Report on violence foreshadows courthouse shooting

Threats to federal judges and prosecutors have jumped dramatically, a new government report issued today says, noting that such threats more than doubled in the past six years. The report came out shortly before a gunman walked into a federal building in Las Vegas and opened fire, killing a court security officer and seriously wounding a deputy U.S. marshal. The suspect was shot dead by other officers, and the motive for the attack wasn't immediately clear.

WKRN has more on the story

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Court: TSC


Court: TCA


James E. Brown, Madison, Tennessee, pro se.

Sue B. Cain, Lora Barkenbus Fox, and Jeff Campbell, for the appellee, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.


The matters at issue arise from the demolition of a dilapidated residential structure by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Following the demolition of the property, the Metropolitan Government filed this action to recover the cost of demolition. The homeowners, who purchased the property at a delinquent property tax sale after the Metropolitan Government had filed Notice of Violation with the Register of Deeds Office, but prior to the structure's demolition, responded by filing a counter-claim for inverse condemnation. The homeowners contended that the Metropolitan Government had no right to demolish their property and was not entitled to recover its costs for demolition, due to the intervening delinquent property tax sale. They also asserted in the counterclaim that the Metropolitan Government intentionally destroyed their property without the right to do so and, as a consequence, they are entitled to recover the value of the structure demolished. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court ruled in favor of the homeowners on both motions by summarily dismissing the Metropolitan Government's claim for reimbursement and granting summary judgment to the homeowners on their inverse condemnation claim. The trial court then awarded the homeowners damages for the value of the structure and attorney's fees; however, the court denied their request for prejudgment interest. Both parties appeal. We affirm the summary dismissal of the Metropolitan Government's claim and the grant of summary judgment to the homeowners on their inverse condemnation claim. We also affirm the award of damages for the value of the structure and the amount of attorney's fees awarded to the homeowners. We reverse on the issue of prejudgment interest, finding that the award of prejudgment interest in inverse condemnation cases is mandatory under Tenn. Code Ann. section 29-17-813(a).


Court: TCA


Benjamin Henry Bodzy and M. Kim Vance, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Doji, Inc. d/b/a Demos' Steak and Spaghetti House.

Andrea T. Ruffin, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se; Lindsey Owusu Appiah and Angela Spinella Bonovich, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, James G. Neeley.

Anne C. Martin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Amicus Curiae, National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center.


A fired employee filed for unemployment benefits. The former employer opposed the benefits, maintaining that the employee was fired for misconduct. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development initially found for the employer and the employee appealed. After a hearing, the Appeals Tribunal found for the employee. The employer appealed. The Board of Review affirmed the Appeals Tribunal's decision. The employer appealed to the chancery court, which vacated the administrative decision due to evidentiary issues and remanded the matter. On remand, the Board of Review considered the evidence in question and reaffirmed its earlier decision. The employer appealed to the chancery court, which affirmed the Board of Review. The employer appealed again. We affirm the chancery court's decision.


Court: TCA


James Reed Brown, Byrdstown, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Anthony Dewayne Hood.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, Jill Z. Grim, Assistant Attorney General, Douglas Earl Dimond, Senior Counsel and Elizabeth C. Driver, Lead Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.


This is a termination of parental rights case. Father/Appellant appeals the trial court's order, terminating his parental rights to four of his biological children. The trial court terminated Appellant's parental rights upon its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Appellant had abandoned the children by engaging in conduct prior to his incarceration that exhibits a wanton disregard for the welfare of the children, that there is a persistence of conditions, and that termination of Appellant's parental rights is in the best interests of the children. We find that the trial court erred in finding persistence of conditions. However, we affirm the trial court's finding of abandonment and that termination is in the best interests of the children.


Court: TCA


Joseph Howell Johnston, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Sandra Walker and Janice Richardson.

Richard L. Tennent, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Organized Neighbors of Edgehill (O.N.E.), Arlene Lane, et al.

Sue B. Cain, Director of Law, The Department of Law of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Lora Barkenbus Fox, Assistant Metropolitan Attorney, Paul Jefferson Campbell, II, Assistant Metropolitan Attorney for the appellees, Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation.

John Lee Farringer, IV, for the appellee, Belmont University.


Two residents of the Edgehill neighborhood of Nashville, as well as an organization of neighborhood residents, filed petitions for writ of certiorari with the aim of preventing the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County from entering into a lease agreement with Belmont University. The same parties also brought a petition for declaratory judgment challenging the lease. The proposed lease provided that the University would construct an extensive sports complex in a public park located in the petitioners' neighborhood for the use of the University as well as local schools and neighborhood residents. The first petition was filed after a public meeting at which the Metro Parks Board recommended that the lease be adopted, but before it was actually approved by the Metro Council. The trial court dismissed it without prejudice as premature. Subsequent petitions were filed after the Metro Council voted to approve the lease. The petitioners argued that the process the Parks Board followed was arbitrary and capricious, that it deprived them of their right to procedural due process, and that the action of the Metro Council was invalid because it was based on a flawed process of recommendation. The trial court dismissed all the petitioners' claims. Because the Board's recommendation was not a final order or judgment resulting from the exercise of judicial functions, and because the record showed that there was a rational basis for the Metro Council's decision, we affirm the trial court.


Court: TCCA


J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), and D'artagnan Perry, Knoxville (at trial), for the appellant, Dexter McMillan.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Takisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Dexter McMillan, appeals the revocation of his probation. Because the defendant's sentences in case numbers 83204 and 84667 expired prior to the filing of the initial revocation warrant in this case, we reverse the revocation of the defendant's probation and dismiss the violation warrants in those cases. In case number 84674, the defendant's misdemeanor sentences expired prior to the filing of the initial revocation warrant, but his single two-year sentence for felony evading arrest did not. Because the State established that the defendant violated the terms of his probation in case number 84674, the judgment of the trial court revoking the defendant's probation on his two-year sentence for felony evading arrest is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


Charlotte Ann Leibrock, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Darrell Shelton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; James B. Dunn, District Attorney General; and William Brownlow Marsh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Darrell Shelton, pled guilty to driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor, after the trial court denied his motion to suppress. The Defendant's plea agreement called for reservation of a certified question of law regarding the legality of the police encounter which preceded his arrest. Because the judgment failed to note the reservation of a certified question, the appeal is dismissed.

Application of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 39-14-121 to Instances Involving the Acquisition of Services

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-01-04

Opinion Number: 09-189

Authority of District Attorneys General to Appoint Volunteer Investigators and Utilize Experts

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-01-04

Opinion Number: 09-190


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Father, grandfather and godfather of merit selection, John Wilder, laid to rest
A diverse, overflow crowd of more than 600 mourners -- including the children of sharecroppers who lived in a tent city on John Wilder's property during turbulent civil rights unrest in the 1960's, and governors, senators and representatives from across the political spectrum -- attended the funeral for former Lieutenant Governor John S. Wilder yesterday outside his hometown of Somerville. The crowd was entertained with stories and "Wilderisms," including frequent references to "The Cosmos" and "Let the Senate be the Senate." Former Speaker Jimmy Naifeh said that Wilder's "proudest and most enduring legacy" would be enactment of the Tennessee Plan for merit selection, performance evaluation and retention elections. Attorney General Paul Garvin Summers remembered the more than 20 titles the Fayette County lawmaker had gone by including his least favorite "Lieutenant." Summers said Wilder likened being referred to "Lieutenant" to a rear admiral being referred to as "Rear."
The Commercial Appeal has more about the passing of Wilder, who was the longest-serving leader of a legislative body in American history
Chancellor Peoples to step down
Chancellor Howell Peoples of Chattanooga today submitted his resignation to Gov. Phil Bredesen, to be effective March 31. In his statement, Peoples thanked his colleagues, the staff of the Hamilton County Clerk & Master and "the members of the Hamilton County Bar for their commitment to the rule of law and to the highest standards of law practice."
Read more from the Chattanooga Times Free Press
3 shareholders leave Nashville firm to start new practice
Three shareholders in Hollins, Wagster, Weatherly & Raybin are leaving the Nashville law firm to open their own practice. Jim Weatherly, Patrick McNally and Jacqueline Dixon are forming the firm of Weatherly, McNally and Dixon PLC, which will focus on complex cases in personal injury, domestic relations and criminal defense. John Hollins Sr., David Raybin and John Hollins Jr. will be joined by David J. Weissman, who will become a partner in the firm that will now be known as Hollins, Raybin and Weissman PC. Vince Wyatt and Sarah Richter Perky will be associates with the firm, which will continue to focus on litigation involving plaintiff personal injury cases, domestic relations matters, and state and federal criminal trials and appeals.

Looking back, looking ahead
This time of the year, it seems everyone has some sort of best of 2009 list or forecast for 2010 on their web site. Here's a sampling of some in the legal arena:

The writers at Above the Law legal tabloid offer their 2009 list of best motions, ranging from a steamy Danielle Steele-inspired motion to dismiss in Florida to a motion to continue in an Alabama court, imspired by a certain Crimson clad team that the attorney believes has a date with destiny.

How bad was it for the legal profession in 2009? Well, the ABA Journal reports that it was the worst year ever for layoffs at large law firms. Quoting the blog LawShucks, the ABA Journal reports that 12,196 people were laid off at 138 large law firms tracked last year. In all, 4,633 lawyers and 7,563 staffers lost their jobs. The good news is that most happened early in the year.

What's ahead for the new year? From the ABA Journal, legal recruiters are predicting more lateral movement among law firm partners, as the economy continues its recovery.

What will be the big trends in legal technology for 2010? The folks at
3 Geeks and a Law Blog say watch for Westlaw and Lexis to revamp their legal research interfaces and for social media to become more broadly accepted. Read the rest of their top 10.

Year ends on winning note for Donelson
The year 2009 ended on a good note for 92-year-old Memphis attorney Lewis Donelson, who recorded a hole-in-one on the 118-yard fourth hole at Memphis Country Club on Wednesday. The former city councilman, former state finance commissioner, former education commission member and former board chairman of The Med told the Commercial Appeal that during his 85 years of golfing he had only once before hit such a shot. "It went straight for the cup, so I knew it was going to be on the green," Donelson said. "I went down there and couldn't see it and I got closer and I still couldn't see it. Then I walked up to the cup and it was in."

Firm founder dies in Kentucky
Randolph A. Brown, a founding partner of what is now Frost Brown Todd, died recently in Kentucky. A University of Virginia School of Law graduate, Brown was a past president of the Louisville Bar Association and served in a number of positions with the Kentucky Bar Association and the American Bar Association, as well as a member of the Kentucky legislature and the Governor's Judicial Advisory Council. "He will be remembered as a true gentleman whose light-heartedness and good nature made him a joy to be around," said John R. Crockett III, the firm's current chairman.

Services Tuesday for Chattanooga attorney
Services will be held tomorrow (Tuesday) for John Richard "Rick" Scarborough Sr., 61, of Chattanooga, who died Saturday. A University of Tennessee Law School graduate, Scarborough worked as an attorney in the city for 30 years and at the time of his death was a partner with the firm of Scarborough, Fulton & Glass PC. Funeral services will be held at noon Tuesday at Brainerd Presbyterian Church, with burial to follow in Chattanooga National Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Brainerd Presbyterian Church or to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
More information is available from the Chattanooga Times Free Press
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Join TBA CLE Ski at Park City, Utah
The TBA's 25th Annual CLE Ski program this year travels to Park City, Utah, offering you the chance to ski down the slopes used by Olympians during the 2002 Winter Games, while also earning 15 hours of CLE credit. With morning and late afternoon CLE sessions Feb. 6 through 11, you'll still have plenty of time to enjoy incredible skiing and explore the wonders of Park City, a mining town turned world-class resort. You'll be able to enjoy Park City's fine cuisine, galleries, boutique shops, and lively nightlife, and explore the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, and Utah's Olympic Park. All of this is just 45 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport.
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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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