Sevier Bar Adds Support for Justices

The Sevier County Bar Association today unanimously passed a resolution backing the retention and re-election of Chief Justice Gary Wade, and Justices Sharon Lee and Connie Clark. The resolution commends the justices for demonstrating “a commitment to justice which is an outstanding example for citizens, lawyers and other members of the judiciary.” Read the full resolution.

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
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
05 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Robert M. Asbury, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Pemberton Truck Lines, Inc. and Cherokee Insurance Company.

John A. Willis, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tracy W. Hamilton.

Judge: WADE

The employee sustained a work-related injury to his cervical spine. The trial court found permanent and total disability as a result of the injury. The employer has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Sara E. Sedgwick, Senior Counsel; Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tennessee Department of Health.

Julie J. Tate, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellees, John Doe and Jane Doe.


Parents of a child born of a surrogate mother with an anonymously donated egg and the father’s sperm and Tennessee Department of Health appeal order entered in consolidated parentage and adoption proceedings which required the live birth certificate issued for the child to list the mother as “unknown.” Having determined that the definition of “mother” for the purpose of completing the birth certificate is the same as that used in preparing the standard birth certificate promulgated by the National Center for Health Statistics, we reverse the trial court’s decision and hold that the gestational carrier should be listed as the mother.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Billie Carson Bailey, pro se, appellant.

Jean Marie Bailey, pro se, appellee.


In this post-divorce action, the petitioner sought to terminate or modify his spousal and child support payments. The trial court terminated the petitioner’s child support obligation, lowered the monthly spousal support amount, and reduced the spousal support arrearage owed. The petitioner appeals. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Laura D. Rogers, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Maloney.

Valerie T. Corder, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gloria Maloney.


Husband and paramour are represented by two partners in the same law firm. Wife sought to disqualify Husband’s attorney. The trial court granted the motion to disqualify, citing the inevitability of conflict. Husband appealed. We reverse and remand for an evidentiary hearing on the motion.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Connie Reguli, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellants, Iona Senecal and New Orleans Manor, Inc.

Saul Solomon and J Brooks Fox, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.


Metropolitan Government filed suit for recovery of delinquent real property taxes on property leased by the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. Taxpayers filed a motion to dismiss the proceeding, asserting that its obligation to pay taxes arose from its lease obligation and was extinguished when the Airport Authority released taxpayers from all obligations under the lease. Metropolitan Government moved for summary judgment on the ground, inter alia, that the taxpayers did not have standing to challenge the taxes because they had failed to pay the tax under protest as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 67–1-901; the trial court granted the motion. We affirm the judgment.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Mary Dohner Smith, Marcia Dawn McShane, Peter A. Malanchuk, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Clinically Home, LLC.

Steven Allen Riley, James Nathaniel Bowen, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Michael O’Neil.


The Chief Executive Officer of a Company and the Company executed an Employment Agreement that covered, among other issues, consequences of termination with or without cause, either by the Officer or by the Company. A year or so later, the Officer called a meeting and issued an ultimatum to the board of directors threatening to resign if certain changes were not made. The Company later wrote a letter to the Officer accepting his resignation without “Good Reason” as defined in the Employment Agreement. The Officer asserted the Company terminated him “without cause” and that he did not resign. The Company responded that it did not terminate the Officer, but simply accepted his resignation. The Officer filed a complaint seeking severance pay and other benefits he claimed he was entitled to pursuant to the Employment Agreement. The trial court agreed with the Officer and granted his motion for summary judgment. The Company appealed, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Raymond W. Fraley, Jr., Fayetteville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Avery Crisp.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Senior Counsel; Robert J. Carter, District Attorney General; and Ann L. Filer and Drew Wright, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, William Avery Crisp, pled guilty to one count of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”), a Class A misdemeanor; one count of vehicular homicide, a Class C felony; one count of vehicular homicide as a proximate result of intoxication, a Class B felony; one count of vehicular assault as a proximate result of intoxication, a Class D felony, and one count of a violation of the open container law, a Class C misdemeanor. The defendant’s guilty pleas reserved four certified questions of law having to do with the trial court’s denial of his motions to suppress certain evidence. He also appeals the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing. We conclude that the trial court properly determined that there was probable cause to believe the defendant was driving while intoxicated even if he passed the field sobriety tests administered by law enforcement. The other certified questions are not dispositive of any of the defendant’s convictions, and the trial court did not err in sentencing. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Charles F. Brasfield, Covington, Tennnessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Charlie Lovell Leavy, III.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Jason Poyner, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Charlie Lovell Leavy, III, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from his convictions for aggravated burglary, burglary of a building, theft over $1,000, felony evading arrest, and simple assault. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Eric Mogy, Memphis, Tennessee, for appellant, Jarvis Payne.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Pam Fleming, Assistant District Attorney General, for the respondent, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Jarvis Payne, pled guilty to second degree murder pursuant to a plea agreement and was sentenced to fifteen years as a violent offender. He filed a post-conviction petition in which he alleged that a dying declaration by the victim showed that he lacked the requisite intent for second degree murder. He claimed that his attorney was ineffective because she did not make him aware of the victim’s dying declaration and urged him to plead guilty without explaining the importance of intent in the charged offense. After listening to testimony from Petitioner’s public defender and the prosecuting attorney, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Benjamin Dempsey, Huntingdon, Tennessee, for the petitioner, Brandon Alexander Rankin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel McCadams, District Attorney General; and R. Adam Jowers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the respondent, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Brandon Alexander Rankin, pled guilty to second degree murder and accessory after the fact or facilitation to commit first degree murder, to which he was sentenced to concurrent 40-year sentences at 100%. Petitioner subsequently filed a timely motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and trial counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel on the same date. A hearing was conducted on the two motions. The trial court elected to classify Petitioner’s motion to withdraw the guilty plea as a post-conviction petition. Trial counsel’s motion to withdraw was sustained. Petitioner’s “Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief combined with Rule 36 Motion to Correct Clerical Error in Order” was filed through newly appointed counsel. The post-conviction court dismissed the amended petition as time barred. Petitioner timely appealed. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court erred in construing Petitioner’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas as a petition for post-conviction relief. As a result, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for consideration of Petitioner’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Changing Sex Designation on Certain Government Records

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-07-16

Opinion Number: 70

Application of “Any Willing Pharmacy” Statute

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-07-16

Opinion Number: 71

Early Voting Starts Friday; Cast Your Ballots

Early voting begins tomorrow across Tennessee for the Aug. 7 judicial, state primary and county general elections. Candidates note that in some counties the ballot will be long, so it is important to complete it all. In Shelby County, for example, votes on retention of Supreme Court justices, and judges on the Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals are not until the eighth page of the ballot. Access to Election Commissions across the state is available from the Secretary of State’s office, while information from Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Shelby counties is available from each of them.

Knoxville Bar Seeking Opinions on Amendment 2

The Knoxville Bar Association Board of Governors will consider whether to pass a resolution in support of Amendment 2 at its Aug. 20 meeting. In November, voters will be asked whether they approve Amendment 2, which provides that the governor will select appellate judges, subject to approval by the legislature. Sitting judges will then sit for retention elections every eight years. Email KBA President Wade Davies  to share your views on this issue.

Families of Victims Meet to Discuss Justices' Opinions

Several family members of murder victims gathered in Knoxville yesterday to discuss opinions issued by the three State Supreme Court Justices up for a retention vote. The group is pushing for more rights for crime victims, and one woman said she was upset that justices weren't in support of showing a photo of a murder victim during a trial and felt that their decisions limited victim impact statements. WATE has the story.

Nashville Lawyer Joins Campaign Against Controversial Senator

Nashville-based author and lawyer Lewis Laska has sent 20,000 postcards to voters in Senate District 7 encouraging them not to vote for incumbent Sen. Stacey Campfield in the Aug. 7 primary election. Laska says he believes Stacey Campfield is not fit to hold public office. Campfield, who is running against Knox County Commissioner Dr. Richard Briggs, issued a statement in response, saying Laska simply wants to defeat those responsible for proving conservative policies work. WATE has the story.

Pat Summitt Will Not Testify in Job Discrimination Suit

Former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt will not be called to testify in former spokeswoman Debby Jennings’ federal job discrimination lawsuit, an attorney said today in U.S. District Court. Jennings claims she lost her job when she took up for Summitt when Summitt believed she was being forced to retire due to a diagnosis of early onset dementia. The Tennessean has more.

AG Reaches Agreement with Apple on E-Book Price Fixing

Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper yesterday announced a proposed settlement of claims for monetary relief against Apple Inc. related to its participation in a price-fixing conspiracy in the market for E-books. The settlement agreement, which remains subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, would resolve claims for consumer damages brought by Tennessee and 32 other states and territories, according to a press release. Although the company insists it did nothing wrong, Apple agreed to the settlement, contingent on the federal appeal, the ABA Journal reports. If the court upholds last summer's bench verdict by a federal judge in Manhattan that Apple colluded with publishers, the company will pay $400 million.

State Audits District Drug Task Forces

The state Comptroller’s Office recently released the review of funds administered by district attorneys general and judicial district drug task forces in Districts 1 through 31 for the fiscal year that ended June 30. According to the annual report, auditors had findings in five of the judicial districts. The Daily Times has more.

Federal Judge Rules California Death Penalty Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled yesterday that California’s death penalty violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the LA Times reports. Carney called the California death penalty system “dysfunctional," with the result being an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding an actual execution.

Connecticut Supreme Court Affirms Pre-Gay Marriage Rights

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled yesterday that some legal rights of same-sex couples predate the state’s approvals of civil unions in 2005 and gay marriage in 2008, WATE reports. The 6-0 decision — which gay rights supporters call the first of its kind in the country — overturns two lower court rulings and allows a widow to sue a doctor in a medical malpractice case for the death of her spouse and the loss of her spouse's companionship and income.

Utah asks Supreme Court to Act on Marriages

Utah officials have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to temporarily block a lower court's order that the state formally recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages performed earlier this year. In an emergency appeal filed late Wednesday and addressed to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes said the issue of whether the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional remains pending in the courts. The court is expected to rule on the issue in the next year or so, WCYB has more.

Judges Call to Double Number of Foster Families

Montgomery County Judge Ken Goble and Juvenile Magistrate Tim Barnes are asking citizens to look at their circumstances and see if they have the ability to become a foster parent, the Leaf Chronicle reports. There are currently 50 foster families, but the judges say the county needs to double that number to adequately serve all of the 279 children in the system.

ABA Launches Website on International Crime

The American Bar Association International Criminal Court Project today launched a new and comprehensive website to coincide with International Criminal Justice Day. According to the ABA , the website is an interactive resource that educates visitors about the International Criminal Court, which is the world’s only permanent tribunal with a mandate to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

KBA Judicial Candidate Forum Tonight

The Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) and the League of Women Voters of Knoxville/Knox County will hold a forum to inform voters about their choices among judicial candidates competing in the general election. All candidates have been invited to participate in the forum, which will take place tonight from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the South College Auditorium, 400 Goodys Lane, Knoxville. Seating is limited. RSVP online at the KBA website.

Lipscomb Hosts Conversation with Justice Koch July 24

Lipscomb University's Institute for Law, Justice and Society will host Justice William C. Koch, Jr. July 24 at 6:30 p.m. for a Conversation of Significance as he retires from the Tennessee Supreme Court and begins work as Dean of the Nashville School of Law. The conversation with Justice Koch will touch on the future of the Nashville School of Law, Justice Koch's career in the judiciary, judicial independence, the upcoming judicial retention elections, and the difficult legal issues that are on the horizon in Tennessee. This event is free and open to the public.

Democrats Target Predatory Lending

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, and congressional Democrats are targeting predatory lenders with new legislation aimed at capping high fees and interest rates than can eclipse 300 percent. The Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates Act would limit interest rates and fees at 36 percent for all consumer credit transactions, a rate cap that currently applies only for military personnel and their families. The Memphis Business Journal has more.

Maury County Lawyer Suspended

Matthew Bastian was suspended for 11 months and 29 days, ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,000 and contact the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program for evaluation. Bastian improperly used his trust account for personal transactions, failed to timely respond to discovery requests, failed to appear at a hearing and failed to timely respond to pleadings resulting in default and dismissal of his client’s case. View the BPR notice.

Franklin County Lawyer Suspended

Joseph Scott Bean Jr. was suspended from the practice of law on July 3 based upon his guilty plea to theft in an amount over $10,000. View the BPR notice.

Williamson County Lawyer Temporarily Suspended for Misconduct

Charles Powell Jackson III was suspended on July 3 for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding two complaints of misconduct. View the BPR notice.

Shelby County Lawyer Temporarily Suspended

Elbert Jefferson Jr. was temporarily suspended for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. View the BPR notice.

Obion County Lawyer Placed on Disability Inactive Status

The law license of Mary Ellen Stevens was transferred to disability inactive status on July 15. Stevens 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 she is fit to resume. View the BPR notice.

ABA Offers Retirement Benefits for the Legal Sector

Looking for a retirement plan for yourself or your employees? The ABA Retirement Fund provides unique, full service 401(k) plans specifically for the legal community. By leveraging the assets of its 3,800 client firms, the ABA plan offers packages typically available only to large corporations. For more information contact a regional representative at (800) 826-8901 or visit


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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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