President nominates Elena Kagan to Supreme Court

President Barack Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court today. Kagan, 50, would be the youngest member of the current court if she is confirmed and the only justice who has not served previously as a judge. Her presence would result in three female justices on the nine-member court for the first time in its history. Learn more from the National Law Journal and National Public Radio.
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Court: TSC


Court: TSC


David W. Camp and Randy C. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellants, Donald J. and Wanda J.

Jeff Mueller, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellees, Donald R. and Lois R.


We granted appeal to determine whether a trial court may grant an intervening adoption petition pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-116(f)(1) when the intervening petitioners did not have physical custody or the right to receive physical custody of the child sought to be adopted at the time they filed their petition. The maternal grandparents petitioned to adopt the child, who was in their physical custody, and the paternal grandparents filed an intervening adoption petition. After engaging in a comparative fitness analysis, the trial court granted the paternal grandparents' petition. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred in considering the paternal grandparents' petition because they did not meet the physical custody requirement in section 36-1-116(f)(1) and remanded the case to the trial court to enter an order granting the maternal grandparents' petition. We hold that section 36-1-116(f)(1) includes an exception to the physical custody requirement when the petitioners have filed an intervening adoption petition and the child sought to be adopted is in the physical custody of the original petitioners. We also hold that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court's findings that the paternal grandparents were fit, that they were financially capable of providing for the child, and that the child's best interests would be served by granting their petition. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and reinstate the judgment of the trial court in all respects.


Court: TCA


Lorenzo Johnson, Waupun, Wisconsin, pro se.

Melissa K. Van Pelt, John A. York, James I. Pentecost, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellees, Corrections Corporation of America.


This is an appeal in a civil rights action filed by the Appellant, a pro se litigant. During the course of the proceedings, the Appellant was incarcerated. The trial court involuntarily dismissed the Appellant's claim pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.02 upon finding that the Appellant failed to prosecute his case. The Appellant appeals the dismissal. Finding that the trial court failed to rule on several of the Appellant's motions and objections, we reverse the trial court's dismissal and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TCA


Michael H. Palmer, Johnson City, Tennessee, pro se

No appearance on behalf of the appellee, Sarah Elizabeth Palmer


Shortly after their marriage, both Husband and Wife filed complaints for divorce. The trial court found both parties guilty of inappropriate marital conduct and granted a divorce. Husband raises numerous issues on appeal. We affirm.


Court: TCCA


Thomas J. Tabor, Jr., Tazewell, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronald C. Dillman, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General; and Jared Ralph Effler, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Ronald Dillman, Jr., was convicted of especially aggravated burglary, a Class B felony, aggravated assault, a Class C felony, robbery, a Class C felony, attempted aggravated assault, a Class D felony, and assault, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to serve eighteen years for especially aggravated burglary, eight years for aggravated assault, eight years for robbery, and five years for attempted aggravated assault. He was sentenced to serve eleven months and twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor conviction. All sentences were concurrent, resulting in an effective eighteenyear sentence. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, the trial court's denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal, the trial court's approval of the verdict in its role as thirteenth juror, and the exclusion from evidence of Robert Collins's plea agreement document. We affirm the convictions, but we vacate the judgments for aggravated assault and attempted aggravated assault and remand the case for entry of a judgment merging the attempted aggravated assault conviction with the aggravated assault conviction.


Court: TCCA


Kristen Vanderkooi, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal); Reginald L. Horton, Nashville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Antonio Santial Jones.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Roger D. Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Antonio Santial Jones, appeals his conviction by a jury in the Davidson County Criminal Court for second degree murder, a Class A felony, for which he was sentenced as a Range I, violent offender to twenty-two years in the Department of Correction. The Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the testimony of two witnesses should have been considered accomplice testimony, requiring independent corroboration. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Robert W. Scott and David M. Pollard, Jr., Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Crystal Miranda Kirby.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General; and Michael O. Ripley and Scarlett W. Ellis, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Campbell County Criminal Court Jury found the appellant, Crystal Miranda Kirby, guilty of the first degree premeditated murder, second degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery of Jonathan Pierce. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of life, twenty-one years, and eighteen years, respectively. On appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court's pretrial ruling on the admissibility of a statement she made in the course of plea negotiations and the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining her conviction of first degree premeditated murder. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court; however, we remand for an entry of a judgment reflecting that the conviction for second degree murder is merged into the conviction for first degree murder.


Court: TCCA


Phyllis Aluko (on appeal) and Michele Lynn (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Abron Spraggins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Alexia Fulgham, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Abron Spraggins, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, a Class E felony, and was sentenced by the trial court to an effective term of thirteen years in the Department of Correction. The defendant raises three issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court committed plain error by instructing the jury that felony reckless endangerment was a lesser-included offense of aggravated assault as charged in the indictment; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the convictions; and (3) whether the trial court erred by enhancing the defendant's aggravated assault sentence and ordering that the aggravated assault and reckless endangerment sentences be served consecutively. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Ruchee J. Patel, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Johnny Tate.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and David Pritchard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Johnny Tate, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, Class A felonies; two counts of aggravated robbery, Class B felonies; and aggravated burglary, a Class C felony. He was subsequently sentenced to two sentences of life without parole, to two sentences of twelve years, and to a sentence of six years for the respective convictions. Further, the trial court ordered that the two sentences of life be served consecutively to each other, with the other sentences to be served concurrently. On appeal, the defendant raises the single issue of sufficiency of the evidence. Specifically, he contends that the evidence presented is insufficient to establish his identity as the perpetrator of the crimes. Following review of the record, we affirm the judgments of conviction.

Compensation for Interpreters for Indigent Criminal Defendants

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-05-10

Opinion Number: 10-64


Legal News
Flood Impact
Legislative News
Court of the Judiciary
TBA Member Services

Legal News
30-day extension granted for filing in Davidson County
For the first time, the Tennessee Supreme Court has activated its Rule 49 Section 2 by granting relief from time deadlines for courts affected by the flooding in Davidson County. The rule, recommended by the Tennessee Bar Association, allows suspension of deadlines under the Rules of Civil, Criminal and Juvenile and Appellate Procedure, and any other applicable local court rules. Granting of the order may also activate Tenn. Code Ann. Section 28-1-116, also a TBA proposal, which also extends the statute of limitations when the court declares a disaster. The extension applies to any document that would have been due to be filed in the courts of the Twentieth Judicial District May 3-7. Other counties may be eligible for the disaster treatment.
Download the order
Lockett set to plead guilty to income tax-related criime
Former Knox County Law Director Bill Lockett is scheduled to plead guilty to an income tax-related crime Wednesday in federal court, according to court records. The offense, willfully failing to file a federal income tax return, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year behind bars and a fine of up to $100,000, records show.
The News Sentinel has the story
Grand jury thinks some work should happen at workhouse
Members of the Hamilton County Concurrent Grand Jury were not impressed to find many of the inmates of the Hamilton County Workhouse sleeping on a recent visit. The jury's final report said inmates might be less likely to return to the facility if they were required to exert themselves. It is a 'workhouse,' they pointed out. The report also recommended cutting inmates' hot meals down from three to two.
Read more in the
Attorney General Holder discusses bomb plotter's Miranda rights
In an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper on "This Week" where Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that the accused Times Square bomb plotter, Faisal Shahzad, was backed by the Pakistani Taliban, he also defended the Obama administration for reading Shahzad his Miranda rights. He called for clarifying the so-called public safety exception to the requirement that Miranda rights be read to people under arrest, especially in terrorism cases.
See the interview on ABC News This Week
Flood Impact
$28 million approved for recovery efforts, 42 counties now declared disasters
Gov.Phil Bredesen and the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced today more than $28 million in disaster assistance has been approved to help with recovery efforts just one week after a federal major disaster declaration was requested for severe storms and flooding that struck Tennessee. Individuals can register with FEMA at or at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for those with speech and hearing disabilities. The toll-free numbers are staffed seven days a week, 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. CDT until further notice.

Over the weekend, the federal government authorized a major disaster declaration for 12 more Tennessee counties, bringing the total number of counties declared to 42. This action makes federal assistance available to individuals in Chester, Clay, DeKalb, Hardin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lewis, Macon, Stewart, Trousdale and Wayne counties.
Learn more
Howard Tate firm 'back to normal'
The Nashville law firm of Howard, Tate, Sowell, Wilson, Leathers, Johnson, PLLC reports that they were able to get back into their 2nd Avenue offices on Saturday after last week's devastating flood. They are "back to normal with access, power and phones restored," Barry L. Howard says. "We appreciate all the offers of help and expressions of support from our fellow attorneys."

Legal hotline helps flood victims
A toll-free legal assistance line remains available for victims of recent storms and flooding in the counties that 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. 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
Legislative News
Proposal would change regulatory board process
Republican state senators want to change the way members of regulatory boards are chosen. Proponents of the proposal contend that granting designated seats to the interest groups raises the possibility of cronyism and is unfair to average citizens without ties to politically powerful associations. But critics say that a change would open the door to governors of the future making appointments based on politics rather than knowledge of the industry regulated by a given board.
The News Sentinel has the story
Court of the Judiciary
Court affirms previous order in Dumas case
The Tennessee Court of Judiciary today filed an order regarding the matter of Gloria Dumas, which affirms the court's previous order filed on March 17. Counsel for Dumas had raised a concern about the entire hearing panel not participating in the decision of the court, so "In an abundance of caution," the court asked for a transcript of the entire hearing be prepared and forwarded to each member of the hearing panel,as well as the Order prepared by the presiding judge. "There was no communication with the other members." the order says, "except a request to affirm or dissent from the Court's ruling."
Download the order
Bell asks court to disqualify Loughry, Rogers
A motion to disqualify temporary panel members was filed today with the Court of Judiciary on behalf of John Bell. The motion asks the court to disqualify Judge David Loughry and attorney John Rogers from acting as temporary panel members in this matter.
Download the motion
TBA Member Services
Ship directly from Microsoft Office Outlook with FedEx QuickShip
Now you can ship your FedEx packages directly from the Microsoft Office Outlook application -- and save money doing it. It's a fast and convenient way to easily access some of the most popular features on using Microsoft technology. That's why you should Think FedEx First.
Take advantage of your member discounts on select FedEx shipping services and FedEx OfficeSM business services

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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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