Compromise on med-mal bill may be falling apart

Even though a late afternoon meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee stretched into the evening, the expected discussion of a med-mal compromise bill did not come up. Rumors in the halls of the legislature, the Nashville Post reports, were that all agreements had been scrapped and what was called a "modified Mississippi plan," addressing only the certification of lawsuits, was going to be put forward.

http://www.nashvillepost.com/news/2007/3/21/medmalpractice_tort_reform_on_life_support

TODAY'S OPINIONS
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Editor-in-Chief, TBALink

CEDRIC L. COPPAGE v. VERONICA Y. GREEN

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Coleman W. Garrett, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cedric L. Coppage.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter, and Warren A. Jasper, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Veronica Y. Greene.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a petition to set aside an order establishing parentage. The child at issue was born in 1990. In 1997, the juvenile court entered an order establishing the petitioner as the child's father. Eight years later, the petitioner took an independent DNA test which indicated that he was not the child's biological father. The petitioner then filed a petition to disestablish his parentage of the child, attaching the results of the independent DNA test to his petition. After a hearing, the juvenile court referee recommended court-approved DNA testing to prove or disprove the petitioner's parentage. This recommendation was confirmed by the juvenile court judge. The respondent mother filed a motion for a rehearing before the juvenile court judge. The motion was granted. After a rehearing, the juvenile court judge dismissed the petitioner's petition for court-ordered DNA testing to determine parentage. The petitioner now appeals. We reverse, determining that relief should be granted under these circumstances, and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2007/coppagecl_032107.pdf


IN RE ADOPTION OF JORDAN S. HAYES (d.o.b. 01/10/99)

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, and Warren Jasper, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, State of Tennessee ex rel. Jessica Livingston.

Kenny L. Hayes, appellee, pro se (no brief filed).

Judge: KIRBY

This is an adoption case involving a child support arrearage. By consent of the biological father, the trial court entered an order terminating the father's parental rights and permitting the husband of the biological mother to adopt the child. The order further stated that the biological father had satisfied all child support obligations. The State intervened in the action and filed a motion to alter or amend the order to include a provision stating that the father still owed child support. At a hearing, the mother stated that she had no desire to collect any child support arrearages from the father. In light of this, the trial court amended its order to reflect that the biological father owed the State a reduced child support arrearage, but owed nothing to the mother. The State now appeals, arguing that the trial court's order constituted an impermissible retroactive modification of the original child support order. We modify the order, finding that the trial court's order was, in fact, a retroactive modification of a valid child support order.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2007/hayesjs_032107.pdf


GEORGE & REBECCA MUSE d/b/a J & E CONSTRUCTION COMPANY v. FIRST PEOPLE'S BANK OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Margaret Beebe Held, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants George & Rebecca Muse d/b/a/J & E Construction Company.

Thomas H. Dickenson and Kristi M. Davis, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Tom O. Wall, Jefferson City, Tennessee, for the appellee First Peoples Bank of Tennessee.

Judge: LEE

In this breach of contract case, the plaintiffs allege that the defendant violated the terms of a line of credit promissory note by discontinuing disbursements to the plaintiffs under the note without cause. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment upon grounds that the plaintiffs' claims had already been settled under a prior settlement agreement and that the plaintiffs were without standing to pursue their claims. The trial court granted the motion. Upon our finding that the evidence does not support the trial court's ruling as to all of the plaintiffs' claims, the trial court's judgment is vacated in part and affirmed in part, and the case is remanded for trial on the merits.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2007/musegeo_032107.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. HEATH BALDWIN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Blake D. Ballin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Heath Baldwin.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Karen Cook and Tiffani Taylor, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Heath Baldwin, pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and received an agreed eleven month, twenty-nine day sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the court ordered that the defendant serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the defendant challenges the denial of an alternative sentence, specifically the denial of probation. After our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the Shelby County Criminal Court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/baldwinh_032107.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DODRICK LOSAME HOUSTON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jeffrey A. DeVasher, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal), and Jonathan Levy, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Dodrick Losame Houston.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Kathy Morante, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Dodrick Losame Houston, pled guilty to burglary and violating the motor vehicle habitual offender law, Class D and E felonies respectively. He was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to two years for the former and one year for the latter, with the sentences to be served consecutively, for an effective sentence of three years. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by denying probation. Following our review, we affirm the sentences ordered by the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/houstond_032107.pdf


BRUCE ALAN LITTLETON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Bruce Alan Littleton, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brian Clay Johnson, Assistant Attorney General; and Dan M. Alsobrooks, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WELLES

The Petitioner, Bruce Alan Littleton, filed a petition for "writ of error coram nobis and/or motion to challenge the legality of guilty plea." The trial court summarily denied relief on the basis that the petition was time-barred. The issues raised by the Petitioner are not appropriately addressed in a petition for writ of error coram nobis and, insofar as the pleading may be considered a petition for post-conviction relief, the trial court properly determined that the statute of limitations had expired. The judgment of the Humphreys County Circuit Court summarily dismissing the petition is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/littletonb_032107.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ALBERT NANCE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Nathan S. Moore, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Albert Nance.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

This matter is before the Court upon the State's motion to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. The appellant has appealed the trial court's order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his sentence in incarceration. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court was correct in revoking the appellant's probation and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the State's motion is granted and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/nancha_032107.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WANDA OVERCAST

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Donna Leigh Hargrove, District Public Defender; and A. Jackson Dearing, III, Assistant District Public Defender, for the Appellant, Wanda Overcast.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Camerson L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Charles F. Crawford, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles and Ann L. Filer, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Wanda Overcast, appeals her Bedford County incarcerative sentence of nine years on her guilty-pleaded convictions of Class B narcotics sale and delivery. The defendant had sought a probationary sentence or some other form of alternative sentencing, which the trial court rejected. Our review of the record discloses no basis to disturb the trial court's sentencing decision, but we remand the case for merger of the judgment convictions into one judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/overcastw_032107.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LEE TURNER

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Philip Condra and Charles Douglas Curtis, II, Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lee Turner.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Julia Oliver Sanders, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCGEE OGLE

The State charged the appellant, Lee Turner, with misdemeanor assault, and a Marion County Circuit Court jury convicted him of that offense. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the appellant to eleven months, twenty-nine days to be served at seventy-five percent. On appeal, the appellant contends (1) that the trial court erred by giving the jury an improper "dynamite" or Allen charge after the jury announced it was deadlocked; (2) that the trial court erred by refusing to admit the victim's prior juvenile conviction into evidence for impeachment purposes; and (3) that the trial court relied on unsubstantiated facts in determining the appellant's sentence. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/turnerl_032107.pdf

MCCLIN DISSENTING
http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/turnerl_dis_032107.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

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Legal News
House subcommittee approves subpoenas for top Bush aides
A House panel on Wednesday approved subpoenas for President Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove and other top White House aides, setting up a constitutional showdown over the firings of eight federal prosecutors. The White House has refused to budge in the controversy, standing by embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and insisting that the firings were appropriate.
Read the Associated Press account on Law.com
Fired U.S. attorneys among top performers
Of the eight U.S. attorneys fired by the Justice Department, six ranked in the top third among their peers for the number of prosecutions filed last year, according to an analysis of federal records. In addition, five of them were among the government's top performers in winning convictions.
Read more in the Commercial Appeal
'Miss Anna Belle' recounts her life out of the public eye
What's it like to interview former state senator Anna Belle Clement O'Brien? Crossville Chronicle writer Jim Bridges describes hearing her life story "much like reading a fascinating novel, one you don't want to put down, anticipating the next event."
Read the full interview in the Crossville Chronicle
Jailers convicted of beating, using chemical agent on inmate
Two former White County corrections officers have been found guilty of violating the civil rights of an inmate at the White County Jail in 2004.
Read more in the Kingsport Times-News
Legislative News
Stay current on legislation with TBA updates
The Tennessee General Assembly is tackling a number of bills of interest to Tennessee lawyers this session. Keep up with action on those bills with the TBA legislative Watch and Action lists.
Check out TBA legislative updates
House panel kills English-only driver's license test bill
Legislation that would have required driver's license tests to be given only in English and allowed state troopers to begin enforcing immigration laws were killed Tuesday in a House subcommittee.
Read more in the Tennessean
Upcoming
Vanderbilt Law School celebrates 50th anniversary of racial integration
Fifty years ago, Vanderbilt Law School became the first privately funded law school in the South to admit African American students. The first two black students, Frederick Taylor Work and Edward Melvin Porter Sr., will return to Vanderbilt March 29-31 to be honored and to speak about their experience.
Learn more about the event
KBA sponsors community law school
The Knoxville Bar Association will sponsor its annual Community Law School, a public education program designed to explain, in layman's terms, how our judicial system works. The program offers a series of courses, on March 24 and 31, to acquaint the public with the U.S. legal system and teach basic facts about rights and responsibilities.
Read more in the News Sentinel
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Getting paid a problem? TennBarU online ethics course can help
Collecting fees is not directly addressed in the Rules of Professional Conduct, however both the rules and malpractice carriers have something to say on the issue. A new online course from TennBarU explores practice management strategies to help reduce the number of non-paying clients and discusses ethical obligations for collecting fees from such clients.
Register or learn more
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TBA members are entitled to discounts up to 21% on select FedEx shipments -- another great benefit of your membership in TBA. For more information or to enroll, simply call a FedEx Advantage customer specialist at 1.800.923.7089. For a limited time, you can enter the FedEx Drive Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $10,000 American Express Business Card statement credit and other prizes.
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