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:

http://tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060210/NEWS0204/602100410/1001/NEWS

TODAY'S OPINIONS
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Editor-in-Chief, TBALink

SANDRA BURTON v. KIZZY McCARY

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Lowe Finney of Jackson for Appellant, Kizzy McCary.

Lanis L. Karnes of Jackson for Appellee, Sandra Burton.

Judge: CRAWFORD

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 affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2006/burtons021006.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES H. CARTER

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

Judge: WADE

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.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/carterj021006.pdf


JONATHAN ELLIS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

Judge: TIPTON

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.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/ellisj0210096.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

Judge: WITT

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.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/gonzaleza021006.pdf


LEONARD MASONET v. KEVIN MYERS, WARDEN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

Judge: WOODALL

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.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/masonetl021006.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRADLEY NOBLE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

Judge: GLENN

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.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/nobleb021006.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANTHONY HOWARD SKELTON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

Judge: WELLES

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 court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/skeltona021006.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TERRANCE YVES SMOTHERS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

Judge: WELLES

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 conviction.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2006/smotherst021006.pdf


Tullahoma Airport Authority Commissioners

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2006-02-10

Opinion Number: 06-027

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2006/ag_06-27.pdf

Applicability of Public Records Act to Utility District Records

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2006-02-10

Opinion Number: 06-028

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2006/ag_06-28.pdf

Legal Protection of Self-Deploying Law Enforcement Officers and Authority of Law Enforcement

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2006-02-10

Opinion Number: 06-029

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2006/ag_06-29.pdf

TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
Passages

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
Chattanoogan.com
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
Legislative News
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
Passages
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

 
 
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