'State of Judiciary' issued

Chief Justice Janice Holder today issued a written report on the State of the Tennessee Judiciary to members of the General Assembly. The nine-page report provides legislators and the general public with an overview of the initiatives, accomplishments and challenges of the judiciary. In it, Holder outlines the three strategic initiatives of the Tennessee Supreme Court -- providing equal access to the court system, developing more productive and efficient case management methods, and enhancing the court system's use of technology.

Download the report from the Chief Justice

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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CITY OF BRENTWOOD v. GEORGE M. CAWTHON

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

J. Todd Moore and Keith Jeremy Woodruff, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, City of Brentwood.

Jonathan Lewis Williams and Albert Wayne Crim, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, George M. Cawthon.

Judge: DINKINS

This is a condemnation case in which the City of Brentwood acquired 0.72 acres of land by eminent domain for the purpose of constructing a 2.5 million gallon water tank. Following a trial, the jury awarded $43,200 for the value of the land taken and $194,850 for the incidental damages to the remainder of the property. The City's ability to take the land and the amount awarded for the value of the land taken is not in question; rather, the City appeals the amount of incidental damages awarded. Finding no error, we affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/cawthong_051410.pdf


PHEDREK T. DAVIS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Phedrek T. Davis, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General, and Dan Ham, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Phedreck T. Davis, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief challenging his convictions for first degree murder, attempted second degree murder, and assault, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus fifteen years. See State v. Phedrek T. Davis, No. M2006-00198- CCA-R3-CD, Davidson County, slip op. (Tenn. Crim. App. July 19, 2007), aff'd, 266 S.W.3d 896 (Tenn. 2008), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S. Ct. 2790 (2009). He claims that newly discovered evidence proves that the State solicited damaging perjury during his initial trial, thereby violating his constitutional rights. The trial court dismissed his claim as having been previously determined. See T.C.A. section 40-30-106(f). We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/davisp_051410.pdf


RONALD DOTSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Brett B. Stein, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Ronald Dotson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Rachel Newton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The petitioner, Ronald Dotson, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief by the Shelby County Criminal Court. The petitioner was convicted of two counts of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. As a repeat violent offender, the petitioner received consecutive sentences of life without parole. These sentences were ordered to be served consecutively to another unrelated set of aggravated robberies for which the petitioner was sentenced to life without parole. In this appeal, the petitioner claims that his due process rights were violated by the trial court's failure to grant a continuance and failure to grant a mistrial. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/dotsonr_051410.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KENNETH ROSS JACKSON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robin Ruben Flores, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth Ross Jackson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Cameron B. Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Kenneth Ross Jackson, appeals the denial of judicial diversion from the Hamilton County Criminal Court. He entered pleas of guilty to theft of property in excess of $1000, a Class D felony; filing a false report to a law enforcement officer, a Class D felony; and theft of property under $500, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced as a Range I offender to concurrent terms of two years, suspended to supervised probation for both Class D felony convictions. He was sentenced to a concurrent term of eleven months and twenty-nine days on unsupervised probation for the Class A misdemeanor. On appeal, the defendant contends that he was improperly denied judicial diversion. After careful review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/jacksonk_051410.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. STEVE FREDRICK RICKETT

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender, for the appellant, Steve Fredrick Rickett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Steve Fredrick Rickett, appeals his conviction by a jury 1 in the Knox County Criminal Court for second degree murder for which he was sentenced as a Range I, violent offender to sixteen years in the Department of Correction. The Defendant contends the following: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court erred in allowing expert witness testimony because the Defendant received inadequate notice of the scope of the expert's testimony and in not granting a continuance, (3) the trial court erred in allowing the county medical examiner to testify to the effects of alcohol and narcotics on the victim, (4) the trial court erred in failing to grant the Defendant's motion for a continuance to allow a defense expert additional time to test the shirt the victim was wearing when she was shot, (5) the trial court erred in allowing into evidence the Defendant's statements to police, (6) the trial court erred in allowing the State to amend the toxicology report during the trial, and (7) the trial court erred in failing to respond properly to the jury's questions requesting a definition of heat of passion and whether "voluntary intoxication" constituted "heat of passion." We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/ricketts_051410.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANDRE ALEXANDER SMITH

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jeffrey A. DeVasher, Assistant Public Defender, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Andre Alexander Smith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WELLES

The Defendant, Andre Alexander Smith, was tried before a jury on an indictment charging one count of first degree felony murder. He was found guilty of one count of the lesserincluded offense of voluntary manslaughter. In this appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in upholding the State's use of peremptory challenges under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986); (2) the State presented evidence insufficient to convict him of voluntary manslaughter; and (3) the trial court erred in overruling his objection to certain portions of the State's closing argument. After our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/smitha_051410.pdf


AUTHOR RAY TURNER v. DAVID MILLS, WARDEN and the STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Author Ray Turner, Wartburg, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Author Ray Turner, claims that the habeas corpus court erred in summarily dismissing his petition for writ for habeas corpus relief. The petition claims that his sentence is illegal because his release eligibility of 30 percent violates statutory law requiring that he served 100 percent of his sentence as a "multiple rapist." See T.C.A. section 39-13-523 (Supp. 1994). We agree that the defendant's aggravated rape sentences are illegal and that the habeas corpus court erred in summarily dismissing his claim. We remand to the Morgan County Circuit Court for appointment of counsel and a hearing to determine the proper remedy.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/turnera_051410.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES CARLOS WARD

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; and Jeffrey A. DeVasher, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); and Jonathan F. Wing and Rodney Caldwell, Assistant Public Defenders (at trial), for the appellant, James Carlos Ward.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, James Carlos Ward, appeals from his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, see T.C.A. section 39-13-305, and two counts of aggravated robbery, see id. section 39-13-402. The defendant received an effective sentence of 45 years to serve in the Department of Correction as a Range II offender. On appeal, the defendant claims: (1) the trial court erred in denying the defendant's pretrial motion to suppress a victim's identification of the defendant; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support two verdicts of guilty of aggravated robbery and two verdicts of guilty of especially aggravated kidnapping; (3) the especially aggravated kidnapping convictions violate principles of due process; (4) the trial court erred on principles of double jeopardy in imposing two convictions of aggravated robbery; and (5) the trial court erred in finding the defendant to be a Range II offender, in imposing excessive sentences, and in consecutively aligning some of the sentences. Following our review, we modify one conviction of aggravated robbery to aggravated assault, affirm the remainder of the convictions, and remand for resentencing.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/wardj_051410.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHARLES WILLIAMS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert Wilson Jones, District Public Defender; Harry E. Sayle, III (on appeal), Jennifer Case, and Mary Kathryn Kent (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, attorneys for appellant, Charles Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Damon Griffin and Theresa McCusker, Assistant District Attorneys General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Charles Williams, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I standard offender to consecutive sentences of life and fifteen years for the felony murder and especially aggravated robbery convictions, respectively. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal based on the constructive amendment of the indictment in his case; and (3) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/williamsc_051410.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Flood Impact
Supreme Court Report
Politics
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Shelby clerk officers indicted
A grand jury indicted the former chief administrative officer of the Shelby County Clerk's Office along with a current clerk in the office on bribery charges, the Shelby County District Attorney's Office announced today. Charlie Nichols, 66, who retired from the clerk's office last year, is charged with two counts of bribery of a public servant. He was taken into custody this morning and is being held on $5,000 bond.
The Commercial Appeal has the story
Death row inmate asks for more time to answer
Lawyers for death row inmate Billy Ray Irick filed papers today that would give them until June 3 to respond to the motion to set execution that was filed May 10. The state, the motion says, has previously been apprised of this motion and through Assistant Attorney General James E. Gaylord has said there is no opposition to allowing the extension.
Read the motion from the Administrative Office of the Courts
Divorce app now available
One of the latest apps for Apple's smart phone is called "Divorce Cost and Prep." For just $4.99 you can get "help understanding the costs and types of documents that are needed in a divorce," its co-founder says.
WSMV-TV carried this CNN story
Lawyers line up to go after Toyota
About 60 California lawyers tried to convince U.S. District Judge James Selna that they should have a lead position battling Toyota Motor Corp. in the more than 320 lawsuits surrounding its vehicles' sudden acceleration problems. Selna said he would make his decision by Monday. At stake is potentially millions of dollars that a judge can appropriate for attorneys if a settlement or award is reached.
WSMV-TV carried this AP story
Flood Impact
Computers, paper files sopping wet
Flood water has ruined about 75 computers during the storm and soaked more than 15,000 case files at Davidson County's Juvenile Justice Center.
WSMV has the story
FEMA CLE set for next week
The TBA will offer a free one-hour webcast CLE next Thursday featuring disaster recovery legal expert Juli Gallup, who will explain the FEMA application process, the forms Tennesseans must fill out to be eligible for assistance and the appeals process for those dissatisfied with their benefits. This program is accredited for one hour of dual credit and is being offered by the Tennessee Bar Association as a public service for attorneys who are providing pro bono assistance to disaster victims.
Register here
Help for flood victims
A toll-free legal assistance line is available for victims of recent storms and flooding in the counties that have been designated as federal disaster areas. Victims facing legal issues may call (888) 395-9297. 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
Supreme Court Report
Kagan seeing support from both sides
Democratic Senator Arlen Specter seems to have warmed up to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan saying she is "very forthcoming," the Associated Press reports. Specter voted against confirming Kagan to her current post as solicitor general, back before he switched parties and was a Republican. And with support of conservative lawyers and academics, Kagan's nomination is looking easier to swallow for more Republicans. "She has had a remarkable and truly unusual record of reaching out across ideological divides," said Michael McConnell, a former federal appeals court judge who was nominated by President George W. Bush.

Politics
Atherton gets Republican nomination
Attorney Jeff Atherton won a runoff election for the county Republican Party nomination for chancellor on Thursday night. He and David Norton, an assistant county attorney and Soddy Daisy city judge, were the top vote-getters on the first ballot. There was a runoff since Atherton did not get more than 50 percent. He will be on the Aug. 5 ballot as the Republican choice to replace Howell Peoples, who retired at the end of March. County Democrats will make their selection on Saturday. Because of the timing of the retirement, there was not time for a primary election. The Chattanoogan reported the news.

Disciplinary Actions
Memphis attorney suspended
The Tennessee Supreme Court on April 8 temporarily suspended the law license of Memphis attorney Timothy Allen Price, pursuant to Section 4.3 of Rule 9 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The order says he failed to respond to a disciplinary complaint of ethical misconduct, and he poses a threat of substantial harm to the public. Price was permitted to represent existing clients until May 10.
Read the release from the Board of Professional Responsibility
TBA Member Services
New resources available for TBA members
The TBA Law Office Technology & Management Section has purchased a collection of resource materials to be added to the TBA Lending Library for use by all members. Those materials include:

-- Letters for Litigators: Essential Communications for Opposing Counsel, Witnesses, Clients and Others
-- Letters for Lawyers: Essential Communications for Clients, Prospects and Others, Second Edition
-- Risk Management: Survival Tools for Law Firms, Second Edition
-- The 2009 Solo & Small Firm Legal Technology Guide: Critical Decisions Made Simple
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Adobe Acrobat, Third Edition (Covers Adobe Acrobat 8.0)
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Collaboration Tools & Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together + CD-ROM Supplement
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Governing Your Firm
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet, Third Edition
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Excel 2007
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Outlook 2007
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Practice Management Systems Software, Second Edition

Books may be borrowed for up to two weeks. To request a book, please email Sharon Ballinger or call her at (615) 383-7421.


 
 
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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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