Senate and House Judiciary committees start work today

The first meeting of both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees today featured presentations by Memphis lawyer Brook Lathram, chair of the Advisory Commission on Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Bill Koch, who is the liaison to the commission on the court's amendments to civil, criminal, appellate and evidence rules.

In a break from the usual manner -- where all changes to one set of rules are presented through one order and one legislative resolution that approves each set -- the order and resolution that would amend TRCP 26.02 to provide for discovery of insurance agreements is being presented separately. The separate resolution, filed yesterday as SR 177, was discussed at length in the Senate committee. Other questions focused on the changes to TRCP 4 on process, TRCP 5B on electronic filing, and TN.R Crim.P 5 on initial appearances. The resolutions could be heard as early as next week by the senate committee.

Read the rules, amendments and resolutions

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Court: TSC


Michael Sneed, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

Sandy Garrett, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Board of Professional Responsibility.

Judge: CLARK

In this direct appeal of a lawyer disciplinary proceeding involving eight separate complaints, we must determine whether the trial court correctly affirmed the hearing panel's finding that attorney Michael Sneed violated numerous ethical rules and should be disbarred from the practice of law. Sneed contends that his disciplinary proceedings were procedurally unlawful because the hearing panel did not (1) conduct a prehearing conference as required by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, section 13.6, (2) authorize the filing of two supplemental petitions for discipline, or (3) allow him to call as witnesses disciplinary counsel or the Board of Professional Responsibility's executive secretary. He also asserts that the evidence does not support the hearing panel's findings of professional misconduct and that he was denied a meaningful review in the trial court because the trial court failed to properly schedule and review his appeal from the hearing panel. Finally, Sneed challenges the finding of the hearing panel and the trial court that he should be disbarred from the practice of law. After careful review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court disbarring Mr. Sneed.


Court: TCA


Randall Pierce, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kevin Jeray Amos.

Lance B. Mayes, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kimberly Yvette Amos.


In this marriage of short duration, the husband contends that the trial court erred by not dividing the property in a way that, as nearly as possible, placed the parties in the same position they would have been in had the marriage never taken place. Specifically, Husband contends that the trial court failed to take into consideration his substantial contribution to the acquisition of the marital residence. Wife also appeals the trial court's division of property asserting that the trial court should have awarded her a portion of Husband's retirement account and stocks acquired before the marriage that had grown in value during the marriage even though no contributions had been made during the marriage. We have determined that the trial court expressly noted the short duration of the marriage but failed to properly apply the relevant factors as stated in Batson v. Batson, 769 S.W.2d 849, 859 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1988) to divide the property in a way that, as nearly as possible, placed the parties in the same position they would have been had they never married. Therefore, we modify the division of the marital property and affirm the trial court in all other respects.


Court: TCA


Connie Reguli, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffrey Robert Bucaro.

Deana Hood and John M. Milazo, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Rosanne Bucaro.


Husband sought to modify his alimony payments because of a significant change in income. The trial court dismissed Husband's petition, awarded Wife a judgment for unpaid alimony, and ordered Husband to pay the judgment within ninety days. The court also denied Husband's request for the elimination of his obligation to pay his daughter's college tuition. Husband appeals the trial court's failure to reduce his alimony, its order that he pay the alimony judgment within ninety days, its failure to relieve him of his obligation to pay his daughter's tuition, and its award of attorney fees to Wife. We affirm.


Court: TCA


C. Michael Cardwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, A.G.M.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General & Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Lindsey O. Appiah, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Kelli Barr Summers, Brentwood, Tennessee, Guardian ad Litem.


Mother of three minor children appeals the termination of her parental rights. The trial court terminated Mother's parental rights on the grounds of abandonment by willful failure to support, failure to provide a suitable home, the persistence of the conditions that resulted in removal from Mother's custody, and Mother's failure to substantially comply with the permanency plan and upon the finding that termination was in the children's best interests. We affirm the trial court in all respects.


Court: TCA


Theolana D. Porter and Leonard Porter, Jr., Clarksville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

David J. Silvus and Rebecca J. Garman, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Clarksville, Clarksville Building and Codes Department.


This action arises from the issuance of stop work orders that prevented the plaintiffs from completing the construction of their new residence. The plaintiffs brought this action against the City of Clarksville and the Clarksville Building and Codes Department under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA) asserting numerous and varied claims, including claims for false statements, fraud, deception, conspiracy, discrimination, malicious harassment, coercion, and violation of due process, and requested financial damages, emotional damages, and punitive damages. The defendants filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that the action was a de facto appeal of the administrative hearing on the stop work orders and that the defendants were immune under the GTLA. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss finding that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. We affirm.


Court: TCA


Amy J. Farrar and Donald Capparella, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Aaron Benjamin Rutherford.

James E. Conley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Southern College of Optometry.


The plaintiff/appellant voluntarily withdrew from graduate school when it became certain he would not successfully remediate a previously failed course. The school permitted the student to re-enroll the following academic quarter subject to several specific conditions of readmission. The school eventually dismissed the student after it determined that he had failed to earn a "C" or better in two audited courses, which it considered a violation of the student's readmission conditions. The student filed suit following his dismissal, but not until after he entered into an agreement resolving the underlying dispute. The school counterclaimed for breach of contract, damages, and enforcement of the parties' agreement. The jury determined that (1) the school violated its policies and procedures when it dismissed the student, (2) the parties agreed to settle any differences that they may have had as set forth in the proof, and (3) neither party violated the agreement. The trial court accordingly entered judgment in favor of the school. Finding material evidence to support the jury's verdict, we affirm.


Court: TCA


Ralph O. Frazier, Jr., Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffrey Smith.

C. LeAnn Smith, John Thomas Gwin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kimberly Ann (Vaden) Smith.


After lengthy divorce proceedings and the entry of several differing parenting plans, the trial court designated the father as the primary residential parent of the two minor children, directed that the children attend the school where the mother teaches rather than in the school zone where the father resides, and ordered the mother to pay child support. The father argues on appeal that the trial court's final order contained numerous errors, including its decision to allow the children to attend school where the mother teaches. We vacate the trial court's award of child support arrearage to Father and remand for reconsideration of that issue. In all other respects, we affirm the trial court.


Court: TCCA


L. Scott Grissom, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Richard H. Green.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; and Darrel R. Julian, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The appellant, Richard H. Green, pled guilty to driving on a revoked license, second offense, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days, with 120 days to serve in jail and the remainder of his sentence to be served on probation. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred when it ordered him to serve part of his sentence in confinement. After a through review of the evidence and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgment.


Court: TCCA


Michael J. Collins, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Agatha Rannah Hodge.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Appellant Agatha Rannah Hodge was charged with fifty counts of theft and one count of burglary. She pled guilty to one count of theft of property valued between $1,000 and $10,000 and one count of burglary. The remaining charges were dismissed. She was sentenced to four years for the theft conviction and three years for the burglary conviction, with the sentences to run consecutively. The trial court ordered the Appellant to serve seven months in confinement, with the remainder to be served on probation. She subsequently pled guilty to violating the rules of her probation, and the trial court ordered her to serve her sentences in confinement. She appeals, arguing the revocation was excessive. We affirm.


Court: TCCA


Andrew Jackson Dearing, III, Assistant Public Defender, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lavon Denise Ransom.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Crawford, District Attorney General, and Michael D. Randles and Hollyn Eubanks, Assistant District Attorneys General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Lavon Denise Ransom, pled guilty in Bedford County to two counts of possession of cocaine for resale, two counts of possession of cocaine for delivery, and one count of selling cocaine. Several of the convictions were merged by the trial court, and Appellant received an effective ten-year sentence. She appeals the denial of alternative sentencing. After a review of the record, we determine that the trial court properly denied alternative sentencing where Appellant had an extensive criminal history, had failed to comply with conditions of sentences involving release into the community and confinement was needed to protect society by restraining a defendant who has a long history of criminal conduct, and to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offenses. Therefore, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Deputy Sheriff as Candidate for County Commission

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-01-26

Opinion Number: 10-08


Legal News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Judicial Nominating Commission chair resigns
The chairman of the Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission, David Bautista of Elizabethton, informed Speaker of the House Kent Williams and the Administrative Office of the Courts today that he is stepping down from his post. He cited as his reason "a myriad of other commitments" and was leaving his position on the commission effective immediately. The vacancy in the chairmanship of the commission will be filled by a current member of the board and Bautista's seat will eventually be appointed by Williams in his role as Speaker of the House. reported the news
Apply for spot on Judicial Nominating Commission
The Administrative Office of the Courts is now accepting applications for the Judicial Nominating Commission vacancy created by the resignation of Chairman David Bautista. Commission Vice Chairman Bill Young will assume Bautista's duties as chair until someone is elected. Speaker Kent Williams will select an applicant to fill the vacancy on the commission. Once appointed, the new commissioner will serve out the remainder of Bautista's term on the Commission, which expires on June 30, 2015. Applicants for this seat must be at least 30 years old, live in the Eastern Grand Division of Tennessee, and have lived in the state for at least five years. Deadline to apply is Feb. 10.
Find out more from the AOC
Boulevard Bolt helps homeless in treatment program
Promoters of the "Boulevard Bolt" -- an annual Thanksgiving Day 5-mile race/walk in Nashville -- recently presented a check to the Davidson County Mental Health Court to assist homeless participants in a residential treatment program for individuals suffering from both serious mental issues and substance abuse problems. The treatment program is a collaboration of the Davidson County Mental Health Court, presided over by Judge Dan Eisenstein, and the Davidson County Drug Court, presided over by Judge Seth Norman. The Boulevard Bolt is sponsored and organized by St. George's Episcopal Church, The Temple Congregation Ohabai Shalom and Immanuel Baptist Church, to raise funds to help the homeless in Nashville. More than 8,000 people participated in the 2009 Boulevard Bolt which raised a record amount of $185,000.

Murder victim's parents want tighter reins on lawyers
The parents of torture-slaying victim Channon Christian said today they plan to push for laws that would hold defense lawyers criminally liable for any unproven insinuations made during a trial. "If they can't prove it, they better not say it," Gary Christian said. One of trials the parents sat through included hints by defense lawyers Doug Trant and David Eldridge at drug use by the victims and suggestions they might have known the suspects before the killing.
The News Sentinel has the story
$12 million later and the roof still leaks
Although the cost of the new Hawkins County Justice Center and jail project will be around $12.5 million, on its first day open for business, the newly renovated roof leaked. "Those girls were going crazy trying to mop up leaks that sprang up through the overhead," Commissioner Danny Alvis told his fellow commissioners.
The Kingsport Times-News has the story
Gibbons part of juvenile justice working group
District Attorney General Bill Gibbons met today with U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and a national group focused on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention issues. Gibbons will be working with the juvenile re-entry working group of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The group has until December to develop a system for community-based support "for juveniles who are heading down the wrong path," Gibbons said.
The Commercial Appeal has more
Blackwood finds no ethics violations, denies motion
Attorney Jerry Summers had asked Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to reconsider his ruling in the "judge shopping" case that the case be remanded to General Sessions Court for a new preliminary hearing by a different judge. But Judge Blackwood did not find that the judges who heard it earlier -- Bob Moon and David Bales -- had violated ethics rules and therefore denied the motion to reconsider his ruling. reports
Disciplinary Actions
Supreme Court revokes license of Nashville lawyer
After disciplining Nashville lawyer Mike Sneed 13 times in the past 18 years and seeing him violate the terms of his most recent suspension on 50 different occasions, the Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order that permanently revoked his law license and found him guilty of criminal contempt. The court also ruled on Sneed's appeal. has more
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