Volunteers help many on Statewide Public Service Day

As reports from across the state continue to come in, the number of clients served as part of the Statewide Public Service Day has surpassed 1,300. Legal clinics, "Wills for Heroes" events and call-in television shows dotted Tennessee from east to west on Saturday. In Chattanooga, Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth told WRCB-TV that "The clinic didn't start until 10, and we had people here at 8:30, signing up, ready to go." In Nashville, 50 attorneys helped 100 police and firefighters draw up wills while paralegals and notaries helped finalize the documents. All of the state's Supreme Court justices turned out to help, too. "We are seeing now, with the downturn in the economy, the unemployment, there's just a larger gap between people who need help and people who can afford it," Justice Bill Koch told WKRN News 2. In Memphis, the Legal Lines Call In Program Friday night fielded 215 calls live on WREG News Channel 3. That effort led up to Saturday's Legal Clinic and Wills for Heroes programs, a Juvenile Court Clinic, an Advanced Directives Initiative at several nursing homes and a 5K run/walk hosted by the Student Bar Association that attracted 150 participants and 50 law student volunteers.

Find out the details from the day

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Court: TSC



Court: TCA


Jeff Klocko, pro se, Only,TN

J. Robin McKinney, Jr., Nashville, TN, for Appellee


In this appeal, we are asked to determine whether the trial court unfairly denied the incarcerated pro se appellant the opportunity to fully and fairly participate in his divorce trial via telephone; whether the trial court unfairly revisited its earlier division of the marital estate; and whether the trial judge displayed bias against the appellant in rendering her opinion. We affirm the trial court's grant of a divorce to the appellee. However, we find that the trial court erred in proceeding to trial without ruling on the appellant's discovery motion. Therefore, we vacate the portions of the trial court's order regarding classification of the marital home as separate property and we remand to the trial court to dispose of the motion and to classify the marital home after the appellant is afforded an opportunity to present his arguments regarding the marital home. We decline to remove the trial judge from the case.



Court: TCCA


Michael E. Scholl and Marty McAfee, for the appellant, Andre Bland.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Michael Moore, Solicitor General; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and John Campbell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Capital Petitioner, Andre Bland, appeals as of right the judgment of the Shelby County Criminal Court denying his petition for post-conviction relief. On February 12, 1994, the Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, and attempted first degree murder. The Petitioner was sentenced to death for the first degree murder. The trial court imposed an effective fifty-year sentence for the convictions of attempted aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, and attempted first degree murder. The Petitioner's conviction for first degree murder and the accompanying sentence of death were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Bland, 958 S.W.2d 651 (Tenn. 1997), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1083, 118 S. Ct. 1536 (1998). On July 16, 1998, the Petitioner filed a petition for post- conviction relief. The trial court appointed private counsel; however, the Office of the Post- Conviction Defender undertook efforts to gain appointment as counsel of record. This court, in an order filed September 14, 1998, directed that the trial court appoint the Office of the Post- Conviction Defender as counsel of record for the Petitioner. The trial court entered a preliminary order, concluding that the petition stated a colorable claim and directed that an amended petition be filed. Before an amended petition was filed, the trial court removed the Office of the Post- Conviction Defender as counsel of record due to counsel's failure to appear on scheduled court dates. The trial court appointed new private counsel, and an amended petition was filed on February 17, 2006. A hearing was conducted on February 20-24, 2006, and April 17-18, 2006. By order entered November 28, 2006, the trial court denied the post-conviction petition. On appeal to this court, the Petitioner presents a number of claims that can be characterized as challenges to the effective representation of trial counsel. Following a thorough and exhaustive review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



Court: TCCA


Stanley K. Pierchoski, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Hugh Peter Bondurant.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; Richard H. Dunavant, Assistant District Attorney General; and Patrick Butler, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Hugh Peter Bondurant ("Pete Bondurant") and his twin brother, Kenneth Patterson Bondurant ("Pat Bondurant"), were convicted in 1991 of the second degree murder of Gwen Swanner Dugger. In 2006, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he asserted a claim of newly discovered evidence in the form of Pat Bondurant's statement that Petitioner did not participate in the murder of Ms. Dugger. On appeal, Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in summarily dismissing his petition without granting him an evidentiary hearing. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


CORRECTION on page one (1) of majority opinion at section listing authoring judge and panel of judges.

Court: TCCA


James P. McNamara and Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), and Kevin McGee (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Byron Lebron Roshell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth B. Marney, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Matthew Pietsch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendant-Appellant, Byron Lebron Roshell, appeals his conviction by a Davidson County jury of the sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. section 39-17-417 (2006). He argues that (1) the trial court erred in admitting a former co-defendant's testimony that he had bought drugs from Roshell in the past and (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. We affirm the trial court's judgment.



Judicial Selection, Retention
Legal News
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Judicial Selection, Retention
Ramsey to propose governor-appointed judges without selection commission
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey will propose legislation this week that would allow the governor to make appointments to the state Supreme Court and appellate courts without reinstituting a judicial selection commission for recommendations, the News Sentinel reports today.
Read the story
Legal News
Confessions after 6 hours without court visit void
The U.S. Supreme Court has revived a controversial ruling of the Warren era in a decision holding that some voluntary confessions may be tossed because of delayed court appearances for suspects. The 5-4 ruling today directed a lower court to determine whether a suspect's confession, given before a court appearance, was made more than six hours after an initial arrest, the Associated Press reports. A confession given after six hours must be thrown out, the court said, if the initial court appearance was delayed beyond the time of confession because of "unreasonable or unnecessary" reasons.
ABAJournal.com connects you to this story
Former TBA staffer wins election for prosecutor
Louisiana lawyer David Merlin Duke won the race for Bogalusa City Prosecutor on Saturday with 60 percent of the vote. TBA members will remember Duke as the association's communications coordinator from 1998 to 2000, when he was instrumental in launching the TBA's web site.
Read more from Washington Parish's The Daily News
Ban on same-sex marriage struck down in Iowa
A court ruling striking down Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage "will have no direct bearing on what is going on in Tennessee," said Chris Sanders, president of the gay rights group Tennessee Equality Project. "How it will contribute is a critical mass of states will move to support marriage equality and eventually the federal courts will have to take up this matter." David Fowler, the former Tennessee state senator who sponsored Tennessee's gay marriage amendment, said he found Iowa's ruling to be a "flabbergasting" decision that opposes the will of the majority.
The Daily News Journal reported this AP story
TBA Convention 2009
Baker, Ford to provide insight on key topics
What does America need to do to get back on track? It's a question asked during the presidential campaign, and one that has become even more compelling as the country struggles with economic recession. You can hear former Senator Howard Baker and former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. bring their experience and insight to the topic during this year's TBA Annual Convention in Memphis, June 18-20. This program is just part of a well-rounded slate of educational programming and entertaining events you'll be able to take part in when you register for the TBA Convention.
Find out more about this year's programming or register today
Former Circuit Court Judge Whit LaFon laid to rest
Services were held Saturday in Jackson for former Circuit Court Judge Whit LaFon, who died last week. He served as a judge for Madison, Chester and Henderson counties from 1987 to 1998 and was an uncle of Nobel laureate and former Vice President Al Gore. "He was a wonderful uncle; we all love and miss him," Gore said after the graveside service. "He was a great judge, lawyer, family man, community leader and public servant who was beloved by all."
Read more and see pictures from the Jackson Sun
ABA launches social network
The ABA has launched LegallyMinded, an online network for legal professionals that boasts "cutting-edge social networking features, top-notch news and articles, and user-generated content." Registration is free to ABA members and non-members.
Check out LegallyMinded
TBA Member Services
Discounts from Office Depot
Are you saving yet? Sign up for the TBA-Office Depot Program and begin saving. TBA Members receive significant discounts on office supplies from Office Depot.
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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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