TBA announces 2010 public service award recipients

The 2009-2010 Access to Justice Public Service Awards will be presented this Saturday, Jan. 16, at the TBA's annual Public Service Luncheon at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. The luncheon, which is held in conjunction with the TBA's Leadership Conference, will feature a keynote address by former ABA President Robert Grey.

The Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award, which honors a private sector attorney, will be presented to Nashville lawyer Michael G. Abelow with Sherrard & Roe for his work preserving home nursing services for 50 TennCare patients -- an effort that required a federal suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act and more than 500 hours of work. The Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award, which honors a career public service attorney, will be presented to Nashville lawyer Doug Stevick with Southern Migrant Legal Services for his work protecting the rights of migrant workers. And the 2010 Law Student Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented to Diana Comes, a student at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphries School of Law, for her work with Memphis Area Legal Services. In addition to awards presented at the luncheon, the TBA Young Lawyers Division will present its CASA Volunteer of the Year Award at a dinner on Friday. The 2010 award will be given to Daniel Rowland of Johnson City who volunteers with CASA of Northeast Tennessee.

Read more about the award recipients in the Tennessee Bar Journal

TODAY'S OPINIONS
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
01 - 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.

MARN SUZANNE LARSEN-BALL v. WILLIAM GORDON BALL

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Thomas C. Jessee, Johnson City, Tennessee, and Thomas S. Scott, Jr. and William Gordon Ball, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Gordon Ball.

Valerie T. Corder, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Marn Suzanne Larsen-Ball.

Judge: HOLDER

This case requires us to construe Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-4-121(b)(1)(A) to determine whether a $17 million attorney fee acquired by Husband after Wife filed a complaint for divorce but before the final divorce hearing is "marital property" and therefore subject to equitable division. The trial court classified the attorney fee as marital property and awarded approximately sixty percent of the marital estate to Husband and forty percent to Wife. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's classification of the attorney fee and its division of the marital estate. We hold that the attorney fee is marital property and that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court's division of the marital estate. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2010/ballm_011410.pdf


RICKY HARRIS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; Joe Crumley, District Attorney General; and Kenneth C. Baldwin, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Sonya Slaughter Helm, Bristol, Tennessee, for the appellee, Ricky Harris.

Judge: HOLDER

We granted the State's appeal to determine whether the Court of Criminal Appeals erred in reversing the trial court's summary dismissal of the petition for writ of error coram nobis and remanding for a determination of whether due process requires tolling of the one-year statute of limitations. We conclude that the delay in seeking coram nobis relief is unreasonable as a matter of law under the circumstances of this case, and therefore due process considerations do not preclude application of the statute of limitations to bar the petition. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and reinstate the judgment of the trial court dismissing the petition.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2010/harrisr_011410.pdf

KOCH concurring in part and concurring in the result
http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2010/harrisr_CON_011410.pdf


SARAH ANN JOHNSON, FOR HERSELF AND ON BEHALF OF THE LATE CECIL JOHNSON v. DR. BRUCE LEVY ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Pamela S. Lorch, Senior Counsel, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Sue B. Cain, Director of Law, Lora Barkenbus Fox and Jeff Campbell, for the appellant, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee.

William Hubbard and William Farmer, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sarah Ann Johnson.

Judge: CLEMENT

The matters at issue pertain to Cecil C. Johnson, a condemned prisoner who was executed by the State of Tennessee on December 2, 2009, the decision of the Medical Examiner of Davidson County, Tennessee to perform a post-mortem autopsy on Mr. Johnson, and the objection to an autopsy based upon the religious beliefs of Mr. Johnson. The authority of the County Medical Examiner to perform an autopsy on Mr. Johnson, an executed prisoner, arises from the Post-Mortem Examination Act, Tennessee Code Annotated section 38-7-106. The Post-Mortem Act expressly authorizes the Medical Examiner to perform an autopsy of a prisoner executed in Davidson County, Tennessee. Sarah Ann Johnson opposes an autopsy based upon rights afforded under Tennessee's newly enacted "Preservation of Religious Freedom" statute, Tennessee Code Annotated section 4-1-407(c)(1) & (2). Tennessee's religious freedom statute states "[n]o government entity shall substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is: (1) Essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and (2) The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest." We have determined that the Davidson County Medical Examiner may have a compelling governmental interest in performing autopsies of executed prisoners; however, the Medical Examiner has failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence under the specific facts of this case that performing an autopsy on Mr. Johnson is essential to furthering the articulated interest. We therefore affirm the decision of the Chancery Court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/johnsons_011410.pdf


MICHAEL ANGELO COLEMAN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

William D. Massey, Memphis, Tennessee; Michael J. Passino and Kelley Henry, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Angelo Coleman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; William Gibbons, District Attorney General; and John Campbell and Scott Bearup, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The Petitioner, Michael Angelo Coleman, appeals his motion to reopen his post-conviction petition for the limited purpose of determining whether he is mentally retarded and, thus, ineligible for the death penalty. The Petitioner asserts that the proof established by a preponderance of the evidence that he is mentally retarded, which renders his sentence of death unconstitutional. After a review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the lower court's denial of relief.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/colemanm_011410.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMIE LEE McKINNEY

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Paul D. Hessing, Paris, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Jamie Lee McKinney.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel J. McCadams, District Attorney General; and R. Adam Jowers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Jamie Lee McKinney, appeals the revocation of his probation. He pled guilty in the Circuit Court of Henry County to attempt to commit aggravated sexual battery, a Class C felony. He was sentenced to six years supervised probation after nine months of confinement. On appeal, he claims: (1) the probation condition prohibiting marriage to someone with a minor child is unconstitutional; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion by revoking McKinney's probation because he left Henry County without his probation officer's permission. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/mckinneyj_011410.pdf


RICHARD LYNN NORTON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Richard Lynn Norton, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; C. Berkeley Bell, District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The pro se Petitioner, Richard Lynn Norton, appeals as of right from the Greene County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief attacking his 1999 convictions for three counts of selling or delivering a schedule II controlled substance. Following our review, we dismiss the appeal.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/nortonr_011410.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Supreme Court Report
Upcoming
Correction
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Court of Appeals: no autopsy for Johnson
The Tennessee Court of Appeals today ruled that executed prisoner Cecil Johnson does not have to undergo an autopsy. Johnson, who was executed on Dec. 2, filed a request shortly before his death that his body not be examined, saying it was his religious belief that his body should not be desecrated. The state medical examiner's office challenged the request, arguing the state needs to ensure that the execution was performed properly. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's ruling that the state's need does not outweigh Johnson's religious beliefs. Download the opinion
Read more from the Tennessean
Process to replace Peoples should begin soon
Election officials said the process should start soon for the replacement of Chancellor Howell Peoples, who is stepping down effective the end of March. Once Governor Phil Bredesen issues a writ of election, Hamilton County officials can move forward with plans for an election. Attorneys who plan to run for the seat must file petitions by Feb. 18 to be on the May 4 primary ballot. For Independents, the filing deadline is April 1. In the meantime, the governor will appoint an interim judge to serve until an election is held. The Judicial Selection Commission will announce procedures for that process. According to Chattanoogan.com, attorneys mentioned for the post include Leah Gerbitz, Gary Starnes and Jack Benson Jr.
Read more
21st District court race may not make primary ballot
Election officials are unsure whether the race for the 21st Judicial District Circuit Court judge (Division II) will be on the May 5 Republican primary ballot because the party failed to request it. Because the judicial district spans multiple counties, state party Executive Committee members must issue a call for the primary. The seat is held by James Martin, who was appointed to fill the post until Sept. 1. Though several individuals have picked up election petitions, one county registrar in the district says the petitions are void since no primary has been called.
Read more in the Williamson Herald
Clarksville man accused of frivolous lawsuit business
The U.S. Justice Department today filed suit against a Clarksville man accused of selling services and materials that encourage the filing of frivolous lawsuits against the U.S. Government. According to the suit, George K. Pragovich, through his Clarksville-based National Justice Center, has helped customers in at least 35 states file more than 200 lawsuits against the government.
The Nashville Business Journal has the story
UT's clinic program lauded for long history
A story in today's Daily Beacon -- the University of Tennessee's daily paper -- recounts the history of the law school's legal aid program, which has been in place for 64 years. Benjamin Barton, associate law professor and director of the clinical programs at the school, says the program is the "oldest, continually operating legal clinic in the country" and an integral part of the law school curriculum.
Learn more about the program
Alamo victims to receive $500,000 each
A federal judge ruled yesterday that five young women who accused evangelist Tony Alamo of taking them as "wives" and sexually assaulting them when they were minors are entitled to $500,000 each. Alamo is serving a 175-year sentence for taking the underage women across state lines for sex.
The Tennessean has the story
AG to outline economic crime prevention effort
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today appeared before a special commission investigating the financial crisis to say that the Justice Department is using "every tool at its disposal" to fight financial crimes that contributed to the nation's economic meltdown. According to prepared remarks, Holder planned to highlight the work of a new Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force created to focus on mortgage and securities fraud, theft of federal stimulus money and financial exploitation of minority communities.
The Times News reports
Supreme Court Report
Court bars video coverage of gay marriage trial
By a 5-4 vote yesterday, the nation's high court barred a San Francisco district court judge from broadcasting a trial challenging the state's gay marriage ban on his court's web site or on YouTube as planned. The court ruled that broadcasting the trial should be blocked indefinitely, pending the filing and disposition of any appeal. The ruling focused on the procedures the district court followed in deciding to broadcast the trial and not on the merits of broadcasting court proceedings.
Reuters covered the story
Upcoming
Belmont to host additional events with Fred Gray
In addition to a ticketed dinner event on Jan. 19 with Fred Gray, Belmont University has announced two free events on Jan. 20 that will feature the civil rights pioneer. Beginning at 8:30 a.m. Gray will participate in a forum with former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Henry Foster Jr., Tennessean columnist Dwight Lewis and First Amendment Center founder John Seigenthaler. Then at 10 a.m. he will present a lecture on "Lessons Learned from a Civil Rights Pioneer about Health, Social Justice and Christian Service" and take questions from the audience.
Contact the TBA for dinner ticket information
Judge Burch honored for 30 years of service
The Dickson County Bar Association is hosting a Jan. 29 luncheon to honor Circuit Court Judge Robert E. Burch's 30 years of service to the 23rd Judicial District. The noon event will be held in the Magistrate Courtroom of the old courthouse in Charlotte. Burch was appointed to the Circuit Court on Jan. 29, 1980. Prior to his appointment, he served as a juvenile court referee and was in private practice with the Dickson law firm of White, Regen, Burch and Beasley. He earned his law degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Law.

Correction
A story in yesterday's TBA Today incorrectly stated that two Memphis lawyers had joined a new firm formed by Robert L. Dinkelspiel. In fact, the attorneys -- Marshall Criss and Harry A. Johnson -- recently joined Apperson Crump & Maxwell PLC. Prior to joining Apperon Crump, Criss was in private practice and Johnson was the former executive vice president and general counsel of First Horizon National Corp.

TBA Member Services
TBA expands insurance services for members
The TBA Member Insurance Solutions Program has been expanded to offer assistance to members in meeting their health, life, disability and other insurance needs. Working with Graham Swafford III of Capital Financial Group, the TBA is now able to provide members with exclusive benefits, personalized service, and pricing discounts. Services and products offered include: disability income insurance, business overhead expense insurance, group life, long-term and short-term disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, and group health, dental and vision insurance along with other employee related benefits.
Learn more about TBA Insurance Solutions now

 
 
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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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