Process to Select AG Now Open; Cooper Wants 2nd Term

The Tennessee Supreme Court today announced the application process for filling the position of state Attorney General and Reporter for the next eight years. Candidates should complete and submit an application and other required materials by noon Central Time on Aug. 29. The court will consider all qualified candidates and notify those who will continue in the selection process, which will include a public hearing in Nashville.The current Attorney General, Robert Cooper, said today he would seek a second term in office. In announcing his intentions Cooper said, “Tennesseans sent a clear message last week that they want an independent, nonpartisan judicial branch. That is how I have run the Attorney General’s office over the last eight years, and I am proud of our many accomplishments.” The Tennessean 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.

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

SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TN Supreme Court


CHA YANG v. NISSAN NORTH AMERICA, INC. ET AL.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

R. Steven Waldron (at trial and on appeal) and Terry A. Fann and Benjamin L. Parsley, III (at trial), Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cha Yang.

Randolph A. Veazey and Janis O. Mize, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Nissan North America, Inc. and Ace American Insurance Company.

Judge: WADE

The employee suffered bilateral shoulder injuries in January and March of 2008. After undergoing separate surgeries on each shoulder, the employee agreed to a voluntary buyout of his employment. Later, he filed suit for workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court awarded temporary total disability benefits and assessed a 90% permanent partial disability award after determining that the employee’s permanent partial disability benefits were not capped at one and one-half times the impairment rating. The employer appealed and, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, the case was referred to a Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel. The Panel ruled that the employee’s benefits should have been capped at one and one-half times his impairment rating and reduced the award of permanent partial disability benefits to 37.5%. We granted the employee’s motion for full Court review and have determined that because the employee acted reasonably by accepting the voluntary buyout for reasons related to his work injuries, the award for permanent partial disability is not subject to the one-and-one-half-times cap. The judgment of the Panel is, therefore, modified to the extent that the trial court’s award for permanent partial disability benefits is reinstated, but otherwise affirmed.


TN Workers Comp Appeals

RHONDA KYLE v. VOLUNTEER HOME CARE OF WEST TENNESSEE, INC.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

P. Allen Phillips, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Volunteer Home Care of West Tennessee, Inc.

Art D. Wells, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Rhonda Kyle.

Judge: DANIEL

An employee sustained a work-related injury to her back while working as a nursing assistant for her employer. The employee received medical care, returned to work, but experienced pain in performing her job. Two years later, the employee resigned, citing back pain related to her work. After an unsuccessful Benefit Review Conference, the employee filed an action for workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court determined that the employee did not make a meaningful return to work following her injury and awarded permanent partial disability benefits in excess of one and one-half times the employee’s anatomical impairment rating. The employer appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by concluding that the employee did not make a meaningful return to work. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TN Court of Appeals

MARCHELLE BUMAN, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF KENNETH JENKINS v. ALYCIA D. GIBSON, P.A., THOMAS PAUL EVANS, M.D., ANDREW H. LUNDBERG, M.D., AND PARIS SURGICAL SPECIALISTS, PLLC

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Al H. Thomas and Aaron L. Thomas, Memphis, Tennessee for Plaintiff/Appellant Marchelle Renee Buman, Executor of the Estate of Kenneth Jenkins.

William H. Haltom, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee for the Defendant/Appellee Thomas Paul Evans, M.D.

Judge: SUMMERS

This is a health care liability action involving a physician’s duties when supervising a physician’s assistant. The plaintiff alleged the supervising physician negligently supervised a physician’s assistant which resulted in the eventual amputation of the plaintiff’s leg. The physician moved for summary judgment, contending that he complied with all statutory duties. The plaintiff responded to this motion and simultaneously moved to amend her complaint to allege that the physician was vicariously liable for the negligent actions of the physician’s assistant. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s request to amend her complaint and granted the physician’s motion for summary judgment. Discerning no error, we affirm.


IN RE: CHRISTIAN G.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Warren Patrick Campbell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Courtney D.G.

Terrell Lee Tooten, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Antoinette N.Y.

Judge: FARMER

Father appeals the Juvenile Court’s ruling with regard to custody of his minor child. Because the court did not comply with Rule 52.01 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, we vacate its judgment and remand the matter for entry of an order with appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

MICHAEL BRANDON ADAMS v. ERIC QUALLS, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael Brandon Adams, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; and Sophia Lee, Senior Counsel, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Appellant, Michael Brandon Adams, 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. MARVIN HAROLD DORTON, II

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Bryce W. McKenzie (on appeal), Sevierville, Tennessee, and Francis X. Santore, Jr. (at trial), Greeneville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy E. Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Cecil Clayton Mills, Jr. and Ritchie Collins, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Marvin Harold Dorton, II, was charged with two counts of sale or delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance (counts 1 and 2), possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance with the intent to sell or deliver (count 3), and possession of a Schedule II controlled substance with the intent to sell or deliver (count 4). A Greene County Criminal Court jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant as charged, and the trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent sentences of six years for each of his convictions in counts 1 and 2, four years for his conviction in count 3, and six years for his conviction in count 4, for an effective sentence of six years in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant-Appellant argues: (1) the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury in all four counts on the inference of casual exchange pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-419; (2) the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury in counts 1 and 2 on the lesser included offense of casual exchange pursuant to Code section 39-17-418(a); (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions in counts 3 and 4 because the State failed to prove that he possessed the drugs found in a safe; and (4) his sentence is excessive. Upon review, we remand the case for entry of corrected judgments in counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 to reflect that the trial court resentenced the Defendant-Appellant on May 3, 2013, after the presentence investigation report was amended, even though the Defendant-Appellant’s sentence did not change from the original sentence imposed. In all other respects, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHARLES T. FLETCHER, JR.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Frank L. Slaughter, Jr., Bristol, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Charles T. Fletcher, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Anthony W. Clark, District Attorney General; and Matthew Roark, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Charles T. Fletcher, Jr., was charged with the offense of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iii). While in Johnson County General Sessions Court, the Defendant-Appellant executed a waiver of his right to counsel, a waiver of his right to a preliminary hearing, and a waiver of his right to be tried only upon presentment or indictment of a grand jury. In Johnson County Criminal Court, he repeatedly informed the trial court that he had waived his right to counsel, that he had represented himself in a criminal case before, and that he wished to represent himself in this case. On the day of trial, the Defendant-Appellant signed a waiver of his right to be tried only upon presentment or indictment of a grand jury. The same day, the prosecutor and the Defendant-Appellant signed an information charging the Defendant-Appellant with aggravated assault. A Johnson County Criminal Court jury subsequently convicted the Defendant-Appellant as charged, and the trial court imposed a three-year probationary sentence. In this appeal, the Defendant-Appellant argues: (1) he failed to knowingly and voluntarily waive his right to counsel because (a) he was not informed of his charges, potential penalties, and rights and (b) because the trial court never inquired as to his competency to represent himself; (2) he failed to knowingly and voluntarily waive his right to be tried only upon presentment or indictment of a grand jury because he was unable to read the waiver, to have the assistance of counsel, or to have the court explain his right to presentment and indictment; (3) the trial court erred in failing to continue the case or to appoint counsel or advisory counsel when it became obvious that he could not properly represent himself; (4) the trial court erred in denying his motion to set aside the jury verdict; and (5) the cumulative errors caused by the absence of counsel and his inability to represent himself were so prejudicial as to deny his right to a fair trial and due process. Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court, vacate the Defendant-Appellant’s conviction, and remand the matter to the trial court for proceedings consistent with this opinion.


JAMAR MCFIELD v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

John Allen Brooks, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jamar McField.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Cameron Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Jamar McField, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his 2009 Hamilton County Criminal Court jury convictions of felony murder and aggravated child abuse. In this appeal, the petitioner claims that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.


Haslam Speaks Out on Judicial Retention Elections

Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday that he thinks voters feel comfortable both with the way the state currently selects judges and “the work that the Supreme Court is doing,” adding he believes the citizenry of the state wants to “keep our judiciary, as much as possible, free from just pure politics.” In addition, he noted that there was a “sense that groups came in from outside the state and people didn’t really like that very much.” Haslam also gave a vote of confidence to the Board of Judicial Conduct. “To me I feel like that committee does a good job of reviewing [judicial ethics complaints], and I am willing to stand with the decisions they make,” Haslam said. Read more in this story from TNReport.


Conservative Groups Undeterred by Tennessee Loss

Victory for Tennessee’s three sitting justices will not likely spell an end to conservative challenges to courts acorss the country, especially in races this year in Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas, the New York Times reports. The defeat in Tennessee, people on both sides of the debate say, does not necessarily portend losses elsewhere, and, as Tennessee Forum President Susan Kaestner says, the campaign was a worthy one. “We had nothing to lose."


What Will Retention Vote Mean for Fall Voting?

Tom Humphrey writes in Sunday’s Knoxnews that last week’s elections revealed increased strife between opposing factions of the Tennessee Republican party, and while Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has “been something of a middleman between the two factions,” the fact that he used his own campaign funds to finance the anti-retention effort may make him appear more aligned with the right wing of the party. Humphrey also suggests that voters saw last week’s election as a referendum on the judicial branch, but may see the fall elections as a referendum on the legislative branch of government and whether it deserves new powers granted to it in Amendment 2. Finally, he reports that Ramsey’s failure to unseat any of the justices “has led to speculation of diminished prestige…if not...actual influence over policy decisions.”


First Black Lawyer to Head TACDL

Memphis lawyer Sam Perkins was elected president of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (TACDL) last week. He is the first African-American to hold the title and one of few Memphians ever to preside over the organization. Perkins says he is anxious to use the position to continue helping young attorneys flourish, in large part because of his own humble legal beginnings. The Commercial Appeal has a profile of his life and career.


Praise, Criticism for Federal Court Hopeful

Longtime legal colleagues as well as rivals for an appointment to the federal court say Travis McDonough, current chief of staff to the Chattanooga mayor, is qualified to fill the post. Colleagues who worked with McDonough at Miller & Martin praised his abilities. But some who opposed a city decision to cut retiree benefits say their experience with McDonough gives them pause over his future fairness, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. In his role with the mayor, McDonough headed a task force to reduce the city’s liability. The group decided to cut some benefits for retired police and firefighters, who now have sued over the cuts. Some of those involved in the debate called McDonough “brash and hateful” and said “he ran roughshod over the union.” McDonough declined to comment on the story, according to the paper.


YLD Brings Home 3 Awards from Boston

The TBA YLD took first place in three award categories at the ABA Meeting in Boston this weekend. The awards recognize outstanding accomplishments during the previous bar year. The TBA YLD won first place in the Service to Public category for its Library Education Project, which under the leadership of Immediate Past YLD President David McDowell, focused on educating librarians across the state about the free legal resources available for those who need legal information and advice. The project focused on three free resources: OnlineTNJustice, LIFT and aLEGALz and was made possible by a generous grant from the Chattanooga law firm of Gearhiser Peters Elliott & Cannon. The group also took first place in the Minority Project category for its Diversity Leadership Institute, a six-month leadership program for Tennessee law students. Finally, the group won first place in the Comprehensive category, which evaluates all activities and programs undertaken during the year. See a photo from the event.


McIver Honored at ABA Events

Memphis attorney Harrison D. McIver II, executive director/CEO of Memphis Area Legal Services, was honored two times during the ABA Annual meeting in Boston. First, McIver received the 2014 Dorsey Award in recognition of exceptional work as a legal aid adviser. Later he was honored for his service to the Tennessee legal community at the Tennessee Reception, an event hosted by the TBA with support from the University of Tennessee College of Law, University of Memphis School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. See photos from the events.


Summerville Resigns From GOP Caucus

State Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, who lost his primary race last Thursday, has resigned from the Republican Caucus, the Associated Press reports. In a letter to Caucus Chair Bill Ketron, Summerville said he will be serving as an independent member of the Senate for the remainder of his term and asked that his resignation from the caucus be effective immediately. With all precincts reporting in District 25, former Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield had 42 percent of the vote compared to Summerville’s 16 percent. News Channel 5 has the story.


Money, Money, Money in August TBJ

In the August Journal, get some pointers on how to "take charge of your own economy" that will help you and your law practice. Also, our columnists cover banking and estate planning: Kathryn Reed Edge gives you the history of money and Eddy Smith explains some new trust options for married clients.


LAET’s Autocross Event in Knoxville This Month

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host a fundraiser at Knoxville’s Chilhowee Park on Aug. 16-17. The 4th Annual Solo in the Park Autocross competition is sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America and features sports car enthusiasts driving a timed precision course. More than 100 competitors are expected during the two-day event. All proceeds benefit Knoxville Family Justice Center and Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Driver registration is $35. Spectator admission is $5 per person or $10 per family. For a $10 donation, spectators may ride the course at competition speed with a participating driver. For more information visit the event website or call (865) 637-0484.


TBA Members Save at Office Depot

Save up to 60 percent on office supplies through the TBA's Office Depot benefit program! The TBA has partnered with this top national office supply company to offer discounted pricing for law firms large and small.


 
 

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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