Lawyers Head to Polls as Early Voting Opens

Tennessee lawyers came out in strength today on the first day of early voting in the Aug. 7 judicial, state primary and county general elections. In Memphis, over 100 representatives of the Memphis legal community gathered at the offices of Burch, Porter & Johnson, and were joined by Justice Connie Clark, Justice Sharon Lee and Chief Justice Gary Wade, to mark the beginning of the early voting period. The group was addressed by David McKinney, president of the Ben Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association, and Mary Morgan Whitfield, president of the Association of Women Attorneys, before many headed to the Shelby Election Commission to vote. TBA President Jonathan Steen was an early voter in Jackson, while TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur reported that the voting experience in Nashville took just seven minutes and 12 seconds.

In Knoxville, a committee favoring retention of the Supreme Court justices is encouraging area law firms to participate in early voting on Thursday. The group is asking law firms to allow their attorneys and staff a longer lunch break in order to vote at the City County Building early voting site. Refreshments will also be available on the patio of First Tennessee Plaza at 11:30 am, where participants can meet before voting.

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
01 - 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


Marty R. Phillips and Ashley D. Cleek, Jackson, Tennessee, for Defendant/Appellants James H. Crenshaw, M.D. and The Jackson Clinic Professional Association

Lee J. Chase, Memphis, Tennessee, for Plaintiff/Appellee Cheryl Hall, surviving spouse of Mark Emmett Lamar Hall, Jr.

Judge: KIRBY

This interlocutory appeal involves ex parte communications between defense counsel for a defendant medical entity and non-party physicians who treated the plaintiff’s decedent and are employed by the defendant medical entity. The plaintiff filed this healthcare liability action against the defendant medical entity arising out of treatment of the plaintiff’s decedent. The trial court held that the attorneys for the defendant medical entity are barred under Alsip v. Johnson City Medical Center, 197 S.W.3d 722 (Tenn. 2006), from conferring ex parte with treating physicians employed by the defendant medical entity who are not named as defendants in the lawsuit. The defendant medical entity was granted permission for this interlocutory appeal. We hold that the defendant medical entity has an independent right to communicate privately with its employees, and this right is not abrogated by the filing of the plaintiff’s healthcare liability lawsuit. Therefore, Alsip does not bar the medical entity’s attorneys from communicating ex parte with physicians employed by the medical entity about the physician employee’s medical treatment of the plaintiff’s decedent. Accordingly, we reverse.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Adam C. Crider, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerry’s Oil Co., Inc.

Robert T. Keeton, III, Huntingdon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Hanna (John) Nazi and Banham (Ben) Nazi.


In this contract dispute, the parties disagree as to whether the signatory of the contracts may be personally liable thereon, as well as to whether the contract provides for a fuel surcharge. We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Chasity Hancock and Kelly R. Williams, Livingston, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher I. Thrasher.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael A. Meyer, Deputy Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Owen G. Burnett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Christopher I. Thrasher, was convicted by an Overton County jury of delivery of oxycodone within 1000 feet of a school zone, and the trial court imposed a sentence of seventeen years for that conviction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges that the following errors were made at his trial: (1) that his motion to suppress should have been granted because he was under the influence of drugs at the time he waived his rights and gave his statement; (2) that the chain of custody regarding the pills was not sufficiently established; and (3) that enhancement of his sentencing term above the range minimum was improper. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Monroe County Bar Adds Support for Judges

The Monroe County Bar Association has added its support to the state’s top judges, announcing today that it had passed a resolution supporting the retention of Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, Justice Cornelia A. Clark and Monroe County’s own Justice Sharon G. Lee. The resolution recognizes the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary, and the need for ensuring that the elections of appellate court judges are achieved in a custom that preserves the equality and independence of the courts. The resolution also gave its support to the retention of the judges on the Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals.

TBA President Defends Legality of Elections

TBA President Jonathan Steen today responded to an opinion piece in the Tennessean that questions the legality of the August 7 judicial elections. "The resounding answer from the courts and lawyers of the Tennessee Bar Association is YES (the elections are legal)," Steen wrote in part. "The branch charged under our constitution with the responsibility for deciding legality -- the courts -- have consistently held the retention elections to be constitutional. Constant attacks on the legitimacy of those decisions undermine the very bedrock of our democracy." Read the full response.

JAS Cautions Big Spending in Tennessee's Judicial Campaign

In a new video, Justice At Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg cautions that what appears to be turning into a big-spending contest in Tennessee’s judicial campaign could harm fair and impartial courts. “The more we subject our judges and justices to outside pressures — to big money and special interest pressure — the more we pressure them to make decisions based on special interest pressure instead of the law and the constitution,” Brandenburg says in the video. Gavel Grab has more.

Voters May Have to Wait until 2016 for Special Juvenile Court Election

Voters in Washington County may have to wait until August 2016 to decide Johnson City Juvenile Court Clerk, WJHL reports. News Channel 11 found that the position may be required to be filled by an elected clerk. Charlene Davenport has held the position since 2007, when the city promoted her. City officials are currently looking into the issue.

Jammed Immigration Courts Face New Deluge

The country’s already backlogged immigration courts have seen a deluge of tens of thousands of Central American children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, WSMV reports. The court system is so overwhelmed that it can currently take three years to get a hearing. The courts have more than 375,000 cases being handled by just 243 judges, according to the Department of Justice. The Obama administration has said it will move quickly to process the thousands of immigrant children and families and has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to cope with the crisis, including hiring more judges.

DOJ Indicts FedEx in Drug-Shipping Inquiry

The Department of Justice yesterday indicted FedEx Corp. in connection with an investigation into illegal pharmaceutical shipments, the Commercial Appeal reports. The indictment is based on claims that FedEx and rival United Parcel Service aided and abetted illegal online drug sales by not having proper controls over their shipments. The Memphis carrier proclaimed innocence and said in a statement that it would plead not guilty.

Panel Approves Early Release for Drug Felons

Tens of thousands of federal inmates serving time for drug crimes may be eligible for early release under a cost-cutting proposal adopted today that would dramatically reduce the nation's prison population over time. The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which earlier this year voted to substantially lower recommended sentences for drug-dealing felons, voted unanimously to retroactively apply that change to more than 46,000 prisoners now behind bars. WRCB has more.

Former Detective Who Posed as Lawyer Hoping to Become a Real Lawyer

As lead detective of a murder case in 2006, John Patrick Henry posed as a lawyer in an effort to glean information from a suspect. Court records show Henry ran the scheme by Monroe County prosecutor and believed his tactics were approved by the 10th Judicial District Attorney General’s office. The case was dismissed and Henry left law enforcement. He recently graduated from Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law, but was initially refused permission by the state bar exam board to sit for the bar due to his previous ruse. Knoxnews has more

Access and Visitation Grants Available

The Administrative Office of the Courts has approximately $200,000 in grant funding available for the development or continuation of initiatives that will aid self-represented litigants in accessing the Tennessee court system regarding child support issues. To receive funding, the initiatives must address the needs of divorced or never married parents, and focus on services to help them resolve any or all issues concerning parenting and visitation in child support cases or cases involving child support issues. Proposals must be received by Aug. 8.

Madison County Lawyer Suspended for Misconduct

Charles Randy Pettigrew was suspended for three years, retroactive to May 16, 2013, for failure to supervise a non-lawyer assistant to whom he had given significant authority over his trust account. The assistant engaged in a pattern of inappropriately transferring significant sums of money between the trust and operating accounts, and engaged in kiting checks between Pettigrew’s trust accounts for months in an effort to conceal the misappropriations. View the BPR notice.

Rutherford County Lawyer Censured

Brandon Michael Booten received a public censure for failing to communicate with his client for extended periods of time, not being diligent in his representation and failing to submit orders to the court until long after hearings were held in contravention of the local rules of court. View the BPR notice.

Rutherford County Lawyer Suspended for Misconduct

Andrew Lee Messick was suspended for one year and one day for a complaint of misconduct related to criminal conduct. Messick must contact the Tennessee Lawyer’s Assistance Program and follow any recommendations prior to reinstatement. View the BPR notice.

Davidson County Lawyer Reinstated

Edward T. Kindall was reinstated to the practice of law on July 2. Kindall had been suspended for one year retroactive to May 13, 2013. View the BPR notice.

TBAImpact Connects Lawyers to Legislative Issues and Lawmakers

TBA now provides resources for those who want to follow legislative action. On TBAImpact, members can learn about issues important to lawyers, track legislation pending before the General Assembly and contact their legislators to express their opinions. The TBA has a long tradition of advocating on behalf of its members in the state legislature. TBAImpact will enhance these efforts, giving you an opportunity to weigh in on issues important to the profession. Log in to your TBA account, then click on the TBAImpact tab to make sure your voice is heard. Get started here.


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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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