Law Camp Teaches Youth About Legal Professioon

The Tennessee Bar Association joined Lipscomb University in sponsoring the annual Law Camp program this week in Nashville. TBA volunteers presenting at Law Camp included TBA Public Education Committee Chair Shauna Billingsley, past TBA President Jackie Dixon, Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur and Tiffani Pope. TBA staff members Denise Bentley, Josie Beets and Liz Todaro also led sessions. The school's Institute for Law, Justice & Society hosts high school students from across the country to participate in the week-long residential camp that exposes the students to various aspects of the legal profession. The Napier-Looby Bar Association and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings were also camp sponsors.

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
04 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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 Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joseph H. Johnston, Acklen Station, Tennessee, for the appellants, Dilip Chaudhuri, et al.

Craig H. Brent, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Avalon Sections 4, 6, and 7 Homeowners Association.


Homeowners association brought declaratory judgment action against homeowners to enforce the development’s restrictive covenants. The trial court determined that the homeowners association’s architectural review committee (“ARC”) acted within its discretion in ordering homeowners to remove improvements the ARC found to be inconsistent with other homes in the neighborhood. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Howard L. Boyd, Pro Se

Paul M. Buchanan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Amanda Mandy Wachtler and Gracie Wachtler.


The jury found that Defendants were liable for damages arising from breach of contract and that Plaintiff was liable for damages arising from negligence. It also found that Defendants were entitled to treble damages under Tennessee Code Annotated § 62-2-503. Plaintiff appeals. Finding material evidence to support the jury verdict, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joshua M. Ball and Kristi M. Davis, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeff Kenley d/b/a Trademark Investments.

William M. Leibrock, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellee, George Hutsell.


This case presents issues regarding the propriety of the trial court’s rulings on evidentiary issues as well as a motion for directed verdict. The plaintiff sustained damages when his personalty, which was stored in a warehouse owned by the defendant, was subjected to water damage after the roof of the warehouse collapsed. The plaintiff filed the instant action seeking compensatory damages for the value of his damaged property. Prior to trial, the trial court ruled that the plaintiff could present evidence that the defendant also filed a claim with respect to his own damaged property stored in the warehouse. The trial court ruled, however, that the defendant would not be allowed to present evidence regarding the profitability of the plaintiff’s business. During the three-day trial, the defendant made a motion for directed verdict that was denied by the trial court. Following deliberations, the jury returned a verdict, finding the defendant to be 100% liable for the plaintiff’s loss and awarding damages to the plaintiff of $325,000. The defendant filed a renewed motion for directed verdict, a motion for new trial, and a motion for remittitur. All of the post-trial motions were denied by the trial court. The defendant appeals. Having determined that the trial court committed reversible error by allowing the plaintiff to present prejudicial evidence regarding the defendant’s own claim for damages, we vacate the jury’s award and remand for a new trial.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James S. Tipton, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Quint Bourgeois

Hoyt O. Samples, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, James E. Whalen, Karen M. Whalen, Alan Bone, and Kathleen Bone.


This action arose over the sale of improved real property (“the Property”), consisting of approximately twenty-five acres located in Morgan County, Tennessee. Co-plaintiffs, James E. and Karen M. Whalen, entered into an agreement to purchase the Property from the defendant, Quint Bourgeois. The Whalens subsequently entered into an agreement with coplaintiffs, Alan and Kathleen Bone, to borrow the purchase price of the Property in return for an executed promissory note, secured by a deed of trust. The parties closed the purchase and sale of the Property on January 19, 2012, at the Roane County office of US Title of Tennessee, Inc. (“US Title”). On January 20, 2012, Mr. Bourgeois, upset that he had not received $900.00 in rent he believed the Whalens owed him, returned to the US Title office and convinced staff there to accept his uncashed check from the sale and give him the unrecorded deed. The plaintiffs filed this action against Mr. Bourgeois, ultimately amending their complaint to allege breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and intentional interference with contractual relations. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that Mr. Bourgeois had committed the tort of intentional interference with the contractual relationship between the Whalens and the Bones. The court further found that because the purchase and sales contract between the plaintiffs and Mr. Bourgeois had been completed at closing, Mr. Bourgeois did not breach that contract but did intentionally commit egregious acts by, inter alia, demanding the deed from the title company. The court awarded the Whalens $110,000.00 in compensatory damages, $14,736.99 in prejudgment interest, and $55,000.00 in punitive damages. The court awarded the Bones $76,733.50 in compensatory damages and $40,000.00 in punitive damages. The court also awarded the plaintiffs $1,324.81 in discretionary costs. The court vested title of the Property in Mr. Bourgeois, subject to the plaintiffs’ judgment liens. Mr. Bourgeois appealed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment as to the awards of compensatory damages and discretionary costs in favor of the plaintiffs, prejudgment interest in favor of the Whalens, and vesting of title to the Property in Mr. Bourgeois, subject to the plaintiffs’ judgment liens. We further affirm the trial court’s judgment that Mr. Bourgeois is liable to the plaintiffs for punitive damages, but we vacate the amount of punitive damages awarded and remand for reassessment based upon the factors delineated in Culbreath v. First Tenn. Bank Nat’l Assoc., 44 S.W.3d 518 (Tenn. 2001) and Hodges v. S.C. Toof & Co., 833 S.W.2d 896 (Tenn. 1992).

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Amanda B. Dunn, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Michael Daniels.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; William H. Cox, District Attorney General; and Neal Pinkston, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Michael Daniels, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Lance Chism, Memphis, Tennessee (on appeal) and Mark Renken, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial) for the appellant, Jermaine Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Alanda Dwyer and Kirby May, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Jermaine Davis, of nine counts of aggravated rape, and the trial court ordered him to serve an effective sentence of seventy-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court committed plain error when it included “recklessness” in the definition of aggravated rape in the jury instruction; (2) the trial court committed plain error by failing to instruct the jury on voluntary intoxication; (3) the trial court committed plain error by failing to compel the State to elect facts to support three of the counts charged; (4) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (5) the trial court erred when it sentenced the Defendant by ordering him to serve twenty-five years for each of the convictions and by imposing partial consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Donna O. Hargrove, District Public Defender; and William J. Harold, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Jacob Aaron Ervin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; Robert James Carter, District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Barnard and William B. Bottoms, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Jacob Aaron Ervin, was convicted by a Marshall County jury of simple assault, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced by the trial court to eleven months, twenty-nine days in jail at 75%. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Marvin Green, Pro Se, Henning, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Marvin Green, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief in which he alleged that an insufficient indictment and an improper offense classification rendered his conviction void. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court was correct in dismissing the petition for habeas corpus relief and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William B. Kelley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cortez Griffin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle A. Hixon, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul Hagerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Cortez Griffin, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. In his petition, the Petitioner attacked his convictions for felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and criminally negligent homicide, arguing, among other things, that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to file a motion to sever the robbery and murder offenses or pursue the trial court’s joinder of those offenses on direct appeal. On appeal, he challenges the denial of relief on the aforementioned bases and whether adequate findings were made by the post-conviction court. However, following our review of the record, we conclude that the petition is untimely. Therefore, the appeal is dismissed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paul Springer, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Hampton; Juni Ganguli (at trial) and James E. Thomas (on appeal), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Deanthony Perry.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Colin A. Campbell and Neal Oldham, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendants, Charles Hampton and Deanthony Perry, were convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. In this consolidated appeal, Defendant Perry argues that the trial court committed plain error by failing to instruct the jury that Ladarrius Borrum was an accomplice as a matter of law and that the evidence presented at trial is insufficient to sustain his conviction for first degree murder. Defendant Hampton argues that the trial court erred in denying his right to compulsory process and excluding relevant evidence, as well as challenges the sufficiency of the evidence convicting him of first degree murder. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Court to Review 1 Criminal, 2 Civil Cases

The Tennessee Supreme Court has granted review to two civil cases involving insurance benefits assignments and termination of parental rights, and one criminal case pertaining to due process concerns associated with kidnapping convictions. The Raybin Perky Hot List has a summary and forecast of each case.

Nashville Attorney Named President of the TAJ

The Tennessee Association for Justice (TAJ) recently elected Nashville attorney Jon Peeler as president for the 2014-2015 term. Elections for other Board of Governors leadership positions were held at the TAJ annual convention on June 13. View the press release for to the complete list.

'Lawyers for Littles' Raises $15,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Nashville-area attorneys raised $15,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee at the fifth annual “Lawyers for Littles” Bowl for Kids’ Sake event. Twenty-one teams participated in the event, representing all spheres of the legal profession, including law firms, corporate counsel, government agencies and bar associations. For more information on how to get involved with “Lawyers for Littles,” contact Tom Shumate or Laura Baker.

Judge to Take Same-Sex Divorce Case Under Advisement

Roane County Circuit Court Judge Russell Simmons Jr. announced today that he is taking under advisement a high-profile divorce case involving two men who married legally in Iowa and want to divorce in Tennessee. The issue pertains to whether a same-sex divorce can be granted in a state where such marriages are banned. Simmons said he will render a written opinion soon. Knoxnews has more.

Obama, Bush, Others Remember Sen. Baker

President Barack Obama, former President George H.W. Bush and many of his Senate colleagues remembered former Sen. Howard Baker on Thursday. The Tennessean has a collection of their thoughts. Also now available is a recently released book on Baker by former TBA President Bill Haltom. The Other Fellow May Be Right: The Civility of Howard Baker was released in Kindle format last week and will be available in print version in a few weeks from Amazon.

DA’s Office Honored for Child-Support Work

Coffee County District Attorney Mickey Layne has received the McCutchen Award from the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, Tullahoma News reports. The award is presented annually to one of Tennessee’s district attorneys who exemplifies the goals and ideals of the organization by improving the quality of justice in the state, especially regarding the collection of child support payments. “My staff is focused on bettering the lives of children,” said Layne. “They truly deserve this award as the best performing child support office in Tennessee. Our responsibility to prosecute criminals is important, and our work to ensure that child support commitments are met is a critical piece of that responsibility.”

Mentors Promise to Help Veterans

The Administrative Office of the Courts is now working with Justice for Vets to help veterans who find themselves before a judge. More than 60 veterans became the state’s first ever Veterans Treatment Court mentors. Mentors completed a boot camp to learn how to help fellow men and women in uniform who end-up with criminal charges, and will be able to work in courts across the state, News Channel 5 reports.

FBI Director Visits Memphis

Sex trafficking and counter-terrorism remain top priorities for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), including in West Tennessee, Director James Comey told West Tennessee law enforcement officials Wednesday in Memphis. The director was in the area to learn what the officials need, what programs and initiatives are working well and how local law enforcement is doing in general, the Jackson Sun reports.

Atticus vs. Matlock: Who Wins?

Perry Mason, Matlock and Olivia Pope are just a few of the fictional lawyers listed as favorites by the Nashville Business Journal’s 2014 Best of the Bar winners. The most common favorite? Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s seminal work “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Read more about the winners and their literary picks at the NBJ wesbite

Attorney Gets Locked in Knox Jail

Attorney Rhonda Lee got trapped in a Knox County jail while visiting clients Saturday, Knoxnews reports. She had to use her cell phone to call 911 to reach the Sheriff’s Office after the jail buzzer failed to work. Someone came to free her about seven minutes after the call. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Martha Dooley said they have now repaired the buzzer and added another security camera.

Law Prof: Court Rises Above Partisanship

For the first time since 1940, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed unanimously on more than 66 percent of its cases throughout the term, Georgetown University law professor Neal K. Katyal writes in an opinion piece for the New York Times. Katyal notes that the figure still holds even if Monday’s remaining two cases are not unanimous. “Unanimity is important because it signals that the justices can rise above their differences and interpret the law without partisanship,” Katyal writes. “When the justices forge common ground, it signals to the nation the deep-seated roots of what the court has said and contributes to stability in the fabric of the law."

Big Changes to Affect Tennessee Non-Profit Law

Effective Jan. 1, Tennessee lawyers will see big changes to the Tennessee Non-Profit Corporations Act, which will impact existing non-profit organizations and new formations. This October, TBA’s TennBarU will offer sessions in Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga that will focus on understanding the new requirements including conflict of interest, governance, changes to documents and more. Visit the TennBarU website for more information or to register. 

Election Commission Approves Wording of Domestic Partnership Referendum

The Chattanooga Election Commission approved the wording on the city’s Domestic Partnership Benefits ordinance during an emergency meeting today. The meeting was called as quickly as possible because the issue arose just as it is time to print the ballots, officials said. Assistant City Attorney Phil Noblett said he has concerns that the wording is "vague and overbroad” and that voters would be getting "a slanted version" of the ordinance. The Chattanoogan has more.

Complaint Filed Over Campaign Donation Conflict of Interest

A complaint has been filed against a Hawkins County-based probation company, alleging it made inappropriate campaign contributions to General Sessions Judge J. Todd Ross and court clerk-elect Randy Collier. The complaint was filed last week by outgoing Hawkins County Clerk of Courts Sarah Davis. It alleges the contributions violate the "conflict of interest" section of the Tennessee Private Probation Services Council rule of professional conduct. The Kingsport Times News has more.

Show Your Professional Pride with the TBA Visa

TBA members can now show their professional pride and get rewarded for doing so. The Tennessee Bar Association Visa® Platinum Rewards Card is now available to all members. Apply now and earn points at hundreds of online retailers. Redeem your points for name-brand merchandise, event tickets, gift cards, travel rewards options and more. Apply now!


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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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