Planning underway for TBA Convention in Gatlinburg

The largest annual gathering of Tennessee lawyers will be in Gatlinburg next summer, and leaders in the Tennessee legal community met there last week to begin planning educational programs, activities and more. Joining TBA President Marcy Eason were Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, Tennessee Trial Lawyers Vice President Wayne Ritchie II and Tennessee Judicial Conference President Judge Kelly Thomas. Mark your calendars now for the TBA Convention on June 11-14.

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Court: TSC

Corrected Opinion

Court: TSC


Robert L. Trentham and Taylor B. Mayes, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Wesley Coker, M.D.

Larry D. Ashworth and Richard H. Baston, II, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Gilbert and Hixie Waters

Judge: WADE

In a medical malpractice suit filed by the Plaintiffs, Gilbert Waters and his wife, Hixie Waters, against an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Wesley Coker, the trial court provided a divided jury with a variation of the "dynamite charge." Because the Plaintiffs did not present the issue as a ground for relief in the motion for new trial or otherwise provide the trial court with the opportunity to correct its error, the issue has been waived. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the judgment of the trial court is reinstated.


Court: TCA


Kenneth M. Bryant, Sean C. Kirk, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carthage General Hospital, Inc.

Jacky O. Bellar, Carthage, Tennessee, for the appellee, Estate of Jewell B. Green


A hospital filed a claim for unpaid services provided to decedent. The decedent's estate filed an exception asserting, inter alia, that the claim was void because it was filed by a nonlawyer officer or employee of the nonprofit corporation hospital. The trial court struck the claim, finding it void. We hold the filing of a claim by a nonlawyer is not the unauthorized practice of law because it does not require the professional judgment of a lawyer. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court.


Court: TCA


Edward L. Hiland, Nashville, Tennessee, and Hilary H. Duke, Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sucheta Misra

Robert Todd Jackson, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Amaresh Misra


In this divorce matter, the wife appeals contending the trial court erred in finding her partly at fault for the divorce, failing to award her alimony in futuro, dividing the assets of the parties based solely upon the husband's suggested division, and finding the husband was more credible than she. Finding no evidence to support a conclusion that the wife was at fault, we reverse the trial court on that issue; however, we find no other error, and therefore affirm in all other respects.


Court: TCA


John Ruff, Pro se

Evan Nahmias, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Raleigh Assembly of God Church, Inc.


On remand pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 27-3-128, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Defendant with respect to Plaintiff's claim for assault. We affirm.


Court: TCCA


Gerald L. Melton, District Public Defender and Russell N. Perkins, Assistant District Public Defender, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Eric L. Abell

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William Whitesell, District Attorney General; Trevor H. Lynch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee


In three separate cases, the Defendant, Eric L. Abell, pled guilty to multiple drug offenses and was sentenced to eighteen years and one month of probation. A probation violation warrant, and two amended warrants, were filed against the Defendant. After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant's probation and ordered him to serve his entire sentence in prison. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it revoked his probation. Concluding that no error exists, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Lloyd A. Levitt, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, James B. Hunter

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, District Attorney General; and Lila Statom, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, James B. Hunter, pled guilty to simple possession of marijuana and possession of less than .5 grams of cocaine in exchange for concurrent sentences of eleven months twenty-nine days, suspended, and three years, suspended on supervised probation, respectively. As a condition of his plea, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2), the defendant reserved a certified question of law dispositive of the case regarding whether the police had reasonable suspicion to stop and detain his vehicle and had probable cause to search him and his property. Following our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we conclude that the officers had reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant but did not have probable cause to search the defendant or his vehicle. Therefore, all evidence gathered from this constitutionally impermissible search must be suppressed. Because the evidence is dispositive to the case at hand, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and dismiss this case.


Court: TCCA


Sean G. Williams, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, McArthur Sharp

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry N. Estes, District Attorney General; and John H. Bledsoe and Shari Young, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, McArthur Sharp, pled guilty to two counts of the sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine, Class C felonies; one count of the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine, a Class B felony; and violation of probation. He was sentenced to an effective term of eighteen years imprisonment. Thereafter, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the court denied after a hearing. On appeal, he argues that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel which caused him to enter unknowing and involuntary guilty pleas. Following our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.


Court: TCCA


James E. Williams, pro se

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee


The Petitioner, James E. Williams, appeals the trial court's denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis and motion to reopen his petition for post-conviction relief. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the trial court's denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. We find the State's motion has merit. Accordingly, the motion is granted and the appeal is affirmed pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.


Legal News
BPR Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Anna He reunites with biological parents today
Anna Mae He, the 8-year-old at the center of a custody battle that generated international attention, is to be reunited today with her biological parents Jack and Casey He. The action follows a decision last week by Anna's foster parents that they would not pursue further legal action for the child. Anna was removed from their home Friday and spent the weekend in the custody of Juvenile Court.
The Commercial Appeal has more
Bush issues executive order on interrogation
President Bush on Friday signed an executive order prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment in the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects. The order mandates that interrogation practices be safe and that detainees receive basic necessities, including adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, necessary clothing and essential medical care.
Read a copy of the order
Memphians charged with filing bogus Katrina claims
Two Memphis residents have been charged with lying about living in Mississippi or Louisiana while seeking financial assistance from FEMA. Each charge carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Read about it in the Memphis Daily News
Bankruptcy rate remains high
Bankruptcy rates continue to remain elevated in the three highest-filing states in the country -- Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama -- at a time when numbers appear to be slowing down or leveling off in many regions. And Shelby County, Tennessee, has the highest bankruptcy rate of any county in the country. Read what experts are saying about the causes.
The Memphis Daily News reports
State cracks down on TennCare fraud
It is now a Class E felony in Tennessee for a TennCare beneficiary to seek controlled substance prescriptions from multiple healthcare providers without disclosing prescriptions for the same or similar medications obtained in the last 30 days. The Memphis Daily News reports that the law is intended to stop "doctor shopping," which leads to the illicit use and sale of prescription drugs.

DA recruiting truant tutors
Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons' office is recruiting tutors for its Truancy Reduction Initiative, which pairs students with five or more unexcused school absences with mentors rather than prosecuting them. For more information about the program,
Early release of inmates criticized
Mike Dunavant, district attorney for the 25th Judicial District, filed a new complaint in Fayette County Circuit Court last week against General Sessions Judge Mike Whitaker. The filing criticizes Whitaker for releasing 28 inmates from the Fayette County Jail last weekend. County officials say the jail is sufficient to house inmates, while Whitaker believes the jail poses a hazard to inmates' safety.
The Commercial Appeal has more
Salary increases for governor, judges test state constitution
Knoxville News Sentinel columnist Tom Humphrey writes in today's paper that Governor Phil Bredesen is ignoring -- and perhaps breaking -- a state law that would have given him a $5,160 annual pay raise on July 1. But the governor's legal counsel says the state constitution prohibits such salary increases.
Learn more in the News Sentinel
Two responses to immigration enforcement
Williamson County Sheriff Ricky Headley announced that the county has signed an agreement with the federal government so his deputies can crack down on illegal immigration. The new initiative will allow officers to detain suspected illegal immigrants in jail if they have a criminal record or have ever been deported. The Columbia Herald has more on the story

By contrast, Kingsport Police say their department isn't inclined to participate in the federal program because illegals are "not a major concern" in the city. This article in the Kingsport Times News presents their view of the issue.

LSC Board to Meet in Nashville this week
The Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation will meet in Nashville this Friday and Saturday. TBA President Marcy Eason will address the group during a Friday luncheon. Also included in the board's visit will be a tour of the offices of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands in Nashville and a reception hosted by the Miller & Martin law firm.

BPR Actions
Memphis lawyer suspended
Drayton Beecher Smith II was summarily suspended from the practice of law on July 11 after pleading guilty to two counts of possession of and receiving child pornography. After imposing the suspension, the Supreme Court referred the matter to the Board of Professional Responsibility for a formal proceeding to determine final discipline.
Read the BPR's release
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