Memphis Law named 5th best value law school

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law recently was named the 5th best value law school in the nation by PreLaw magazine. To be considered for the award, a public university had to have a tuition lower than $25,000, a bar passage rate higher than the state average and an employment rate of 85 percent or better, the Memphis Daily News reports. See the listings:

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Court: TCA


M. Chad Trammel and S. Drake Martin, Jackson, Tennessee, and Brian G. Brooks, Greenbrier, Arkansas, for appellant, The Estate of Eldora Burkes, by and through its Administrator, C.T.A., Calvin Burkes.

Donna L. Boyce and Brian S. Faughnan, Memphis, Tennessee, for appellee, St. Peter Villa, Inc., d/b/a St. Peter Villa Nursing Home.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves an award of discretionary costs after a voluntary dismissal. The plaintiff estate filed a lawsuit against the defendant nursing home, alleging abuse and neglect of the plaintiff's decedent. The defendant nursing home filed a motion for summary judgment and a motion to exclude the plaintiff's expert. The motion for summary judgment was denied, but the motion to exclude the plaintiff's expert was granted. The plaintiff then filed a notice of voluntary nonsuit. Consequently, the trial court entered an order of voluntary dismissal without prejudice. After entry of this order, the defendant nursing home filed a motion for discretionary costs, pursuant to Rule 54.04(2) of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. The trial court granted the motion, and entered an order assessing the costs against the plaintiff estate. The plaintiff estate now appeals, arguing that the defendant nursing home was not entitled to an award of discretionary costs because it obtained no relief on the merits of the case and therefore was not a "prevailing party." We affirm, finding that Rule 54.04(2) expressly authorizes the trial court, in its discretion, to award discretionary costs to a defendant in a lawsuit that is voluntarily dismissed without prejudice.


Court: TCA


Charles D. Paty, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Michael R. Payne.

Charles D. Paty, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Michael R. Payne.


This is a divorce case involving a marriage of almost thirty years between Kimberly L. Payne ("Wife") and Michael R. Payne ("Husband"). The parties have two adult children. Wife filed a complaint for divorce based on Husband's alleged inappropriate marital conduct. Husband filed a counterclaim also seeking a divorce, but claiming it was Wife who had engaged in inappropriate marital conduct. Following a trial, the Trial Court divided the marital property and awarded Wife alimony in futuro of $1,800 per month. Husband appeals claiming that, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-5-121(f)(2), the alimony award was improper because the Trial Court failed to take into account that Wife was living with a new boyfriend who, Husband claims, was providing financial support to Wife. Husband also challenges the marital property distribution. We affirm.


Court: TCA


Kevin W. Shepherd, Maryville, Tennessee, for appellant.

Neill R. Monoghan, Maryville, Tennessee, for appellee.


In this divorce action, the wife was awarded the divorce and periodic alimony. The Trial Judge also divided the marital property. The husband appealed. We affirm the Trial Court's Judgment, as modified.


Court: TCCA


Robert Wilson Jones, Shelby County Public Defender; Tony N. Brayton, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); Larry Nance and Kathy Kent, Assistant Public Defenders (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Robert Austin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Amy Weirich and Nicole Germain, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HAYES

A Shelby County jury found the Appellant, Robert Austin, guilty of two counts of first degree premeditated murder and one count of criminal attempt to commit first degree premeditated murder. Following the penalty phase of the trial, the jury sentenced Austin to two terms of life imprisonment without parole. At a subsequent sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Austin to forty years, as a Range II offender, for the attempted first degree murder and ordered that all of his sentences run consecutively. On appeal, Austin presents the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in disallowing expert testimony regarding Austin's capacity to form the requisite intent for intentional or knowing offenses; (2) whether the evidence is sufficient to support the convictions; and (3) whether the trial court erred in ordering consecutive sentencing. With regard to issue (1), we conclude that the trial court erred in excluding expert testimony; however, the error was harmless. The remaining issues are without merit. Accordingly, the judgments of conviction and the imposition of consecutive sentences are affirmed.


Court: TCCA


James E. Lanier, District Public Defender and Patrick McGill, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Randall Carver.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; and Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Randall Carver, filed a pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis and/or habeas corpus relief. The trial court treated the petition as one for post-conviction and summarily dismissed the petition. On appeal, this Court affirmed the post-conviction court's dismissal of the petition. See Randall Carver v. State, No. M2002-02891-CCA-R3-CO, 2003 WL 21145572 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, May 16, 2003). Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging numerous claims for relief. The trial court denied the petition without a hearing, determining that because Petitioner failed to produce material to the court for consideration and that because Petitioner was being held by the State of Kentucky on Kentucky charges all of Petitioner's issues were moot. Petitioner appealed. On appeal, this Court, without reaching the merits of Petitioner's argument, remanded the case for determination of "why the counsel who represented the petitioner in the lower court is not representing the petitioner on appeal." See Randall Carver v. Tony Parker, Warden, No. W2005-00522-CCA-R3-HC, 2006 WL 140408, at *2 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Jan. 18, 2006). On remand, the trial court learned that Petitioner had been granted parole on his underlying sentences in the State of Tennessee, waived extradition and was transferred to the custody of the State of Kentucky. Subsequently, the trial court entered an order denying the petition for writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal. He argues that he is entitled to request habeas corpus relief while being incarcerated in Kentucky and that this Court should transfer the petition to the court in which he was originally convicted. Because an out-of-state resident may seek habeas corpus relief in Tennessee from a Tennessee conviction, see State v. Church, 987 S.W.2d 855, 857-58 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1998), and the supreme court recently determined in Joseph Faulkner a/k/a Jerry Faulkner v. State, ___ S.W.3d ___, 2007 WL 1226831, at *6 (Tenn. Apr. 27, 2007), that a "prisoner serving concurrent state and federal sentences in a federal correctional institution may challenge his state convictions through the use of the state writ of habeas corpus," we determine that the trial court did not lose jurisdiction to make a determination on the merits of Petitioner's claim by virtue of Petitioner's parole from his Tennessee convictions and incarceration in Kentucky. Therefore, we reverse and remand the judgment of the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TCCA


Jimmie Lee Hoyle, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Joe Van Dyke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Jimmie Lee Hoyle, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that it was error for the post-conviction court to deny relief without holding an evidentiary hearing, allowing him to amend his petition, or appointing counsel. Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner stated a colorable claim in his petition. Accordingly, we reverse the post-conviction court's order of dismissal and remand for further proceedings.


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