CLE Webcast: Criminal law and social networking web sites

The final program in the TBA's webcast series on social networking for lawyers will be Wednesday at noon, when Knoxville lawyer Stephen R. Johnson of Ritchie, Dillard & Davies PC addresses criminal law issues related to social networking technologies.

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Court: TSC


James P. Catalano, Nashville, Tennessee, and Steven B. Epstein, Raleigh, North Carolina, for the petitioner, Prevost Car (US) Inc.

Jeremy L. Jones and John W. Reis, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Max Smith, Nashville, Tennessee, for the respondent, Lincoln General Insurance Company.

James C. Bradshaw, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the defendant, Detroit Diesel Corporation.


We accepted the following question of law certified by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee: Does Tennessee law recognize an exception to the economic loss doctrine under which recovery in tort is possible for damage to the defective product itself when the defect renders the product unreasonably dangerous and causes the damage by means of a sudden, calamitous event? We answer this question in the negative.


Court: TCA


Arthur Bass, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Ida S.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, and Lindsey O. Appiah, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.


Ida S. ("Mother") and Robert G. ("Father") are the biological parents of Kara G. and Breanna G (the "Children"). Following a trial, the Juvenile Court terminated Mother's and Father's parental rights to the Children. Only Mother appeals. Mother maintains that the Juvenile Court erred when it found that the Department of Children's Services ("DCS") had proven by clear and convincing evidence that grounds to terminate her parental rights existed. Mother also argues that the Juvenile Court erred when it found that DCS had proven by clear and convincing evidence that it was in the Children's best interest for her parental rights to be terminated. We affirm the judgment of the Juvenile Court in all respects.


Court: TCA


Ryan B. Feeney and Christopher F. Donovan, Selmer, Tennessee, for the Appellants, Ruby Lambert and Timothy Sagely.

Magan N. White, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Jamie McAfee, Martha Grissom and James W. McAfee


Defendant landowners appeal the trial court's judgment finding that they had dedicated a roadway to public use by implication, and ordering the parties to widen the roadway and move utility lines. We dismiss for lack of a final judgment.


Court: TCCA


James R. Hickman, Jr., Sevierville, Tennessee (on appeal and at motion hearing); and Amber Haas, Assistant District Public Defender (at plea hearing), for the appellant, Thomas Lester Campbell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; James B. Dunn, District Attorney General; and George Ioannides, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Thomas Lester Campbell, challenges the Sevier County Circuit Court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to driving under the influence of an intoxicant. The defendant argues that he was "rushed into taking the plea," that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel in determining whether to accept the plea agreement, that he was misled by the prosecutor, and that the plea resulted from "collaboration between the [p]ublic [d]efender and the State." The defendant further argues that the trial court erred by not determining a factual basis in accepting the plea and by not identifying the defendant's plea as an Alford plea. Discerning no error, we affirm. The judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Robert Cummins, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; and James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Robert Cummins, appeals the denial of habeas corpus relief by the Circuit Court for Bledsoe County. The Petitioner pled guilty to second degree murder, a Class A felony, and received a thirty-year sentence as a Range II, multiple offender to be served at one hundred percent. On appeal, he contends the trial court erred in dismissing the petition. He claims that an illegal sentence is a proper ground to allege in a habeas corpus petition, that his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered, that his sentence is illegal because it does not conform to Tennessee Code Annotated sections 40-35-112(a)(1) (2006) and 40-35-501(i)(1), (2)(B) (2006), and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel should have known the sentence was illegal. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Robert Wilson Jones (at trial), Chief Public Defender; Phyllis Aluko (on appeal), Assistant Public Defender and Michael Johnson (at trial), Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Derrick Futch.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Marianne Bell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Derrick Futch, was convicted of two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by forgery, Class D felonies, and one count of attempt to obtain a controlled substance by forgery, a Class E felony. The defendant was sentenced to three years for each conviction of obtaining a controlled substance by forgery and two years for his conviction of attempt to obtain a controlled substance by forgery. On appeal, the defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in consolidating the three offenses for trial; (2) whether the trial court erred in allowing the state to impeach the defendant's testimony with evidence of a prior conviction; (3) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; and (4) whether the cumulative effect of the trial court's errors violated due process and the defendant's right to a fair jury trial. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


James Hale, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Darnell Hubbard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Amy Weirich, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Darnell Hubbard, of the first-degree premeditated murder of his wife, and he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of his prior acts of violence against the victim. He also challenges the trial court's admission of evidence relating to an ex parte order of protection that the victim obtained against him and other statements the victim made to her son and police. We conclude that the trial court erred in admitting hearsay statements from the victim in violation of the appellant's confrontation rights. However, in light of the overwhelming evidence of the appellant's guilt, the errors were harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, we affirm the appellant's conviction.


Court: TCCA


Deena L. Knopf, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lamar Ross.

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

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Lamar Ross, appeals from the post-conviction court's denial of post-conviction relief as it relates to the petitioner's convictions on two counts of aggravated rape, which were merged into a single judgment of conviction by the trial court and modified on direct appeal. On appeal from the judgment of the post-conviction court, the petitioner asserts that trial counsel was ineffective and that he was thereby prejudiced. Following our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying post-conviction relief.


Court: TCCA


Coleman Garrett and Michael Campbell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven Watson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Melissa Roberge, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Lora Fowler and David Zak, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Steven Watson, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and sentenced to a term of six years. He was ordered to serve six months in the Shelby County Correctional Center, with the balance of his sentence on probation. The defendant was also ordered to pay $8800 in restitution to the victim. On appeal, the defendant has raised five issues for review: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction; (2) whether the trial court erred in allowing the defendant to be questioned regarding a sixteen- year-old prior conviction; (3) whether the court erred in its application and weighing of enhancing and mitigating factors; (4) whether the court erred in denying the defendant's request for full probation; and (5) whether the court erred by ordering restitution in the amount of $8800 be paid to the victim without proof of his medical bills or lost wages. Because of an untimely filed motion for new trial, the defendant has waived review of his evidentiary issue regarding the prior conviction. After review, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient and that the sentence imposed, with regard to length and manner of service, is proper. With regard to the order of restitution, we conclude that, while the amount of restitution ordered was properly established, remand is necessary for a determination of the defendant's ability to pay as required by statute. The judgment of conviction and sentence are affirmed in all other respects.


Legal News
Disciplinary Actions
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Legal News
Man arrested for shots that hit PD intern, biker
U.S. Marshals arrested a parolee accused in a shootout that left two people injured on Monday, including an intern for the Metro Nashville public defender's office. Police booked Antwain Green at the Criminal Justice Center around 2 a.m. today. Investigators said Green shot Anthony Fizer, who was riding his bike on University Court. Carrie Gleaves, an intern with the public defender's office, was interviewing clients in the area when she was hit by a stray bullet. Both victims were expected to make a full recovery.
NewsChannel 5 reports
New edition of Hot List now available
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Go to the Hot List now
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WRCB-TV carried this AP story
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A federal database that went online earlier this year -- The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System -- is designed to help law enforcement agencies and medical examiners across the country unravel the mysteries of cold cases involving missing persons and unidentified remains. The database was created after the Department of Justice was tasked with finding ways to help solve the thousands of missing persons and unidentified decedents cases in the United States.
WMC-TV has the story
School for judges: 27 attend Judicial Academy
Twenty-seven Tennessee judges participated in a four-day Judicial Academy this week in Murfreesboro. The courses, which were taught by current and former Tennessee judges, covered a wide range of topics such as case management, evidence, search warrants, workplace harassment, judicial ethics, technology in the courtroom and courtroom security. The Judicial Academy also offered courses specific to trial and general sessions judges.
Learn more from the AOC
Don't try this at home: Lawyer takes heart attack to court
A California lawyer wasn't going to let anything like a major heart attack interfere with closing arguments he was scheduled to deliver Monday. He woke up with massive chest pains, but he went to the courthouse instead of the hospital. "You get focused if you're a real serious [litigator], and at some point nothing gets in the way of finishing the trial or doing your job," Michael Lukehart said. He says he is expected to make a full recovery. No word on which way the trial went. connects you
Lawyer for accused hacker says it's an addiction
Albert Gonzalez's lawyer says that Gonzalez is a computer addict and therefore could not help what federal prosecutors describe as a hacking and identity theft case of record-breaking scope. He is accused, with two others, of allegedly stealing at least 130 million credit and debit card numbers from five corporate entities. As a child he "didn't go out in the sandbox or play baseball. The computer was his best friend," attorney Rene Palomino of Miami tells PC World. connects you
Election dates set to replace Stanley
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Find out more from the Commercial Appeal
Disciplinary Actions
Knoxville attorney suspended
Knoxville lawyer David A. Lufkin Sr. was suspended Aug. 18 by the Tennessee Supreme Court, for two years, ordered to complete 30 additional hours of CLE and be assigned a practice monitor to monitor his practice and trust and operating accounts for one year following reinstatement of his law license. The suspension is retroactive to the original temporary suspension on Oct. 17, 2006. The action says Lufkin disregarded an order in a collections case in Washington County Circuit Court and had failed to accurately advise and forward collected funds to clients and others.
Read the BPR's news release
TennBarU CLE
Getting paid a problem? TennBarU online ethics course can help
Collecting fees is not directly addressed in the Rules of Professional Conduct, however both the rules and malpractice carriers have something to say on the issue. This online course from TennBarU explores practice management strategies to help reduce the number of non-paying clients and discusses ethical obligations for collecting fees from such clients.
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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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