Bredesen opposes 'Ramsey Plan' for judicial selection

Gov. Phil Bredesen spoke out yesterday against Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey's proposal to give the state's governor unfettered discretion in appointing top judges to vacancies as they occur. The Ramsey plan, which is being circulated in the legislature, calls for eliminating the Judicial Selection Commission and allowing the governor to fill vacancies with whomever he wants until 2014, when voters would decide how to select judges.

Read more from the News Sentinel's Nashville bureau

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Court: TCA


Thomas N. Bateman, and Robert T. Bateman, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Billy Dickson, Jr.

Peter M. Napolitano, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Dannella Long.

K. David Waddell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Green Tree Servicing, LLC.


Son brought action to set aside the conveyance of real property from his mother to her step-daughter pursuant to the powers granted in a limited power of attorney naming mother's step-son as attorney- in-fact. Son alleged that his mother did not possess the requisite mental capacity to sign the power of attorney and was unduly influenced by the step-daughter in signing the power of attorney. The trial court upheld the validity of the power of attorney and subsequent conveyance, finding mother possessed the requisite mental capacity to sign the power of attorney and step-daughter exerted no undue influence over mother to sign the power of attorney. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.


Court: TCA


David S. Byrd, Morristown, Tennessee, for appellant, Jimmy Harville, Sr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Elizabeth C. Driver, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for appellee, Tennessee Department of Children's Services.


The State filed this action to terminate the parental rights of both parents to their three minor children. Upon hearing the evidence, the Trial Judge terminated the parental rights of both parents on several grounds. On appeal, we affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TCCA


A. Jackson Dearing, III, Assistant Public Defender, Shelbyville, Tennessee (at trial) and S. Craig Moore, Fayetteville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the defendant-appellant, James Rae Lewter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth B. Marney, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Ann L. Filer, Hollyn Hewgley, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, James Rae Lewter (hereinafter "Lewter"), was convicted by a Lincoln County jury of burglary and theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, both Class D felonies. The trial court sentenced Lewter as a Range II, multiple offender to eight years at thirty-five percent for each conviction to be served concurrently, for an effective eight year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Lewter argues: (1) the evidence was insufficient to convict him, (2) the trial court imposed an excessive sentence of eight years in violation of State v. Gomez, 239 S.W.3d 733, 740 (Tenn. 2007) ("Gomez II"), and (3) the State engaged in misconduct during closing arguments. Upon review, we reverse and vacate Lewter's convictions for burglary and theft and dismiss the indictment.


Court: TCCA


Sharon D. Aizer, Columbia, Tennessee (on appeal); Claudia S. Jack, Shipp Weems, and Michelle VanDeRee, Columbia, Tennessee (at trial) for the Defendant, Joel Richard Schmeiderer.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; Joel Douglas Dicus and Patrick S. Butler, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Maury County jury convicted the Defendant, Joel Richard Schmeiderer, of premeditated first degree murder, and it sentenced him to death. On appeal, the Defendant claims: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for a continuance; (2) the trial court erred when it conducted voir dire; (3) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; (4) the trial court erred when it allowed the State to enter and argue non-statutory aggravating circumstances during the penalty phase of the trial; (5) the prosecutor's closing argument constituted misconduct and plain error; (6) the death penalty was imposed arbitrarily and is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases; (7) the Tennessee death penalty statute is unconstitutional; (8) the Tennessee death penalty statute is applied in a cruel and unusual way; and (9) the trial court violated the Defendant's constitutional right to present mitigation evidence. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the conviction and the sentence of death.

Obligation of Pawnbroker to Conduct Criminal History Background Check

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-04-09

Opinion Number: 09-50

Constitutionality of House Bill 1961

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-04-09

Opinion Number: 09-51

Dismissal of County Administrator of Elections Based On Party Affiliation

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-04-09

Opinion Number: 09-52


Legal News
Legislative News
Justice 4ALL
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Judge Turnbull to retire
John A. Turnbull, circuit court judge for the 13th Judicial District, has announced he will resign on June 15. Turnbull has been on disability status since October 2008 and Special Judge Amy Hollars has been filling the seat, which serves Clay, Cumberland, Dekalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam and White counties. Turnbull has held the position since August 1989. His resignation now triggers action by the Judicial Selection Commission, which will accept applications for the position through April 22.
Application information is available from the AOC
Alaska legislature supports Stevens' right to sue
Opening a new chapter in the ongoing debacle over the federal government's unsuccessful prosecution of then-Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska legislature overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution yesterday demanding that the federal government give Stevens a right to sue for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The resolution also calls on the Justice Department to investigate whether its employees violated laws prohibiting political activity by federal workers and calls on the U.S. government to apologize to the state and to the former senator.
The Anchorage Daily News reports
Verdict upheld despite juror tweets
An Arkansas judge has upheld a $12.6 million verdict in a case heard by a juror who posted real-time briefs about his jury service to his social networking site. While the judge agreed that the postings, or tweets, were in bad taste, he said they did not rise to the level of improper conduct, which would have required a mistrial.
Read more in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Legislative News
Sec. of State offers to pay for amendment notice
Secretary of State Tre Hargett yesterday offered to pay an estimated $20,000 to publish in newspapers a notice about a proposed abortion-related constitutional amendment. The offer came after some lawmakers expressed concern about plans to cut costs by posting the notice only on government web sites. Today, the constitutional amendment was pulled from the House floor so budget committee members could review its costs.
WSMV-TV News Channel 4 reports on Hargett's offer.
The News Sentinel reports on the latest House action.

Online meetings OK'd by Senate
The state Senate today approved a bill that will let county commissioners, city councilmen and school board members across the state meet online, so long as the public can read what they say. The bill, HB533, expands a law that up till now has been only a pilot program in Knox County. Under the measure, the public must have access to messages between officials and correspondence must be stored online for one year. The House approved the measure 97-0 last week but will have to consider the bill again due to a minor amendment added by the Senate.
Learn more from the News Sentinel
Track legislation of interest to Tennessee attorneys
The TBA Action List tracks bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in. This means it has either initiated the legislation, taken a postiion on the bill or has a policy on the issue. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.
TBA Bill Tracking Service
More speculation on gubernatorial candidates
Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Roy Herron did throw his hat in the ring yesterday, becoming the third member of his party to declare an intention to run for governor. Tom Humphrey, political reporter for the News Sentinel, says at least four other Democrats are expressing interest in running but are holding back for now. They are state Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga; former state Democratic Chairman Doug Horne of Knoxville; state Economic, Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber; and Mike McWherter, son of former governor Ned McWherter.
Read how the race is shaping up
Justice 4ALL
Sponsors, volunteers make 4-4 a success
More than 1,300 Tennesseans received free legal advice as part of the "Pro Bono Public Service Day" campaign this past weekend. This would not have been possible without the hard work of more than 800 volunteers and support from a myriad of legal organizations, nonprofit groups and private sector businesses. See a list of some 100 sponsors that contributed to the success of the 4-4 effort.

Services pending for former Huntingdon judge
Former Huntingdon City Judge and retired attorney Ray Ivey died today. He was 65. Information on funeral services for the University of Tennessee College of Law graduate is not yet available.

Disciplinary Actions
Elizabethton judge reprimanded
The Tennessee Court of the Judiciary today issued a public reprimand to Carter County General Sessions Judge John W. Walton for making "demeaning and disrespectful" statements in open court and in public areas of the clerk's office about employees of that office. The reprimand states that his actions violated Canons 2 and 3B(4) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which require judges to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary and to be patient, dignified and courteous to individuals encountered in an official capacity.
Read the court's letter
Jackson lawyer suspended
On April 7, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Jackson lawyer Ramsdale O'DeNeal for one year after finding he failed to notify the court he was being substituted as defense counsel, failed to follow-up on motions filed by the previous counsel, failed to appear for two pre-trial status conferences and failed to produce the client's file when ordered to do so by the court.
Download the BPR notice
Victim rights' lunch set
A victims' rights luncheon is set for April 30 in Greeneville from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event, which highlights National Crime Victims' Rights Week, is sponsored by attorneys general in the first through ninth judicial districts, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the Third Judicial District Child Advocacy Center, the East Tennessee Victims' Rights Task Force and the Safe Haven Center. The speaker will be Mike Low, father of an American Airlines flight attendant killed on Sept. 11, 2001. The cost is $20 and checks should be made payable to the Child Advocacy Center and sent to Linda Parham, 220 West Depot Street, Suite 423, Greeneville, TN 37743. The Greeneville Sun reported the event.

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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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