Attorney general says new ethics bill unconstitutional

A section of the newly adopted ethics bill -- which bans lobbyists from donating to legislative and gubernatorial candidates -- is unconstitutional, according to a opinions issued this week by the Tennessee attorney general. Download the opinions at http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2006/ag_06-24.pdf and http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2006/ag_06-25.pdf

Read reaction in The Tennessean at

http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2006602090397

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. To search all opinions in the TBALink database, go to our OpinionSearch page. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on TBALink at http://www.tba.org/getpassword.mgi.

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Howard H. Vogel
Knoxville, Tennessee
Editor-in-Chief, TBALink

JAMES STROUD, ET AL. v. SHELBY COUNTY CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Martin W. Zummach, Assistant Shelby County Attorney, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shelby County Civil Service Commission.

Darrell O’Neal, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, James Stroud and Eric Thomas.

Judge: DAVID R. FARMER

Shelby County terminated the employment of Eric Thomas and James Stroud. Upon writ or certiorari, the Shelby County Chancery Court reversed, and Shelby County appeals. We reverse.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2006/stroudj020906.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL ORTIZ

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

David Bell and Michael Johnson, Assistant Public Defenders (at trial), and Garland Ergüden, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal), for the appellant, Michael Ortiz.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Brian C. Johnson, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and J. Robert Carter and Valerie Smith, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: ALAN E. GLENN

The defendant, Michael Ortiz, was found guilty by a Shelby County Jury of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, to wit: cocaine over 300 grams. He was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to twenty years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues the trial court erred in denying: (1) his motion to suppress evidence obtained from a search of his vehicle; and (2) his motion to suppress his statement given to police. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/ortizm020906.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DENNIS D. PLEMONS, SR.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Kristi M. Davis, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Charles B. Hill, II, Kingston, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Dennis D. Plemons, Sr.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; J. Scott McCluen, District Attorney General; and D. Roger Delp, Assistant District Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: JOSEPH M. TIPTON

A Roane County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Dennis D. Plemons, Sr., of driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor, and the trial court sentenced him to eleven months and twenty-nine days with all but five days suspended. On appeal, the defendant contends the evidence is insufficient. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/plemonsd020906.pdf


LORENZO PORTER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Lorenzo Porter, pro se.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Seth P. Kestner, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS

The Petitioner, Lorenzo Porter, appeals the trial court's denial of his motion to reopen his post-conviction or, in the alternative, requesting habeas corpus relief. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the trial court's denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Petitioner has not established that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief. Moreover, this Court is not vested with jurisdiction to entertain a request for an appeal of a denial of a motion to reopen a post-conviction petition. Accordingly, we grant the State's motion and affirm the judgment of the lower court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/porterl020906.pdf


A.T. PRUITT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Vicki M. Carriker, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, A.T. Pruitt.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Seth P. Kestner, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Michelle Parks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: ALAN E. GLENN

The petitioner, A.T. Pruitt, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing his trial counsel was ineffective in communicating to him or preparing him for trial, which resulted in him entering guilty pleas that were neither knowing or voluntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/pruitta020906.pdf


VICTOR THOMPSON v. DAVID MILLS, WARDEN, ET AL.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Victor Thompson, Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; and Elizabeth T. Rice, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Victor Thompson, appeals the denial of habeas corpus relief contending that: (1) his sentence was outside the applicable range and was, therefore, illegal; and (2) that the indictment was fatally defective. Upon review, we conclude that the defendant’s sentence was within the agreed range and that the remaining issue is waived, as it is raised for the first time on appeal. Therefore, we affirm the denial of habeas relief in accordance with Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/thompsonv020906.pdf


BRUCE M. VANN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

J. Colin Morris, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bruce M. Vann.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Blind Akrawi, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Alfred L. Earls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Bruce M. Vann, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, contending that the trial court erred in finding that counsel rendered effective assistance at trial. Upon review, we conclude that the sole issue raised by the petitioner on appeal has been waived for failure to support it with argument or citations to the appellate record. Therefore, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief, pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/vannb020906.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ADAM F. WESTER

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

J. Thomas Marshall, Jr., Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Adam F. Wester.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Blind Akrawi, Assistant Attorney General; James N. Ramsey, District Attorney General; and Janice G. Hicks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: NORMA MCGEE OGLE

An Anderson County Criminal Court jury convicted the appellant, Adam F. Wester, of first degree felony murder in the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, and the trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment. The appellant appeals, claiming (1) that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to hear about prior injuries to the victim; (2) that the trial court improperly admitted into evidence photographs of the victim’s body; (3) that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on the mens rea element of the crime; (4) that the trial court erred by refusing to give a special jury instruction on “accident”; (5) that the trial court erred by giving sequential jury instructions; and (6) that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Upon review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/westera020906.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TERRANCE WILKINS and

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert Wilson Jones, Shelby County Public Defender; Phyllis Aluko, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); and Michael Johnson, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Terrance Wilkins.

Charles Waldman, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Hughlett.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Seth P. Kestner, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Ray Lepone, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: ALAN E. GLENN

The defendants, Terrance Wilkins and Christopher Hughlett, were convicted, respectively, of two counts of robbery and two counts of aggravated robbery. Wilkins was sentenced to consecutive terms of four years for each robbery conviction; and Hughlett was sentenced to consecutive terms of eleven years for each aggravated robbery conviction. On appeal, Wilkins argues that this court should consider all of the claims raised by his motion for new trial, even though it was untimely; that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences; and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the verdicts. Hughlett argues on appeal that the testimony of a codefendant was not sufficiently corroborated; that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; and that the trial court erred in sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of conviction of both defendants but modify Wilkins’ sentences to be served concurrently, rather than consecutively.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/wilkinst020906.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News

Legal News
State reaches agreement with We the People in UPL case
Tennessee Attorney General Paul G. Summers has reached an agreement with We The People, a self-described "legal document preparation company," which the state had sued alleging violations of the Tennessee unauthorized practice of law statutes and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.
Read about the settlement
Suicide in legal profession, mourning, subjects of gathering
In attempting to cope with the death of Nashville lawyer Drake Holliday, who took his own life, members of the legal community are invited to come together to support each other and to learn about the epidemic of suicide in the legal profession. The Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and specialized critical incident management clinicians will facilitate a process to help people better understand, manage, and work through this difficult time. Join them Feb. 13, at 3:30 p.m. at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Courtroom One, Second Floor, Customs House, 701 Broadway, Nashville, for a follow-up critical incident stress debriefing.
Learn about the program
ABA meets in Chicago
The midyear meeting of the American Bar Association meets this week in Chicago. Tomorrow President Michael S.Greco will discuss domestic surveillance and more at a 1 p.m. news conference.
Get details of the meeting.
Legislative News
Commission on Civics Education proposed
Civics education in Tennessee would get a new emphasis under legislation introduced Wednesday by Senator Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville). The bill would create a new Commission on Civics Education administratively attached to the state Department of Education. The Tennessee Legal Community Foundation, the charitable arm of the Tennessee Bar Association, conducts an extensive program of  law-related education, and would appoint one of the commission members. Senator Woodson, a lawyer, chairs the Senate Education Committee. The commission would research civic education and make recommendations for improvement.
Read the bill.
Cy pres awards could benefit legal aid
Cy pres. Do you remember that quaint term from law school?  Pronounced "see pray,"  it literally means "as near as possible." The doctrine has come to be used to allow a court, exercising its equitable powers, to do what would be as near as possible to the right thing. Thus, if a testator wants to make a gift to a non- existent entity the court may give it to a similar entity or in trying to fashion a remedy for the benefit of a class to redirect the damages to a fund for the purpose of benefiting the class members indirectly.

Legislation introduced yesterday by House Judiciary committee Chair Joe Fowlkes (D- Cornersville)  and expected to be sponsored by Senator Curtis Person (R- Memphis), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee would set up a cy pres fund in the State Treasurer's office to receive and administer donations and class action residuals for the benefit of civil legal services and pro bono programs .
Learn more about the bill
Track legislation of interest to Tennessee attorneys
The TBA Action List tracks bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in. This means it has either initiated the legislation, taken a position on the bill or has a policy on the issue. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.
TBA Bill Tracking Service

 
 
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