Process Set to Fill Criminal Appeals Court Seat

The Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments is now accepting applications for an upcoming vacancy on the Court of Criminal Appeals following the appointment of Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Interested candidates should reside in the Middle Grand Division and apply by June 2. The commission will meet on June 10 to conduct a public hearing on the applicants.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
04 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Mitchell G. Tollison, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Johann G. Merx.

James H. Tucker, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Duro Standard Products Company, Inc.


An employee sustained a work-related injury after a mechanical loading dock malfunctioned and a dock plate struck him in the knee. His employer denied the claim, contending that the event could not have occurred in the manner described by the employee. The trial court ruled in favor of the employer and dismissed the employee’s complaint. The trial court also entered alternative findings if causation were proven, limiting the employee’s recovery to 1.5% vocational disability. The employee has appealed. We reverse and remand the case for entry of a judgment consistent with the trial court’s alternative findings.

TN Court of Appeals

DELORES BLACKMON, Individually and as surviving spouse and personal representative of DOLPHUS H. BLACKMON v. ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, Individually and successor-in-interest to Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad Co., & Illinois Central Gulf Railroad

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jimmy F. Rodgers, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee; John E. (“Rett”) Guerry, III, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina; Joe H. Byrd, Jr., Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellants, Delores Blackmon, Individually and as surviving spouse and personal representative of Dolphus H. Blackmon.

Thomas R. Peters, Michael C. Hermann, Belleville, Illinois; Brooks E. Kostakis, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Illinois Central Railroad Company.


Plaintiff filed this lawsuit pursuant to the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, alleging that her husband was exposed to toxic substances, including asbestos and other chemicals, during his employment with the defendant railroad and that such exposure led to his death from mesothelioma. The railroad filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the deceased employee had executed a release, when he settled previous litigation with the railroad, which served to bar the current litigation. The trial court granted the railroad’s motion for summary judgment based on the release. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Charles G. Wright, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elisha Michelle (Cantrell) Dickerson.

Linda B. Hall, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, for the appellee, Johnathan Bradley Cantrell.


This post-divorce appeal concerns the modification of a parenting plan designating Mother as the primary residential parent and awarding Father reasonable visitation. Father filed a petition to modify, claiming that a material change in circumstances necessitated a change in the parenting plan. Following a hearing, the trial court designated Father as the primary residential parent and awarded Mother visitation. Mother appeals. We affirm the trial court’s decision.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


David J. Kreher, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mother.

No appearance on behalf of appellee, Father.


The juvenile court set aside its parental visitation order with respect to a child born to married parents as void for lack of jurisdiction. Mother appeals. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Christopher D. Heagerty, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Caroline Swann.

A. Philip Lomonaco, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Club LeConte.


This appeal arises from a dispute concerning the payment for Defendant’s wedding reception. Plaintiff filed suit when Defendant failed to pay for the reception as agreed. At trial, Plaintiff presented theories of breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The jury found for Plaintiff and returned a verdict against Defendant in the amount of $10,787.18. On appeal, Defendant requests reversal of the judgment entered against her because she believes that the jury verdict form erroneously allowed for recovery pursuant to both theories of breach of contract and unjust enrichment. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Claudia Jean Spence Jack, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Linda Garvin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Elaine Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Dan Runde, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Linda Garvin, pleaded guilty to two counts of the sale of cocaine in the amount of .5 grams or less, Class C felonies. She received two four-year sentences to be served consecutively on probation for an effective sentence of eight years. She admitted to violating the terms of her probation. After a probation revocation hearing, the trial court found that the defendant had violated the terms of her probation and ordered her to serve the remainder of her sentence in the penitentiary. The defendant now appeals, arguing that her right to due process was violated because the trial court revoked her probation without making a sufficient statement as to the evidence relied upon and the reasons for revoking probation and that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking her probation. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Chase T. Smith (on appeal) and James Potter (at trial), Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Jackson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Lee Willoughby, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


John Jackson (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of two counts of facilitation of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated sexual battery, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of facilitation of theft over $500. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective term of twenty years’ incarceration, to be served at 100%. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his pre-trial motion to suppress; erred in failing to determine whether the Defendant’s prior convictions were admissible; erred in failing to grant a continuance after finding error in the State’s notice of intent to seek enhanced punishment; erred in failing to instruct the jury on theft as a lesserincluded offense of aggravated robbery; that the evidence was not sufficient to support his conviction of aggravated sexual battery; that the trial court failed to act as thirteenth juror; and that he should not have been sentenced as a Range III offender. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Russell Leaks, Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

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

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Russell Leaks, pleaded guilty to theft of property over $1,000, burglary of a motor vehicle, and two counts of identity theft and received an effective sentence of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction to be served as a career offender at 60%. The defendant later filed a petition requesting that the trial court suspend the remainder of his sentence and place him on community corrections. The trial court denied the petition, and the defendant appeals. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Legal Groups Form ‘Coalition for Fair Courts’

The Nashville-based Marion Griffin Chapter of the Lawyers’ Association for Women announced today that it has formed the Coalition for Fair Courts. According to the group, the goal of the coalition is to “organize the efforts of bar associations and community groups across the state to raise public awareness of the upcoming retention elections.” The group also hopes to increase voter turnout for the Aug. 7 elections. Three Supreme Court justices and all appeals court judges will appear on that ballot. The coalition webpage offers resources for lawyers and nonlawyers. Current members of the coalition include the Anne Schneider Chapter of the Lawyers’ Association for Women in Jackson, the Napier-Looby Bar Association, the Tennessee Alliance of Black Lawyers and the League of Women Voters of Nashville. Other groups interested in joining the effort should contact Elizabeth Sitgreaves, (615) 254-2291.

Miller & Martin Adds 3 to Nashville Office

Miller & Martin has added three members to its Nashville office. They are Catie Lane Bailey, Douglas Berry and David Lewis. The Nashville Post reports that the “hirings are another sign that the Chattanooga-based firm is rebuilding its Nashville presence after losing the majority of its attorneys in 2012.” Bailey will serve in the firm’s government relations practice group as senior policy advisor. She previously was director of government affairs at the Tennessee Apartment Association. Berry, formerly of Berry & Harris in Nashville, will continue to represent cities in zoning, eminent domain and utility matters. Lewis previously was vice president and associate legal counsel at LifePoint Hospitals in Brentwood. He has worked in health care for 25 years and is a former chair of the TBA Health Law Section.

Former DA Re-hired After Primary Loss

Former Davidson County district attorney general candidate Rob McGuire has been rehired as a prosecutor, The Tennessean reports. On Wednesday, outgoing District Attorney General Torry Johnson announced that McGuire had been rehired though his role was still to be determined. McGuire came in second to Glenn Funk in the race to become district attorney general. In order to run, he had to resign his position. Also to be determined, according to the paper, is whether McGuire will have a position in the office when Funk takes over Sept. 1. McGuire reportedly met with Funk this week to discuss his future.

Duncan Law Offers New Scholarship, Help with LSAT

Lincoln Memorial University’s John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law has announced two new programs to benefit students. The first, an Access to Justice Scholarship, will cover the full tuition of the 2014-2015 academic year for one student from each school that is a member of the Appalachian College Association or the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, or any state-supported four-year university. Each scholarship recipient must perform 30 hours of pro bono service prior to graduation and enroll in a one-semester externship with Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The second program will cover the cost of taking the LSAT for any student from these same schools. In order to receive the award, the test-taker must submit an admissions application to the school.

Media Group Files Suit to Get Details on Execution Drugs

The Associated Press and four other news organizations filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the way the state of Missouri obtains the drugs it uses in lethal injections, Knoxnews reports. The suit argues that the state’s actions prohibit public oversight of the death penalty and asks a state judge to disclose where the drugs are purchased and details about their composition and quality. The sourcing of execution drugs has become an issue nationwide since major drug makers, many based in Europe, began refusing to sell their products for use in executions.

LSC, White House Host ATJ Forum

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler and ABA President James Silkenat were among those gathering recently for the third annual White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice. Others addressing the group included Associate Attorney General Tony West, who announced the launch of the "Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable Toolkit" – an online guide on how civil legal services can enhance other government efforts to serve vulnerable populations.

Saturday Marks 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education Decision

This Saturday marks 60 years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka finding school segregation unconstitutional. The U.S. Courts website has resources to commemorate the landmark ruling including a history of the doctrine of “separate but equal,” how the NAACP mounted a two-decade-long legal campaign to challenge that idea and a profile of Justice Thurgood Marshall, who as a young lawyer led numerous lawsuits against segregation.

Memphis AWA to Hold Judicial Forum

The Memphis Chapter of the Association of Women Attorneys will hold a forum featuring Shelby County judicial candidates running on the August ballot. The forum will take place June 26 at 5 p.m. at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave. The Memphis Daily News reports on the event.

Court Disbars Knoxville Lawyer

The Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Knox County lawyer Robert Lawson Cheek Jr. on May 15 after finding that he neglected his cases, failed to communicate with his clients and failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility about a petition for discipline and notice of a final disciplinary hearing. Specifically, the court found that Cheek settled a lawsuit without the knowledge and consent of a client, forged the client’s name on the settlement check and misappropriated the funds. In another case, he withheld money from a settlement to pay subrogation claims, but paid only a portion and misappropriated the remainder. The court also ordered Cheek to pay restitution to his former clients as a condition of reinstatement. View the BPR notice.

Nashville Lawyer Suspended for 1 Year

Nashville lawyer Jerry Alan Kennon was suspended from the practice of law on May 15 for one year and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,760. The Tennessee Supreme Court found that Kennon utilized his trust account as a personal account; filed suit against the wrong defendant; filed incorrect documents; and failed to (1) prepare client documents as requested, (2) refund an unearned fee, (3) appear in court as required, (4) obtain proper authorizations and (5) communicate with clients. Download the BPR release.

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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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