erred when it admitted evidence of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”) lab report which the Defendant alleges was not provided in discovery; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for possession of .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine with intent to sell or deliver; and (4) the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgements of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Dewun R. Settle (on appeal) and Larry Fitzgerald (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Arthur Crutcher.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Ann Schiller, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Arthur Crutcher, of aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced the appellant to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant asserts that the trial court erred by ruling that the State could use a prior conviction to impeach the appellant without giving proper notice. The State contends that the appellant’s notice of appeal was untimely and that the appeal should be dismissed. We agree with the State and conclude that the interests of justice do not require waiver of the timely filing of the notice of appeal. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Timothy Reid Wilkerson (on appeal), Richard A. Spivey (at guilty plea hearing and on appeal), and Nat Thomas (at guilty plea hearing), Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cheryl A. King.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and Jack Lewis Combs, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Cheryl A. King, entered a no contest plea to arson, a Class C felony, and applied for judicial diversion. The trial court denied diversion and sentenced her to three years, suspended to probation. Appellant now appeals from the denial of judicial diversion. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


David L. Robbins, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Craig Thomas.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Anthony Wade Clark, District Attorney General; and Matthew Edward Roark, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, James Craig Thomas, was convicted by a Maury County jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. The trial court sentenced him to serve twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction as a persistent offender. On appeal, appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the assistant district attorney general committed prosecutorial misconduct during his closing argument, and that the trial court’s sentencing was inappropriate. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paul K. Guibao (at trial and on appeal) and C. Anne Tipton (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Pam Fleming and Reginald Henderson, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, James Williams, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder, three counts of attempted first degree premeditated murder, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The jury sentenced him to life imprisonment for the first degree murder conviction, and the trial court sentenced him as a Range I offender to twenty-five years for each of the attempted murder convictions and as a Range III offender to fifteen years for the firearm conviction, with each of the sentences to be served consecutively to each other and consecutively to the life sentence. However, at the hearing on the motion for new trial, the trial court overturned and dismissed the firearm conviction, leaving the defendant with an effective sentence of life plus seventyfive years in the Department of Correction for the murder and attempted murder convictions. In a timely appeal to this court, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his murder and attempted murder convictions and argues that the trial court erred in admitting prior bad act evidence and in ordering consecutive sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Obtaining a Parent’s Mental-Health Information in Child-Custody Cases

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-05-14

Opinion Number: 55

Justice Koch Defends Retention System

Retiring Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William Koch talked about the upcoming judicial retention elections in remarks yesterday to the 15th Judicial District Bar Association, The Tennessean reports. In Lebanon for the meeting, Koch said the current system is a good one that keeps money and politics out of the justice system. "In other states where there is campaign funding, people think justice can be bought," Koch said. "I don't think justice should be bought." The Wilson Post also covered the event and reports that Koch also said he was sorry to see an effort to politicize the state’s highest court by targeting three of the justices for defeat this summer.

Editorial: Ramsey Distorting Cooper's Record

In an editorial today, the Knoxville News Sentinel writes that Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is distorting Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper’s record in an attempt to portray him as anti-business. “Cooper’s record,” the editorial board writes, “shows he is an advocate for Tennessee citizens. He has joined other state attorneys general — of both parties — in going after pharmaceutical companies, mortgage lenders and other companies that have defrauded and deceived Tennesseans in violation of state and federal laws.” There is   nothing inherently wrong with Ramsey’s quest to put a Republican in the attorney general’s office, the newspaper says, but “he should not mislead taxpayers about the attorney general’s activities on their behalf.”

University of Memphis Names New Counsel

The University of Memphis has named Melanie Stovall Murry as its new counsel, the Memphis Business Journal reports. She replaces Sheri Lipman, who has been named a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Murry joined the university in 2002, serving as associate and assistant counsel, as well as an adjunct faculty member for the doctoral program in higher education administration. She also serves as an instructor at the Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law.

New Knox Criminal Court Clerk Outlines Plans

Incoming Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond announced a number of initiatives this week geared toward "moving the department into the 21st century," WBIR 10 News reports. Hammond also appointed long-time chief of magistrates Richard Major to serve as his top aide. Hammond, who won last Tuesday's Republican primary, does not face opposition in August. He will take over the office on Sept. 2. Among the changes Hammond plans to implement are creating a usable website, cross-training employees and creating written procedures for the department. Current clerk Joy McCroskey, in office since 2008, opted not to seek re-election after revelations that lack of training and oversight in the office led to wrongful arrests and dismissal of cases.

Chattanooga Youth Court Students Selected

Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw introduced the county's first Youth Court members to county commissioners Wednesday. Philyaw, who administered an oath to the group, also announced that 24 attorneys with Miller & Martin and nine in-house lawyers with BlueCross Blue Shield will be helping with the program. See a photo of the students on Chattanoogan.com.

Barrett Named to State Election Commission

Former state Rep. Donna Rowland Barrett has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Tennessee State Election Commission, the Memphis Daily News reports. The Murfreesboro Republican served in the state House for 10 years before retiring in 2010. She now runs the Barrett Group, which specializes in cost control strategies. Barrett fills the vacancy created by fellow former Republican state Rep. Tom DuBois of Columbia, who is running for circuit judge.

CASA Honors Director, Previews New Resource

New Tennessee CASA Director Lynne Farrar shared some of the group’s most notable achievements and honored Rutherford County CASA Director Susan Maguigan during CASA's recent state conference. Maguigan is the group's longest-serving director, with 17 years now behind her. Attendees also learned about a new resource called KidCentral TN, a website that provides information about adolescent health, development and education. Nashville lawyer Kevin Balkwill is the current president of the CASA board.

House Panel Approves $350 Million for LSC

A House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has approved $350 million for the agency in fiscal year 2015. Of that amount, $319.6 million is for basic field programs, while the rest funds technology grants and student loan repayment assistance for legal aid lawyers. The subcommittee funding represents an increase of $50 million over what it approved last year, though it is short of the $430 million requested by the president.

DA Candidate Late Filing Campaign Report

Former Memphis Judge Joe Brown, who is running for Shelby County District Attorney General, failed to file a campaign finance report on time, WMC Action News 5 reports. The document, a preprimary financial disclosure form, was to be submitted by April 29. As of last week, Brown had not filed the form, according to Drew Rawlins with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. After being contacted by the station, Brown said he had taken care of the filing.

Ode to Otha Party Set for June 7 in Nashville

Nashville lawyer Bill Ramsey will host his annual birthday bash honoring the music and legacy of Otha Turner on June 7 from 2 to 9 p.m. The event will feature live music from Blue Mother Tupelo and Stacey Mitchhart among others. A $30 donation at the door will go to support the work of Second Harvest Food Bank. Ramsey is a member with the firm of Neal & Harwell.

TBA Offers CLE Your Way

Remember to use the three hours of free CLE programming that comes with your TBA membership. Members can use this credit to cover all or part of the cost of live programs across the state, weekly webcasts or any of the 300-plus online courses offered in both video and text formats. Find a course now.


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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