Court adopts new pro bono rule for non-active lawyers

The Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday adopted Rule 50A establishing a Pro Bono Emeritus Attorney Program to allow lawyers who no longer actively practice law to provide free legal services through approved legal assistance organizations. The rule, designed to increase access to justice for needy individuals in the state, lays out qualifications for participation, a certification process for both lawyers and organizations seeking to participate, and responsibilities of attorneys who are certified. The rule was proposed by the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission and supported by the TBA. Its language is drawn from a number of similar rules that have been adopted in other U.S. jurisdictions. The rule takes effect Jan. 1, 2011. For more information about the new program or to learn about opportunities for volunteering, please contact TBA Access to Justice Coordinator Sarah Hayman at or (615) 383-7421.

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Court: TSC


J. David Wicker, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Curtis Lee Majors.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Robert E. McGuire, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: CLARK

We accepted this case to determine whether, under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-16-503(a)(1), the proof required to convict the defendant of tampering with evidence is sufficient where the "thing" destroyed during the course of an investigation is not specifically identified. On the facts of this case, we hold that the evidence is sufficient. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


Court: TSC


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General, and Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

David A. Doyle and Robert T. Depew, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellees, Sheryl Ann Marshall, Jessica Pickett, and Monica Butler.


Three tenants of the Gallatin Housing Authority were indicted under the theft of services statute, Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-14-104, for failing to report to the housing authority earnings that would have increased their rent. On the tenants' motion, the trial court dismissed the indictments, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the dismissal. Applying the canon of statutory construction ejusdem generis, we hold that the definition of services in section 39-11-106(a)(35) does not include public housing. We therefore affirm the Court of Criminal Appeals.


Court: TCA


Marshall T. Cook, Susan R. High-McAuley, Hendersonville, Tennessee, Douglas C. Noble, W. Brett Harvey, Jackson, Mississippi, for the appellant, Pearl Equipment, LLC.

No Appearance on Behalf of the appellee, Cartwright Construction Co.


This appeal involves a judgment creditor's attempt to enforce a foreign judgment entered by a Mississippi court against a Tennessee corporation. The Tennessee corporation moved to dismiss, contending that service of process was improper in the Mississippi action. The trial court found that the Tennessee corporation was not properly served, and it dismissed the petition. The judgment creditor appeals. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.


Supreme Court Report
Legal News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Supreme Court Report
Supreme Court to hear 11 new cases
After two months of reviewing possible appeals, the Tennessee Supreme Court has released a 29-page list of denials and grants. According to the Raybin-Perky Hot List, the grants include 11 cases -- the greatest number granted in one week since the Hot List began two years ago. New civil cases include questions of whether there is a right to a jury trial in ouster suits, preferences regarding rehabilitative versus in futuro alimony, the effect of intentional acts under the Government Tort Liability Act, and municipality land annexation. New criminal cases involve a double jeopardy claim and a novel sentencing issue in DUI cases. In this new edition of the Hot List, David Raybin and Sarah Richter Perky offer their insights and predictions.
Access the Hot List here
Legal News
Clark expresses concern about image of judicial system
In remarks made during her swearing in ceremony as chief judge this week, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark said she is "a little concerned" about the image of the judicial system. However, she pledged to stand with her colleagues through "uninformed, misinformed or overtly hostile" attacks. In an interview after the ceremony, Clark, who once taught high school government, said the loss of civics classes has led to less understanding of the judiciary, and that she hopes to improve education about the justice system during her tenure as chief justice.
The News Sentinel has the story
Commission to meet on Keener resignation
The Sevier County Commission will hold a specially called meeting next week to discuss the resignation of county clerk Joe Keener. The session is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. By law, Keener's resignation is not effective until the commission accepts it. On Thursday, the commission is expected to accept the resignation and swear in Deputy Clerk Karen Cotter as interim county clerk, according to the News Sentinel. With the delay in making the resignation official, it is unlikely an election can be held this November, according to the Mountain Press. Keener announced his resignation this week amid a state audit of his office.

Harbison answers state request for execution date
Edward Jerome Harbison has responded to the state's motion requesting the court set an execution date in his case. The motion also requests a modified sentence or, alternatively, a certificate of commutation. The motion, along with previous filings, is available on the AOC website.
Access case filings here
Sewage problems hit Carter Co. justice center again
Sewage problems have long plagued the Carter County Justice Center. On Wednesday of this week problems resurfaced when sewage backed up through floor drains in the public restrooms. This in turn led to closure of the county clerk's office and early dismissal of the criminal and general sessions courts.
Read more in the Johnson City Press
Former state senator regains citizenship rights
Former state Senator Ward Crutchfield was granted restoration of full citizenship at a hearing in Hamilton County Circuit Court this morning. Crutchfield, who was convicted in the "Tennessee Waltz" case, completed his court-imposed probation in January and petitioned the court for restoration of rights. In order to regain his law license, he would need to apply to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Pro bono effort helps family save home
A story in the Tennessee Register, a publication of the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, reports the plight of the Worsham family, which narrowly escaped economic ruin and foreclosure due to the intervention of the Tennessee Justice Center and lawyers with the Nashville law firm of Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis. For a family suffering with a debilitating disease, under-employment and flood damage, the free legal service and financial gifts from caring neighbors has made all the difference.
Read more about the family
Jamestown attorney dies
Jamestown attorney John Edward Appman died Wednesday at the age of 76. Services will be tomorrow (Saturday) at noon at Fentress Memorial Gardens, 2088 Fentress Memorial Rd. in Jamestown. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to cover funeral expenses. Gift may be sent to the Jennings Funeral Home, P.O. Box 765, Jamestown, TN 38556. Appman graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1961.

Disciplinary Actions
Ridgely attorney reinstated
Ridgely attorney Guy Steven Davis was reinstated to the practice of law on Aug. 27. He had been suspended in December 2007. In November 2009, Davis petitioned the court to lift his suspension. Following a hearing on the matter, the Board of Professional Responsibility recommended he be reinstated. The court agreed after determining that his reinstatement would not be detrimental to the integrity or standing of the bar or the administration of justice, or subversive to the public interest.
Read the BPR notice
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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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