TBAToday Newsletter 05-15-2012


TBA Board to Fill Open Seats; Apply by June 4

Two open positions will be filled by the Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors at its June 9 meeting. The first — 6th District Governor — is an open seat created when no one sought to be considered for it by the deadline. The 6th District covers Giles, Lawrence, Humphreys, Houston, Wayne, Perry, Cheatham, Stewart, Lewis, Hickman, Montgomery, Sumner, Maury, Dickson, Robertson and Williamson counties.

The second position is the unexpired term for the 7th District Governor. This vacancy is being created by Jonathan Steen assuming the vice president position. The 7th District covers Henry, Decatur, Hardeman, McNairy, Carroll, Chester, Hardin, Madison, Henderson, Fayette and Benton counties. The individual who fills this seat will serve for one year. Under the new configuration of the board adopted this year, the 7th and 8th districts will be combined into a new 7th District and a second grand division governor seat will be created.

In accordance with Article 47 of the TBA Bylaws, the board may fill the vacancies, with terms through Spring 2013, by election at its June 2012 meeting. Individuals interested in being considered for either of these positions should email TBA Executive Director Allan F. Ramsaur or call him at (615) 383-7421 by June 4.

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
03 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Sue A. Sheldon, Senior Counsel, Health Care Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tennessee Department of Human Services.

K. Karl Spalvins, J. Terry Holland, and Shannon M. Holland, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Mary Claudine Holland and Robert Shields Holland.


This appeal involves the “spousal impoverishment” provision of the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988. Mary Claudine Holland and Robert Shields Holland were married in 1967. Robert Shields Holland was placed in a nursing home for health-related problems in 2009. Mary Claudine Holland filed a complaint for separate maintenance in which she sought division of the marital assets and income. The trial court granted her request and filed an order reflecting its decision. The Tennessee Department of Human Services filed a motion to intervene and to set aside the order. The trial court denied the motions. The Tennessee Department of Human Services appeals. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand with instruction to the court to reconsider the complaint for separate maintenance with the Tennessee Department of Human Services present as an intervening party.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


J. Neil Thompson, Huntingdon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mother.

Daniel E. King, Camden, Tennessee, for the appellant, Father.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter and Shanta J. Murray, Assistant Attorney General, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


The trial court terminated parents’ parental rights on the grounds of severe child abuse. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


L. Lee Kull, Alcoa, Tennessee, for the appellants, Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers Supply, Inc., Ray Proffitt, and Mac Proffitt.

Melanie E. Davis, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Beth Proffitt.


This appeal arises from the termination of Beth Proffitt (“Plaintiff”) from employment at Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers Supply, Inc. (“the Corporation”). Plaintiff, a minority shareholder in the Corporation, sued the Corporation, as well as the other shareholders Mac Proffitt and Ray Proffitt (collectively, “the Defendants”) in the Circuit Court for Blount County (“the Trial Court”). The Trial Court bifurcated the issues of liability and damages. Plaintiff alleged, among other things, that the Defendants breached their fiduciary duty to her. After a trial on the matter of liability, the Trial Court found the Defendants liable for breach of fiduciary duty. After the hearing on damages, the Trial Court awarded damages to Plaintiff, including lost salary and bonus. The Trial Court also awarded Plaintiff her attorney’s fees. The Defendants appeal. We find that the Trial Court did not err in finding that the Defendants did breach their fiduciary duty to Plaintiff. We, however, reverse the award of attorney’s fees to Plaintiff. Otherwise, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert B. Ledford, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The pro se petitioner, Robert B. Ledford, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis attacking his convictions of second degree murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and theft. On initial review, this court affirmed the coram nobis court’s summary denial because we concluded that coram nobis relief was not available to provide relief from a guilty-pleaded conviction. Robert B. Ledford v. State, No. E2010-01773-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App., Knoxville, May 4, 2011). The petitioner applied for permission to appeal this court’s decision with the Tennessee Supreme Court pursuant to Rule 11 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. On March 8, 2012, the supreme court granted the application for permission to appeal for the purpose of remanding the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the supreme court’s opinion in Wlodarz v. State, ___S.W.3d ___, No. E2008-02179-SC-R11-CO (Tenn. Feb. 23, 2012). Following our reconsideration, we conclude that the petitioner failed to present a justiciable claim warranting coram nobis relief and affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael Deshay Peoples, Jr., Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rob McGuire, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Davidson County Grand Jury indicted petitioner, Michael Deshay Peoples, Jr., for firstdegree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated robbery, and one count of aggravated kidnapping. The State dismissed one of the aggravated robbery counts. Following a trial on the remaining counts, a jury found petitioner guilty as charged and sentenced him to life in prison for felony murder. The trial court conducted a sentencing hearing on the remaining counts and ordered concurrent sentences of eighteen years at one hundred percent for especially aggravated robbery; ten years at thirty percent for aggravated robbery; and ten years at one hundred percent for aggravated kidnapping. This court affirmed the convictions and sentences, and the supreme court denied permission to appeal. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief by checking several boxes on the standard form, but he added no supporting facts. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition. Finding no error, we affirm the post-conviction court’s summary dismissal of the petition.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; James O. Martin, III, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Paul Edward Meyers, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Tehren Carthel Wilson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Benjamin C. Mayo, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Tehren Carthel Wilson, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of identity theft, a Class D felony, and theft of property, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to an effective term of twelve years, eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the trial court’s denial of his request to charge fraudulent use of a credit card as a lesser-included offense of identity theft. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand for entry of a corrected judgment in Count 3, identifying the defendant’s identity theft conviction as a Class D felony instead of a Class C felony.

Baumgartner Arrested on Federal Charges

Former Knox County Criminal Judge Richard Baumgartner was arrested on federal charges today after a federal grand jury indicted him on seven counts of failing to report felonious activity. He appeared in handcuffs in court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley and with his lawyer Don Bosch. In the state case, Baumgartner avoided jail time and a felony conviction when Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood granted him judicial diversion. His plea agreement barred the filing of additional state charges but did not preclude a federal prosecution. The News Sentinel has more

AG Asks Court to Block Baumgartner Retrials

The Tennessee attorney general's office is asking the state Supreme Court to deny retrials for three defendants in the 2007 torture and killing of a young Knoxville couple. The retrials had been granted by a special judge after revelations came to light that former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was abusing prescription painkillers at the time of the original proceedings. The AG’s office argues that while Baumgartner's conduct was "abhorrent," there is nothing in the record that indicates he mishandled the cases. Last month, the Court of Criminal Appeals declined to take up the attorney general's appeal. Learn more in the News Sentinel

Chattanooga Law Day Event Celebrates Local Lawyers

ABA President William T. Robinson III was the keynote speaker at the Chattanooga Bar Association's Law Day Luncheon, which featured the announcement of new Chattanooga Bar Foundation Fellows, presentation of awards and recognition of 38 new “Pillars of the Bar,” who have served the profession for 50 years or more. Jenny Smith Wright, a lieutenant with the Chattanooga Housing Authority Police, was awarded the 2012 Liberty Bell Award, while Angela A. Ripper, assistant vice president and senior counsel at the Unum Group, received the fourth annual Judge W. Neil Thomas III Paralegal Utilization Award. During last week's event, the bar also announced that Jack Jones, a junior at McCallie School, won first place in its 2012 Law Day Essay Contest. Jones went on to win second place in the statewide competition. Read more about the award winners on the bar’s website

2 Juveniles Escape in 2 Days

Two escapes in two days have some asking how Nashville's Department of Children's Services is handling juveniles in its custody. The first event took place Monday when an unrestrained teen was being transported to a vehicle. He was caught fairly quickly. The second incident occurred today when a teen was being transported from the Juvenile Justice Center to a facility in Shelby County. He remains on the run. Judge Adams Green responded quickly, with a new requirement that all DCS workers bring juveniles in and out of court using a secure sally port. WTVF News Channel 5 has more

Knoxville Lawyer Reinstated

Knoxville lawyer David A. Lufkin Sr. was reinstated to the practice of law on May 15. He had been suspended on Aug.18, 2009, for a period of two years, retroactive to Oct. 17, 2006. On Aug. 25, 2011, he filed a petition for reinstatement. The Supreme Court granted his request but also imposed a requirement that he engage a practice monitor for one year and pay the costs of the proceeding. Download the court's notice

KBA Sponsors Wine Event

The Knoxville Bar Association will host "Cheers for Charity" on May 31 from
 6 to 9 p.m. at the Knoxville Beverage Company. Tickets -– priced at $35 per person -– include a group wine tasting and food. Guests also may take part in a VIP tasting for an additional $15. The event will include a silent auction of wines and related items that will benefit Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The auction closes at 8 p.m.
 Register online at www.knoxbar.org or call the KBA at (865) 522-6522

Federal Public Defender Sought in Memphis

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is accepting applications for the position of Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Tennessee. The position, which is filled by the court, is located in Memphis and is vacant due to retirement of the incumbent. The successful candidate will serve a four-year term. Those interested should apply by June 15. A full public notice, application and qualification standards are posted online.


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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