High poverty rate adds to strain on legal services

The poverty rate surged to 14.3 percent last year, the highest since 1994, the Census Bureau said today, meaning nearly 57 million Americans now qualify for civil legal assistance from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). That increase of 3 million people from 2008, the LSC said in a news release, makes it the highest number of people eligible for legal aid in our country in the LSC's 35-year history. Of the 57 million, 19.6 million are children, the Census Bureau said. John G. Levi, LSC board chair, says the entity will urge Congress to increase federal funding for legal services and "encourage the nation's legal community to increase its volunteer pro bono work at LSC programs -- we will work even harder with our partners in the judicial system to better meet the civil legal needs of the poor."

Learn more about the poverty rate from National Public Radio

TODAY'S OPINIONS
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CENTURY FIRE PROTECTION, LLC., v. FOWLERS' HOLDINGS, LLLP., et al.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

T. Scott Jones and Mandy M. Hancock, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Fowlers' Holdings, LLLP., Fowler's Furniture, Inc., Atlantic Southern Bank, and Douglas S. Yates, as Trustee for Atlantic Southern Bank.

Mary Beth Hagan, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, Century Fire Protection, LLC.

Judge: FRANKS

Plaintiff alleged that it delivered materials and provided labor for the installation of a fire protection system on the property of defendant and defendant had failed to pay money still owed under the contract. Plaintiff sought a materialmen's lien to enforce any judgment obtained against defendant for the amount of monies owed under the contract. Defendants answered, filed a counter-complaint and raised multiple defenses. The Trial Court conducted an evidentiary hearing and ruled in plaintiff's favor, holding that plaintiff was entitled to recover monetary damages and the materialmen's lien would be enforced. Defendants have appealed and we affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/centuryfire_091610.pdf


CLEAR CHANNEL OUTDOORS ET AL. v. TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Arvin H. Reingold, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellants, Clear Channel Outdoors and George and Katherine Morgan.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Bruce M. Butler, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Judge: CLEMENT

The issues on appeal pertain to a nonconforming, grandfathered billboard that was destroyed by a natural disaster in 1998. The original billboard, which was erected prior to the enactment of the Billboard Regulation and Control Act, Tenn. Code Ann. section 54-21-101, et seq., was allowed to remain as a nonconforming, grandfathered device. After the nonconforming billboard was destroyed by a natural disaster, TDOT authorized Appellants to rebuild the billboard provided that it was rebuilt to the original size "using like materials" pursuant to Tenn. Comp. R. and Regs. 1680-2-3-.04(2) (1998). The original billboard stood on two wooden posts and had a metal facing. When Appellants rebuilt the billboard by erecting it on a steel monopole instead of two wooden poles, TDOT filed a Notice of Charges stating the new billboard failed to comply with the regulation because it was not rebuilt with "like materials." Following a hearing, the administrative judge concluded that the billboard was in violation of the regulation, which decision was affirmed by the Commissioner of TDOT and the chancery court. Appellants contend on appeal that the billboard is in compliance with the regulation and that the removal of the billboard constitutes an unconstitutional taking of property without just compensation. We affirm the finding that the billboard was not in compliance with the regulation as it was not rebuilt using "like materials."

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/clearchannel_091610.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DAVID FREEMAN CLAY

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Mart S. Cizek, Clinton, Tennessee, attorney for appellant, David Freeman Clay.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Phil Morton, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, David Freeman Clay, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of two counts of sexual battery, a Class E felony, and three counts of assault, a Class B misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to four years for each sexual battery conviction and six months for each assault conviction and ordered the sentences to be served consecutively for a total effective sentence of nine years and six months in the custody of the Department of Correction. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court failed to fulfill its duties to approve the jury verdict under Rule 33 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/clayd_091610.pdf


MARICO FINNIE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert Brooks, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marico Finnie.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Paul Hagerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Marico Finnie, appeals from the ost-conviction court's order granting him partial post-conviction relief in the form of a delayed appeal from his multiple aggravated rape, aggravated robbery, and facilitation of aggravated rape convictions. He argues that because his successful post-conviction claim was based on appellate counsel's ineffective assistance in not raising meritorious issues in his direct appeal, and he never requested a delayed appeal, the court instead should have vacated his convictions and remanded for new trials. The State agrees that a delayed appeal is not the appropriate avenue of relief but contends that appellate counsel's deficiency resulted in prejudice only with respect to the consecutive sentencing imposed and in two of the aggravated rape convictions where the State failed to make a proper election of offenses. The State, therefore, argues that the petitioner should be afforded new trials for the two aggravated rape convictions as well as a new sentencing hearing for all the convictions. We agree with the State that a delayed appeal is not the appropriate relief but disagree with its contention that the petitioner suffered prejudice in only two of his rape cases as a result of counsel's deficient performance in failing to raise the election issue on appeal. We further disagree with both the petitioner's and the State's position that the trial court failed to make sufficient findings in support of the imposition of consecutive sentencing or that counsel was ineffective for failing to raise this issue on appeal. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court in part, vacate the petitioner's convictions in indictment numbers 00-10546, 00-10542, 00-10554, and 00-10545, and remand for new trials for those offenses.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/finniem_091610.pdf


RONNIE JACKSON, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Patrick E. Stegall, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Ronnie Jackson, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and P. Thomas Hoover, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

Following entry of "best interest" guilty pleas to one count of aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated assault, the Petitioner, Ronnie Jackson, Jr., filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis on the ground that newly discovered evidence proving his innocence affected the voluntariness of his guilty plea. The Shelby County Criminal Court, following a hearing, denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the coram nobis court abused its discretion in finding that the newly discovered evidence was not credible, that he was not without fault in failing to present this evidence earlier, and that he failed to establish that he would not have entered his guilty pleas had he been aware of this evidence. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/jacksonr_091610.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHARLES O. ROGERS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); Raymond Mack Garner, District Public Defender (at trial), attorneys for appellant, Charles O. Rogers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Tammy M. Harrington, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Charles O. Rogers, pled guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court to attempted robbery, a Class D felony, and was sentenced to three years. The trial court imposed a sentence of split confinement, ordering the Defendant to serve sixty days, on consecutive weekends, in the county jail and the balance of the sentence on community corrections. Following the filing of a violation warrant and a finding that the Defendant violated the terms of his community corrections sentence, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve the balance of his sentence in custody. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering the Defendant to serve his sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/rogersc_091610.pdf


MICHAEL LYNN STANTON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Albert J. Newman, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Lynn Stanton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General, and Phil Morton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Michael Lynn Stanton, filed in the Knox County Criminal Court a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. The State filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the denial pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. After review, we conclude that the petition was properly denied. Accordingly, the State's motion is granted, and the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/stantonm_091610.pdf


OSCAR C. WELLS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Brett B. Stein, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Oscar C. Wells.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Lora Fowler, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Oscar C. Wells, was convicted of first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony. The petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post- conviction court denied relief. The petitioner now appeals, and, following careful review, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/wellso_091610.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CORY WILLIS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Barbara A. Deere, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Cory Willis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Julie K. Pillow, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Cory Willis, pled guilty in the Circuit Court of Lauderdale County to unlawful photographing in violation of privacy, a Class A misdemeanor. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court denied Willis's request for judicial diversion and sentenced Willis to eleven months and twenty-nine days supervised probation. Willis claims on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his request for judicial diversion. Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand this matter for a resentencing hearing consistent with this opinion.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/willisc_091610.pdf


Formal Ethics Opinion No. 2010-F-154

Court: Board of Professional Responsibility

Inquiry is made regarding the propriety of requesting or requiring plaintiff's attorney to enter into agreements or releases that require the attorney to insure payment of medical bills or liens or to indemnify and hold harmless any party being released.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/Ethics/2010/feo_2010-F-154.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

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Weatherford remembered as 'one of the best'
Colleagues and friends remembered former Maury County Judge James Weatherford for being a fair and honest man, after his funeral Monday. District Attorney General Mike Bottoms said Weatherford started as an excellent trial lawyer and shared his wisdom with his peers after taking his place on the bench. "He ruled with an even hand," District Attorney General Mike Bottoms said. "He was one of the best judges we had in the state."
Read more from the Columbia Daily Herald
Kennedy shows his colors for U of M
David S. Kennedy, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee, loves the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. "Without this law school, I would not be here today in the capacity of a member of the legal profession, or as a federal bankruptcy judge. I highly respect and admire the law school and its local and national impact," he says. He is still involved with the school, including being president of the alumni board.
Read this profile in the Memphis Daily News
Ethics opinion addresses agreements to insure payment
The Board of Professional Responsibility issued Formal Ethics Opinion No. 2010-F-154 last week, to answer a question about "the propriety of requesting or requiring plaintiff's attorney to enter into agreements or releases that require the attorney to insure payment of medical bills or liens or to indemnify and hold harmless any party being released."
Download the 10-page answer here
Collierville's new courthouse opens
An open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for today (Sept. 16) at 6 p.m. for the new Collierville Courthouse. The event will be held on the courthouse steps, which is at 101 Walnut, a block west of historic town square. Judge William Hall, who has been on the bench for 20 years, will offer reflections about the history of Collierville's courts. To make the transition, the Court Clerk's office will be closed Monday and Tuesday. The office will reopen at 8 a.m. next Wednesday. The Commercial Appeal reported.

Release Nixon's grand jury testimony, historians say
A group of historians is seeking the release of former President Richard Nixon's secret grand jury testimony in connection with the 1972 Watergate break-in that drove him from office. The group contends that the historical significance of the testimony outweighs any arguments for secrecy. They argue that unsealing the interview could help address the ongoing debate over Nixon's knowledge of the break-in at Democratic party headquarters and his role in the cover-up that followed.
The ABA Journal connects you to the story
Poll: People have lost confidence, think judges rule based on political views
In an Associated-Press-National Constitution Center poll released today, it is clear that citizens don't have much confidence in much of anything. Institutions, the military and small business fared well, but even they get very-confident or better ratings from well under half the people. Blogs, banks and Congress get the most distrust. Most of the group said that judges should interpret laws broadly and that Supreme Court justices' decisions are influenced by their political views.
WREG carried this AP story
Fashion designs would be protected under proposed act
It's good news and bad news for designers showing their fresh ideas in New York at Fashion Week this week: It's great if they are there, but as soon as their fashions are worn down the runway, people will be immediately copying them and there is nothing to stop the copiers. The designers are asking for copyright protection help. The Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, introduced in August by New York Sen. Charles Schumer and now pending in Congress, would be the first piece of legislation to provide copyright protection -- for three years in this case -- to new and inventive designs.
Listen to the story on npr.org
Upcoming
Wharton invites you to a 'legal community forum'
On Oct. 18, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton will share his vision with the legal community in a forum jointly sponsored by the Association for Women Attorneys, the Memphis Bar Association and the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association. Wharton's theme for his vision, "Creating a City of Choice," emphasizes that all of us are stakeholders and can participate in creating a community that is desirable and enjoyable, according to the MBA.
Learn more from Wharton's video message
Practice Management
So what is the next law practice efficiency frontier?
Increasing efficiency is a hot topic in the legal industry today. Look anywhere and you'll find articles on how increasing efficiency is the key to maintaining profits and impressing clients with your firm's effectiveness. But what exactly are the legal processes that can be transformed to make a firm more efficient? The blog "3 Geeks and a Law Blog" takes on the topic and offers ideas.
See what 3 Geeks and a Law Blog has to say
TBA in the News
TBA YouTube contest gets some play
The Chattanoogan.com covered in its "Student Scene" section, the Tennessee Bar Association's newly announced YouTube video contest. TBA President and Chattanooga lawyer Sam D. Elliott announced the association's first ever YouTube video contest to encourage middle and high school students to explore the state's rich legal history.
Read more about it here
TBA Member Services
CompuPay offers deals for TBA members
CompuPay is proud to serve as the official payroll services provider for the Tennessee Bar Association. To serve Tennessee attorneys the company is offering two months of free payroll processing for all TBA members and waiving set up fees for members with up to 99 employees.
Learn more about CompuPay's benefits

 
 
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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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