Knox man's case could influence federal decisions

Knoxville drug dealer Alvin Vonner may not have set out to shape the federal sentencing landscape in four states, including Tennessee, and maybe even the nation, but he is poised to do just that. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has granted an "en banc" rehearing. Vonner's case is about the reasonableness of his 117-month prison term for dealing drugs in Knoxville, and could set the course for sentencing decisions for every federal criminal in the circuit and, perhaps, the nation.

http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/local_news/article/0,1406,KNS_347_5091444,00.html

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ANDRE L. DOTSON v. CITY OF MEMPHIS

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Andre L. Dotson, appellant, pro se.

Fred E. Jones, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Memphis.

Judge: KIRBY

This is an appeal from the dismissal of an inmate's civil action for failure to pay costs in prior lawsuits. The plaintiff inmate, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint in the trial court against the defendant municipality alleging violations of the government tort liability act, proceeding as a pauper. The State filed a motion to dismiss the case based on Tennessee Code Annotated Section 41-21-812, because the plaintiff had failed to pay costs in previous lawsuits filed by him. Realizing that his lawsuit was subject to dismissal under the statute, the plaintiff then paid the initial filing fee and cash bond for the instant lawsuit, but did not pay the costs for the prior lawsuits. The plaintiff subsequently filed a response to the State's motion to dismiss, claiming that, although he initially was prohibited from filing the lawsuit, because he subsequently paid his filing fees for the instant lawsuit, Section 41-21-812 was not applicable. The trial court dismissed the case pursuant to the statute. The plaintiff now appeals. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2006/dotsona_102506.pdf


HAL GERBER v. ROBERT R. HOLCOMB, SALANS, HOLCOMB MANAGEMENT, Inc., HOLCOMB INVESTMENTS, L.P., and VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

David E. Caywood and Lucie K. Brackin, Memphis, Tennessee, for Plaintiff/Appellant Hal Gerber.

Michelle L. Betserai, Memphis, Tennessee, for Defendant/Appellee Robert R. Holcomb.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a garnishment action. The plaintiff lawyer filed a lawsuit against the defendant to collect on a promissory note. This lawsuit was settled by a consent decree requiring the defendant to make installment payments. The defendant became delinquent in the agreed payments. The plaintiff then issued a garnishment request to the defendant's employer, based on the consent decree. In response, the defendant filed a motion in the trial court to stay the garnishment and establish installment payments. After a hearing, the trial court entered an order as to the monthly amount to which the plaintiff was entitled in garnished wages. This amount was less than the maximum statutory amount permitted for garnishment. The plaintiff now appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by not awarding the maximum statutory amount. We affirm, finding no abuse of discretion.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2006/gerberh_102506.pdf


C. PHILLIP MCDOW v. SARA CIARAMITARO MCDOW

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Mitchell D. Moskovitz, Adam N. Cohen, and Linda L. Holmes, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, C. Phillip McDow.

Matthew Ian John, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sara Ciaramitaro McDow.

Judge: FARMER

This is a divorce case in which grounds were stipulated. Husband appeals the trial court's award of alimony in futuro to Wife. He asserts, in the alternative, that if this Court affirms the award of alimony the matter must be remanded for reconsideration of the division of property. We vacate the award of alimony in futuro and remand.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2006/mcdowc_102506.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
BPR Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
New court ruling on fetuses negates abuse charge
A woman who has served nearly four years in prison for child abuse -- her baby girl was born with syphilis and addicted to cocaine -- is about to be released because the Court of Criminal Appeals "has ruled that a child fetus can't be a victim" of child abuse. "Our office does not agree with that, but it is the law," Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles said.
The Shelbyville Times-Gazette has the story
N.J. court opens door for gay marriages
New Jersey's highest court opened the door Wednesday to making the state the second in the nation to allow gay marriage, the Associated Press reports. The court ruled that lawmakers must offer homosexuals either marriage or something like it, such as civil unions.
Read the full story
'The Farm' files suit against military development
The "peace-loving vegetarians" who run The Farm in Summertown, Tenn., have filed suit under Tennessee's nuisance law, to block a former Secret Service agent from opening a military school and becoming their next-door neighbor.
WSMV.com has the story
Robinson to be released on 'illegal' sentence
A man who admits to killing another is set to be released from prison soon after serving 10 of his 20-year sentence. Attorney Mike Little said Kenneth Robinson was given an "illegal" sentence after pleading guilty to a 1995 murder, and it took years for the justice system to correct it, Chattanoogan.com reports. Originally, Robinson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with the understanding that he would get a 20-year term with parole eligibilty after serving 30 percent of the sentence. But a law had gone into effect at the time that second-degree murder convictions had to be served at 100 percent. Little said that fact "got by the prosecutor, the defense attorney and the judge in the case."
Read the story
Judge forbids boy's circumcision
A Chicago judge ruled yesterday that a 9-year-old boy should not be circumcised against his will, the Chicago Tribune reports. The case pitted divorced parents, with the mother in favor and the father opposed. The case was a clear victory for the growing number of so-called "intactivist groups" across the country that argued circumcision is harmful and violates the rights of children who are not old enough to consent to the irreversible medical procedure.
The Commercial Appeal carried the story
VORP could be best answer to resolving a conflict
Crossville's Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) handles one third of all VORP cases in the state, about 200-250 cases per year, because of its large volunteer base. But it could use more. The Tennessee State Supreme Court contracts with VORPs across the state to provide mediation services in criminal cases. There are 10 such programs in Tennessee.
Read more in the Crossville-Chronicle
Court rejects claim that plea was forced
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected claims of a forced guilty plea by the convicted ringleader of an occult-worshiping band of Kentuckians who killed three members of a Powell, Tenn., family. It was Natasha Wallen Cornett's fifth try at convincing the legal system she didn't mean it when she took a plea deal that spared her life, but ensured she lives it behind bars. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to take a look at her claim, this likely will be her last shot at a new hearing.
Read more in the News Sentinel
BPR Actions
Nashville attorney receives public censure
On Oct. 20, Jeffrey Scott Pulley of Nashville received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility based upon complaints arising from the neglect of two divorce cases. Pulley's neglect and failure to communicate with his clients violates Rules 1.3, 1.4 and 3.2 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.
Read the BPR release
Nashville attorney censured
On Oct. 17, Charles W. Cross of Nashville received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court. Cross neglected a client's case and failed to communicate with his client, in violation of Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.16 and 8.4(a)(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.
Read the BPR release
Paris attorney censured
Richard L. Dunlap of Paris, Tenn., received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 16. He was charged with grabbing another attorney at the Henry County Court Annex last December. The board also charged Dunlap with offering temporary employment to someone who witnessed the incident. The court found that Dunlap's actions violate Rules 3.4, 8.1 and 8.4 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.
Read the BPR release
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