Memphis Lawyer Honored with Public Service Award

Harrison D. McIver II, executive director/CEO of Memphis Area Legal Services, has been chosen to receive the 2014 Dorsey Award in recognition of exceptional work by a public defender or legal aid adviser. The American Bar Association established the award in honor of the late Charles H. Dorsey Jr., long-time executive director of Maryland's Legal Aid Bureau, and a champion of the poor and underprivileged. The award will be presented at the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston this August.

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


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; and Terry L. Jordan, Assistant District Public Defender, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellant, David Michael Blevins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and Julie R. Canter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, David Michael Blevins, was convicted by a Sullivan County jury of three counts of aggravated sexual battery as lesser-included offenses of the indicted charges, rape of a child. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed three consecutive sentences of ten years each. Appellant raises three issues in this appeal: (1) whether aggravated sexual battery is a lesser-included offense of rape of a child; (2) sufficiency of the convicting evidence; and (3) challenges to the length and alignment of his sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph A. Fanduzz, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terrence Justin Feaster.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall Eugene Nichols, District Attorney General; and Leslie Nassios and Federico Flores, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Terrence Justin Feaster, stands convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment, for which he received consecutive sentences of twelve years as a career offender, fourteen years as a persistent offender, and eleven months, twenty-nine days, respectively. In this appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence underlying his convictions for attempted voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Gov. Haslam Defends Reinstating Electric Chair

Gov. Bill Haslam last night signed into law the bill to allow the electric chair to be used for executions in Tennessee if the drugs for lethal injection are unavailable. The bill passed the state Senate 23-3 and the House 68-13 in April. “I think the legislature felt very strongly we needed to have some sort of back up, in case the drugs for the lethal injection weren’t available,” Haslam told reporters today after a Memorial Day ceremony near the Capitol. “The Supreme Court has looked at the electric chair and said it meets its definition of not being cruel and unusual punishment so we made the decision to sign it.” The Tennessean has the story

Opinion: Dark Money Threatens Independence of Judiciary

Attorney J. Eddie Lauderback writes in a Johnson City Press opinion piece that “dark money” should not influence state elections and is an example of politics at its worst. He defines dark money as contributions or political funding, whose donors are not disclosed, usually from some out-of-state special interest group, for the purpose of influencing specific elections in Tennessee. As a lawyer, Lauderback says he is most concerned about dark money being used to influence the upcoming retention vote for state appellate judges, and he disagrees with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s campaign to unseat Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Sharon Lee and Justice Cornelia Clark. “Fair and impartial courts are the cornerstone of our democracy,” he writes. “Allowing dark money to influence the independence of our judiciary is a dangerous practice and a slippery slope that leads to corruption.”

Hamilton County Chancellors Seal Candidate Records

Hamilton County’s chancellors denied a request for a list of Clerk and Master applicants, then ordered the records sealed, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The chancellors are seeking a replacement for Lee Akers, who will retire when his term ends in August. Chancellors W. Frank Brown and Jeffery Atherton began interviewing potential replacements this month, but refused to disclose the names of the attorneys seeking the position. However, Elisha Hodge, open records counsel for the state of Tennessee, says the Open Records Act doesn't exempt applicants for public office. "Resumes, applications, references and other records related to potential employment constitute public records in Tennessee," Hodge said in an email to the newspaper.

LAET Chattanooga Office Earns Red Cross Award

Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s (LAET) Chattanooga office was recently presented with the American Red Cross’ Hometown Heroes Community Partner Award, presented by U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. This award was given to LAET for their response to the Patten Towers fire, which occurred last year in downtown Chattanooga leaving over 240 people homeless.

Tennessee Senators Call for VA Investigation

Tennessee's Republican U.S. senators are calling for “an immediate investigation into reported mismanagement, incompetence, and corruption within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care centers throughout the country,” the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Senators Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander and 23 of their Senate Republican colleagues sent a letter today to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations with their request. “Specifically, the investigation should focus on how appropriated funds for patient care and record management were spent in light of allegations of concerted efforts to present inaccurate and misleading information about patient wait times in order to ensure VA employees qualified for personal bonuses,” the senators wrote.

Ramsey Responds to Ethics Complaint

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told WJHL News Channel 11 that discussions he had in his office about unseating three Tennessee Supreme Court justices were strictly educational, and at no point did he discuss raising money for that cause. Ramsey's comments came in response to an ethics complaint that was filed this week over his actions. “That's what my office is for, to educate the public about issues, whether I’ve had people in there for workers compensation reform, unemployment reform, and now, it just happens to be about judicial elections,” he said.

Supreme Court Takes SCALES Program to Boys State

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear cases in front of hundreds of young men participating in American Legion Boys State next week as part of the SCALES program (Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students.) Participants in Boys State are high school juniors who spend a week each May at Tennessee Technological University learning about the government by participating in educational activities that simulate local, county and state government roles. The justices will also visit the similar Girls State at Lipscomb University on Friday, the Administrative Office of the Court reports

Knox County Lawyer Suspended for Mail Fraud

Robert Lawson Cheek Jr. was suspended from the practice of law on May 21 based upon his guilty plea of mail fraud. View the BPR notice.

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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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