Lee, McClarty retained; Haslam to face McWherter

Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee and Court of Appeals Judge John McClarty each won retention of their respective seats in Thursday's election. With Republican businessman Bill Haslam winning the Republican nomination for governor, he will face Democrat and lawyer Mike McWherter in the statewide general election Nov. 2. Across the state, legislators, judges and clerks kept their jobs, got new ones or were booted out by voters in landslides, tight races, and races yet to be determined. Some races of note include the following.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen beat former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton "in a landslide" for the 9th Congressional District Democratic nomination. In the 6th Congressional District primary, neither State Sen. Jim Tracy or businesswoman Lou Ann Zelenik have conceded to State Sen. Diane Black even though Black leads them by 500 to 600 votes.

In the Democratic primary for state Senate District 21, incumbent Sen. Douglas Henry is up by only two votes over challenger Jeff Yarbro. The results have not been certified and Yarbro's lawyer Wally Dietz issued a statement today about the closeness of the race.

A number of judicial races around the state brought surprising results and two remain unresolved. In Anderson County, the race for Juvenile Court judge was deadlocked with both Brandon Fisher, the Democrat named to the interim post, and Republican Zach Farrar receiving 6,442 votes. In Davidson County, James Baxter appears to have lost the race for criminal court clerk by 12,000 votes but plans to contest the election and all but accuses incumbent David Torrence's campaign with tampering. In Coffee County, Chancellor Vanessa Jackson held on to her seat in a close race, while in Chattanooga, Jeffrey Atherton was elected chancellor. In Memphis, two incumbent Circuit Court judges who had been appointed to fill open spots -- Lorrie Ridder and Rhynette Northcross Hurd -- lost their seats, and a tight three-way Criminal Court race went to veteran prosecutor Bobby Carter Jr. Finally, Democrat David Smith beat Republican Eric Crafton for Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk to take over what he called an "outdated, inefficient Juvenile Court Clerk's Office."

See complete election results from across the state from the Tennessean

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Court: TCA


Jerome Degans, Wartburg, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


This appeal involves an inmate's efforts to obtain judicial review of a prison disciplinary board decision. After the trial court determined that the inmate's petition for writ of certiorari was time barred by Tenn. Code Ann. section 27-9-102 (2000), the inmate filed both a notice of appeal and a letter requesting "another chance." Because the trial court ordered the letter sent to the appellee for a response but has not yet ruled on the relief sought in the letter, we dismiss the appeal for lack of a final judgment.



Court: TCA


Cynthia Elease Greene, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Yvette Martin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Warren Jasper, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, ex rel. Yvette Martin.


The mother of a minor child appeals her conviction of eighteen counts of criminal contempt for willful failure to pay child support. She contends the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions for criminal contempt. We agree and reverse the finding of the trial court.



Court: TCA


Larry Woods, Allen N. Woods, II, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Andrew Bernard Shute, Jr. and Concerned Neighbors of Nashville.

Sue B. Cain, Director of Law, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Lora Barkenbus Fox, Jeff Campbell, Assistant Metropolitan Attorneys, for the appellees Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, and Metropolitan Planning Commission.

M. Taylor Harris, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Nashville Area Habitat For Humanity, Inc.


The Nashville Metropolitan Council approved a Planned Unit Development (PUD) for a large residential subdivision to be constructed by Habitat for Humanity. The Metropolitan Planning Commission subsequently approved a site plan for the first phase of the subdivision, over the objections of neighboring landowners, who then challenged the approval by filing a petition for writ certiorari in the Chancery Court. The petitioners also mounted a challenge against the entire project based on the ground that the PUD had become "inactive" because construction had not yet begun, even though six years had passed since it was initially approved. The Planning Commission rejected the challenge, finding that the project was still "active" and, therefore, that the PUD did not have to go through the process of approval for a second time. The neighbors then filed a second petition for writ of certiorari. The trial court consolidated the two petitions and heard arguments that the procedures the Planning Commission followed in reaching its decisions violated the petitioners' constitutional rights. The court dismissed both petitions, ruling that the Planning Commission had not acted illegally, arbitrarily or fraudulently, and that the petitioners' constitutional rights were not violated. We affirm.



Court: TCA


J. Thomas Caldwell, Ripley, Tennessee, for the appellant, Judy Wyatt.

Frank Deslauriers, Covington, Tennessee, for the appellee, Ronald Byrd.


Property was purchased in Mr. Byrd's name alone, but Ms. Wyatt contends that partnership/joint venture profits were used to secure the purchase, such that she is entitled to an interest in the property. We find that, to the extent that partnership profits were used towards earnest money and closing costs, Ms. Wyatt is presumed to have an interest in the property. We vacate the trial court's dismissal order and we remand for an evidentiary hearing regarding whether R & J Remodeling profits were expended towards earnest money and closing costs, and to allow Mr. Byrd an opportunity to rebut the presumption of partnership property.



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Nashville lawyer Jim Havron services set
Attorney James T. "Jim" Havron died Aug. 5. He was 78. Havron was the longest serving public defender in Davidson County and was responsible for greatly increasing and expanding services for indigent criminal defendants, according to the Nashville Bar Association. He was a graduate of Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. Visitation with the family will be Sunday, Aug. 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. at West Harpeth Funeral Home, 6962 Charlotte Pike in Nashville. Funeral services will be Monday, Aug. 9, at 10 a.m. at the Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery, with military honors. Havron is survived by his father, Nashville lawyer James C. Havron, who will turn 102 years old on Sunday.
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The U.S. Senate confirmed Edward L. Stanton III as the next U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Thursday night by unanimous consent. The 38-year-old lawyer for FedEx will become the chief prosecutor of all federal crimes west of the Tennessee River.
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Tennessee lawyers honored for access to justice efforts
Tennessee attorneys were recognized for their work in increasing access to legal services for the poor during the ABA Annual Meeting today in San Francisco. The award was presented to TBA President Sam Elliott and former presidents Gail Vaughn Ashworth and Buck Lewis in recognition of the TBA's 4ALL Campaign that focused on education, collaboration, participation and legislation to increase access to legal services for poor Tennesseans.
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Stranch vote set for Sept. 13
Nashville lawyer Jane Stranch, nominated by President Obama one year ago today for a seat on the 6th Circuit, is now scheduled for a vote on Sept. 13, which will be the senators' first day back after their recess. Stranch would replace Sixth Circuit jurist Martha Craig Daughtrey of Nashville, who retired at the beginning of 2009. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Stranch's nomination on Nov. 19, 2009, by a vote of 15-4, but it has languished ever since, becoming the longest-pending appeals court nomination of the Obama administration.
NashvillePost.com has more [subscription required]
Tennessee firms top lists for diversity, women
Four law firms with offices in Tennessee were named to the "Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity," and five firms were listed in the "Top 100 Firms for Women." Multicultural Law Magazine made the designations for "making the case for diversity and setting the tone for inclusion." For diversity, they are Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart (#60); Miller & Martin (#76); Adams & Reese (#95); and Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz (#100). For women, those in the listing are Ogletree, Deakins (#35); Stites & Harbison (#61); Baker, Donelson (#71); Frost Brown Todd (#84); and Husch Blackwell Sanders (#94).

Riley portrait gets more respect
Judge Joe G. Riley's portrait in the Dyer County Courthouse has been upgraded with a larger plaque so passersby will know who Riley is. A large crowd gathered inside the first-floor hallway of the courthouse recently to pay homage to a man they say treated everyone with respect and dignity. Riley served as circuit court judge for Dyer and Lake counties and judge of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals from Sept. 1, 1978, through July 15, 2004.
The State Gazette has the story
Same-sex marriage session opens ABA annual meeting
As the American Bar Association Annual Meeting opened yesterday in San Francisco, one of the first conference programs was titled "Same-Sex Marriage: Moving Beyond State Courts." The discussion occurred shortly after Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that California's Proposition 8 initiative was unconstitutional. During the meeting of its policy-making House of Delegates on Aug. 9-10, the ABA will consider a recommendation dealing with marriage equality. The recommendation, as it is being brought to the House, reads, "[T]he American Bar Association urges state, territorial and tribal governments to eliminate all of their legal barriers to civil marriage between two persons of the same sex who are otherwise eligible to marry."
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Legislative News
Norris is new chair of regional legislative group
Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, has been elected as chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference by delegates at the 64th Annual Meeting of The Council of State Governments' Southern Legislative Conference. Norris is the first Tennessee senator to serve as SLC chair since 1988. He is special counsel at Adams and Reese in Memphis.
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Reception for Al Harvey Saturday in San Francisco
The Tennessee Bar Association will host a reception honoring Memphis lawyer and former TBA President Albert C. Harvey on Aug. 7 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. The reception is in conjunction with the American Bar Association Annual Meeting. The festivities are made possible with the generous support from The University of Tennessee College of Law, The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School.

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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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