4ALL service projects on tap for Saturday

All Tennessee lawyers are encouraged to turn out this Saturday, April 4, to participate in the statewide Pro Bono Public Service Day. With more than 45 projects across the state, there is sure to be one close to you. The service day is an historic collaboration among state, county and local bar associations; legal aid groups; other legal organizations; and members of the judiciary. It will involve the largest number of lawyers providing pro bono legal assistance on one day in Tennessee history. Don't miss the chance to be part of that history!

Find a service project in your area

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Court: TCA


G. Kline Preston, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Sameh Akladyous and Ashraf Roufail.

William B. Jakes,III, and Hugh C. Gracey, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gtech Corporation.

Tom Corts, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Specialized Communications Companies, Inc.


This is an appeal from the granting of a summary judgment to Gtech Corporation and Specialized Communications Companies, Inc., relating to the installation of a satellite antenna on the roof of A&S Market located in Davidson County, Tennessee. The market burned and the owners brought suit alleging that the negligent installation of the satellite antenna caused the fire. The trial court granted summary judgment on the ground the negligence alleged by the market owners was not the legal cause of the fire. We reverse.



Court: TCA


Jennifer Orr Locklin, William Nelson Bates, and Phillip Andrew Wright, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, City of Lebanon, Tennessee.

George Arthur Dean, Nashville, Tennessee, and Jere N. McCulloch, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Cost Enterprises, LLC.


Developer sought approval for a planned unit development. The city planning commission approved the development, but the city council did not approve it due to water runoff issues. Developer appealed. The trial court reversed the city council's denial of the application, finding that the action was properly brought as a common law certiorari action and that the record contained no material evidence to support the city's decision. The city appealed. We affirm.



Court: TCA


Luke A. Evans, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Tammy Marie Smith.

Brett M. Gipson and Kim C. Gilleland, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, David Charles Smith.


Tammy Marie Smith ("Mother") and David Charles Smith ("Father") were married in 1995. The parties, who have two minor children, were divorced in 2007. A final judgment was entered in August 2007 designating Father as the children's primary residential parent. Mother filed a motion to alter or amend the final judgment claiming that the facts preponderated in favor of her being designated the primary residential parent. The Trial Court denied Mother's motion to alter or amend. In February 2008, Mother filed a petition to modify claiming there had been a material change in circumstances such that it was in the children's best interest for her to be designated their primary residential parent. Following a hearing, the Trial Court found that there had been no material change in circumstances and denied the petition. Mother appeals, and we affirm.



Court: TCA


Thomas Pinckney, Susan D. Bass, Nashville, Tennessee, for appellants, Americare Systems, Inc., Shelbyville Residential, LLC, Dottie Hunt and Mary Ann Steelman.

C. J. Gideon, Nashville, Tennessee, and Raymond W. Fraley, Jr., Fayetteville, Tennessee, for appellees, Rheaetta Wilson and Lauralyn F. Watson.


This appeal involves the enforceability of an arbitration clause in a nursing home's admission contract. At the time of the admission of the resident, Mable Frances Farrar, into the nursing home, one of her daughters signed an admission contract containing an arbitration clause. After Ms. Farrar's death, her daughters filed suit in the Circuit Court for Bedford County against the owner of the nursing home, the corporation that operated it and two individuals who were employed in the nursing home and involved in providing care to Ms. Farrar. The defendants moved to compel arbitration in accordance with the admission contract, but later withdrew that motion. The motion to compel arbitration was renewed more than three years after suit had been filed and the case was set for trial. The trial court declined to compel arbitration after concluding that the defendants had waived the arbitration agreement and that defendants had failed to establish sufficient evidence to entitled them to its enforcement. Defendants have appealed. We have determined that the trial court's finding that defendants failed to establish they were entitled to enforcement of the agreement was correct and affirm the judgment of the trial court. Because we find a lack of evidentiary support for the finding that defendants had waived their rights under the arbitration agreement, we vacate that portion of the trial court's order and remand to case for an evidentiary hearing should that issue again become relevant.



Court: TCCA


Dana M. Ausbrooks, Assistant Public Defender, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffrey L. Braden.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; and Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Jeffrey L. Braden, entered pleas of guilty to aggravated assault, a Class C felony, in case number II-CR102142, and to simple assault, offensive touching, a Class B misdemeanor, in case number II-CR122288. The terms of the negotiated plea agreement in case no. II-CR102142 provided that the determination of the length and manner of service of the Defendant's sentence was left to the trial court's determination. The agreed upon sentence in case no. II-CR122288 was six months, with the manner of service of the Defendant's sentence left to the trial court's determination. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to five years for his aggravated assault conviction. The trial court imposed the agreed upon sentence of six months in case no. II-CR122288 and ordered that the Defendant serve his sentences concurrently. The trial court denied the Defendant's request for alternative sentencing and ordered the Defendant to serve his sentences in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in determining the length of his sentence for his aggravated assault conviction and in denying the Defendant's request for alternative sentencing. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Judicial Selection, Retention
Legal News
Legislative News
Practice Management
TBA Member Services

Judicial Selection, Retention
Knoxville paper supports merit selection
In an editorial today the Knoxville News-Sentinel outlines its reasons for supporting the state's merit selection and retention plan for appellate judges writing that "direct election of judges would pose a threat to the concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances..." The paper encourages lawmakers to carefully consider the potential for serious problems if the state reverts to a campaign model but also calls for improvements to the system including greater transparency in the interview and decision-making process and greater input from the public through electronic comments.
Read the full editorial
Legal News
Memphis courthouse gets stimulus money
Memphis' Clifford Davis-Odell Horton federal building will receive $3.2 million in upgrades thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is the only federal building in Tennessee to receive a portion of the funds set aside for federal facilities. The money will be used to transform the building into a high-performance green facility.
The Memphis Business Journal reported the news
Birch possible candidate for TVA board
A group of Nashville business and political leaders are reportedly working to get former Tennesssee Supreme Court Justice A. A. Birch appointed to fill a vacancy on the Tennessee Valley Authority's board of directors.
The Nashville Post has more on possible political appointments (subscription required)
DOJ seeks to reverse Stevens' conviction
Faced with embarrassing revelations about withheld evidence, the Justice Department today moved to reverse the conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who lost his bid for re-election just days after a jury found he lied about gifts and home renovations. Attorney General Eric Holder said it was in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment, toss out the conviction and not proceed with a new trial given the misbehavior by prosecutors.
Read more from the AP
Judge releases Gitmo detainee
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. yesterday ordered the release of a Guantanamo prisoner who said he fears for his life after sharing information about senior al-Qaida leaders with government officials. The judge issued a one-page order freeing the 33-year-old Yemeni man, but only explained her decision in closed court. The detainee, who reportedly associated with Osama bin Laden, asked the U.S. not to send him back home or to any Muslim country.
WTVC News Channel 9 has this story from the Associated Press
New tests fail to find House's DNA on jeans
Testing has again failed to find DNA from Paul House on jeans that were worn by the individual suspected of murdering Carolyn Muncey. House spent more than two decades on Tennessee's death row for the crime, but was released last year by the U.S. Supreme Court after new evidence surfaced. He now is being retried on non-capital charges. Also of interest, the lab report indicated that bloodstains on the pants match Muncey's and an unknown male.
The News Sentinel has this AP story
TBA VP goes to BLI
TBA Vice President Sam Elliott was in Chicago last month for the American Bar Association's Bar Leadership Institute (BLI), which is held annually to help orient incoming local and state bar officials for their term of service. Elliott joined 300 other leaders in sessions on bar governance, finance, communications and planning for a presidential term. He is pictured here from left to right with ABA President H. Thomas Wells Jr. of Birmingham; Elliott; TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur; and ABA Executive Director Henry F. White Jr.

Legislative News
Bill makes libel suits easier
Legislation designed to make it easier for political candidates to win libel suits against opponents spreading false allegations was unanimously approved today by a subcommittee of the House State and Local Government Committee. The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Jim Hackworth, D-Clinton, would allow a candidate to collect punitive damages as well as compensatory damages for any losses suffered from the lies.
The News Sentinel reports
Bill requires photo ID to vote
A proposal that would require Tennessee voters to show photo identification at the polls is headed for a full Senate vote after passing the State and Local Government Committee 6-3 on Tuesday. The measure is sponsored by Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro. Opponents believe it will discourage people from voting, the Memphis Daily News reported.

Proposals address jail regulations
Two jail bills introduced by Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown, unanimously passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee yesterday. The first would prohibit the Tennessee Corrections Institute from decertifying a jail based on the size of its jail cells if the size meets national standards. The second bill would create an advisory committee to review jail standards.
The Memphis Daily News reports
Practice Management
March was hard month for lawyer layoffs
Some 3,500 attorneys and staff -- and perhaps significantly more -- lost their jobs in March. That's up from 2,000 in February and 1,500 in January. March also saw announcements of canceled summer programs, postponed first-year associate start dates and pay cuts at all levels -- from associates to partners.
The ABA Journal reports
Free IP clinic planned for 4-18
The TBA Sports and Entertainment Section is partnering with the Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts to provide a legal pro bono clinic on copyright, trademark, contract and general entertainment issues. The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, in the Community Room at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Those interested in participating should contact Chris Vlahos at cvlahos@rwjplc.com or (615) 320-3700.

TBA Member Services
CompuPay offers deals for TBA members
CompuPay is proud to serve as the official payroll services provider for the Tennessee Bar Association. To serve Tennessee attorneys the company is offering two months of free payroll processing for all TBA members and waiving set up fees for members with up to 99 employees.
Learn more about CompuPay's benefits

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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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