Haslam Appoints 3 to Workers’ Comp Board

Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed three Workers’ Compensations Appeals Board judges, all effective Aug. 1. Marshall Davidson of Goodlettsville will have a six-year initial term, David Hensley of Chattanooga will have a four-year term and Tim Conner of Knoxville will have a two-year term. The workers’ compensation appeals board reviews interlocutory and final orders entered by workers compensation judges. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more.

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
05 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - 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

IN RE ADELYN B.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert W. Hawley, Paris, Tennessee, for the appellant, Avery B.T.

Anthony L. Clark, Paris, Tennessee, for the appellee, David E.B.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case arises out of the Mother’s request to relocate with the parties’ minor child. The trial court determined it was in the best interest of the child to remain in Tennessee with Father pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-6-108(c). We affirm the trial court’s best interest finding, and remand for entry of a permanent parenting plan naming Father the child’s primary residential parent and setting a parenting schedule taking into account Mother’s move.


DORIS GUYEAR, HEIR OF LEROY GUYEAR, DECEASED v. JOEY BLALOCK, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Ralph M. Bard, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for the appellant(s), Doris Guyear, Heir of Leroy Guyear, Deceased.

Russell Leonard, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellee(s), Joey Blalock, et al.

Judge: CANTRELL

The owner of a promissory note died, and his widow filed a complaint in the name of his estate to collect the unpaid balance, even though her late husband’s estate had never been opened. She subsequently amended her complaint to designate herself as the plaintiff in her capacity as her late husband’s wife and next friend. The obligors on the note filed a motion for dismissal, contending that the widow had not demonstrated that she was a proper plaintiff or that she had any right to collect on the note. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. We affirm.


BRYANT JENNINGS v. CITY OF MEMPHIS

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Prince C. Chambliss, Jr., Assistant City Attorney, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, City of Memphis

Clyde W. Keenan, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bryant Jennings

Judge: HIGHERS

This case involves the eligibility of a Memphis police officer for automatic promotion to thirty-year Captain. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the officer. However, because the officer was a temporary employee prior to the cut-off date set forth in the automatic promotion provision, we find that he is not entitled to automatic promotion. We reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of the officer and we grant summary judgment in favor of the City of Memphis. The case is remanded for further proceedings, as may be necessary, consistent with this opinion.


LINDA LASETER, Individually and on behalf of her deceased mother, ALICE H. CORR v. J. MARTIN REGAN, JR., in his capacity as Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF FERNANDO HERRERA, M.D.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Al H. Thomas, Aaron L. Thomas, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Linda Laseter, Individually and on behalf of her deceased mother, Alice H. Corr

Katherine M. Anderson, Hugh Francis, David M. Cook, Albert G. McLean, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, J. Martin Regan, Jr., in his capacity as Personal Representative of the Estate of Fernando Herrera, M.D.

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal involves a defendant’s attempts to discover certain financial information from the plaintiff’s medical expert in order to facilitate an inquiry into potential bias. The trial court entered several orders requiring the expert witness to provide the requested financial information, which related to his income and compensation, but the expert witness repeatedly failed to comply with the trial court’s orders. The trial court also ruled that the defendant would be permitted to question the expert witness about certain financial information during cross-examination at trial, and the expert witness communicated to the trial judge that he would refuse to answer any such questions. The trial court eventually excluded the medical expert as a witness and allowed the plaintiff time to find a replacement expert. When the plaintiff failed to identify another expert witness within the time allowed, the trial court dismissed the complaint. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.


IN RE ESTATE OF ARTHUR E. WAIR, JR.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David J. Callahan, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Sidney Wair, Ralph Wair, and Juanita Jackson.

Paul A. Gontarek, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Larry Mullins.

Judge: SWINEY

This appeal arises from alleged violations of the Tennessee Adult Protection Act (“TAPA”). Arthur E. Wair, Jr. (“Decedent”) executed a last will and testament leaving his entire estate to his friend and accountant, Larry Mullins (“Mullins”). After Decedent died, his siblings Sidney Wair, Ralph Wair, and Juanita Jackson (“Plaintiffs”) sued Mullins in the Circuit Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”) not as a will contest but instead alleging that Mullins had exercised undue influence over their brother to manipulate him into executing the will all in violation of TAPA. Mullins filed a motion to dismiss, which the Trial Court granted. Plaintiffs appeal. We hold, inter alia, that any claim for abuse or neglect under TAPA was barred by the one-year statute of limitations for personal torts, and that Plaintiffs otherwise failed to state a claim under TAPA. We affirm the Trial Court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE V. ROBERT LEE DRISKILL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

George H. Waters, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Lee Driskill.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Matthew Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Robert Lee Driskill (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and one count of violating the implied consent law. Pursuant to the Defendant’s plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days’ incarceration, to be suspended on supervised probation after the service of forty-eight hours’ confinement. In conjunction with his guilty plea, the Defendant reserved the following certified question of law: “Whether the officer’s conduct violated the Defendant’s rights under Article I, Section 7 or the Fourth Amendment when the officer through activating blue lights caused the Defendant to stop his moving vehicle and encounter the officer.” Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we hold that the Defendant is entitled to no relief. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


DANNY LEE GREENE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ashley D. Boyer, Jonesborough, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danny Lee Greene.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; and Anthony W. Clark, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Danny Lee Greene, appeals the Washington County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2007 conviction for second degree murder and his twenty-three-year sentence as a violent offender. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred by denying him relief because (1) juror bias existed and (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


KENNETH DEWAYNE JOHNSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth Dewayne Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Kenneth Dewayne Johnson, pled guilty to aggravated assault in Davidson County on November 17, 2011. On June 10, 2013, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief, alleging that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the foreman of the grand jury that issued the indictment was ineligible to serve for being a convicted felon. Petitioner also asserted that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and entered an unknowing and involuntary plea. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as untimely. On August 16, 2013, Petitioner, with the assistance of counsel, filed a second petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the statute of limitations should be tolled in his case because the ineligibility of the grand jury foreman was not made public knowledge until after the statute of limitations had expired and was, therefore, a “later-arising” ground for relief. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition, finding that the ineligibility of the grand jury foreman did not divest the trial court of jurisdiction and that Petitioner was not denied effective assistance of counsel. Petitioner appealed. Upon a thorough review of the law and the facts in this case, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.


MYRON L. JOHNSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Myron L. Johnson, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Appellant, Myron L. Johnson, appeals the trial court's summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAWAUNE MASSEY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

William Louis Ricker and Douglas L. Payne, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jawaune Massey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and Joseph Eugene Perrin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Jawaune Massey (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree premeditated murder and one count of first degree felony murder as to victim Nolan; one count of first degree premeditated murder and one count of first degree felony murder as to victim Alexander; one count of especially aggravated robbery; one count of criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery; one count of criminal conspiracy to possess more than 26 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver; one count of possessing more than 26 grams of cocaine for resale; and one count of maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are used or sold. For these crimes, the Defendant was sentenced to serve an effective term of two consecutive life sentences. In these consolidated appeals, the Defendant contends that the evidence was not sufficient to support his convictions. He also contends that the trial court (1) erred in consolidating offenses; (2) should have conducted a hearing to determine if a “stun belt” was a necessary restraint of the Defendant during trial; (3) should have instructed the jury that several witnesses were accomplices as a matter of law; and (4) should not have run his life sentences consecutively. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we reverse on grounds of insufficient evidence the Defendant’s conviction of criminal conspiracy to possess more than 26 grams of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver and his conviction of maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are used or sold. We affirm the remaining judgments.


CHARLES MIDDLEBROOK v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Douglas A. Trant (on appeal) and J. Liddell Kirk (at post-conviction hearing), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Middlebrook.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Andrea A. Kline, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Charles Middlebrook, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2011 convictions upon guilty pleas for theft valued more than $1000 but less than $10,000 and assault and his Range III eight-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that his guilty pleas were involuntarily entered because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Second-degree Murder by Unlawful Distribution of Illegal Drugs

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-07-23

Opinion Number: 72


Conservative Group Backs Wade for Retention

The Tennessee Conservative Union announced yesterday it is supporting Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade for retention in the Aug. 7 election, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The group, which led the move to reject former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Penny White in 1996, issued a statement decrying partisan politics in the court system and praising Wade for upholding the Constitution. The statement said nothing about Justices Cornelia Clark or Sharon Lee.


Opinion: Can We Have Impartial Courts if Judges Campaign?

In a New York Times opinion piece, attorney Dorothy J. Samuels ponders whether we can have impartial courts if judges campaign like ordinary politicians. Expensive state judicial elections are “destined to undermine the core American principle of fair and impartial courts,” she states. Samuels worries that if the campaign to oust Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee is successful, it may send an intimidating message to elected judges nationwide, who may hesitate to render correct but controversial rulings, especially near an election.


Bar Association Holds Retention Rally

The 15th Judicial District Bar Association hosted a rally in support of a YES retention vote for Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark Tuesday at Cumberland University in Lebanon, the Lebanon Democrat and Wilson County News reports. Attendees included Retired Justice William Koch and members of the local bench, bar and public. Justice Clark’s stop in Lebanon is one of many such rallies being held across the state in support of retaining Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Sharon Lee and Justice Clark.


GOP May Again Sweep Shelby Races

Shelby County Democrats are threatened with the prospect of being overtaken again by Republicans in the Aug. 7 elections due to a series of Democratic misadventures and GOP's substantial edge in financial resources, the Memphis Flyer reports. The publication profiles the candidates of key state and county races including the District Attorney race between incumbent Amy Weirich and former Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown.


Sample Democratic Ballot Omits Names

Not every candidate who claimed the Democratic nomination in the May county primaries is on the Shelby County Democratic Party’s endorsement ballot, Memphis Daily News reports. The sample ballot does not include Juvenile Court clerk candidate Henri Brooks, Circuit Court clerk nominee Rhonda Banks, Probate Court clerk candidate William Chism and County Clerk nominee Charlotte Draper. It also lists Wanda Halbert, the Democratic nominee for Criminal Court clerk, and Coleman Thompson, the Democratic nominee for register, in much smaller type than the other candidates, all suggesting questions of party unity continue to be an issue for Shelby Democrats.


BBC Examines the Death Penalty in Tennessee

A series of botched executions, shortages of drugs for lethal injections and moves in several states to abandon execution have reignited the debate in the U.S. about the death penalty. The most recent report of an Arizona inmate who gasped for more than an hour and a half during his execution is sure to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty, WATE notes. In a BBC radio program, correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan travels across Tennessee speaking with people on both sides of the debate about the legislature’s recently passed law re-introducing the electric chair if drugs for lethal injection become unavailable.


Bradley County Bar Elects New Leadership

Ashley L. Ownby has been elected as the new president of the Bradley County Bar Association. Joining Ownby in leading the association are Vice President and President-elect Jerry Hoffer, Secretary Daniel Clanton and Treasurer Rex Wagner. The Cleveland Banner has the story.


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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