Discenza named Court of Judiciary chief counsel

The Court of the Judiciary -- the entity charged with overseeing the ethical conduct of judges -- today named Timothy R. Discenza as its new chief disciplinary counsel effective July 1. The Memphis lawyer, who has served as a federal prosecutor for the past 33 years, will replace Steve Daniel who is stepping down on June 30. Discenza announced yesterday he is retiring from his federal position at the end of the month. Patrick McHale, currently the assistant disciplinary counsel at the Court of the Judiciary, will remain in his position.

Read more about Discenza and McHale on the AOC web site

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Court: TCA


Guy W. Blackwell, Gray, Tennessee, for the appellants, Haley Mariah Anderson and Macey Elizabeth Anderson by next friend and father, Mac Todd Anderson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Melissa Moreau, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellees, Paul E. Stanton, Jr., Hal Knight, and Deborah Defrieze, d/b/a East Tennessee State University, University School.


Haley Mariah Anderson and Macey Elizabeth Anderson ("the Children") by next friend and father, Mac Todd Anderson ("Father"), sued Paul E. Stanton, Jr. ("Stanton"), Hal Knight ("Knight"), Deborah Defrieze ("Defrieze"), d/b/a East Tennessee State University, University School ("University School") (or collectively "Defendants"), and the Washington County Board of Education seeking, in part, to prevent University School from withdrawing the Children from enrollment in University School due to alleged actions of the Children's mother, Treda Anderson ("Mother"). Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The Trial Court held a hearing on Defendants' motion for summary judgment, entered an order granting Defendants summary judgment, and certified the order as final pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 54.02. The Children appeal to this Court the grant of summary judgment primarily raising an issue regarding procedural due process. We affirm.



Court: TCA


P. Edward Pratt and Melissa Loney Stevens, Knoxville, Tennessee, and C. Mark Troutman, LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellant, Peoples Bank of the South.

Dudley W. Taylor and Jonathan S. Taylor, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Bluff Springs Apartments, Ltd., Village Apartment, Ltd., and R.L.Ayers.


R. L. Ayers operates several apartment complexes, some individually and some in his capacity as the general partner of the limited partnerships, Bluff Springs Apartments, Ltd., and Village Apartment, Ltd. As a consequence of these interests, he maintained several bank accounts with Peoples Bank of the South. This litigation focuses on seven of those accounts. Ayers has admitted - and in fact has pleaded guilty - to defrauding Peoples and two other local banks by "kiting" checks. It is undisputed that Peoples sustained substantial losses when the other banks discovered the scheme and dishonored checks, leaving Peoples holding several hundred thousand dollars worth of bad checks; however, the precise amount of the loss is in dispute. In August 2003, Peoples froze the accounts that had been opened by Ayers, but, with one exception, waited until September 29, 2006, to offset the monies in those accounts against its losses. Ayers, Bluff Springs and Village (collectively "the Plaintiffs") filed this action asking for a declaration that Peoples wrongfully converted the funds in the seven accounts and violated the contracts under which the funds were deposited. The Plaintiffs also sought punitive damages. Peoples coupled its answer with a counterclaim. In its counterclaim, Peoples alleged that, after giving the Plaintiffs all credits to which they were due, it was left holding $429,300 in bad checks; it demanded a judgment for that sum. After a bench trial, the court held that Peoples only had a right of setoff against two accounts owned by Ayers individually. The court held that Peoples did not have a right of setoff against the accounts owned by the entities or the one opened in Ayers' name for tenant deposits. However, the trial court found in favor of Peoples on its counterclaim and awarded it a judgment against Ayers in the amount of $429,221.65, subject to certain credits to be given. Initially, the trial court awarded both Peoples and the Plaintiffs prejudgment interest at the rate of 10%. On Peoples' post-trial motion, the court cut the interest rate to 1%. Peoples appeals, arguing, primarily, that the three-year statute of limitations applicable to conversion claims bars all of the Plaintiffs' claims. The Plaintiffs raise their own issues including a challenge to (1) the trial court's refusal to order the return of funds held in accounts designated for a special purpose, (2) the trial court's reduction of pre-judgment interest on a post-trial motion, and (3) the amount of damages awarded on the counterclaim. We affirm.



Court: TCA


Paul Whetstone, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellant, James L. Hill.

Tom O. Wall, Jefferson City, Tennessee, for the appellee, First Peoples Bank of Tennessee.


James L. Hill ("the defendant"), in order to accommodate his son, Shannon Hill, co-signed a note to First Peoples Bank of Tennessee ("the Bank") in the amount of $50,500 ("the small note"). Shannon later approached the Bank about a larger loan for his pizza business. As a consequence, the small note was combined with two other notes. The Bank made a loan in the amount of $294,764.65 under a new note ("the big note") but required a personal guaranty from the defendant as security. Unbeknownst to the Bank, the guaranty Shannon produced was a forgery. Shannon was later killed and, still later, his pizza business defaulted on the big note. The Bank initially filed this action against the defendant on the sole basis of the guaranty. The Bank later amended its complaint to allege that the big note was a renewal of the small note and that the defendant remained liable on the small note. The primary issue for trial was whether the small note was renewed or whether it was satisfied with the proceeds from the big note. On the morning of trial, when the Bank's witnesses appeared, the chancellor announced that he was acquainted with several of the Bank's witnesses. The defendant made an oral motion seeking recusal of the chancellor. The court denied the motion and the case proceeded to a bench trial. After trial, the court entered a judgment in favor of the Bank which included the attorney's fees of the Bank. The defendant appeals. The Bank asks for its attorney's fees incurred on appeal. We affirm that part of the judgment which awards principal and interest, but vacate the award of attorney's fees claimed in the amount of $25,125 and remand for a determination of a reasonable fee. Additionally, we hold that the Bank is entitled, under the note, to recover reasonable attorney's fees incurred on appeal and remand for a determination of a reasonable appellate fee.



Court: TCCA


Gilbert L. Anglin (at trial), and Gerald L. Melton (on appeal), Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donna Sue Mrozowski.

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

Judge: OGLE

Appellant, Donna Sue Mrozowski, pled nolo contendere to a Class B vehicular homicide charge stemming from an incident in which she drove her car off a highway, killing a pedestrian. Appellant and the State agreed to an eight year sentence but left the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. After a hearing, the court denied Appellant's request for alternative sentencing. Appellant now appeals, and we affirm.



Court: TCCA


J. Chase Gober, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Melvin S. Nettles.

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


The petitioner, Melvin S. Nettles, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief by the Davidson County Criminal Court. In 2007, he pled guilty to sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine, a Class C felony. Pursuant to a plea agreement, he received a twelve year sentence to be served on community corrections. He was also assessed a fine of $2,000. The trial court subsequently found that the petitioner violated his community corrections' sentence and ordered confinement. On appeal, the petitioner challenges the denial of his petition for postconviction relief, claiming: (1) his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary; and (2) he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.



Court: TCCA


Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender, and Gianna Maio and David Gall, Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Barbara Ann Riggs.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr. , Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kevin James Allen, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Barbara Ann Riggs, was found guilty by a Knox County jury of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. sections 39-14-103; -105(4). The trial court imposed a Range I, six-year sentence to be served on probation consecutively to a one-year sentence in another case and set the amount of restitution at $28,600.95. In this appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction, that the trial court erred in enhancing her sentence based upon enhancement factors that were not found by a jury to exist beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the court erred in awarding restitution for attorney's fees and accountant's fees the victim incurred as a consequence of the crime. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Emma Ray Tennent, Assistant Public Defender, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James H. Saint, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Brian Holmgren, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, James H. Saint, Jr., was convicted of six counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-13-504(b). The trial court, applying the 2005 Amendments to our Sentencing Act, originally sentenced the Defendant to serve sixty-six years in the Department of Correction. On his first appeal, however, we reversed his sentences and remanded his case for resentencing under the 1989 Act. See State v. Saint, 284 S.W.3d 340, 348 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2008). Following a resentencing hearing, held on May 14, 2009, the trial court again sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to eleven years for each of his six convictions, those sentences to be served consecutively to one another, for a total effective sentence of sixty-six years in the Department of Correction. On this appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in setting the length of his sentences and in ordering him to serve them consecutively. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Constitutionality of Felon Voting Restoration Bill

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-05-26

Opinion Number: 10-74



Legal News
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TBA Member Services
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Legal News
Class action suit against BP filed in Tennessee
Attorneys from the Nashville office of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein late yesterday filed suit in federal district court against BP and other companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster. The suit seeks to represent all Tennessee residents who own vacation or investment properties along the Gulf that have been or may be impacted by the oil spill. Download the filing
Read the story in the Nashville Post (subscription required)
Knox commission to pick new law director in June
Knox County commissioners will select a new county law director on June 21, and have set a deadline of June 18 for candidates to submit resumes for the position. An open hearing on the candidates will be held June 21 at 9:30 a.m., with a vote of the commission immediately following. Former Knox County Law Director Bill Lockett resigned from office on April 8, the same day he pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of dollars from his former law firm.
WATE Newschannel 6 reports
TBA wins ABA grant
The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division recently announced that the TBA YLD has been selected to receive a grant from the organization. The grant will be used to buy supplies and computer equipment for the YLD's Wills for Heroes program, which provides wills and other end-of-life documents for first responders in Tennessee. Over the past two years, the program has served close to 900 first responders and their families. Wills for Heroes Committee Chair David Veile applied for the grant and made a strong case why the TBA should be one of the ABA's grantees this year.

Kingsport judge back on the bench
Kingsport General Sessions Judge Duane Snodgrass is back on the bench two weeks after he was discharged from the hospital. The Kingsport Times News reports that Snodgrass was treated for a "chemical imbalance," but is now back on the job handling a full docket.

MALS receives grant for seniors program
Memphis Area Legal Services has been awarded a grant from the HW Durham Foundation to institute a monthly program called "Peace of Mind for Seniors Seminars," which provides legal services for seniors living in areas vulnerable to neighborhood destabilization. MALS will use the funds to provide advice and counsel services at senior centers around the city. The grant also will be used to purchase laptops and portable printers for the program. Attorneys who are willing to volunteer should contact Linda Warren Seely at MALS at (901) 523-8822 x417 or lseely@malsi.org.

NSL to honor Nashville judge and city law director
The Nashville School of Law (NSL) will honor the achievements of two distinguished alumni at its 17th annual Recognition Dinner on June 4 at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. Judge Muriel Robinson, class of 1968, will receive the 2010 Distinguished Faculty Award, while Metro Law Director Sue Cain, class of 1981, will be recognized as the 2010 Recognition Dinner Honoree. To purchase tickets for the event, contact the school at (615) 256-3684.

Cash found in juvenile clerk's office
In the aftermath of Nashville's flood, clean-up workers discovered $32,000 in wet cash stored in a safe at the Juvenile Court Clerk's office. The money has been sent to a restoration center in Murfreesboro to be decontaminated. Juvenile Court Clerk Vic Lineweaver, who lost his bid for re-election last week, said it's not unusual for such a large sum to be stored in the office safe, The court's director of operations said the money came from child custody payments made a day before the rain started and from other fines and fees.
Read more in the Nashville City Paper
Bradley bar elects new leaders
The Bradley County Bar Association has elected new leaders that will take office on July 1. They are: President Robert Thompson with Logan-Thompson PC, Vice President Barrett Painter with Chancey, Kanavoslove & Painter, Secretary Philip Jacobs with Logan-Thompson PC and Treasurer Joshua Jenne with Jenne, Scott & Jenne PLLC. All are from Cleveland.

Former TVA lawyer dies
Robert Houston Critchfield, 78, passed away May 10 in Fort Worth, Texas. A native of Iowa, Critchfield earned his law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1966. He served as a captain in the U.S. Army and then joined the Tennessee Valley Authority as a corporate attorney. After retiring from the TVA, he served as city judge in Estill Springs, Tenn. He was buried with military honors at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

Disciplinary Actions
Maryville lawyer reinstated
Maryville lawyer Richard J. Rice was reinstated to the practice of law on May 22 after paying the 2009 BPR fee and required fines. Rice had been suspended since Aug. 14, 2009.

Career Opportunities
U.S. Labor Dept. seeks litigator
The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking an experienced litigator in its Nashville office to handle all phases of trial litigation in federal court and before administrative bodies. Travel is required and compensation will be at the GS-12/13 level, depending on experience. One year of trial experience is preferred. Interested candidates should send a resume and writing sample by June 2 to Pamela Reedus, U.S. Department of Labor, 618 Church Street, Suite 230, Nashville, TN 37219 or by email to reedus.pamela@dol.gov
Read the full job description on JobLink
TBA in the News
TBA gets coverage for law day projects
Chattanoogan.com covered news that a local student placed in the TBA YLD's annual Law Day Art & Essay contest, while the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle ran a story about YLD District Representative Brad Carter's annual Law Day public service project -- which provides backpacks and toiletries for children entering state custody. This year, the project raised $1,000 for the purchase of much-needed items.

Resources for flood victims covered
Nashville televison station WZTV Fox 17 and the Tennessean reported news from the TBA and other organizations coordinating disaster legal services in the state that the toll-free hotline set up for flood victims in need of legal assistance is now able to help bilingual callers.

TBA Member Services
Avis benefits 'try harder'
TBA members are offered a rental car discount through Avis. Enroll in the Avis Preferred Service at www.avisawards.com to bypass the rental counter and go directly to your car for a faster, easier rental experience. Enter code AWD# A570100.

TennBarU CLE
2010 Spring CLE Blast this Friday
Still need CLE credits before the June 1 deadline? Come to the Tennessee Bar Center Friday for the TBA's first Spring CLE Blast. The TBA's TennBarU will present 11 hours of continuous programming, starting at 7 a.m. The program features some of the best TennBarU programs from the past year presented with moderators. All are certified as live programs offering dual credit. Sign up now or anytime at the Tennessee Bar Center.
Register or see a full schedule of the courses

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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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