Report finds shorter sentences for serious crimes

A task force appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen found that shorter prison sentences for the most serious offenses have been imposed in Tennessee since a law giving more discretion to judges took effect June 2005. The group looked at sentencing for Class A felonies and found that prison time dropped by about 15 months from more than 256 months to about 241 months for all categories except aggravated kidnapping sentences, which increased by about 12 months.

Read about the study in the Knoxville News Sentinel or go to the Administrative Office of the Courts web site to learn more.
TODAY'S OPINIONS
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ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY v. ROBERT E. WATSON

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

John R. Cheadle, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant-plaintiff, Allstate Insurance Company.

E. Todd Presnell and John L. Farringer IV, Nashville, Tennessee, and Jamie D. Winkler, Carthage, Tennessee, for the appellee-defendant, Robert E. Watson.

Judge: HOLDER

Plaintiff, the landlord's insurance company, paid the landlord for fire loss and brought suit against the tenant asserting its subrogation rights. The lease provided that the tenant would be "responsible for all damages to the apartment, intentional or non intentional." The trial court found that the tenant did not intentionally or negligently cause the fire damage but held that the tenant was liable for the damage under the terms of the lease. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court and held, sua sponte, that a landlord's insurer has no right of subrogation against a tenant because the tenant and landlord are deemed co-insureds. We hold that the lease provides for liability only for intentional or negligent acts of the tenant. Because there is no basis for subrogation, we do not reach the issue of whether the landlord and tenant are co-insureds. Accordingly, we affirm the Court of Appeals' dismissal of this case.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2006/allstate071106.pdf


RENA MAE BLAIR v. ROLLIN C. BROWNSON AND MARY ANN BROWNSON

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

P. Kelley Hinsley, Morristown, Tennessee, Attorney for the Appellants, Rollin C. Brownson and Mary Ann Brownson.

Lori L. Jessee, Morristown, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Rena Mae Blair.

Judge: BIRCH

We accepted review of this cause under Rule 11 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure in order to determine whether an undelivered writing signed by the seller constituted, under the circumstances, a memorandum of the sale of real property sufficient to satisfy the Statute of Frauds. In the analysis necessary to determine whether a memorandum is sufficient to satisfy the Statute of Frauds, we now hold that the "party to be charged" refers to that party or parties against whom enforcement of the contract is sought. Applying that rule to the facts of the case under review, we conclude that the memorandum is not sufficient to satisfy the Statute of Frauds. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2006/blairr071106.pdf


HIMELDA FUENTES GUZMAN v. SALVADOR GUZMAN ALVARES

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Edward Paul Silva, Franklin, Tennessee, and John D. Kitch, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant-defendant, Salvador Guzman Alvares.

Robert Alden Anderson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee-plaintiff, Himelda Fuentes Guzman.

Judge: HOLDER

We granted review in this divorce action to determine whether the parties entered into a bigamous marriage and, if so, whether the doctrine of marriage by estoppel applies. The wife also contests the trial court's computation of child support. We conclude that the parties entered into a void, bigamous marriage to which the doctrine of marriage by estoppel does not apply. We, however, are unable to ascertain from the record the basis for the trial court's computation of child support. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2006/guzmanh071106.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES GARY TURNER
Corrected Case


Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee; and Michael J. Collins, Assistant Public Defender, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Gary Turner.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Michelle Chapman McIntire, Assistant Attorney General; William Michael McCowen, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIRCH

We granted permission to appeal in this case pursuant to Rule 11 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure in order to determine whether the evidence adduced in the trial court sufficiently supports the defendant's felony evading arrest conviction and whether a sentence of one year for fourth offense driving on a revoked license, a Class A misdemeanor, is valid. Because we view the evidence as sufficient to support the conviction for felony evading arrest (with risk of death or injury), and because a one-year term of confinement for the revoked license conviction is specifically authorized by statute, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals upholding both the convictions and sentences.

This case was originally issued on April 26, 2006.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2006/turnerg_corr071106.pdf


DIANE V. VANNUCCI, Individually, and as Executrix of the Estate of Julie Vannucci Barney, Deceased, ET AL. v. MEMPHIS OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION, P.C., ET AL. AND DIANE V. VANNUCCI, Individually, and as Executrix of the Estate of Julie Vannucci Barney, Deceased and DIANE V. VANNUCCI for the use and benefit of the heirs at law of Julie Vannucci Barney, Dec'd., and DIANE V. VANNUCCI, for the use and benefit of ROBERT ALLEN BARNEY, III, A Minor v. W. B. MOSS, INDIVIDUALLY, and W. B. MOSS, M.D., P.C.

Court: TCA

Judge: HIGHERS

Following the untimely diagnosis of her cervical cancer, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice suit against several doctors and the laboratory that interpreted her test results. In addition to her individual suit, the plaintiff sued on behalf of her minor son for loss of consortium. Shortly after filing the lawsuit, the plaintiff died. The executrix of her estate was substituted as a plaintiff in the case. Some of the named defendants sought to enter into a settlement with the minor, who was the only beneficiary of any proceeds to be derived from the suit. Pursuant to Section 34-1-121 of the Tennessee Code, the settling parties petitioned the trial court to approve the settlement. At the hearing, the trial court excluded the non-settling defendants from participating in the hearing. The trial court subsequently entered an order approving the settlement, but the court sealed the contents of the settlement. Thereafter, the non-settling defendants moved the trial court judge to recuse herself, arguing that she could no longer impartially preside over the remainder of the case by virtue of having heard disputed facts during the ex parte settlement hearing. When the trial court denied their motion, the non-settling defendants applied for and received the trial court's permission to seek an interlocutory appeal to this Court. We decided to grant the non-settling defendants' application for an interlocutory appeal to address the narrow issue of whether the trial court erred when it denied the motion to recuse. After reviewing the record, we affirm the trial court's decision to deny the Appellants' motion for recusal.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2006/vannuccid071106.pdf


Practice of Law; Preparation of Petitions for Orders of Protection

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2006-07-11

Opinion Number: 06-108

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2006/ag_06-108.pdf

Handgun Permit Eligibility

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2006-07-11

Opinion Number: 06-109

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2006/ag_06-109.pdf

TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News

Legal News
Raid on congressional office ruled legal
Thomas F. Hogan, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled yesterday that an FBI raid on Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson's Capitol Hill office was legal. Hogan dismissed arguments that the first-ever raid on a congressman's office violated the Constitution's protections against intimidation of elected officials and rejected requests from lawmakers to return the seized material. Members of Congress had argued that the seizure violated the Constitution's speech and debate clause, which protects elected officials from being questioned by the president, a prosecutor or a plaintiff in a lawsuit about their legislative work. Jefferson's attorney indicated an intention to appeal the ruling.
The Knoxville News Sentinel has the full story
Cobb withdraws from Supreme Court consideration
Nashville attorney Stephen A. Cobb has withdrawn his name from consideration for the vacant seat on the Tennessee Supreme Court. The Judicial Selection Commission will meet in Nashville on July 17 to initiate the process of filling the vacancy. Nine attorneys are under consideration.

Circuit court upholds stay in Reid case
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a stay of execution issued in the case of Paul Dennis Reid last week. The ruling is essentially moot, however, because the federal appeals court and U.S. Supreme Court declined to respond to the state's motions seeking approval to execute Reid before his execution order expired on June 28, reports the Associated Press.
Download the court's decision here
Jail shutdown costing taxpayers big bucks
The shutdown of the Lawrence County Jail is costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a month as inmates are moved to jails across the state, according to the county sheriff. The state fire marshal closed the jail in May after more than 40 violations were found.
The News Sentinel has the story
Wal-Mart and French firm frown over smiley face
In the battle of the smiley face, it's not just who smiled first that counts, but also where and how. Wal-Mart Stores, which has used the ubiquitous yellow face, to personify its low price marketing now finds itself being challenged by SmileyWorld, a French-owned company that claims it was the first to register the face as a trademark. The case pits the U.S. approach to trademarks, which places priority on the user who first commercially exploits the symbol, against the European and Asian system, which favors the first to register. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is expected to rule on the case this summer, reports the New York Times News Service.
Read about the case in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

 
 
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