Contact your lawmaker about the Tennessee Plan

Tennessee Bar Association President Buck Lewis said today that the time has come for TBA members to let lawmakers know if they favor renewal of the system of merit selection, performance evaluation and retention election for appellate judges. "According to an extensive membership survey completed last September, Tennessee lawyers overwhelmingly agree that the best system for electing appellate judges is the yes-no retention election," Lewis said. "The TBA has made a strong case for retention elections and it has been broadly accepted by the business, civic and legal communities."

Legislative leaders have indicated that they would like to see resolution of non-budget issues like judicial selection before the end of March. This means that efforts to enact a judicial election plan could get early attention in the legislative process.

To find out how to contact your lawmaker, go to Download an extensive background briefing on the available options, including a return to contested elections, adoption of a system modeled on the federal appointment process, and a new judicial election plan put forward by the TBA.
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
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
04 - TN Court of Appeals
01 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - 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.


Court: TSC


Court: TCA


Franz F. Springmann, Sr., Sevierville, Tennessee, for appellant, Melissa Graves Burton.

Rebecca C. McCoy, Sevierville, Tennessee, for appellee, David Leigh Burton.


In this divorce action, following an evidentiary hearing, the Trial Judge awarded primary residential custody of the parties' two minor children to the father. The mother has appealed and we affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TCA


Gerald L. Gulley, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for appellants, Raymond and Elaine Cox.

Michael R. Campbell and Kathryn M. Russell, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for appellee, Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.


The Plaintiffs sued defendant insurance company alleging breach of the insurance policy between the parties. The Trial Court granted partial summary judgment to defendant on the contents coverage on plaintiffs' home destroyed by fire. The judgment was granted on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not file a proper proof of loss of the contents within the time frame required by the policy, and that defendant was prejudiced thereby. The partial summary judgment is the principal issue on appeal and we affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TCA


Lawren Bryant Lassiter, Gallatin, TN, for Appellant, Sue Leggett.

David Milton Amonette, Gallatin, TN, for Appellee, Paul Allen Dorris, Margaret K. Dorris, Mary Ann Dorris.

John Ralph Bradley, Portland, TN, for Appellee, David R. Day, Ronnie Perdue d/b/a Perdue Trucking and Excavating.


This is an appeal from a nuisance case. The plaintiff landowner filed a complaint alleging a continuous nuisance caused by grading completed on adjacent property. The plaintiff alleged that the grading had altered the natural drainage pattern, causing damage to her house. The complaint sought damages and injunctive relief. The defendants sought summary judgment, raising the statute of limitations as a defense. The trial court agreed and granted defendants' motion. genuine issue of material fact remains in dispute, we reverse.


Court: TCA


Phillip Terry Clemons, McMinnville, TN, for Appellant, John William Commer Wright.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, TN, for Appellee.


This appeal involves the termination of parental rights. The juvenile court terminated Father's parental rights to his two children based on four statutory grounds: abandonment, noncompliance with a permanency plan, persistent conditions, and parental incompetence. The court also found that termination was in the best interest of both children. The court supported these legal conclusions with extensive factual findings. Because the trial court's decision is supported by clear and convincing evidence, we affirm.


Court: TCCA


Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender, and Robert C. Edwards, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Shirley P. Spina.

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


The defendant, Shirley P. Spina, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court's denial of her motion to withdraw her "no contest" pleas to aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and unlawful possession of a weapon, a Class A misdemeanor. We hold that the trial court erred in denying the defendant a hearing on her motion to withdraw her pleas, and we vacate the judgments and remand for a hearing on the motion to withdraw the pleas.

Effects of Special Legislation Extending County's Authority Over Disposal of Solid Waste

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-02-09

Opinion Number: 09-12


Legislative News
Legal News
TBA Member Services

Legislative News
Williams barred by party to run as Republican again
Tennessee Republican Party Chairwoman Robin Smith announced today that House Speaker Kent Williams, R-Elizabethton, will be barred from running again as a Republican. Her action follows a resolution recently approved by the Tennessee Republican Party's executive committee. Read Williams's statement on
Learn more in The Times-Free Press
Legislature opens today with uncertainty on many fronts
The General Assembly began its new session today with, as the Commercial Appeal describes it, a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty about how sweeping changes in its operating structure and leadership will impact issues; over how a massive federal economic stimulus package being negotiated in Congress will impact a state budget deficit now approaching $1 billion; and over whether the worst partisan warfare in years will linger and hamper serious work on the people's business.
Read more
Governor gives 'state of the state' tonight
Gov. Phil Bredesen will give the State of the State address live, tonight at 6 p.m., Central Time. Bredesen has asked to delay the presentation of his recommended budget, but today he will outline the status of the state and the challenges it faces.
Watch it online
Legal News
New trial for House set
The new trial for former death row inmate Paul House has been set for March 30. House spent nearly 22 years on death row after he was convicted in the 1985 slaying of Carolyn Muncey in Union County. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded in 2006 that evidence that emerged years after his original trial cast doubt on that conviction. District Attorney Paul Phillips said a pretrial conference was scheduled Wednesday in Anderson County.
NewsChannel5 carried this AP story
New Clarksville judge to be named tonight, questions arise over 2 candidates
Among the 12 applicants for a Montgomery County General Sessions position are some about whom questions have been raised. Last week County Mayor Carolyn Bowers, through State Rep. Curtis Johnson, asked for an opinion from the Attorney General on whether one of the candidates may have violated the state's sunshine laws and if another is eligible because of his residency. The AG's office declined to comment on the situation, stating that its "statutory authority to issue legal opinions is limited to questions posed by state officials concerning issues that arise in the course of their official duties and, as to pending legislation, questions posed by members of the General Assembly concerning measures before that body." The Leaf-Chronicle has this story

The commission will vote tonight on a replacement for John Hestle, who died Dec. 18. Election results will be posted in The Leaf Chronicle

Editorial: Don't count Ginsburg out yet
In an editorial today, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press calls it "unseemly" to be speculating over replacements for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in light of her announcement about being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Read the editorial
Person: child support contract change will cost jobs
In a guest column, Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person points out that the Department of Health and Human Services should have taken into account the falling economy when it pressed on with plans to put the child support collection contract up for bid. Person writes that the move will put 242 people out of their jobs and it will "take years for a new child support contractor to attain the level of operation that exists at Juvenile Court."
The Commercial Appeal has the column
Summers to serve suicide prevention organization
Former Attorney General of Tennessee Paul Summers will volunteer on the staff of The Jason Foundation Inc., in addition to his full-time practice responsibilities as a partner at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP in Nashville. The foundation is a national leader in youth suicide awareness and prevention. Summers will be pro bono director of government affairs. Specifically, he will coordinate with the 49 state attorneys general across the nation who now work with The Jason Foundation as "ambassadors" within their respective states.
Find out more about the Jason Foundation Inc.
Bledsoe County resumes jail project with new architect
Bledsoe County officials are back at the drawing board with a new architect as commissioners prepare to pick a new jail design with a 2010 completion date. Planning for a new jail began in early 2007 but a dispute with the architect slowed progress. A suit is pending against architect J. Mark Rodgers, who, the county claims, failed to develop designs and estimates within the project budget.
The Times-Free Press has more
TBA Member Services
TBA, Bank of America team up for no-fee credit card
The TBA World Points Rewards MasterCard from Bank of America places a new world of rewards, privileges, and service at your command -- with no annual fee.
Click here to learn more

Discontinue your TBA Today subscription? ... Surely not!
But if you must, visit the TBALink web site at:

Questions, comments: Email us at

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.

© Copyright 2009 Tennessee Bar Association