Hooks to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

The White House announced yesterday that Benjamin L. Hooks of Memphis, the former national executive director of the NAACP, will receive one of eight Presidential Medals of Freedom at a ceremony next week. The award is the nation's highest civil honor and goes to Hooks, 82, as one who "has dedicated his life to equality, opportunity, and justice," according to the award. In addition to Hooks, Harper Lee, author of '"To Kill a Mockingbird," also will receive the medal. Read reaction from Hooks' contemporaries in the Commercial Appeal:


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Court: TCA


Robin Ruben Flores, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Christine Dall Anzalone.

Bruce C. Bailey and Heather H. Sveadas, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Joseph John Anzalone.


Husband and Wife stipulated to grounds for divorce pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-4-129, as well as to the amount of child support and the division of marital property. Wife received the marital residence, valued at $236,000, and additional items for a total of $267,580 worth of marital assets. Husband received $259,544 in marital assets, resulting in a nearly equal division of the marital property. These stipulations were announced to the Trial Court, and both parties stated to the Trial Court their acceptance of the terms. A trial was conducted on the remaining issues -- Wife's request for alimony; both parties' requests for attorney fees; and Wife's request that Husband pay the cost of medical insurance for the parties' three children, who were insured by TennCare at the time of trial. The Trial Court awarded Wife rehabilitative alimony of $400 per month for three years, $5,000 in attorney fees, and ordered Husband to provide health and dental insurance for the children through his employer. On appeal, Husband contests the Trial Court's award of the marital home to Wife, the grant of alimony and partial attorney fees to Wife, and the requirement that Husband provide medical insurance for the parties' children. Husband also asserts that the Trial Court violated his equal protection rights. We hold that Husband waived his equal protection claim by not raising it at the Trial Court level. Furthermore, we hold that the Trial Court did not err in its overall division of the marital property, the award of attorney fees to Wife, or by requiring Husband to provide the children's health insurance. However, we conclude that Wife's alimony is more appropriately characterized as transitional instead of rehabilitative because of the lack of evidence regarding Wife's ability or intent to rehabilitate herself, and we modify the Trial Court's judgment accordingly. We affirm as modified.



Court: TCA


Jeffrey B. Cox, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellants, Jane Doe and John Doe.

R. Dale Bay and Daniel B. Olivas, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees Judy Goodwin and Rutherford County Board of Education.


Plaintiffs' suit was dismissed on the basis that it was not filed within twelve months after the cause of action accrued as required by the Governmental Tort Liability Act. Plaintiffs appeal and we affirm.



Court: TCA


Michael G. Hatmaker, Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellants Lance Grigsby and Lori Grigsby.

Jon G. Roach, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee City of Plainview.


Lance Grigsby and Lori Grigsby ("Owners") purchased a convenience store in Plainview formerly owned by Wanda Cherry Evans ("Manager"). Owners were the successful bidder at a bankruptcy auction sale. At the time of the purchase, Manager was the only person in Plainview with a valid beer permit, having been "grandfathered in" when Plainview incorporated and banned the sale of beer within its city limits. Owners claim that, in purchasing Manager's store, they relied upon representations from City of Plainview ("City") that they would be able to sell beer under Manager's permit, provided they hired her as the store's manager, which they did. Several months later, City revoked Manager's beer permit, thus eliminating Owners' ability to sell beer at their store. In a previous lawsuit, Owners unsuccessfully challenged this revocation. In the instant case, Owners have again sued City, this time claiming that an implied contract was created by City's alleged representations, which Owners claim to have relied upon in making their purchase. The trial court granted City summary judgment, and Owners appeal. The alleged breach of the purported contract is City's revocation of Manager's permit, and Owners already challenged that revocation and failed. They cannot re-try the prior action in the instant case, and there is nothing else in the record to support a claim that the purported contract was breached. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment to City.



Court: TCA


Appellant Michael K. McKenna, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Heather G. Anderson and Shelley S. Breeding, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Charles Gross and Kathy Gross.


This case arose out of a construction contract between Charles Gross and Kathy Gross ("Homeowners") and Woodbridge Construction Services, LLC, a company run by Michael K. McKenna ("Builder"). The parties' relationship went sour in the midst of construction, and Homeowners sued Builder and Woodbridge seeking damages for breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, and violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act ("the TCPA"). After a bench trial, the court awarded Homeowners damages of $79,622.31 against both defendants. Builder appeals on various grounds. Regrettably, he has failed to provide us with either a transcript of the proceedings or a statement of the evidence, and, as a result, we are unable to reach most of the issues raised by him, as we must accept the trial court's factual determinations as conclusive in the absence of a record. The only issue requiring extended discussion is Builder's claim that the trial court should have dismissed the case or imposed some other sanction against Homeowners for demolishing the home and thus destroying evidence during discovery without first notifying the court and Builder. Although this was a violation of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, the trial court has broad discretion to determine what, if any, sanctions to impose for such violations, and we do not find an abuse of discretion in its decision to impose no sanction. The remainder of Builder's issues are also found to be without merit. We therefore affirm.



Court: TCA


Robert A. Cole, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, B.L.L.

Dawn Coppock, Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, for the Appellees, L.T.K. and A.L.K.

Rufus W. Beamer, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, guardian ad litem for the minors, S.T.D. and J.K.D.

Judge: LEE

Petitioners filed this action to adopt twin children S.T.D. and J.K.D. ("the children") and to terminate the parental rights of Respondent B.L.L., and the trial court granted their petition. We hold that (1) Respondent, who argued at trial that he was the biological father of the children, is not entitled to "legal parent" status under Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-1-113(g)(9)(A) because Respondent at no time took any legal action to establish paternity; (2) Petitioners established by clear and convincing proof the following grounds for termination of Respondent's parental rights: (A) failure to seek reasonable visitation of the children, (B) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody, (C) placement of the children in Respondent's custody would pose a risk of substantial harm to the children, (D) failure of Respondent to file a petition to establish paternity within 30 days after notice of alleged paternity by the children's mother, (E) removal for more than six months and persistent conditions that would likely cause the children to be subjected to further abuse and neglect and prevent the children's safe return, and (F) abandonment by the Respondent; (3) Petitioners established by clear and convincing evidence that termination was in the best interest of the children; and (4) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Respondent's request to attend the trial in person, allowing him instead to testify via telephone from prison. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court terminating Respondent's parental rights and allowing Petitioners to adopt the children.



Court: TCA


John P. Konvalinka, Steven W. Grant, and Jillyn M. Pullara, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, James W. Meier.

Carol Ann Barron, Dayton, Tennessee, for the appellee, Barbara A. Meier.


This is a post-divorce proceeding in which James W. Meier ("Husband") filed a motion to amend the final decree pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60. The trial court denied the motion. Husband appeals, contending, in part, that the trial court "committed reversible error" when it signed a judgment by consent when it knew that he did not agree to the terms of the proposed judgment. We affirm.



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Legal News
McMillan leaving governor's office
Former state House Majority Leader Kim McMillan is leaving her position as senior adviser to Gov. Phil Bredesen to work for Austin Peay State University in Clarksville. Effective Nov. 12, she will become executive director of the Center for Community and Business Relations, a new position for the school.
The Tennessean has the story
Mayoral blackmail plot investigation nears end
Joe Baugh, the former district attorney of Williamson County, has been investigating an alleged blackmail plot against Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton for the last four months. It now appears that he is close to wrapping up the probe. Sources close the investigation say its outcome will be known in about a month.
The Memphis Daily News reported the story
Law school keeps track of death penalty challenges
The Death Penalty Clinic at U.C. Berkeley's Boalt School of Law has found a niche as a clearinghouse for lethal injection stays and orders being issued by courts across the country. The site provides summaries of the orders as well as actual copies of the documents.
Learn more at the school's web site
WSJ offers advice on choosing a law school
The Wall Street Journal offers law school applicants advice for cutting debt and increasing job prospects as the application process begins for Fall 2008 admissions. From reviewing law school ratings in blogs to asking for data on graduate employment, the paper encourages students to look beyond traditional sources of information when evaluating their options.
Read its recommendations
Mob aided civil rights probe
The FBI used underworld ties to solve the 1964 disappearance of three civil rights volunteers in Mississippi, a gangster's ex-girlfriend testified Monday, becoming the first witness to repeat in open court a story that's been underworld lore for years.
The Commercial Appeal has more
Legislative News
Attorneys general wary of death criteria
Tennessee's district attorneys general are wary of proposed uniform state guidelines for how they handle death penalty cases, calling them unnecessary and warning that a single standard could fly in the face of prosecutorial discretion and community sentiment, reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The group was to testify today before the legislative committee studying the state's death penalty process.
Learn more
Federal patent reform faces stiff opposition
A broad array of intellectual property industries and groups are gearing up to protest proposed patent reform legislation making its way through the U.S. Congress. Representatives from more than 400 companies are arguing that the bill would weaken the enforceability of patents and undermine American innovation, reports Managing Intellectual Property magazine.
Download the group's letter to lawmakers
Knox Term Limits
Fansler: special election 'no go' unless law agrees
Knox County Chancellor Daryl R. Fansler said yesterday he would not add to the mistakes made in choosing new county officials by ordering a special election just to satisfy public demand, but would do so if the law allows. "If it is within this court's authority to order a special election...then I will order it. But I will not invade the province of the Legislature. I will not legislate from this bench. I will not order some remedy simply because it takes the burden off someone else's back," he said.
Read more in the News Sentinel
Read the arguments for why a special election is, or is not, within the scope of the law
Disciplinary Actions
CLE suspensions announced
Some 70 attorneys were suspended by the Supreme Court on Sept. 21 for failing to comply in 2006 with Rule 21 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court, which requires mandatory continuing legal education. Attorneys who have since complied with the rule are noted as reinstated.
See the list
UT lecture features renowned defense attorney
Attorney Michael Tigar, best known for his defense of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, will deliver the 2007 Center for Advocacy Founders' Lecture tomorrow, Oct. 31, at the U.T. College of Law. Tigar is currently a visiting professor at Duke University and is in Knoxville for several events. The law school lecture begins at 12:20 p.m. in Room 132 and is free and open to the public. For more information call the school at (865) 974-2521.

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