This week's webcast: Workers' compensation issues

Get an overview of workers' compensation issues and learn how new amendments and changes to the law are being applied in this week's TennBarU webcast featuring Memphis attorney Sean Hunt of Spicer Flynn & Rudstrom PLLC. The live webcast begins at noon central daylight time on Wednesday. The course will cover the basics of a workers' compensation claim from beginning to the award and through appeal.

Register or find out more about Wednesday's webcast

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.

00 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
11 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
02 - 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.

STELLENA MARIE MORELOCK, Individually and as next of kin of DELMUS HOLMER McCARTER, v. The Estate of RHIANNON R. GALFORD and DANNY McKEE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Lawrence P. Leibowitz and C. Ryan Stinnett, Knoxville, Tennessee, for appellant.

James S. MacDonald, Knoxville, Tennessee, for appellees.

Judge: FRANKS

In this wrongful death action the Trial Court granted defendants summary judgment on the grounds that plaintiff was not a proper party to maintain the action. On appeal, we affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2008/morelocks_090808.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT BONDS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Garland Ergüden (on appeal), and Lawrence R. White (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Bonds.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Pamela Fleming, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Robert Bonds, was convicted of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and sentenced as a Range III offender to fifteen years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/bondsr_090808.pdf


KELVIN JERMAINE DOWELL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

J. Barney Witherington, IV, Covington, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kelvin Jermaine Dowell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, 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: GLENN

The petitioner, Kelvin Jermaine Dowell, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by presenting two inconsistent defense theories at his trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/dowellk_090808.pdf


ANTHONY L. GRANT, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Anthony L. Grant, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Lisa A. Naylor, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

In November 2005 the Davidson County Criminal Court revoked the community corrections sentence of the petitioner, Anthony L. Grant, Jr., and ordered that he serve his sentence in the custody of the Department of Correction. In October 2006, the petitioner filed a petition for post- conviction relief, which the post-conviction court summarily dismissed based on its determination that the petition was filed beyond the one-year statute of limitations established by the Post- Conviction Procedure Act, Tenn. Code Ann. section 40-30-101 et. seq. The petitioner appeals, alleging that the post-conviction court erred in its determination that the petition was time-barred. After reviewing the record, we conclude that the petitioner's claims regarding his initial guilty plea were time-barred but his claims regarding the revocation of his community corrections sentence were not time-barred. Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand this case for additional proceedings as to the petitioner's claims regarding his community corrections revocation.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/granta_090808.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHARLES RICKY PIPKIN, JR.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Daniel J. Taylor, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Ricky Pipkin, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Joe Van Dyke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Charles Ricky Pipkin, Jr., pled guilty to charges of aggravated burglary and theft over $500. He also pled guilty in a separately charged case to initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with the intent to deliver more than .5 grams. As a condition of his guilty pleas, the defendant properly reserved several certified questions of law, challenging the legality and validity of the search warrant. Specifically, the defendant argued that the affidavit for the search warrant did not satisfy both prongs of the Aguilar-Spinelli test and therefore failed for lack of probable cause. He further argued that information contained in the warrant was stale and insufficient. Finally, the defendant argued that if the search warrant was invalid in the first case, then any evidence and statements used against him in the second case must also be suppressed as fruits of an illegal search. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and dismiss the defendant's convictions.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/pipkinc_090808.pdf


DENNIS D. PLEMONS, SR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Michael W. Ritter, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dennis D. Plemons, Sr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; J. Scott McCluen, District Attorney General; and Frank Harvey, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

After his conviction for driving under the influence ("DUI") was upheld by this Court on appeal, Petitioner, Dennis D. Plemons, Sr., sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. See State v. Dennis D. Plemons, Sr., No. E2004-01558-CCA-R3-CD, 2006 WL 304714 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Feb. 9, 2006). After a hearing on the petition, the post- conviction court entered an order denying post-conviction relief. After a thorough review of the record, we determine Petitioner failed to establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/plemonsd_090808.pdf


STACEY DEWAYNE RAMSEY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Benjamin S. Dempsey, Huntingdon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stacy Dewayne Ramsey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; and Hansel Jay McCadams, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Stacy Dewayne Ramsey, was convicted by a jury in the Montgomery County Circuit Court of first degree murder, and he received a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Thereafter, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging due process violations, newly discovered evidence, and numerous claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing on the petition, the post-conviction court denied relief, finding that the petitioner had failed to prove that any relief was warranted. The petitioner appeals that ruling. 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/ramseys_090808.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT W. RODDY

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Edward L. Boring, Pikeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert W. Roddy.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and James W. Pope, III, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WELLES

The Defendant, Robert W. Roddy, was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and one count of aggravated assault. For these convictions, he received two consecutive life terms plus four years. In this direct appeal, he presents three issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence two photographs; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions, arguing that the proof was insufficient to overcome his claims of self-defense and intoxication; and (3) whether the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. Following a review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the Defendant's convictions and sentences.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/roddyr_090808.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LEMAN EARL RUSSELL, JR.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

James E. Lanier, District Public Defender, and H. Tod Taylor, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Leman Earl Russell, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; and Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Leman Earl Russell, Jr., entered a plea of guilty, in January 2007, to three counts of selling a Schedule II controlled substance under .5 grams (Class C felony) and one count of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance over .5 grams with intent to sell or deliver (Class B felony), in exchange for a sentence of split confinement. For each Class C felony conviction, he was sentenced to six months in the county jail and four years on community corrections, with each sentence to be served concurrently. For the Class B felony, he was sentenced to six months in the county jail to be followed by nine years and five months on community corrections, also concurrent with the other sentences, for a total effective sentence of nine years and eleven months (six months in confinement followed by nine years and five months on community corrections). Here, the defendant appeals the revocation of his community corrections sentence. After review, we conclude that the trial court properly revoked the defendant's community corrections sentence.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/russelll_090808.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEVIN SWIFT

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert Wilson Jones, District Public Defender; Garland Ergüden (on appeal) and William Robilio (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Kevin Swift.

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

Judge: THOMAS

In October 2005, the Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the defendant, Kevin Swift, on two counts of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. Following a jury trial in Shelby County Criminal Court, the defendant was convicted on both counts of the indictment; however, upon stipulation of the parties one of the defendant's convictions was reduced to the lesser included offense of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant to eleven years as a Range I, standard offender on the aggravated robbery conviction and nine years as a Range II, multiple offender on the aggravated assault conviction. The trial court ordered these sentences to be served consecutively. The defendant appeals, asserting that: (1) the evidence produced at trial was insufficient to support his aggravated robbery conviction; (2) the sentences imposed for both sentences were excessive in that they were enhanced based on factors not found by the jury beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) the trial court improperly imposed consecutive sentences. After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/swiftk_090808.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ARTHUR LEE TAYLOR

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert Brooks (on appeal), Memphis, Tennessee, and Ramsdale O'DeNeal (at trial), Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Arthur Lee Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown and Rolf Hazlehurst, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Madison County Circuit Court jury convicted the appellant, Arthur Lee Taylor, of possessing 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell, possessing 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to deliver, and two counts of misdemeanor possessing dihydrocodeinone. The trial court merged the cocaine convictions and merged the dihydrocodeinone convictions and sentenced the appellant to an effective sentence of thirty years in confinement. The trial court also imposed the fines recommended by the jury of $50,000 for the cocaine conviction and $750 for the dihydrocodeinone conviction. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions, that the trial court's instructions and the jury's verdicts constructively amended the indictments, that the trial court erred by failing to require the State to elect the specific offenses it was relying on for conviction, and that his $50,000 fine is excessive. We conclude that because the appellant's motion for new trial was untimely filed, his second and third issues are waived. Regarding his sufficiency and sentencing issues, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/taylora_090808.pdf


MICHAEL WHITE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jheri Beth Rich, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael White.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Michael White, appeals from the Marshall County Circuit Court's dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, which he had filed in 2007 to challenge his 2005 jury convictions of five counts of rape. On appeal, the petitioner claims that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by inadequately investigating the case, failing to communicate with the petitioner, and failing to effectively cross-examine witnesses. Because the record supports the post-conviction court's determinations, we affirm the dismissal of post-conviction relief.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/whitem_090808.pdf


Authority of Governmental Entity to Replace/Repair Sewer Lines on Private Property

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2008-09-08

Opinion Number: 08-143

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2008/ag_08_143.pdf

Resignation under 2008 Tenn. Pub. Acts Ch. 871

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2008-09-08

Opinion Number: 08-144

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2008/ag_08_144.pdf

TODAY'S NEWS

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Legal News
State cuts funding for Benton County drug court
The Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration announced it would eliminate funding for the Benton County drug court on Sept. 19, but gave no reason for the cut. Court officials are strongly supportive of the program and hope to find a way to continue the service after the state funds run out, reports the Camden Chronicle.
Read more about the development
Holder praised, profiled in weekend papers
Calling new Supreme Court Chief Justice and fellow Memphian Janice Holder a "Renaissance woman," the Commercial Appeal wrote in an editorial over the weekend, that Holder is "a lawyer with such an array of interests, accomplishments and goals that any community would be proud to claim her." The piece praised her sharp legal mind, energy and enthusiasm, as well as her long-time interest in improving access to the courts. Read the opinion piece. In addition, a weekend story by the Tennessean traced how Holder's commitment to achieving her personal best catapulted her to the historic role as the state's first female chief justice. Learn more about her life experiences in this profile.

Human rights writing contest open to all lawyers
The Bar Association of Caen, France, together with the Memorial Museum and the city of Caen invite lawyers to compete in the 20th annual Lawyers' Pleading Contest for Human Rights. Lawyers must choose a current situation in the world in which the rights of an individual or group are being threatened or violated, and prepare a 10-page written brief advocating the defense of human rights and arguing the case for redress. Submissions are due no later than Nov. 10. Winners receive cash prizes as well as the opportunity to publicly argue their cases in France. For more information contact Steve Cobb at s.a.cobb@comcast.net

New allegations of open meetings violations
Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs is questioning whether county commissioners violated the state Open Meetings Act during an Aug. 29 meeting where groups of commissioners huddled together before electing committee officers. He is asking the commission chair to declare the election void and mandate a new open proceeding.
The News Sentinel has more
Upcoming
Innocence Project founder to testify before committee
Attorney Barry Scheck, who co-founded The Innocence Project, will testify before the Tennessee Committee to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Room 12 of the Legislative Plaza. Scheck started the project in 1992 to assist prisoners with DNA testing to prove their innocence. To date, 220 people in the United States have been exonerated through such testing, including 17 that served on death row. The Senate Democratic Caucus reported Scheck's appearance.

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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.
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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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