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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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
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TORREY L. FRAZIER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Jeffery Scott Griswold, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Torrey L. Frazier.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Matthew Bryant Haskell and Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorneys General; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Frank A. Harvey, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

Upon his conviction for second-degree murder and affirmance by the Court of Criminal Appeals, the petitioner, represented by retained counsel, filed a post-conviction petition asserting several different grounds for relief. The State conceded that the trial court should grant a delayed appeal for the purpose of filing an application for permission to appeal to this Court. In accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 28, the remaining issues were stayed. When this Court denied permission to appeal, retained counsel continued to represent the petitioner throughout the evidentiary hearing as to the various claims of ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. The trial court denied relief, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. We granted the application for permission to appeal to consider the question of conflict of interest. Because the petitioner is entitled to conflict-free counsel under the Post- Conviction Procedure Act of 1995 as augmented by Supreme Court Rules 28 and 8, the cause is remanded for a determination of whether the petitioner had knowingly and voluntarily waived that right. If not, he is entitled to substitution of counsel, the opportunity to amend the petition, and a new evidentiary hearing on all issues presented.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2010/fraziert_021810.pdf


IN RE: EMMA E.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Michelle Blaylock Howser, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rachel Smith Ferrell.

Trisha Lewis Henegar, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Greg Embry.

Judge: FARMER

This case concerns the allocation of parental responsibility between two unmarried parents of a minor child. Prior to trial, the father's attorney acknowledged removing a set of confidential records from the court clerk's office in violation of a qualified protective order. The juvenile court declined to hold the father's attorney in contempt and later admitted the records over the objection of the mother's counsel. At trial, the court treated the father's petition for change of custody as an original petition to establish residential parenting time. The court designated the mother primary residential parent, awarded the parties equal parenting time, granted the parties joint decision-making authority over all major life decisions, and ordered the mother to pay the father child support. The mother appeals. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/emmae_021810.pdf


JOHANNA L. GONSEWSKI v. CRAIG W. GONSEWSKI

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Edward J. Gross, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Johanna L. Gonsewski.

William L. Moore, Jr., Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Craig W. Gonsewski.

Judge: CLEMENT

The wife in this divorce action contends the trial court erred in the division of the marital property, in denying her request for alimony, and in denying her request to recover her attorney's fees. We have determined the wife is in need of and the husband has the ability to pay alimony in futuro, in the amount of $1,250 per month, and that she is entitled to recover attorney's fees. We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the trial court regarding alimony in futuro and remand the issue of attorney's fees, leaving it to the discretion of the trial court to determine an amount that is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances of this case. We affirm the trial court in all other respects.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/gonsewskij_021810.pdf


ARLENE R. STARR v. PAUL B. HILL, SR., and PAUL B. HILL, JR.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

S. Newton Anderson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Arlene R. Starr

Kirk A. Caraway, Heather W. Fletcher, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Paul B. Hill, Sr.

Judge: HIGHERS

After Plaintiff was injured in a car accident, she filed suit against the minor who was driving the other vehicle and against the minor's father, alleging that he was vicariously liable for the acts of his son pursuant to the family purpose doctrine. Father moved for summary judgment, claiming that the undisputed facts showed that the family purpose doctrine was inapplicable as a matter of law. Plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment, claiming that the family purpose doctrine was applicable as a matter of law. The trial court denied Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment and granted summary judgment to Father. Plaintiff appeals. We reverse and remand for entry of an order granting Plaintiff's motion, as we find the family purpose doctrine applicable to this case.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/starra_021810.pdf


WILLIE WASH v. CORRECTIONAL CORPORATION OF AMERICA, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Willie Wash, Whiteville, Tennessee, pro se.

No Brief filed on behalf of the appellee.

Judge: HIGHERS

Appellant filed a complaint alleging various causes of action against numerous defendants. The trial court dismissed his complaint for failure to comply with the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. section 41-21-801, et seq. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/washw_021810.pdf


WARREN CURNUTT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

M. Wallace Coleman, Jr., Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Warren Curnutt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General, and Christy Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Warren Curnutt, was convicted of two counts of rape of a child. See State v. Warren Curnutt, No. M2006-00552-CCA-R3-CD, 2007 WL 1482390, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, May 22, 2007). As a result, he was sentenced to an effective sentence of thirty years. On direct appeal, this Court upheld Petitioner's convictions. Id. Petitioner subsequently sought post-conviction relief, arguing that the trial court and State erred in various aspects during trial and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition for relief. Petitioner seeks a review of the post-conviction court's decision. After a review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/curnuttw_021810.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBERT DALE JARVIS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Dorothy D. Buck, Fayetteville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Dale Jarvis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Mike McCown, District Attorney General, and Hollyn Eubanks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

The Lincoln County Grand Jury indicted Appellant, Robert Dale Jarvis, for a total of twenty-one counts including aggravated burglary, theft over $500, theft over $1,000, and vandalism. Appellant pled guilty to two counts of theft over $500 and five counts of theft over $1,000. As a result of the guilty plea, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of twelve years to be served as a career offender at sixty percent. At the guilty plea hearing, the parties discussed the reservation of a certified question upon which Appellant wanted to appeal. On appeal, after a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Appellant has not properly preserved the certified question of law. Therefore, we must dismiss this appeal for want of jurisdiction.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/jarvisr_021810.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RONNIE LEE JOHNSON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

John Wayne Allen (on appeal and at trial), E. J. Mackie, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Ronnie Lee Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Anthony J. Craighead, Interim District Attorney General; and Beth E. Willis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

A Putnam County jury found the defendant, Ronnie Lee Johnson, guilty of possession with intent to sell or deliver over 0.5 grams of cocaine, a Class B felony, and simple possession of dihydrocodeinone, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a multiple offender to seventeen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction for the first count, to be served consecutively to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the second count. On appeal, the defendant contends that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the trial court erred by refusing to order the state to disclose a confidential informant, (3) the warrantless search of defendant's house violated his constitutional rights, and (4) he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/johnsonr_021810.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SHEILA MARIE LOTT

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Derek A. Artrip, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sheila Marie Lott.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Crawford, District Attorney General, and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

The Bedford County Grand Jury indicted Appellant, Sheila Lott, for eight counts of criminal simulation, one count of theft over $1,000, and one count of fraudulent use of credit/debit card. Appellant pled guilty to all charges as set out in the indictments. The trial court sentenced Appellant as a Range II, multiple offender to an effective sentence of eighteen years and six months. On appeal, Appellant argues that the trial court erred in setting the length of her sentences within the range and in imposing consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the trial court correctly applied enhancement and mitigating factors and that Appellant has waived her issue regarding the imposition of consecutive sentences for failure to include an argument or cite to authority in her brief. Therefore, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/lotts_021810.pdf


CHARLES J. MILLER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Joseph E. Ford, for the appellant, Charles J. Miller.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steven M. Blount, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Charles J. Miller, pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense, on February 27, 2006, and pled guilty to felony failure to appear on June 28, 2006. He received a total of three and a half years of probation for both offenses. The circuit court revoked his probation on December 12, 2006, based on new criminal conduct. The petitioner did not directly appeal the revocation of his probation. He filed a petition for post-conviction relief on November 16, 2007, and later amended the petition to include a request for a delayed appeal. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the post-conviction court's dismissal.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/millerc_021810.pdf


ALFONZO PECK v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Benjamin L. McGowan, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Alfonzo Peck.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and William H. Hall, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Alfonzo T. Peck, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court's dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. He was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated rape, and sentenced as a repeat violent offender to two concurrent terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. On appeal, the petitioner claims he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. Upon review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/pecka_021810.pdf


CHARLES G. SUMMERS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE, JAMES FORTNER, WARDEN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Michael T. Fort, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles G. Summers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; and T. Michael Bottoms, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Charles G. Summers, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus relief. The habeas corpus court found that the petitioner's escape conviction was void and remanded the case for resolution of that conviction. The petitioner appeals the habeas corpus court's failure to set aside his entire plea agreement. Following a review of the record, the parties' briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the habeas court's judgment and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/summersc_021810.pdf


Vendors' Contractual Rights Under the State and Federal Constitutions

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-02-18

Opinion Number: 10-14

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2010/ag_10_14.pdf

TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
TBA in the News
Politics
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Cookeville courtroom evacuated in bomb threat
A courtroom in the Putnam County Justice Center was evacuated yesterday morning after someone phoned in a bomb threat. Deliberations occurring in General Sessions court were brought to a halt as all present vacated the building. Several hours later the local sheriff announced the coast was clear.
Read more in the Herald-Citizen
Public defender: I'm too busy to hire staff
Hamilton County Public Defender Ardena Garth told General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon on Wednesday that she has been too busy going to court in place of missing staff members to interview replacements. Garth had asked for a 30-day reprieve on her office handling certain cases because of staff falloff. But Moon questioned why Garth took time to attend a Black history celebration and an out-of-town conference at a time when the court had a number of serious cases for which no public defender was available.
Chattanoogan.com reports
Appeal of 'judge shopping' case sought
Chattanooga attorney Jerry Summers has filed a motion seeking permission to appeal a ruling from Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood that he would not reconsider the case of one of Summer's clients. Summers argues that findings in the Hamilton County "judge shopping" case should have resulted in dismissal of an indictment against his client.
Read more on Chattanoogan.com
Lawyers see bankruptcy, litigation boom coming
Nearly one in three lawyers see bankruptcy and foreclosure as the practice areas that will experience the most growth in the next three months, according to a poll released Wednesday by California-based Robert Half Legal. Other growth areas according to practioners include litigation, labor and employment, intellectual property, ethics, and corporate governance. The survey included responses from 300 attorneys in the largest law firms and corporations in the United States and Canada.
Learn more in the Nashville Business Journal
Legislative News
Ophelia Ford returns to Senate
State Sen. Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis, rejoined her colleagues yesterday after being absent from the legislature because of an illness. Ford took the Senate floor Wednesday to thank lawmakers for their prayers and report that doctors gave her a "100 percent good bill of health." Ford, 59, missed the legislature's special session on education reform last month due to flulike symptoms that resulted in hospitalization.
The Memphis Daily News reports
TBA in the News
Law student award winner profiled
The Memphis Daily News yesterday carried an interview with University of Memphis law school student Diana Comes, who was named the state's law student volunteer of the year by the TBA in January. Comes, a 2L working as a judicial extern for U.S. Magistrate Judge Tu M. Pham, was honored for working 280 volunteer hours with Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS). She got involved in women's advocacy as an undergraduate student -- an experience that led her to apply to law school.
Read the Law Talk column
Politics
Councilman to seek court clerk post
Metro Nashville Councilman Michael Craddock announced today that he has qualified to run for Davidson County Criminal Court clerk in the May 4 Democratic primary. Craddock is taking on the incumbent clerk, David Torrence, who was first elected in 1994 to succeed his own father, Joe Torrence.
Read more from the Tennessean's political blog
11 file for Metro Juvenile Court clerk
Eleven candidates filed papers to run for Davidson County Juvenile Court clerk before the noon deadline today. In what will be a widely watched local race, current clerk Vic Lineweaver, a Democrat, will square off against seven others in the May 4 Democratic primary: Metro Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite, school board member Karen Johnson, David Smith, Jeff Brousal, Patricia Courts, Howard E. Jones Jr. and Jeff Crum. Three candidates, meanwhile, will be competing as Republicans for the office: Metro Councilman Eric Crafton, Annette Crim and April Pennington.
Read more in the Nashville City Paper
TBA Member Services
Let JobLink help you with your next career move
A career service for Tennessee attorneys and law students, TBA JobLink is a job seeking and recruitment tool available at no charge. Whether you have a position to fill or are seeking employment, this site will guide you through a simple process to post your information.
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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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