Gov. candidates slated for Health Law Forum

The two main candidates for governor -- Republican Bill Haslam and Democrat Mike McWherter -- have both agreed to address the region's largest gathering of health care lawyers at the TBA's Health Law Forum, Oct. 7-8 in Cool Springs. The two candidates will each speak for 30 minutes during programming on Oct. 7. Now in its 22nd year, the Health Law Forum is recognized as one of the premier health law programs in the country.

Learn more about this year's TBA Health Law Forum

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With Appendix

Court: TSC


Claudia S. Jack, District Public Defender; Shipp Weems and Michelle VanDeRee, Assistant Public Defenders, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joel Richard Schmeiderer.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; Joel Douglas Dicus and Patrick Butler, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


In this capital case, the defendant, Joel Richard Schmeiderer, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder in connection with the strangling death of a fellow inmate. The jury imposed a sentence of death for the murder based on two aggravating circumstances. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. On automatic appeal pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-206(a)(1), we designated the following issues for oral argument: 1) whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying the defendant's motion for a second continuance; 2) whether this denial of a continuance violated the defendant's constitutional right to present mitigation evidence during the sentencing phase; 3) whether the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce into evidence and argue a non-statutory aggravating circumstance during the sentencing phase; 4) whether the prosecutor's closing argument during the sentencing phase constituted plain error mandating reversal; and 5) whether the sentence of death is disproportionate or invalid under the mandatory review of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-206(c)(1). Having carefully reviewed the record and relevant legal authority, we conclude that none of the errors alleged by the defendant warrant relief. With respect to issues not herein specifically addressed, we affirm the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Relevant portions of that opinion are published hereafter as an appendix. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.



Court: TCA


Stephen D. Barham and Jacob C. Parker, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Pediatrix Medical Group of Tennessee, P.C.

Joe A. Conner, Susan E. Rich, and John M,. Phillips, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Victor J. Thomas, M.D., and Lizbeth A. Kennedy, M.D.


In this declaratory judgment action, plaintiffs asked the Trial Court to declare null and void certain restrictive covenants in their employment contracts with defendant. Defendant moved to dismiss the action and enforce the arbitration agreement contained in the employment contract between the parties. The Trial Court refused to order arbitration and ruled that in the interest of judicial economy, the Court should decide the issues raised in the declaratory judgment action. On appeal, we reverse the Trial Court's refusal to order arbitration and remand, directing the Court to stay the proceeding and order the parties to arbitrate the issues arising from the contracts of employment.


Court: TCA


Terry G. Vann, Lenoir City, Tennessee, for the appellants, Myrna Wheelock, Lester Wheelock, and Cortney L. Caldell.

F. Michael Fitzpatrick and Rachel P. Hurt, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Parkwest Medical Center.


In this appeal, the plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Robert Allen Crawford, Tiptonville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Anthony Wade Clark, District Attorney General; and Dennis Brooks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Robert Allen Crawford, appeals the Washington County Criminal Court's denial of post-conviction relief and claims that his convictions of first degree murder, criminally negligent homicide, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment were the results of the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Following an evidentiary hearing on the petitioner's timely petition for post-conviction relief, the criminal court denied relief. Upon our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the order of the criminal court.


Court: TCCA


John H. Norton, III, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Edward Farrar, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Chuck Crawford, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, James Edward Farrar, Jr., appeals the revocation of his probation, alleging that the State presented insufficient evidence to establish that he violated the terms of his probationary sentence. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Brett M. Gipson (on appeal) and Dumaka Shabazz (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Aso Hassan Nejad, a.k.a. Diako Nejad.

David M. Hopkins (on appeal) and Paul Walwyn (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ako Hassan Nejad.

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


Brothers Ako Hassan Nejad and Aso Hassan Nejad were found guilty of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, a Class A felony, and each received a twenty-five-year sentence as a Range I, standard offender. Ako Nejad was also found guilty of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony, and received an additional consecutive sentence of twelve years. On appeal, the defendants claim that: the evidence was insufficient to support their convictions; their indictments were insufficient; a mistrial should have been declared after a witness testified that one of the brothers was a gang member; certain inculpatory evidence was improperly admitted; newly discovered evidence discredits the State's theory of motive; and their sentences were excessive. We reject each of these claims and affirm their convictions and sentences.


Court: TCCA


Robert L. Huddleston, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Clay Priest.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Tammy Harrington, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Robert Clay Priest, who pleaded guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court to multiple offenses and was sentenced to 29 years' confinement, appeals from that court's dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, he claims that he was mentally incompetent to enter into a plea agreement, that the trial court failed to ask him to enter a guilty plea, and that the post-conviction court erroneously excluded his expert witness. We discern no error and affirm the order of the circuit court.


Court: TCCA


Michael J. LaGuardia, Kingsport, Tennessee (on appeal); and Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender, and William Andrew Kennedy, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Charles Reginald Underwood, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and Amber Massengill and Laura Rayment, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Charles Reginald Underwood, Jr., pled guilty to three counts of third offense driving on a revoked or suspended license, a Class A misdemeanor; violation of the seat belt law, a Class C misdemeanor; and speeding, a Class C misdemeanor. See T.C.A. sections 55-50-504 (Supp. 2009); 55-9-603(2008); 55-8-302 (2008). The Defendant also entered a best interest guilty plea pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970), to facilitation of a false report of child abuse, a Class A misdemeanor. T.C.A. section 37-1-413 (2005). At the sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of three years, eleven months, and twenty-five days, to be served on split confinement involving six months of jail service followed by probation conditioned upon community corrections participation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in imposing confinement and in denying his motion to reduce his sentence. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


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