Wednesday webcast kicks off social networking series

The dramatic growth of Social Networking web sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are affecting the practice of law for judges, prosecutors, ethics commissions, human resource departments and just about everyone else in the field. A new TennBarU webcast series is designed to give you an overview of this phenomenon and help guide you through some of the key issues. An Introduction to Social Networking for Lawyers kicks off the series Wednesday at noon.

Find out more about this TennBarU series on social networking for lawyers

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Court: TCA


Philip M. Kleinsmith, Colorado Springs, Colorado, appellant, pro se, and for the appellant, Bank of New York.

Sam F. Cole, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Rodney Marra.

William S. Rhea, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Vip D. Lewis.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves a court clerk's fee for facilitating a foreclosure sale. The defendant bank held a foreclosure sale of the plaintiff's home without giving the plaintiff proper notice. The plaintiff then filed this action and the sale was set aside. The trial court ordered that the property be re-auctioned and appointed the clerk and master of the chancery court as a special commissioner to facilitate the sale. At the second sale, the plaintiff purchased the property. The trial court ordered that the clerk be awarded 5% of the purchase price as his fee for services rendered in connection with the sale. The bank objected, arguing that the clerk's fee was excessive. The trial court conducted a hearing and held that the fee to the clerk was reasonable. The bank appealed, naming the court clerk as an appellee in the notice of appeal, but failing to file a motion to add him as a party. The appeal was dismissed for lack of a final order. On remand, the court clerk filed a motion asking the trial court to confirm that he was immune from suit and that disbursement of his fee was proper. The clerk also sought Rule 11 sanctions in the form of appellate attorney's fees against the bank's attorney for naming him as a party in the notice of appeal without properly adding him. The bank filed two cross-motions for sanctions. The trial court held that the clerk was immune from suit and that disbursement of the fee to the clerk was proper. The clerk's motion for Rule 11 sanctions was granted, and the bank's two cross-motions for sanctions were denied. The bank and its attorney now appeal. We hold that the statement of the evidence filed by the appellants and not objected to by the appellees or ruled on by the trial court is deemed approved under T.R.A.P. 24. Addressing the merits, we reverse the trial court's award of appellate attorney's fees as sanctions under Rule 11. All other decisions by the trial court are affirmed.


Court: TCCA


C. Jay Ingrum, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Ernest Gentry Burton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; L. Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; Lytle Anthony James, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Sumner County jury convicted the Defendant, Ernest Gentry Burton, of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance; driving on a revoked license, second offense; and attempting to tamper with evidence. The trial court sentenced him to eight years for the attempting to tamper with evidence conviction and ordered that sentence to run concurrently to a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days for driving on a revoked license and consecutively to a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days for the possession conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial judge erred when he failed to sua sponte recuse himself; (2) the trial judge improperly commented on the credibility of a state witness in the presence of the jury; (3) the trial judge conducted an improper, independent investigation of the Defendant's prior criminal history before sentencing the Defendant; and (4) the trial judge ordered him to serve an excessive sentence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Mart S. Cizek, Clinton, Tennessee (on appeal and at motion for new trial hearing); and Kevin Angel, Clinton, Tennessee (at trial and sentencing hearing) for the appellant, Ralph Byrd Cooper, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; James N. Ramsey, District Attorney General; and Janice Hicks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Ralph Byrd Cooper, Jr., was convicted by an Anderson County Criminal Court jury of aggravated rape. The trial court determined that the defendant was a repeat violent offender pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-120 and ordered the defendant to serve a sentence of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. See T.C.A. section 40-35-120(g) (2003). The defendant appeals, arguing that the convicting evidence was legally insufficient and that the State did not meet its burden in proving that he was a repeat violent offender under the statute. Further, we review under our authority to determine plain error pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 36(b) whether the trial court erred in sentencing the defendant as a repeat violent offender when the State filed its notice of such enhancement after the jury's verdict. After a review of these issues, we affirm the trial court's judgment.


Court: TCCA


Deanna M. Snyder, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alex Stewart.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Connie Trobaugh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Hamblen County Criminal Court jury convicted the appellant, Alex Stewart, of animal cruelty, and the trial court sentenced him to eleven months, twenty-nine days to be served at seventy-five percent. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction and that the trial court erred by imposing the maximum sentence and not ordering probation. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


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