Learn the art: Don't miss out on growing use of arbitration

Arbitration is fast becoming not an alternative to litigation, but a required and recommended way to reach final resolution of disputes. The TennBarU Art of Arbitration seminar will help lawyers who are new to this field, or who are experienced, learn more about the various aspects of arbitration, from considerations in drafting arbitration clauses, choosing an arbitrator, what rules should apply, preparing for a hearing and the law of appeals. Nov. in Nashville, Nov. 9 in Knoxville and Nov. 30 in Memphis. Register now or find out more


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Court: TCCA


Amilcar Cabral Butler, Pollock, Louisiana, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General; and Lawrence Ray Whitley, District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


In May 1994, Petitioner, Amilcar Cabral Butler, pled guilty in the Sumner County Criminal Court to one count of sale of cocaine greater than 0.5 grams, one count of sale of cocaine greater than 26 grams, one count of evading arrest, and one count of felony reckless endangerment. He received an effective sentence of ten (10) years. On February 5, 2007, Petitioner filed a pleading entitled "Writ of Error Coram Nobis." In his pleadings, Petitioner argues various theories as to why the trial court did not have jurisdiction over him when he pled guilty. The trial court summarily dismissed the petition. The State has filed a motion pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, requesting this Court to affirm the judgment of the trial court. Having found the motion to have merit, we grant same and accordingly affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Thomas H. Potter, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mindy Sue Dodd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General; and William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Mindy Sue Dodd, was convicted by a Rutherford County jury of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder in the death of her husband, Sherman Henry Dodd. She received concurrent sentences of life in prison and twenty years. This court affirmed her convictions on direct appeal, and her application for permission to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court was denied. State v. Mindy S. Dodd, No. M2002-01882-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 22999444, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 23, 2003), perm. to appeal denied (Tenn. June 1, 2004). The petitioner sought post-conviction relief alleging, inter alia, denial of her constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court found that the petitioner had failed to show that her trial counsel was ineffective and dismissed her petition. Following our review of the record and the findings of the post-conviction court, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.



Court: TCCA


Richard L. Gaines, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender; John Halstead, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Joseph Wayne Higgins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; Leslie Nassios, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Joseph Wayne Higgins, was convicted by a Knox County jury of three counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and received an effective sentence of forty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The defendant appeals his convictions, arguing that the trial court (1) committed plain error by improperly admitting testimony relating to acts committed by the defendant that were unrelated to the elected offenses, (2) committed plain error by improperly admitting testimony of three witnesses who bolstered the victim's credibility after it had been impeached, (3) improperly instructed the jury as to "recklessness", (4) improperly imposed an excessive sentence, and (5) improperly sentenced the defendant to consecutive terms. After reviewing the record, we conclude that the trial court improperly admitted testimony regarding specific acts of conduct by the defendant and failed to instruct the jury regarding prior consistent statements. However, because we conclude that these errors did not rise to the level of plain error, we deny the defendant relief on these issues. We also conclude that the trial court properly instructed the jury regarding recklessness and properly imposed consecutive sentences. However, we conclude that the trial court improperly applied sentence enhancement factors to one of the defendant's convictions. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but reduce the defendant's total effective sentence from forty-five years to forty years.



Court: TCCA


Tony L. Maples (on appeal) and James R. Smith (at trial), Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lavon Nunnery.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Trevor H. Lynch and Thomas S. Santel, Jr., Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

After a bench trial, the Rutherford County Circuit Court convicted the defendant, Lavon Nunnery, of misdemeanor assault for threatening to turn his pit bulldog loose on his neighbor. The trial court subsequently sentenced him to eleven months, twenty-nine days in the county workhouse, to be served consecutively to the three-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon for which he was on probation at the time of the instant offense. In a timely appeal to this court, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, arguing that the proof was insufficient to show that the victim reasonably feared imminent bodily injury from the dog. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Adoptions by Same Sex Couples

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-10-07

Opinion Number: 07-140


Bank Officer and Shareholder as County Commissioner

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-10-07

Opinion Number: 07-141



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