TBA legislative initiatives advance

Legislation permitting state lawyers to voluntarily engage in pro bono activities on their own time was recommended for passage by both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees this week. The legislation (SB 548 by Norris, HB 416 by Lundberg) does not permit district attorneys or public defenders to do pro bono work -- a provision that was requested by the two groups. All of the state employee restrictions dealing with volunteer activities and the Rules of Professional Conduct continue to apply.

The bill to make technical corrections to the TBA-sponsored Tennessee Condominium Law also cleared legislative hurdles this week. SB 922 by Stanley was recommended for passage by the Senate Commerce Labor and Agriculture Committee. The Industrial Impact Subcommittee recommended the House version of the bill (HB 595 by Coleman) for consideration by the House Commerce Committee.

Finally, the TBA bill prohibiting court reporters from taking depositions if the reporter has had sexual relations with a lawyer or party within the last two years is awaiting a hearing. The legislation -- SB 838 by Woodson, HB 403 by Sontany -- expands the statutory prohibition on court reporters providing services to family members to also include those who have had sexual relations with the reporter.

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Court: TCA


Donald (Trey) Winder, III, Athens, Tennessee for the Appellant, Christina H.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Lindsey O. Appiah, Assistant Attorney General; for the Appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services.


The State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services ("DCS") filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of Christina H. ("Mother") to the minor child, Gracie H. The Juvenile Court later granted DCS leave to amend the petition to also terminate Mother's parental rights to the minor child, J'Izaia H. After a trial, the Juvenile Court found and held, inter alia, that clear and convincing evidence existed to terminate Mother's parental rights to Gracie H. under Tenn. Code Ann. sections 36-1-113(g)(1), (2), (3), and (8) and that termination was in Gracie H.'s best interest. The Juvenile Court also found and held, inter alia, that clear and convincing evidence existed to terminate Mother's parental rights to J'Izaia H. under Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-1-113(g)(8) and that termination was in J'Izaia H.'s best interest. Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to Gracie H. and J'Izaia H. We affirm.



Court: TCA


Cynthia A. Cheatham, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alma A. Flores.

Eric J. Burch, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellee, Inocencio R. Sierra Ortega.


This is a modification of child custody case. The trial court granted Father's motion for directed verdict and denied Mother's petition to modify the child custody order which awarded joint custody and set parenting time for the parties' infant child at alternate three month intervals. Mother appeals. We reverse and remand for entry of judgment consistent with this Opinion.


CORRECTION on page 4

Court: TCA


Arthur F. Knight, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Anderson County Board of Education; V.L. Stonecipher, Director of Schools; and Anderson County Board of Education Members: Dr. John Burrell, Gail Martin, Greg Crawford, Ron Hagans, Peggy Hayes, and Wanda McCrosky.

J. Mikel Dixon, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Debra R. Ripley.

Judge: LEE

The issue presented in this case is whether the trial court erred in reinstating a teacher's employment after determining that her actions did not warrant her dismissal by the school board. After careful review, we affirm the judgment of the chancery court, finding that, while the teacher's conduct on the day in question was inappropriate, her termination was not warranted.


CORRECTION on pages 2 and 4

Court: TCA


Curtis H. Goetsch, Germantown, TN, for Appellant, Shelby County Healthcare Corporation, et al.

Gordon C. Aulgur, Nashville, TN, for Appellee, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.


Appellant hospital filed suit against Appellee insurance company for damages arising from Appellee's alleged impairment of the Appellant's hospital lien. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellant hospital, finding that Appellant had perfected its lien under Tenn. Code Ann. section 29-22-101, and that the Appellee had impaired that lien pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. section 29-22-104. The trial court, however, limited Appellant's recovery to the amount of coverage under the insurance policy. We affirm as modified herein. Description of Correction: Corrections on pages 2 and 4 changed the pagination of the opinion. On page 2, the first paragraph has been modified. In the second paragraph, in (2) the phrase "and the Regional Medical Center of Northeast Arkansas" has been added after "proceeds to Medic One." On page 4, in the third full paragraph, 10th line, the phrase "and the Regional Medical Center of Northeast Arkansas" has been added after "proceeds to Medic One."



Court: TCCA


Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal); Kevin Dewitt Ford, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se (at evidentiary hearing); Dumaka Shabazz, Nashville, Tennessee, standby counsel for the appellant (at evidentiary hearing).

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Brett Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Kevin Dewitt Ford, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions on seven counts of aggravated robbery. The petitioner pled guilty to these offenses and received an effective sentence of fifty years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the petitioner argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



Court: TCCA


David M. Hopkins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Steven Craig Griffin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; Rachel Sobrero, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Steven Craig Griffin, of one count of aggravated kidnapping and six counts of aggravated rape. The trial court ordered the Petitioner to serve an effective sentence of eighty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the Petitioner's convictions and sentence. The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, the trial court denied the petition, and this Court affirmed. The Petitioner subsequently sought post-conviction relief in the form of DNA analysis of physical evidence associated with his aggravated rape convictions. The post-conviction court denied the request, and this Court affirmed. However, our Supreme Court reversed the post-conviction court's judgment and remanded the case. On remand, the post-conviction court ordered the DNA analysis. After it reviewed the results and found them unfavorable to the Petitioner, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the DNA test results establish his claim of actual innocence of aggravated rape. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



Court: TCCA


J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), and Mack Garner, District Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Scotty Lee Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Melissa Roberge, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Robert Headrick, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Scotty Lee Johnson, appeals from the revocation of his probation. In this appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by ordering incarceration. Discerning no error, we affirm.



Court: TCCA


Michael A. Colavecchio, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Anthony L. Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Deborah Housel, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A jury convicted the Defendant, Anthony L. Williams, of first degree premeditated murder, felony aggravated assault, and felony reckless endangerment. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve a life sentence for his first-degree murder conviction, a four-year sentence for his aggravated assault conviction, and a two-year sentence for his felony reckless endangerment conviction. The Defendant appeals, contending: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for first degree premeditated murder; (2) the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on self-defense; and (3) the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on defense of others. After thoroughly reviewing the record and the relevant authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



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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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