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Court: TSC


Berry Cooper and Carroll C. Johnson, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Estate of Joyce Bell, Jonathan C. Bell, and Stephen Bilsky, as Administrator for the Estate and as Guardian Ad Litem for Jonathan C. Bell.

James F. Kyle and Dennis P. Hawkins, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Shelby County Health Care Corporation d/b/a The Regional Medical Center.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves the application of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act to an action for damages filed against a defendant that was not covered by the Act when the injury producing events occurred. The defendant filed a motion for partial summary judgment in the Circuit Court for Shelby County seeking the benefit of the claims and defenses available to government entities under the Act. The plaintiffs responded by challenging the constitutionality of legislation extending the coverage of the Act to the defendant on the ground that the legislation had been enacted after the plaintiffs had sustained their injuries. The trial court held that the Act applied to the defendant but granted the plaintiffs permission to pursue an interlocutory appeal. We granted the plaintiffs' application for permission to appeal after the Court of Appeals declined to consider the case. We have determined that applying the substantive amendment to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act enacted after the injury-producing events occurred to the plaintiffs' damage claims violates the prohibition against retrospective laws in Article I, Section 20 of the Constitution of Tennessee.


Court: TSC


Benjamin L. McGowan, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ralphelle James.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Boyd Patterson and C. Matthew Rogers, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

The defendant, a Range I offender, was found guilty of public intoxication, theft of property over $1,000, and aggravated burglary. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of thirty days for the misdemeanor and four years for the felony theft; because the six-year sentence for aggravated burglary is to be served consecutively, the effective sentence is ten years. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. This Court granted the defendant's application for permission to appeal to consider the propriety of instructions to the jury permitting inferences of both theft and burglary from the possession of recently stolen property. A second issue is whether the trial court erred by failing to grant a motion for judgment of acquittal as to the charge of aggravated burglary for insufficient evidence. As his final issue, the defendant contends that the trial court erred by allowing the State to further examine a defense witness after jurors had submitted questions pursuant to rule. Because the instructions were proper, the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict on the burglary charge, and the procedure utilized for juror questions was compliant with the rule, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


Vanessa Cross, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Davis.

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

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Michael Davis, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his especially aggravated robbery conviction, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of counsel. Because we conclude that trial counsel was deficient for failing to request a jury instruction on facilitation as a lesser-included offense of especially aggravated robbery, and that there is a reasonable probability that the outcome of the petitioner's trial would have been different had counsel done so, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for the granting of post-conviction relief.


Court: TCCA


Paul Williams, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General And Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel J. McAdams, District Attorney General; and R. Adam Jowers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Paul Williams, appeals from judgments entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of driving on a suspended license, violation of the passenger vehicle safety belt law, and violation of the motor vehicle registration law. In this appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court was without jurisdiction to convict him, that his convictions violate his constitutional right to travel, and that the evidence presented was insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Legal News
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TBA Member Services

Legal News
Senate committee approves Stanton nomination
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this morning approved the nomination of Memphis lawyer Edward L. Stanton III to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. The vote was unanimous. If confirmed by the full Senate, Stanton, 38, would be chief prosecutor of all federal crimes in 22 counties west of the Tennessee River.
Read more about Stanton in the Commercial Appeal
ABA president speaks about global legal ethics in Memphis
Speaking to the Memphis Rotary Club this week, American Bar Association President Carolyn Lamm touched on two themes: meeting the legal needs of the poor and understanding ethical implications for globalized law practices. As lawyers increasingly work remotely, handle matters over the Internet, form virtual firms and partner with non-U.S. lawyers, Lamm says the profession needs to provide safeguards to protect the public. She has appointed a working group, but said it will take years to fully understand the issues at stake.
The Memphis Daily News reports
Paper: funding needed for legal services
In related news, The Memphis Flyer paid tribute to Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) and called for greater funding for the Legal Services Corporation after attending an event with Carolyn Lamm. The editors write it was "disconcerting" to hear that while MALS "processes some 6,500 cases annually ... these are but the tip of an iceberg" and was "shocking" to learn that the Legal Services Corporation has not been reauthorized by law since 1977.
Read the full opinion piece here
UT Law to see 12% tuition hike
Law school students at the University of Tennessee Knoxville face a 12 percent tuition hike, or an annual increase of $1,344, following action today by the UT Board of Trustees. The board set tuition increases at schools across the state, most ranging from nine to 10 percent.
The Commercial Appeal reports
Nominate an immigration law firm for pro bono work
The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) is seeking nominations of law firms that have excelled in the pro bono representation of immigration clients or engaged in law reform efforts. Download an application and then send it and attachments to Tiffany Payne Merklinger at or by fax at (202) 872-1031. Nominations are due Aug. 7. Call Merklinger at (202) 452-0620 x232 with any questions.

Presenters sought for Equal Justice University
The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services is seeking presenters for its 2010 Equal Justice University, a three-day event scheduled for Sept. 27-29 at Paris Landing State Park, which draws legal aid attorneys and other members of the state's equal justice community. Lawyers interested in speaking to the group should send a description or outline of proposed topics by July 7 to Lisa Primm at or by fax at (615) 627-0964.

MBA launches Twitter feed
The Memphis Bar Association launched its own Twitter feed this week. The association reports it will use the platform to tweet legal news in the Memphis area and post local job openings. The Tennessee Bar Association also regularly posts items on Twitter.
Check it out here
Jewish group hosts First Amendment presentation
The Jewish Federation will host a dinner and presentation by David L. Hudson Jr. of the First Amendment Center on July 8 at 6:30 p.m. in Chattanooga. Hudson is also a professor at the Nashville School of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. The dinner will be held at the Jewish Cultural Center at 5461 North Terrace Road. Cost is $10 per person in advance, $12 at the door. For details call Ann Treadwell at (423) 493-0270.
The Chattanoogan has more
Career Opportunities
Litigation associate sought in Knoxville
The Knoxville firm of Spicer Rudstrom is seeking a litigation defense attorney to practice in the areas of construction, insurance, and tort and personal injury law. Eligible candidates must possess a Tennessee law license. A minimum of three years of experience is preferred. Interested parties should apply to Cindy Winters at or by fax at (865) 673-8972.
Learn more about the position on TBA's JobLink
Part-time law clerk sought for Nashville firm
The Nashville office of Hughes & Coleman is seeking a part-time law clerk or intern for a paid summer position at the firm. To apply for the position send a letter of interest, resume (including law school class ranking and/or GPA) and three to five professional references to HR Director Beth Miller at or by mail to Hughes & Coleman, PO Box 10120, Bowling Green, KY 42102.
Read more about the position, including duties, on JobLink
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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