TBA event draws legal leaders to Nashville

The TBA's annual Leadership Conference kicked off today in Nashville with a meeting of the TBA House of Delegates, which debates and makes recommendations on issues of importance to the law, lawyers and law practice. Several other committees also met today, including the Taskforce on Judicial Conduct Rules, and the Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity. In addition, the TBA organization for lawyers over 50 -- TBASCUS -- gathered for a luncheon session. Tomorrow, the conference continues with educational programming, the TBA Public Service Luncheon, and meetings of the Board of Governors, the Young Lawyers Division, Section and Committee leaders and local bar leaders.
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Court: TSC


Robert D. MacPherson and Elizabeth Lee Luongo Youmans, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff, Linda F. Seals.

Alisha M. Toll, Benjamin James Miller, and Dianne M. Schwartz, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant, H & F, Inc.; and James Randolph Tomkins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant, Sellars Cremation Service, Inc.

Judge: WADE

The defendants, a funeral home and a crematory operator, arranged for and conducted a cremation at the joint request of the decedent's fiancee and his fourteen-year-old son. The decedent's mother, who claims the entitlement to have directed the disposal of his body, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee contending wrongful cremation and seeking damages under a variety of theories in tort. Three certified questions of state law have been presented to this Court for consideration. Our responses are as follows: (1) where decedent did not make a pre-mortem election for the method of disposal of his remains, a parent has a right of control superior to that of a fiancee or minor child; (2) while a minor may be an "heir" under the safe harbor provisions for crematory operators under our statute, reliance on the instructions of a minor may qualify as so reckless as to subject the operator to liability; and (3) a funeral home that merely makes arrangements for a cremation and contracts for another party to perform the cremation is not the operator of a crematory facility for purposes of the statutory safe harbor.


KOCH concurring in part, dissenting in part


Court: TWCA


Frederick R. Baker, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nielsen Bainbridge, LLC.

William A. Cameron, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Thomas Shinn.

Judge: KOCH

This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 50-6-225(e)(3) (2008) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Employee suffered a hernia as a result of his work. The trial court awarded 28.5% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. On appeal, Employer contends that the trial court erred in basing its award upon the testimony of Employee's evaluating physician. We agree, and consequently modify the judgment to 4.5% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole.



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: TCCA


Lance R. Chism (at trial and on appeal), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cortez Griffin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Reginald Henderson and Dean DeCandia, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Cortez Griffin, and two co-defendants, Marquette Milan and Preston Deener, broke into a rooming house to rob the victim, Lannie McMillan, who was fatally shot. A grand jury indicted the defendant on charges of first degree murder, felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery. A Shelby County jury found the defendant guilty of first degree felony murder, criminally negligent homicide and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the offenses of first degree felony murder and criminally negligent homicide. The trial court sentenced the defendant to life imprisonment and a concurrent sentence of twenty years for his conviction of especially aggravated robbery. The defendant has appealed raising issues which we summarize as follows: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion to suppress his statements which he asserts were not voluntary, were not made subsequent to a intelligent, knowing, and voluntary waiver of rights, were not recorded and were obtained subsequent to unlawful arrests; (2) whether the trial court erred in not granting a mistrial after a police officer testified regarding the content of a co- defendant's statement; (3) whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion to dismiss the felony murder charge; and (4) whether the trial court erred in allowing the testimony of a police officer that it was common for a defendant to minimize his or her role in a crime. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


James E. Lanier, District Public Defender; H. Tod Taylor, Assistant District Public Defender, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Randall Gene Reynolds.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Melissa Roberge, Assistant Attorney General; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; and Lance Webb, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Appellant-Defendant, Randall Gene Reynolds, pled guilty in the Circuit Court of Lake County to flagrant nonsupport of a minor child, a Class E felony. He was sentenced to five years of probation and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $13,440. Pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37, Reynolds reserved as a certified question of law the issue of whether the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the indictment. Reynolds contends the order setting child support was invalid, and therefore his failure to comply with the order cannot form the basis of prosecution. Following our review of the record, we conclude that the certified question is not dispositive of this case, and thus we lack jurisdiction to review this appeal. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.



Court: TCCA


Ryan C. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marshall William Weaver.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Janice Norman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Marshall William Weaver, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to possession of cocaine with intent to sell. Because the defendant failed to show that manifest injustice required that he be allowed to withdraw his plea, the order of the criminal court is affirmed.



Court: TCCA


Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Brian Lee Wrigglesworth.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Arthur F. Bieber, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Brian Lee Wrigglesworth, appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court's dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief on the basis that it was untimely. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that "since he was actively trying to obtain legal help with his case, an exception to the statute of limitations rule for post-conviction should be made." Upon review, we conclude that the Petitioner waived this issue because he failed to provide an adequate record. Therefore, we affirm the post-conviction court's dismissal.



Legal News
Legislative News
TBA Member Services

Judge Wohlford dies, services set for Saturday
Judge Paul R. Wohlford, judge of the Juvenile Court for City of Bristol, Tenn., since 1980, died Jan. 13. He was 69. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1964 and began practice in Bristol in 1965. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m., Jan. 16, at First Baptist Church in Bristol, Va. The family will receive friends following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to the Children's Advocacy Center of Sullivan County, P.O. Box 867, Blountville, TN 37617; C.A.S.A. for Kids, 516 Holston Ave., Bristol, TN 37620; or to a favorite charity.
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Legislative News
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Play tells the story of civil rights activist Looby
Nashville's Metro Parks and Amun Ra Theatre premiere "Signs of a New Day: The Z. Alexander Looby Story," an original play by award-winning playwright Carolyn German. The play runs Jan. 22 thruogh Feb. 6 at the Z. Alexander Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa Parks Blvd. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15; $12 for ages 14 and younger; and $12 for those in pre-paid groups of 15 or more. The play is aimed at those in middle school and older. Order tickets through brownpapertickets.com. For more information, contact Metro Parks or at 615-509-0247

Napier-Looby Bar Foundation Banquet set
The Napier-Looby Bar Foundation's 6th Annual Barristers' Banquet and Award Program will be Feb. 18 at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. Reception is at 6 p.m. with dinner and program at 7 p.m. For more information, contact William Stover or Andrea Perry

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