6th Circuit: Party labels, fundraising OK in judicial races

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday cleared the way for Kentucky judicial candidates to raise money and run with political party affiliations, saying a ban on such activities violates the First Amendment. The case grew out of a Kentucky rule that prohibited judicial candidates from identifying themselves by party, raising money and taking a stand on specific issues. With regard to the ban on taking positions on issues, the appeals court said it was "constitutional in the main," but because of a material ambiguity, required further consideration by the district court. Read more in the Chicago Tribune.

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Court: TSC


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and James F. Goodwin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Jason R. McLellan, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jeffery Aaron Lane.

Judge: LEE

We review this post-conviction case to determine the validity of defendant's guilty plea when the trial court did not specifically ask the defendant "How do you plead?" and he did not respond with the words, "Guilty" or "Not guilty." We hold that the defendant's guilty plea was valid because the facts and circumstances of the case show that the defendant intended to plead guilty, affirmatively admitted his guilt, stated that he was entering his plea voluntarily, and believed that he was pleading guilty. Accordingly, the defendant knowingly and voluntarily entered a guilty plea, and the guilty plea proceedings in this case substantially complied with the mandates of federal and state law. Therefore, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed, and we remand for reinstatement of the defendant's conviction under the accepted plea agreement.



Court: TCA


Steven E. Marshall, Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Angela Brandenburg and Black Bear Cabins & Weddings, Inc.

Scott D. Hall, Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Cynthia Herron Hayes.

Douglas R. Beier, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellee, James Steven Hayes.


Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant Husband and Wife seeking injunctive relief. Wife filed a counterclaim and cross-claim against Plaintiff and Husband alleging fraudulent conveyance, conversion, and misappropriation of assets. After a bench trial, the trial court found that Plaintiff and Husband devised a scheme to cloud the ownership of the business jointly owned by Husband and Wife and to hide assets from Wife during an impending divorce. The trial court awarded damages totaling $175,000 to Wife. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm.



Court: TCA


Joshua H. Jenne, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kimberly W.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, and Lindsey O. Appiah, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.

Sally Love, Cleveland, Tennessee, Guardian ad Litem.


This appeal involves the termination of a mother's parental rights to her son. Following a bench trial, the trial court determined that the mother knowingly failed to protect her child by not immediately seeking medical care and by not immediately reporting her child's injuries to medical providers or the authorities. Therefore, the trial court terminated the mother's parental rights. We affirm.



Court: TCA


Sonya W. Henderson, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Gladys Davis.

Keith D. Frazier, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Nissan North America, Inc.


Gladys Davis ("Plaintiff") filed this retaliatory discharge case against her former employer, Nissan North America, Inc. ("Defendant"). Plaintiff claims Defendant retaliated against her for filing several workers' compensation claims. Prior to Plaintiff's discharge, she underwent a comprehensive medical examination and, based on this examination, two physicians who are board certified in occupational and preventive medicine opined that there was a high risk of re-injury should Plaintiff be returned to work. Relying on the medical opinions of these two physicians, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The Trial Court concluded, among other things, that Defendant had negated an essential element of Plaintiff's claim and Defendant, therefore, was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Plaintiff appeals, and we affirm.



Court: TCA


Timothy T. Ishii, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cassandra A.

Abby Rose Rubenfeld, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brian L.


Mother appeals the trial court's change of custody of the parties' minor child to Father. Father appeals the trial court's determination of Mother's child support obligation and its failure to award him a judgment for child support retroactive to the date he was awarded temporary custody. Both parties contest the trial court's findings of contempt. We affirm the trial court's change of custody to Father. We reverse its finding of contempt as to Mother and the denial of retroactive child support for Father. We remand the matter to the court for a determination of Mother's child support obligation.



Court: TCA


Michael C. Murphy, Morristown, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Nicholas G. Barca, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Revenue.


Appellant, a former municipal court judge, filed this action to contest the determination by the Department of Revenue that he was not entitled to have a judicial license plate for his vehicle. Appellant served as a municipal court judge from 1996 to 2000 in Morristown, Tennessee, a position to which he was appointed, not elected. He first obtained a judicial license plate in 1996 and following the end of his term in 2000, he annually renewed his judicial license plate. In 2006, Appellant received a notice from the State that he was not presently eligible to have a judicial license plate because the current statute, Tenn. Code Ann. section 55-4-226(f) (2004), provided that only "duly elected" municipal court judges were entitled to judicial license plates. Appellant then pursued a contested case hearing, and when the administrative action was dismissed, Appellant filed a petition for judicial review under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. The chancery court upheld the administrative decision based on Tenn. Code Ann. section 55-4-226(f) (2004); however, the statute was amended in a material way in 2009, during the pendency of this case, which was not brought to the attention of the court. The Department has acknowledged in this appeal that the current statute provides that a former "appointed" municipal court judge, such as Appellant, may obtain a judicial license plate. We have determined the 2009 amendment to Tenn. Code Ann. section 55-4-226(f) provides the relief Appellant is seeking; therefore, the issues on appeal are moot. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed for mootness.



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