Bredesen appoints Dinkins to Court of Appeals seat

Gov. Phil Bredesen today appointed Richard H. Dinkins of Nashville to fill the vacancy on the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section. The vacancy was created by the death of Judge William Bryan Cain in September. "Richard Dinkins has developed extensive experience in his career with the Davidson County Chancery Court and in the private sector, and I am confident that he will serve the Tennessee Court of Appeals with honor and integrity," Bredesen said in making the appointment. Read the governor's announcement
TODAY'S OPINIONS
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IN RE A.T.P., C.IG., D.P., & A.V.P. II

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Michelle Benjamin, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, A.P.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Amy T. McConnell, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.

Judge: LEE

Father appeals the trial court's ruling declaring his four children to be dependent and neglected and argues that the trial court's finding that he committed severe child abuse was not supported by clear and convincing evidence. Father also contends that the trial court abused its discretion by not granting his motions for a new trial upon the ground that newly discovered evidence will alter the trial courtís decision and upon the further ground that the trial court failed to appoint a preference guardian ad litem in compliance with Tenn. S. Ct. R. 40(e). After careful review, we conclude that the record contains clear and convincing evidence that Father committed severe child abuse, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Father's motions for a new trial. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed in all respects.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2008/atp_01108.pdf


RICHARD C. ANDERSON v. HOWARD CARLTON, WARDEN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Richard C. Anderson, Pro Se, Mountain City, Tennessee.

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

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Richard C. Anderson, appeals the criminal court's order summarily dismissing his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. Following our review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the court's order.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/andersonr_110807.pdf.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RODERICK CHAPMAN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General; Pam Fleming, Assistant District Attorney General; and David Pritchard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Garland Erguden, Assistant Public Defender; Rusty White, Assistant District Public Defender; and Michael Johnson, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Roderick Chapman.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Roderick Chapman, pleaded guilty to counts of burglary and aggravated assault and was sentenced as a Range II offender in Shelby County Criminal Court to an effective five- year term to be served in a community corrections program, with the first year to be served in the Synergy drug treatment program. On January 5, 2007, the court revoked the community corrections sentence and resentenced the defendant as a career offender to serve twelve years in the Department of Correction. From that order, the defendant appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment below as modified.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/chapmanr_011108.pdf


MICHAEL A. DEGROAT, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Charles B. Griffith, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Michael A. DeGroat, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General; Ronald L. Davis, District Attorney General; and Mary Katherine White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HAYES

The Appellant, Michael A. DeGroat, Jr., appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief by the Williamson County Circuit Court. In 2004, based upon the advice of trial counsel, DeGroat entered guilty pleas to attempted second degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and theft over $1,000, and the trial court subsequently ordered him to serve an effective sentence of eighty-three years in confinement. DeGroat filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief in 2006, asserting ineffective assistance of counsel. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court found that trial counsel had provided constitutionally effective assistance and denied DeGroat relief. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that DeGroat was denied the effective assistance of counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of conviction and remand with instructions that DeGroat's guilty pleas be vacated and that the case proceed as provided by law.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/degroatm_011108.pdf


CARL RONALD DYKES v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Russell Anne Swafford, Dunlap, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carl Ronald Dykes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steven H. Strain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Carl Ronald Dykes, appeals from the denial by the Marion County Circuit Court of his petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance and that he should be granted a delayed direct appeal of his convictions. After reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/dykesc_011108.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOSEPH RAY EVANS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Mike J. Urquhart, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Joseph Ray Evans.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Hugh Garrett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HAYES

The Appellant, Joseph Ray Evans, appeals the sentencing decision of the Davidson County Criminal Court. Under the terms of an "open" plea agreement, Evans pled guilty to attempted aggravated sexual battery, a Class C felony, and received the minimum sentence of three years, suspended, to be followed by six years of supervised probation. On appeal, Evans argues that the trial court's imposition of six years probation instead of three years was error. Following review of the record, we find no error and affirm the sentence as imposed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/evansj_011108.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOHN LYNCH

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Hershell D. Koger, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the Appellant, John Edward Lynch.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Chuck Crawford, District Attorney General; Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Petitioner, John Lynch, pled guilty to violating the Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender Act, and the trial court sentenced him to three years in confinement. The Petitioner filed a petition for post- conviction relief, which the court denied. He now appeals, challenging the standard for post- conviction relief in Tennessee and claiming he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/lynchj_011108.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. JEANIE MARIE SEALS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jonathan M. Holcomb, Morristown, Tennessee, for the Appellant Jeanie Marie Seals.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, District Attorney General; Victor Vaughn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Hamblen County jury convicted the Defendant of one count of second degree murder, and the trial court sentenced her to twenty years. On appeal, she contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain her conviction; (2) the trial court erred when it admonished her counsel in front of the jury; (3) the trial court denied her constitutional right to present a defense; and (4) the trial court should have ordered a new trial because a juror made false statements during voir dire. We conclude that, because the Defendant claimed self-defense at trial, the trial court erred when it refused to admit testimony about a prior incident in which the victim threatened the Defendant's life. Further, we conclude that this error is not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for a new trial on the charge of second degree murder.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/sealsj_011108.pdf

THOMAS concurring
http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/sealsj_con_011108.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. TWAIN DEMARIO VAUGHN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Eileen M. Parrish and Jeffrey Powell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Twain DeMario Vaughn.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Jeff Burks and Kathy Morante, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant of one count of reckless homicide, one count of felony murder, one count of aggravated robbery, and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery. The reckless homicide conviction was merged into the felony murder conviction, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to, effectively, life in prison. On appeal, the Defendant alleges four errors: (1) the State committed a Brady violation, entitling him to a new trial; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to admit evidence of the victim's toxicology report; (3) the State presented insufficient evidence to support the Defendant's conviction for felony murder; and (4) the trial court erred in refusing to grant a motion for judgment of acquittal as to the first-degree premeditated murder charge. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/vaughnt_011108.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES BRADLEY WARNER

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

David Hamblen (at trial) and James T. Powell (on appeal), Union City, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Bradley Warner.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Kevin McAlpin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

An Obion County Circuit Court jury convicted the appellant, James Bradley Warner, of facilitation of theft of property valued between $1000 and $10,000, a Class E felony. The trial court sentenced him to four years to be served consecutively to an earlier sentence stemming from a parole violation. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction because the State did not prove that he knew the items were stolen at the time he helped sell them. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the jury's guilty verdict.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/warnerj_011108.pdf


MARTINO WRIGHT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

David Christensen, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Martino Wright.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Anita Spinetta, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Martino Wright, pled guilty to two counts of especially aggravated robbery and received a total effective sentence of thirteen and one-half years incarceration in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Thereafter, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his counsel were ineffective and that as a result of a multitude of errors his guilty plea was not a knowing and voluntary choice. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner timely appealed. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/wrightm_011108.pdf


WILLIAM DOUGLAS ZUKOWSKI v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

John T. Harding, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Douglas Zukowski.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Brian Holmgren, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, William Douglas Zukowski, was convicted of five counts of rape of a child and sentenced to twenty-five years on each count, to be served consecutively for a total effective sentence of 125 years. He later pled guilty to three additional counts of rape of a child and one count of aggravated rape and accepted a sentence of twenty-five years, to be served concurrently with his prior sentence. On direct appeal, this court affirmed his convictions. In his petition for post- conviction relief, the petitioner contends he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the judgment from the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/zukowskiw_011108.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Justice center project moving ahead
Maury County expects to seek bids for a new $15 million justice center this summer. The new facility, to be located near the intersection of Woodland and East 6th streets, would replace the county's century-old courthouse downtown and would house all court-related functions for the future.
Read more in the Daily Herald
Oak Ridge election results back in court
Oak Ridge attorney David Stuart on Thursday again filed a notice of appeal in his election contest case against General Sessions Judge Donald A. Layton. The notice marks the second time that Stuart has appealed the case, after dismissals from Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood. The election battle started in 2006 when Layton, the Republican incumbent, defeated Stuart by 119 votes.
Read more in the Oak Ridger
In defense of 'trial lawyers'
Why is the term "trial lawyer" exclusively applied to the plaintiff's bar and why has it developed such a negative connotation? The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog looks at the question of why other lawyers who try cases -- corporate defense lawyers, matrimonial lawyers, patent lawyers and more -- are not put under the same label.
Read comments and a letter to the editor that sparked the discussion
Patton, Pittman's new office boosts 'Lawyers Row'
Devastated by a tornado nine years ago, Clarksville's "Lawyers Row," a section of Third Street in the city's historic district is coming back. The Leaf Chronicle looks at one of the latest additions, new offices for Patton and Pittman Attorneys-at-Law.
Read more about it
Public defender office adds attorney
The 29th Judicial District's Public Defender office, covering Dyer and Lake counties, has added a new assistant public defender, Cristy Cooper. Funding came to add the position after a weighted caseload report showed the district could use additional resources. The District Attorney General's office also received additional staffing last year, the Dyersburg State Gazette reports.

Student group get courthouse experience
A group of 30 high school girls from the Howard School of Academics and Technology spent a day meeting with judges and other officials at the Hamilton County Courthouse as part of a mentoring program sponsored by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
Read more about the event in Chattanoogan.com
Legislative News
Follow legislative progress
Stay abreast of key legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly with the TBA bill tracking service.
Access TBA bill tracking service
TBA Member Services
Health savings accounts now available
The TBA has partnered with First Horizon Msaver Inc. to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and HSA-qualified health plans for individuals and groups to members. HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts that let you set aside money to pay for current and future medical expenses. For more information, or to obtain an instant quote for an HSA-qualified health plan, call the TBA's dedicated toll-free customer care line at (866) 257-2659 or visit the TBA member web site.
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