Justices Pledge ‘Open’ Process to Select AG

The three Democratic Supreme Court justices — Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade — all say they will choose the state’s next attorney general in a transparent, “non-partisan manner,” regardless of political attacks, Knoxnews reports. As part of an effort to unseat the Democratic justices, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has criticized current attorney general Robert Cooper, who was appointed by the court. If the three justices are rejected in the Aug 7 retention election, their successors would be appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam, who like Ramsey is a Republican. That court would appoint the next attorney general.

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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
00 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
02 - 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

With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TN Supreme Court


Joseph Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Guadalupe Arroyo.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Philip Morton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: LEE

The defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide. The trial court sentenced the defendant to two consecutive twelve-year terms for an effective sentence of twenty-four years. The defendant twice appealed the sentence to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which twice remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing. Each time, the trial court imposed a twenty-four-year sentence. The defendant did not appeal the third sentencing order. Later, the defendant filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to appeal the third sentencing order. At the post-conviction hearing, trial counsel testified that he and the defendant discussed the futility of a third appeal and the defendant agreed that no appeal would be filed. The defendant denied that he and his trial counsel discussed a third appeal. Trial counsel did not file a Tenn. R. Crim. P. 37(d)(2) waiver of appeal. The post-conviction court found trial counsel to be more credible than the defendant. Based on that finding, the trial court dismissed the petition, ruling that the defendant knew of his right to appeal and waived that right. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. We hold that the defendant had the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know of his right to appeal or that he otherwise did not waive that right. His trial counsel’s failure to file a written waiver of appeal was not per se deficient performance, but was a fact properly considered by the trial court on the issue of whether trial counsel rendered effective representation. Based on the credibility determinations made by the post-conviction court, we hold that the defendant failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence his allegations of ineffective representation. The judgments of the trial court and the Court of Criminal Appeals are affirmed.

TN Attorney General Opinions

County Employees Carrying Handguns While on Duty

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Opinion Number: 56

Role of DCS in the Selection of an Attorney Under Adoption Assistance Program

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Opinion Number: 57

Council to Pay $7M, Change LSAT Disability Polices

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has agreed to pay $7.73 million in a settlement over Law School Admission Test (LSAT) policies concerning the disabled. The council will also stop flagging test scores of those who were given extra time, among other policy revisions, the ABA Journal reports. The U.S. Justice Department intervened after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing brought suit on behalf of 17 disabled individuals in 2012, alleging that they were subjected to cumbersome and unreasonable requirements to document their disabilities after requesting LSAT accommodations. The money will be used to compensate some 6,000 test-takers nationwide who had asked for accommodations under the ADA over the past five years.

Baker Donelson Among Beacon of Justice Award Winners

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) yesterday announced that Memphis-based Baker Donelson is among its 2014 Beacon of Justice Award winners. The 25 firms were recognized for devoting significant time and resources to creating and implementing innovative strategies to improve life outcomes for low-income individuals. Award winners will be formally honored at the NLADA Exemplar Award Dinner this June in Washington D.C.

UT Award Recognizes Law Student's Pro Bono, Public Interest Work

Recent University of Tennessee law graduate Brooke Boyd has been awarded the inaugural Black-Pierce Award, created to honor professors Jerry Black and Carl Pierce who are retiring from the College of Law this summer. Boyd provided 531 hours of pro bono work during her three years of law school and also served as director of UT Pro Bono for 2013–2014. She created a popular pro bono project that provides students the opportunity to work with Knoxville's CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and spent each summer during law school working with the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. 

Lt. Gov. Ramsey Faces Ethics Complaint

Clarksville resident Barry Schmittou has filed a complaint with the Tennessee Ethics Commission against Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, saying that he used his legislative staff and office in the campaign targeting the three Democrat justices on the state Supreme Court for defeat. Ramsey has denied that he crossed any ethical boundaries in his attempt to put the court under Republican control. NewsChannel 5 has more.

'To Kill A Mockingbird' Author Reinstates Lawsuit Against Museum

Harper Lee, author of the iconic trial novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” wants to reinstate a federal lawsuit she had earlier agreed to settle, the ABA Journal reports. Lee's suit against the Monroe County Heritage Museum in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, alleged that the institution was profiting from using her name and the book's title without authorization on souvenirs it sells. A settlement of the 2013 legal action was announced earlier this year, but it isn't known whether a settlement agreement was actually signed.

DA Johnson Says No to Mayoral Race

Outgoing district attorney general Torry Johnson today said he is not going to run for mayor, the Tennessean reports. Johnson, who announced his retirement in January after nearly 27 years as Davidson County’s top prosecutor, had been on a short list of potential candidates to succeed Mayor Karl Dean when the mayor’s term ends in 2015. At least two people have already declared they will run for the spot, Metro Councilwoman Megan Barry and longtime attorney and Democratic fundraiser Charles Robert Bone. Others rumored to be exploring the possibility of succeeding Dean are Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, real estate veteran Bill Freeman, State Rep. Mike Turner, Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard, LEAD Academy founder Jeremy Kane and former school board president David Fox, WSMV reports.

Newly Elected Judge Visits Youth Court

Newly elected Metro Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway presided over the Whites Creek High School Youth Court today as it heard it's first case. The group had earlier met the current Juvenile Court Judge, Sophia Crawford, when she administered their oath in April.

Shelby County Lawyer Temporarily Suspended

Jacob Edward Erwin was temporarily suspended from the practice of law for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. View the BPR notice.

Knox County Lawyer Placed on Disability Inactive Status

The law license of Arun Ratan was transferred to disability inactive status on May 20. Ratan cannot practice law while on disability inactive status. He may return to the practice of law after reinstatement by the Tennessee Supreme Court upon showing of clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law. View the BPR notice.

Health Insurance Exchange Now Available Through TBA

Fast and easy health insurance enrollment is now available through the TBA Health Insurance Exchange operated by JLBG Health. Affordable health insurance coverage is important, but getting it can be complicated, frustrating and expensive. The TBA Health Insurance Exchange can help make the whole process simpler and easier to navigate.


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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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