CLE offers introduction to state and federal court practice

The TBA Young Lawyers Division, in partnership with TennBarU, will offer a two-hour seminar next Wednesday, Jan. 10, in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. The session introduces the basics of practicing in Tennessee's state and federal trial courts. Participants will hear from seasoned practioners who will talk about court rules and customs and share their own observations about developing an effective trial practice. Learn more or register at:

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


Court: TCA


William M. Harris, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ametra Bailey, County Mayor of Lawrence County, Tennessee.

John S. Colley, III, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellee, William Dorning, Sheriff of Lawrence County, Tennessee.


The Sheriff of Lawrence County filed this action against Lawrence County pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. Section 8-20-101 seeking additional personnel and funding, some of which the Sheriff had not requested through the budget process. The trial court ruled in the Sheriff's favor on most issues, and Lawrence County appeals the trial court's decisions to grant the Sheriff eight new deputies and across-the-board salary increases for all personnel, retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year. We have concluded that the Sheriff is estopped pursuant to the County Budgeting Law of 1957 to petition the court for any relief not requested in the Sheriff's budget proposals submitted to the County during the formal budget process. Therefore, we modify the award for additional deputies, limiting the increase to two deputies, which is the number the Sheriff requested in his budget request proposals submitted to the County. We affirm the trial court's decision to make the salary increases retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year.

With Appendix

Court: TCA


Geri D. Spindel, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lisa Dawn Winton Haines.

Kirk Andrews and Laura Jane Webb, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lee Alan Haines.

No brief filed on behalf of Jerry W. Cunningham, Maryville, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem for Abigayle Leigh Haines and Jessica Dawn Haines.


In this post-divorce proceeding, the trial court granted the petition of Lee Alan Haines ("Father") to change the custody of the parties' two minor children from Lisa Dawn Winton Haines ("Mother") to Father. The change in custody followed a bench trial at which the trial court heard, in chambers, the testimony of the children as elicited by the leading questions of the Guardian Ad Litem ("the GAL"). The examination took place outside the physical presence of counsel for the parties. Mother appeals, (1) challenging the change of custody; (2) questioning evidentiary rulings by the trial court; and (3) asserting that the trial court erred in allowing the children to be questioned in chambers by the GAL outside the physical presence of counsel for the parties. We hold that the in-chambers proceeding, as designed and conducted by the trial court, constitutes error. Because we deem the error to be a violation of due process and prejudicial to the judicial process, we vacate the trial court's judgment in toto and remand for a new trial before a different judge.



Court: TCA


H. Anthony Duncan, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jean E. Hood.

J. Daniel Freemon, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, pro se for the appellees, J. Daniel Freemon and Ron Mayes.


The owner of a tract of undeveloped commercial property in the city of Lawrenceburg asked the trial court to enjoin the lessees of that property from subletting it to the city for the purpose of building a retention pond. She claimed that such a use would constitute waste or create a permanent and private nuisance on the land. The trial court declined to issue the injunction and certified its decision as final for purposes of appeal. We reverse.

With Separate Dissenting and Concurring Opinion

Court: TCA


William Kennerly Burger, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant, William James Jekot.

Darrell L. Scarlett, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Pennie Christine Jekot.

Judge: LEE

In this divorce case, the husband appeals the trial court's division of marital property, the amount of the award of rehabilitative alimony to the wife, and the grant of divorce to the wife based on the husband's adultery. The wife argues that she should have been awarded alimony in futuro rather than rehabilitative alimony. After review, we find no error in the trial court's division of the marital property and the award of divorce to the wife based on the husband's adultery. However, we do find error in the award of alimony. We find that the wife is not capable of being rehabilitated and that the amount of monthly alimony awarded should be altered. We affirm the judgment as to the marital property and the award of divorce based on the husband's adultery and modify the trial court's judgment to award the wife alimony in futuro in the amount of $9,000 per month.

D. MICHAEL SWINEY, J., Separate Dissenting and Concurring Opinion


Court: TCA


Carlton B. Parks, appellant, pro se.

Crystal R. Freiberg and Michael A. McMahan, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees City of Chattanooga, William S. Parker, Jr., Jimmie L. Dotson, Steven M. Parks, Stephen W. Angel, and James T Carroll.


Carlton B. Parks ("the plaintiff") is a former police officer with the Chattanooga Police Department. While employed as a police officer, the plaintiff was charged with rape. As a result of the rape allegations, the plaintiff's employment with the City of Chattanooga was terminated. After the rape charges against the plaintiff were dismissed, he unsuccessfully sought reinstatement. The plaintiff filed two lawsuits against the City of Chattanooga and various other defendants in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. In those two lawsuits, the plaintiff asserted numerous constitutional, statutory, and common law violations. Both of the federal court lawsuits were dismissed on summary judgment. The present lawsuit is the plaintiff's third lawsuit; he asserts only state law claims in the present suit. The trial court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss after finding the present claims were barred by the claim preclusion doctrine. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.


Court: TCA


Charles W. Swanson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant Steven E. Schrader.

Kirk Andrews and Paul Randal Dillard, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellee Kathy H. Schrader.


Steven E. Schrader ("Husband") filed a complaint seeking a divorce from Kathy H. Schrader ("Wife") after a 15-year marriage. Wife filed a counterclaim also seeking a divorce. Husband's attorney later withdrew from the case; the attorney stated that he had been unable to communicate with his client for over five months. At some point, Husband moved to a new location, but he failed to inform the trial court, Wife, or Wife's attorney of his new address. This matter was set for trial on July 26, 2004, and, when the date arrived, Husband failed to appear. The trial court proceeded with the trial in Husband's absence. Wife was the only witness. Following the trial, the court entered a final judgment that awarded Wife just under 99% of the marital property. Husband filed a motion to set aside the final judgment, asserting various reasons as to why he was entitled to the requested relief, including an argument that the marital property division was not equitable. The trial court refused to set aside its judgment. We vacate the trial courtís division of the marital property and its award of alimony in solido because we hold that Wife's proof preponderates against a finding that the division is equitable. The remainder of the trial court's judgment is affirmed. This case is remanded for a new trial on the issue of an equitable division of the marital property and, if necessary, the issue of alimony in solido.


Court: TCA


Cynthia C. Chappell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Peter White.

Cynthia M. Odle, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Anita Wadhwani.


A former spouse challenges the extension and modification of an Order of Protection, contending the proof was insufficient to justify either the extension or modification. Finding the record contains sufficient evidence from which the trial court could determine an extension and modification of the Order was necessary, we affirm.


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