New Model Pro Bono Policy encourages participation

The TBA Board of Governors meeting Saturday in Memphis approved a new Model Pro Bono Policy for Law Firms as part of the TBA's efforts to encourage all Tennessee law firms to adopt a formal policy and actively participate in pro bono programs. Law firms that have a formal pro bono policy in place by January will be recognized at the TBA's Public Service Awards Luncheon. Chief Justice Janice Holder will be the keynote speaker at that Jan. 17 event. Please contact the TBA to let us know if your law firm has a formal pro bono policy in place or is working to adopt one so that we can ensure that your firm is recognized in January.

Access the TBA Model Pro Bono Policy for Law Firms

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Court: TCA


Keith H. Grant, Dunlap, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth Ray Caldwell.

Randall W. Morrison, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for the appellee, Scarlett Renee Caldwell.


In this divorce action, Husband appeals the Trial Court's division of marital assets and the allocation of Wife's retirement account to the Wife, in lieu of alimony. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TCA


Michael R. Giaimo, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mary Elizabeth Freeman.

Joy Buck Gothard, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellee, the Conservatorship of Suzette McCoy.

Judge: LEE

This is a suit for breach of contract and, in the alternative, for quantum meruit compensation brought by a caretaker against her aunt and her aunt's conservatorship. The plaintiff alleges that at the request of her uncle, who is now deceased, she had taken care of her mentally disabled aunt. In return, she alleges that she, her aunt, and her uncle agreed that the aunt and uncle would deed her their house to compensate her for her services. Plaintiff contends that, although her uncle gave her a gift of $20,000, she was not compensated as the parties had agreed she would be. Following a hearing, the trial court determined that there was an agreement between the plaintiff and her aunt and uncle that the compensation for the services the plaintiff rendered would consist of a bequest of their house to her upon their deaths, rather than a transfer of the house to her while either of them was still alive. The trial court further ruled that the $20,000, which the plaintiff alleged was a gift from her uncle, was, in fact, not a gift and granted the defendants a judgment against the plaintiff in such amount. Upon our determination that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court's findings, its judgment is affirmed.


Court: TCA


Hardin Chase Pitman and Rebecca Adelman, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Quince Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC.

Frank B. Thacher, III, and Les Jones, Memphis, Tennessee, and Mark Norman Geller, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Merry LeShane, as Next of Kin of Winnie Brumley, Deceased.


This appeal arises from the trial court's denial of Defendant/Appellant's motion to compel arbitration under an arbitration agreement contained in a nursing home admissions agreement. This is a direct appeal pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-5-319(a)(1). We vacate and remand for further proceedings with respect to the issue of authority.


Court: TCA


Theodore J. Bourtrous, Dominic Lanza, Joy Day, Lawrence A. Sutter, and J. Britt Phillips for the appellant, DaimlerChrysler Corporation.

Richard E. Charlton, III, Larry W. Morris, Jeremy Knowles and Gene Hamby for the appellee, Gilbert Mohr.


This appeal is from a jury verdict against an automobile manufacturer for compensatory and punitive damages. The Circuit Court of Shelby County entered judgments against the defendant for $3,450,000 in compensatory and $48,778,000 in punitive damages for the death of the driver, and $1,100,000 in compensatory damages for the death of the front-seat passenger. The manufacturer on appeal asks this Court to reverse the judgment of liability or to grant a new trial on all issues. In the alternative, the defendant argues that the money judgments are excessive. We affirm the findings of liability for compensatory and punitive damages and we affirm the amounts awarded for compensatory damages. We also find that the amount of punitive damages awarded must be reduced to $13,800,000 to comply with the due process requirements of the United States Constitution.


Court: TCA


Ben H. Cantrell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Robert Sattler.

Shawn J. McBrien, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Linda Gay Sattler.


In this divorce action, the issue on appeal is the enforceability of a unilateral, handwritten document drafted by the wife prior to marriage, which was signed only by the husband. The trial court found that the document was an enforceable unilateral contract and that the wife was entitled to, inter alia, half ownership of the husband's residences in Tennessee and Florida. We have determined the purported unilateral agreement was entered into in contemplation of marriage and the subject of the agreement concerned property owned by one of the future spouses; therefore, to be enforceable the agreement must meet the requirements for antenuptial agreements as provided in Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-3-501. This agreement does not; therefore, it is not enforceable. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed and the case is remanded for classification of the parties separate and marital property and for an equitable division of their marital estate.


Court: TCA


C. Thomas Cates, Melissa A. Maravich, Memphis, TN, for Appellants

G. Keith Rogers, Jr., Collierville, TN, for Appellees John E. Threlkeld and James E. Threlkeld, Jr.

Linda Jew Mathis, Memphis, TN, for Appellees Elizabeth P. Welch, Waymon H. Welch, and Ginger C. McCullar.


This appeal involves a dispute over a real estate sales commission and a third party claim for rent due under a commercial lease agreement. The tenant and the owners of the rental property entered into a listing agreement whereby the tenant's real estate company would broker the sale of the leased property on behalf of the owners. The property in question was two commercial lots. The tenant was able to procure a sale of one of the commercial lots, and upon close of the sale, tenant stopped paying rent to the owners on the remaining commercial lot. Tenant then brought an offer for the sale of the second lot, which the owners rejected and made a counter- offer. No deal was reached, and the owners terminated the tenant's agency authority. Through another real estate agency, the owners sold the remaining lot. The tenant's real estate company brought suit, seeking to collect the real estate commission. The owners sought the rent due on the unsold lot for the time remaining under the lease. The trial court found that the tenant was not entitled to a real estate commission, and that the tenant owed the owners rent, but reduced the amount due to the owner's failure to mitigate damages. We affirm in part and reverse in part.


Court: TCCA


Andrew Peters Davis, Winchester, Tennessee, for appellant, James H. Carter.

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

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, James. H. Carter, 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 at his sentencing hearing. After a thorough review of the record and the parties' briefs, the judgment of the post-conviction court denying post-conviction relief is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


Albert J. Newman, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Franklin Jewel Ealey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; and Zane Scarlett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Franklin Jewel Ealey, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court's order dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that the dismissal was erroneous because, prior to pleading guilty to one count of attempt to obtain a controlled substance by fraud and two counts of theft, he did not receive the effective assistance of counsel and, therefore, his plea was entered involuntarily. His argument centers around his contention that he believed he was to receive an alternative sentence in exchange for his guilty plea. Following our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we conclude that the Petitioner has not demonstrated that trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective or that his plea was involuntary. Consequently, we affirm the post-conviction court's order of dismissal.


Court: TCCA


Nathan Moore, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Melvin Nettles.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Melvin Nettles, pleaded guilty to one count of sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine and was sentenced as a Range III offender in Davidson County Criminal Court to an effective 12- year term to be served in a community corrections program. On October 5, 2007, the trial court revoked the community corrections sentence and ordered the defendant to serve his sentence in the Department of Correction. From that order, the defendant appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


M. Wallace Coleman, Jr., Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Billy Staggs.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Douglas Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Billy Staggs, appeals from the Wayne County Circuit Court's judgments sentencing him to serve his effective ten-year sentence on his guilty pleaded convictions of two counts of the sale of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of the sale of marijuana in confinement. The record supports the trial court's determination of the manner of service of the defendant's sentences, and we affirm the judgments.

Clerks Fees in Department of Human Services Child Support Enforcement Actions

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2008-10-14

Opinion Number: 08-162

Exceptions to Required Use of Ignition Interlock Devices for Specified DUI Offenders

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2008-10-14

Opinion Number: 08-163


Legal News
Court of the Judiciary
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Meares violated code of conduct, judge says
Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood said yesterday that former Judge Mike Meares violated Canon 2 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges through contact he had with a victim's family following a voluntary manslaughter sentencing. The special hearing was held to determine whether there was judicial misconduct on the part of the former circuit court judge in connection with the case.
The Daily Times has the details
Knox commissioner Moore lied, Blackwood rules
Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ruled this morning that former Knox County Commission Chairman Scott Moore committed perjury in his testimony in last year's trial over violations of the state Open Meetings Act. Moore will lose his seat on the commission. Fellow commissioner Paul Pinkston, also targeted for ouster in a lawsuit brought by citizens, can remain, the judge said.
The News Sentinel has the story
Professor is third applicant for Appeals Court
The vacancy on the Tennessee Court of Appeals got a third applicant today as the deadline draws near. Vonda M. Laughlin, associate professor at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, has applied. The vacancy on the Court of Appeals was created by the appointment of Sharon Lee to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The deadline to receive applications is Oct. 20. Sharon Dawn Coppock of Strawberry Plains and John Westley McClarty of Chattanooga have previously applied.
Click here for more information or to apply
Administrative law judge arrested
Administrative Law Judge Anthony Adgent, 60, was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, assault and vandalism after a fight at a Nashville bar Monday night. has the story
Memphis lawyer Crump retires at 95
Memphis lawyer Charles M. Crump considers the timing of why he is retiring from the firm his grandfather founded: "I guess somehow the age 95 seemed to be the logical time. I don't want to make any mistakes, (though) I think I'm sharp enough. And to be with my wife more." His firm, Apperson Crump, gave him a send-off recently to honor his long legacy.
Read about him in the Commercial Appeal
Judge throws out Kurita lawsuit
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Echols today threw out a lawsuit from Sen. Rosalind Kurita that challenged the Democratic Party's decision to void her primary victory and put her opponent on the ballot instead.
Read more in the Tennessean
Court of the Judiciary
Judge Rich reprimanded
Judge Charles Rich of Shelbyville received a public letter of reprimand from the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary. The letter by Presiding Judge Don R. Ash details instances where Rich failed to make findings of fact in a juvenile's case and later signed orders in a case after he had recused himself from it.
Read the letter of reprimand
Disciplinary Actions
Nashville lawyer reinstated
Nashville lawyer Kathy A. Leslie has been reinstated to the practice of law upon payment of the full amount of the BPR's costs. On June 27, 2006, she was suspended from the practice of law for 36 months, retroactive to April 6, 2004, for misappropriation of funds from two clients.
Read the BPR release
Experience France on exceptional TBA tour
Experience France now as you never have before. Join your colleagues from the Tennessee Bar Association on an exciting seven-day, six-night trip to beautiful and historic France, starting on Saturday, July 4, 2009. You will experience history at Omaha Beach, wonder at Mont Saint-Michel, be delighted at the quaint port of Honfleur, see Giverny through Monet's eyes and much more.
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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
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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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