Belmont to open Nashville law school by 2011

Belmont University officials announced today that the school plans to open the state's sixth law school in Nashville by 2011. The university will spend $25 million to build a 75,000-square-foot facility, which will accommodate a total enrollment of 350 students. The inaugural class is expected to number 120 students with tuition set between $25,000 and $35,000 a year. Planning for the school, which was kept secret, has been in the works for five years. The school decided to move forward after finding that more than half of those who sit for the state bar exam attend law school in another state and that, compared to neighboring states, Tennessee has fewer lawyers per capita.

The Tennessean has the story

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.

02 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
02 - 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.


Court: TSC


Kenneth K. Crites, Centerville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Scott Houston Nash.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; and R. Stephen Powers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: LEE

The Defendant, Scott Houston Nash, was convicted of fourth offense driving under the influence ("DUI"), a Class E felony, and sentenced to serve two years in the Department of Corrections. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Mr. Nash's sentence. On appeal to this Court, we review the following issues: (1) whether the trial court abused its discretion in determining that a trial witness' unsolicited reference to Mr. Nash's prior DUI arrests was not so prejudicial as to warrant a mistrial; (2) whether the trial court abused its discretion in permitting the judicial commissioner who initially determined probable cause to testify at the trial as to Mr. Nash's condition when he arrived at the police department; and (3) whether the recall of the previously discharged jury for the enhancement portion of Mr. Nash's bifurcated trial violated his constitutional rights. Upon review, we hold: (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that an unsolicited reference to prior DUI arrests did not warrant a mistrial in this instance; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the judicial commissioner to testify in this case; and (3) the recall of the discharged jury violated Mr. Nash's due process rights. Consequentially, Mr. Nash's conviction is affirmed and this case is remanded to the trial court to select a new jury in order to hold a new trial solely on the issue of whether Mr. Nash's conviction is his first, second, third, or fourth DUI offense based on the evidence presented regarding prior convictions.


Court: TSC


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter and L. Vincent Williams, Deputy Attorney General, for the appellant, The Tennessee Bureau of TennCare.

Helen Sfikas Rogers and Lawrence James Kamm, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Thomas Tanner.

Judge: WADE

The decedent, Martha M. Tanner, died intestate while a resident of a nursing facility. Nineteen months later, the Bureau of TennCare filed a complaint in the Davidson County Chancery Court seeking the appointment of an administrator of her estate. The case was transferred to the probate court, and the decedent's son, Thomas Tanner, was appointed administrator. The Bureau of TennCare then filed a claim seeking recovery of "medical assistance correctly paid" on behalf of the decedent pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 71-5-116 (1995 & Supp. 2002) and 42 United States Code section 1396p (2003 & Supp. 2009). The probate court dismissed the claim as untimely, and, upon direct appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed. We granted application for permission to appeal in order to consider whether the claim is procedurally barred. Because section 71-5-116 places an obligation on the representative of an estate to obtain a waiver or release from the Bureau, the claim is not subject to a one-year statute of limitations. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is, therefore, reversed, and the cause is remanded to the probate court.

KOCH concurring


Court: TCA


Dennis L. Nordhoff, Franklin, Tennessee for the Appellant, Jessica D.

Jennifer L. Evans, Springfield, Tennessee for the Appellee, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc.


Jessica D. ("Mother") executed the necessary forms to surrender her parental rights to her biological child, Jasmine D. ("the Child"). The Juvenile Court approved the surrender of Mother's parental rights to the Child. Approximately four months later, Mother filed a petition/motion attempting to revoke the surrender. The Juvenile Court denied the petition/motion to revoke the surrender. Mother appeals to this Court. We affirm.

CORRECTION is on page 1, in the fifth line of the introductory paragraph where "Juvenile Court of Davidson County" has been changed to "Shelby" County

Court: TCA


Lucian T. Pera, Brian S. Faughman, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Curtis S. Person.

Leo Bearman, Jr., Emily Turner Landry, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, The Board of Commissioners of Shelby County, Tennessee, et al., and A. C. Wharton, Jr., Mayor of Shelby County, Tennessee.


In 1967, the General Assembly passed a Private act consolidating the juvenile courts of Memphis and Shelby County by establishing a new court. The Act also provided for a second division, with the judgeship of that division to remain vacant until the County Commission determined the need for it. Almost forty years later, the Commission adopted a resolution approving the appointment of a judge to the second division of the court. The current judge of the Juvenile Court of Shelby County challenged the attempted creation of a second judgeship, arguing that the relevant portion of the Private Act constituted an unconstitutional delegation of the authority to ordain and establish courts, which power is reserved to the General Assembly by the Tennessee Constitution. Because a judge is a necessary component of a court, in order to "ordain and establish" a court under Art. VI, section 1, the legislation creating or establishing the court must make provision for a judge. The legislature cannot establish a court without also establishing a judgeship. Since Section 20 of the Private Act does not create or establish a judgeship for division 2, it did not effectively create or establish that division or court. Additionally, because in Section 20 of the Private Act the legislature delegated to the Commission the power to decide whether a judge for division 2 was needed, which is the equivalent of delegating to the Commission the authority to establish or create division 2 of the juvenile court, we conclude that Section 20 is an unconstitutional delegation of power reserved to the General Assembly by Art. VI, section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution and, therefore, reverse the trial court's holding on that issue. We affirm the trial court's ruling on Open Meeting Act claims based on a prior resolution that was promptly rescinded by the Commission.

CORRECTION changes docket number from M2008-01664-CCA-R3-PC to M2008-02769-CCA-R3-PC

Court: TCCA


Calvin R. Cannon, Atlanta, Georgia, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; and Charles Crawford, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Calvin R. Cannon, appeals the trial court's dismissal of his four petitions for post- conviction relief. The State has filed a motion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, for this Court to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion. We grant the motion and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Gregory Allen Cathey, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachael Harmon West, Assistant Attorney General; and William Whitesell, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Gregory Allen Cathey, appeals from the order of the trial court dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief as time-barred. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. We grant the State's motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Dicken E. Kidwell and Luke A. Evans, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Le Tonio Swader.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mary W. Francois, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Trevor H. Lynch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Le Tonio Swader, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief by the Rutherford County Circuit Court from his convictions for first degree felony murder; second degree murder, a Class A felony; attempted especially aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of an offense, a Class E felony. The murder convictions were merged. He was sentenced to a total effective sentence of life plus two years. He contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions, which is not a proper post-conviction claim, and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel for which the petitioner has failed to carry his burden of proof. He also argues for the first time in this proceeding that his convictions amounted to double jeopardy. After careful review, we affirm the judgment from the post-conviction court.


Legal News
Supreme Court Report
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Asian Pacific bar elects new leadership
The Tennessee Asian Pacific American Bar Association (TAPABA) has elected new officers for the 2009-2010 bar year. They are President Kaz Kikkawa with HCA, Vice President Kyong Choi with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, Treasurer Shilina Chatterjee Brown with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and Secretary Robert Tom with Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz. All are from Nashville. Board members are Teresa Chan with Ellison, Schneider & Harris in Saratoga, Calif.; Ruchee J. Patel of Memphis; and Nashville lawyers Chris Chi with Bass Berry & Sims, Ling Guan with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, Chay Sengkhounmany with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Jon Stanley with Bridgestone Americas, Mo Syed with King & Ballow, Lester Yano with the Universal Music Group, and Seth Yu with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.
Learn more about the group
Moot court coaches needed
The TBA Public Education Committee is looking for lawyers for a short-term, limited-commitment assignment as a coach in the Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge, or AMC3 program, of the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature. The teams of college students will compete Nov. 12-15 in Nashville. Coaches meet or confer by phone with the teams and a faculty advisor. To offer to serve as a coach contact Lynn Pointer on the TBA staff at (615) 383-7421 or
Learn more about the program
ACLU negotiates use of public parks for church services
Area college students will be able to continue holding church services with the homeless after the ACLU successfully negotiated a revised Metro Board of Parks and Recreation policy that had unfairly blocked religious groups' use of park space. The new policy allows religious and non-religious groups of up to 25 people to meet regularly in public parks without obtaining a permit. The rule previously prohibited any religious activity on a regular or permanent basis. The ACLU announced the agreement in a press release today.

Bloomberg to launch new legal search site
After at least two years of development, Bloomberg is getting ready to launch a new legal search engine that could give industry leaders a run for their money, according to JD Journal. Bloomberg Law says the new venture, which will be fully activated by the end of the month, is a "legal, regulatory, and compliance research platform, offering a suite of news, data and analytics to the legal and compliance community."
Check out a demo here
Student writing competitions abound
Several legal writing competitions are available for law students in the state. The Association of Securities and Exchange Commission Alumni is seeking papers in the field of securities law. The American Bankruptcy Institute is hosting a competition on the issues of bankruptcy jurisdiction, litigation or evidence. And the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Review is accepting submissions for its annual "Law Stories" issue. This year's theme is "1L Revisited" -- true stories from the first year of law school. That contest is also open to recent law graduates.

Tennessee CASA holds annual meeting
The Tennessee CASA Association recently held its annual meeting in Nashville. State Representative Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, was honored as legislator of the year and Cindy Perry, executive director of the Select Committee on Children and Youth, was honored as advocate of the year. Nyasha Justice with the Administrative Office of the Courts gave the keynote address. The group also announced its new board of directors, which includes Nashville lawyer James B. Johnson with Stites and Harbison PLLC.
Learn more about CASA
Woman carries gun into juvenile center
Metro Nashville police arrested a woman who attempted to bring a gun into the Davidson County Juvenile Justice Center earlier this week. The Nashville City Paper reported that the gun, which was in her handbag, was detected by the X-ray machine at the entrance to the building. She is being held in lieu of $10,000 bond.

Supreme Court Report
Court ponders cross on park land
The Supreme Court appeared divided today over whether a cross on federal land in California violates the U.S. Constitution. The case, brought by a former National Park Service employee, seeks to have the cross removed or permanently covered because the agency refuses to allow a Buddhist memorial in the area. The government is arguing that the employee has no standing to bring the case because, as a Christian, he has suffered no harm.
The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle reports
Civil rights icon launches new speakers series
Civil rights pioneer Rev. Benjamin L. Hooks was in Washington, D.C. last night to kick off a new speaker series called "Civil Rights and Social Justice: Past, Present and Future." The event, sponsored by the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis, will feature lectures by university faculty in D.C. and in Memphis. Hooks will repeat his lecture in Memphis on Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. at the university's Michael D. Rose Theatre. The event is free and open to the public. A native of Memphis, Hooks received his law degree from DePaul University. Among his many accomplishments, he was the first African-American to serve as judge on a court of record -- the Shelby County Criminal Court -- in the south.

Disciplinary Actions
20 more lawyers suspended for fee violations
In the sixth suspension order filed this year by the Board of Professional Responsibility, 20 additional lawyers were suspended on Oct. 5 for failure to pay the annual licensing fee. Lawyers who since have paid the fee are noted as being reinstated.
See the list of all lawyers suspended to date
Two lawyers reinstated after paying BPR fee
Kenitra Fewell, formerly of Virginia but now stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, and Jamal Johnson of New York, N.Y., have been reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee after paying the 2009 BPR fee and required fines.
View all attorneys suspended and reinstated for 2009 fee violations
TBA Member Services
Get Connected: Sign up for TBA Connect today
Join your colleagues on the TBA's new Social Networking platform for members called TBA Connect. This service provides many of the same features of mainstream sites such as Linked In or Facebook, but access is limited to members of the Tennessee Bar Association and approved guests.
Join TBA Connect now

Discontinue your TBA Today subscription? ... Surely not!
But if you must, visit the TBALink web site at:

Questions, comments: Email us at

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