Deadline near to apply for Judicial Nominating Commission

More than 100 people have now applied to serve on the new Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), which will submit candidates to the governor to fill vacancies on Tennessee's trial and appellate bench. With the July 31 deadline for applications now just over a week away, 110 people have submitted their names. The TBA Board of Governors will hold a special meeting on Aug. 13 to make its recommendations on filling the commission seats designated for lawyers.

Details on how to apply are on the AOC web site

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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STEVE BIGGERS v. LAURENCE K. HOUCHIN

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Steve Biggers, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Mark North, Madison, Tennessee, for the appellee, Laurence Houchin.

Judge: CLEMENT

This is the second suit and third appeal filed by Plaintiff arising out of his termination as an independent contractor truck driver for Transport Services, Inc. (TSI). The sole defendant in the first action filed in the circuit court was TSI. The sole defendant in this action filed in the chancery court is Laurence Houchin who, Plaintiff contends, caused TSI to wrongfully terminate him. The circuit court action was summarily dismissed. While that decision was on appeal, Plaintiff initiated this action. The chancellor summarily dismissed this action, finding the claims were barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his Complaint. Three weeks after the chancery court action was summarily dismissed, the defendant filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 11 Motion for Sanctions, in which he sought to recover "attorney's fees and expenses incurred by Mr. Houchin to defend this action, the attorney's fees and expenses to present this motion, and such other and further sanctions as the court deems appropriate and necessary to deter repetition of such conduct . . . ." Following a hearing, the chancellor ordered Plaintiff to "dismiss the Notice of Appeal, appealing the dismissal of the frivolous complaint filed in this matter" as a "nonmonetary sanction" and to pay $1,151.75 as a "monetary sanction." Eleven months later, Plaintiff filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60 motion to set aside the court's order requiring him to dismiss his appeal to pay monetary sanctions. The chancellor denied Plaintiff's motion to set aside and, thereafter, awarded an additional $7,871.89 in sanctions against Plaintiff. This appeal followed. Plaintiff contends the chancellor erred in denying his Motion to Set Aside and in awarding Rule 11 sanctions against him. We have determined the chancellor erred in directing Plaintiff to dismiss his notice of appeal and, thus, erred in denying Plaintiff's Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 motion to set aside that order. We have also determined that Mr. Houchin is not entitled to Rule 11 sanctions; therefore, the chancellor erred in denying Plaintiff's motion to set aside the award of sanctions.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/biggerss_072209.pdf


LAMAR ADVERTISING COMPANY (formerly Outdoor Communications, Inc.) v. BY-PASS PARTNERS

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Larry A. Butler, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Appellant Long Outdoor Advertising.

David Hardee and Magan N. White, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Appellee Lamar Advertising Company (formerly Outdoor Communication, Inc.).

Judge: KIRBY

This is a dispute over lease agreements. The plaintiff outdoor advertising company leased two parcels of property from the defendant real estate development company for the purpose of erecting billboard signs. The defendant then cancelled the leases. The defendant had contracted to sell the property to another outdoor advertising company, and cancelled the leases with the plaintiff in reliance on a lease provision allowing cancellation in the event that the plaintiff's signs interfered with the defendant's sale or development of the property. The plaintiff filed this lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the defendant's cancellation was ineffective because this was not the type of interference that was contemplated in the agreement. The defendant counterclaimed, seeking damages allegedly suffered as a result of the plaintiff's failure to remove its billboards. Meanwhile, the third-party outdoor advertising company that was supposed to purchase the property filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, alleging that the plaintiff was interfering with its contractual relations with the defendant real estate development company. A trial was held, and no proof of damages was submitted. The defendant real estate development company and the third-party advertising company that sought to intervene asked for a hearing on damages in their post-trial brief. The trial court issued a letter ruling finding that the defendant's termination of the leases was effective. Years later, an order was entered reiterating the finding that the defendant effectively terminated the leases; the order set the matter for a special hearing on damages owed to the defendant real estate development company and the third-party advertising company. The third-party's motion to intervene was never explicitly granted. Shortly thereafter, the trial judge assigned to the case died. A substitute judge was assigned to hear the remainder of the case. In response to a series of motions, the trial court determined that the trial was properly bifurcated, that the third-party advertising company did not transfer its right to damages in a sale of its assets, and that its motion to intervene was never granted by the previous trial judge, and it therefore could not recover damages. The third- party advertising company now appeals. We reverse the trial court's decision that the motion to intervene was never granted, finding that the motion to intervene was implicitly granted in the order following the trial. We affirm the trial court's holding that the bifurcation was proper, that the defendant real estate development company effectively terminated the leases, and that the third-party advertising company that sought to purchase the property retained the right to damages after the sale of its assets. The case is remanded for a hearing on the damages owed to the third-party advertising company, if any.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/lamaradvertising_072209.pdf


JERRY and CINDY WILSON, Grandparents of K.W., v. APRIL GLADDEN

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Linda B. Hall, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, for appellant, April Gladden.

Michael A. Anderson, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for appellees, Jerry and Cindy Wilson.

Judge: FRANKS

Plaintiffs, paternal grandparents, filed this action pursuant to the Grandparents Visitation Act, to obtain court ordered visitation with their grandchild, since the child's father was deceased. Following an evidentiary hearing, the Trial Court ordered visitation and the mother appealed. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/wilsonj_072209.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JONATHAN LEE ADAMS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Keith E. Lowe (on appeal) and Russell T. Greene (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jonathan Lee Adams.

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

Judge: THOMAS

A Knox County jury convicted the defendant, Jonathan Lee Adams, of one count of first degree felony murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony, one count of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and one count of especially aggravated burglary, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant to consecutive terms of life in prison for felony murder and twenty years as a Range I, standard offender for especially aggravated robbery. The court imposed concurrent sentences for the other convictions. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court improperly imposed consecutive sentences and that he was improperly convicted of especially aggravated burglary when the element of serious bodily injury was an element of both especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated burglary. After reviewing the record, we conclude that the trial court improperly imposed consecutive sentences and that the defendant should not have been convicted of especially aggravated burglary. We therefore reverse the defendant's especially aggravated burglary conviction and remand the case to the trial court for imposition of concurrent sentences, entry of a judgment of conviction for aggravated burglary, and imposition of a three-year sentence as to that offense.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/adamsj_072209.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RONALD CURTIS FLOYD

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Mack Garner, District Public Defender (at trial); and J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal), attorneys for appellant, Ronald Curtis Floyd.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Kathy Aslinger, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The defendant, Ronald Curtis Floyd, entered a guilty plea in the Blount County Circuit Court to promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class D felony, and received a six-year sentence as a Range II, multiple offender, to be served on probation following the service of one hundred twenty days in jail. A revocation warrant issued following the defendant's arrest for promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license. Following a revocation hearing, the trial court found by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant had violated the conditions of his probation, revoked his probation, and ordered the defendant to serve his sentence in the custody of the Department of Correction. In this appeal as of right, the defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/floydr_072209.pdf


CLINT T. MELTON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Albert J. Newman, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, attorney for appellant, Clint T. Melton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Zane Scarlett, Assistant District Attorney General, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The petitioner, Clint T. Melton, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief alleging multiple trial court errors, vindictive prosecution, and ineffective assistance of counsel. After the appointment of counsel, amendments to the petition and a full evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied relief. On appeal, the petitioner contends that he should have been granted post-conviction relief based upon his allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/meltonc_072209.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
Politics
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
AG Holder calls for elimination of sentencing disparities
The nation's top prosecutor told members of the National Black Prosecutors Association meeting in Memphis Wednesday that the pursuit of justice should include eliminating sentencing disparities in cases involving crack and powder cocaine. Speaking to some 200 association members, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said the Justice Department is reviewing federal sentencing policies, including "the 100-to-1 crack-powder sentencing ratio" adopted in the 1980s.
Read more in the Memphis Commercial Appeal
Ordinance to appoint law director advances
The Knox County Commission's Finance Committee approved an ordinance on Monday to make the county law director an appointed, rather than elected, position. Under the proposal, the mayor would appoint the law director with concurrence by the commission. The full commission meets again on Monday. If the ordinance passes, the issue would go before voters in next year's general election.
Read more in the Knoxville News Sentinel
Women represented across state on TLAW
The Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women has elected its officers and board for 2009-2010. They are Judge Amy Hollars, president, 13th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge, Livingston; Rebecca Blair, vice president/president-elect, Day & Blair PC, Nashville; Linda Knight, treasurer, Gullett, Sanford, Robinson & Martin, Nashville; Stephanie Deupree, corresponding secretary, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC, Memphis; Beth Bates, West Tennessee director, West Tennessee Legal Services, Jackson; Debra House, East Tennessee director, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Knoxville; Maria Salas, Middle Tennessee director, Salas Law Group PLLC, Nashville; and Barbara Zoccola, immediate past president, U.S. Attorneys Office, Western District, Memphis.

Board members are Ahsaki Baptist, TBA Young Lawyers Division representative; Rebecca Franklin, recording secretary; Donna Holt, ETLAW representative; Sandy Jelovesek, FAME representative; Pat Moskal, L.A.W./Marion Griffin Chapter representative; and Kristi Rezabek, L.A.W./Anne Schneider Chapter representative. The seat reserved for SETLAW is currently vacant.

Prosecutors rest in Alamo trial
Prosecutors rested their case yesterday against Tony Alamo after four days of graphic testimony in which five women said they were "married" to Alamo as teens or preteens and were sexually assaulted by him. The defense team then began presenting its case arguing that the government targeted Alamo for prosecution because he is a Christian. The legal team says it could call as many as 10 witnesses. Alamo told reporters on the way to court that he planned to take the stand, despite his lawyers' advice against it.
WSMV News 4 provides an overview of the case thus far
Repayment for Lee's legal bills on hold
The Memphis City Council has delayed a vote on whether to accept payment from Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division to reimburse the city for paying former MLGW chief Joseph Lee's legal bills. The council wants to wait until after a court hearing next month on a citizen-filed suit to block the payment. Lee received a $426,422 payment from the city but was instructed by the judge in the case not to spend any of it just yet.
Read more in the Commercial Appeal
4 plead guilty in county clerk's office scandal
Four employees in the Shelby County Clerk's Office have pleaded guilty to processing vehicle registration paperwork that wasn't legitimate. The Commercial Appeal reports that certain customers used the promise of a little cash to get registration papers issued for numerous illegal immigrants.
Read more
School board candidate is also state board attorney
One of the candidates for the Davidson County School Board has an occupation that, he admits, could cause a potential conflict of interest. Rich Haglund is general counsel for the state Board of Education and plans to keep that job if he's appointed to the Metro Board of Education. Haglund has identified several scenarios in which a conflict could come into play and says he will recuse himself if any of them develop.
WSMV-TV News Channel 4 reports
LSC celebrates 35 years of service
On Saturday, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) will celebrate 35 years of providing funding for the delivery of civil legal assistance to America's low-income individuals and families. LSC board members will be in Topeka, Kan. this weekend for a quarterly meeting and will attend a reception honoring the anniversary at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.
Learn more about the LSC
Legislative News
Senator resigns chairmanship after blackmail disclosure
State Sen. Paul Stanley, R-Memphis, today resigned the chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Committee in the wake of revelations that he was the subject of an attempted blackmail scheme over a sexual relationship with an office intern. During that relationship, the 22-year old woman also was seeing another man, who found pictures he believed would be embarrassing to Stanley and offered to turn them over for $10,000. Stanley, working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, agreed to meet the individual. At the time of the hand-off, agents arrested the young man, who has been charged with theft and extortion. The Nashville Post broke the story last night.
Read about lawmakers' reactions today in the Memphis Daily News
Politics
Knox DA backs Gibbons for governor
Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols is crossing party lines to support Shelby County prosecutor Bill Gibbons' Republican bid for governor. Nichols is a lifelong Democrat who ran for his party's gubernatorial nomination in 2002. He recently announced, however, that he would support Republican Gibbons, a fellow district attorney, because Gibbons is willing to make public safety a campaign issue. The Memphis Daily News reported the development.

Disciplinary Actions
Shelby Co. lawyers censured
On July 20, Shelby County lawyers Matthew V. Porter and Amanda P. Strange received censures from the Board of Professional Responsibility for violating Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(c). The board found that Porter and Strange, while acting as independent contractors for a law firm, obtained unauthorized access to the firm's case management system, including client lists, files and management reports. Both also used another coworker's password to monitor interoffice messages among management. In addition, Strange was found to have installed a file shredder system on her company-provided computer, rendering the machine unusable by the firm.
Read the BPR's release on Porter
Read the BPR's release on Strange
Arkansas lawyer reinstated
Arkansas lawyer Joseph Dewey Hughes has been reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee after complying with the 2006 requirements for continuing legal education. He had been suspended in September 2007.
View all attorneys suspended and reinstated for 2006 CLE violations
TBA Member Services
Save at FedEx Kinkos
Through your membership in the TBA, your business can enjoy FedEx reliability and special savings on a variety of FedEx services, including savings on FedEx Kinkos services. All you have to do is sign up. Opening an account is free and there is no minimum shipping requirement.
Find out more

 
 
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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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