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

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.

00 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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.

RODNEY MARRA v. BANK OF NEW YORK, TRUSTEE, AND PHILIP M. KLEINSMITH, TRUSTEE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

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.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/marrar_080409.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ERNEST GENTRY BURTON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

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.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/burtone_080409.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RALPH BYRD COOPER, JR.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/cooperr_080409.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ALEX STEWART

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

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.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/stewarta_080409.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Supreme Court Report
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Class-action suit seeks refund on 'crack tax' money
The man who was at the center of the state Supreme Court's decision to strike down Tennessee's drug tax law, Steven Waters, is now the plaintiff in a class-action suit that will ask a judge to return all the tax money collected -- plus interest and attorney's fees. When the court struck down the law it called into question the $10.4 million the state has collected from people caught with untaxed drugs in their possession. Phil Lomonaco, the attorney who filed the suit, said he intends to ask the state for a list of all the people who paid the drug tax and attempt to get them some money back. "There are probably a lot of people who didn't have the ability to hire an attorney and challenge the tax, because given the situation they were in, it would've cost too much," he said.
The Tennessean has more
Firm donates fee award to legal services
Last month Wyatt Tarrant & Combs donated a $13,525 fee awarded to the firm in a court case to Memphis Area Legal Services. Two Wyatt lawyers, Kristen Wilson and Byron Brown, represented a prisoner who filed a lawsuit after he was beaten. The inmate had started to represent himself, but since his case appeared to have merit he was assigned the attorneys who did the work at no charge. "We decided from the beginning we'd treat this as pro bono and donate the fee to (Memphis Area Legal Services)," said Glen Reid, partner in charge of Wyatt's Memphis office. "We didn't have any idea they'd get as good a settlement as they did."
Read more in the Commercial Appeal
First Hispanic elected ABA vice president
Miami lawyer Stephen N. Zack, a partner in the national law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, was elected as president-elect of the American Bar Association -- the first Hispanic American to achieve that distinction. Zack will serve one year as president-elect before taking office as president in August 2010. The son of a Cuban mother and American father, Zack is focused on promoting civics education, the importance of inspiring a new generation of lawyers and ABA programs that advance access to justice for everyone in the United States. In addition, he will work to create a commission on Hispanic rights.
Read more about him from the ABA
New commissioner to focus on family violence
The Shelby County Commission approved the appointment of Kevin Eugene Reed on Monday as a judicial commissioner, specializing in domestic violence cases. Reed, who has been an assistant public defender, will work with Judge Lee Wilson, who is expected to take on most local cases involving domestic violence on Sept. 1.
WMCTV reports
TBI says rearrest rates are 20 percent for drunk drivers
One in five drivers arrested for drunken driving in Tennessee between 2002 and 2007 was rearrested at least once more for driving under the influence during the same time frame, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation analysis released Monday shows. The same study shows that 16 percent of robbery offenders were rearrested during that same time frame.
The Times Free-Press has the story
Lowery asks for delay of vote on city attorney pending hearing
Memphis Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery asked the City Council this afternoon to delay a vote to approve his pick for city attorney. The council was supposed to vote to confirm Veronica Coleman-Davis in place of City Attorney Elbert Jefferson. Lowery fired Jefferson last week, but a court injunction stopped the action. Jefferson has now sued Lowery, saying Lowery overstepped his bounds by forcing him out of City Hall. There will be a hearing tomorrow. Lowery said today, in light of the upcoming hearing, he would like to delay the vote to approve Coleman-Davis for two weeks.
The Commercial Appeal is following the story
Supreme Court Report
Senate begins discussions on Sotomayor
Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada previewed their parties' dueling arguments today over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who is expected to sail through the Senate this week with bipartisan support. Most GOP senators have lined up against Sotomayor, but a handful are siding with Democrats to support her.
NewsChannel 5 reported this AP story
Souter moves up to 'swanky' digs big enough for books
Retiring Justice David Souter has bought a new home -- a 3,500-square-foot Cape Cod in a "swanky" area. He says his old farmhouse is not big enough or structurally sound enough to hold all of his heavy books.
The ABA Journal connects you to the story
TBA Member Services
CompuPay offers deals for TBA members
CompuPay is proud to serve as the official payroll services provider for the Tennessee Bar Association. To serve Tennessee attorneys the company is offering two months of free payroll processing for all TBA members and waiving set up fees for members with up to 99 employees.
Learn more about CompuPay's benefits

 
 
Discontinue your TBA Today subscription? ... Surely not!
But if you must, visit the TBALink web site at:
http://www.tba2.org/tbatoday/unsub_tbatoday.php

Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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.

© Copyright 2009 Tennessee Bar Association