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

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Court: TCA


Russell L. Egli, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Melissa Ann Bishop.

Lori F. Fleishman, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Richard W. Bishop.


In February 2004, Melissa Ann Bishop ("Wife") filed a complaint for divorce from Richard W. Bishop ("Husband") following a lengthy marriage. The lawsuit was filed in the Fourth Circuit Court for Knox County, Judge Bill Swann presiding. Wife was represented by the law firm of Lockridge and Valone, PLLC, from the outset, through trial, and for much of the post-trial litigation. This representation lasted for over three years. Much of the legal work on Wife's behalf was performed by attorney Russell Egli ("Egli"), an associate at Lockridge & Valone, PLLC, who left that firm in August 2006 to start his own law firm. Prior to a hearing scheduled for March 2007, Wife discharged the law firm of Lockridge & Valone, PLLC. Wife retained Johnny Dunaway as her new attorney and sought a continuance of the March 2007 hearing because of her change of attorneys. In support of her request for a continuance, Wife filed an affidavit stating that the reason for the discharge of her attorneys was the fact that Mr. Lockridge "sent younger, less experienced associates, who were unprepared to represent me at various stages of the proceedings." One of these associates was Egli. After leaving Lockridge & Valone, PLLC, and starting his own firm, Egli's wife filed a separate lawsuit against Judge Swann. Egli represents his wife in this other lawsuit. After several adverse rulings in her divorce case, Wife rehired Egli and immediately filed a motion to recuse. Wife claimed that Judge Swann had a conflict of interest based on the fact that Egli was representing his (i.e., Egli's) wife in a separate lawsuit filed against Judge Swann. Judge Swann denied the motion to recuse after finding that the only reason Wife rehired Egli was to create a conflict of interest and obtain a new judge to hear any remaining issues. We granted a Tenn. R. App. P. 10 interlocutory appeal to determine whether the Trial Court erred when it denied Wife's motion to recuse. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TCA


Peggy Hunter, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Douglas Hunter, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Shauna R. Billingsley, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Franklin, Tennessee.


Property owners appeal an order authorizing the City of Franklin to demolish a house on their property. Because we have determined that the procedure used by the city did not comply with due process, we reverse.


Court: TCA


Melanie Stepp Lane, Jamestown, TN, for the appellants, Ruth M. Cooper, Carl Cooper, Kyle Cooper, Judy Conatser, and Bulah Hinds; Trustees of Wight's Chapel Baptist Church.

Craig P. Fickling, Cookeville, TN, for the appellees, Kevin Smith and Nathaniel Linder.


Appellants filed this action for declaratory judgment asking the trial court to interpret a provision in a deed. The trial court concluded that the deed was unambiguous and did not allow Appellants to present parol evidence showing the grantor's intent. We find that the deed contains a latent ambiguity and therefore reverse and remand this matter to the trial court.


Court: TCA


M. Allen Ehmling, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Harold E. Willmore, III.

Grayson Smith Cannon, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Laura Hammond Willmore.


The parties divorced after a marriage of over twenty years and the trial court ordered the husband to pay the wife alimony in futuro. The husband argues on appeal that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding that type of alimony because the wife did not request alimony in futuro, but specifically asked at trial for rehabilitative alimony. The husband also argues that the amount of alimony awarded was excessive. We affirm the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Michael G. Hatmaker, Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Zendall Edward Campbell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General, and Michael O. Ripley, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Zendall Edward Campbell, was indicted by the Campbell County Grand Jury for one count of first degree murder and one count of aggravated assault. After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of second degree murder and aggravated assault. Appellant was sentenced to an effective sentence of twenty years. On appeal, Appellant complains that: (1) the trial court improperly denied Appellant the opportunity to admit the statements he gave to police immediately following the incident and after his arrest; (2) the trial court erred by failing to include reckless endangerment as a lesser included offense of aggravated assault; and (3) the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction for second degree murder. After a review of the record, we determine that the trial court properly excluded Appellant's statements, instructed the jury properly on the lesser included offenses of aggravated assault, and the evidence was sufficient to support the second degree murder conviction. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


Robert W. Scott, Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lillie M. Chapman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany, Assistant Attorney General; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General; and Michael Olin Ripley and Scarlett Wynne Ellis, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Lillie M. Chapman, pled guilty to two counts of false reports of a bomb, a Class C felony; two counts of reckless endangerment, a Class E felony; one count of reckless endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor; one count of unlawful possession of a weapon, a Class A misdemeanor; and one count of possession of a prohibited weapon, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court imposed two consecutive six-year sentences to be served in the Department of Correction for the false reports convictions, two concurrent two-year sentences for the felony reckless endangerment convictions to be served consecutively to the two false reports sentences, and three sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days for the misdemeanors to be served concurrently to each other and to the felony sentences for an effective sentence of fourteen years. On appeal, the defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences because the circumstances of the false reports were not aggravated and the length of the extended confinement does not reasonably relate to the underlying offenses and (2) that the trial court did not fully consider all the circumstances of the offenses, specifically the defendant's disturbed emotional state during the time of the offenses, in concluding that the circumstances of the offenses justified denial of an alternative sentence. In view of the defendant's failure to include the transcript of the guilty plea hearing in the appellate record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Clark Derrick Frazier.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jason White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Clark Derrick Frazier, appeals the post-conviction court's dismissal of his post-conviction petition in which Petitioner alleged that the entry of his plea of guilty was not voluntarily or knowingly entered because of the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TCCA


George S. Hutton, Pro Se, Whiteville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; and Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, George S. Hutton, pled guilty to theft of property and altering, falsifying or forging automobile title/assignment/plates in January of 2002 and was sentenced to a total effective sentence of six years. On June 24, 2008, Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief. The postconviction court dismissed the petition as untimely. Petitioner has appealed, arguing that his petition was timely because the new rule of law announced in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), was not recognized by Tennessee courts until State v. Gomez, 239 S.W.3d 733 (Tenn. 2007) ("GomezII"). We determine that the post-conviction court properly dismissed the petition as untimely. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


John E. Ford, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bobby Ray Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Layne, District Attorney General; and Jason M. Ponder, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Bobby Ray Johnson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his 2004 Coffee County Circuit Court convictions of rape of a child. In this appeal, he contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TCCA


Dan R. Alexander, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Matthew Landers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and John Wesley King, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Michael Matthew Landers, was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) and driving under the influence per se, Class A misdemeanors, in the Davidson County Criminal Court. He was subsequently sentenced to concurrent terms of eleven months and twenty-nine days, four days of which was to be served in the county jail. On appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury with regard to the defense of necessity. Following review of the record, we agree with the defendant that the facts of the case, when viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant, support such a charge. As such, we reverse the convictions and remand the case for a new trial.


Court: TCCA


Sharon D. Aizer, Assistant Public Defender, Columbia,Tennessee for the appellant, William C. Osborne, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilbur, Assistant Attorney General; and Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, William C. Osborne, Jr., appeals the trial court's denial of his Rule 35 Motion for Reduction of Sentence. Appellant pled guilty in 2006 to attempted second degree murder, theft of property, and vandalism. The plea agreement specified that he was to receive consecutive terms of eight years, four years, and three years, for a total effective sentence of fifteen years. The trial court suspended the sentence and placed Appellant on intensive probation. After the violation of Appellant’s probation in August of 2007, Appellant filed a motion for correction or reduction of sentence pursuant to Rule 35 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. The trial court denied the motion, finding that Appellant was a violent criminal. We determine that the trial court properly denied the motion. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Subpoena for Records Relevant to Investigating the Offense of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-05-05

Opinion Number: 09-71

Prohibition Against Regulatory Inspectors Notifying Law Enforcement of Criminal Activity

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-05-06

Opinion Number: 09-72

Constitutionality of House Bill 2099

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-06-09

Opinion Number: 09-73


Legal News
Legislative News
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Benton judge resigns over misconduct allegations
Benton County General Sessions Judge Ronald Darby has resigned amid allegations that he allowed probationers in his drug court to perform yard work on his private property to fulfill community service sentences. Darby, who took office as the county's general sessions and juvenile judge in 2006, had been charged with a 22-count indictment, but the jury in the case could not agree on a verdict. District Attorney Jerry Woodall agreed to dismiss the charges after Darby announced his resignation. Woodall also said Darby agreed not to run for office again until after August 2010.
The Leaf Chronicle reports
Study predicts growth in corporate legal spending
A study by market research firm BTI Consulting predicts that large companies will increase legal spending on outside counsel nearly five percent over the next six months, and that top areas for growth will be regulatory compliance, bankruptcy, securities and finance, and employment law. The study was based on 370 interviews with corporate counsel at Fortune 1000 companies that average $19.4 million in outside counsel spending.
Read more from the study
AOC hires new public information officer
The Administrative Office of the Courts has named Laura Click as the new public information officer for the Tennessee Court System. She replaces Sue Allison, who retired earlier this year. In addition to working with the media, she will lead a redesign of the AOC Web site. Click brings more than seven years of public relations and marketing experience to the post. She most recently worked at the state Department of Finance and Administration as the communications director for Project Edison. Prior to joining state government, she served as marketing director for a Chicago area non-profit and as account executive at Lovell Communications, a Nashville-based public relations firm. Click graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism.
Read the court's announcement
Legislative News
Obama funds LSC at $435M, $50.8M less than requested
The FY 2010 budget sent to Congress yesterday by the Obama administration calls for a $45 million increase in spending for the Legal Services Corporation over last year's level, bringing the agency's total funding to $435 million. Of that amount, $410.4 million would be used to provide civil legal services to low-income individuals and families across the nation through local legal aid organizations. The remaining funds would be used for a loan repayment program to help legal aid agencies recruit and retain lawyers, technology grants and greater management and grant oversight. The recommendation falls short of the amount requested by the LSC board, which asked Congress to provide $485.8 million for the coming fiscal year. Of that amount, $460 million would be used for legal services.

Ramsey: unfair press coverage may kill ethics agency merger
Despite the House State Government Subcommittee's vote yesterday to merge the Tennessee Ethics Commission with the state Registry of Election Finance -- assuming lawmakers do not renew the commission -- Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said after the vote that unfair media coverage of the issue may scuttle the effort. Emphasizing that all current ethics laws would stay on the books under the merger, Ramsey countered suggestions that the move would scale back the state's commitment to ethics for elected officials. The Tennessean reported Ramsey's comments in its legislative briefs today.
Read more
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
Flowers announces for Congress
Oak Ridge lawyer and former state Commerce and Insurance commissioner Paula Flowers announced today she is running for the Democratic nomination in the state's 3rd Congressional District. She is the second Democrat to enter the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp. Brent Benedict, a computer systems analyst from Chattanooga, previously announced his candidacy. Flowers, 41, served as commissioner of Commerce and Insurance from 2003 to 2007 and as the state's fire marshal. A native of Monterey, she worked as an attorney and environmental compliance engineer before entering public service. She earned her law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1997.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press has more
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A career service for Tennessee attorneys and law students, TBA JobLink is a job seeking and recruitment tool available at no charge. Whether you have a position to fill or are seeking employment, this site will guide you through a simple process to post your information.
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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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