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Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format. To search all opinions in the TBALink database, go to our OpinionSearch page. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on TBALink at http://www.tba.org/getpassword.mgi.

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


Court: TCA


Joel M. Leeman, Mark H. Westlake and Mary Beth Hagan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, The Alexander Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, et al.

J. Graham Matherne and Andrew J. Pulliam, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Alderwoods [Tennessee], Inc., d/b/a Alexander Funeral Home and as the Successor in Interest to Alexander Funeral Homes, Inc.


Plaintiff filed this action seeking to enforce its option under a long-term real estate lease to purchase the real estate at a price to be determined pursuant to a procedure set forth in the lease. Defendant admitted Plaintiff had the right to purchase the property but not at the price Plaintiff offered. The trial court granted judgment on the pleadings in favor of Plaintiff pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12, from which order the defendant appeals. We have concluded that Defendant's Answer constituted a denial that Plaintiff fully complied with the option provisions in the lease agreement. Therefore, Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings should not have been granted.



Court: TCA


Joe R. (Jay) Johnson, II, Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellant, D. D. T. (Father).

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, and Dianne Stamey Dycus, Deputy Attorney General, for the State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.


Father, whose parental rights were terminated on the ground of abandonment, appeals contending the Department failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family. The trial court ruled that Father's abandonment of the child relieved the Department of the duty to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family. We affirm, concluding that abandonment constitutes an aggravated circumstance for which Tenn. Code Ann. Section 37-1-166(g)(4) relieves the Department of the duty to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family.



Court: TCA


Thomas Jay Martin, Jr., Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert William Jewett.

Joseph Y. Longmire, Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Debra Ann Jewett.

Judge: CAIN

This appeal involves a divorce decree entered in default against a non-resident. Appellant, Robert William Jewett, urges on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his Motion to Alter or Amend the default decree. We affirm the trial court's decree in its entirety and remand the case for further proceedings.


With Concurring Opinion

Court: TCA


Michael K. Williamson and Philip M. Mize, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tammy K. Joiner.

Rodger N. Bowman and Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, James Alden Griffith.


This bitter change of custody proceeding originated with Mother's filing of a Petition to Stay Visitation based upon concerns that the parties' youngest child had been potentially exposed to inappropriate sexual behavior while in Father's custody. Father counterclaimed for a change in custody based upon Mother's attempt to interfere with Father's visitation. Following a bench trial, the trial court found Mother's accusations unfounded, awarded Father joint custody, and decreased Father's child support. Mother asserts that the trial court erred by finding the circumstances had changed sufficiently to modify custody or child support. Since the outcome of the custody issue was dependent on the trial court's assessment of the credibility of the witnesses, we affirm the trial court's conclusion that there was a material change of circumstances. We, however, have concluded the trial court erred in setting child support, and remand that issue for further proceedings.


Cottrell Concurring


Court: TCA


Don Murfree McClaran, Roger Scott McClaran and Gregor Lynn McClaran, Manchester, Tennessee, Pro Se.

William Kennerly Burger, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellees, Judith Ann Beardsley and Cavalry Banking Trust Department.

Judge: CAIN

In this case, the unsuccessful Plaintiff appeals the grant of summary judgment in favor of a will offered for probate by the defendants, Judith Ann Beardsley as executrix and Cavalry Bank Trust Department as Administrator ad litem for the estate of Olalee McClaran. Plaintiff challenges the will as a product of fraud in the inducement and undue influence. The proponents filed a Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment. From the summary judgment grant against him, Mr. McClaran now appeals. We affirm the trial court.



Legal News
Election 2006

Legal News
Bredesen says minority judge not a certainty
Governor Phil Bredesen said Monday that his rejection of a slate of Supreme Court candidates for lack of a minority finalist does not mean he will necessarily choose a black applicant from the next three-person list. But he did say it was unacceptable to have to choose between two white candidates following the withdrawal of Davidson County Chancellor Richard Dinkins.
Read more about the governor's comments in this Associated Press story
Ford's trial postponed
Former state Senator John Ford's public corruption trial has been postponed until next February. It was originally set to begin on Oct. 2. Ford is charged with extortion, bribery, threatening a government witness and taking $55,000 in bribes. His lawyer asked for the delay citing the need for additional time to go over discovery matter, including tapes provided by the prosecutors, reports the Associated Press.

Retiring justices featured in August Tennessee Bar Journal
The journeys of Justices A.A. Birch Jr. and E. Riley Anderson took circuitous routes on the way to their service on the Tennessee Supreme Court. The new issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal explores who these two men are, as they prepare to retire from the court this month. Also, what is Tennessee's take on the mysterious world of eBay and its eCommerce impact in our state? How do you determine the loss of earning capacity in the wrongful death of a young child? Read these stories as well as regular columnists Larry Wilks, Don Paine, Bill Haltom and Dan Holbrook in the
August Tennessee Bar Journal
Nashville lawyer headed to Iraq
Nashville-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Van Vincent has been selected by the U.S. Department of Justice to work with the Regime Crimes Liaison Office (RCLO) as an attorney advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad for the next six months, reports the Nashville City Paper. The RCLO is a Justice Department organization charged with advising and assisting the Iraqi High Tribunal in its tasks of conducting investigations and trials against Saddam Hussein and former members of his regime for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Hugueley granted stay
Death row inmate Stephen Lynn Hugueley, 38, was granted an automatic stay of execution after deciding to resume his appeals process, the Associated Press reported today. Hugueley had been scheduled to die Aug. 15 for fatally stabbing a prison counselor at the Hardeman County Correctional Complex in 2002, where he was already serving time for killing his mother.

Election 2006
Wilks: voters should consider evaluation commission recommendations
With two days to go before Tennesseans vote on whether to retain the current slate of appellate justices and judges in the state, TBA President Larry Wilks called on citizens to understand the judicial selection process and the role the Judicial Evaluation Commission plays in the retention process.
Read his editorial in the Tennessean
Shelby county officials worried about wait at polls
With voters facing the longest ballot in county history, some Shelby County officials are worried there won't be enough voting machines to handle the long lines expected at polling sites. County register Tom Leatherwood believes the election commission needs to add at least another 600 machines and warns of a "train wreck" is nothing is done.
Read the story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal

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