TennCare debate extends to lawyer billing rates, details
Private attorneys working on behalf of the state to trim TennCare rolls are charging as much as $350 an hour, a rate significantly higher than the state customarily pays, reports the Tennessean. Some state lawmakers and the governor defended the expense, arguing it is a worthwhile investment in the long-term health of the TennCare program. Advocates contend that the state spent too much. Ready access to firm billing details also has been an issue of contention as the state says that invoices may include material that is confidential and privileged as attorney-client communication or attorney work product. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur is quoted in the story agreeing that the bills may contain confidential information and may reveal legal strategies. Read the full story here:
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.
00 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
07 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
03 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
TBA members can get the full-text versions of these opinions three ways detailed below.
All methods require a TBA username and password. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password,
you can look it up on-line at http://www.tba.org/getpassword.mgi
Here's how you can obtain full-text version. We recommend you download the Opinions to your computer and then
open them from there. 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. Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view
and save a plain-text version of the opinion. Browse the Opinion List area of TBALink.
This option will allow you to download the original version of the opinion.
Howard H. Vogel
| SANDRA BURTON v. KIZZY McCARY
Lowe Finney of Jackson for Appellant, Kizzy McCary.
Lanis L. Karnes of Jackson for Appellee, Sandra Burton.
This is a termination of parental rights case. Mother/Appellant appeals from the order of the
Juvenile Court at Madison County terminating her parental rights. Specifically, Appellant asserts that
the ground of persistence of conditions is not supported by clear and convincing evidence in the
record, and that termination of her parental rights is not in the best interest of the minor child.
Because we find clear and convincing evidence in the record to support the trial court's findings, we
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES H. CARTER
Robert G. Morgan, Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, James H. Carter.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Jennifer L. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General;
and David O. McGovern, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
The defendant, James H. Carter, pled guilty to two counts of burglary, Class D felonies; two counts
of vandalism over $1,000 but less than $10,000, Class D felonies; and one count of resisting arrest,
a Class B misdemeanor. The trial court imposed Range I sentences of four years for each burglary,
which were to be served consecutively, and four years for each vandalism, to be served concurrently.
The six-month sentence for resisting arrest was also ordered to be served concurrently. The effective
sentence is, therefore, eight years. In this appeal, the defendant asserts that the trial court erred by
ordering his sentences for the two burglary convictions to be served consecutively. The judgments
of the trial court are affirmed.
JONATHAN ELLIS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
Jonathan Ellis, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney
General; and Joe C. Crumley, Jr., District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
The petitioner, Jonathan Ellis, appeals pro se from the Johnson County Criminal Courtís
dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief from his convictions for thirteen counts of
aggravated rape, a Class A felony, and resulting sentences of twenty-five years on each
conviction to be served concurrently as a Range I, standard offender in the Department of
Correction. He claims his judgments of conviction are void because they classify his release
eligibility status at thirty percent in violation of statute. We conclude that four of the sentences
are illegal. Therefore, we affirm the trial courtís judgment in part, reverse the judgment in part,
and remand the case.
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ
Vanessa Saenz, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Alejandro Gonzalez.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Assistant Attorney General; Victor
S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Rob McGuire, Assistant District Attorney General,
for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.
The defendant, Alejandro Gonzalez, appeals a certified question of law following his guilty plea to
possession of cocaine, within 1,000 feet of a school, with intent to sell or deliver, an offense for
which he received an eight-year sentence to be served in a community corrections program. The
question certified for appeal is whether a Metro Nashville police officer had sufficient cause to
search a grocery bag the defendant was carrying, in which the officer found 26 grams of cocaine.
Because we hold that the search was lawful and that the fruits thereof were admissible, we affirm.
LEONARD MASONET v. KEVIN MYERS, WARDEN
Leonard Masonet, Clifton, Tennessee, pro se.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General;
and T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.
Petitioner, Leonard Masonet, filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus alleging that the length
of his sentence contravened the Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1989 and was therefore void.
The trial court summarily denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing, and Petitioner now
appeals. After a review of the record, we affirm the trial courtís dismissal of Petitionerís petition
for writ of habeas corpus.
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRADLEY NOBLE
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Kathy D. Aslinger, Assistant Attorney
General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kevin Allen, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.
Herbert S. Moncier, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bradley Noble.
The State appeals the Knox County Criminal Courtís dismissal of a presentment charging the
defendant, Bradley Noble, with the rape of a five-year-old child at a day care center. The
presentment charged the defendant, a former employee of the center, with digitally penetrating
the victimís anus on an unspecified day in March 1999. In a subsequent bill of particulars, the
State narrowed the time of the offense to between 3:20 and 5:29 p.m. on March 10, 1999.
During the defendantís first trial, which ended in a mistrial, defense counsel revealed in opening
arguments that he intended to prove that the defendant had not been alone with the victim during
the time alleged in the bill of particulars. Following the mistrial, the State filed a ďSuperceding
Bill of Particulars,Ē which reverted back to the general time frame of the presentment. The
defendant moved to dismiss the presentment, and the trial court granted the motion. We reverse
the order of the trial court, reinstate the presentment, and remand to the trial court for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANTHONY HOWARD SKELTON
R.H. Stovall, Jr., Public Defender, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony Howard Skelton.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General;
Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Doug Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for
the appellee, State of Tennessee.
This is a direct appeal from the order of the trial court revoking the Defendantís probation and
ordering him to serve his five-year sentence in the Department of Correction. The Defendant,
Anthony Howard Skelton, raises two issues on appeal: 1) there was insufficient evidence to establish
that he violated his probation, and 2) the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the Defendant
to serve his entire sentence in the Department of Correction. We affirm the judgment of the trial
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TERRANCE YVES SMOTHERS
Timothy R. Wallace, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terrance Yves Smothers.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; John
Carney, District Attorney General; and John Finklea, Assistant District Attorney General, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee.
Following a bench trial, the Defendant, Terrance Yves Smothers, was convicted by the Montgomery
County Circuit Court of aggravated robbery, misdemeanor theft, and two counts of especially
aggravated kidnapping. The Defendant received an effective twenty-year sentence for these
convictions. The single issue presented for our review is whether the testimony of the accomplice
was sufficiently corroborated. After a review of the record, we find that the evidence is insufficient
to corroborate the accompliceís testimony and, therefore, reverse and dismiss the judgments of
Tullahoma Airport Authority Commissioners
TN Attorney General Opinions
Opinion Number: 06-027
Applicability of Public Records Act to Utility District Records
TN Attorney General Opinions
Opinion Number: 06-028
Legal Protection of Self-Deploying Law Enforcement Officers and Authority of Law Enforcement
TN Attorney General Opinions
Opinion Number: 06-029
| Legal News
|Roane County judge fights federal jurisdiction
|Lawyers for Roane County General Sessions Court Judge Thomas Alva Austin, who was arrested in January on charges of extortion and money laundering, filed a motion yesterday in U.S. District Court to dismiss the charges, arguing that the alleged crimes do not belong in federal court as they were local in nature. Judge Austin has entered a plea of not guilty.
|Read more in the Knoxville News Sentinel
|Shelby Juvenile Court Judge Turner to step down
|Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Turner says he will not seek reelection, ending his 42-year career in public service.
|Read the Commercial Appeal story
|Tenn. lawyer honored for Law Day speech
|Nashville lawyer Jim Neal's 2005 Law Day speech was highlighted as an award winner at the National Conference of Bar Presidents luncheon in Chicago today. The speech won third place in the Finch Law Day Speech Awards given by the ABA Division for Public Education. The speech debunked the myths about juries and called for support for the jury system.
|Maury County considers moving courthouse
|The Maury County Commission is considering moving the county courthouse from the square in Columbia. Read more in this
|Columbia Daily Herald story
|Private probation firms must register
|The Tennessee Private Probation Services Council has promulgated rules that require all private entities providing probation services to be registered by the council. Violations are punishable by a civil penalty of up to $1,000 daily. Read about the council's actions in an article by the
|Cowart sworn in as assistant district attorney
|Christopher Cowart was sworn in today by Judge Rex Henry Ogle as assistant district attorney for the 4th Judicial District. Cowart was appointed by District Attorney Al Schmutzer Jr. to fill the vacancy created by Jessi Baker's departure.
|Bush nominates Wallace for appeals court
|President Bush has nominated Jackson, Miss., attorney Michael B. Wallace to a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed by the Senate, Wallace would assume the post held by Judge Charles Pickering, who left the court more than a year ago. The New Orleans-based court hears cases from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
|Read about Wallaceís career in the Memphis Commercial Appeal
|Legislators provide overview of agenda
|Yesterday, legislators from both parties outlined major issues they believe will face the General Assembly this session. On the health care issue, Democrats highlighted increasing access to affordable insurance, while Republicans spoke about capping malpractice judgments. Both parties discussed an interest in restricting the use of eminent domain and dealing with immigration issues.
|Read the Knoxville News Sentinelís report of the briefing
|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
|Attorney and philanthropist, Lindsay Young, passes away
|Local attorney, businessman and philanthropist Lindsay Young, 93, died Thursday in Knoxville. A graduate of the UT College of Law, he specialized in corporate law and practiced at the firm of Young, Williams, Kirk & Stone PC, which he helped found. Read more about his life achievements in a profile by the
|Knoxville News Sentinel