Volunteers needed for Commodore Classic mock trial

Vanderbilt University Law School seeks volunteers to judge its second annual Commodore Classic invitational mock trial tournament, an intercollegiate competition in which 24 teams from across the nation perform trial simulations. The event is Jan. 30-31, 2010, in Nashville. The school needs to fill nearly 100 judging slots over the two days. Volunteers may judge one or all four rounds; previous judging experience is not required. Call (615) 653-8467 or email vumocktrial@gmail.com for more information.
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Court: TWCA


William Frederick Kendall and Hailey Hopper David, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Arnold Lynn Bomar.

Robert Otis Binkley, Jr., and James Vernon Thompson for the appellees, Hart & Cooley Flex Division and CIGNA Property and Casualty Companies.

Judge: PAGE

Employee received an award of workers' compensation benefits for a 1994 injury that aggravated a pre-existing condition, Legg-Perthes disease. He received medical care for the condition thereafter through workers' compensation. In 2007, his treating physician recommended hip replacement surgery. The trial court found that the necessity for surgery was not caused by the original injury. Employee has appealed. We affirm the judgment.



Court: TCA


Joe Henry Moore, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Arthur Crownover, II, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


This case arises out of a prisoner's claims for medical malpractice, negligence, and violation of his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the state and federal constitutions. The claims commission, in two separate orders, wholly resolved the prisoner's claims in favor of the State of Tennessee. Because the prisoner has not argued or otherwise provided any basis for this Court to determine the alleged errors in the judgment of the claims commission, we affirm.



Court: TCCA


Augustine J. Leon, Pikeville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; and Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Augustine J. Leon, pled guilty to evading arrest and reckless endangerment, both Class E felonies, and eleven other misdemeanor traffic offenses. The Petitioner received an effective sentence of two years as a Range I, standard offender, to be served in the Department of Correction consecutively to a previously imposed sentence of three years, for a total effective sentence of five years. The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition attacking his convictions and sentence based upon his alleged mental incompetence at the time of the guilty plea, failure of the State and the trial court to disclose his mental illness, and the failure of trial counsel to seek a mental evaluation prior to the entry of his guilty pleas. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition as time-barred. In this appeal as of right, the Petitioner argues that due process concerns necessitated tolling the statute of limitations for filing his petition, and therefore the post-conviction court improperly dismissed the petition. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



Court: TCCA


Bethany R. Mercer, Hixson Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and C. Matthew Rogers, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.


Following the Hamilton County Criminal Court's denial of her motion to suppress, the pro se Defendant, Bethany R. Mercer, pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI), a Class A misdemeanor, and received an effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days, suspended after the service of twenty-four hours of incarceration and three days of public service. See Tenn. Code Ann. section 55-10-403(s)(2) (repealed July 1, 2008). Pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A), the Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging the legality of her detention and her subsequent arrest. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


J. Stephen Hurst, LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tommy Joe Owens.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General and Scarlette E. Ellis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

On June 14, 2004, the victim, H.S. was recovered by police officers from a private home and brought for treatment to the East Tennessee Children's Hospital. The doctors treated the child for multiple injuries including a cauliflower ear, a broken nose that had healed incorrectly, and eyes matted shut from a chemical burn. Appellant, Tommy Joe Owens, is the father of the victim. A Campbell County Jury convicted Appellant of three counts of aggravated child abuse and one count of aggravated child neglect. He was sentenced to twenty-five years for each aggravated child abuse conviction and to twenty years for the aggravated child neglect conviction to be served consecutively for an effective sentence of ninety-five years. Appellant bases his appeal on the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying Appellant's motion for judgment of acquittal; (2) whether taped statements of a non-testifying witness constituted Brady material; (3) whether the trial court properly denied Appellant's request to call the Assistant District Attorney as a witness; (4) whether the trial court erred by failing to require the State to disqualify itself as prosecutor; (5) whether the trial court erred in failing to assist Appellant obtain access to a witness; (6) whether the trial court erred in allowing photographs of the victim into evidence; (7) whether the trial court erred in limiting the testimony of Appellant's expert witness; (8) whether the trial court erred in imposing Appellant's sentences; and (9) whether the trial court denied Appellant a public trial. After a thorough review of the record, we reverse Appellant's conviction for aggravated child abuse with regard to the injury to H.S.'s nose. We affirm the other two aggravated child abuse convictions. In addition, we conclude that Appellant's sentences must run concurrently, rather than consecutively. Therefore, we affirm in part, reverse in part, modify in part, and remand to the trial court for entry of judgment in accordance with this opinion.



Legal News
Legislative News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Knoxville lawyer Ault dies
Knoxville lawyer Lawrence E. Ault died Dec. 21 at the age of 61. A 1980 graduate of the Nashville School of Law, Ault worked at Reischling Ault Webber Beasfield & Looper, where he focused on collections and personal injury cases. Family will receive friends Dec. 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Chapel of Berry Funeral Home with Masonic Services at 1 p.m. Interment will follow at Highland Memorial Cemetery. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be donated to InterFaith Health Clinic, 315 Gill Ave., Knoxville 37917 or Kerbela Temple, 315 Mimosa Ave., Knoxville 37920.
Read more about him at mem.com
Legal News
TBA closes for holiday
The Tennessee Bar Association will close at 3 p.m. today and reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 28. TBA Today will resume publication on Monday. The TBA wishes you a wonderful holiday with friends and family.

Courts closed for the rest of the week
All state courts and government offices are closed tomorrow and Friday in observance of the Christmas holiday. No appellate court opinions will be released until next week.

Judges called to testify in 'court shopping' case
Two Hamilton County General Sessions judges have been subpoenaed to testify about allegations that officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) routinely "judge shop" to get favorable outcomes against accused violators. The subpoenas, filed yesterday by counsel for one alleged perpetrator, request the presence of General Sessions Judges Bob Moon and David Bales at a hearing on Jan. 7. The defendant, who is seeking to get charges dismissed, argues that TWRA routinely sends its cases to these judges, despite a computerized system that is supposed to randomly assign cases.
Read more in the Chattanooga Times Free Press
Bonuses drop for first year associates
Bonuses have dropped by up to 57 percent for first-year associates at some top law firms, while holding steady for those with more experience, Bloomberg.com reports. A law firm consultant says the trend suggests that clients are becoming more demanding and are placing a lower value on junior associates, while firms are viewing more experienced associates as "keepers."
Read more on this issue
UC Irvine continues generous scholarships
This past year, the new University of California Irvine School of Law provided full scholarships for all three years to the 60 members of its inaugural class. Now it has announced it will provide scholarships covering at least half of tuition costs for all three years for another 80 students entering the school next year. Funding for the private scholarships comes primarily from southern California lawyers. The scholarships created so much interest last year that the school became the most selective in the nation -- accepting only four percent of applicants.
Learn more in the NY Times
Gitmo closing likely delayed by a year
President Obama's Jan. 22 deadline for closing the Guantanamo detention facility likely will be delayed by at least a year due to a lack of money, reports the New York Times. Obama had sought $150 million in the FY 2010 budget to buy an Illinois prison to house detainees but congressional leaders balked, leaving the administration no choice but to wait until FY 2011 to seek the funding.
Read more from the paper
Legislative News
Public TV names Ramsey legislator of year
Tennessee's six public television stations have named Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey legislator of the year for 2009. The group recognized the Blountville Republican for his help in securing state funding for the stations. The Memphis Daily News reported the award.

Disciplinary Actions
Dyersburg attorney reinstated
Dyersburg attorney Martin Lynn Howie was reinstated to the practice of law on Dec. 11. He had been suspended on Sept. 16 for failure to respond to a complaint of misconduct. On Nov. 9, he petitioned the court for reinstatement and the court agreed.
Download the BPR release
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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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