Haslam: No Notice for Immigrant Children Sent to State

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Gov. Bill Haslam is protesting the placement of 760 illegal immigrant children in Tennessee without any notification to state officials. “It is unacceptable that we became aware via a posting on the [Department of Health and Human Service] website that 760 unaccompanied children have been released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to sponsors in Tennessee without my administration’s knowledge,” Haslam wrote. “Not only was our state not informed prior to any of the children being brought here, I still have not been contacted and have no information about these individuals or their sponsors other than what was posted on the HHS website and subsequently reported by media.” Humphrey on the Hill has the full text of the letter.

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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
07 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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 Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Petitioner/Appellant Woodrow Beamer Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, self-represented.

No brief filed on behalf of Respondent/Appellee Jean T. Beamer.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves dismissal of a complaint. The plaintiff filed this declaratory judgment action, seeking a declaration that the 30-year marriage of his deceased father was void. The plaintiff asserted in the complaint that the allegedly void marriage interfered with his right to inherit from his deceased father. The defendant widow of the deceased father filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that she and the deceased father had resided in Mississippi for over 30 years and asked the trial court to dismiss the petition for lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction. The trial court found that jurisdiction over the matter was proper in Mississippi and dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We vacate the order of dismissal and remand for preliminary factual findings necessary for effective appellate review of the trial court’s decision.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James R. Becker, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant Lisa Doyle.

John D. Burleson, V. Latosha Dexter, and A. Blake Neill, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee Town of Oakland.

Judge: KIRBY

This is an appeal from a dismissal for improper service of process. The plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant municipality. The summons and complaint were served on the municipality’s finance director. In its answer, the municipality asserted improper service of process for failure to serve either the municipality’s chief executive or its city attorney. Later, the municipality filed a motion for summary judgment. The motion asserted that, because service of process was insufficient under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 4.04, the complaint was time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the municipality. The plaintiff appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Brandon Layne Morrow and John E. Winters, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Town of Crossville Housing Authority.

Christopher Dunn Heagerty and Lisa Jellison Hall, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Adren Greene, John A. Murphy, Paul A. Murphy, III and Murphy Development, LLC


The buyers of an apartment complex brought this action against the sellers for breach of contract and intentional misrepresentation after discovering that several representations made by the sellers in the transactional documents were false. The buyers challenge the propriety of the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants. After review, we conclude that the defendants are entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiff’s breach of contract claims, and that Paul Murphy and John Murphy are entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiff’s intentional misrepresentation claims. As to the remainder of the defendants, we conclude that summary judgment on the plaintiff’s intentional misrepresentation claims was improper because they did not meet their initial burden of production on summary judgment. We affirm in part and reverse in part the trial court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Ronald Terry, Pikeville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Jennifer L. Brenner, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Tennessee Department of Correction, Roland B. Colson, John Fisher, Sandra Hall, Derrick D. Schofield, Bill Smith, and Jason Woodall.


An inmate in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction filed this petition for common law writ of certiorari challenging his placement in involuntary administrative segregation. He contends his placement in administrative segregation is punitive, and violates his constitutional due process rights as well as Department rules. The respondents assert that his placement in administrative segregation was non-punitive because it was necessary for the safety of staff and other inmates; respondents also assert that a writ of certiorari is not the appropriate means to challenge a non-punitive action. Following a review of the record, the trial court dismissed the petition. Finding no error in the trial court’s determination that the inmate’s placement was non-punitive and that, as such, the common law writ of certiorari was not the proper means of challenging his status, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Russell E. Edwards, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner/Appellant, Barry Craig Taylor.

Jeffrey Spark, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Respondent/Appellee, Sarah Ann McClintock.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves a Tennessee court’s jurisdiction to modify a parenting order entered by a court in another state. The parties were divorced in Florida, and the Florida court designated the mother as the primary residential parent of the parties’ only child. Soon thereafter, the father moved to Tennessee. Years later, after many parenting disputes, the Florida court entered an order granting the father “make-up” parenting time by allowing the child to live in Tennessee with the father for a defined period of time that exceeded six months. At the same time, the Florida court granted the mother permission to relocate to Alabama. After the child had lived with the father in Tennessee for over six months in accordance with the Florida order, the father filed a petition in the Tennessee trial court below, seeking to modify the Florida parenting plan to designate him as the primary residential parent. The trial court held that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to modify the Florida parenting order under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The father now appeals. We reverse the Tennessee trial court’s holding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the father’s Tennessee custody petition, and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert L. Arrington, Andrew T. Wampler, and Sarah B. Ellsworth, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Darrell Trigg.

W. Challen Walling and Wade W. Massie, Bristol, Tennessee, for the appellees, Little Six Corporation dba Short Mountain Silica, J.D. Nicewonder, R.L. Wallen, and David Lester.


The issue in this wrongful termination action is the enforceability of an arbitration clause in an agreement between the plaintiff employee and his former employer. Plaintiff executed an employment agreement in 2007. Employer terminated plaintiff without cause in April 2012. He brought this action alleging common law retaliatory discharge and violations of the Tennessee Public Protection Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act. Employer filed a motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiff argued that the arbitration clause is unenforceable because it is unconscionable due to the “excessive” and “prohibitive” costs of arbitration. The trial court found that the agreement had been freely negotiated and was neither a contract of adhesion nor unconscionable. We affirm the judgment of the trial court enforcing the agreement and ordering arbitration.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James H. Price, W. Allen McDonald, and Michael R. Franz, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edna Lee Weaver.

Alexandra Coulter Cross, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Diversicare Leasing Corp., Diversicare Management Services Co., and Advocat, Inc.


Edna Lee Weaver (“plaintiff”) was employed as a bookkeeper for the Briarcliff Health Care Center, a nursing home facility in Oak Ridge. After plaintiff’s employment was terminated, she brought this action against her former employer alleging (1) common law retaliatory discharge; (2) violation of the Tennessee Public Protection Act, (“TPPA”), Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-304 (2008 & Supp. 2013); and (3) violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”), Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-301 (2011). The trial court granted the employer summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff failed to show a causal link between the conduct alleged to be protected, i.e., speaking out against alleged harassment and discrimination against other Briarcliff employees, and her termination. The court further held that the employer established legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for plaintiff’s termination, and that plaintiff failed to present any evidence tending to show that there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether these reasons were pretextual. We affirm.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Mark L. Peck, Pro Se (on appeal), and Andrew N. Hall, Wartburg, Tennessee (at hearing), for the appellant, Mark L. Peck.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and H. Greeley Wells, Jr., Retired District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Mark L. Peck, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, arguing that newly discovered evidence of the unreliability of an FBI agent’s firearms testimony entitles him to a new trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Mack Garner, District Public Defender (at hearing), for the appellant, Michael Anthony Skettini.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Clinton Fraizer, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Michael Anthony Skettini, appeals as of right from the Blount County Circuit Court’s revocation of his probation and order of confinement for one year. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his probation based upon the “limited evidence” of driving under the influence (DUI) presented at the revocation hearing and that a “lesser period of split confinement . . . would have been more reasonable” under the circumstances. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s revocation of the Defendant’s probationary sentences and order of confinement.

FedEx Could Face New Drug Charges

FedEx could face new charges related to the alleged distribution and conspiracy to distribute drugs for illegal Internet-based pharmacies, the Memphis Business Journal reports. Last Friday, federal prosecutors in California said they intend to present a "superseding indictment" by Aug. 28, which would modify or add to the original indictment. The first indictment, filed July 17, included 15 counts of shipping or conspiracy to ship drugs to questionable online pharmacies.

Paper: Some Judges Missing Too Much Time

An investigation by the Commercial Appeal found that several Shelby County General Sessions judges have missed up to 18 percent of their court sessions from 2009 to 2013 with lawyers volunteering to act as special judges in their absence. In addition, the paper found there are no specific rules governing attendance for judges. An editorial accompanying the report calls on the General Assembly to remedy the issue arguing that “excessive absences hurt the credibility of the judicial system.”

Nashville Keeps Revised ICE Program for Now

Two years ago, Nashville replaced the 287(g) program with a nationwide effort called Secure Communities. Recently, other cities that had signed up for the program have cast it aside, saying it is too expensive, targets minor offenders and exposes local governments to Fourth Amendment violation lawsuits. Advocates for the immigrant community say Nashville should stop participating as well. But for now that seems unlikely, reports the Tennessean. Mayor Karl Dean says local law enforcement have not reported any problems with the program, which allows metro officers to check an arrestee’s immigration status, hold him for 48 hours and arrange for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation if justified.

DA Praised for Work at Retirement Reception

Colleagues and friends of 23rd Judicial District Attorney General Dan M. Alsobrooks gathered last week at the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum in Dickson for a reception to honor his work. Local attorneys Jerry Smith and David Wolfe, along with state Rep. David Shepard, Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and TBI Director Mark Gwyn spoke about Alsobrooks’ character and work ethic. State Rep. Mary Littleton also presented Alsobrooks with a proclamation from the General Assembly recognizing his service. Alsobrooks will retire from office Aug. 31, after 24 years as the district attorney general. The Tennessean has more on his career and the reception.

Opinion: Campaign to Replace Justices is 'Harmful' to System

Commercial Appeal columnist Otis Sanford writes in Sunday’s paper that while Ron Ramsey is correct that politics and the courts are often intertwined, that reality does not “excuse the political shenanigans he’s pulling to try to oust three members of the Tennessee Supreme Court.” Sanford goes on to argue that “Ramsey’s vengeful campaign is harmful to our court system” and that he is “skewing the facts to poison conservative-leaning voters against the justices, knowing full well that — because of judicial canons — they cannot respond in kind.”

Chief Justice Wade Releases Own TV Ad

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade released his first solo campaign ad last week, Knoxnews reports. The clip features him spending time with family and working at his desk while a narrator says, “Work, family and faith define Gary Wade, chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.” Watch the ad here.

Talk Show Looks at Judicial Ad War

This weekend's edition of Informed Sources on News Channel 3 looks at the ad war heating up the airwaves during this judicial election cycle. Host Richard Ransom interviews three guests about the campaign to unseat three state Supreme Court justices. All agree the effort sets a dangerous precedent for the future of the legal system.

League of Women Voters Offers Voting Resources

The League of Women Voters of Tennessee has released a number of resources to help voters understand the judicial retention election process, the Tennessean reports. Handouts include an explanation of retention elections, tips for being an informed voter, frequently asked questions about the upcoming election and an overview of the general election ballot. The TBA has added these documents to its Judicial Selection Information Center, which provides a host of resources for the upcoming election, including nonpartisan information from the Informed Voter Project.

Retired Memphis Lawyer, Corporate Executive Dies

Retired Memphis lawyer and TBA senior counselor Walter Bernard Hill died July 21. He was 85. A graduate of the University of Memphis School of Law, Hill was an avid supporter of Memphis football, basketball and baseball, was a member of the Highland Hundred and served on the athletic department’s Scholarship Endowment Board. In addition, through his charitable giving, the Thompson-Hill Chair of Accounting was endowed at the business school. Hill was a certified public accountant and chief financial officer at the investment firm UMIC. For more than 20 years following his retirement, he and his wife served each year at the Jordanian Bedouin Medical Hospital. Services were held last week. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Bernard Hill Missions Fund, First Evangelical Church, 735 Ridge Lake Blvd., Memphis, TN 38120. The Commercial Appeal has more on his life.

Free Conference Focuses on Death Scene Investigations

The Forensic Institute for Research and Education (FIRE) is hosting a free two-day conference on death scene investigations Aug. 13-14 on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. The program, sponsored through a federal Department of Justice grant, will address topics such as the role of the medical examiner, forensic anthropology, mass fatalities, drug overdose cases and child death investigations. Speakers include representatives from area district attorney and medical examiners’ offices. Download an agenda or handout for the event.

Shelby County Lawyer Reinstated

The Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated Shelby County lawyer William T. Maxwell to the practice of law on July 25 subject to three conditions: he must engage a practice monitor for three years, undergo evaluation by the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) and comply with any recommendations from the agency. Maxwell was suspended on Jan. 7 for a period of 15 months, retroactive to July 19, 2012. On Jan. 15, he petitioned the court to reinstate his license. Download the BPR notice.

Roane County Lawyer Suspended

Roane County lawyer Patricia Donice Butler was suspended on July 28 for nine months, but the court allowed her to serve all but 90 days on probation so long as she completes an additional 12 hours of continuing legal education, engages a practice monitor, confers with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) and complies with all of its recommendations. The court acted after receiving six complaints that Butler failed to act with competence and diligence, failed to adequately communicate with clients and failed to expedite litigation. Download the BPR notice.

Kentucky Lawyer Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Kentucky lawyer Edmund Victor Smith on July 25 after finding that he failed to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. The suspension will remain in effect until dissolution or modification by the court. Download the BPR notice.

Reduced-Rate Display Ads Available for Lawyers

Lawyers and firms now may promote outstanding achievements, new associates, new partners, mergers, awards or any other news in the Tennessee Bar Journal. These Professional Announcements are display ads, available at special, lower-rate pricing. Show your peers across the state about your accomplishments by placing an announcement in the Journal. For information, contact Debbie Taylor at (503) 445-2231 or Debbie@llm.com. To have an announcement placed in the next issue, please contact her as soon as possible.


Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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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