Legal hotline established for flood victims

A toll-free legal assistance line will be available starting Friday at 9 a.m. for victims of recent storms and flooding in 21 counties that to date have been designated as federal disaster areas. The service, which allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer, is a partnership between the Tennessee Bar Association, local bar associations and legal organizations in the state. Victims facing legal issues may call (888) 395-9297 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. central time Monday through Friday to request assistance. Messages can be left at any time. Callers should identify that they are seeking flood-related legal assistance. Victims who qualify for assistance will be matched with Tennessee lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal help.

Volunteer to help or learn more about recovery efforts

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Court: TCA


Stewart M. Crane, Loudon, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Bethany Christian Services of East Tennessee.

Timothy W. Hudson, Bristol, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Rickie T.


This is an appeal from the Trial Court's refusal to terminate the parental rights of Rickie T. ("Father") to his one year old daughter, Anna S. (the "Child"). In June 2008, Rebecca S. ("Mother") became pregnant with the Child. Several months before the Child was born, Mother terminated all communication with Father, notwithstanding Father's numerous attempts to remain in contact with Mother. Shortly after Mother gave birth, she saw Father's sister at a store and told her that she, i.e. Mother, had suffered a miscarriage. In reality, Mother had given the Child up for adoption through Bethany Christian Services of East Tennessee ("Bethany Christian"). Mother also had lied to Bethany Christian and, because of this deception, Bethany Christian was unaware of Father's true identity. Father learned that Mother had given birth to the Child after reading a Notice in the local newspaper stating that Bethany Christian had filed a petition to terminate parental rights and that his parental rights were about to be terminated. Father immediately notified Bethany Christian of his existence and retained counsel. Based on stipulated facts, Bethany Christian and Father filed competing motions for summary judgment. The Trial Court granted Father's motion after finding that there was no clear and convincing evidence of grounds to terminate his parental rights. Bethany Christian appeals, and we affirm.


Court: TCA


Hugh P. Garner, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellants, James W. Gentry, Jr., and Margaret A. Gentry.

John P. Konvalinka, Charles G. Fisher, and Joseph W. Dickson, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Todd Clark McCain and Christy McCain.

Phillip A. Noblett and Patrick P. H. Bobo, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Chattanooga.


James W. Gentry, Jr., Margaret A. Gentry ("the Gentrys"), Paul Mallchok, and Lowrance Mallchok sued Todd Clark McCain, Christy McCain ("the McCains"), and the City of Chattanooga ("the City") seeking, in part, a declaration of ownership with regard to a right-of-way known as Manchester Avenue, and a restraining order preventing the McCains from entering the right-of-way. After a hearing, the Trial Court denied the Gentrys' request for a temporary injunction to bar the McCains and the City from the right-of-way and further held that Manchester Avenue had been dedicated, the City had accepted the dedication, the City had never formally abandoned the portion of Manchester Avenue at issue in this case, and that the City held title to the Manchester Avenue right-of-way as a public right-of-way. The Gentrys appeal to this Court claiming that the Trial Court erred in denying them title to the Manchester Avenue right-of-way. We affirm.


Court: TCCA


Claiborne H. Ferguson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Johnathan Norman.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy P. Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Walter C. (Chris) Scruggs, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Johnathan Norman, appeals the trial court's denial of his motion to withdraw guilty pleas that he entered to charges of (1) being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, a Class E felony, and (2) unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), a Class A misdemeanor. After careful review, we conclude that the defendant's motion to withdraw his pleas was not timely, and we affirm the judgments from the trial court.


Legal News
Flood Impact
Legislative News
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Stevens: Elected, life-tenure judges see things differently
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens told judges and lawyers in the federal Sixth Circuit on Wednesday that giving judges life tenure is a better idea than letting voters pick them. He recalled that as a federal appellate judge in the 1970s, he voted to overturn a conviction upheld by an elected state supreme court. "I remember thinking, 'I have life tenure,'" Stevens said, and could not be punished for casting an unpopular vote. "It's a case I've thought about a great deal," he said, as illustrating "a contrast between the way elected judges" and life-tenured judges look at certain issues. The Wall Street Journal blog has the story. Find out more about Stevens in several interviews, including his stance on the death penalty, why senators shouldn't question judicial nominees' views, and why he wears bow ties,
Gilman to address U of M graduating law class
The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will hold its graduation Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. Judge Ronald Lee Gilman of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will address the 115 members of the 2010 class.

Memphis's Judge Pugh to retire
Shelby County General Sessions Criminal Court Judge Ann Pugh has announced she will retire May 31. Pugh began her service as a judge Sept. 5, 1978. She said she originally planned to wait until August to retire, but learned that if she retired this month, her position would go on the Aug. 5 election ballot.
The Commercial Appeal reports
National Day of Prayer goes on, but does have issues
This commentary from the director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum advocates taking the word "national" out of the "National Day of Prayer." Charles Haynes writes that in her recent ruling, Judge Barbara Crabb "exposed the long-standing but much-ignored contradiction between the First Amendment's prohibition against government endorsement of religion and annual presidential proclamations calling on Americans to pray."
Read it from the First Amendement Center
Flood Impact
Free! Get trained to give legal services to flood victims
Take part in a one-hour free web cast that will provide an overview of disaster legal services in Tennessee and equip volunteer lawyers to handle disaster-related pro bono cases. Using a YLD-produced Disaster Assistance Manual as a guide, the presenters will identify the types of legal issues that most frequently arise after a natural disaster, and highlight the resources available for lawyers who volunteer to help disaster victims.
Learn more here
Howard Tate office closed
The Nashville office of Howard Tate Sowell Wilson Johnson & Leathers PLLC has been evacuated because of the water level in its building. Telephone and fax capabilities are not working, but the lawyers are. Clients are advised to direct communications to individual attorneys and staff at individual firm email addresses,
available here.
County disaster declarations mounting
Last night, President Barack Obama authorized a major disaster declaration for four more Tennessee counties, making federal funding available to individuals in McNairy, Perry, Shelby and Tipton counties. Today, 11 more were added: Carroll, Crockett, Decatur, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Houston, Madison and Obion. Federal officials had earlier authorized declarations for Cheatham, Davidson, Dyer, Hickman, Montgomery and Williamson.
The Jackson Sun reports
TAJ fundraiser set for May 13
To support the flood relief effort, the Tennessee Association for Justice is hosting an event to benefit the Red Cross on May 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Flying Saucer in downtown Nashville. Attorneys, judges and friends are invited to participate in the event. Donations to the Red Cross will be taken at the door and Food and drink will be provided. For more information, contact Suzanne Keith at

Legislative News
New 'crack tax' passes House
The House approved 93-0 with little debate Wednesday a new "crack tax" to replace a previous levy on illegal drugs that was declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. The bill is HB 3164. House sponsor Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta, said the new tax on "unauthorized substances" has been drafted with help from the state attorney general's office to be sure it meets objections the court found to the old and now invalid law. The companion bill has cleared committees in the Senate and awaits a floor vote. The News Sentinel reported the news.

Barry announces for 6th district race
Henry Clay Barry of Lebanon has announced his candidacy for the Sixth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary. Barry has had his own legal practice in Lebanon for 31 years and describes himself as a "small-town country lawyer."
The Shelbyville Times-Gazette has more
Annual fundraiser for CLC is June 2
The Community Legal Center will host its 10th Annual Fundraiser at Theatre Memphis on June 2. The event will feature the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," as well as an open wine and beer bar and a silent auction. Tickets are $40; $25 for students. For tickets, information, or to make a contribution to Community Legal Center, contact: Bob Winfield at 901-725-3904 or Meg Jones at 901-544-7000.
Download more information
TBA Member Services
Avis benefits 'try harder'
TBA members are offered a rental car discount through Avis. Enroll in the Avis Preferred Service at to bypass the rental counter and go directly to your car for a faster, easier rental experience. Enter code AWD# A570100.

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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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