Bar Foundation announces IOLTA awards

The Tennessee Bar Foundation recently announced awards from the Interest On Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program to 56 law-related organizations. The recipients are headquartered in 28 communities around the state and awards range from $1,000 to $225,000 for a total of $1 million. This year's awards support organizations in Tennessee that provide direct legal services to the indigent or seek to improve the administration of justice. More than $16.8 million has been distributed since the program's inception.

Download the list of recipients

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.

00 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
02 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR

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.


Court: TCA


Jason Sherwood, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Mary M. Bers, Senior Counsel, for appellee, Cheryl Blackburn.


This is an appeal from the trial court's dismissal of the Appellant's petition for writ of mandamus for failure to state a claim. Because the Appellant failed to timely file his notice of appeal, this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over this appeal. Accordingly, we dismiss.

LAURA WILBURN, as the Personal Representative of SON JONES, Deceased v. CITY OF MEMPHIS

Court: TCA


Walter Lee Bailey, Jr., Memphis, TN, for the appellant, Laura Wilburn

Roane Waring, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Memphis.


Decedent was struck and killed by an on-duty City of Memphis police officer while attempting to cross the street. The trial court awarded $7,500.00 in a wrongful death award. Decedent's personal representative appeals, seeking an increased award. We affirm.


Court: TCCA


Mark C. Scruggs, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph Brennan.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence R. Whitley, District Attorney General; and Sallie Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Joseph Brennan, was charged with two counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and two counts of incest, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. sections 39-13-522(b)(1), -15-302(b). He pleaded guilty to two counts of incest and two counts of attempted rape of a child, a Class B felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-12-107(a). In accordance with his plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant, as a Range I, standard offender, to ten years for each attempted rape of a child conviction and three years for each incest conviction, his sentences for attempted rape of a child to be served consecutively to each other and concurrent with his incest sentences, for a total effective sentence of twenty years. Following the Defendant's sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered service of his full sentence in the Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying him a sentence of split confinement. After our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Michael A. Colavecchio, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bruce Elliot.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and John Zimmerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Davidson County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Bruce Elliot, of conspiracy to possess 300 grams or more of cocaine, see T.C.A. section 39-17-417(j)(5) (2006); possession of 300 grams or more of cocaine, see id. section 39-17-417(j)(5); possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, see id. section 39-17-1307(b)(1)(a); possession of one-half ounce or more of marijuana, see id. section 39-17-417(g)(1); conspiracy to deliver 300 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, see id. section 39-17-417(j)(5), -432; and money laundering, see id. section 39-14-903. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of 66 years' incarceration. In this appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, argues that the trial court should not have permitted a State's witness to testify regarding "drug jargon," contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence seized during a search of the defendant's apartment, and claims various errors in his sentencing. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Robert Wilson Jones, District Public Defender; William Robilio, Cliff Abeles (at trial), and Barry W. Kuhn, Assistant Public Defenders, attorneys for the appellant, Vincent Hunt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Melissa Roberge, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; Ray Lepone and Paul Hagerman, Assistant District Attorneys General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Vincent Hunt, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of premeditated first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life plus forty years to be served in the custody of the Department of Correction. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) the trial court erred in its application of enhancement factors in arriving at the forty-year sentence for the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction and in ordering the sentence to be served consecutively to the sentence of life imprisonment for the first degree murder conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Steve Carl King.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Patrick Butler and Richard Dunavant, District Attorneys General; Jeff Burks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Giles County jury convicted the Defendant, Steve Carl King, of attempted first degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-two years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal the Defendant contends: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court erred when it admitted statements the Defendant gave to Illinois police; (3) the trial court erred when it allowed two witnesses to testify although the State had failed to disclose their existence in accordance with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 16; and (4) the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant's petition for a writ of error coram nobis based on the victim's recanted testimony. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgments.


Court: TCCA


Dedrick Lamont Patton, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William Whitesell, District Attorney General; and Trevor Lynch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Following a bench trial, the Petitioner, Dedrick Lamont Patton, was convicted of one count of possession with intent to sell twenty-six grams or more of cocaine, a Class B felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-17-417(i)(5). On January 5, 2009, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging a number of grounds. A hearing was held on this petition on June 15, 2009. The post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief in an order dated June 18, 2009. The Petitioner now appeals, contending that the post-conviction court erred in denying him relief because: (1) the post-conviction court, which also served as the Petitioner's trial court, and the post-conviction Assistant District Attorney, who also served as Assistant District Attorney at the Petitioner's trial, failed to recuse themselves; (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial; (3) the State failed to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense; (4) the trial court committed judicial misconduct; (5) the trial court, Assistant District Attorney, and trial counsel colluded against the Petitioner in violation of his rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; and (6) the cumulative effect of these errors denied the Petitioner his right to a fair trial. After our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Legal News
Legislative News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA in the News
Your Practice
TBA Member Services

Legal News
February bar exam results now available
The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners has released the list of candidates who successfully passed the February 2010 bar examination.
See the results of the February Bar Exam now
What Stevens' retirement may mean to the court
In an unsurprising move, nearly 90-year-old Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has made it official that he will retire. Stevens wrote to President Obama this morning, saying he will retire at the end of the court's term, which typically concludes in late June. The National Law Journal looks at Stevens' tenure on the court and what the future might hold. National Law Journal has launched a blog, titled Speaking of Stevens where a panel of top experts and advocates will discuss Stevens' legacy, his possible successor, and the future of the Supreme Court.

Other perspectives on Stevens' retirement are available from the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog and the online ABA Journal.

Covington lawyer Brasfield dies in car crash
Covington attorney Duke Harris Brasfield, 62, died this afternoon in a one-car crash about 40 miles northeast of downtown Memphis. Brasfield was the husband of 25th Judicial District Chancery Court Chancellor Martha Brasfield.
The Commercial Appeal reports
Deportation risk another consequence of guilty plea
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling has made lawyers responsible for advising clients who aren't citizens that criminal convictions can lead to deportation. Any non-citizen convicted of a any crime within the first five years of entering the country can be deported, said Sean Lewis, a Nashville immigration lawyer. Lewis will explain the details in an online seminar, The Padilla Decision: What Every Criminal Attorney Should Know," April 19. "I think the general tenor is, 'Oh great, now I have got to become an immigration attorney, too,'" Metro Nashville public defender Dawn Deaner said. "But the reality is, I think the court did what had to be done.
Read more about it in the Tennessean
Davis' death penalty overturned
Judge J. Randall Wyatt Jr. has overturned the death penalty sentence of Christopher Davis, convicted of murdering two men in February 1996, and granted him a new sentencing hearing. Wyatt says he found that a previous conviction may have harmed Davis' chances of a fair sentence in a subsequent case. Wyatt wrote that while there wasn't enough proof to overturn Davis' convictions, the death sentence should be overturned and a new sentencing hearing set.
The City Paper tells you more
Legislative News
Bill would mean longer sentences, but at what cost?
A Tennessean editorial this week supports a bill proposed by State Rep. Gary Odom and Sen. Douglas Henry, both D-Nashville, that would increase the percentage of sentence for a first-time aggravated robbery conviction to 74 percent. Currently, people convicted of aggravated robbery are routinely eligible for release from prison after serving 30 percent of their sentences. Odom included a provision to let people convicted of nonviolent property crimes avoid incarceration and go instead through community correction and probation programs, which would presumably open up cells for those doing hard time.

In a guest column, District Attorney General Kim Helper agrees, saying that "with Tennessee ranked No. 5 in a recent listing of the most dangerous states in the country, we need to keep our most violent offenders off of our streets for as long as possible."

In a separate column, Nashville lawyer David Raybin points out that -- although proponents say that "trading" bed space will not cost the state money -- it is more complicated than that. "The overwhelming majority of these folks have extensive criminal records, which is why the judge tossed them in jail in the first place."

Disciplinary Actions
Shelby County lawyer suspended
On March 26, the Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an order suspending Shelby County attorney Darren James Scoggins from the practice of law. On Jan. 21, the Criminal Court of Davidson County filed a final order upon the entry of Scoggins' plea of guilty to false imprisonment, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon. Section 14 of Supreme Court Rule 9 provides for the immediate suspension of an attorney's law license where an attorney who is a defendant in a criminal case involving a serious crime has entered a plea of guilty.
Download the BPR release
TBA in the News
Kingsport YLD to provide 'Wills for Heroes' tomorrow
WCYB News reports that on Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club in Kingsport the Young Lawyers Division of the Tennessee Bar Association is hosting "Wills for Heroes." Ten volunteer attorneys, with help from area notaries, will provide free wills and other estate planning documents from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Nobel laureate to speak on civility and justice
Author, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel will be the concluding speaker in Vanderbilt Law School's year-long examination of civility and justice. Tickets for the April 12 event are free, but must be picked up in advance at the Sarratt Student Center.
Find out more
Your Practice
New app for Droid phones
The first Thomson Reuters, Legal app for the Motorola Droid smart phone is now available. It's a version of the West app featuring the complete and organized text of the United States Constitution.
Read more from the LegalCurrent blog
TBA Member Services
Unlimited free online legal research for TBA members
Other associations may offer you a discount for online legal research, but only the TBA gives it to you FREE with your membership. As a TBA member, you have free access to Fastcase, a leading online legal research firm offering a benefit that is national in scope with unlimited usage, unlimited customer service and unlimited printing. And it all comes AT NO COST to TBA members.
Access Fastcase now

Discontinue your TBA Today subscription? ... Surely not!
But if you must, visit the TBALink web site at:

Questions, comments: Email us at

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.

© Copyright 2010 Tennessee Bar Association