U.S. Senate rejects cut to legal services funding

The U.S. Senate this afternoon tabled an amendment that would have cut $20 million from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to increase funding for the prosecution of violent crimes on tribal lands. The vote of 61-32 came during consideration of the fiscal year 2008 funding bill for the Department of Justice. Tennessee's senators split their vote. Lamar Alexander voted against the motion to kill the amendment, while Bob Corker voted with the majority to maintain the bill's funding level for the LSC. See the roll call vote
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Court: TWCA


Richard W. Rucker for the appellant, City of Murfreesboro.

R. Steve Waldron for the appellee, Efram LaVance Watley.

Judge: LADD

This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this case, the trial court found that the employee suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of witnessing a visually disturbing incident in the course of his job as a police dispatcher and awarded 15% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employer has appealed, contending that the triggering incident was not beyond the normal stress associated with the employee's job and was therefore not compensable. The employee contends the trial court's award was inadequate. Because we find that the triggering event went beyond the normal stress level associated with the employee's job and that the employee does not have to be exposed to danger in order to recover for a purely psychological injury, we affirm the trial court's decision.



Court: TCA


Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James R. Brewer.

Paul A. Bates, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellee, Virginia Brewer.


This appeal concerns the custodial and financial determinations upon the dissolution of a ten-year marriage. The trial court designated the wife as the permanent residential parent of the couple's four minor children and awarded the husband visitation on alternating weekends, holidays, and spring breaks plus two weeks in the summer. Having concluded that the husband did not provide reliable evidence of his potential income or pursue employment, the trial court imputed the median gross income to the husband for purposes of setting child support. With marital debts substantially exceeding marital assets, the trial court divided marital assets and debts in such a manner that the husband was responsible for three times the debt that was assigned to the wife. On appeal, the husband contends the trial court erred by not designating him as the permanent residential parent or, alternatively, by not awarding him more visitation; by imputing the median income to him for purposes of child support; and in its division of the marital debts. We have determined that the trial court did not err in designating the wife as the primary residential parent, by failing to afford to the husband more visitation time, or in its division of the marital estate. With respect to child support, we have concluded the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the husband failed to pursue employment. As a consequence of this finding and the fact the husband introduced evidence of his income for the relevant period, the trial court did not have the discretion to impute the median gross income of a Tennessee male parent to the husband. We, therefore, reverse the ruling of the trial court as to the husband's child support obligation, and remand the issue for the trial court to set child support based upon the proof in the record.



Court: TCCA


Bruce E. Poston, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Kimberly E. Cunningham.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Michael E. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Robert Headrick, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The State of Tennessee tried the defendant, Kimberly E. Cunningham, for the second degree murder of the victim, Coy Hundley, see T.C.A. section 39-13-210 (2006), who was cohabiting with the defendant's sister and fathered the sister's children. A Blount County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant of voluntary manslaughter. See id. section 39-13-211. The defendant killed the victim because he allegedly raped her youngest daughter. The trial court sentenced the defendant to four years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction of voluntary manslaughter; (2) the trial court erred in denying the defendant judicial diversion; (3) the sentence of four years was too lengthy; (4) the trial court erred in denying probation; and (5) the trial court erred in denying other alternative sentencing. We hold that the evidence is sufficient, and we hold that the trial court neither erred in denying judicial diversion nor erred in denying full probation. However, upon our de novo review of the rehabilitation factor relating to alternative sentencing, we sentence the defendant to serve six months in confinement and the remaining three years and six months on supervised probation. In addition, she must perform 120 hours of community service as a condition of her post-confinement probation.


Commercial Fishing

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-10-12

Opinion Number: 07-144


One Person Serving Simultaneously as City Attorney and City Judge of Town of Livingston

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-10-12

Opinion Number: 07-145



Legal News
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Legal News
Cottrell first woman to head appellate court section
Judge Patricia J. Cottrell of Nashville has become the first woman elected to serve as presiding judge for any section of a Tennessee appellate court, the Administrative Office of the Courts says. Cottrell succeeds Judge William Cain, who passed away Sept. 27, as presiding judge of the Middle Section Court of Appeals. She was unanimously elected by fellow Middle Section Court of Appeals judges. Cottrell is a former chief deputy attorney general and director of the Public Law Institute at the University of Tennessee College of Law.

New law not working for some
Tennessee's new law intended to provide temporary IDs or driver's licenses for legal immigrants is stopping some from participating in the program. The new rules, which took effect Oct. 1, mandate that licenses be issued only for the time the immigrant is authorized to be in the country, but not less than one year or more than five years. Those who must renew visas annually and have less than a year left on their current documentation are finding that they do not qualify.
The Commercial Appeal has more
Court of Appeals list grows
Jeffrey S. Bivins, circuit court judge for the 21st Judicial District, has added his name to the growing list of applicants for the Court of Appeals vacancy created by the death of Judge William Cain. The deadline for applications is Oct. 23.

Commission meets on magistrate selection
Two committees of the Hamilton County Commission will meet Wednesday morning to discuss the 17 applicants vying for four judicial commissioner posts. In addition to selecting the new magistrates, the commission has been encouraged to improve working conditions for these officers. Those familiar with the magistrates' work say their codebook is out of date, their computer system insufficient and their space cramped.
Chattanoogan.com reports
YouTube unveils piracy filters
Online video leader YouTube has rolled out long-awaited technology to automatically remove copyrighted clips from its site, hoping to placate movie and television studios fed up with its persistent piracy problems.
Learn more from this AP story in the Murfreesboro Daily
Lawyers pay for Google clicks
Google is more than a search engine. It also sells advertising, including the shaded "sponsored links" that run next to the real search results. It auctions off those ads to advertisers, who agree to pay a certain amount each time someone clicks on the link. CyberWyre reports that among the most expensive ads are those that pop up when a user enters the search term "lawyers."
Read about it in the New York Times
Knox Term Limits
Commission asks for election
The Knox County Commission voted Monday to ask state officials and Chancellor Daryl R. Fansler to let voters decide who fills the county's vacant offices. If an election isn't approved by Nov. 13, however, the commissioners voted to move ahead with plans to appoint the replacements themselves.
Read about yesterday's meeting in the News Sentinel
AG won't rule on election
Responding to a request by state Sens. Jamie Woodson and Tim Burchett for a ruling on whether a chancellor can order a special election for Knox County, Attorney General Robert Cooper said yesterday that his office does not issue legal opinions on matters in ongoing litigation. The News Sentinel reported the news.

Paper: State should help
The News Sentinel in an editorial today called on the state to help resolve the "perplexing problem" Knox County faces by making a way for a special election.
Read the editorial
Supreme Court Report
Court will hear money-laundering case
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to spell out when an individual engaged in "laundering" of crime proceeds has illegally concealed their real source. It also turned down several cases ranging from when companies may be sued under RICO to the constitutionality of banning certain elections.
Read about the action in SCOTUSblog
Clerks recommending cert less frequently
A University of Minnesota law professor who reviewed 20,000 law clerk memos on whether to grant cert in U.S. Supreme Court cases has concluded that the so-called cert pool may be contributing to the decline in the court's docket. David Stras published his findings in the Texas Law Review.
Download the article
Law school visits wrap up
The TBA Young Lawyers Division wraps up its fall law school events this week. TBA members are invited to attend any of the following events. Thursday, Oct. 18 at the University of Memphis: information table from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., pizza lunch at noon and a reception from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. at the Vault inside R.P. Billiard's. Friday, Oct. 19 at Vanderbilt: information table from 12 - 4 p.m. and Blackacre networking reception from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. For more information contact TBA staff member Stacey Shrader at sshrader@tnbar.org

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