Chief Justice Holder honored at ceremony

Justice Janice M. Holder took the oath of office today in ceremonies at the Supreme Court Chambers to become the first female chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

See photos from the event

TODAY'S OPINIONS
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.

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

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STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RANDY LEE MEEKS ET AL.

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Robert T. Carter and Eric J. Burch, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for the appellants, Randy Meeks and Ernest L. Snyder, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; C. Michael Layne, District Attorney General; and Felecia Walkup, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves the warrantless search of a motel room containing an actively operating methamphetamine laboratory. After the occupants of the room were indicted for manufacturing methamphetamine and for possessing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, they filed a motion in the Circuit Court for Coffee County seeking to suppress the evidence found in the motel room. The trial court granted the motion to suppress and dismissed the indictment. The State appealed, and the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the trial court's decision to suppress the evidence and vacated the order dismissing the indictment. State v. Meeks, No. M2006-01385-CCA-R3-CO, 2007 WL 1987797 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 10, 2007). We granted the defendants' Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application for permission to appeal to address more fully the principles applicable to warrantless searches of actively operating methamphetamine laboratories when the State asserts that the officers were acting to avert a serious and immediate risk of injury to themselves or others. Like the Court of Criminal Appeals, we have determined that the trial court erred by granting the motion to suppress and by dismissing the indictment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2008/meeksr_090208.pdf


AMY HATFIELD v. HAYNES PUBLICATIONS, INC., ET AL.

Court: TWCA

Attorneys:

Elaine M. Youngblood, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Haynes Publications, Inc. and Alea North America Insurance Company.

Joseph K. Dughman and K. Cody Allison, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Amy Hatfield.

Judge: WALLACE

This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50- 6-225(e)(3) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Employee was struck on the back by a heavy bundle of paper. Her injury was accepted as compensable. She was examined and treated by three authorized doctors, all of whom opined she had no permanent impairment. She sought additional medical treatment, which ultimately led to surgery to repair her sacro-iliac joints. The trial court found that the surgery was related to her work injury, and awarded 50% permanent partial disability ("PPD") to the body as a whole. Employer has appealed, contending that the medical evidence preponderates against the trial court's findings. We affirm the judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/2008/hatfielda_090208.pdf


WILLIAM HEGGER v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY

Court: TWCA

Attorneys:

Joseph M. Dalton, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Hegger.

Sarah H. Reisner and David M. Drobny, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Ford Motor Company.

Judge: Wallace

This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50- 6-225(e)(3) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Employee developed carpal tunnel syndrome, which was accepted as compensable by Employer. The trial court found that Employee had sustained no vocational disability as a result of the condition, and therefore awarded 2% permanent partial disability to the arm, which was the anatomical impairment assigned by two of the three doctors to testify. The trial court also ordered that Employer was no longer required to provide medical treatment for the condition. On appeal, Employee contends that the award of permanent disability benefits is inadequate, and that the trial court erred by terminating future medical benefits. We affirm the disability award, but modify the closure of medical benefits.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/2008/heggerw_090208.pdf


JUANITA I. KIRK v. ST. MICHAEL MOTOR EXPRESS, INC.

Court: TWCA

Attorneys:

Michael L. Weinman, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Juanita I. Kirk.

W. Stuart Scott and Patrick J. McHale, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, St. Michael Motor Express, Inc.

Judge: HARRIS

This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50- 6-225(e)(3) (Supp. 2007) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee, Juanita Kirk, sustained a compensable injury and her claim was settled. The settlement was approved by the trial court based upon an affidavit executed by the employee. Several months later, Ms. Kirk filed a motion pursuant to Rule 60.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, seeking to set aside the settlement on the basis of fraud, that it was approved without Ms. Kirk having personally appeared before the court, and that it did not afford to Ms. Kirk substantially the benefits to which she was entitled. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that Ms. Kirk had not sustained her burden with regard to the issue of fraud and denied the motion. She has appealed from that order. Although we agree that the evidence supports the trial court's conclusion on the issue of fraud, we find that there were "other reason[s] justifying relief from the operation of the judgment." Tenn. R. Civ. Proc. 60.02(5). We therefore reverse the trial court's judgment and remand the case for additional proceedings.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/2008/kirkj_090208.pdf


SHARON WALKER v. SATURN CORPORATION

Court: TWCA

Attorneys:

J. Anthony Arena, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sharon Walker.

Marcia McShane Watson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Saturn Corporation.

Judge: HARRIS

This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50- 6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. On appeal, the employee contends that the trial court erred in three ways: (1) by finding that she did not carry her burden of proof with respect to causation; (2) by finding, in the alternative, that she retains only a ten percent permanent partial disability; and (3) by allowing the employer to admit extrinsic evidence of specific conduct in an attempt to attack the credibility of her expert medical witness. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court's findings, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/2008/walkers_090208.pdf


IN THE MATTER OF: FLBH, FJH, JR., FH, FLHH, and FEH

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Andrew L. Wener, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Betsy Hawkins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Diane Stamey Dacus, Assistant Attorney General, Amy T. McConnell, Assistant Attorney General, Kelley Renee Thomas, Assistant Attorney General, and James Franklin, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, for the State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.

Judge: FARMER

This is a termination of parental rights case. By final order entered in April 2008, the trial court terminated the parental rights of Respondent/Appellant Betsy Hawkins (Mother)2 to her five children, F.L.B.H.; F.J.H., Jr.; F.H.; F.L.H.H.; and F.E.H., based on persistence of conditions. Mother filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court. Sometime prior to the transmission of the record to this Court, nine exhibits were misplaced in the trial court.3 Petitioner/Appellee State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services ("the State") and Mother agree that the missing exhibits cannot be recreated for the purpose of review on appeal.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2008/flbh_090208.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GARRETT CHARLES ANDERSON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Defendant, Garrett Charles Anderson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Michael Flynn, District Attorney General; Tammy Harrington, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant, Garrett Charles Anderson, pled guilty to felony evading arrest, driving under the influence, and violating the implied consent statute. The Defendant was sentenced to two years for the felony evading arrest conviction and to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the driving under the influence conviction. The sentences were to be served concurrently, for an effective sentence of two years, with thirty days to be served in jail and the remainder to be served on probation. Subsequently, the trial court issued a warrant alleging that the Defendant violated his probation, and, after a hearing, it revoked the Defendant's probation. On appeal, the Defendant claims the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation because there was not sufficient evidence that he violated his probation. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/andersong_090208.pdf


HOWARD JEFFERSON ATKINS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

John E. Herbison, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Howard Jefferson Atkins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and James Walter Freeland, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Howard Jefferson Atkins, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, he argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because: (1) trial counsel failed to pursue suppression of the petitioner's statement to police on the basis that police did not have probable cause to effectuate his arrest; and (2) appellate counsel failed to challenge the petitioner's transfer from juvenile court on appeal. After a thorough review of the record and the parties' briefs, the judgment of the post- conviction court denying post-conviction relief is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/atkinsj_090208.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRANDON COMPTON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert R. Kurtz, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brandon Compton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Leslie Nassios, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Brandon Compton, was convicted of two counts of first degree premeditated murder and received consecutive life sentences. On appeal, this court held that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to support the jury's finding of premeditation, modified the defendant's convictions to second degree murder, and remanded to the trial court for resentencing. On remand, the trial court imposed consecutive twenty-five-year sentences. The defendant now argues that the trial court erred in sentencing him above the presumptive sentence of twenty years and in imposing consecutive sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/comptonb_090208.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LEONARD RAY FITZGERALD

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Larry E. Fitzgerald, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leonard Ray Fitzgerald.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel J. McCadams, District Attorney General; and Beth C. Boswell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Leonard Ray Fitzgerald, was convicted of two counts of sale of over .5 grams of cocaine, a Class B felony, and sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent eight-year sentences, with seven years to be served on probation after one year in the Department of Correction. The jury assessed a $100,000 fine in each count, which the trial court imposed. On appeal, the defendant argues that the jury's verdict was not unanimous, the fines were excessive, and he should have been sentenced as an especially mitigated offender and granted full probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/fitzgeraldl_090208.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SHAWN HATCHER

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Lance R. Chism, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shawn Hatcher.

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

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Shawn Hatcher, was involved in a shooting which resulted in the death of one victim and the serious injury of two other victims. As a result of the incident, Appellant was convicted by a Shelby County jury of first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder. The trial court sentenced Appellant immediately to a mandatory life sentence for the first degree murder convictions. Appellant filed a motion for new trial. The trial court held a joint sentencing hearing and hearing on the motion for new trial. The trial court merged the two convictions for first degree murder and sentenced Appellant to fifteen years for each attempted murder conviction to be served concurrently with each other. The trial court ordered the life sentence to be served consecutively to the fifteen-year sentence. The trial court also denied the motion for new trial and appointed new counsel at the conclusion of the hearing for sentencing and the motion for new trial. Newly-appointed counsel filed an amended motion for new trial more than thirty days after the trial court denied the original motion for new trial. The trial court held a hearing on the amended motion for new trial and denied the motion. Appellant appealed. On appeal, the State argues that this appeal is not properly before this Court. We have determined that the issues presented in the amended motion for new trial are not properly before this Court because it was not filed with thirty days from the trial court's denial of the original motion for new trial. We have waived the timely-filing of the notice of appeal with regard to the original motion for new trial and address those issues on appeal. Therefore, the issues presented on appeal are that the evidence was insufficient to support the Appellant's convictions, the trial court erred in allowing in photographs of the murder victim into evidence, the trial court erred in not allowing Appellant to present medical evidence of his injuries to support his theory of defense, and the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the special instructions Appellant presented. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/hatchers_090208.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GUY LOUIS SHAW

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Gregory D. Gookin, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Guy Louis Shaw.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Anna Banks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Guy Louis Shaw, pleaded guilty to one count of driving on a revoked license (fourth offense), violation of the financial responsibility law, and violation of the motor vehicle light law. Subsequently, he was ordered to serve a sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days in jail for his conviction for driving on a revoked license. It is this sentence from which the defendant appeals. On appeal, the defendant argues that he should have been sentenced to probation rather than incarceration. Following our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the trial court's sentencing decision.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/shawg_090208.pdf


DANIEL RONALD VENGRIN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

J. Colin Morris (on appeal) and Joseph T. Howell (at trial), Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Daniel Ronald Vengrin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Jody S. Pickens, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Daniel Ronald Vengrin, pled guilty to vandalism in an amount greater than $500, a Class E felony. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the appellant to one year and six months in the Tennessee Department of Correction and ordered that the appellant have no contact with the victim and pay restitution. Subsequently, the appellant was found guilty of twenty-one counts of criminal contempt for failing to comply with the terms of the no- contact order that was a condition of his plea agreement. The trial court sentenced the appellant to a total effective sentence of 210 days for his contempt convictions. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court did not have jurisdiction "to modify or otherwise enforce the terms and conditions of the [j]udgment in [the appellant's] case." Upon our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/vengrind_090208.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

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TBA Member Services
Resources

Legal News
Knoxville Bar dinner to honor Supreme Court justices
The Knoxville Bar Association will pay tribute to the justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court at its annual Supreme Court Dinner tomorrow, Sept. 3, at the Knoxville Convention Center. The event provides an opportunity for the entire legal community to gather and recognize the service of the justices and show appreciation for their fairness, graciousness, eloquence and dedication. This year's program will also honor Chief Justice William M. Barker, who is retiring on Sept. 15 after 10 years of service on the court.
Find out more or make your reservation now
Knoxville law firm fleeced of millions
The Fox and Farmer law firm in Knoxville and at least 50 investors of the firm's trust accounts lost nearly $4 million through a scam by a foreign currency trading firm. The law firm has filed claims in U.S. Bankruptcy Court against The Forex Project of Chattanooga and its owner, Luis Rivas, who is in federal custody after being indicted in Chattanooga last week. The law firm partners said that the trust money investments were completely separate from the firm's legal practice and that no client money related to the law firm's legal services was involved.
See the Knox News Sentinel for a full report
Judicial redistricting won't happen in East Tennessee
A proposal to redraw judicial district boundaries in East Tennessee has been called to a halt, according to Elaine Nugent-Borakove, vice president of the Justice Management Institute, who had been studying judicial caseloads for the state. Judges, prosecutors and public defenders objected to changing the districts at a public hearing in Morristown on July 31.
The Citizen Tribune has the full story
Greene County takes option to buy land for new jail
The Greene County Commission agreed to a no-cost, six-month option on land that could be the site of a new justice center that would include a jail, courtrooms, sheriff's office and more. The county will spend $20,000 to study the site. The Tennessee Corrections Institute gave the county until Sept. 12 to make a plan to deal with jail overcrowding or possibly lose their certification.
The Greeneville Sun has more
TBA Member Services
September 'TBJ' analyzes medical malpractice obstacles
The September issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal is out today, explaining the new obstacles to getting medical malpractice cases to court that go into effect Oct. 1. There's also a review of the 2007-2008 term of U.S. Supreme Court opinions, and an article on Tenn. Rule of Evidence 404(b): What constitutes harmless error? Plus don't miss the TBA president's reflection on lawyer role models, Don Paine's column on the third 100-Mile rule, book reviews, and a humorous look at footwear in the courtroom.
The Journal is arriving in mailboxes now, or you can see it online here
Have you activated your FedEx shipping discounts?
TBA members are entitled to discounts on FedEx shipping. Did you know that TBA members are saving an average of $83 per quarter by utilizing their FedEx Association Advantage program discounts? Here's what some members have to say about their FedEx savings:

"Our firm took advantage of the Tennessee Bar Association FedEx discounts and saved over $200 on FedEx Express shipments last quarter alone. It's the best $200 we've ever saved," says member Bill Cameron of Cameron & Young in Cookeville. Start saving on your shipments today! For more information on how to enroll, call 1-800-923-7089 or
visit the TBA Web site
Resources
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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