President Obama signs Rep. Cohen's libel act into law

This morning, President Barack Obama signed the SPEECH Act (Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act) into law. The act, authored by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., protects American authors and journalists from having foreign libel judgments against them honored by U.S. courts. While in the Oval Office, Cohen says he invited Obama to Memphis, suggesting he visit the National Civil Rights Museum next year during its 20th anniversary.

Read more in the Commercial Appeal

Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format. To search all opinions in the TBALink database or to obtain a text version of each opinion, go to our OpinionSearch page. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on TBALink at the TBA's Membership Central.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
03 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR

You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer. 2) Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view and save a plain-text version of the opinion.

CORRECTION on page 2 of the opinion, an addition to footnote 2 regarding the spelling of Ms. Kadija Jalloh's name and the consistent spelling of her name throughout the opinion.

Court: TSC


Samuel J. Muldavin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy Darnell Flowers.

Krisann Hodges, Disciplinary Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Board of Professional Responsibility.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves a disciplinary proceeding against a Memphis lawyer whose practice focuses on immigration law. Following a hearing, one of the Board of Professional Responsibility's hearing panels unanimously determined that the lawyer should be suspended from the practice of law for one year and should be required to make restitution to three clients. The lawyer sought judicial review of the hearing panel's suspension of his license. Based on the record of the proceedings before the hearing panel, the Chancery Court for Shelby County determined that twenty-three of the twenty-six courses of conduct found by the hearing panel to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct were supported by substantial and material evidence and that the evidence supported the hearing panel's reliance on seven aggravating factors. Accordingly, the trial court determined that the suspension of the lawyer's license for one year was supported by the ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions (2005) and was not arbitrary and capricious. The lawyer appealed to this Court. We affirm the suspension of the lawyer's license to practice law for one year and the order directing him to make restitution to three of his clients.

CORRECTION on page five (5) of the opinion within first paragraph at 9th line, a sentence was added that begins as "For as we stated...".

Court: TCA


Mike J. Urquhart, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antione Batey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, and Amy T. McConnell, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Human Services.


This is an appeal of a criminal contempt hearing in which the appellant father was found to be in contempt for non-payment of child support pursuant to court order. Upon review of the record, we vacate.


Court: TCA


Bill R. Barron, Trenton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elmer Elliott, Jr.

C. Mark Donahoe and Magan N. White, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Pearl Elliott and Robert Elliott.


Plaintiff appeals the trial court's award of summary judgment to Defendants. We dismiss the appeal for the failure to appeal a final judgment.


Court: TCA


Randall C. Trent, pro se Appellant.

Daniel P. Street, Blountville, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Wayne Anderson, Sheriff, Lori Delp, Lieutenant, and Penny Lester, L.P.N.


Randall C. Trent ("Plaintiff") was incarcerated at the Sullivan County jail for several months before being transferred to the Tennessee Department of Correction. Plaintiff claims that while incarcerated at the Sullivan County jail, he was denied proper medical care and retaliated against for complaining about the lack of proper medical care. Plaintiff initially brought numerous claims against various defendants. This appeal involves the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983, 42 U.S.C. section 1985, and 42 U.S.C. section 12101, also known as the Americans with Disabilities Act. These various federal claims were dismissed by the Trial Court after finding that the applicable one-year statute of limitations had expired by the time the complaint was filed. On appeal, Plaintiff claims that the "continuing violation" doctrine applies to save his untimely claims. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TCCA


John Phillip Parsons, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph C. Caldwell, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Beth Willis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Joseph C. Caldwell, Jr., pled guilty to robbery and aggravated burglary, both Class C felonies, and received a negotiated sentence of six years for each charge, to be served consecutively in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The post-conviction court denied the petitioner's post-conviction petition. On appeal, the petitioner argues that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel and that he entered his guilty pleas involuntarily and unknowingly. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TCCA


Jonathan Turner, Chattanooga, Tennessee (on appeal); and Ardena Garth, District Public Defender (at trial), for the appellee, Michael Jermaine Harris.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, District Attorney General; and Neal Pinkston, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Hamilton County jury convicted the defendant, Michael Jermaine Harris, of one count of aggravated arson. The trial court sentenced him to 19 years' incarceration to be served at 100 percent as a violent offender. The defendant appeals his conviction and argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial court erred in failing to give a proper jury instruction regarding eyewitness identification, and that the trial court erred in enhancing his sentence on the basis of factors not determined by the jury. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the Hamilton County Criminal Court.


Court: TCCA


Howard W. Wilson, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Edward Pope.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William Whitesell, District Attorney General; Thomas E. Parkerson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Edward Pope, pled guilty to attempted aggravated robbery and aggravated assault, with an agreed effective sentence length of seven years and with the trial court to determine manner of service. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement. The Defendant appeals, claiming the trial court erred in denying him an alternative sentence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Election 2010
Legal News
TBA Member Services

Election 2010
Henry still up by 13 after 3rd count, Yarbo wants another
State Sen. Douglas Henry is holding on to his lead today in the tight District 21 Democratic primary over Jeff Yarbro, who has called for a recount because of a series of discrepancies in the absentee vote totals. The Davidson County Election Commission revealed it was forced to count more than 2,000 countywide absentee ballots by hand on election night because of a malfunctioning electronic scanner machine. Confusion over the hand-counted ballots has resulted in three different vote totals since Thursday's primary.
The Tennessean has more
Tracy concedes, unless 'something comes to light'
State Sen. Jim Tracy conceded -- sort of -- the 6th Congressional District primary to Sen. Diane Black today, issuing a statement this afternoon. Tracy's statement included the disclaimer that "if there is something that comes to light during the election certification process, then our campaign will reassess the situation at that time." The state election coordinator is to certify the results of the election Sept. 2.
InSession, The Tennessean's political blog, has the story
Opinion: Civility lacking in losers of most races
Columnist Gail Kerr comments on the many races with "sore losers" with an "utter lack of civility." She commends the ones who stood out for their civility and graciousness, though, including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Sen. Douglas Henry and his opponent, Jeff Yarbro. Ramsey, she writes, "acted like a gentleman in conceding defeat to Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam on election night, and offered an honorable pledge of loyalty." For Henry and Yarbro -- whose race is still up in the air -- she notes that "through it all, both men have remained polite and civil. Yarbro's statement said it well: This is now about math, not politics." As for the "whiners," you'll want to read
her column in the Tennessean.
Was Shelby voting problem criminal?
Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons has requested the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conduct a criminal investigation into voting problems on Aug. 5. The action by Gibbons follows a formal request from the Shelby County Election Commission on Monday to "refer an independent agency to review the Aug. 5 election." But Gibbons has asked investigators to determine if the incorrect early voting data loaded into the electronic poll books was the result of an intentional act and if voters were indeed turned away.
The Commercial Appeal reports
Legal News
Ford's sentence may be trimmed after court ruling
After a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling that narrowed the use of an anti-corruption law widely used by federal prosecutors to go after self-dealing politicians, former state senator John Ford may get some time taken off his 19-year sentence. Ford, 68, was convicted in federal court in Nashville on six corruption counts, including two counts of honest-services wire fraud. Jerry E. Martin, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, says the two honest-services convictions now must be vacated.
The Commercial Appeal has more
ABA House adopts policies on federal preemption, civil right to counsel, gay marriage
During its two days of debate, the American Bar Association House of Delegates adopted a broad range of policies relating to federal preemption, the criminal justice system, principles relating to right to counsel, and training of judges, along with many others. Today the House declared that gays and lesbians should have the right to marry in civil ceremonies.
Read the full list of new ABA policy
Zack is new ABA president
Stephen N. Zack was installed as the American Bar Association's president today at its Annual Meeting in San Francisco, succeeding Carolyn Lamm. Former ABA treasurer and past president of the Kentucky Bar Association, Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, was elected president-elect. He will serve for a one-year term, before becoming ABA president in August 2011.

Kruger appointed in solicitor general's office
The Department of Justice announced today that Leondra Kruger, a 34-year-old assistant to the solicitor general, has been named acting principal deputy solicitor general -- the so-called "political deputy" position under Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal.
The Blog of Legal Times reports
TBA Member Services
First Tennessee is TBA's preferred provider
First Tennessee has crafted a package of discounts to meet the specific needs of Tennessee Bar Association members.
Find savings on merchant credit services, checking and savings, financial planning and more

Discontinue your TBA Today subscription? ... Surely not!
But if you must, visit the TBALink web site at:

Questions, comments: Email us at

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.

© Copyright 2010 Tennessee Bar Association