Judge Tacha compelling at KBA's Supreme Court dinner

More than 350 Knoxville-area lawyers attended last night's annual Knoxville Bar Association Supreme Court Dinner, hearing a lively, inspiring, funny and meaningful address by Judge Deanell Reece Tacha. Tacha is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Tennessee's Chief Justice Mickey Barker gave the opening remarks, emphasizing pro bono service by lawyers. The dinner, held as the court opens its fall term in East Tennessee, is a highlight of the Knoxville legal calendar. Representing the TBA at the event were President Marcy Eason, President-Elect Buck Lewis and his wife Malinda, and Executive Director Allan Ramsaur.
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Court: TSC


Mary Katherine Longworth and Peggy J. S. Monger, Loudon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lenore H. Gooden, and for the plaintiffs, Canyon Gooden and Dezert Gooden.

Beverly D. Nelms and Robert L. Kahn, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Coors Technical Ceramic Company.


We accepted review in this workers' compensation case to determine whether an employee who was injured while voluntarily participating in a recreational activity during a work break on the employer's premises was injured within the course of employment. The employer argues that recovery for such an injury is barred by Young v. Taylor-White, LLC, 181 S.W.3d 324, 330 (Tenn. 2005), which held that the employee's voluntary recreational activities were not within the course of employment. We take this opportunity to clarify that the voluntary nature of an activity, while important, is but one factor to consider in determining whether an injury occurs in the course of employment. We further conclude that the employee's participation in the recreational activity in this case was a regular incident of employment because the employer knowingly permitted the activity to occur several times a week. We therefore hold that the injury occurred in the course of employment. Accordingly, we reverse the ruling of the trial court and remand for a determination of benefits.



Court: TCA


Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Brad H. Buchanan, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Loren L. Chumley, Commissioner of Revenue for the State of Tennessee.

A. Phillip Lomonaco, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Steven Waters.

Judge: LEE

The issue we address in this appeal is whether Tennessee's Drug Tax is constitutionally valid. Plaintiff was arrested for possession of cocaine, and shortly thereafter, the Tennessee Department of Revenue assessed taxes, penalty, and interest against him pursuant to a state excise tax statute that levies a tax on persons in possession of designated amounts of unauthorized substances, T.C.A. Section 67-4-2801, et seq. Subsequently, the Department of Revenue filed a tax lien against plaintiff's real property and executed a levy against his bank account. Plaintiff filed suit against the Commissioner of Revenue, charging that the tax statute violates both the state and federal constitutions. The trial court entered judgment in favor of plaintiff, decreeing that the tax constitutes a violation of constitutional rights of due process and protections against self incrimination. We affirm the trial court's conclusion upon the alternate ground that the statute is arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable and, therefore, invalid under the Tennessee Constitution, in that it seeks to tax as a privilege, activity that prior legislation has designated as criminal activity.



Court: TCCA


Ryan B. Feeney, Selmer, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert S. Barnes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Elizabeth T. Rice, District Attorney General; and Tracey Brewer-Walker, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

Following a jury trial, the petitioner, Robert S. Barnes, was convicted of reckless endangerment, attempted rape, robbery, aggravated burglary, and assault. For his convictions, the petitioner was sentenced as a career offender to an effective sentence of forty-five years for the felony convictions, plus consecutive sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days for each of the two misdemeanor convictions. On direct appeal, this court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Robert Sanford Barnes, No. W2003-02967-CCA-R3-CD, 2005 WL 331376 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Feb. 11, 2005). The petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief which the post-conviction court subsequently denied after an evidentiary hearing. The petitioner now appeals. In this appeal, the petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective. Following a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



Court: TCCA


Robert Wilson Jones (on appeal) and Donna J. Armstard (at trial and on appeal), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rhonda Wilkins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Steve Jones, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Rhonda Wilkins, pled guilty in the Shelby County Criminal Court to one count of aggravated assault and received a sentence of three years. The appellant requested that the trial court grant her judicial diversion, and the trial court denied the request. However, the appellant's sentence was suspended, and she was placed on probation. On appeal, the appellant challenges the denial of judicial diversion. Upon our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



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