Business Roundtable backs merit selection

The Tennessee Business Roundtable today resolved to urge the General Assembly "to support and retain merit selection and retention elections for appellate judges." The group's annual meeting in Nashville featured a presentation by Supreme Court Justice William Koch, who effectively used the sports analogy of auctioning off the choice of referees to the highest-paying fans before a football game to illustrate the problem with contested, direct partisan election of judges. The program also included addresses by Governor Phil Bredesen and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, who assured the group that he expected the legislature to resolve the issue of judicial elections this year.

Download the Business Roundtable's position paper

Read more of Justice Koch's remarks in the Nashville Business Journal

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Court: TCA


Alden Joe Daniel, Jr., pro se Appellant.

Peggy L. Tolson, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Robert Taylor and Whitney Harding.

Charles W. Cagle, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Janice Lambert and Jeff Brown.


Several years ago, Alden Joe Daniel, Jr., ("Plaintiff") pled guilty to five counts of statutory rape, two counts of sexual battery, and one count of rape. After serving a nine-year prison sentence, Plaintiff inspected the district attorney's file in his criminal case. Upon doing so, Plaintiff discovered what he claims were slanderous comments made about him by four individuals; namely, Robert Taylor, Whitney Harding, Janice Lambert, and Jeff Brown. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, sued these four defendants and brought various claims, including claims for slander and invasion of privacy. The Trial Court dismissed all of the claims after determining that the statute of limitations for each claim had expired long before Plaintiff filed his lawsuit. Plaintiff appeals the dismissal of the slander and invasion of privacy claims. We affirm.

With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TCCA


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Jennifer Stribbling, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Jerry Gonzalez, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jose Noe Gutierrez.

Judge: OGLE

The defendant, Jose Noe Gutierrez, was indicted for first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, and two counts of attempted aggravated rape. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress a statement he made to police after his arrest, alleging that "his initial detention at his place of employment was made without probable cause in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights and all his statements were therefore fruit of the poisonous tree and should be suppressed." The trial court granted the motion and also granted the State's request for an interlocutory appeal. On appeal, the State argues that the defendant's arrest was supported by probable cause, or, in the alternative, that the defendant's statement was not tainted by the illegal arrest. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Robert D. Massey, Pulaski, Tennessee (at trial), and Ryan D. Brown, Columbia, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Kimberly C. Hodge.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; T. Michael Bottoms, District Attorney General; Joel Douglas Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Kimberly C. Hodge (hereinafter "Hodge"), was convicted by a Lawrence County jury of theft of property valued over $60,000. She received a ten-year sentence to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal, Hodge raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to support her conviction; (2) whether the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress, (3) whether the trial court erred in denying her motion to continue; (4) whether the trial court erred in refusing to allow counsel to question prospective jurors regarding the voluntariness of her statement; (5) whether the trial court erred in allowing a lay witness' identification of a handwriting sample; (6) whether the trial court erred in admitting duplicate copies of records; (7) whether the trial court erred in denying her motion for a mistrial; and (8) whether her sentence is excessive. Upon review, we affirm the conviction but modify the sentence to eight years.


Court: TCCA


Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marcus E. Robinson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth B. Marney, Senior Counsel; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Helen Owsley Young, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Marcus E. Robinson, appeals from the Montgomery County Circuit Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his guilty pleas to two counts of especially aggravated robbery and two counts of attempted murder and sentence of forty-eight and one-half years. The petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney did not fully explain the ramifications of a guilty plea and did not seek a separate sentencing hearing under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Robert M. Winters, Clifton, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Robert M. Winters, was convicted of felony murder and aggravated robbery. He received a total effective sentence of life in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Subsequently, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that his convictions were void because of faulty indictments and that his counsel was ineffective. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that the petitioner failed to allege grounds upon which habeas corpus relief could be granted. On appeal, the petitioner challenges the summary dismissal. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


Legal News
Legislative News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Former state senator arrested
Former state Senator Jeff Miller, R-Cleveland, was arrested this afternoon after being indicted in Bradley County this morning on one count of official misconduct, one count of conspiracy to commit official misconduct, and one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated perjury in his role the county's delinquent tax attorney. He was booked into the Bradley County Jail this afternoon on a $10,000 bond.
Read more about the case in the News Sentinel
In comments to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Miller said he will defend himself vigorously against the charges.
Read his response
Judge Durham sworn in
David Earl Durham was sworn in as criminal court judge for the 15th Judicial District at the Wilson County Justice Center yesterday. Interim Judge Jane Wheatcraft administered the oath. Durham also was presented with a plaque honoring his contributions to the local Drug Task Force, which he was instrumental in forming and served for 20 years as a member of its board of directors. During comments at the ceremony, Durham thanked District Attorney General Tommy Thompson, whom he worked with for almost 20 years, saying he would not "be here today without" him.
The Macon County Times reports
Judge McMullen speaks at UT
Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Camille McMullen appeared before University of Tennessee College of Law students today to speak about her career. McMullen is the first African American woman on the court, which she also clerked for as a new lawyer. Before being appointed to the court last summer, she was a successful trial lawyer, working both for the United States Attorney's Office and the State District Attorney's Office in Memphis. The UT College Informant reported the news.

Loudon County bar leaders elected
The Loudon County Bar Association met this week to select new officers for the coming bar year. G. Keith Alley with Kizer & Black Attorneys in Lenoir City was elected president, while A. Wayne Henry, a solo practioner in Lenior City, was chosen as president-elect, Robert G. Hinton with Sproul & Hinton in Lenior City was elected treasurer, and Ashley H. Shudan with John C. Duffy & Associates of Knoxville was named secretary.

Lewis addresses legal aid society gathering
TBA President Buck Lewis joined the Legal Aid Society for the launch of its 2009 fundraising campaign a few weeks ago at the Nashville City Club. He called on the capacity crowd of attorneys, judges, elected officials and supporters to be leaders in the cause of providing legal services to the poor. The Legal Aid Society provides free civil legal services in 48 counties in Middle and East Tennessee. Its 2009 Campaign for Equal Justice has a goal of raising $725,000.
Read more from the Daily Journal
First male maintains helm of bar auxiliary
Victor Robilio Jr. has been re-elected president of the Memphis Bar Auxiliary, which is an organization for spouses of local attorneys and judges. Robilio, husband of Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Kay S. Robilio, says he will use his second term to expand the group's partnerships with other legal organizations, begin offering law student scholarships and encourage members to serve as docents for the Shelby County Courthouse's 100th anniversary in October.
The Memphis Daily News has more
Legislative News
Rep. West suffers heart attack
Rep. Ben West, D-Hermitage, was hospitalized today following a heart attack. His assistant reported to the Nashville Post that West was taken from Summit Hospital to Centennial where he will undergo openheart surgery tomorrow. West is 68 years old and has represented his District 60 seat in eastern Nashville since 1985.

Wamp announces top campaign staff
U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Chattanooga, has named former state Republican Party Chairman Bob Davis as his gubernatorial campaign chairman. Wamp also announced that former Tennessee Valley Authority chairman Bill Baxter will serve as his finance chairman and John Crisp, a former aide to then-Gov. Lamar Alexander, will serve as campaign strategist and communications consultant. Wamp joins Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam in naming key staff for the race, which may expand to include Memphis prosecutor Bill Gibbons and State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, before the filing deadline.
Read more in the News Sentinel
Disciplinary Actions
Former DA disbarred
Cookeville attorney and former 13th Judicial District Attorney William E. Gibson was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on March 20. The court found that Gibson knowingly misused his position, engaged in a conflict-of-interest, influenced the outcome of a prosecution, engaged in ex parte communications with represented parties, breached confidentiality, and failed to act with reasonable diligence. The court also found that he made dishonest and deceitful statements to the court and improperly withheld material information. According to the order, these actions adversely reflected on Gibson's fitness to practice law and caused serious injury to the integrity of the legal process. The court had suspended Gibson's license on Sept. 25, 2006, pending an investigation into allegations of misconduct. Gibson did not appeal the disbarment decision.
Read the BPR release
Daughtrey to lecture on First Amendment
U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Martha C. Daughtrey will present a lecture on "Judicial Independence in Jeopardy: The First Amendment and Culture Wars" at 1 p.m. Thursday on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. Daughtrey, of Nashville, serves as a senior circuit judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The event will be held in the State Farm Room of the Business and Aerospace Building (BAS S102), reports the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.

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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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