Ethics Roadshow returns with a top-secret topic

Brian Faughnan returns for another year as host to the popular TennBarU Ethics Roadshow CLE program. This year's title is a secret: A Guided Tour of Client Confidentiality and Attorney-Client Privilege in Tennessee. The three-hour sessions are scheduled for Nov. 15 in Knoxville, Nov. 16 in Chattanooga, Nov. 29 in Memphis and Dec. 12 in Nashville. And remember, TBA members can use their three hours of prepaid CLE programming to take this course for free. Sign up or find out more now.
Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format. To search all opinions in the TBALink database or to obtain a text version of each opinion, go to our OpinionSearch page. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on TBALink at the TBA's Membership Central.

00 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
03 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR

You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer. 2) Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view and save a plain-text version of the opinion.


Court: TCA


Robert H. Plummer, Jr., Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lawrence A. Dospil.

Kimberly L. Reed-Bracey, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Behice Y. Dospil.


The parties in this divorce action entered into a postnuptial agreement, entitled "Stipulation and Separation Agreement" (Agreement), in which they divided their property, assigned responsibility for payment of marital debt and provided for the support of the wife, Behice Y. Dospil, by the husband, Lawrence A. Dospil. The trial court found the Agreement to be valid and enforceable but modified and extended a provision in the Agreement requiring that husband provide medical insurance and awarded Ms. Dospil the sum of $10,000.00 as alimony in solido. Mr. Dospil has appealed alleging the trial court erred in modifying the Agreement and Ms. Dospil has appealed asserting the trial court erred in finding the Agreement valid and enforceable. We affirm the trial court's finding that the Agreement is valid and enforceable, reverse the trial court's award of alimony in solido, and modify and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings related to the modification of the provision of the Agreement relating to medical insurance.


Court: TCA


C. Michael Cardwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, D.W.S.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Lauren S. Lamberth, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.

Laura A. Stewart, Nashville, Tennessee, guardian ad litem for minor, J.A.W.

Judge: LEE

The issue presented in this case is whether the trial court properly terminated the parental rights of D.W.S. ("Mother") by finding that she was in substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan, Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-1-113(g)(2). We hold that the State Department of Children's Services ("DCS") failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that it exercised reasonable care and diligence to provide services to Mother to achieve reunification of Mother and child. We further hold that the trial court did not err in finding that DCS had not proven by clear and convincing evidence that Mother was incompetent to care for her child due to mental impairment, Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-1-113(g)(7)(B)(i). The judgment of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights is reversed.


Court: TCA


Terry Lee Northcutt, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Tammy Yvonne Northcutt, No appearance.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves a prisoner who filed for divorce while incarcerated. After efforts to locate his wife to serve her with process failed, the prisoner resorted to service by publication and filed a motion for default judgment in the Circuit Court for Davidson County. Instead of granting the divorce, the trial court dismissed the prisoner's complaint because it was legally insufficient and because the prisoner was being assisted by a person who was not a licensed lawyer. We have concluded that the prisoner's complaint sufficiently states a claim for divorce and that the record does not support the trial court's conclusion that the person assisting the prisoner was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's order and remand the case with directions to adjudicate his complaint for divorce.


Court: TCCA


Brian S. Finlay, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timmy Charles McDaniel.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, District Attorney General; and Neal Pinkston, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Timmy Charles McDaniel, entered pleas of guilty to first degree felony murder and especially aggravated burglary in exchange for concurrent sentences of life without the possibility of parole and 12 years, respectively. Following his incarceration, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered because he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. In this appeal, he challenges the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief and reasserts his claim that his guilty pleas were not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Albert J. Newman, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric James Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kenneth F. Irvine, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Eric James Taylor, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and aggravated assault. He appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief which alleged that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, Petitioner contends that trial counsel's assistance was ineffective because (1) trial counsel prevented him from testifying on his own behalf; (2) trial counsel failed to ascertain whether a certain security camera would have provided exculpatory evidence; and (3) trial counsel made promises to the jury during opening statement that she failed to fulfill. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Legal News
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Mukasey steps in as new AG
Retired federal judge Michael Mukasey was sworn in today as the nation's 81st attorney general in a ceremony at the Justice Department. His confirmation came late Thursday on a 53-40 vote that was one of the narrowest ever for an attorney general nominee.
Read more in this Legal Times report
GOP leaders ask governor and AG to support lethal injection
House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol, and House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin, on Thursday asked both Gov. Phil Bredesen and Attorney General Bob Cooper to join as a "friend of the court" with the state of Kentucky in fighting to uphold lethal injection as a method to carry out the state's death penalty law.
Vandy law prof on Vioxx settlement
Vanderbilt Law's Richard Nagareda weighs in on the recently reached Vioxx settlement with comments to the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog.
Read what Nagareda and others have to say
Highers elected presiding judge for Western Section
Court of Appeals Judge Alan E. Highers has been elected Western Section presiding judge. The 12-member intermediate appellate court sits in panels of three in Jackson, Nashville and Knoxville to hear appeals in civil cases. Highers, a former president of the Tennessee Judicial Conference, began his judicial career as a Juvenile Court special judge and referee in 1973, a position he held until 1977. He was a Circuit Court judge in Memphis from 1977 until his 1982 apppointment to the Court of Appeals.

Frist says run for governor possible
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said during a Knoxville visit today that he will consider running for governor, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Frist was in Knoxville delivering a pair of lectures sponsored by the University of Tennessee's Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Jarvis portrait to be unveiled in Knoxville
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee will unveil a portrait of Judge James H. Jarvis during ceremonies Nov. 16 in the Ceremonial Courtroom 4th Floor, Howard H. Baker Jr. U.S. Courthouse at 1:30 p.m. A reception will follow the ceremony.

TBA Member Services
First Tennessee is TBA's preferred provider
First Tennessee has crafted a package of discounts to meet the specific needs of Tennessee Bar Association members. Find savings on merchant credit services, checking and savings, financial planning and more
on the TBA Web site

But if you must, visit the TBALink web site at:

TBALink HomeContact UsPageFinderWhat's NewHelp
© Copyright 2007 Tennessee Bar Association