TBA to Release Judicial Retention Poll Results Friday

The results of the Tennessee Bar Association's first-ever Tennessee Supreme Court Candidate Evaluation Poll will be released at a press availability on Friday at 11 a.m. EDT in Gatlinburg during the TBA Convention. Outgoing TBA President Cindy Wyrick and incoming President Jonathan Steen will be available to discuss the results. A special edition of TBA Today also will be sent to TBA members on Friday morning with the poll results. The TBA announced the poll last month as part of an effort to provide information to the voting public to help ensure a fair, impartial and accountable judicial election.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - 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

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TN Supreme Court

Tennessee Supreme Court DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Kathryn Elaine Barnett, Christopher Eric Coleman, Jonathan Lewis Williams, Kenneth Sherman Byrd, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Aaron Bissinger, Executor of the Estate of Randall Bissinger, Deceased.

Warren Maxey Smith, Harold Richard Donnelly, Jack Paul Brewer, Judith Elizabeth Lojek, Nashville, Tennessee; David Jackson Sneed, Franklin, Tennessee for the appellees, New Country Buffet, Shao Chai Chen, individually and d/b/a New Country Buffet, Gulf Pride Seafood of Franklin, LLC, Leavins Seafood, Inc., Bon Secour Fisheries, Inc.


A man who suffered a blood infection after eating raw summer oysters at a Nashville restaurant filed suit against the restaurant, claiming that the oysters were contaminated because they were kept at an improper temperature. The restaurant owner answered, and among other things he named three companies in the supply chain that furnished the oysters to the defendant restaurant as possibly liable under the doctrine of comparative fault. The plaintiff subsequently died, and his executor was substituted as plaintiff. The executor filed an amended complaint that added the suppliers as defendants, and included claims against all the defendants of negligence, negligence per se, product liability, and breach of warranty. All the parties filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied the defendant restaurant’s motion for summary judgment, but it granted summary judgment to the defendant suppliers on all issues except failure to warn. After studying the voluminous record in this case, we affirm all the trial court’s rulings on the summary motions against the restaurant. We affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the suppliers, and reverse the denial of summary judgment to them for failure to warn.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James Nathaniel Bowen, II, Steven Allen Riley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority d/b/a Erlanger Health System.

Erin Palmer Polly, J. Mark Tipps, John C. Hayworth, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley, Inc. d/b/a AmeriChoice.

Robert E. Cooper, Linda A. Ross, Sue Ann Sheldon, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee/intervenor, Tennessee Attorney General.


Hospital filed an action against TennCare managed care organization (“MCO”) for breach of contract and unjust enrichment when MCO refused to pay Hospital’s standard charges for emergency services and follow-up care. Hospital was not part of MCO’s “provider network” under the TennCare regulations and therefore was “non-contract” provider. MCO alleged Hospital was required to accept as payment the rate TennCare specified in its regulations. MCO filed motion for summary judgment, and the trial court dismissed the portion of the complaint to which the TennCare regulations may apply due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The trial court determined the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (“UAPA”) divested it of jurisdiction because Hospital did not first seek a declaratory order from the Bureau of TennCare regarding the applicability of its regulations to Hospital’s dispute with MCO. Hospital appealed the dismissal of its claims, and we reverse. Because Hospital is not challenging applicability or validity of TennCare regulations, UAPA does not divest trial court of jurisdiction.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


H. Garth Click, Springfield, Tennessee, (on appeal); and Roger Eric Nell, District Public Defender; Timothy Joseph Richter, Assistant Public Defender; for the appellant, Ronnie Corral.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jason White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Ronnie Corral, was indicted in a 16-count indictment for five counts of attempted first degree murder; five counts of aggravated assault; three counts of facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery; one count of aggravated robbery; one count of attempted aggravated robbery; and one count of aggravated burglary. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of five counts of facilitation of attempted first degree murder; four counts of aggravated assault; one count of facilitation of aggravated assault; four counts of facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery; one count of aggravated robbery; and one count of aggravated burglary. Defendant’s four convictions for facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery were merged with three of his aggravated assault convictions and his conviction for facilitation of aggravated assault, and his remaining aggravated assault conviction was merged with his aggravated robbery conviction. For his convictions, Defendant received a total effective sentence of ten years. Defendant appeals his convictions and sentences and asserts: 1) the trial court abused its discretion by declining to grant a mistrial after the trial court allowed inadmissible hearsay to be admitted; 2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for aggravated robbery and facilitation to commit first degree premeditated murder; and 3) the trial court erred in sentencing Defendant to more than the minimum sentence in the applicable sentencing range. After a thorough review of the record, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Claudia S. Jack, District Public Defender; and Robert C. Richardson, Jr., Assistant District Public Defender, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Wendell Todd Duberry.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Brent Cooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Wendell Todd Duberry, was convicted of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000 and criminal trespassing. The trial court sentenced him as a multiple offender to eight years for the theft conviction and to thirty days for the criminal trespassing conviction. On appeal, appellant contends that (1) the trial court erred by allowing the State to present evidence of victims not named in the indictment; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (3) his sentence was excessive; and (4) the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jeff Woods, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Darius Jones.

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


Petitioner, Darius Jones, appeals from the trial court’s judgment which denied post- conviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner argues on appeal that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel but only argues one factual allegation of ineffective assistance. Petitioner asserts that he is entitled to post-conviction relief because trial counsel failed to include in his motion for new trial the ground that the trial court erroneously denied the motion to suppress Petitioner’s statement to police. After a thorough review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kara Everett, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jamar Ed-Wae Scott.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Dan Hamm, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Jamar Ed-Wae Scott, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of first degree murder and attempted robbery. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of relief.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael J. Flanagan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Victoria Wellington.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Alcock, Assistant Attorney Kim Helper, District Attorney General; Kate Yeager and Nicole Dusche, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


In a bench trial, the Defendant, Victoria Wellington, was convicted of one count of DUI, first offense, and one count of felony evading arrest. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the DUI conviction and to two years for the felony evading arrest conviction. The trial court ordered that the sentences be served concurrently and be suspended after nine months, with the remainder to be served on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied her motion to suppress her statements to police. She further contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain her conviction for felony evading arrest After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

DA Bebb Leaving Office 2 Months Early

Steve Bebb, district attorney for Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties, will leave office at the end of this month, taking retirement two months short of the end of his term, the Times Free Press reports. In a letter to state lawmakers in January, Bebb, 73, said he has heart trouble and has had bypass surgery. He declined to comment on the latest revelation. Bebb served three terms as criminal court judge before being elected district attorney. Over the last two years, he has been the subject of numerous investigations by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the state legislature and others. Gov. Bill Haslam will appoint an interim district attorney to oversee the final two months of the term. Steve Crump is set to take office Sept. 1.

New Justice AmeriCorps to Hire 100 Lawyers, Paralegals

Young lawyers and paralegals are being sought to provide legal assistance in immigration proceedings to children who come to the United States without documentation. Officials say about 100 lawyers and paralegals will be enrolled as members of AmeriCorps in a new division called "Justice AmeriCorps" – a partnership between the Justice Department and the Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers AmeriCorps. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the new program Friday. WATE News 6 has the AP story.

Judge Offers to Forego Pay in Final Month

Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp has offered to serve without pay during the last month of his judgeship before retiring, the Johnson City Press reports. Cupp, who did not seek re-election year, said he does not want to leave a backlog of cases for incoming judge Lisa Nidiffer Rice, who won the Republican primary and does not have a challenger in the August general election. A state statute allows an outgoing judge to continue hearing cases for 60 days and Rice says she is agreeable to the plan.

Young Lawyers Named Finalists for Chamber Award

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville have announced the finalists for the 2014 Nashville Emerging Leader Awards (NELAs), which is given to young professionals who exhibit strong leadership and impact their communities. In the legal services category the following individuals were named finalists: Mary Taylor Gallagher, Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin; Bart Pickett, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company; Gabe Roberts, Tennessee Department of Health Care Finance & Administration; Joycelyn Stevenson, Littler Mendelson; and Casey Gill Summar, Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville. Miranda Christy of Stites & Harbison PLLC is also a finalist in the Environment and Sustainability category. Winners in each professional category will be announced at a ceremony July 31 in Nashville. The Tennessean has the full list of finalists.

‘Mockingbird’ Author Lee Settles Suit Against Museum

A federal lawsuit by the author of To Kill a Mockingbird against a museum in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, has apparently been settled, the ABA Journal reports. Although terms are confidential, the case was dismissed last week at the request of the parties, and Monroe County Heritage Museum is no longer using the title of the iconic trial novel in its Internet domain name. Harper Lee had previously settled the suit, which claimed the museum was profiting from her name and the book's name without permission, but then sought to reinstate the suit last month.

Chattanooga Paper Endorses Retention of Justices

The editorial board of the Chattanooga Times Free Press has endorsed the retention of three Tennessee Supreme Court justices in the August general election. The editors write that while they understand why Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey would launch a campaign to replace the three with Republican justices, “his reasons don’t measure up to the precedent for retaining justices unless they do something egregiously wrong or embarrassing.” Their conclusion? “Without more evidence to the contrary, our suggestion is to retain the justices.”

Opinion: Ramsey Omits Key Facts to Bolster Campaign

At last week’s Republican Statesmen’s Dinner, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told the group why he feels strongly about defeating three Tennessee Supreme Court justices. According to Nashville Scene political reporter Steven Hale, Ramsey said that the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for him was the case of Leonard Smith, who was convicted of killing two individuals in northeast Tennessee, both of whom Ramsey referred to as friends. For various reasons, the court intervened in the case, once due to prosecutorial misconduct, a second time for an improper jury instruction and a third time after finding that Smith had ineffective counsel. But Hale says Ramsey gets his facts “mixed up,” omits “salient details” and "embellish[es]" Smith's crimes “to paint an incomplete summary of the case.”

McFarlin Announces Re-election Bid

Rutherford County General Sessions Court Part I Judge Ben Hall McFarlin has announced his re-election bid, the Murfreesboro Post reports. “I love what I do, and I’m making a difference,” McFarlin said. He also cites his work developing a Domestic Violence Court and reducing the backlog of children awaiting adoption in foster care as examples of his success in office. Prior to serving as General Sessions judge, McFarlin practiced law in Murfreesboro for 25 years. He will face Kevin Hodges in the race.

Court: Children Who Turn 21 Must Go to Back of Visa Line

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that most immigrant children who have become adults while their parents wait to become legal permanent residents should go to the back of the line when they turn 21. In a 5-4 decision, the justices sided with the Obama Administration in finding that immigration laws offer relief only to a small percentage of children who "age out" of the system. The rest – tens of thousands of children – will no longer qualify for the immigration status granted to minors, the Associated Press reports. Though a majority agreed to the ruling there was no majority opinion. Justices Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg signed one opinion while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a separate opinion. All five agreed to the outcome of the case but disagreed on the reasoning.

Memphis Lawyer Dies of Cancer

Byron Percy Magness, 74, died of cancer at his home this past Friday (June 6). Originally from Arkansas, Magness moved to Memphis as a high school student. He later attended Dartmouth College and Vanderbilt University Law School. In 1965, he returned to Memphis to serve as law clerk for Judge Marion Boyd. Magness practiced law in Memphis for 40 years. He was part of a group of young lawyers who offered free legal services to the poor before legal aid was formed. He also received the Sam A. Myer Award in 1980 from the Memphis Bar Association. The family requests that any memorials be sent to Concerts International, P.O. Box 77052, Memphis, TN 38177; or Idlewild Presbyterian Church, 1760 Union, Memphis, TN 38104. The Commercial Appeal has more on his life.


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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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