Firm to credit attorneys for 50 hours of pro bono per year

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC has revised its pro bono policy to provide billable hour credit to its attorneys for up to 50 hours per year of pro bono work, up from the previous credit total of 20 hours per year. "Since fiscal year 2008, the firm's pro bono hours have doubled, as have average pro bono hours per attorney," said the firm's Pro Bono Committee Chair Jonathan Cole. "By increasing the billable credit for pro bono work to 50 hours per year, we are creating the potential for our attorneys to contribute thousands more hours each year to providing free legal services to the poor and disadvantaged. A lot of good can be achieved with that additional time devoted to pro bono work."

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Court: TCA


Thomas Greenholtz, Frederick L. Hitchcock,, Harold L. North, Jr., Michael A. McMahan, and Valerie L. Malueg, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, City of Chattanooga, Tennessee, a Municipal Corporation.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, and Ryan L. McGehee, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Consumer Advocate and Protection Division of the Tennessee Office of the Attorney General.

J. Richard Collier, Kelly Cashman-Grams, and Rebecca S. Montgomery, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Regulatory Authority.

R. Dale Grimes, Ross I. Booher and Matthew J. Sinback, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee American Water Company.


The City of Chattanooga has appealed the decision by the Tennessee Regulatory Authority establishing a rate for the appellee, Tennessee American Water Company. The Tennessee American Water Company filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that the issues before this Court are moot. We hold the issues on appeal are moot and in our discretion decline to consider the issues as an exception to the mootness doctrine. The appeal is dismissed.


Court: TCA


Robert Todd Jackson and Russ Heldman, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alan N. Reinagel.

Henry F. Todd, Jr., Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Danielle Christine Reinagel.


After the parties were divorced for two years, the father sought to reduce his child support obligation and change the custody of the child which had been agreed upon at the time of the divorce. The Trial Court heard evidence and modified the visitation schedule, but vested the mother with primary custody all based on Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-6-101(a)(2)(C). He also increased the child support obligation of the father, and the father has appealed. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.

With Concurring and Dissenting Opinion

Court: TCA


Keith Lowe, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Linsie K.

Joseph F. Della-Rodolfa, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Christopher W. and Sara R.


This parental rights termination case was filed by Christopher W. ("Father") and Sara R. ("Stepmother") seeking to terminate the parental rights of Linsie K. ("Mother") to her daughter Tristyn K. ("the Child"). Stepmother also seeks to adopt the Child, who currently is four years old. Following a trial, the Trial Court terminated Mother's parental rights after finding various grounds had been proven by clear and convincing evidence and that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the Child's best interest. For the reasons discussed in this Opinion, we vacate the Trial Court's judgment finding grounds to terminate Mother's parental rights, and we remand this case for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

SUSANO concurring in part and dissenting in part


Court: TCCA


Nicholas S. Brewer, Pro Se, Tiptonville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Nicholas Shane Brewer, pled guilty to attempted aggravated sexual battery, a Class C felony, in May 2006, receiving a negotiated sentence of six years, as a Range I standard offender, in the Tennessee Department of Correction. He did not seek a direct appeal or post-conviction relief. The petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus relief on September 23, 2009. The habeas corpus court summarily denied relief. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the court erred by summarily dismissing his petition, arguing that (1) the original judgment against him was void because it did not reflect the mandatory imposition of a sentence of community supervision for life, and the trial court did not have jurisdiction to amend the judgment; (2) he entered his guilty plea involuntarily and unknowingly; and (3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


Court: TCCA


Robert Wilson Jones, Shelby County Public Defender, and Barry W. Kuhn, Assistant Public Defender, (on appeal) and Michael Johnson, Assistant Public Defender, (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dwayne Hardy.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Pamela Fleming and Ray Lapone, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

In April 2009, a Shelby County jury convicted the defendant, Dwayne Hardy, of (1) especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony, (2) aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and (3) aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a repeat violent offender to life without parole for especially aggravated kidnapping. The trial court further sentenced the defendant as a career offender to fifteen years for aggravated assault and thirty years for aggravated robbery. The court ordered the defendant to serve the sentences consecutively in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his especially aggravated kidnapping conviction, and (2) the trial court erred by admitting evidence that the police found in a garbage can. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Mack Garner, District Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Michael Hurst.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General & Reporter; and Kathy Aslinger, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Michael D. Hurst, has appealed the Blount County Circuit Court's September 4, 2009 revocation of his community corrections placement which resulted in his serving the balance of his 2004 eight-year, guilty pleaded sentence for drug possession. The State has moved the court to summarily affirm the circuit court's revocation order pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Because the record supports the State's motion, we affirm the order of the circuit court.


Court: TCCA


B. Nathan Hunt, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Floyd Rodriquez Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Lacy E. Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; John E. Finklea, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


In three separate cases, the Defendant, Floyd Rodriquez Johnson, pled guilty to two counts of possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell and one count of the sale of more than .5 grams of cocaine. The Defendant agreed to allow the trial court to sentence him and agreed he was a Range II offender. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appeals, contending that the trial court erred when it sentenced him to confinement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court's judgments.


Court: TCCA


Robert M. Linder, Appellant, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Robert Linder, appeals pro se the trial court's summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief from his conviction for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class B felony. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court's summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. The petition fails to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, and the Petitioner failed to comply with the procedural requirements of the habeas corpus statute. The State's motion is granted, and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TCCA


J. Derreck Whitson, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rodney Northern.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; James B. Dunn, District Attorney General; and Brownlow Marsh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Rodney Northern, pleaded guilty to one count of theft in exchange for a four-year sentence to be served as 50 days' incarceration with the remainder on supervised probation. The plea agreement provided that the trial court would later determine the amount of restitution, and after a hearing the trial court ordered $10,500 in restitution to the victim, Melvin Hance. On appeal, the defendant challenges the amount of restitution. After review of the record, we hold that this court lacks jurisdiction to hear this case because the trial court failed to enter a final judgment.

TIPTON dissenting


Court: TCCA


Brock Mehler, Nashville, Tennessee (on appeal); Gerald Skahan (on appeal and at trial) and Marty McAfee (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Richard Odom.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Mark E. Davidson, Senior Counsel; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Robert Carter and Amy Weirich, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Richard Odom, appeals as of right his sentence of death resulting from the May 10, 1991, murder of Mina Ethel Johnson. A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant of first degree murder committed in the perpetration of rape. Following a separate sentencing hearing, the jury found that the proof supported three aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) the defendant had been previously convicted of one or more violent felonies, Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-13-204(i)(2); (2) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-13-204(i)(5); and (3) the murder was committed during the defendant's escape from lawful custody or from a place of lawful confinement, Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-13-204(i)(8), and sentenced the defendant to death by electrocution. On direct appeal, the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the defendant's conviction for first degree murder but reversed the sentence of death and remanded for a new sentencing hearing. See State v. Odom, 928 S.W.2d 18, 21 (Tenn. 1996). Specifically, the supreme court found that reversible error was committed in the sentencing phase in that (1) the proof did not support application of the (i)(5), heinous, atrocious, cruel aggravating circumstance; (2) the evidence did not support the jury's finding that the defendant committed the murder during an escape from lawful custody, (i)(8); (3) the trial court failed to permit the defendant to present the mitigating testimony of Dr. John Hutson; and (4) the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury as to nonstatutory mitigating circumstances. Id. Accordingly, the case was remanded to the trial court for resentencing. At the conclusion of the resentencing hearing which commenced on September 28, 1999, the jury found the presence of one aggravating circumstance, the defendant had been previously convicted of one or more violent felonies, Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-13-204(i)(2). The jury further determined that the mitigating circumstances did not outweigh the aggravating circumstances and imposed a sentence of death. The trial court approved the sentencing verdict. This court affirmed the sentence, but the Tennessee Supreme Court again reversed, finding that evidence of the prior violent felony offense was improperly admitted. State v. Odom, 137 S.W.3d 572, 580-83 (Tenn. 2004). A third resentencing hearing was held on December 3, 2007. The jury found the presence of two aggravating circumstances: the defendant had previously been convicted of a prior violent felony and the murder was committed during an attempt to commit a robbery. See Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-13-204(i)(2), (7). The jury further determined that the mitigating circumstances did not outweigh the aggravating circumstances and, again, imposed a sentence of death. The defendant appeals, presenting for our review the following claims: (1) the trial court erred in granting a challenge for cause to a juror; (2) the trial court erred in admitting crime scene photographs; (3) the jury instruction on parole eligibility violated his right to due process; (4) the criteria of Tennessee Code annotated section 39-13- 206(c)(1) have not been satisfied in the present case; (5) his waiver of his right to testify was not knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily made; (6) the reasonable doubt instruction violated his constitutional rights; and (7) Tennessee's death penalty scheme is unconstitutional. Following our review, we affirm the jury's imposition of the sentence of death in this case.


Court: TCCA


William L. Gribble, II, Maryville, Tennessee, attorney for appellant, Billy R. Summey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; R. Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and Paul Rush, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Monroe County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Billy R. Summey, for alternative counts of sale or delivery of more than one-half ounce but less than ten pounds of marijuana, a Class E felony. Following the denial of his motion to suppress, the Defendant pled guilty to the indictment and received a sentence of two years as a Range I, standard offender to be served on probation. Pursuant to the guilty plea, the Defendant also reserved a certified question of law that is dispositive of his case challenging the legality of the tape-recorded drug transaction that occurred in his home, without a warrant, between himself and an informant. See Tenn. R. Crim. P. 37(b)(2)(i). In this appeal as of right, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


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