Tennessee lawmakers out front in redistricting debate

Several Tennessee lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. John Tanner, D-Union City, are pushing legislation to overhaul the way congressional districts are drawn. The bill establishes bipartisan commissions in each state to draw redistricting maps, rather than rely on state legislatures as is the current practice. The bill also limits redistricting to once a decade following the release of census data, reports the Tennessean. The measure comes in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month that states are free to redraw districts whenever they want.


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


Court: TSC


Melody Fowler-Green, Abby R. Rubenfeld, and Anne C. Martin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, Tennessee Equality Project, Beverly Robison Marrero, Bruce Barry, Jonathan Hines, Scott Hines, Nina Pacent, Renee Kasman, Larry Turner, and Tommie Brown.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Ann Louise Vix, Senior Counsel; Gina J. Barham, Deputy Attorney General; and Marnee L. Baker, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville Tennessee, for the appellees, Riley C. Darnell, Brook Thompson, Paul G. Summers, John S. Wilder, and James O. Naifeh.

Benjamin W. Bull, Glen Lavy, Byron J. Babione, Heather Gebelin Hacker, Scottsdale, Arizona, Nathan W. Kellum, Memphis, Tennessee, and David L. Maddox, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Intervenors, sixty-seven members of the Tennessee House of Representatives and twenty-three members of the Tennessee Senate.

Michael B. Bressman, Nashville, Tennessee, for Amicus Curiae, Public Notice Resource Center.

Robyn E. Smith, Nashville, Tennessee, for Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Chapter of the National Organization for Women.


We assumed jurisdiction of this case pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 16-3-201 to consider whether the Chancellor erred by refusing to declare Senate Joint Resolution 31 unconstitutional and by refusing to enjoin the Secretary of State from placing a proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution on the November 7, 2006 ballot for a ratification vote. Having fully considered the record, the relevant authority, and the written and oral presentations of the parties -- and wishing to decide this constitutional matter, as we should, on the narrowest grounds possible -- we affirm the Chancellor's decision dismissing the complaint because Plaintiffs have failed to establish that they have standing to bring this lawsuit.



Court: TSC


Richard M. Carter, Paul H. Morris, and Brian K. Kelsey, Memphis, Tennessee, for Appellants, Forrest L. Whaley and Margaret Ann Whaley.

John D. Horne, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Jim Ann Perkins, Albert Lewis Beshires, and Terry Lynn Beshires.

Judge: BIRCH

The Plaintiffs purchased from two of the Defendants a home located on a two-acre parcel of land that had been part of a larger parcel. The Plaintiffs later discovered that the two-acre parcel had been illegally subdivided from the larger parcel, and they filed suit alleging breach of contract, intentional misrepresentation, negligence per se, and breach of warranty of title. In addition to other damages, the Plaintiffs sought damages for emotional distress. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs and awarded $170,000 as compensatory damages and an additional $5,000 as punitive damages. The Court of Appeals held, in pertinent part, that the Plaintiffs' claim for damages for emotional distress was barred by the one-year statute of limitations applicable to personal injury actions. We hold that the one-year personal injury statute of limitations does not apply to this case, and we therefore reverse that part of the intermediate court's judgment. We affirm all other aspects of the intermediate court's judgment and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.



Court: TCA


Edwin C. Lenow, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Edward Barrett.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, and Juan G. Villasenor, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The juvenile court established child support based on a finding that the obligor was capable of earning $6 per hour. Having determined that the record before us contains no evidence to support that finding, we reverse.



Court: TCA


Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Warren Jasper, Assistant Attorney General, for Appellant, State of Tennessee, ex rel. Peggy Hayes.

Sam J Watridge of Humboldt, Tennessee for Appellee, Luther Carter.


This is a Title IV child support case involving the validity of an Order modifying retroactive child support. Following the entry of an agreed order establishing paternity, Father/Appellee entered into an agreed order setting retroactive child support from the time of the child's birth. Some five years after entering into this agreed order, Father/Appellee petitioned the court to modify the retroactive support order. The trial court granted Father/Appellee's motion. The State of Tennessee ex rel. Peggy Hayes appeals. We vacate the order of the trial court modifying retroactive child support.



Court: TCCA


Dwight E. Scott, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jon Douglas Hall.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Elizabeth Ryan, Assistant Attorney General; and Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee/Ricky Bell, Warden.

Judge: WADE

The petitioner, Jon Douglas Hall, appeals the dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. In this appeal, he alleges that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his petition without a hearing and that the judgment of conviction is void because the trial court lacked jurisdiction. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.



Court: TCCA


Mark Albert Mesler, II, Memphis, Tennessee (on appeal), and Leslie Irwin Ballin, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Jermaine Hughey.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Brian Clay Johnson, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Stephen Patrick Jones, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Jermaine Hughey, was convicted of four counts of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and four counts of attempted aggravated robbery, a Class C felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range I, standard offender to eleven years for each aggravated robbery conviction and five years for each attempted aggravated robbery conviction. The trial court ordered (1) that in Case No. 03-00283, the three attempted aggravated robbery sentences be served concurrently to each other and consecutively to the aggravated robbery sentence, for a total sentence of sixteen years; (2) that in Case No. 03-00284, the three aggravated robbery and one attempted robbery sentences be served concurrently to each other, for a total sentence of eleven years; and (3) that the sentences in Case No. 03-00284 be served consecutively to the sentences in Case No. 03-00283, for an effective sentence of twenty-seven years in the Department of Correction. The defendant appeals claiming: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict, (2) that the trial court erred in allowing the interpreter to participate in the trial, (3) that the trial court erred in allowing a witness's testimony and in not allowing the defendant to cross-examine witnesses about their immigrant status, (4) that the prosecutor made improper comments about the defendant's right to testify, (5) that the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury on lesser included offenses, and (6) that the trial court erred in sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Mike J. Urquhart, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Floyd E. Rayner.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Brian Clay Johnson, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bernard McEvoy, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Floyd E. Rayner, was convicted by a jury in the Davidson County Criminal Court of five counts of rape of a child and five counts of aggravated sexual battery. The petitioner received a total effective sentence of fifty-one years incarceration in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Subsequently, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



Court: TCCA


Robin Farber, Assistant Public Defender, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerry Lee Truette.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Lawrence Nickell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

The defendant, Jerry Lee Truette, entered pleas of guilty to burglary, a Class D felony, and to theft over $10,000, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. Sections 39-14-402, -103, -105 (2003). According to the judgment forms, the trial court imposed concurrent, Range I sentences of two years and eleven months and twenty-nine days, respectively. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted restitution in the amount of $29,700 with monthly payments of $500. In this appeal as of right, the defendant argues that the amount of restitution is excessive. The defendant's sentence for theft over $10,000, as reflected on the judgment form, would be an illegal sentence. An appropriate Range I sentence for theft over $10,000 is not less than three years nor more than six years. See Tenn. Code Ann. Section 40-35-112(a)(3). Because the record indicates that the trial court did indeed impose a five- year sentence to be served on probation, the case must be remanded for the entry of a corrected judgment. Otherwise, the judgment of the trial court as to its order of restitution is affirmed.



Court: TCCA


William D. Wayman, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; and C. Daniel Lins, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, William D. Wayman, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus relief in the Hickman County Circuit Court. In support of his petition, he alleged that his concurrent sentences for three convictions in the Rutherford County Circuit Court for reckless aggravated assault have expired. The habeas corpus trial court summarily dismissed the petition. Petitioner has appealed, and the State has filed a motion for this Court to affirm the judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. After review of the record, we grant the State's motion, and affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Legal News
BPR Actions

Legal News
ABA leader testifies on domestic surveillance issues
In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee today, ABA President Michael Greco expressed the association's support for H.R. 5371, The LISTEN Act, which reinforces that current law is the exclusive means for authorizing electronic surveillance and that powers granted by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks did not provide an exception to those statutes. He also outlined the association's concerns with a new proposal negotiated between Senator Arlen Specter, R-PA, and Bush administration officials. He concluded by calling on Congress to insist that the nature and extent of warrantless surveillance be disclosed.
Download the full testimony
Medtronic settles civil suit
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Read the AP story in the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal
AG: Bush blocked spy probe
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Read the AP story at Tri-Cities.com
Name change for trial lawyers?
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Rainbow-Push sues to stop commissioner election
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Read local reactions from WMC-TV Memphis
Greene County bar leadership named
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Williamson County bar elects new officers
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BPR Actions
Memphis attorney suspended
On July 18, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Stephen M. Brown for 45 days after Brown agreed to a conditional guilty plea, in which he admitted to (1) communicating with a represented party without the consent of that party's lawyer and (2) using means that had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden other lawyers and parties in attempting to settle his client's dispute. Brown may resume the practice of law after the 45-day period elapses.
Read the BPR's press release

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