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TODAY'S OPINIONS
Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format. To search all opinions in the TBALink database or to obtain a text version of each opinion, go to our OpinionSearch page. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on TBALink at the TBA's Membership Central.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
01 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR

You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer. 2) Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view and save a plain-text version of the opinion.

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARCUS RICHARDS

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Venus Niner, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Marcus Richards.

Judge: LEE

The issue presented in this case is whether evidence seized from the Defendant's person following a warrantless search should have been suppressed or, conversely, whether the search was justified as a search incident to lawful arrest. After receiving a tip from a citizen informant that three individuals were involved in drug activity around a picnic table in the back yard of a house, police officers were dispatched to the scene and found the three identified persons plus a fourth person - the Defendant - seated around the picnic table. As the officers approached, they observed one participant sweep the table with his arm and drop a corner baggie to the ground, and they subsequently discovered that this person held a rolled dollar bill containing a white powdery residue. The officers also saw a white powdery residue on the surface of the table that field-tested positive for cocaine. Although the Defendant was seated at the picnic table where the police officers observed evidence of cocaine use, they did not see the Defendant engaged in any illegal or suspicious activity. An initial "pat down" search of the Defendant revealed no drugs or weapons. After a consensual search of one of the participants at the table revealed white powder on the seat of his wheelchair, the officers searched the Defendant a second time and found a bag of marijuana and a bag of cocaine in his pocket. The Defendant was indicted for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and cocaine. The trial court found that the search was proper due to exigent circumstances supported by probable cause, but the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed, finding that the circumstances did not support the existence of probable cause. After review, we conclude that the search of the Defendant cannot be justified as a search incident to an arrest because, at the time of the search, the officers did not have probable cause to arrest the Defendant. The judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2009/richardsm_071009.pdf

KOCH dissenting
http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2009/richardsm_DISS_071009.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE, DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES v. RUTH SAILS, SYLVESTER POLLARD, KENNY JONES, AND UNKNOWN FATHERS

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Ada Johnson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ruth Sails.

W. Ray Glasgow, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Guardian Ad Litem.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General, and Amy T. McConnell, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a termination of parental rights case. The appellant mother of four children has a history of mental illness and substance abuse. The children were taken into state custody based on the mother's lack of safe and stable housing and her drug abuse. The children were then placed together in the home of their maternal grandmother and ultimately stayed in State custody for over eight years. For the first several years, the children's permanency plans required the mother to obtain drug treatment, attend parenting classes, seek treatment for her mental health issues, and provide a stable home for the children. At various times, these goals were accomplished, but at other times they were not. In 2006, the state petitioned the trial court to permit the mother to regain custody of the children, indicating that the mother had fulfilled her responsibilities. Around the same time, however, the mother tested positive for illegal drugs. Soon thereafter, the state filed the instant petition to terminate the mother's parental rights. After a trial, the trial court granted the petition for termination based on the ground of persistent conditions, finding that the State had made reasonable efforts to assist the mother and that the children's best interest would be served by termination. The mother as well as the children's guardian ad litem now appeal the termination. We reverse, finding that DCS failed to make reasonable efforts to assist the mother, particularly with respect to her underlying mental illness, and dismiss the petition to terminate her parental rights.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/sailsr_071009.pdf

STAFFORD dissenting
http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/sailsr_DIS_071009.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ELIZABETH MARTIN PATRICK SCALF

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Gene Scott, Jr., Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elizabeth Martin Patrick Scalf.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant District Attorney General; Joe Crumley, District Attorney General; and Erin McArdle and Michael Rasnake, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Elizabeth Martin Patrick Scalf, pleaded guilty in the Washington County Criminal Court to one count of vehicular homicide, one count of reckless endangerment, and one count of driving on a revoked license in exchange for an agreed effective sentence of eight years with the method of service to be determined by the trial court. The trial court denied alternative sentencing and ordered the defendant to serve her eight-year sentence in the Department of Correction. The defendant appeals from the trial court's denial of alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/scalfe_071009.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Passages
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Witness comes forward to defend Chattanooga lawyer
A witness to an incident that resulted in criminal charges against a Chattanooga lawyer has come forward to dispute that the incident happened as the accuser said it did. Her statement is part of the court documents that Charles D. Lawson's attorney, Chris Varner, is expected to file today in response to the $500,000 civil lawsuit now pending against Lawson. The witness says the accuser offered to "split the settlement money" if she would lie about the event.
The Times Free-Press reports
Mario Ramos awarded advocacy award from national immigration association
Nashville lawyer Mario M. Ramos was recently awarded the 2009 Advocacy Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The award recognized Ramos for "outstanding efforts in support of AILA's legislative agenda."
Read more about him
New report questions legal basis for Bush anti-terrorism program
The Bush administration authorized secret surveillance activities that still have not been made public, according to a new government report that questions the legal basis for the unprecedented anti-terrorism program. The report, an unclassified summary by five inspectors general that was mandated by Congress last year, was delivered to lawmakers today.
National Public Radio carried this AP report
IOLTA grant applications ready in August
The Tennessee Bar Foundation, through the Interest On Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program, provides grant awards to organizations that provide direct civil legal services to the indigent or that seek to improve the administration of justice. Applications for grants to be paid during 2010 will be available on Aug. 7. Completed applications must be postmarked by Sept. 4. For more information, email the foundation or call 615-242-1531 or 800-634-2516.
Find out more from the TBF web site
Judge throws out some evidence in Trimble trial
Judge Steve Dozier ruled today that in general most of the testimony and facts in prior cases involving Jerome Barrett will not be allowed in the trial for the murder of Marcia Trimble. The case is more than 30 years old, but has captured attention in Nashville since the 9-year-old Girl Scout went missing from her Green Hills home, to be found weeks later strangled to death.
Follow it on NewsChannel 5
Passages
Former Sen. Rucker dies
Former state Sen. John Richardson Rucker, 93, of Murfreesboro died Friday. The Democrat served as state senator from 1977 to 1989, including time as Speaker Pro Tempore. He graduated from Cumberland School of Law, passed the Tennessee Bar Exam, and was admitted to practice in 1934 at the age of 18. Chapel services for Mr. Rucker will be 10 a.m. Monday at Jennings and Ayers Chapel at 820 S. Church St. in Murfreesboro. Burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery. Visitation will be Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choice.
Find out more about Mr. Rucker from the Murfreesboro Post
Disciplinary Actions
Chattanooga lawyer suspended
Chattanooga attorney H. Owen Maddux was suspended for five months by the Tennessee Supreme Court July 2. Maddux violated several rules of professional conduct in his representation of a client suffering injuries following a car accident in Florida.
Read the BPR release
TBA Member Services
Secure, compliant data backup service now available
The TBA's official data protection, backup and recovery vendor of choice, i365, offers secure online backup solutions. i365 minimizes downtime by backing up files quickly and easily, and helps lawyers remain compliant by maintaining file integrity. Get i365 and be confident your data is securely stored and protected. TBA members enjoy a 10 percent savings on all services. For more information on this member benefit Denise Lucas at (407) 523-9774.
Learn why lawyers trust i365 for online data backup solutions

 
 
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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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