Court solicits comments on CLE mentoring program

The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization has petitioned the Supreme Court to allow up to 12 hours of CLE credit for serving as a mentor or mentee through a mentoring program it proposes to establish. The court issued an order this week asking for comments on the proposal by Aug. 13.
Download the order

Learn more about the proposal on the commission's web site

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Court: TCA


Gary C. Shockley, Nashville, Tennessee, and Ronald S. Range, Jr., Johnson City, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Discover Bank.

Jennifer L. Chadwell, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Joy A. Morgan.


This lawsuit began as a collection claim filed by Discover Bank ("Discover") against Joy A. Morgan ("Morgan") for $16,341.52. Discover claimed Morgan owed this amount on a creditcard originally issued to Morgan's husband, now deceased. Morgan filed an answer and counterclaim, asserting a claim for libel as well as claims pursuant to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. section 1681, and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, Tenn. Code Ann. section 47-18-101, et seq. Morgan's attorney gave Discover's original attorney an extension of time in which to file an answer to the counterclaim. After this extension of time had run, Morgan's attorney warned Discover's attorney that a motion for default judgment would be filed if an answer was not filed within fourteen days. When Discover failed to file an answer within the fourteen days, Morgan filed a motion for default judgment. Discover's attorney failed to show up for the hearing and a default judgment was awarded to Morgan. Discover filed a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment "pursuant to Rule 60.02. . . ." This motion was denied. Following a later hearing on damages, Morgan was awarded compensatory damages totaling $125,200, which the Trial Court then trebled under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. After obtaining new counsel, Discover filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment, which was denied. Discover now appeals. We affirm the Trial Court's Order denying Discover's motion to alter or amend the judgment and set aside the default judgment. We, however, vacate the award of damages and remand for a new hearing on the amount of damages and also to determine reasonable attorney fees incurred by Morgan on appeal.


Court: TCCA


Travis Bledsoe, Pro Se, Whiteville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and J. Ross Dyer and Stephanie Zander Johnson, Assistant Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Travis A. Bledsoe, appeals the trial court's denial of his petition for post- conviction relief. 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. We conclude that the state's motion is meritorious. Accordingly, we grant the state's motion and affirm the judgment of the lower court.


Court: TCCA


Lance R. Chism, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Uvautai Brooks.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Bryan Davis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

A Shelby County jury convicted the petitioner, Uvautai Brooks, of one count of aggravated robbery and three counts of facilitation of aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced the petitioner, as a Standard Range I Offender, to serve an effective ten-year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The petitioner filed for post-conviction relief alleging the ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied the petitioner's claim, and the petitioner appeals the decision of the court. After reviewing the record, the parties' briefs, and the applicable law, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.


Court: TCCA


Gary F. Antrican, District Public Defender (on appeal) and Jeff Lee, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Ricky Frith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and James Walter Freeland, Jr. and P. Neal Oldham, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Ricky Frith, was convicted by a Tipton County Circuit Court jury of burglary of a vehicle, a Class E felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a career offender to six years in the Department of Correction. The sole issue the defendant raises on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Gary D. Copas, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Charles Howse.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Rob McGuire, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Following a bench trial, Defendant, William C. Howse, was convicted of violating the Sexual Offender Registration, Verification, and Tracking Act of 2004 (the "2004 Act"), a Class E felony. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range I, standard offender, to one year to be served as ninety days in confinement and the remainder on probation. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred in finding that he knowingly violated the provisions of the 2004 Act, and (2) the 2004 Act violates his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Vanessa Cross, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy Hutson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Carrie Shelton and Brooks Yelverton, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

In June 2005, a Shelby County jury convicted the petitioner, Timothy Hutson, of first degree murder, and he received a life sentence. The petitioner filed for post-conviction relief, arguing that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. Specifically, the petitioner alleges that trial counsel failed to provide timely information about a plea agreement, failed to develop a working relationship with the petitioner, and advised the petitioner to wear jail clothes rather than civilian clothes during the trial. The post-conviction court denied relief. Following our review, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.


Court: TCCA


George Morton Googe, District Public Defender, and Paul Edward Meyers, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rashad G. Robinson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Ben Mayo, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

A Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Rashad G. Robinson, of possession of contraband in a penal institution, a Class C felony, two counts of misdemeanor assault, Class A misdemeanors, and vandalism under $500, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced the defendant to six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction for the felony conviction and eleven months, twenty-nine days in the county jail for each of the misdemeanor convictions. The court ordered the defendant to serve the sentences consecutively to each other and to case number 07-372. On appeal, the defendant challenges the trial court's jury instructions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


G. Jeff Cherry and David H. Veile, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mark A. Schiefelbein.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Mary Katherine White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

A Williamson County jury convicted the petitioner, Mark A. Shiefelbein, of seven counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. The trial court sentenced him to ninety-six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed his convictions but modified his sentence to thirty-two years. The petitioner filed for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial. Specifically, the petitioner contends that trial counsel's performance was deficient because he (1) did not object when the trial court ordered the spectators to move so they could not see the presentation of video evidence; (2) did not object when the trial court ordered that part of the defendant's testimony be stricken from the record; (3) did not obtain a copy of the audio-taped conversation between the petitioner and the victim, object to the recording's admission as evidence, or properly prepare the petitioner for cross-examination about the recording; (4) did not properly object or move for a mistrial during the state's cross-examination of the petitioner; (5) did not lay a proper foundation for the admission of expert testimony; (6) did not object to the trial court's questioning of state witnesses; (7) did not seek an extraordinary appeal when the trial court refused to compel the state to provide copies of videotape evidence; and (8) did not object to the state's use of the term "vaginal shots." Additionally, the petitioner avers that the cumulative effect of trial counsel's deficient performance rendered his trial unfair. The post-conviction court denied relief. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court's denial of relief.

Submission by Private Entities of Lists for Appointments to State Boards and Agencies

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-05-19

Opinion Number: 10-67

Burden of Proof Related to Sexual Offenders Residing With Minors

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-05-19

Opinion Number: 10-68


Flood Impact
Legal News
Supreme Court Report
Court of the Judiciary
TBA in the News
Career Opportunities
TBA Member Services

Flood Impact
Additional counties declared federal disasters
The federal government added four counties to its disaster declaration for Tennessee today. In Cannon, Giles and Marshall counties, individuals and governments are eligible for assistance. In Pickett County, public assistance only has been authorized for state and local governments and certain private nonprofits to conduct emergency work and repair or replace damaged facilities.

Resolution urges probe of floodwater release
Tennessee state lawmakers are asking their congressional counterparts to investigate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' release of water and maintenance of dams and levees during flooding earlier this month. The resolution, sponsored by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville, was unanimously approved by the state House Finance Committee today. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., also have called for an investigation.
The Memphis Daily News has this report from the Associated Press
Free FEMA CLE this Thursday
The TBA will offer a free one-hour webcast CLE this 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.
Find out more or register now
Learn about other resources or volunteer to help
Legal News
NALS elects new officers
The Nashville Chapter of the Association of Legal Professionals (NALS) met Monday for its 62nd annual passing of the gavel and installation of new officers. Vickie A. Hellmer with Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop PC was elected president. Nashville lawyer David A. Changas, president of the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and an attorney at the firm, was the guest speaker for the event. The group's next meeting is set for June 9 at the Tennessee Bar Center. For more information about NALS contact Tonya Bowman.

ABA fellowship supports legal aid intern in Jackson
Andra Kranzler, a second-year law student at Seattle University School of Law, will intern at West Tennessee Legal Services (WTLS) in Jackson this summer through the American Bar Association's John J. Curtin Justice Fund Legal Internship Program. The fund provides law students with a $2,500 stipend to work with legal organizations. It is designed to boost indigent services and encourage public interest careers.
Learn more about WTLS
Past TBA president reflects on mentoring experience
An article in today's Knoxville News Sentinel features the story of former TBA President Charles Swanson's experience of being a "big brother" through Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. For the last 23 years, he and his "little brother" Daryl Clemes have laughed, argued, traveled and experienced life together. And although the relationship was officially over once Clemes turned 18, the two have kept up their friendship.
Read the article
Supreme Court Report
Kagan hearings set for June 28
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced that hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan will begin June 28. Leahy said the planned schedule should allow for hearings to be completed before senators leave for a week-long break in early July. Republican senators objected to the schedule saying they wanted more time to review documents from Kagan's past, particularly from her years serving in the Clinton White House. Kagan stepped down from her job as solicitor general on Monday to focus on her nomination.
WKRN News 2 has this AP report
See Kagan's answers to the Judiciary Committee's questions
Court of the Judiciary
Additional motions filed in Judge Bell case
Yesterday, counsel for Cocke County General Sessions Judge John A. Bell filed a motion for expedited discovery and a request for information about past complaints filed with the Court of the Judiciary. Today, the court denied the motion and ruled that the information sought was not relevant to the case at hand and therefore not discoverable. The court also issued a pre-trial order today setting out procedures in preparation for the start of the trial on June 2.
These and all filings in the case are available on the AOC web site
Smith prevails in juvenile court clerk primary
In Davidson County's most closely watched local race, David Smith prevailed over incumbent Vic Lineweaver in the Democratic primary for juvenile court clerk yesterday. Smith, a general sessions court officer who led all candidates in fundraising and enjoyed support from the legal community, defeated six others with nearly 50 percent of the vote. The race now moves to Aug. 5 when Smith will square off against Metro Councilman Eric Crafton, who defeated two relative unknowns in the Republican primary.
The Nashville City Paper reports
See all Nashville election results
The City Paper also reflects on low voter turn out in the race
TBA in the News
Disaster legal assistance makes the news
TBA's role in providing disaster legal assistance to those affected by recent flooding recently was covered in the Tennessean and the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. The Tennessean article highlighted the toll-free hotline disaster victims may use to request assistance, as well as several standing legal clinics hosted by Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. The Leaf-Chronicle story focused on the fact that although the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services was displaced by flood waters, its partnership with the TBA allowed it to respond quickly to disaster legal needs.

Career Opportunities
Brentwood firm seeks associate attorney
The Brentwood law firm of Papa & Roberts PLLC is seeking an associate attorney to work in the area of family law and probate, with the possibility of future work in the area of business law. Applicants must have earned a law degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some experience, particularly in family law litigation, is desired but not required. Interested candidates should submit a current resume and law school transcript.
See the job listing on JobLink
TBA Member Services
Program offers savings on auto insurance
See how being a member of the TBA could help you save 8 percent on car insurance. GEICO offers 24-hour sales, service and claims. Call GEICO at (800) 368-2734
or get an online rate quote

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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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