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


Court: TCA


Deborah M. Henderson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michelle Adair.

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

Judge: KIRBY

This is a termination of parental rights case. In 1999, the children involved in this action were taken from the mother’s custody into state custody. They were later adjudicated dependent and neglected by the juvenile court. The children remained in foster care, and the state developed several permanency plans with the goal of returning the children to the mother. The plans required the mother to, inter alia, attend parenting classes and anger management programs and to obtain stable housing and employment. The children remained in foster care for the next six years. Meanwhile, the mother obtained stable housing, but she failed to complete either parenting classes or an anger management program, and she failed to obtain stable employment. The goal of the plans was changed to adoption. The state filed a petition to terminate the mother’s parental rights based on persistent conditions and failure to comply with the permanency plans. After a trial, the trial court terminated the mother’s parental rights on both grounds. The mother now appeals. We affirm, finding that the evidence supports termination on both grounds.


Court: TCA


Todd E. Panther, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Turnberry Homes, LLC

Corey J. Stringer, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Trevor Hubert and Violet Hubert

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves the enforceability of an arbitration clause in a residential construction contract. After the construction was completed, the purchasers filed suit against the builder in the Chancery Court for Williamson County alleging numerous construction defects and code violations. The builder moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the contract’s arbitration clause. When the purchasers argued that the arbitration clause was invalid because they had not separately signed or initialed it as required by the Tennessee Uniform Arbitration Act, the builder asserted that the Federal Arbitration Act, rather than the Tennessee Uniform Arbitration Act, governed the parties’ agreement to arbitrate. The trial court denied the builder’s motion to compel arbitration without explanation, and the builder appealed. We have determined that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts the Tennessee Uniform Arbitration Act except insofar as the purchasers’ fraudulent inducement claim is concerned.


Court: TCA


Matthew J. Evans and John W. Elder, Knoxville, Tennessee, for appellants

Alisa Peppel Schuller, Knoxville, Tennessee, for appellee

Plaintiffs, house purchasers, sued defendant, seller, for breach of contract, negligent and fraudulent concealment, negligence, wilful and negligent misrepresentation, and violations of the Consumer Protection Act on the grounds the house was subject to flooding. The Trial Court granted summary judgment. We affirm.


Court: TCCA


John G. McDougal, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ricky Lee Beamon

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox III, District Attorney General; Bates Bryan, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennesse


The Defendant, Ricky Lee Beamon, pursuant to charges contained in two indictments, was convicted by a Hamilton County jury of various counts of burglary, theft of property, and aggravated criminal trespass. The trial court sentenced the Defendant, as a career offender, to an effective sentence of twenty-seven years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain the guilty verdict; (2) the offenses should have been severed for separate trials; (3) evidence obtained during his arrest in case 245041 should have been suppressed; (4) case 245041 should have been dismissed based on double jeopardy; (5) the State’s notice of enhancement was filed late in case 245041; (6) photographs were improperly admitted in case 238463; (7) a mistrial should have been ordered in case 238463 because the State improperly excluded African-American jurors; (8) he was not allowed to obtain private counsel; (9) the trial court “suggested” a guilty verdict to the jury in case 245041; and (10) he was improperly sentenced as a career offender to an effective sentence of twenty-seven years. Finding that there exists no reversible error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Ross B. Gray, Sevierville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Charles Joshua Collins.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; David E. Coenen, Assistant Attorney General; Al C. Schmutzer, Jr., District Attorney General; and Steven R. Hawkins, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HAYES

The Appellant, Charles Joshua Collins, was convicted by a Sevier County jury of rape of a child, a Class A felony. The trial court subsequently sentenced Collins to twenty-three years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether there was sufficient evidence to support his conviction; (2) whether the prosecution’s untimely production of the redacted version of his statement to the police was error and whether the introduction of a codefendant’s statement at trial violated Collins’ right of confrontation as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Washington; and (3) whether the State withheld exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland. After review of the issues presented, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Gary Howell, Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Christopher S. Love

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; Ronald L. Davis, District Attorney General; and Michael J. Fahey, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee

The Appellant, Christopher S. Love, appeals his conviction by a Hickman County jury for sexual battery, a Class E felony. Love was indicted for the offenses of aggravated rape, reckless endangerment, and aggravated assault. Following a jury trial, he was acquitted of reckless endangerment and found guilty of the lesser included offenses of sexual battery and misdemeanor assault. He was subsequently sentenced to concurrent sentences of two years and eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, he raises the single issue of whether it was proper for the trial court to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of sexual battery. After review, we conclude that the Appellant waived the issue by his failure to object to the inclusion of the instruction at trial. Accordingly, the judgment of conviction for sexual battery is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


William D. Vaughn, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Billy James Matthews

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Alfred Earls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee

Judge: HAYES

The Appellant, Billy James Matthews, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. Matthews’ convictions stem from his guilty pleas to rape and robbery, for which he was sentenced to ten years and six years respectively. In this appeal, Matthews raises the following issue for our review: whether the evidence preponderates against the post-conviction court’s findings that he received the effective assistance of counsel. The State asserts that the post-conviction petition should be dismissed because it was filed outside the one-year post-conviction statute of limitations. We agree and conclude that Matthews’ petition is barred by the statute of limitations. Dismissal of the post-conviction petition is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


Jared B. Karnes, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); Martha J. Yoakum, District Public Defender; and Dan Korth, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial), for the Appellant, Charles Benny Seabolt, Jr.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Leslie Price, Assistant Attorney General; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General; and Jared R. Effler, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Claiborne County jury convicted the defendant, Charles Benny Seabolt, Jr., of aggravated burglary, aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and assault. The trial court imposed the maximum sentences for the conviction offenses and ordered consecutive alignment, for a total effective sentence of 56 years. On appeal, the defendant contends that the evidence is legally insufficient to support his convictions and that his effective sentence is excessive. After a review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we modify the sentence for especially aggravated kidnapping to 22 years, making the effective sentence 53 years. In all other respects, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


Court: TCCA


Karla D. Ogle, Fayetteville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Earl Ray Trotter

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Blind Akrawi, Assistant Attorney General; William Michael McCown, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Earl Ray Trotter, pled guilty in the Bedford County Circuit Court to attempted second degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, and especially aggravated robbery. He received a total effective sentence of twenty-five years incarceration in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Thereafter, 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 now appeals. Upon review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Legal News
Election 2006
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Defense attorneys wonder if illegals can get fair trials
Criminal defense lawyers in Nashville are asking if illegal immigrant defendants get a fair trial. The issue surfaced last week in the widely publicized "closet" murder case, in which a lawyer for an illegal immigrant murder defendant asked unusually intense questions of prospective jurors to determine whether they could be fair in light of the client's immigration status.
The Tennessean has the story
Reid case examined tomorrow
The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in State v. Paul Dennis Reid. At issue are 1) whether the trial court erred in allowing the state to introduce evidence of the murders at the Captain D's restaurant to establish the "mass murder" aggravating circumstance; 2) Whether the defendant's death sentence is invalid under the mandatory review criteria of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-206(c)(1); 3) Whether the trial court erred in denying the motion to limit proof regarding the defendant's financial condition; 4) Whether the trial court erred in allowing the testimony of Mitchell Roberts; 5) Whether the trial court erred in refusing to grant the motion for recusal; and 6) Whether the trial court erred in finding the defendant competent to stand trial.

TACDL officers elected
New officers of the Tennessee Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers for the coming year are Randall E. Reagan of Knoxville, president; Caryll S. Alpert of Nashville, president-elect; Jerry P. Black of Knoxville, secretary; Lorna McCluskey of Memphis, treasurer. William D. Massey of Memphis is past president.

Red Mass held in Knoxville to honor legal profession
Knoxville's Immaculate Conception Church will hold its 7th Annual Red Mass Oct. 26 at 5:30 p.m. The mass is offered in honor of all who serve in the legal profession, "asking blessings of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the legal community regardless of their faith background," the invitation says. All are invited, and judges and law school faculty are invited to wear thier robes.

Election 2006
Lawsuit claims vote-buying in Union Co.
A Scott County lawyer says he lost his bid for the 8th Judicial District public defender's office because of orchestrated vote buying in Union County. In a lawsuit filed in Union County Chancery Court, Leif Jeffers alleges that Union County Commissioner Charlie Cox paid at least 15 voters $10 each to sway their votes.
Read the details in the News Sentinel
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