Kelsey Sets Hearings on Criminal Justice System

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, says he will hold three hearings on criminal justice issues during its study session Sept. 15-16 in Nashville. The hearings will look at the current state of criminal justice in Tennessee, what other states are doing to reform their systems, and suggested changes to Tennessee law. Issues to be addressed include truth in sentencing, pretrial release, reentry programs, probation and parole reform, community-based corrections and reduction in recidivism rates, reports. In announcing the hearings, Kelsey noted that Tennessee has not comprehensively evaluated its criminal justice system in over 20 years and could “learn from other states that have successfully used data to reduce costs and increase safety.”

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
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

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TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Samuel P. Helmbrecht, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, 1st Choice Spine & Rehab, P.C.

R. Kreis White, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Aaron Schwartz.


This case arises from a personal injury lawsuit in which a plaintiff sought damages for injuries she sustained in a car accident. The defendant driver requested documents from plaintiff’s healthcare provider. The healthcare provider failed to produce all of the requested documents and was held in civil contempt. As sanctions, the trial court, inter alia, discharged the healthcare provider’s fees for medical services charged to the plaintiff and held the provider in violation of certain chiropractic regulations. On appeal, the healthcare provider asserts that the trial court lacks authority to discharge the healthcare provider’s fees or to find it in violation of the chiropractic regulations. We agree that the trial court erred, and we vacate that portion of the trial court’s order discharging the fees for medical services and finding a violation of the chiropractic regulations.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael J. Collins, Asst. Public Defender, Shelbyville, TN, for the Appellant, Jeremy Jones Davis.

Robert Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General Criminal Justice Division, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant appeals a jury verdict of guilty of aggravated burglary and theft, alleging the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law. The defendant also alleges the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

With Retention Vote Decided Focus Turns to Amendment 2

With all three Tennessee Supreme Court justices retained for another term, the attention in judicial politics now turns to constitutional amendment No. 2 on the November ballot, the Nashville Business Journal reports. And those who found themselves on opposing sides of the retention vote will make strange bedfellows in support of the amendment. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and state Sen. Brian Kelsey, who both worked for defeat of the justices, support the amendment. Ramsey defending his positions saying “a true election” would give legitimacy to the retention election process and “actually help the amendment pass.” Similarly, Kelsey said the effort to defeat the justices “shows a retention election is a real election and the people will have a voice if the amendment passes.”

Lawyers Enter 4th District GOP Primary Fight

Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Sen. Jim Tracy are now talking with lawyers as the two 4th Congressional District GOP primary foes prepare for a potential legal fight over DesJarlais razor-thin victory last week, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The move comes after a tumultuous election in which just 35 votes separate the two, though the results have not yet been certified and a number of provisional ballots remain outstanding.

TBI Investigating Polk Co. Vote-Buying Claims

The 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) are investigating an alleged voter fraud case stemming from last week’s election, WRCB News 3 reports. Polk County Election Commission officials say they received dozens of voter complaints in the weeks leading up to the election that voters were being bribed. Several local sources say cash and prescription pills were traded for votes.

State Fights Release of Execution Team Identities

State officials on Monday fought to block the lawyers for 10 death row inmates from getting information about who will serve on the lethal injection team that will execute the prisoners, the Tennessean reports. Appearing before the Court of Appeals, attorneys for the state argued that Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Claudia Bonnyman improperly ordered them to reveal the names of those who would execute prisoners. The inmates have challenged a 2013 law that makes all details about lethal injection secret. Bonnyman ruled in January the state had to provide the information to the attorneys but could keep it secret from the inmates and the public.

Did Obama Drop Supreme Court Hint?

President Barack Obama thinks he will have the chance to nominate at least one more Supreme Court justice before his term is up, according to comments made to Democratic supporters at a fundraiser Monday in Martha's Vineyard, CNN reports. Obama used the potential appointment to elicit support for Democratic candidates, who he said are needed to maintain control of the U.S. Senate so his picks would be confirmed. “That's why I need a Democratic Senate,” Obama said. “Not to mention the fact that we’re going to have Supreme Court appointments …” A White House official later said Obama “meant to convey the important role the Senate would play in the event of a Supreme Court vacancy” not about “a specific vacancy.”

DA Seeking Potential Victims in Alleged Cemetery Scam

The Third Judicial District Attorney General’s office in Rogersville would like to interview anyone who purchased a grave plot or mausoleum vault at the Hawkins County Memorial Gardens (HCMG) — particularly those sold by former owner/operator Vickie Ringley, who is accused of taking money for work that was not performed. The request is part of an ongoing fraud investigation at the cemetery. An investigator with the attorney general’s office will be in Rogersville this week to speak with potential victims. The Times News has more on the story.

Deputy DA Honored for Child Abuse Prevention Work

The J. Stephens Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse in Crossville recently honored Deputy District Attorney Gary McKenzie for his years of advocacy on behalf of Upper Cumberland children at risk of abuse and neglect. In presenting the award, the center noted that McKenzie has worked for more than a decade to seek justice for victims of abuse/neglect, has been part of several grass-roots efforts to improve the services available to victims and has worked to strengthen laws concerning abuse and neglect. McKenzie has worked in the district attorney’s office since graduating from law school in 2000. He was named deputy in 2007. Last week he won election as 13th Judicial District Criminal Court Judge, Part I. See a photo of the award presentation in the Crossville Chronicle.

New ABA President Calls for Innovation in Delivery of Legal Services

South Carolina lawyer William C. Hubbard accepted the gavel as the new president of the ABA and urged lawyers to join him in his signature effort: closing the legal services delivery gap for the poor. Hubbard outlined several ways to accomplish that goal, including connecting lawyers, judges and academics with technology innovators who are spending millions of dollars on finding new ways of providing legal services. “We must marry this creativity with our own justice system to provide greater access while protecting the public,” he said. He also noted that several specific issues “clamor for our attention and rational evidence-based solutions.” These include a criminal justice system that is breaking down fiscally, the continued imprisonment of low-level offenders, the number of mentally ill in prison, the need for more pro bono representation for domestic violence victims, and the balance between privacy and security. Read more about Hubbard’s goals for the year in the ABA Journal.

ABA House of Delegates Acts on Range of Issues

The ABA Annual Meeting continued yesterday with a number of actions by the group’s House of Delegates. Among the resolutions adopted were those calling for appellate courts across the country to adopt rules permitting in-house counsel to provide pro bono services in the jurisdiction where they work; urging states and local governments to develop written contingency plans to preserve the election process in the event of an emergency; and urging all law schools to create veterans’ law clinics to ensure veterans’ legal needs are met. The body also approved new standards and procedural rules to be used in the accreditation process for U.S. law schools.

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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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