TALS awards to recognize outstanding advocacy

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services is now accepting nominations for a pair of awards that recognize outstanding advocacy. The B. Riney Green Award is annually given to the person who best promotes inter-program cooperation or otherwise strengthens the provision of legal aid in Tennessee. The New Advocate of the Year award recognizes affirmative, energetic and effective advocacy by someone who has been with his or her program less than five years. The deadline for nominating someone for both awards is Sept. 12.

Download award information and guidelines

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Court: TCA


Linda J. Hamilton Mowles, John T. Buckingham, and Preston A. Hawkins, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Frank A. Barone.

C. Douglas Fields, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Veronica Monde Barone.


This is a lawsuit filed by Veronica Monde Barone ("Wife") seeking to execute on real property allegedly owned by her former husband, Anthony F. Barone ("Husband"), in satisfaction of a sizable judgment in favor of Wife entered against Husband by a Canadian court. The property at issue is a farm located in Cumberland County. In 1990, Husband's mother owned the property. In that year, she executed a quitclaim deed to the farm, leaving the space for the grantee's name blank. She handed the deed to Husband, her only son. Wife claims that after she obtained a judgment against Husband, he inserted the name of his son Frank Barone ("Son") on the deed as the grantee, and the deed was then filed in the Register of Deed's office. Wife asserts that this was a fraudulent conveyance, that Husband still owns the farm, and that the farm is subject to execution in partial satisfaction of the judgment. Son claims the deed was valid and he is the proper record owner of the farm. Following a trial, the trial court agreed with Wife and held that the purported conveyance of the farm to Son was fraudulent. Son appeals. We affirm.



Court: TCA


John D. Thacker, Cosby, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

Clyde A. Dunn, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Estate of Mary Nell Dorsey.


In this probate case, John D. Thacker filed a claim against the estate of Mary Nell Dorsey, seeking reimbursement for various expenses that he says he paid on Ms. Nell Dorsey's behalf, prior to her death in 2000. Mr. Thacker failed to comply with a discovery order of the trial court. His claim was dismissed. Mr. Thacker appeals. We affirm.


CORRECTED OPINION (References to mortgagors and mortgagee corrected)

Court: TCA


Bradley E. Trammell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc.

Donald Capparella, Amy J. Farrar, and Leroy J. Ellis, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, John C. Filson and Angela H. Filson.

Judge: LEE

The mortgagors filed suit, charging the mortgagee with breach of contract for failure to comply with terms of a note, deed of trust, and automatic payment service plan pursuant to which the mortgagee agreed to automatically debit the mortgagors' bank account for monthly payments. The jury found the mortgagee guilty of breach of contract and awarded damages in the amount of $250,000. The trial court remitted this damage award to $150,000. On appeal, the mortgagee argues that the trial court erred by failing to grant the mortgagee's motions for directed verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the ground that the mortgagors were guilty of the first uncured material breach of contract, by excluding evidence as a discovery sanction and by awarding the mortgagors $150,000. The mortgagors contend that the mortgagee waived all issues by not including them in its motion for new trial. After careful review, we hold that 1) the mortgagee did not waive its issues for purposes of appeal because the issues were included in the memorandum of law it incorporated in the motion for new trial; 2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding certain evidence as a discovery sanction upon our finding that the mortgagee failed to explain why the excluded evidence was not timely provided to the mortgagors or to establish its importance at trial; 3) the trial court did not err in failing to grant the mortgagee's motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict upon our finding that the mortgagee was guilty of the first uncured material breach of contract by failing to timely institute its automatic payment service plan; and 4) in compliance with the mortgagee's request, this case is remanded for a new trial solely on the issue of damages upon our finding that the trial court's award of damages in the amount of $150,000 is not supported by the evidence.


IN RE J.C.O., C.O., S.O., & J.R.O.

Court: TCA


Adam Wilding Parrish, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christine O.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Elizabeth C. Driver, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services. Debra Dishmon, Guardian Ad Litem, Lebanon, Tennessee.


Mother appeals from a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to her three children. Finding clear and convincing evidence to support the juvenile court's determination, we affirm.



Court: TCA


Joseph T. Zanger, White House, Tennessee, for the appellant, Harper's Chrysler.

Lisa Gail Lashlee, McEwen, Tennessee, appellee, pro se


Lisa Gail Lashlee ("Customer") sued Harper's Chrysler ("Dealer"), a car dealership in Dickson, claiming Dealer breached an extended service contract (or "warranty") that Customer had been awarded in an arbitration proceeding concerning a vehicle that she had leased from Dealer. Customer argues that Dealer wrongfully refused to perform work under the warranty. Dealer denies any such wrongful refusal, and also asserts that it is not bound by the warranty, which it says was issued by the manufacturer, DaimlerChrysler ("Manufacturer"). The case was tried to a jury, which returned a verdict for Customer in the amount of $21,492.45 -- the $551.45 that she eventually paid to have repairs done, plus an additional $20,941.00, which is approximately the amount of the lease payments that accrued between the date of the alleged breach and the expiration of the lease. Dealer appeals. We affirm the judgment as to liability, but vacate as to damages, finding no material evidence to support the jury's verdict in the amount rendered. We remand for a new trial on the issue of damages only.



Court: TCA


Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the Appellants, Ervin D. Smith and Donna Smith.

Joe Weyant, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Paul Evans and Danielle Evans.


Owners of property brought suit to terminate an ingress/egress easement across their land, contending that the necessity for the easement no longer existed. Following a trial, the Chancery Court ruled against the owners, finding that since the easement was reserved in a recorded plat, it was not an easement by necessity; consequently, the easement was not destroyed upon the sale of the dominant estate. On appeal, the owners maintain that the easement was destroyed at the end of the necessity. Finding the easement to be express, we affirm the decision of the Chancery Court. Finding the appeal not to be frivolous, no attorney's fees are awarded.



Court: TCCA


Andrew N. Hall, Wartburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danny Jay Branam.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kenneth Irvine, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Danny Jay Branam, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court's dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of felony murder, armed robbery, and conspiracy, for which, his petition states, he is serving sentences of life plus sixteen years in the Department of Correction. He claims the trial court erroneously dismissed the petition as untimely. We hold that his petition was barred by the one-year statute of limitations, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Brett B. Stein, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronald Dotson.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Sean Lyons, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Ronald Dotson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In this appeal, he asserts that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial and that this court should remand his case to the trial court for a hearing based upon the holding in State v. Copeland, 226 S.W.3d 287 (Tenn. 2007). Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



Court: TCCA


Robert R. Kurtz, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brandon Paul Graham.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Kevin D. Keeton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Brandon Paul Graham, pled guilty to criminal responsibility for conduct of another for aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and facilitation of robbery, a Class D felony. For the aggravated burglary, the Hamblen County Criminal Court sentenced the defendant to three years, with ninety days to be served in the county jail followed by release to community corrections and house arrest. For the facilitation of robbery, the court sentenced the defendant to two years, with ninety days to be served in the county jail followed by release to community corrections and house arrest. The court ordered the defendant to serve the sentences concurrently. The court denied the defendant's application for judicial diversion and denied defendant's request for full probation. In this appeal, the defendant raises two issues: (1) whether the trial court erred by denying the defendant's application for judicial diversion and (2) whether the trial court erred by not sentencing the defendant to full probation. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Steve Bebb; District Attorney General; and James Stutts, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Douglas A. Trant, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Casey Skelton.

Judge: WITT

The State appeals the McMinn County Criminal Court's grant of post-conviction relief to the petitioner, Casey Skelton. The petitioner sought relief from his 2006 McMinn County convictions of two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure on the grounds that his guilty pleas to those charges were unknowing and involuntary and were prompted by ineffective assistance of counsel. The petitioner specifically alleged that trial counsel was deficient in his failure to inform the petitioner about the impact of a conviction of a sexual offense, including the risk that he would permanently be placed on the sex offender registry. The trial court granted relief after an evidentiary hearing, and we affirm.



Court: TCCA


William G. Hatton, Bolivar, Tennessee, for the appellant, Almeko Chiffon Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; Joe L. VanDyke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


On February 4, 2005, the defendant, Almeko Chiffon Woods, pled guilty to one count of forgery less than $200 and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card between $500 and $1000, both Class E felonies. The trial court sentenced the defendant to two years probation for each offense, with the sentences to run concurrently. On January 22, 2007, a probation violation report was prepared, alleging that the defendant failed to meet with her probation officer and failed to pay restitution and court costs. However, this report was not filed until February 20, 2007. On January 30, 2007, the trial court issued what the defendant considered a capias and the state considered an arrest warrant in connection with the alleged probation violation. Following a June 28, 2007 hearing, the trial court found the defendant in violation of her probation and extended her probation another year. That same day, an additional probation violation was filed with the trial court, alleging that the defendant violated her probation by being arrested for simple possession of a controlled substance and failing to report this arrest to her probation officer. In August 2007, the trial court revoked the defendant's probation and ordered her to serve a two-year sentence in the Department of Correction. The defendant appeals, arguing that because the probation violation report was not filed until February 20, 2007, her probation expired on February 4, 2007. She further argues that because the document issued by the trial court in January 2007 was not an arrest warrant, the limitations period for filing the probation violation was not tolled, and therefore the trial court's extension and revocation of her probation were nullities because her probation expired on February 4, 2007. After reviewing the record, we conclude that the expiration of the defendant's probation was properly tolled and that the trial court acted properly in extending and subsequently revoking the defendant's probation. As such, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Jeffery D. Yates, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Michael Moore, Solicitor General; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The Petitioner, Jeffery Yates, appeals the trial court's denial of his petition for habeas corpus relief. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the trial court's denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. We conclude that the State's motion is meritorious. Accordingly, we grant the State's motion and affirm the judgment of the lower court.



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Legal News
DOJ withdraws 'McNulty Memo'
The U.S. Department of Justice today withdrew the so-called "McNulty Memo," which many believed was detrimental to attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine and employees' constitutional rights. In its place, the department issued new guidelines prohibiting federal prosecutors from forcing organizations and employees to waive legal protections during investigations. The TBA has consistently urged changes in policy and adoption of legislation. Last year when legislation was before the U.S. House of Representatives, only one member of the Tennessee delegation voted against it.
Download a statement from the ABA
TCOJ upgrades website
The Tennessee Court of the Judiciary has upgraded its website to offer new features and helpful information about judicial ethics for attorneys, the media and the public. Find out how to contact the court, file a complaint against a judge or access statistical information about public discipline of judges.
Check it out here
Hamilton County raises issues of crowded jail and more
The Concurrent Hamilton County Grand Jury issued a report that addresses serious overcrowding at the county jail with too few correctional officers. The report also recommends a new treatment facility for juveniles, around-the-clock magistrates available at the jail and an increase in pay for jurors.
Read the jury's full report at the Chattanoogan
Five new faculty join Vanderbilt Law School
Edward Rubin, dean of Vanderbilt Law School, has announced five new senior faculty appointments. They include Professors of Law Daniel Gervais, Robert Mikos and Christopher Slobogin. Amanda Rose has joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Law, and Alistair Newbern has been named Assistant Clinical Professor of Law.
You can read more about the new faculty on Vanderbilt's site
News from UT College of Law
University of Tennessee College of Law professor Carol Parker has agreed to serve a one-year term as associate dean for academic affairs. Dean Doug Blaze praised her selection and said her presence would allow the college to complete some strategic planning before conducting a search for a permanent replacement. In other news from the law school, Ke Jian a prominent environmental law professor from Wuhan University in China will be a visiting Fulbright Research Scholar this academic year.

Blount commissioners seek change in filling judicial vacancies
Four Blount County commissioners proposed a new process for filling judicial seat vacancies but the proposal was tabled at the commission meeting. Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves said the judicial selection process laid out by the state needs to be more formalized, while Commissioner David Graham said state law trumps any ordinances the commission passes.
See more about the debate on Blount Today
Bankruptcy filings near million mark
U.S. bankruptcy filings are up nearly 30 percent in the year ending June 30. There were 967,831 bankruptcy cases filed in the 12-month period and most of them were nonbusiness filings.
Read the release from the U.S. Courts' website
Nashville's new top attraction?
Bathroom humor doesn't usually make it into the daily news, but The Tennessean couldn't resist having a little fun with the announcement that the Hermitage Hotel's classic art deco men's room has been voted "America's Best Restroom." The TBA's annual Leadership Conference is headquartered at the hotel, so many attorneys -- yes, women also often venture inside -- have already toured the facilities.
See photos and read more
Practice Management
Recruitment moves to social networking sites
The first law firm recruitment effort using social networking is believed to be a Facebook profile from a large New York firm. According to the firm, it created a presence in cyberspace to promote itself and highlight the benefits of starting a career in New York. The site, which targets law students, also includes links to news, policies and frequently asked questions.
Read more from the firm
TBA Member Services
UPL enforcement resources available
The TBA Committee on the Protection of the Public from the Unauthorized Practice of Law encourages local bar leaders to review the sample protocol for handling UPL complaints and to urge adoption by local bar associations. The sample protocol is available on the TBA website, along with the other UPL resources.
Visit the UPL webpage for more information
Find Blawgs and more at TBA's Information Central
TBA members can now turn to the new Information Central web page to find the top news of the day along with a directory of law-related blogs from Tennessee lawyers and other reliable sources. In addition, you'll find links to the Tennessee Bar Journal, TBA-produced webcasts, free online legal research through Fastcase and more.
Go there now

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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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