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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.

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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.

TIMOTHY E. HAWKINS v. MARGARET MICHELLE O'BRIEN

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Mike J. Urquhart, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Margaret Michelle O'Brien (Moore).

Joe Harsh, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Timothy E. Hawkins, Sr.

Judge: CLEMENT

In this post-divorce proceeding, the trial court modified the permanent parenting plan by designating Father as the primary residential parent and holding Mother in contempt for failing to pay the car note on the vehicle awarded Mother in the divorce for which Father was jointly liable. At the time of the divorce, Mother was designated the primary residential parent of the parties' minor child. Shortly after the divorce was final, Father filed a Petition for Change of Custody and Contempt. Father also filed a motion for an immediate temporary change in parenting responsibilities, and following a hearing on the motion, the trial court entered an order temporarily designating Father as the primary residential parent and restricting Mother's parenting time. Two years after the entry of the temporary order, the court conducted a final hearing on Father's petition. Following the final hearing, the trial court found that a material change in circumstances had occurred and it was in the child's best interest for Father to be designated the primary residential parent. The court also found Mother in contempt for failing to pay the note of the vehicle awarded her in the divorce as required of her in the Final Divorce Decree. Mother appealed. We affirm the modification of the parenting plan; however, we reverse the finding of civil contempt as the trial court made no findings of fact regarding Mother's ability to pay the financial obligation and the evidence is insufficient for this court to find that Mother had the ability to pay the note or that her failure to pay the note was a willful act of disobedience of the court's order.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/hawkinst_071609.pdf


IN THE MATTER OF: M.D.H., M.H.H., S.A.H.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

K. Robert Barlowe, Nashville, Tennessee, and Stephen W. Pate, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellants, S. H. and C. H.

Robert E. Cooper and Amy T. McConnell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Judge: DINKINS

Mother and Father appeal the termination of their parental rights based upon the court's finding of abandonment by failure to provide a suitable home, the persistence of conditions that led to the removal of the children, the parents' substantial non-compliance with the permanency plan, severe abuse of the children and that termination was in the best interest of the children. Finding by clear and convincing evidence that grounds for termination exist and that termination is in the best interest of the children, we affirm the trial court's ruling.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/MDH_071609.pdf


IN RE: SAVANNAH S., ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Elizabeth C. Driver, Senior Counsel; for the Appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Robert D. Bradshaw, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem for Savannah S., Jason S., Chloe S., and Magen S.

Judge: SWINEY

The State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services ("DCS") filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of D.S. ("Mother") to her minor children, Savannah S., Jason S., Chloe S., and Magen S. (collectively "the Children"). After a trial, the Trial Court entered an order finding and holding, inter alia, that there was clear and convincing evidence of grounds to terminate Mother's parental rights to all four of the Children under Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-1-113(g)(2) and (g)(3), and that it was in the best interest of Jason, Chloe, and Magen for Mother's parental rights to be terminated. The Trial Court then held that it was not in the best interest of Savannah for Mother's parental rights to be terminated. Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to Jason, Chloe, and Magen. DCS and the Children's guardian ad litem appeal the Trial Court's determination that it was not in the best interest of Savannah for Mother's rights to be terminated. We affirm the termination of Mother's parental rights to Jason, Chloe, and Magen. We reverse the Trial Court's finding that it was not in the best interest of Savannah for Mother's parental rights to be terminated and hold that clear and convincing evidence exists that it was in the best interest of Savannah for Mother's parental rights to be terminated as to Savannah.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/savannahs_071609.pdf


IN RE: S.E.J. DONALD JORDAN, ET AL. v. DONALD ROBERSON, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Jeff Mueller, Jackson, TN, for Appellants.

David W. Camp, Jackson, TN, for Appellees.

Judge: HIGHERS

This case involves competing adoption petitions filed by a child's maternal and paternal grandparents after the child's father was sentenced to death for killing the child's mother. The trial court simply compared the relative fitness of the two sets of grandparents and granted the adoption petition of the paternal grandparents. We conclude that the trial court erred in giving equal weight to both petitions because the paternal grandparents did not meet the requirements set forth in Tennessee's adoption statutes. We also conclude that the maternal grandparents were fit persons to have the care and custody of the child, that they are financially able to provide for the child, and that adoption is in the best interest of the child. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the chancery court and remand for entry of an order granting the adoption petition filed by the maternal grandparents.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/sej_071609.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CARLOS COOPER

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Joseph T. Howell (on appeal), Jackson, Tennessee, and Susan D. Korsnes (at trial), Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carlos Cooper.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Rolf Hazelhurst, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Carlos Cooper, appeals from the judgment of the Madison County Circuit Court, revoking his probation and reinstating his original sentence of eight years. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/cooperc_071609.pdf


MARVIN ANTHONY MATTHEWS v. HENRY STEWARD, WARDEN (STATE OF TENNESSEE)

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Marvin Anthony Matthews, pro se, Henning, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Marvin Anthony Matthews, appeals the lower court's denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The state has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the lower court's denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. We grant the state's motion and affirm the judgment of the lower court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/matthewsm_071609.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARLOS SHIELDS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jeff Woods, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marlos Shields.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Carrie Shelton and Kirby May, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Marlos Shields, was indicted on charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. After a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of the charged offenses. The trial court imposed a sentence of twelve years for the aggravated robbery conviction and six years for the aggravated burglary conviction and ordered the sentences to run consecutively for an effective sentence of eighteen years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion for a mistrial; (2) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; and (3) the trial court erred in imposing an excessive sentence. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/shieldsm_071609.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Politics
Upcoming
Your Practice
TBA Member Services

Legal News
County considers suing state over paper ballot law
Sullivan County election officials are considering filing a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee to delay a requirement that localities implement optical scan paper ballot voting by November 2010. Local governments argue they are unable to meet the deadline due to a lack of vendors certified to sell equipment that meets the standards set out in legislation approved by the General Assembly last year.
Read more in the Times News
Former MLGW chief ordered not to spend settlement
Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin yesterday ordered former MLGW chief Joseph Lee III and two of his attorneys not to disburse any funds from a settlement with the city over legal bills until a hearing next month. Also yesterday, Memphis attorney Al H. Thomas filed suit to stop the city from paying any of Lee's legal fees arguing that the payment would be "illegal."
The Commercial Appeal reports
Day 4 for Sotomayor
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor wrapped up testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon after committee members questioned her on many of the same topics covered previously in the debate. The committee also heard from a few other witnesses today, including Kim Askew, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, who explained why the association gave Judge Sotomayor its highest ranking.
Read a play-by-play of today's proceedings in the ABA Journal
Thompson criticizes confirmation proceedings
Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson took aim at the Supreme Court confirmation process for Sonia Sotomayor recently, saying it produced very little new substantive information about the nominee. Thompson suggested a better approach to such proceedings would be to focus on the nominee's judicial and professional record, public statements and reputation for integrity.
Read more from Thompson's blog
ABA launches survey of DOJ lawyers
The American Bar Association is launching a survey of lawyers employed with the U.S. Department of Justice and all of its components, including all U.S. Attorneys offices. Former employees that worked at the department any time after Jan. 1, 1994, also are invited to participate. The research is part of study on diversity in the legal profession. For more information about the effort please contact Dr. Arin N. Reeves, the principal researcher, at anreeves@athensgoup.net
Register to take part in the survey
Politics
Herenton names congressional campaign staff
Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton has named Ricky E. Wilkins, a lawyer who has done extensive legal work for the city, as treasurer of his congressional campaign committee. He also named William H. Watkins Jr. of the accounting firm Watkins Uiberall as the campaign's custodian of records. Watkins served as Republican Tom Leatherwood's campaign treasurer last year when Leatherwood made an unsuccessful primary run against U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn. The appointments were disclosed in filings with the Federal Election Commission, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Mystery state lawmaker skipped car inspection
A sitting member of the state House had a vehicle registered last September without providing proof it had been through city inspection, says the Shelby County attorney's office. In fact, the vehicle had not been through inspection since 2004. The office made the discovery as part of a wider investigation of bribery and unlawful favors in the county clerk's office. None of the Memphis legislators reached by the Commercial Appeal acknowledged being the culprit.
Read more from the paper
Upcoming
Access to Justice Commission to meet tomorrow
The Tennessee Access to Justice Commission, established in December by the state Supreme Court, will hold its second official meeting tomorrow. At the commission's first meeting in April, it organized eight advisory committees, each chaired by a commission member. At tomorrow's meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Administrative Office of the Courts, committee chairs will discuss their findings.
Read more about the commission from the Nashville City Paper
Your Practice
ABA releases new resource for solo practioners
The ABA webzine Law Practice Today features a "Suddenly Solo" theme for its July issue. With more lawyers opting to hang out their own shingle in tough economic times, the magazine offers tips for marketing, using technology on a budget, protecting against fraud and preparing a business plan. The publication is free and available to all lawyers regardless of ABA membership.
Learn more
TBA Member Services
Have you activated your FedEx shipping discounts?
TBA members are entitled to discounts on FedEx shipping. Did you know that TBA members are saving an average of $83 per quarter by utilizing their FedEx Association Advantage program discounts? Here's what some members have to say about their FedEx savings:

"Our firm took advantage of the Tennessee Bar Association FedEx discounts and saved over $200 on FedEx Express shipments last quarter alone. It's the best $200 we've ever saved," says member Bill Cameron of Cameron & Young in Cookeville. Start saving on your shipments today! For more information on how to enroll, call 1-800-923-7089 or
visit the TBA Web site

 
 
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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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