Big cases fill Supreme Court's final argument cycle

An intense two-week period began today for the Supreme Court. In the final argument cycle of the current term, the court will hear cases that could define the Roberts Court anew, on issues ranging from search and seizure to Iraqi immunity, affirmative action to voting rights. Parties include a swashbuckling CBS newsman, a middle school student accused of possessing ibuprofen, and a group of white New Haven, Conn., firefighters.

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Court: TSC


Court: TCA


Joseph Scott Bean, Jr., Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carol Turner.

Keith F. Blue, Jay Russell Farrar, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, City of Winchester.

Jeffrey M. Atherton, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, County of Franklin.


A woman who was severely injured when her boyfriend pushed her out of a truck and ran her over claimed that the City of Winchester and Franklin County were liable for her injuries because their law enforcement officers ordered her to ride with him. The trial court granted summary judgment to the governmental defendants on the ground that under the public duty doctrine the officers did not have any particular duty to protect her, apart from their duty to the public at large. We affirm the summary judgment on a different ground. We find that the boyfriend's action was an independent, superseding and intervening cause of plaintiff's injury, since it was so remote in time and distance from the officers' actions as to break any chain of causal connection.


Court: TCA


Russell E. Edwards, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rhonda Dean Wilson.

Robert G. Ingrum, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Michael Wayne Wilson.


This appeal arises from a divorce action. The trial court awarded Wife alimony in futuro but it denied Wife attorney fees. Wife appeals, taking issue with the trial court's calculation of Husband's monthly expenses and its determination that Husband is unable to pay her attorney fees. We vacate and remand.


Court: TCCA


Wendy S. Tucker (at trial and on appeal) and Richard McGee (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cyntoia Denise Brown.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, District Attorney General; and Jeffrey P. Burks and Lisa A. Naylor, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Davidson County jury convicted the defendant, Cyntoia Denise Brown, of one count of first degree premeditated murder, one count of first degree felony murder, and one count of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony. The trial court merged the two first degree murder convictions and imposed a concurrent twenty-year sentence as a Range I, standard offender, for the defendant's especially aggravated robbery conviction. On appeal, the defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress her statement to police, which she argues was obtained in violation of her right against self-incrimination; (2) the trial court erred by denying her motions to exclude certain evidence, including: (a) testimony of witnesses from a mental health facility; (b) a "New Personality Profile" authored by the defendant; (c) testimony from a former fellow inmate; and (d) testimony by the defendant's mother regarding a conversation between her and the defendant, all of which she argues was irrelevant and prejudicial; (3) the trial court denied her the right to present a defense by excluding the testimony of a potential witness; (4) the trial court erred by allowing a State expert witness to testify beyond the scope of her expertise; (5) the trial court erred by admitting crime scene and autopsy photographs of the victim; (6) the trial court erred by ordering her to submit numerous handwriting and fingerprint samples to the State; (7) the evidence produced at trial was insufficient to support her convictions; and (8) the trial court improperly denied her motion to dismiss the case against her on double jeopardy grounds. After reviewing the record, we discern no error as to the defendant's stated issues. However, we conclude that the defendant's conviction for especially aggravated robbery must be reversed because she was not indicted for this offense but instead for aggravated robbery. Accordingly, we remand the case to the trial court for entry of a judgment of conviction for aggravated robbery and a sentencing hearing as to that offense. In all other respects, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Michael J. Collins, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Anthony Hill.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Crawford, District Attorney General; Weakley E. Barnard and Kate Lavery, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, James Anthony Hill, was convicted by jury of two counts of forgery between $500 and $1000 and one count of theft between $500 and $1000. The trial court merged the defendant's forgery convictions and sentenced the defendant as a career offender to an aggregate sentence of six years to be served consecutively to any other unexpired sentences. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


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Judicial Selection, Retention
Editorial: Don't use judicial issues as campaign 'bait'
In an editorial this weekend, the Commercial Appeal is critical of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey's idea to reduce Supreme Court justices' terms from eight to four years, as well as his plan to allow the governor to choose whoever he or she wants, without going through a committee. It also criticizes the Blountville Republican of saying he wants to keep politics out of judicial selection, but acting otherwise, adding that if Ramsey, who is running for governor, "wants to maintain any credibility about keeping politics out of the appellate court selections, he shouldn't use the issue as campaign bait."
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Paper says 'exemplary' system should be left intact
In an opinion piece, the Chattanooga Times questions Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey's motives for wanting to change the system under which Tennessee gets its appellate judges, saying the present system has "for years provided an exemplary service to Tennesseans ... It's a system best left intact. So it is stunning that Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey ... is intent on sabotaging the system this year by letting the legislation under which it was authorized expire."
The Chattanooga Times Free Press explains its position
Legal News
State one of three where women dominate Supreme Court
Tennessee joins Wisconsin and Michigan as the only states on which women dominate on a state supreme court, according to Equal Representation in Government and Democracy, which tracks gender balance in government. All in their 50s, the three women in the majority on the Tennessee Supreme Court have had different experiences getting to where they are today that bring diverse thinking to the court.
Find out more about them from the News Sentinel
Majority of Americans support federal funding for legal aid
Two-thirds of Americans polled by the American Bar Association recently support federal funding to help Americans who need legal assistance. The survey found support for funding for the Legal Services Corp., with 88 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat supporting the idea that a nonprofit legal services provider is essential to help those who can't afford to pay for lawyers. More than two-thirds said it's extremely or very important that Americans have access to legal resources and advice when they are in crisis.
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McClarty to be sworn-in
On April 30, Gov. Phil Bredesen will swear in John Westley McClarty as a judge of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Eastern Section. The ceremony will be at 3 p.m. Eastern time at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Chattanooga, according to the
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