Online TN Justice Selected as Finalist for Award

Online TN Justice, a statewide virtual legal clinic that helps vulnerable Tennesseans access legal advice from a network of pro bono lawyers, has been named a finalist for the Frist Foundation's Team Building Award. The winner will be announced at a gala Sept. 23 in Nashville. The award, presented by the Center for Nonprofit Management, recognizes organizations that mobilize volunteers and partner organizations to support people in need. The team responsible for the creation and operation of Online TN Justice includes the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), the Tennessee Supreme Court and its Access to Justice Commission, the Tennessee Bar Association and the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. Read more about the award and see other finalists on the Center for Nonprofit Management’s website.

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
02 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
03 - 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

JUSTIN A. H., BY AND THROUGH HIS NEXT FRIENDS, WORLD ASSOCIATION FOR CHILDREN AND PARENTS AND LEONID LVOVICH MITYAEV, AS THE LEGAL CUSTODIAN OF THE MINOR CHILD, AND THE WORLD ASSOCIATION FOR CHILDREN AND PARENTS, AND NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR ADOPTION,
AS THE DESIGNATED LIAISON FOR LEONID LVOVICH MITYAEV, THE LEGAL CUSTODIAN OF THE MINOR CHILD IN MOSCOW v. TORRY HANSEN

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jennifer Lynn Thompson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellant, Torry Hansen.

Larry L. Crain, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellee, Justin Hansen, by and through his next friends, World Association for Children and Parents and Leonid Lvovich Mityaev, as the Legal Custodian of the minor child, and the World Association for Children and Parents, and National Council for Adoption, as the Designated Liaison for Leonid Lvovich Mityaev, the Legal Custodian of the minor child in Moscow.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a petition for dependency and neglect, child support, and breach of contract arising out of an international adoption. The respondent adopted the subject child from Russia. A few months later, after experiencing difficulties with the child, she placed the child on a one-way flight to Russia and sought to annul the adoption. The adoption agency that brokered the adoption filed this lawsuit against the respondent in juvenile court, seeking child support and alleging that the child was dependent and neglected. The juvenile court dismissed the case, and the case was appealed to the circuit court below. On appeal to circuit court, the petition was amended to add the child as a petitioner and to seek child support and damages arising out of the adoption contract. After protracted proceedings, the trial court granted the petitioners’ motion for default judgment against the respondent for failing to file an answer to the petition and failing to cooperate in discovery. The trial court later conducted a hearing on damages, at which the respondent did not appear. The trial court awarded damages to the petitioners and ordered the respondent to pay child support. It later denied the respondent’s motions for post-judgement relief. The respondent now appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.


KIMBERLY A. SPARKMAN v. BURNS PHILLIPS, COMMISSIONER, TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND FIRST TENNESSEE BANK, N.A.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Kathryn Evans Moss, Nashville, Tennessee, and David Kozlowski, Columbia, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant, Kimberly A. Sparkman.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General & Reporter, and Derek C. Jumper, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee, Burns Phillips, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Russell W. Jackson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee, First Tennessee Bank (no brief filed).

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves the denial of unemployment compensation benefits. The petitioner was employed by the defendant bank. When the petitioner employee arrived for work, the employee’s supervisor smelled alcohol on her and asked her to take an alcohol test. The employee refused to take the alcohol test, and as a result her employment was terminated. The employee filed for unemployment benefits. The defendant commissioner held that the employee was discharged for work-related misconduct and was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, and the denial of benefits was affirmed in the administrative appeals process. The employee then filed the instant lawsuit for judicial review of the administrative decision. The trial court affirmed the agency’s decision, and the petitioner now appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

ANTWON COOK v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Antwon Cook, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; R. Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and Stephen M. Hatchett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Antwon Cook, appeals the Bradley County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis regarding his convictions for possession of more than one-half gram of cocaine with the intent to sell and sale of more than one-half gram of cocaine, for which he is serving an effective eight-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by denying him relief. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DAVID WAYNE FELTS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Emma Rae Tennent, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal); Katie Ladefoged and Kristin Stangle, Nashville, Tennessee (at trial) for the Appellant, David Wayne Felts.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Kristin Menke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, David Wayne Felts, of six counts of rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to a total effective sentence of one hundred and fourteen years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his rape of a child conviction in Count 2; (2) the trial court failed to compel the State to elect specific facts sufficient to distinguish Count 6 from Count 5; (3) the trial court erred when it admitted into evidence the victim’s statement to a nurse practitioner as a statement made for the purpose of medical diagnosis and treatment, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 803(4); (4) the trial court erred when it admitted into evidence the victim’s statement as a prior consistent statement; and (5) the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


ANTWAN YUMATA HUNTER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard C. Strong, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antwan Yumata Hunter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Antwan Yumata Hunter, pled guilty to one count of the sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine, a Class C felony. On appeal, he argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel that rendered his guilty plea involuntary. Specifically, he contends that trial counsel were ineffective for failing to advise him of a mandatory fine that accompanied his guilty plea; for failing to file pretrial motions, including a motion to suppress; and for failing to fully investigate his case. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


JEFFERY ODOM v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffery Odom, Pro Se, Atlanta, Georgia.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; Trevor Lynch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Jeffery Odom, was convicted and sentenced for two felonies, with his sentences to be served concurrently. He filed a petition for habeas corpus relief, contending that the concurrent sentences violated a statute that required consecutive sentencing under the circumstances. The trial court dismissed his petition. He filed a notice of appeal more than 30 days after the entry of the trial court’s order, in violation of Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(b). We dismiss this appeal because of the untimely filing.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Fees for Expunging Criminal Convictions

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Opinion Number: 66


Transfers of Fees to General Fund

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Opinion Number: 67


Authority to Waive Requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-1-617

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Opinion Number: 68


Obama Seeks $3.7 Billion to Deal with Border Crisis

Calling the situation a humanitarian crisis, President Barack Obama today asked Congress to provide $3.7 billion to cope with a tide of minors from Central America who are crossing illegally into the United States. The funds would be used to provide shelter and medical care for unaccompanied children, hire additional immigration judges, increase prosecution of smugglers, increase surveillance along the border and help countries repatriate those sent home. The president also said he wants to provide the secretary of homeland security additional authority to speed up the removal of the children though he did not include that policy change in his request. Obama plans to discuss the crisis with faith and local leaders during a visit to Texas on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. More than 50,000 children have arrived in the United States since October. WRCB has the AP story.


Nation’s Governors in Nashville This Weekend

Tennessee will host a gathering of state chief executives from across the nation this weekend for the third time since the National Governors Association was founded in 1908. “I look forward to a great weekend of substantive conversation as well as the chance to showcase Tennessee and all we have to offer to my colleagues,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a press release. Vice President Joe Biden is slated to deliver a keynote address and several governors with reported presidential ambitions are expected to be on hand, Knoxnews reports.


Judicial Election Debate Heats Up in Chattanooga

With early voting starting in less than two weeks, the battle over three current Tennessee Supreme Court justices' jobs has reached Chattanooga, the Times Free Press reports. Attorneys, led by Lee Davis, have been meeting with local leaders in an attempt to generate support for the three justices standing for retention votes. "What we try to do is get out to the civic-minded voters what the truthful record of these justices is," Davis said. “The vote will take care of itself.” Meanwhile Chattanooga Tea Party leader Mark West said this past week that local conservatives have begun efforts to unseat the justices. "We're strongly in support of replacing these justices," he said.


Wamp Primary Campaign Gets Funding Windfall

Republican Weston Wamp’s effort to oust U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in the 3rd Congressional District's GOP primary will get a big financial assist from an independent "super PAC," the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Allan Davis, a partner in the Lamp Post Group that employs the 27-year-old Wamp, says he has given $300,000 to the Character Counts PAC to support Wamp. The funding is almost half the $640,044 cash on hand Fleischmann reported as of March 31. The involvement of the group may raise issues for Wamp, though, as he has been openly critical of the role “super PACs” now play in the election process.


Legal Aid Lawyer Sought for Domestic, Sexual Abuse Cases

West Tennessee Legal Services is seeking a staff attorney with a strong commitment to the delivery of quality civil legal assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence and stalking in rural west Tennessee. Experience representing domestic violence victims is preferred and proficiency in Spanish is a plus. Applicants must possess a Tennessee law license as well as excellent writing and oral communication skills and the ability to manage multiple tasks, build collaborative relationships, travel as necessary and use case management software. Interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume, writing sample and references to Hiring Committee, West Tennessee Legal Services Inc., P.O. Box 2066, Jackson, TN 38302 or by email to jane@wtls.org.


Investiture Set for New Supreme Court Justice Bivins

A formal investiture ceremony to install Judge Jeffrey Bivins as the newest member of the Tennessee Supreme Court will take place next Wednesday (July 16) at 3 p.m. at the Franklin Theatre in downtown Franklin. A reception will follow. The theater is located at 419 Main St. View the invitation and response card.


Prescription Drug Summit Thursday in Chattanooga

Top state substance abuse officials will meet in Chattanooga this Thursday to discuss the problem of prescription drug abuse in Tennessee, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. E. Douglas Varney, commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, will join Criminal Court Judge Caroll Ross of the 10th Judicial District Recovery Court, Paul Fuchcar of the Council for Alcohol & Drug Abuse Services and others at the event, set for 2 p.m. at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga’s University Center, 642 E. Fifth St. In announcing the summit, which is open to the public, Varney said, “The abuse of prescription drugs, specifically opioids, is an epidemic in Tennessee, with disastrous and severe consequences to Tennesseans of every age.”


Event to Focus on Disability Employment

The Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee will host an awareness event Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Nashville City Club, 201 4th Ave. N., Nashville. The Disability Employment Awareness Luncheon will feature a keynote address by Randy Lewis, a retired Walgreens executive, who created thousands of full-time jobs for people with disabilities. The event is designed to help employers navigate new laws requiring the hiring and advancement of people with disabilities and create workplaces where disability inclusion is possible and profitable. Tickets are $150 for corporate attendees and $75 for non-profit leaders.


Judge’s Son Dies in July 4th Accident

The son of Brentwood Municipal Court Judge Laurie D. Jewett died in a boating accident on Old Hickory Lake on July 4. James Regen Jewett, 26, was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman and was active in his church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Youth Ministries of First Presbyterian Church, 4815 Franklin Rd., Nashville, TN 37220; Montgomery Bell Academy's General Scholarship Fund, 4001 Harding Pk., Nashville, TN 37205; or the charity of one’s choice. The Brentwood Home Page and Tennessean have more on Jewett's 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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