Access to Justice Award Winners Announced

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services will present this year’s Access to Justice awards on Sept. 10 at its annual Equal Justice University. Former TBA President George T. “Buck” Lewis will receive the inaugural Janice M. Holder Award, named for retiring Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder. The award honors an individual who has advanced the quality of justice statewide by ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all. Theresa Vay-Smith of Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands will receive the B. Riney Green Award, which recognizes the advocate who has coordinated statewide efforts to improve the quality of legal services for low income Tennesseans. Charlie McDaniel, with Legal Aid East Tennessee, will receive the New Advocate of the Year Award honoring advocates who have excelled within their first five years in public interest law.

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
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 Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Allan J. Wade and Brandy S. Parrish, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, The City of Memphis and Memphis City Council.

Ricky E. Wilkins and Sharon H. Loy, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, John R. Wills, Jr.


Landowner filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court of Shelby County, seeking review of the City of Memphis City Council’s decision to deny the landowner’s petition to subdivide his Belle Meade Subdivision lot into two lots. The trial court reversed the City Council’s decision, finding that the landowner had satisfied the requirements for subdivision under the Uniform Development Code, and remanded the case for rehearing before the City Council. On remand, the City Council’s review was limited to the record established at the previous hearing. For the reasons discussed herein, we affirm in part and vacate in part, and remand to the trial court with instructions to remand to the City Council for reconsideration.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jason F. Hicks, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Lynn Horn.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Randy York, District Attorney General; and Anthony Craighead, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Michael Lynn Horn, was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder, reckless endangerment, and felony evading arrest. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve twenty years for the attempted second-degree murder conviction, four years for the felony evading arrest conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the reckless endangerment conviction, for a total effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appeals asserting that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for attempted second degree murder and felony evading arrest; (2) his sentence is excessive; (3) the trial court improperly denied access to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation personnel records for the two victims; and (4) the trial court erred when it denied his motion to have a new attorney appointed for his appeal. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


David Brady (on appeal), John B. Nisbet, III (at trial and on appeal), and April Craven (at trial), Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danny Ray Smith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Gary McKenzie and Amanda Hunter, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Cumberland County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Danny Ray Smith, of one count of rape of a child, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-five years to be served at 100%. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction; (2) the trial court erred by refusing to suppress his statement to police; (3) the trial court erred by allowing evidence of other sexual acts; (4) the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce into evidence drawings made by the victim before trial; (5) the trial court erred by allowing the State to lead the victim on direct examination; (6) the trial court erred by not forcing the State to give the defense a complete copy of the victim’s Department of Children’s Services records; and (7) the prosecutors’ closing arguments were improper. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the appellant’s conviction must be reversed because the trial court improperly allowed the State to present evidence of other sexual acts, the trial court improperly allowed the State to introduce into evidence drawings made by the victim, and the prosecutors gave improper closing arguments. Therefore, the case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

Federal Hearing Looms for TennCare Lawsuit

While a group of civil rights attorneys demands that TennCare officials turn over a series of documents related to delays to its enrollment process, TennCare attorneys yesterday called the motion an “11th-hour” attempt to gather information as a federal hearing looms, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (subscription required). During an Aug. 29 emergency hearing in Nashville, U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell will determine whether the lawsuit against the Medicaid agency will take on class-action status, and whether the 11 plaintiffs, and potentially hundreds of other Tennesseans, will get access to coverage while the lawsuit is argued — a process that could take months, the newspaper states.

Nashville-Based Prison Company Pays $260,000 Lawsuit

The largest private prison company in America paid $260,000 to a group of shift supervisors in Kentucky to settle claims that they were denied overtime, according to an agreement unsealed today. Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America paid the money in November to end a lawsuit brought by 25 employees of the now-shuttered Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's, Kentucky. The group claimed in a 2012 lawsuit that CCA denied them overtime after forcing them to work extra hours. CCA has denied the allegations. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has more.

Libertarians Challenge Ballot Access Law

The Libertarian Party of Tennessee has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging Tennessee’s ballot access law. According to the complaint, Daniel T. Lewis, the Libertarian Party’s candidate for Governor in the Nov. 7 general election, had to be identified as an Independent due to state laws requiring non-recognized minor political parties to petition for statewide status. The suit claims the requirements set an unconstitutionally early deadline, number of petition signatures and limited time for petitioning so as to force a candidate in a general election to file as an independent, because of its significantly lower requirements.

Chancellor Dismisses Legitimacy Questions

Newly-elected Knox County Chancery Court Judge Clarence E. Pridemore Jr. has dismissed suggestions from bloggers that he is not a legitimate resident of Knox County and that he does not have a real law office. In an email to the Knox News Sentinel, Pridemore, who is originally from Kentucky, stated that he rents his residence. Neighbors confirmed that he lives at the address listed on his qualifying petition. The newspaper also confirmed that he rents a small office on Baum Drive. 

DesJarlais Lead Holds as Votes Come In

Few provisional ballots remain to be counted in the 4th Congressional District race between U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Sen. Jim Tracy, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson said, "we believe it's statistically impossible" for Tracy to pick up the additional votes needed to win. "At this point we believe the senator should concede for the good of the district and the Tennessee Republican Party."

Virginia Lawyer Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended David Garrett Mullins Jr. of Wise County, Virginia, from the practice of law for one year to run concurrently with his prior disbarment. Complaints allege Mullins accepted a fee for representation in a criminal matter, and thereafter he failed to adequately communicate with his client. The complaint further alleged that he improperly advised his client to reject a plea offer and after the trial, his client was found guilty. View the BPR notice.

KBA’s Supreme Court Dinner Set for Sept. 3

The Knoxville Bar Association will host its annual Supreme Court dinner Sept. 3 at the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park to pay tribute to the justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The event will begin with a 6 p.m. reception, during which the KBA will recognize the district attorney and the five judges who are retiring this year. Dinner will follow at 7 p.m. Historian and story teller Jack Neely will be the featured speaker. Tickets are $50 each and tables of eight may be reserved in advance.

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.

Story on Lawyers' Primary Wins Omitted Beck

A story in Friday’s issue of TBA Today, which provided a summary of lawyers who prevailed in state House and Senate party primaries, did not include the election of Nashville real estate attorney Bill Beck as the Democratic nominee to fill the seat of retiring House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner. Beck defeated former Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Director Jennifer Buck Wallace and and Stephen Fotopulos, a Navy veteran and former executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. Beck will face Republican Brian Mason in the general election for House District 51. The Tennessean has more on the race.


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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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