TBA-backed pro bono bill clears House, Senate

Legislation permitting state lawyers to voluntarily engage in pro bono activities on their own time won unanimous passage in both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly today. In asking his colleagues to support the bill, Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) said that the legislation is part of an access to justice package in which "we are trying to do everything we can to include all those who are licensed to practice law in the state to have the opportunity to help those less fortunate." Norris, the bill's sponsor in the Senate, said an estimated 400 government employed attorneys could take part in pro bono activities with passage of the bill. After Norris' comments, Sen. Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis) added her support to the bill and asked to be added a sponsor. In the House, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), who also was able to win quick and unanimous support from his colleagues.

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TODAY'S OPINIONS
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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.

STATE OF TENNESSEE EX REL. NANA LANDENBERGER v. PROJECT RETURN, INC.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Richard J. Braun and Patricia Crotwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nana Landenberger.

Michael K. Bassham, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, State of Tennessee

David M. Rich and Frank Thomas, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Project Return, Inc.

Judge: BENNETT

In this action brought under Tennessee's False Claims Act, the trial court granted the defendant's motion to set aside its offer of judgment and strike the relator's notice of acceptance. The relator subsequently abandoned the case, and the trial court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss. We affirm the results reached by the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/landenbergern_031209.pdf


BOBBY THOMPSON, Individually, and as Executor of the Estate of Gertrude Thompson, Deceased v. JAMES HAYWOOD THOMPSON, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Matthew W. Willis, Dyersburg, TN, for Appellant

John W. Palmer, Dyersburg, TN, for Appellees

Judge: HIGHERS

This case involves two brothers and their mother's estate. One brother filed suit against the other, claiming that the defendant brother and his family members wrongfully converted certain assets belonging to his mother and obtained other assets through undue influence. The trial court found no conversion or undue influence. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/thompsong_031209.pdf


HARVEY BAKER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Harvey Baker, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Harvey Baker, appeals the denial of habeas corpus relief by the trial court. Petitioner contended that the indictment on which his conviction was based was duplicitous, vague, ambiguous, faulty, and incomplete. As a result, Petitioner contended that the indictment was void. The trial court summarily dismissed the petition. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/bakerh_031209.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. NATHAN JACK CHILDRESS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Hershell D. Koger, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nathan Jack Childress.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth B. Marney, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Hollynn Hewgley Eubanks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Nathan Jack Childress ("Childress"), appeals the trial court's order allowing the State to nolle prosequi the charges against him. A case that is disposed by nolle prosequi is not appealable as of right by a defendant, therefore, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/childressn_031209.pdf


STEVEN CRAIG FULTS V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Douglas A. Trant, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven Craig Fults.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth B. Marney, Senior Counsel; and William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner was found guilty of five counts of rape, all Class B felonies; twelve counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, all Class C felonies; and seven counts of statutory rape, all Class E felonies. He was sentenced to nine years for each Class B felony, three years for each Class C felony, and one year for each Class E felony. His sentences for the Class B felonies were ordered to be served consecutively. His sentences for the Class C felonies were ordered to be served consecutively but concurrently to the Class B felonies. His sentences for the E felonies were ordered to be served consecutively but concurrently to the B felonies, for an effective sentence of forty-five years. In this post-conviction appeal, the petitioner argues that trial counsel was ineffective and that the post-conviction court erred in rejecting the challenge to his sentence because it was previously determined on appeal. After careful review, we affirm the judgment from the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/fultss_031209.pdf


MARKEISHA SEAGRAVES v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Markeisha Seagraves, Pro se, Nashville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

This matter is before the Court on the State's motion to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Petitioner, Markeisha Seagraves, appeals the post-conviction court's dismissal of her petition for post-conviction relief. Upon our review of the record in this case, we conclude that the Petitioner failed to satisfy the applicable statutory timing requirements and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the State's motion is granted and the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/seagravesm_031209.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ERIC D. TURNER and ROBERT DEE SCRIBNER, II

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Cynthia M. Fort and Matthew Mayo, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric D. Turner. David M. Hopkins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Dee Scribner, II.

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

Judge: GLENN

The defendants, Eric D. Turner and Robert Dee Scribner, II, were indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in a three-count indictment for rape of a child, a Class A felony, with Scribner charged with two counts and Turner charged with one count. Following their jury trial, Scribner was convicted of one of the two counts with which he was charged and sentenced as a child rapist to sixteen years at 100 percent in the Department of Correction. Turner was convicted of the lesser- included offense of attempted rape of a child, a Class B felony, and sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to ten years in the Department of Correction. Both defendants challenge the sufficiency of the convicting evidence on appeal. Turner additionally argues that the trial court erred by instructing the jury on the lesser-included offense of attempted rape of a child, and Scribner argues that the trial court erred by admitting DNA evidence without a proper chain of custody, by not granting a requested special jury instruction, and by enhancing his sentence beyond the minimum in the range. Having reviewed the record and found no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/turnere_031209.pdf


Validity of Pending Legislation Affecting Development in Rural Communities

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-03-12

Opinion Number: 09-26

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2009/ag_09_26.pdf

Licensure of Public Automobile Auctioneers

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-03-12

Opinion Number: 09-27

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2009/ag_09_27.pdf

TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Speculation growing over Obama court nominees
President Obama will soon begin naming a small stream of nominees to the federal appeals courts, a step that will provide the first signs of how much he intends to impose any ideological stamp on the nation's judiciary. One court to watch, observers say, will be the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, where Obama has four vacancies to fill and the potential to drastically reshape the court.
Read more from the New York Times
Mistrial declared in judicial misconduct case
The trial of a Benton County judge accused of official misconduct ended in a mistrial Wednesday when jurors could not agree on a verdict, his attorney told the Jackson Sun. General Sessions Judge Ronald Darby was accused of "having numerous probationers perform labor on his private property (between January and August 2008) while said probationers were under his supervision and participating in a drug court for which he was judge," according to indictments.
Read more from the Jackson Sun
McMinn may delay Justice Center project
McMinn County officials may delay plans for a new Justice Center jail and court expansion project because of the slowing economy. County Mayor John Gentry says the county may have to look at building the project in phases -- with the jail expansion done first.
Read more from the Daily Post-Athenian
Representation still elusive for the poor, PD writes
The Supreme Court may have ruled that defendants have a right to legal representation, but the problem sill persists, now 47 years after the Gideon ruling, Knox County Public Defender Mark Stephens writes in an opinion piece in the Knoxville News Sentinel. "Many public defenders in Tennessee have caseloads so large that they have but a few minutes to spend on any one case," Stephens writes. "They may go to court with 30 or 40 clients in one day."
Read Stephen's column in the News Sentinel
PD adds career help to job description
For assistant federal public defender David Bell, helping clients means more than offering legal assistance. The Memphis attorney has been pulling together listings of available jobs every week for the past four years to help defendants -- many of whom are unskilled or uneducated -- find work. "People who have never really had a steady job get trapped in a cycle," Bell says, "but when they find jobs, they seem to feel better about themselves. It's great for their family and the community."
Read more in the Memphis Flyer
Senate fills No. 2, 3 Justice Department positions
The Senate confirmed nominees to the No. 2 and 3 positions at the Justice Department on Thursday, pushing aside objections from conservative Republicans who questioned the nominees' positions on pornography and the right to die. David Ogden was confirmed 65-28 as deputy attorney general, and Thomas Perelli was approved 72-20 as associate attorney general.
Read more from NewsChannel 9
Legislative News
Cap on damages not likely to improve nursing home care, report says
Supporters of legislation to curtail lawsuits against Tennessee's nursing homes say that the measure will lead to improved care for the elderly, but opponents of the bill say otherwise and cite a new report commissioned by AARP Tennessee. "Although providers claimed that litigation costs diverted resources from resident care, research suggests that nursing home reimbursements and expenditures have little relationship to staffing levels and quality," the report said. "Moreover, evidence is lacking that tort restrictions would be effective in lowering litigation costs, or that any savings would be used to improve quality."
Read more in the Knoxville News Sentinel
TBA Member Services
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The TBA's official data protection, backup and recovery vendor of choice, i365, offers secure online backup solutions. i365 minimizes downtime by backing up files quickly and easily, and helps lawyers remain compliant by maintaining file integrity. Get i365 and be confident your data is securely stored and protected. TBA members enjoy a 10 percent savings on all services. For more information on this member benefit Denise Lucas at (407) 523-9774.
Learn why lawyers trust i365 for online data backup solutions

 
 
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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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