Dinkins withdraws; Supreme Court field opens again

Chancellor Richard Dinkins' withdrawl from consideration for the Tennessee Supreme Court today caused Gov. Phil Bredesen to request a new slate of three candidates from the Judicial Selection Commission. Citing his desire to maintain diversity on the state's highest court, Gov. Bredesen asked the commission to submit a list that includes highly qualified minority candidates.

The Judicial Selection Commission then announced it would accept new applications through Aug. 9. Applicants who already have applied -- except J. Houston Gordon and George T. "Buck" Lewis who were on the panel rejected by the governor -- may continue in the process by notifying the AOC that they wish to have their applications reconsidered.

Read Dinkins' letter of withdrawal, the governor's press release and letter to the chair of the Judicial Selection Commission at


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


Court: TSC



This is a corrected opinion.

Court: TCA


Raymond G. Prince, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Aztech Industrial Supply, Inc., Philip Kelly, and Lesly Hart-Kelly.

Douglas Fisher, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Baker Donelson Bearman & Caldwell.


The trial court summarily dismissed the plaintiffs’ legal malpractice action against the law firm after finding no violations of the standard of care, that no causal link existed between the alleged negligent acts and omissions of the law firm and the harm suffered, and the action was barred by the statute of limitations. Finding no genuine dispute of material facts exists and the law firm is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, we affirm.



Court: TCA


Keith M. Alexander, Southaven, MS, for Appellants

Irma Merrill Stratton, Memphis, TN, for Appellee


The Appellee is a billboard advertising business engaged in selling advertising space on the billboards it maintains. The Appellants contracted with the principal owner of the business to sell the business in exchange for a commission. One of the Appellants had partial ownership interest in three of the billboards serviced by the business. After closing the sale, the Appellee paid the Appellants a significantly smaller commission than the parties had agreed upon. The Appellants brought suit for breach of contract seeking to recover the remainder of the commission allegedly owed. The Appellee subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that, pursuant to the Tennessee Real Estate Broker License Act of 1973 codified at section 62-13-101 et seq. of the Tennessee Code, the Appellants could not recover a commission as a matter of law. The Appellee also sought to invoke the Act's provisions to recover the commission already paid to the Appellants. Finding it undisputed that the Appellants did not have a real estate broker's license when negotiating the sale of the business and that real estate comprised a significant portion of the Appellee's assets, the trial court granted the Appellee's motion for summary judgment. Further, the trial court ordered the Appellants to return the commission already paid by the Appellee. The Appellants have appealed the trial court's decision to this Court. We affirm.


IN RE S.L.M. & T.J.M.

Court: TCA


John E. Herbison, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Perry A. March.

Mark H. Levine, Los Angeles, California; and C.J. Gideon, Jr. and Gail Vaughn Ashworth, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Lawrence E. Levine and Carolyn R. Levine.


This appeal involves an acrimonious dispute over the custody of two adolescent children. The children's father and their maternal grandparents have litigated over custody in the courts of two states and the federal courts for the past nine years. The current proceeding began when the children and their father were expelled from Mexico following the father's indictment in Tennessee for murdering the children's mother. After the grandparents filed a petition in the Davidson County Juvenile Court seeking custody of their grandchildren, the father asserted that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction to fashion custody arrangements for the children. Following a hearing, the juvenile court determined that it had the authority to decide the children's custody and that temporary custody of the children should be awarded to their maternal grandparents. We granted the father's application for an interlocutory appeal and now find that the juvenile court has jurisdiction to decide the children's custody and that the record supports the court's decision to place the children in their grandparents' custody.



Court: TCA


Sam J. Watridge of Humboldt, Tennessee for Appellant, Riley Dean Smith

Bill R. Barron of Trenton, Tennessee for Appellee, Deborah Bowers Smith


This is a divorce case. In a post-trial proceeding after remand by the Court of Appeals, Husband appeals the order of the trial court which effectively awarded certain stock to Wife. The appeal is dismissed for failure to file a timely notice of appeal.



Court: TCCA


Paul Kellison Guibao, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Busby.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; C. Daniel Lins, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Tracye Jones, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Christopher Busby, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In this appeal, he asserts that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. The judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.



Election 2006
Legal News
BPR Actions

Election 2006
Voters hold the key to judicial fairness
"What does it matter if I vote, anyway?" Memphis Bar Association President Barbara Zoccola answers that question regarding the upcoming judicial elections in a guest column in the Commercial Appeal. "It matters," Zoccola writes, "because the health of our American democracy depends on impartial judges who apply the law fairly and without regard to the prevailing political mood or opinion."
Read the column.
1st District seat race crowded
Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Jenkins' decision to retire after 10 years in Congress opened a door of opportunity in the 1st District in upper East Tennessee. A flood of candidates -- 13 Republicans, four Democrats and four Independents -- rushed in. Among the candidates is Johnson City vice mayor Phil Roe, a physician whose TV ads rail against special interests in Congress. According to the Tennessee Journal, Roe says he’s not accepting any PAC money, but fails to mention that the American Medical Association PAC is helping with his fundraising. One campaign letter from the PAC urges doctors to contribute to Roe's campaign and help send a doctor to Congress, where the halls are "infested with lawyers." Johnson City attorney Vance Cheek is another leading contender for the position. Read about this race in the
Knoxville News Sentinel.
Picking judges blindfolded
Commerical Appeal Managing Editor Otis L. Sanford urges voters not to be complacent and stay home on election day, especially concerning the 73 names that appear on the Shelby county ballot in judicial races.
Read the editorial.
Working for a judiciary that looks more like us
"I believe that it is important for our courts to be diverse," writes Herman Morris Jr. in Sunday's Commercial Appeal. "This is not just because it broadens the knowledge, life experience, perspective and philosophical base of the bench, but also because it fosters the perception of fairness and inclusiveness that court systems should represent." Morris is chair of the Judicial Evaluation Committee of the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association.
Read Morris's column.
27 judges on primary ballot for yes-no vote
Under the "Tennessee Plan," which was adopted in 1994, all judges on the state Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Court of Appeals are subject to retention elections at the end of their eight-year terms. But voters are often unfamiliar with the judges, and as a result, the judges are almost always retained, the AP reports. TBA Executive Director Allan F. Ramsaur defends the Tennessee Plan, saying that it means that "judges are now retained not for their popularity but for their abilities, integrity and performance."
Read the story.
Legal News
Oral arguments set in Baker-He case
The Supreme Court has issued an order setting a briefing schedule for the parties in the Baker-He adoption/termination of parental rights case in Memphis. Oral arguments will be for Oct. 4.

Lawyers hit up for judges' debts
Fundraising receptions for some of Nashville's soon-to-be-judges are drawing fire from critics, who question why lawyers who would come before the judges' courts are being asked to pay up. While there's nothing legally wrong with the practice, some think it just looks plain bad and further undermines confidence in the courts. Others wonder whether the receptions are tantamount to buying justice. Read the story in the
Court right to delay attorney general pick
The Tennessean commends the Tennessee Supreme Court today for delaying the selection of the attorney general until September, since its makeup is about to change substantially.
Read the editorial.
BPR Actions
Knoxville lawyer reinstated
On July 3, the law license of Knoxville lawyer David A. Lufkin Sr., was reinstated by the Supreme Court of Tennessee. His license has been on disability inactive status since Dec. 16, 1999.
See the BPR release.

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