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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.

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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.

BARRY I. CHOOK v. TASHAWN N. PIRELA JONES and KENNETH JONES

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

William E. Friedman, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant, Barry I. Chook.

Forrest R. Jenkins, Germantown, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellees, Tashawn N. Pirela Jones and Kenneth Jones.

Darryl D. Gresham and Harry W. Lebair, IV, Memphis, Tennessee for the unnamed Appellee, GEICO Indemnity Company.

Judge: KIRBY

This is an appeal of a discovery matter. The plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident with the defendants. One year and one day after the accident, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit asserting negligence. The complaint sought money damages for damage to property and personal injury. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss based on the statute of limitations. The plaintiff sought extensive discovery of the defendants' personal records. The trial court denied the plaintiff's motion to compel discovery and granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. The plaintiff now appeals. We find that the order from which the plaintiff appeals is not a final judgment. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/chookb_031710.pdf


WENDELL HARRIS and A.C. HOWELL v. MAURY COUNTY, TENNESSEE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Douglas R. Pierce and Drew Farmer, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellant, Maury County, Tennessee.

L. Bruce Peden, Columbia, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellees, Wendell Harris and A.C. Howell.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves a change in county retirement benefit plans. The county had to adopt a new retirement plan for its employees. The administrator of the new retirement plan conducted an actuarial study to determine the county's cost to join. The cost for the new plan did not credit employees' years of employment as favorably as the old plan, but had more favorable benefits in other respects. By resolution, the county legislative body appropriated the funds to cover the cost for the new plan determined by the actuarial study. Thereafter, county employees sued the county based on the wording of the resolution, alleging that the county had breached an agreement with them. The trial court found that the resolution created an enforceable contract between the county and the class of plaintiff employees and awarded judgment to the employees. The county appeals. We reverse, finding that the class of plaintiff employees did not rebut the presumption that legislation does not create contractual rights.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/harrisw_031710.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TYWAN GARCIA ARMSTRONG

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

S. Craig Moore, Fayetteville, Tennessee, attorney for appellant, Tywan Garcia Armstrong.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Tywan Garcia Armstrong, was convicted by a jury in Marshall County of (Count 1) sale of a Schedule II Controlled Substance, a Class B Felony; (Count 2) delivery of a Scheduled II Controlled Substance, a Class B felony; (Count 3) possession with the intent to sell a Schedule II Controlled Substance, a Class B felony; (Count 4) possession with the intent to deliver a Schedule II Controlled Substance, a Class B felony; and (Count 5) possession of a deadly weapon with intent to employ it in the commission of an offense, a Class E felony. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained from the search of his car; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for Counts 1, 2, and 5; and (3) the trial court erred in refusing to apply the mitigating factors submitted by the Defendant at the sentencing hearing. After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/armstrongt_031810.pdf


CHAD HOWARD BROOKS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Albert J. Newman, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, the appellant, Chad Howard Brooks.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; Leon Franks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Chad Howard Brooks, appeals the post-conviction court's dismissal of his post-conviction petition without an evidentiary hearing. After a thorough review we affirm the judgment of the post- conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/brooksc_031710.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TERRY R. CARY

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

George Morton Googe, District Public Defender, and Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); and Roger A. Staton, Jackson, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Terry R. Cary.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Terry Cary, was convicted by a Madison County jury of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class D felony, and sentenced as a career offender to twelve years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant raises the single issue of sufficiency of the evidence. Following review of the record, we affirm the judgment of conviction.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/caryt_031810.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRADLEY W. CHAPMAN
CORRECTION


Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Richard A. Spivey, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bradley W. Chapman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and Barry P. Staubus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Bradley W. Chapman, contests the Sullivan County Circuit Court's denial of alternative sentencing. The defendant pled guilty to the following: (1) in case S52,237- attempted aggravated child abuse and attempted aggravated child neglect, both Class B felonies; and (2) in case S55,040- three counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, Class B felonies; eight counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, Class C felonies; seven counts of statutory rape, Class E felonies; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. Pursuant to the agreement, he received effective sentences of ten years in each case, which were to be served consecutively, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a hearing, the court ordered that the sentences be served in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the trial court's denial of alternative sentencing, both probation and community corrections. He further asserts that the trial court committed reversible error by applying inappropriate enhancement factors, as well as by not properly balancing enhancement and mitigating factors. Following review of the record, we conclude no reversible error exists and affirm the sentences as imposed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/chapmanb_CORR_031810.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOE MARVIN ELLISON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Joseph T. Howell, Jackson, Tennessee (on appeal); and Susan D. Korsnes, Assistant Public Defender (at hearing), for the appellant, Joe Marvin Ellison.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Jody S. Pickens, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Joe Marvin Ellison, pled guilty to aggravated assault, aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and rape for an effective sentence of twenty-five years in the Department of Correction. He subsequently filed a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, which was denied by the trial court. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/ellisonj_031810.pdf


CLARENCE CARNELL GASTON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Clarence Carnell Gaston, Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Mark E. Davidson, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Clarence Carnell Gaston, appeals the trial court's denial of his petition to reopen his post-conviction petition. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court's denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Because the petitioner did not comply with the statutory requirements for seeking discretionary review of the denial of his motion, this court has no jurisdiction in this case. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/gastonc_031810.pdf


CURTIS DANIEL HART v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jeffrey L. Stimpson, Munford, Tennessee, for the appellant, Curtis Daniel Hart.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Melissa Roberge, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Tyler Burchyett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Curtis Daniel Hart, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief and contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. He was initially convicted of second degree murder, simple possession of marijuana, and simple possession of Alprazolam, a Schedule IV controlled substance, and sentenced to thirty-five years in confinement as a Range II offender. On appeal, the petitioner argues that counsel was ineffective in a variety of areas but failed to prove any of the allegations. Therefore, we affirm the judgment from the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/hartc_031810.pdf


ARTHUR PIRTLE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

S. Craig Moore, Fayetteville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Arthur Pirtle.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Bernard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Arthur Pirtle, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief by the Circuit Court for Marshall County from his conviction for possession of more than .5 grams of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class B felony. He received a sentence of twenty-seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction as a Range III, persistent offender. The petitioner argues that (1) he was denied his right to trial by jury because the trial court applied enhancement factors without a factual determination by a jury; and (2) he was denied effective assistance of counsel because trial counsel (a) failed to object to the trial court's sentencing the petitioner under the 2005 amendments to the sentencing act, (b) failed to object to the trial court's application of enhancement factors that had not been determined by a jury, and (c) failed to object to the trial court's application of an enhancement factor premised on the petitioner being on probation when the petitioner was not on probation at the time of the crimes. The post-conviction court denied relief. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/pirtlea_031810.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RICKY EUGENE SCOVILLE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Donna Orr Hargrove, District Public Defender, Lewisburg, Tennessee; Michael J. Collins, Shelbyville, Tennessee, and William J. Harold, Lewisburg, Tennessee, Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Ricky Scoville.

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

Judge: MCLIN

A Marshall County jury convicted the defendant, Ricky Eugene Scoville, of two counts of harassment. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced the defendant as a Range I, standard offender, to two years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After review of the record, the parties' briefs, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/scoviller_031810.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. HERMAN SOWELL, JR.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Gerald L. Melton, District Public Defender; Collier W. Goodlett, Assistant Public Defender, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony Fulmer.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth T. Ryan, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jennings Jones, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, Herman Sowell, Jr., appeals the dismissal of his motion requesting the trial court to modify his sentence of confinement to a suspended sentence. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in finding no change in circumstances which would justify the requested modification. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/sowellh_031810.pdf


JOBY LEE TEAL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Joby Lee Teal, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Mark E. Davidson, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Joby Lee Teal, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his "Motion for Correction of Void Judgment." The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court's dismissal pursuant to Rule 20, of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals, arguing that the petitioner's motion should be treated as a petition for writ of habeas corpus and that he failed to state a cognizable claim because he is not "imprisoned or restrained of liberty." We agree, grant the State's motion, and affirm the judgment from the trial court pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/tealj_031810.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WALTER LAVAR WRIGHT

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Donna Orr Hargrove, District Public Defender; Michael J. Collins, Assistant Public Defender; A. Jackson Dearing, Assistant Public Defender, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Walter Lavar Wright.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Defendant, Walter Lavar Wright, entered a plea of guilty in case no. 16350 to the sale of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine, and to possession of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell, both Class B felonies. Defendant entered a plea of guilty in case no. 16352 to the sale of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine, a Class B felony. Sentencing determinations in both cases were left to the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied Defendant"s request for alternative sentencing and sentenced Defendant to concurrent sentences of nine years for each of his three convictions, for an effective sentence of nine years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his request for alternative sentencing and in determining the length of his sentences. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/wrightw_031810.pdf


Establishment of New Specialty Earmarked License Plate Recognizing Catholic Charities

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-03-17

Opinion Number: 10-34

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2010/ag_10_34.pdf

TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
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Legislative News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
DA: Where did drug in Levy's possession come from?
Tennessee's Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Levy, who was arrested on felony drug possession charges in Madison County, Miss., Tuesday night, now has another investigation to worry about. Information from authorities in Mississippi indicate that perhaps evidence that belonged in Tennessee was in Mississippi with him. District Attorney Torry Johnson has requested an investigation. A TBI spokeswoman told The City Paper today that "there was a question basically of where the marijuana that he had in his possession came from."
Read the City Paper's story
Teams, judges, volunteers ready for mock trial
Fourteen teams from across Tennessee are headed to Nashville this weekend to compete in the finals of the Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition. Included are two Memphis teams featured in the Daily News today. The teams' coaches say they believe mock trial is relevant to youth even if they are not considering the law as a career. "It helps their confidence, their ability to think on their feet," St. Mary's coach and Memphis lawyer Jennifer Nichols says. Memphis attorney and veteran White Station High School coach Eugene Bernstein agrees. "The skill set you get from mock trial really helps the students acquire not only critical thinking skills, but the ability to express themselves in challenging situations." Twenty four Tennessee judges, including Chief Justice Janice M. Holder, will preside over the mock trial competition this weekend.
The AOC has more
Is it legal to be a deputy and legislator at the same time?
Three Hamblen County Sheriff's Department employees were granted unpaid leaves of absence once they decided to run for sheriff, but they have since been fired after a March 10 Attorney General's Opinion was issued. "I cannot sit back and ignore the Tennessee State Attorney General's opinion and ignore the advice of my legal counsel," Sheriff Esco Jarnigan said. WATE has more.

But in light of the opinion -- which specifically addresses situations where a deputy sheriff is running for the office of sheriff -- State Rep. Chad Faulkner is asking for more information. Faulkner, a Knox County deputy sheriff and a state legislator, is concerned because the opinion indicates the prohibition against political activity by deputies is very broad, he says. He has contacted both the Attorney General's Office and the Office of Special Counsel to seek their input, saying in a statement that he is "very concerned about doing everything legally."
The News Sentinel reports
Full-court press: Top 10 NCAA lawsuits
March Madness has the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the headlines, but if your interests reside in a different type of court action, the Business Insider Law Review offers the 10 best NCAA lawsuits. From battles over who owns "March Madness," to how much athletes and coaches should earn, the magazine offers you something to take your mind off of your failed efforts at bracketology.
Find the top 10 from Business Insider Law Review
Opinion: Get started on needed Juvenlle Court reforms now
In an opinion piece today, the Memphis Flyer says the Shelby County Commission should "proceed apace and in an unbiased manner with such overdue reforms as can bring Juvenile Court fully into the 21st century" now that the Supreme Court has ended the debate by declining Monday to hear an appeal of an appeals court decision blocking the appointment of a second Juvenile Court judge.
Read the full opinion piece
Court Web site gets new design, new address
The U.S. Supreme Court's long-awaited Web site redesign was unveiled this morning, updating what had been criticized as clunky and outdated. The Web address for the site will change from supremecourtus.gov to supremecourt.gov, but either address will provide access through July l.
The Blog of Legal Times tells you more
Court of the Judiciary
Court: Dumas must answer questions
In an order filed yesterday, the court has ordered Davidson County General Sessions Judge Gloria Dumas to comply with prosecutors' requests to produce information and answer questions related to a number of complaints made last year for "judicial offenses" that included employing her daughter as a court officer and being "persistently late in attending court sessions." Dumas has heretofore apparently refused to answer the questions. Dumas will have to answer nearly all of the requests and interrogatives made by the prosecutors, except for the ones related to her family. NashvillePost.com reported the news.
Access this and related orders from the AOC
Legislative News
Track legislation of interest to Tennessee attorneys
The TBA Action List tracks bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in. This means it has either initiated the legislation, taken a postiion on the bill or has a policy on the issue. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.
TBA Bill Tracking Service
Disciplinary Actions
Attorney censured
Clinton Eugene Hagaman received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court on March 17 for violating Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(c) (Misconduct Involving Misrepresentation and Deception).
Download the BPR release
Arizona attorney disbarred
The Supreme Court of Tennessee on March 8 disbarred Christopher Lawrence May of Arizona pursuant to Section 17 of Rule 9 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court, for conduct in violation of his duties and obligations as a lawyer, and was ordered to pay a total of $8,400 in restitution to four people. The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for reciprocal discipline with the court after the Supreme Court of Arizona entered an order disbarring May from the practice of law effective June 29, 2009.
Download the BPR release
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Get Connected: Sign up for TBA Connect today
Join several hundred of your colleagues who have already joined in to the TBA's Social Networking platform for members called TBA Connect. This service provides many of the same features of mainstream sites such as Linked In or Facebook, but access is limited to members of the Tennessee Bar Association and approved guests.
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Keep up with news from the Tennessee legal community throughout the day.
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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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