Legal Aid Society Announces New Officers

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has announced John T. Blankenship of Blankenship & Blankenship law firm will lead the Board of Directors as president for two years. Other members of the Executive Committee includes first vice president Robert J. Martineau, second vice president Charles K. Grant, third vice president Susan L. Kay, secretary Turner McCullough Jr., treasurer J. Andrew Goddard, member-at-large Charles H. Warfield and past-president James L. Weatherly. View the press release

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - 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 Court of Appeals

With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


John M. Stewart, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Henry Y., III.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Leslie Curry, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.

Janet M. Songer, Winchester, Tennessee, guardian ad litem for the minor, Chandler M.


This is a termination of parental rights case in which the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate Father’s parental rights to the Child. The trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of Father’s parental rights on the statutory grounds of abandonment, persistence of conditions, and confinement under a sentence of ten years or more. The court further found that termination of his rights was in the Child’s best interest. Father appeals. We affirm the trial court’s termination of Father’s parental rights on the grounds of abandonment and confinement under a sentence of 10 years or more. However, we reverse the trial court on the ground of persistent conditions.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert R. Kurtz, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jacqueline Nicole Bolden.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Lori Phillips-Jones, District Attorney General; and Jared Effler, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Jacqueline Nicole Bolden, pled guilty to one count of theft of property in an amount more than $60,000, a Class B felony, with an agreed upon sentence of eight years as a Range I offender with the trial court to determine manner of service of the sentence. The trial court ordered Defendant to serve her eight-year sentence on “split confinement” with fifty days to be served on the weekends. Defendant was also ordered to perform one day of community service per month for the first three years of her sentence. On appeal, Defendant contends the trial court erred by denying her request for full probation. We conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James P. DeRossitt IV (on appeal) and Mozella T. Ross (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the petitioner, Vincent Hunt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy Weirich, District Attorney General; Chris Lareau, Assistant District Attorney General; and Christopher L. West, Assistant District Attorney General, for the respondent, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Vincent Hunt, was convicted of first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping in Shelby County. On direct appeal, his convictions and sentences were affirmed. See State v. Vincent Hunt, No. W2009-00165-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 1407236, at *1-5 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Apr. 8, 2010), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Sept. 23, 2012). Petitioner then sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel and that the trial court issued improper jury instructions at trial. The post-conviction court denied relief and Petitioner appeals. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that Petitioner failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Carl Randle.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Carl Randle, of aggravated assault and attempted voluntary manslaughter. The trial court merged the convictions and ordered the Petitioner to serve six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Carl Randle, No. W2011–02374–CCA–R3-CD, 2012 WL 3642730, at *11 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Aug. 27, 2012), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 filed. The Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective. The postconviction court dismissed the petition after a hearing, and the Petitioner appealed that dismissal. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the postconviction court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Terita Hewlett Riley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Johnvonta M. Sain.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Joe Van Dyke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Johnvonta Sain, pleaded nolo contendere to aggravated assault with an agreed upon sentence of four years, suspended upon time served. The Petitioner filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief on the basis that his plea was involuntary and that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief. The Petitioner now appeals, maintaining that his guilty plea was involuntary and asserting that the post-conviction court should have recused itself in this matter. After a thorough review of the record, the briefs, and relevant authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Court Rulings Split on Health Exchange Subsidies

Two U.S. federal courts came to opposite conclusions today on the legality of health insurance subsidies provided to federally-run exchange plans, the Nashville Post reports. The federal government argued that the ACA established "complete equivalence between state and federal exchanges," while the opposition argued the language clearly denied tax credits to consumers in states with federally-run marketplaces. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled with the opposition, while the Fourth Circuit took the opposite view.

Judge Chases Down Man Accused of Beating Disabled Woman

Memphis Criminal Court Judge Paula Skahan said she saw a man beating a disabled woman and jumped into action, WREG reports. Skahan, who is running for re-election next month, said she called 911 and chased the accused abuser in her car. “Do something,” she implored of anyone who witnesses violence. “Don’t let this continue. That’s how people get killed.”

Corporate, Criminal Law Mentors Needed

The TBA Mentoring Program still needs criminal and corporate law attorneys with at least eight years of legal practice experience to join the program as mentors for upcoming classes. The program specifically needs attorneys in Brentwood, Franklin, Gatlinburg and Nashville. Visit the TBA website or contact Christy Gibson for more information.

Ad Spending Ramping Up in Retention Campaign

Campaign spending in the Tennessee judicial retention race is heating up, Justice At Stake reports, putting additional pressure on justices to raise big money and answer to interest groups and politicians. “Campaign ads on both sides that politicize judges’ rulings in criminal cases are particularly troubling,” said Alicia Bannon, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Characterizing judges as soft or tough on crime could put pressure on judges to decide cases with an eye toward how their judgment will be portrayed in the next election cycle."

Attorney Challenges Incumbent for House Seat

Lawrence “Larry” Pivnick announced he is seeking the Democratic nomination for the congressional seat to represent Tennessee’s eighth district. Pivnick, who defines himself as a social progressive, has served for the past 40 years as a professor of law at the University of Memphis, and was the founder and director of the University of Memphis Legal Clinic.

Senate Hopeful’s Campaign Finances Nearly on Empty

Democrat Terry Adams's U.S. Senate campaign was running on fumes, financially speaking, as of June 30, according to his second-quarter disclosure, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The Knoxville attorney reported having just $10,507 in cash on hand and $4,500 in debt. Adams faces multimillionaire Gordon Ball, a fellow Knoxville lawyer, in the Aug. 7 primary. Ball's disclosure was not yet available on the FEC website today.

Candidates Profiled in Judicial Election Series

Incumbent Ben Hall McFarlin and challenger Kevin Hodges of Smyrna are squared off in the race for General Sessions Judge, Part I, which will be decided in the Aug. 7 election. Both candidates recently answered questions from the Murfreesboro Post as part of the newspaper’s series focusing on judicial elections. Hodges is running as a Republican while McFarlin is opposing him as an Independent.

Former Justice White Backs Judges Facing Challenge

Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Penny White said she supports Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee and believes they will be retained despite the political attack against them. In 1996, White became the only justice not to be retained by voters on a statewide ballot after facing an ouster campaign that portrayed her as soft on capital punishment — an argument being used today against Wade, Clark and Lee. White said she could not defend herself from the attacks due to judicial ethics rules at the time that kept her from speaking. "The whole playing field for judicial elections was different than it is today,"  White told the Daily Times. "They are now well within their rights to speak out."

Alexander Backs Proposed Amendments

Sen. Lamar Alexander has declared his support for passage of all four amendments to the state constitutions that will be on the November ballot, including Amendment 2 dealing with the gubernatorial appointment of judges to the state Supreme Court and other appellate courts. Amendment 1 would insert into the constitution new provisions giving the Legislature authority to enact abortion restrictions, Amendment 3 would prohibit the Legislature from ever enacting a state income tax and Amendment 4 would allow veterans groups to hold fundraising raffles and the like that involve gambling. Knoxnews has more.

AOC Seeks Pro Bono Coordinator

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has an opening for a Pro Bono Coordinator to work with the Access to Justice Commission. The coordinator will cultivate, monitor and follow-up with new pro bono initiatives, especially in parts of the state where none currently exist. The position will be grant-funded through May 2015, with the possibility of a one-year extension. Visit the AOC website to apply.

Annual ACC vs. SEC Golf Tournament to Benefit CASA

The 8th Annual ACC-SEC Alumni Golf Tournament benefitting CASA of Nashville will be held Aug. 8 at Gaylord Springs Golf Links from noon to 7:30 p.m. Registration for the four-man scramble includes a full lunch, 18 holes of golf, prizes and a dinner program. You do not have to be an ACC or SEC alum to play, just come out and have fun while helping CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) in its mission of advocating for abused and neglected children.

Forum to Look at Mental Health Courts

The public is invited to attend a forum on Criminal Justice and Mental Health “A Mental Health Court for Hamilton County,” next Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center in Chattanooga. “A mental health court in Hamilton County will significantly reduce costs and improve public safety by connecting mentally ill defendants with community resources,” Judge Christie Sell said. “The goal is to reduce the likelihood of continued crime by stabilizing these individuals, who cost more than 7 times more to jail and who are subject to worsening mental conditions when incarcerated.” The Chattanoogan has more.

Roane County Lawyer Censured

Roane County lawyer Kent Lowery Booher was censured on July 15 after the Tennessee Supreme Court found that he failed to maintain reasonable communication with a client he was representing in a civil appeal. The court also found that Booher failed to inform his client that the appeal had been denied. Because the client did not learn of the adverse decision for two months, he was unable to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Download the BPR notice.

TBA Members Now Save with UPS

As a TBA member you now can save up to 36 percent on UPS Next Day Air and up to 18 percent on UPS Ground Shipping! Visit UPS online to learn how this new member benefit can deliver greater efficiencies for your firm. Already a UPS customer? You also are eligible for this discount once you register your account on the UPS' TBA discount site.


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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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