Court broadens student practice rule

Law students from any school that would make a student eligible to sit for the Tennessee bar may now take advantage of Tennessee's limited student practice rule. The change, adopted by the Tennessee Supreme Court by order entered Monday, removes the requirement that only students from Tennessee law schools could practice. The change was supported by the Tennessee Bar Association.

See the amendment to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, Sec. 10.03

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Court: TCA


Andrew S. Roskind, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Karen Roberts-Deckard.

Nathan D. Rowell, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, City of Sevierville, Tennessee.


Karen Roberts-Deckard ("Plaintiff") began working for the City of Sevierville ("the City") as a dispatch operator in 1992. The City has an anti-nepotism policy prohibiting concurrent employment of spouses. In February 2004, Plaintiff married Lt. George Deckard ("Deckard"), an officer with the Sevierville Police Department. Unfortunately, Deckard was diagnosed with cancer just a few months after the marriage began. Deckard died in October 2005. Upon Plaintiff's return to work following the death of her husband, the City terminated her employment based on her violation of the anti-nepotism policy. Plaintiff then filed this suit for wrongful discharge. Plaintiff claimed that the City's anti-nepotism policy violated the State's public policy favoring the institution of marriage. The Trial Court granted the City's motion for summary judgment after finding the City was immune pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, Tenn. Code Ann. section 29-20-101 et seq. We affirm.


Court: TCA


Reba Brown, Joseph M. Huffaker, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mary Beth Haltom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the defendant/Appellant Big Lots Stores, Inc.

Richard L. Rikard, Germantown, Tennessee, for the Plaintiffs/Appellees Leitha C. Perkins and Robert L. Perkins

Judge: KIRBY

This is a slip-and-fall case. The plaintiff tripped on a floor mat and fell as she was entering the defendant's store. A store security video showed that the corner of the floor mat was overturned by another customer twenty-one seconds before the plaintiff fell. At the time that the corner of the mat became furled, the assistant store manager was at the service desk several feet from the entrance. He denied seeing the overturned mat. The plaintiff sued the store, alleging negligence in allowing a dangerous condition to persist and in failing to warn the plaintiff of it. After the trial, the jury found that the defendant store was eighty percent at fault and that the plaintiff was twenty percent at fault. The defendant store filed a motion for a new trial, alleging juror misconduct based on comments by jurors to the attorneys. The store also contended that the evidence showed that it did not have actual or constructive notice that the corner of the mat had become folded over. Finally, the store maintained that no reasonable jury could find that the plaintiff was less than fifty percent at fault for her own injuries. The trial court denied the motion and the defendant appeals. We reverse, finding no material evidence to support the jury's verdict, and dismiss the case.


Court: TCA


Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth Lee Riggs.

Chadwick W. Stanfill, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lisa Goodpaster Riggs.


In a prior appeal, husband challenged the trial court's award of alimony in futuro to wife. This Court reversed the award, finding that long-term support was inappropriate since wife was capable of supporting herself; the case was remanded for the trial court to make a reasonable award of rehabilitative and/or transitional alimony. On remand, the trial court awarded wife nine years of rehabilitative alimony and husband appealed. We reverse the award of rehabilitative alimony, make an award of transitional alimony and remand the case.


Court: TCA


Lorraine Wade, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner/Appellant Jarral S. Yokley

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, and Blind Akrawi, Assistant Attorney General, for the Respondent/Appellee State Board of Education

Judge: KIRBY

This is a case involving the revocation of a teaching license. The petitioner teacher worked at a residential facility. The teacher was accused of abusing a teenager who lived at the facility. The Tennessee Department of Children's Services classified the teacher as an "indicated perpetrator of child physical abuse." The teacher went on to teach at a municipal school. He was suspended from the school system for inappropriate touching and conversation with students. Ultimately, the teacher resigned from the municipal school system. Two years later, the State Board of Education initiated proceedings to revoke the teacher's teaching license and appointed an administrative law judge to hear the case. After several continuances of the hearing, the Board of Education filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the teacher's classification as an indicated perpetrator was undisputed and consequently, under rules issued by the Department of Children's Services, the Board was compelled to revoke the teacher's license. The teacher argued that summary judgment should not be granted because he was entitled to a hearing before revocation of his license. The administrative law judge granted the Board of Education's motion for summary judgment. This was made final by the full Board of Education. The teacher then sought judicial review of the license revocation in the trial court. The revocation was affirmed. The teacher appeals. We affirm, finding that summary judgment was proper.


Court: TCCA


Andrew Jackson Dearing, III, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner, Chad Hughes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Charles S. Crawford, District Attorney General; Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Petitioner, Chad Hughes, pled guilty to one count of criminal responsibility for the sale of a Schedule II controlled substance, and the trial court ordered the Petitioner to serve eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief after a hearing, and the Defendant now appeals that denial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



Court: TCCA


Bruce E. Poston, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the defendant-appellant, Richard Levron Campbell, Alias.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Philip Morton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant-Appellant, Richard Levron Campbell (hereinafter "Campbell"), appeals the length of the sentence imposed by the Criminal Court of Knox County. Campbell entered a guilty plea to second degree murder and was sentenced, as a Range I, violent offender, to a twenty-three year period of confinement to be served at 100% in the Department of Correction. At the same time, Campbell also pleaded guilty to the Class A and B misdemeanors of simple assault and resisting arrest for which he received sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days, and six months, respectively. The misdemeanor sentences were to be served concurrently with the second degree murder sentence. On appeal, Campbell contends that the trial court erred in its rulings regarding the enhancement and mitigating factors and improperly imposed a sentence near the top of the range for second degree murder. Specifically, Campbell argues that the trial court erred by (1) enhancing his sentence based on his convictions for assault, resisting arrest, and his criminal behavior of underage drinking and drug use, (2) enhancing his sentence based on "exceptional cruelty during the commission of the offense," and (3) failing to mitigate his sentence based on his mental problems, his lack of prior convictions, his remorse for the crime, and the unusual circumstances surrounding the crime. Upon review, we affirm the trial court's judgment as modified.


Court: TCCA


Victor E. McConnell, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Victor E. McConnell, appeals from the Johnson County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. In this appeal, the petitioner claims entitlement to habeas corpus relief because the sentences imposed following his 1983 guilty pleas to first degree murder, see T.C.A. section 39-2-202 (1982), and assault with intent to commit first degree murder, see id. section 39-2- 103, are illegal. Because the irregularities in the petitioner's judgments can be classified as clerical errors, we affirm the denial of habeas corpus relief.


Court: TCCA


Kevin R. Askren, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for the Appellant, James Earl Pinchon, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; C. Michael Layne, District Attorney General, Jason M. Ponder, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


In 2008, the Defendant pled guilty to introduction of contraband into a penal institution, and the trial court sentenced him to serve four years and nine months in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant now appeals his sentence claiming that the trial court erroneously denied his request for alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the trial court properly sentenced the Defendant.


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Study recommends no judicial redistricting
An 18-month long study of judicial redistricting in Tennessee has again concluded that there is no need for changing judicial districts in Tennessee. The study, made available this week by the Comptroller's Office of Research and Education Accountability, was conducted by the Justice Management Institute and the Center for Justice, Law and Society at George Mason University. The study concludes that workload equalization and access to the courts can be achieved without redrawing district lines through the use of the weighted case load methodology currently employed by the Judicial Council to allocate judicial resources. The study recommends better mechanisms for documenting the work of limited jurisdictions courts, General Sessions courts in particular, and that a plan be developed to collect and maintain case data. The TBA House of Delegates was asked to provide input in the 10 local level focus group sessions held throughout the state.
Download a complete copy of the study
Bored juror walks out, walks into jail time
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Legislative News
No action on judicial selection today, House to consider amendment Thursday
The Senate Finance Committee did not take up consideration of judicial selection legislation today because the bills were at the end of a lengthy calendar. The bills will be up for consideration next week.

Meanwhile, the House bill sponsored by Reps. Joe McCord, R-Maryville, Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, and House Judiciary Committee Chair Kent Coleman, D-Murfreesboro, HB1448, is set for House floor action tomorrow morning. View the details of the amendment that contains the current proposal
Ford postpones license plate bill in light of AG opinion
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Read more in the Commercial Appeal
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Unlimited free online legal research for TBA members
Online legal research is now available free to all Tennessee Bar Association members through an agreement with Fastcase, a leading online legal research firm. The TBA member benefit is national in scope and offers TBA members unlimited usage, unlimited customer service and unlimited printing -- all at no cost.
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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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