Bar-backed bills advance

Two bills that are TBA initiatives, and two other bills backed by the TBA advanced this week in legislative action. The TBA-initiated bills raise the personal property exemption from execution for the first time since 1981 from $4,000 to $10,000 (HB3035 by Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, and SB3771 by Sen. Dewayne Bunch, R-Cleveland) and allow courts to reform wills to meet tax objectives (HB3036 by Dennis and SB2875 by Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville). Both moved out of the House Judiciary Committee's Civil Practice Subcommittee with no dissent.

Two other bills, which were initiated by the bankers association but have bar backing, also cleared their first legislative hurdles this week. SB3522 by Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, (HB3861 by Rep. Kent Coleman, D-Murfreesboro) makes conforming changes to the Uniform Principal and Income Act and the Uniform Trust Code. It passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee. SB3045 by Overbey (HB3862 by Coleman) addresses the intention of wills or trusts which contemplated the existence of the expired federal estate tax. It received unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Track these and other bills of interest to Tennessee attorneys

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Court: TWCA


Stanley A. Davis, Nashville, Tennessee for the appellant, Keith Brooks.

Terry L. Hill and Lauren S. Disspayne, Nashville, Tennessee for the appellee, Paccar, Inc.


This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee filed an action in Chancery Court. He later filed a notice of voluntary nonsuit and immediately refiled his action in Circuit Court. An order dismissing the Chancery Court action was filed several days later. The employer moved to dismiss the Circuit Court action, noting that the Chancery Court action was still pending at the time the Circuit Court action was filed. The Circuit Court granted the motion. Employee has appealed, contending that the trial court erred in its interpretation of Tenn. R. Civ. P. 41. We affirm the judgment.


Court: TWCA


Michael Gigandet, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dixie Motors, Inc.

Jeffrey S. Strickland, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gloria Kazeleski.


This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The plaintiff, Gloria Kazeleski, was involved in an automobile accident, and sought workers' compensation benefits from defendant Dixie Motors, Inc. Dixie Motors contended that she was not its employee, but an independent contractor. The trial court ruled that she was an employee, and awarded benefits, including 100% permanent disability of the left arm. The defendant has appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by finding that plaintiff was its employee. We conclude that she was an independent contractor, and reverse the judgment.


Court: TCA


Jason L. Huskey, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terry E.

Cynthia Cheatham, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brandy V.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Lauren S. Lamberth, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children's Services.


Mother appeals the termination of parental rights to her child, asserting that the Department of Children's Services failed to exercise reasonable efforts to assist her in complying with the requirements of the permanency plans entered into as a result of the adjudication that the child was dependent and neglected. Father appeals the termination of his parental rights, asserting that the trial court erred in holding that it would allow a negative inference if Father refused to testify, in finding that Father committed domestic violence against Mother and in finding that Father had the capacity to comply but did not substantially comply with the permanency plans. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; James B. Dunn, Jr., District Attorney General; and Tonya D. Keith, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellant, State of Tennessee.

M. Jeffrey Whitt, Knoxville, Tennessee, attorney for appellee, Monty Blackwell.


Following the warrantless search of his residence and adjoining property, the Defendant, Monty Blackwell, was charged by presentment from the Grainger County grand jury with manufacture of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia related to the manufacture of marijuana, possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, theft of property valued at over one thousand dollars, and theft of property valued at over five hundred dollars. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress all evidence seized as a result of the warrantless entry onto his property. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted the motion and suppressed the evidence. In this appeal as of right, the State contends that the trial court erred in granting the motion to suppress. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Clifford L. Farra, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Clifford L. Farra, appeals pro se from the Johnson County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. He was originally convicted of six drug-related offenses, which were brought under counts ten through fifteen of the presentment. On appeal, the petitioner claims these counts were duplicitous. He also contends the jury verdicts lacked unanimity. Upon review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.


Legal News
Disciplinary Actions
Career Opportunities
TBA Member Services

Legal News
17 apply for Judicial Commission vacancy
The Administrative Office of the Courts announced this afternoon that 17 individuals have applied for the Judicial Nominating Commission vacancy created by the resignation of David Bautista. Members of the public have 14 days to comment on the applicants with all comments due by 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 24. Once comments have been received, Tennessee House of Representatives Speaker Kent Williams will have 14 days to fill the vacancy. The new commissioner will serve out the remainder of Bautista's term, which expires on June 30, 2015.
View the list of applicants and information about each candidate
Additional motions filed in Dumas case
In advance of next week's hearing in the case of Davidson County General Sessions Judge Gloria Dumas, the Board of Professional Responsibility filed two additional motions with the Court of the Judiciary. The motions compel Dumas to answer discovery, and request that certain facts be deemed admitted.
Download these or other filings from the AOC
ABA to cut dues for lawyers outside of big firms
The American Bar Association announced yesterday that it's cutting the cost of dues for solo practitioners, government lawyers, judges, and attorneys working for nonprofits as part of an effort to respond to lawyers' differing financial circumstances and the effects of the economic downturn. The new dues structure will cut costs in half for these lawyers and will take effect in May. The association is also creating a new installment payment that will be offered in August. has this story from The National Law Journal
No primary, possible caucuses for chancellor's seat
The Hamilton County Election Commission announced today there would be no primary election to replace Chancellor Howell Peoples, who is retiring at the end of March. Because Gov. Phil Bredesen does not plan to issue a writ of election until after Peoples vacates the seat, county officials say it will be too late to add the seat to the ballot. Therefore, election officials are encouraging political parties to hold caucuses if they want to nominate a candidate. has the story
County seeks clerk ruling
Dickson County officials have decided to seek a court opinion on how its General Sessions Court clerk position should be filled, rather than wait for an opinion from the state attorney general. The current appointment process, which the county has been using for more than 40 years, has been called into question because the state constitution requires the clerk to be elected by voters. In 1965, however, the legislature passed a law allowing the local judge to appoint the clerk. The outcome of the dispute will determine whether the position will be added to the ballot for the Aug. 5 election.
Read more in the Dickson Herald
Attorney-client dispute ends in replacement of counsel
An attorney-client dispute over evidentiary standards, how much time a lawyer should spend with his client and allegations the attorney "sold out" to the district attorney, has led to replacement of a court-appointed counsel for a murder defendant. Trouble between the defendant and lawyer developed when the client wanted to file certain motions, which the attorney said had no factual basis. It continued with the client's claim that counsel did not spend enough time on his case. And it ended with the client filing a BPR complaint against the lawyer.
Learn more about the case from the Johnson City Press
Paris-Henry Bar elects new president
The Paris-Henry County Bar Association recently elected Beth F. Belew as its new president. Belew works at the firm of Ainley, Hoover, Clark & Hoover in Paris.

Appeals court upholds Memphis lawyer's sentence
A Memphis lawyer serving a 22-year state prison sentence for stealing more than $1.5 million from his firm and clients got little sympathy from the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals this week. John Houser Parker, who admitted he stole the money, had argued that his sentence was too harsh. The court disagreed, saying the size of the theft and the level of harm caused justified the sentence. Parker was a partner with a firm of Rossie, Luckett, Parker & Ridder. He was suspended from the practice of law in 2004 and disbarred in 2006.
Read more from the Memphis Commercial Appeal
Former state rep. dies
Former Republican state Rep. Joe Kent, who represented parts of East Memphis and Germantown in the state House of Representatives from 1978 through 2004, died yesterday. He was 72 years old. Prior to joining the legislature, Kent was a career Memphis police officer, president of the Memphis Police Association and lobbyist for the union. After leaving office he joined Farris Mathews Bobango Public Strategies, the government-relations subsidiary of the Memphis-based law firm Farris Mathews Branan Bobango Hellen & Dunlap.
The Commercial Appeal has this review of Kent's career
Event remembers civil rights movement in Nashville
Civil rights leader Rev. James Lawson will join a panel on Feb. 12 to discuss local media coverage of the early civil rights movement in Nashville. The event, sponsored by the NAACP and the First Amendment Center, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the sit-ins that led to desegregation of lunch counters in May 1960. After the lecture, guests are invited to view the documentary "A Force More Powerful" -- an award-winning film about the impact of nonviolent protest. The panel discussion will begin at 3 p.m. at the John Seigenthaler Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University. Admission is free but attendees are encouraged to reserve seats by calling (615) 727-1333.
Read more about the event in the Nashville City Paper
Disciplinary Actions
Two lawyers reinstated
Nathan William Conrey of Old Hickory and Clay Spencer Nails of Corinth, Miss., have been reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee after complying with requirements for continuing legal education. Conrey was suspended on Aug. 26, 2008. Nails was suspended on Aug. 31, 2009.

Career Opportunities
Law firm seeks 2L clerk
The Mississippi-based law firm of Sparkman-Zummach-Perry PC is seeking a 2L summer law clerk for its west Tennessee office. The successful candidate will be a self-starter and hard worker, and able to exercise ethical decision-making. Past business, military or professional experience is preferred. The position has the potential of becoming a full time, permanent job. Submit resumes to the firm at P.O. Box 266, Southaven, MS 38671.
Learn more about the position on JobLink
TBA Member Services
Secure, compliant data backup service now available
The TBA's official data protection, backup and recovery vendor of choice, i365, offers secure online backup solutions. i365 minimizes downtime by backing up files quickly and easily, and helps lawyers remain compliant by maintaining file integrity. Get i365 and be confident your data is securely stored and protected. TBA members enjoy a 10 percent savings on all services. For more information on this member benefit Denise Lucas at (407) 523-9774.
Learn why lawyers trust i365 for online data backup solutions

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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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