Mock trial problem released

The 2010 Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition got underway today with publication of the mock problem. This year's case is a civil scenario involving a dispute over design and construction of a 400,000-square-foot distribution center featuring a concrete slab-on-grade floor. The central issue at stake is whether the work performed constitutes a breach of contract or professional negligence. Teams and other interested parties may download the problem and the rules at District competition coordinators were also announced today. See the list.
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Court: TWCA


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, and Diane Stamey Dycus, Deputy Attorney General, for the appellant, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Second Injury Fund.

John Jay Clark, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellee, Donny Ray Thompson.


This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court found Employee to be permanently and totally disabled as a result of a compensable injury. It apportioned benefits 70% to Employer and 30% to the Second Injury Fund. Employer appealed. Employer and Employee then reached an agreement to compromise Employer's portion of the claim for a lump sum payment. The appeal was voluntarily dismissed. Employee thereafter filed a motion requesting that the Fund immediately commence paying its share of the judgment. The trial court granted that motion. The Fund has appealed, contending that the order violates several provisions of the workers' compensation law. We agree, reverse the order at issue, and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings.


Court: TCA


Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee; Carolyn Kaye Carlisle, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tammy Teal Bennett.

Murrey Thomas Taylor, Jr., Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, David Ross Bennett.


Wife appeals claiming trial court erred in finding her agreement to a Marital Dissolution Agreement and Parenting Plan was valid and not obtained under duress. Finding that wife later adopted the disputed Marital Dissolution Agreement and Parenting Plan with advice of counsel and without any allegation of duress, we find that wife waived her objection and, alternatively, that any dispute as to the validity of her agreement had been rendered moot by her later adoption of it.


Court: TCA


David Wade and J. Lewis Wardlaw, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Nathan E. Steppach, Jr.

William H. Thomas, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, pro se.

Allan J. Wade and Brandy S. Parrish, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellees, City of Memphis and Memphis City Council.


This case arises from the grant of a writ of certiorari by the Shelby County Chancery Court. Upon review of the Memphis City Council's record, the court affirmed the Council's action in approving a planned development and companion street closure. We conclude that the order appealed lacks finality due to the failure to comply with Tenn. R. Civ. P. 58. Consequently, we dismiss this appeal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.


Court: TCA


William L. Vaughn, Wartburg, Tennessee, pro se.

John R. Cheadle, Jr., and Mary K. Barnard, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellee, Bank of America, N.A.


Plaintiff filed this action for debt against defendant in Sessions Court. The Sessions Court Judge entered a Judgment for plaintiff for the amount of the debt, plus attorney's fees and costs. On appeal, the Circuit Court affirmed the Judgment of the Sessions Court. Defendant has appealed, arguing that the statute of limitations had run on the contracted debt. We vacate the Judgment of the Trial Court and remand with instructions for the Trial Court to hear further evidence on the issue of the statute of limitations defense.


Court: TCCA


Stacy L. Street and Donald Spurrell, Elizabethton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Warner Conrad Bias.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Welles, Jr., District Attorney General; Barry Staubus, Assistant District Attorney General; and Joseph Eugene Perrin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Following a jury trial, Defendant, Warner Conrad Bias, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred in refusing to allow testimony of Defendant's severe mental disease or defect, and his ability to form the requisite intent to commit first degree murder; (2) the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce evidence of a 1997 order of protection filed by the victim against Defendant; (3) the trial court erred in refusing to allow Defendant to cross-examine the investigator about Defendant's videotaped statement and by refusing to admit the videotape into evidence; and (4) the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant's conviction for first degree premeditated murder. Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Joseph S. Ozment (on appeal), and Sean Muizers and Larry Copeland (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Keith Collins.

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


The petitioner, Keith Collins, pled guilty to possession of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell, a Class C felony, and aggravated assault, a Class C felony. He was sentenced to concurrent sentences of three years on probation as a Range I, standard offender. His probation was later revoked, and a petition for post-conviction relief followed. On appeal, he argues that counsel was ineffective and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. After careful review, we affirm the judgment from the post-conviction court.


Court: TCCA


Patrick Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shane Michael Grogger.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; William E. Gibson, District Attorney General; John A. Moore and Anthony Craighead, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Shane Michael Grogger, was convicted by an Overton County jury of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, and two counts of abuse of a corpse. The trial court merged the convictions for first degree premeditated murder and felony murder. For these convictions, the Defendant received an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus fifteen years. In this direct appeal, the Defendant raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court properly denied his motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that the use of "felony-stop" procedures exceeded the constitutionally permissible scope of his detention; and (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to support his murder convictions. Following a review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Rebecca S. Mills, Ripley, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tony Samuel.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Tyler Burchyett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

A Lauderdale County jury found the petitioner guilty of aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping. The trial court sentenced the petitioner to an effective thirty-five year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The petitioner appealed his convictions to this court, which affirmed the convictions and sentence. The petitioner then sought post-conviction relief on the theory that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during the trial, inter alia. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition. The petitioner now appeals. Following our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Legal News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Joe Ford appointed interim Shelby County mayor
The Shelby County Commission has appointed Joe Ford as the interim county mayor to finish out the final year of A C Wharton's term. Wharton resigned Oct. 26 to become Memphis mayor, and Ford will take office Dec. 10, the final day of office for acting mayor Joyce Avery, who as commission chairwoman had taken over for Wharton.
Read more in the Commercial Appeal
Legal News
Poole recuses self in 'judge shopping' case
Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole recused himself yesterday in a case in which a defense attorney has accused a state agency and at least two general sessions judges of "judge shopping." Court arguments revealed that Poole, as a lawyer, sat on a 1999 committee that helped implement rules and regulations for the computerized assignment of criminal cases in Hamilton County General Sessions Court. Defense attorney Jerry Summers asked the judge to recuse himself and Poole agreed. Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman now will preside over the issue. The case will come up again in court on Dec. 14.
The Times Free Press reports
ABA executive director White resigns, Howell is interim
American Bar Association President Carolyn B. Lamm today accepted the resignation of Henry F. White Jr. as executive director of the national organization, and immediately named R. Thomas Howell Jr., general counsel, as interim executive director. Howell became general counsel of the ABA in 2007, after being of counsel to the Chicago-based law firm of Seyfarth Shaw for 10 years.
Read more from the ABA
Legal opinions now available on Google Scholar
Looking for another online legal research tool? Well, your friends at Google today announced -- in a Twitter post, by the way -- that Google Scholar will now include full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts. Read a review from Resource Shelf or read more about it from
Google's Blog
Two nominees to FTC would give Democrats majority
The White House said late Monday that President Barack Obama has made two choices for the Federal Trade Commission. These latest nominees -- Julie Brill and Edith Ramirez -- would give the five-member board a Democratic majority. Brill was Vermont's assistant attorney general for consumer protection and antitrust from 1988 until this year, when she took a similar position with the North Carolina Department of Justice. Ramirez is a partner in a Los Angeles law firm, focusing in antitrust matters and intellectual property.
The Blog of Legal Times has more
Hawkins County Justice Center opening delayed
The Hawkins County Justice Center did not open Nov. 15 as scheduled because of delays in receiving approval from the state fire marshal. County Mayor Crockett Lee described the pending issues with the project as "two or three little old things," which are in the process of being corrected.
The Times-News has the story
Sotomayor achieves celebrity status
Since becoming the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor has mamboed with movie stars, exchanged smooches with musicians at the White House and thrown out the first pitch for her beloved New York Yankees. A famous jazz composer even wrote a song about her: "Wise Latina Woman." In short, Sotomayor has become a celebrity.
NewsChannel9 carried this AP story
Knoxville committee wants to divert mentally ill from jail
Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols says mentally ill inmates do not belong in jail, but because they don't get the services or medicine they need, they often wind up in jail over and over. Nichols is a member of Knox County's Criminal Justice Committee, which is grappling with the best way to deal with the mentally ill who wind up in jail, and their solution so far would cost $1.7 million in yearly operating costs.
Learn more about the innovative proposals in the News Sentinel
New admittees welcomed to the bar, invited to lunch
The Tennessee Bar Association will hold an open house tomorrow, Nov. 18, to welcome new lawyers to the practice of law. The Supreme Court admission ceremony for new lawyers with last names beginning A through M will take place at 10 a.m.; and a session for lawyers with names beginning with N through Z will take place at 1:30 p.m. Sandwiched between the two ceremonies will be the TBA's come-and-go lunch, which will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Tennessee Bar Center, located at 221 Fourth Ave., North, Nashville 37219. TBA members are invited to attend. Knoxville's admission ceremony will be Nov. 19. Jackson and Memphis hosted ceremonies earlier in November.

Free citizenship workshop offered this Saturday
The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition in partnership with Catholic Charities of Guadalupe, Siskind Susser Bland, and AB Law Group will host a Citizenship Assistance Workshop, Nov. 21, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Assistance at the event is free and will be at Catholic Charities of Guadalupe Church, 3112 Nolensville Pike in Nashville.
Find out more
Disciplinary Actions
Nevada lawyer reinstated
Brian Jerry Quarles of Henderson, Nev., has been reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee after complying with requirements for continuing legal education. He was suspended on Sept. 4 for failing to meet CLE requirements in 2008.
View all attorneys suspended and reinstated for 2008 CLE violations
TBA Member Services
Discounts from Office Depot
Are you saving yet? Sign up for the TBA-Office Depot Program and begin saving. TBA Members receive significant discounts on office supplies from Office Depot.
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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