ATJ Commission recommends pro bono reporting rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission is recommending the court adopt the TBA proposal that would require lawyers to estimate their pro bono hours on an annual report filed with the Board of Professional Responsibility. The proposal would require lawyers to report the categories of pro bono service they undertake during the year or to indicate they do not wish to report. The categories match the new Rules of Professional Conduct 6.1, which includes free legal services through organized programs, legal services service to non-profits that assist the poor and reduced or capped fee appointments in criminal and other matters. The commission was given the task of reviewing the proposal -- filed last June by the Tennessee Bar Association -- when it was created by the court in April.

The proposal now returns to the Supreme Court for consideration.
TODAY'S OPINIONS
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LAVELY L. BROWN v. GEORGE M. LITTLE, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Lavely L. Brown, Wartburg, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, Kellena Baker, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for appellees, Tennessee Department of Correction; George M. Little, Commissioner; J. Adkinson, Corporal; Mark Turney, Sergeant; James S. Fortner, Warden; Nicky Jordan, Sergeant.

Judge: STAFFORD

This appeal involves a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a state prisoner. The prison's disciplinary board found that the prisoner failed to provide a urine sample for drug testing. The prisoner filed a petition for common law writ of certiorari in Hickman County Chancery Court. The trial court granted the petition, and respondents filed a copy of the disciplinary board's record. On respondent's motion, the trial court reviewed the record and found no evidence that the disciplinary board acted illegally, fraudulently, or arbitrarily. Finding no error in the trial court's determination, we affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/brownl_072109.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOHN BRUNNER

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Andre B. Mathis (on appeal) and Robert Parris (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Brunner.

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

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, John Brunner, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of second degree murder and domestic assault. He was sentenced as a Range I, violent offender to concurrent terms of twenty-three years, six months and eleven months, twenty-nine days. On appeal, he argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for second degree murder; (2) the trial court erred in admitting the victim's eviction letter to the defendant into evidence; (3) the trial court imposed an excessive sentence; (4) the trial court erred by failing to merge the domestic assault conviction with the second degree murder conviction; and (5) cumulative error entitles him to relief. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/brunnerj_072109.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RAYMOND CARLTON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert Wilson Jones, District Public Defender; Garland Ergüden (on appeal) and Michael Johnson (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Raymond Carlton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Patience Branham and Pamela Fleming, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Raymond Carlton, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of felony murder, premeditated first degree murder, attempted especially aggravated robbery, attempted first degree murder, and attempted aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the two murder convictions and sentenced the defendant to life imprisonment plus twenty-two years. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in allowing questions concerning his prior convictions and arrests, and he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/carltonr_072109.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRANDON JOHNSON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert Wilson Jones, District Public Defender; Phyllis Aluko (on appeal) and Robert Felkner and Kindle Nance (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Brandon Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Ray Lepone and David Pritchard, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Brandon Johnson, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of first degree felony murder and second degree murder for shooting a man to death during an attempted robbery. The trial court merged the second degree murder conviction into the felony murder conviction, for which the defendant received a life sentence. In a timely appeal to this court, the defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement to police; (2) whether the trial court erred in granting the State's motion for a sequestered jury; (3) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the convictions; and (4) whether the cumulative effect of the various alleged errors deprived him of his constitutional rights to a fair trial. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/johnsonb_072109.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LESLIE RAYDELL JONES, JR.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Michael A. Colavecchio, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leslie Raydell Jones, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Leslie Raydell Jones, Jr., was convicted by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury of first degree premeditated murder and especially aggravated burglary. On direct appeal, this court affirmed the first degree murder conviction but modified the especially aggravated burglary conviction to a conviction for aggravated burglary. This court remanded for resentencing on the modified conviction, and the trial court imposed a Range I sentence of six years. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in applying the "exceptional cruelty" enhancement factor. Following our review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/jonesl_072109.pdf


DONALD MAYS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Charles W. Gilchrist, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donald Mays.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth B. Marney, Senior Counsel; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Glen Baity, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Donald Mays, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner has previously been granted a remand to the post-conviction court for consideration of the issues that he now appeals: (1) whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to allege in his motion for new trial that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on robbery as a lesser included offense of aggravated robbery; and (2) whether appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise on appeal that it was plain error for the trial court not to instruct on robbery as a lesser included offense of aggravated robbery. After careful review, we affirm the judgment from the post- conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/maysd_072109.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BERT NEWBY

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert Wilson Jones, District Public Defender, and Garland Ergüden, Kindle Nance, and Robert Felkner, Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Bert Newby.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and David Zak and Corliss Shaw, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Bert Newby, was convicted of one count of first degree murder, and one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. He was sentenced to consecutive sentences of life for the first degree murder charge and three years for the aggravated assault. The defendant raises three issues for appeal: 1) whether the late-filed notice of appeal should be waived in the interest of justice and judicial economy; 2) whether the trial court erred in consolidating the indictments for trial; and 3) whether the evidence was sufficient to support his murder conviction. After careful review, we conclude that no reversible error exists and affirm the judgments from the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/newbyb_072109.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM JEFFERY SWEET

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Ralph E. Harwell (at trial and on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, and Ann C. Short-Bowers (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, William Jeffery Sweet.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; and Steve Sword, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant, William Jeffery Sweet, entered a plea of nolo contendere to one count of vehicular homicide by intoxication, a Class B felony, and one count of vehicular assault by intoxication, a Class D felony. In accordance with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37, the Defendant reserved as a certified question of law the admissibility of a compelled blood-alcohol test administered to the Defendant. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of fourteen years, with the first year of his sentence to be served in confinement and the remainder to be served on probation. The Defendant appeals, raising the certified question of law regarding the admissibility of the compulsory blood-alcohol test and further contending: (1) the trial court erred in setting the length of each of his sentences; (2) the trial court erred when it ordered his sentences to be served consecutively; and (3) the Tennessee consecutive sentencing statute violates the United States and Tennessee Constitutions. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we conclude that the question of law regarding the admissibility of the blood-alcohol test is not dispositive of this case and, thus, is not reviewable pursuant to Tenn. R. Crim. P. 37. Also, we conclude that the trial court erred in its sentencing determinations when it applied certain enhancement factors. However, following a careful de novo review of the Defendant's sentences, we affirm the effective sentence imposed by the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/sweetw_072109.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CRIS R. WOODS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Martha J. Yoakum, District Public Defender, and Tina L. Sloan (on appeal) and Larry G. Bryant (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Cris R. Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General; and Tracy Tipton Jenkins, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The defendant, Cris R. Woods, appeals his conviction by a jury in the Criminal Court for Union County for reckless endangerment, a Class E felony. He contends that the evidence was insufficient to convict and that the trial court improperly denied his motion for acquittal. We agree and reverse the judgment of the trial court, and we vacate the conviction.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/woodsc_072109.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Ramsaur appointed to ABA Commission on Impact of the Economic Crisis
TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur has accepted an appointment by American Bar Association President Carolyn Lamm to serve on the newly created ABA Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Legal Profession and Legal Needs. The group will hold it first meeting in Chicago during the upcoming ABA Annual meeting. The group will pick up on work by an ad hoc working group that has already produced some programs within the ABA.

Execution date set for Cecil Johnson, co-counsel added
In an order filed today, the Supreme Court set Dec. 2 as the execution date for Cecil C. Johnson Jr. Johnson had filed a response to the motion to set execution date on June 8, contending that it should be denied for several reasons, including "concerns about the reliability of eyewitness testimony expressed in State v. Copeland [that] require that the Court 'reach back' and grant Mr. Johnson's Rule 11 application denied by the Court on Oct. 5, 1998." The court disagreed. In a related order, the court allowed Gary Feinerman to appear pro hac vice as co-counsel for Johnson.
Read the court's order
Thurman praised for convictions
With the conviction of Jerome Barrett for the slaying of 9-year-old Marcia Trimble, Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman has now successfully gotten convictions in two of Nashville's most notorious and mysterious murders: Trimble and Janet March. "He thinks of everything, pro and con, in a case and is prepared for any eventuality," says his boss, District Attorney General Torry Johnson. "Tom is a great combination of someone who knows how to communicate with a jury and has a thorough knowledge of the law."
Read this profile of Thurman in The Tennessean
GOP delays vote on Sotomayor
As expected, the Senate Judiciary Committee delayed today's scheduled vote on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Republicans exercised their right under committee rules for a one-week delay, setting up a July 28 vote, when Sotomayor is all but certain to win the committee's endorsement.
Read the National Law Journal story on Law.com
District AG Carney absent for five weeks
District Attorney General John W. Carney Jr., who has been DA for the 19th Judicial District for almost 16 years, has been out of the office for the past five weeks, the Leaf-Chronicle reports. His family said he is dealing with health-related issues. "We all have our individual responsibilities and continue to take care of those responsibilities," Assistant District Attorney Dan Brollier said.
Read the story
Memphis city council says mayor's seat vacant on July 30
The city council declared an official vacancy for July 30 in the Memphis mayor's office, even though Mayor Willie Herenton still hasn't submitted his promised retirement in writing. The Shelby County Election Commission, which meets Wednesday, can now formally start planning a special election to replace Herenton, said election commission chairman Bill Giannini.
The Commercial Appeal has the story
Disciplinary Actions
Memphis lawyer reinstated
Memphis lawyer James Louis Coggin has been reinstated to the practice of law after complying with requirements for continuing legal education. He was suspended on Aug. 27, 2008, for failing to meet CLE requirements in 2007.
View all attorneys suspended and reinstated for 2007 CLE violations
Madison County lawyer censured
Madison County lawyer Jack Colin Morris was publicly censured July 20 by the Tennessee Supreme Court. He did not act with reasonable diligence and did not adequately communicate with his client in a divorce case, devoting "only a total of nine hours" to the case for which he was retained in 2002 and that was resolved on March 5, 2009.
Read the BPR release
TBA Member Services
First Tennessee is TBA's preferred provider
First Tennessee has crafted a package of discounts to meet the specific needs of Tennessee Bar Association members. Find savings on merchant credit services, checking and savings, financial planning and more
on 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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