Supreme Court says Guantanamo trials violate law

The U.S. Supreme Court rebuked President Bush and his anti-terror policies today, ruling that his plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violates U.S. and international law. The court declared 5-3 that the president's attempt to resurrect a type of military trial last used in the aftermath of World War II violates U.S. military law and the Geneva conventions that set international standards for dealing with people captured in armed conflicts. Read more in the Tennessean.

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


Court: TSC


Gary E. Brewer and Leslie A. Muse, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellants, Jennifer Lynn Alsip, Rebecca Dawn Alsip, and Geraldine Alsip.

Jeffrey M. Ward, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Louis Modica, M.D., and Medical Education Assistance Corporation d/b/a ETSU Physicians and Associates. Randall J. Phillips, Jackson, Tennessee, for Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association.

Melanie M. Stewart, C. Michael Becker, Germantown, Tennessee, and James M. Beck, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association. William B. Hubbard, Nashville, Tennessee, for Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Hospital Association.

David L. Steed and Jay N. Chamness, Nashville, Tennessee, for Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Medical Association.


Pursuant to Rule 11 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, we accepted this appeal to clarify the meaning of our holding in Givens v. Mullikin, 75 S.W.3d 383 (Tenn. 2002), as it relates to a trial court’s tailored discovery order in a medical malpractice lawsuit permitting ex parte communications between defense counsel and the decedent’s non-party treating physicians. Carefully weighing public policy concerns and considering the case law on this issue from other jurisdictions, we hold that the trial court erred by issuing this order. Today we announce that such ex parte communications violate the implied covenant of confidentiality that exists between physicians and patients and that public policy does not require the voidance of this covenant. This being the case, ex parte communications between the plaintiff’s non-party physicians and defense attorneys are not allowed in the State of Tennessee. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TSC


Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellant, State of Tennessee.

Brett B. Stein, Memphis, Tennessee, Attorney for the Appellee, Jessica Trotter. Garland Erg_den, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Andrew Sheriff.


Through forgery and credit card fraud, defendants, Trotter and Sheriff, stole approximately half a million dollars from Trotter’s employer. After both defendants had pleaded guilty to theft of property over sixty thousand dollars, a Class B felony, the trial court imposed an eight-year sentence upon each defendant. The defendants applied for alternative sentencing; the trial court denied the application on the grounds of general deterrence and depreciation of the seriousness of the offense. On appeal, the intermediate court reversed the trial court’s judgment and imposed alternative sentences of twelve months incarceration, with the balance to be served on probation. We accepted the State’s petition for review of this cause under Rule 11 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure in order to determine whether the intermediate court erred in reversing the trial court’s sentences of confinement and substituting alternative sentences. We conclude that the Court of Criminal Appeals erred in modifying the defendants’ sentences. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed, and the judgment of the trial court is reinstated.


Court: TCA


J. Brandon McWherter, Lewis L.Cobb, Jackson, TN, for Appellant

James H. Bradberry, Dresden, TN, for Appellee


In this appeal, we are asked to review the trial court’s decision regarding the damages incurred by the plaintiff in a breach of contract action. The plaintiff, a bank, attempted to sell a parcel of distressed real estate containing residential dwelling units at a foreclosure sale. The defendant placed the highest bid for the property, but he subsequently refused to consummate the transaction. After the sale, a dispute arose over who would be responsible for certain repairs, and the defendant, who did not inspect the property prior to placing a bid, apparently felt that the property was not worth the amount he bid for it. The bank brought suit for breach of contract, but it failed to present any evidence of the property’s fair market value on the date of breach. After a bench trial in the matter, but before the trial court entered its final judgment, the bank sought to introduce additional evidence in the form of a second foreclosure sale conducted post-trial. The bank asserted that the amount it received at the second foreclosure sale represented the fair market value of the property. After considering this additional evidence, the trial court entered a judgment finding that the bank failed to present evidence of the property’s fair market value on the date of the breach. Accordingly, the trial court concluded that the bank was not entitled to the damages it sought as a result of the breach. The bank appealed that decision to this Court. We affirm.


Court: TCA


C. Mark Donahoe, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellants, Sean M. Hansen and J. B. Hunt Transport, Inc.

Jeffrey P. Boyd, Jackson, Tennessee, and James A. Morris, Jr., Beaumont, Texas, for the appellees, Brian N. Knight, M. Chance Dudley, Kristy Dudley, and D. Chad Dudley.


This is an automobile accident case. The plaintiffs were traveling on the interstate in a pickup truck pulling a U-Haul trailer. The individual defendants were each driving a commercial eighteen-wheeler truck and were following the plaintiffs, one behind the other. The plaintiffs came upon road construction and slowed to a stop. The defendant driving the truck immediately behind the plaintiffs could not stop; he swerved to the right and hit the plaintiffs’ U-Haul. The defendant driving the second truck behind the plaintiffs was also unable to stop. He struck both the U-Haul and the pickup truck, causing both vehicles to catch fire and resulting in serious personal injuries to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs sued the drivers of both of the eighteen-wheeler trucks and their employers for damages resulting from the accident. The plaintiffs’ claim against the driver of the second truck and his employer was settled. The plaintiffs then proceeded to trial against the driver of the first truck and his employer. After a jury trial, the jury returned a verdict finding in favor of the plaintiffs, concluding that the defendant driving the first truck was 25% at fault for the accident. The defendants appeal, arguing that no material evidence supports the jury’s finding that their negligence caused the plaintiffs’ damages. We affirm.


Court: TCCA


Juni S. Ganguli, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robin Davis.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Blind Akrawi, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Paul Thomas Hoover, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Robin Davis, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In this appeal, he asserts that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. The judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


Gregory D. Gookin and Kandi Kelley, Assistant Public Defenders, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donald E. Fowlkes.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Rolf Hazlehurst, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Donald Eugene Fowlkes, appeals from the order of the trial court revoking his probation and ordering that his eight-year sentence be served in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation and ordering that his sentence be served in confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


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