Register now to attend Diversity Summit II

The Tennessee Bar Association has partnered with several other legal organizations to present "Diversity Summit II: Recruitment and Retention Solutions" on Oct. 27 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Speakers include former ABA President Dennis Archer, Wal-Mart Executive Tom Evans and an impressive group of other panelists who will speak on their experiences in promoting diversity. Seating for this free event is limited and no registration will be accepted at the door, so register today.

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

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
02 - TN Court of Appeals
00 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR

TBA members can get the full-text versions of these opinions three ways detailed below. All methods require a TBA username and password. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on-line at

Here's how you can obtain full-text version. We recommend you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer. Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view and save a plain-text version of the opinion. Browse the Opinion List area of TBALink. This option will allow you to download the original version of the opinion.

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


Court: TSC


Cynthia Hall Templeton, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, James A. Vaughn.

Brian Dunigan, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rearno Vaughn.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


We granted permission to appeal these post-conviction cases and then consolidated them to determine a question common to both: were the petitioners denied effective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to object to an erroneous jury instruction regarding the release eligibility for a person convicted of first degree murder when there had been a recent change in the law. Both petitioners also raise additional arguments regarding whether their trial counsel were ineffective in other respects. The Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the decision of the post-conviction court, holding that the petitioners were not denied their right to effective assistance of counsel. We reverse the Court of Criminal Appeals in part, holding that the petitioners were denied their right to effective assistance of counsel based on counsel's failure to object to erroneous jury instructions regarding release eligibility. We affirm the Court of Criminal Appeals on all other issues, holding that neither trial counsel was ineffective in any other aspect of their representation. Therefore, we reverse both petitioners' convictions for first degree murder and remand for new trials on that charge alone. We affirm all remaining convictions.


Court: TCA


Robert B. Pyle, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, P.M.T.

William G. Schwall, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, J.L.T., Sr.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, and Elizabeth C. Driver, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services.


The trial court terminated the parental rights of P.M.T. ("Mother") and J.L.T., Sr. ("Father") with respect to their minor child, J.L.T., Jr. ("the child") (DOB: May 9, 2002), upon finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that grounds for terminating their parental rights existed and that termination was in the best interest of the child. Mother and Father appeal. We affirm.

IN RE C.S., JR. (D/O/B 07/23/91), T.M.S. (D/O/B 08/14/92), J.W.S. (D/O/B 01/17/94), Z.J.S. (D/O/B 10/18/95), K.S.S. (D/O/B 02/27/97), AND R.F.S. (D/O/B 04/04/00) STATE OF TENNESSEE, DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES V. SYLVIA SAGA

Court: TCA


Trisha A. Henegar, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sylvia Saga.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, and Amy T. Master, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a termination of parental rights case. In 2003, the biological mother of the six children at issue in this case abandoned the children and left them with their paternal grandmother. The next day, the mother was arrested for abandonment and failure to protect the children from abuse by a former boyfriend. The children were taken into state custody and placed in foster homes. Over the course of the next two years, three permanency plans were put in place for the children. All of the plans required the mother to, among other things, obtain a legally-derived means of income sufficient to support her children and obtain safe and stable housing. In February 2005, after being released from four months of incarceration for two DUIs, the mother moved to Missouri. She lived in three different places in Missouri and did not inform DCS of her changes in address. After the mother moved to Missouri, she did not visit the children, did not obtain independent housing, and worked only part-time, minimum-wage jobs. The State filed a petition to terminate the mother's rights based on abandonment, failure to comply with the permanency plans, and persistent conditions. After a trial, the trial court terminated the mother's parental rights based on all three grounds. The mother now appeals. We affirm, finding that the evidence fully supports the trial court's finding on at least one ground and as to the best interest of the children.


Legal News
Supreme Court Watch
Election 2006
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Wedemeyer honored in Clarksville ceremony
Family, friends and colleagues assembled Thursday at the Montgomery County Courts Center for the unveiling of Judge Robert Wedemeyer's portrait and to salute his time on the bench in Montgomery County's 19th Judicial District, covering Montgomery and Robertson counties.
Read about the event in the Leaf-Chronicle
Senior March sentenced to 5 years
The father of former Nashville lawyer and convicted killer Perry March was sentenced to five years in prison Friday, after a federal judge decided not to abide by terms of a plea agreement between prosecutors and defense attorneys that called for Arthur March to serve no more than 18 months.
Read more in the Tennessean
Anti-immigrant billboard draws criticism
An electronic billboard in Nashville aimed at winning support for a proposal to make English the official language of Metro Government is drawing criticism from some who call it xenophobic and unwelcoming.
Read about it in the City Paper
Lawsuit accuses priests of abuse
The Catholic Diocese of Memphis faces new lawsuits charging sexual abuse by priests, and additional suits are likely to follow, an attorney says.
Read the Commercial Appeal story
Defending criminals no crime, columnist says
How can you defend criminals? Public defender Jake Lockert tells readers of the Dickson Herald the reasons he thinks "that my work is one of the most honorable professions that I can have, as a Christian and proud citizen of the United States of America."
Read the column
Jail repairs needed in Overton County
The Overton County Justice Center is in need of significant repairs, new Jail Administrator Roberta Arnold says.
Read about it in the Livingston Enterprise
Supreme Court Watch
Knox paper critical of judicial selection process
In an editorial today, the Knoxville News Sentinel says that the process for selecting Tennessee appellate court judges may need to be changed. "While in most cases, the practice has been above board," the newspaper says "... the current list of names is an effort by the commission to manipulate the process, and (Gov.) Bredesen is right to call them on it."
Read the full editorial
Election 2006
Shelby Democrats pick candidate for Bowers' seat
Shelby County Democratic Party leaders selected Reginald Tate, a local architect and active Democrat, to be the party's candidate for the state Senate Dist. 33 seat vacated by Kathryn Bowers, the Commercial Appeal reports.
Read the full story
TBA Member Services
New TBA benefit: Lawyers professional liability insurance
The TBA is now offering TBA Member Insurance Solutions, administered by Clay & Land Insurance. The new program will provide TBA members a highly rated carrier, access to 25 other markets providing professional liability insurance, qualified and experienced agents and risk management seminars for CLE credit.

"Our recent survey of Tennessee attorneys showed that almost 50% of our members believe that lawyers' professional liability coverage is an important and valuable benefit," TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur said in announcing the new program. "This partnership is just another way for the TBA to further serve every lawyer every day."
Learn more about this program

But if you must, visit the TBALink web site at:

TBALink HomeContact UsPageFinderWhat's NewHelp
© Copyright 2006 Tennessee Bar Association