16 teams compete for state mock trial title

Students from across Tennessee will put their legal skills to the test during the Tennessee Bar Association's annual state high school mock trial competition in Nashville this Friday and Saturday at the newly renovated Davidson County Courthouse. The 16 teams will present arguments in a civil case resulting from a car accident involving teenagers. The teenage driver was allegedly speeding and text messaging while driving a car filled with high school students. Read more about the competition or download the case.
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Court: TSC


Annie S. Duncan and C. Edward Daniel, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Lisa Dawn Green, Ronald Keith Green, Dustin Dillard Green, Hunter Green, and Kyra Green.

Dallas T. Reynolds, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

Judge: CLARK

We granted permission to appeal in this case to determine whether an uninsured motorist carrier may reduce amounts owed under an uninsured motorist provision by the amount of settlement proceeds an insured receives from a non-motorist defendant. Because the uninsured motorist statutes, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated sections 56-7-1201 to -1206, unambiguously allow an uninsured motorist carrier to limit its liability by "the sum of the limits collectible under all liability and/or primary uninsured motorist insurance polices, bonds, and securities applicable to the bodily injury or death of the insured," Tenn. Code Ann. section 56-7-1201(d), and to receive an offset or credit for "the total amount of damages collected by the insured from all parties alleged to be liable for the bodily injury or death of the insured," id. §1206(i), we conclude that the uninsured motorist carrier in this case is entitled to an offset for the monies the insured received from the non-motorist defendants. Accordingly, we affirm the decisions of the trial court and Court of Appeals.



Court: TCA


James O. Marty, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Teresa Thornton.

Darrell J. O’Neal, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Terry C. Clemons.


The trial court determined Defendant orally agreed to assume outstanding debt on personal property offered for consignment sales. The trial court further determined Defendant was equitably estopped from asserting the Statute of Frauds as a defense. We reverse.



Court: TCA


C. Brent Keeton, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lawrence Ralph.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter, Warren A. Jasper, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, ex rel. Kathy D. Flores.


The State filed a petition for contempt against a man who had fallen far behind in his child support obligation, in part because he was incarcerated for a large portion of the time. The trial court reduced the arrearage to judgment in the amount of $28,632, found the father in contempt for failing to pay while he was not in jail, and sentenced him to serve 90 days in jail. Because the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the father had the ability to pay child support during the periods in question, we vacate the sentence for criminal contempt. We also vacate the arrearage judgment and remand this case to the trial court for reconsideration of arrearage.



Court: TCA


Everett B. Gibson, Memphis, Tennessee, and Lawrence Harris, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Judith Mae Harber.

H. Frederick Humbracht, Jr. and Kyle D. Neal, Nashville, Tennesee, for the Appellee, Bank of America.


This is an action for breach of contract against a bank. Plaintiff Trustee sued bank for breach of the terms of a certificate of deposit (CD) by allowing her husband, who was neither the depositor nor her authorized agent, to redeem the CD held in trust for a $100,000 cashier's check payable to Plaintiff as trustee. The Plaintiff Trustee appeals the trial court's award of partial summary judgment to Defendant bank. Despite the bank's breach of contract, Plaintiff Trustee was unable to maintain a suit founded upon her husband's lack of authority to redeem the CD. The trial court found she ratified the redemption by previously filing suit against a different bank that had accepted the unendorsed cashier's check for deposit, opened a checking account in Plaintiff's name as trustee, and paid out the proceeds over Plaintiff's forged signatures. The trial court concluded that by asserting ownership in the cashier's check and the unauthorized checking account in the previous suit, the Plaintiff Trustee had manifested a clear intent to affirm her husband's redemption of the CD. We agree. Even though Plaintiff Trustee pled alternative, inconsistent claims in the first suit, which is still pending, each claim was necessarily premised upon her husband's authorized redemption of the CD. We accordingly affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Stacey Nordquist, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial); and J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Rufus Lamar Montgomery.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulaney, Assistant Attorney General; and Robert Headrick, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Rufus Lamar Montgomery, pleaded guilty to possession of less than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell in exchange for a three-year sentence to be served as 90 days' incarceration followed by probation. Within three months, the trial court had twice revoked the defendant's probation. Upon the second revocation, the trial court ordered the defendant to fully serve the balance of his sentence. The defendant concedes that he violated the terms of probation but argues that the trial court erred by ordering him to serve the balance of the sentence in the Department of Correction. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Legislative News
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TBA Member Services

Legislative News
Senate votes yes on elected lieutenant governor
A proposal to popularly elect the lieutenant governor and the secretary of state has been approved by the Senate, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The Senates 20-10 vote would put the constitutional amendment before voters in 2010 if it passes in the House this year, then again by a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the next General Assembly.

Law enforcement groups propose anti-crime package
Tennessee police, sheriffs and prosecutors are asking state legislators to enact a package of bills to curb gun crime, gang violence and metal thefts, strengthen the drunken-driving law and add more prosecutors. The seven-bill anti-crime package, however, carries a hefty price tag that could make it difficult to pass in a year when money is tight, the Commercial Appeal reports.
Read more about the package
Group pushing for changes in auto title lending law
The Memphis-Shelby County Anti-Predatory Lending Coalition is renewing its effort to change the state law that governs auto title pledge lending. Memphis Area Legal Services lawyer Webb Brewer, who helped draft the changes, said the group is shooting for several changes that include limiting the 20 percent monthly administrative fee to the first month of the loan. The current law allows lenders to charge that fee each month, along with 2 percent interest, making the effective annual rate 264 percent.
Read more in the Commercial Appeal
Legal News
Leadership class looks at issues in the courts
The Tennessee Bar Association's Leadership Law class met with members of the judiciary today in sessions that focused on leadership in the courts. After starting the day with sessions at the Tennessee Judicial Conference's meeting in Montgomery Bell State Park, the class returned to Nashville to join with a panel discussing the challenges facing state and federal courts in dealing with capital punishment, and to hear Vanderbilt professor Stephanie Lindquist trace judicial activism from the Warren to the Roberts court.

ABA program to take on depression in law schools
The problem of depression among law students isn't often talked about, but this month, the American Bar Association Law Student Division is taking action, launching a mental health initiative with the goal of helping law students who are battling depression and anxiety.
Learn more in a National Law Journal article on Law.com
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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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