Boot Camp offers intensive advocacy training

Mastery of oral and written advocacy is central to appellate practice success, and the upcoming Tennessee Supreme Court Boot Camp is designed to get you there. Participants will learn from a distinguished faculty and through observation of two Supreme Court oral arguments. This seminar on Oct. 5-6 in Nashville will cover the best practices for oral argument, the ethical considerations in appellate practice, and the considerations for deciding to seek review in the Supreme Court. The seminar will also cover the keys to effective legal writing and the elements of the persuasive appellate brief.

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TODAY'S OPINIONS
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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
10 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
02 - 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.

CANDACE MULLINS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Phillip L. Davidson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Candace Mullins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and P. Robin Dixon, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: LEE

The issue presented in this appeal is whether the Tennessee Claims Commission had subject matter jurisdiction to hear a claim against the State of Tennessee arising from the death of a young child who had been removed from his mother's home and placed in the custody of the mother's aunt by order of the juvenile court. The child and his two brothers were removed from their mother's care because of her use of cocaine. At the mother's request and after an investigation, the Department of Children's Services recommended to the juvenile court that custody of the children be awarded to the mother's aunt. Less than a month after the court entered the order of custody, the mother reported concerns about the children's well-being to the Department. A case worker investigated the aunt's home and found no basis to remove the children. Ten days later, one of the children, a five-year-old boy, died from extensive injuries allegedly inflicted by the aunt's nineteen-year-old daughter who lived in the home. The child's mother filed a wrongful death claim against the State alleging negligence on the part of the Department. The Claims Commissioner denied the claim, finding that the Claims Commission did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear the claim pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 9-8-307(a)(1)(E) (1999 & Supp. 2009) and that, in any event, the mother had failed to prove negligence by the Department. We hold that the Claims Commission did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear the claim because the child was not in the care, custody, and control of the State.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2010/mullinsc_091710.pdf


IN RE AUSTIN H. ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Kimberly J. Dean and Joshua Davis Baker, Assistant Attorneys General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.

Russell Anne Swafford, Nashville, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem.

Judge: BENNETT

Mother's parental rights to her three children were terminated. We affirm, finding that there was clear and convincing evidence that Mother did not meet the reasonable requirements of the parenting plans and that persistent conditions existed. We further find that DCS used reasonable efforts to reunite the family. Finally, we find that termination of Mother's parental rights is in the best interest of the children.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/austinh_091710.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL JAMES BELL

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

J. Thomas Marshall, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael James Bell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; David S. Clark, District Attorney General; and Sandra N. C. Donaghy, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

An Anderson County jury found Appellant Michael J. Bell guilty of first degree premeditated murder and was sentenced to life in prison. On appeal, Appellant claims that: (1) the trial court improperly admitted an inculpatory statement he made to police; (2) there was insufficient evidence for a finding of premeditation; (3) the trial court improperly admitted an autopsy report; (4) the trial court erred in giving the jury a "sequential" determination jury instruction; (5) the trial court improperly reiterated the sequential determination jury instruction in its verdict forms; and (6) the trial court improperly characterized Appellant's statement to the police as a "confession' in its instructions to the jury. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/bellm_091710.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ADAM CLYDE BRASEEL

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert S. Peters, Winchester, Tennessee (on appeal and at trial) and Floyd Davis, Winchester, Tennessee (at trial) for the appellant, Adam Clyde Braseel.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; Steven Strain, Assistant District Attorney General; and David McGovern, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Following a jury trial, Defendant, Adam Clyde Braseel, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony, attempt to commit first degree murder, a Class A felony, aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and assault, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court merged Defendant's convictions for first degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment for his murder conviction. The trial court sentenced Defendant to fifteen years for each Class A felony conviction, three years for his Class C felony conviction, and eleven months, twenty-nine days for his misdemeanor conviction. The trial court ordered Defendant to serve his sentences concurrently for an effective sentence of life with the possibility of parole. On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence for murder, especially aggravated robbery and aggravated assault and argues that the pre-trial identification processes were unduly suggestive. After a thorough review, we conclude as plain error that Defendant's convictions of the attempted first degree premeditated murder of Rebecca Hill in count four of the indictment and the aggravated assault of Ms. Hill in count five violate double jeopardy principles. Accordingly, we merge Defendant's conviction of aggravated assault into his conviction of attempted first degree murder. We also find that the trial court's judgments of conviction for first degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder do not clearly reflect the trial court's merger of the felony murder conviction into the premeditated murder conviction. We affirm the trial court's judgments as to Defendant's convictions of first degree premeditated murder, attempted first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, and assault, and his effective sentence of life with the possibility of parole. We remand solely for the correction and entry of appropriate judgments consistent with this opinion.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/braseela_091710.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LARRY D. GUTHRIE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), Laura C. Dykes and Chelsea Nichols (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry D. Guthrie.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Shannon Poindexter and Andrea Green, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Larry D. Guthrie, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court Jury of delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine, and he received a sentence of six years and one month in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and the trial court's denial of his request for two special jury instructions. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/guthriel_091710.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JERRY PHILLIP HALEY

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Gary F. Antrican, District Public Defender, and David S. Stockton, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Jerry Phillip Haley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Julie K. Pillow, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Jerry Phillip Haley, was convicted by a Lauderdale County jury of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony; and aggravated criminal trespass, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced him to serve an effective sixty-year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred in allowing hearsay testimony from the victim; and (2) the conviction for aggravated kidnapping violates due process in violation of State v. Anthony and State v. Dixon. Initial review of the record reveals that the defendant has waived both issues based upon his failure to raise them in his motion for new trial. Further review leads us to the conclusion that neither issue rises to the level of plain error. As such, the judgments of conviction are affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/haleyj_091710.pdf


GEORGE T. HAYNIE, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

George T. Haynie, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.

obert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Sobrero and Tammy Meade, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, George T. Haynie, Jr., appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief wherein he challenged his 2007 guilty-pleaded convictions of theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000 and failure to appear. Discerning no error in the judgment of the post-conviction court, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/haynieg_091710.pdf


MATTHEW MELTON JACKSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Matthew Melton Jackson, Pro Se, Tiptonville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter, and Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

This matter is before the Court upon the State's motion to dismiss or in the alternative to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Petitioner has appealed the trial court's order dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief in which Petitioner alleged that his guilty plea was based on a coerced confession, he was denied effective assistance of counsel, and newly discovered evidence of perjury by a State witness requires a reversal of his guilty plea. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court was correct in dismissing the petition for post-conviction relief without a hearing and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the State's motion is granted, and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/jacksonm_091710.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ELIZABETH JOHNSON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

L. Scott Grissom, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Elizabeth Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa Zavagiannis, District Attorney General; Randall Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Van Buren County jury convicted the Defendant, Elizabeth Johnson, of simple assault, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty- nine days, 150 days of which to serve in the county jail. The Defendant appeals, contending: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction; and (2) the trial court erred when it ordered her to serve 150 days of her sentence in confinement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/johnsone_091710.pdf


EMANUEL OLIVER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Emanuel Oliver, Terre Haute, Indiana, Pro Se.

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

Judge: WILLIAMS

The pro se petitioner, Emanuel Oliver, appeals from the denial of his petition for habeas corpus relief. He entered a guilty plea to criminal attempt to unlawfully possess a controlled substance, cocaine, with the intent to sell, a Class C felony, in exchange for a four-year sentence to be served at thirty percent in the Shelby County Correction Center. On appeal, he argues that the statute of limitations for prosecution has run and that he should not be held responsible for his plea agreement. After careful review, we affirm the judgment from the habeas corpus court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/olivere_091710.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ALPHANZA DALE PITTS, ALIAS ALFONZO DELL PITTS, ALIAS ALPHONSA DALE PITTS, ALIAS ALFONZO WOODS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Donna R. Miller (on appeal) and Brian L. O'Shaughnessy (at trial), Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alphanza Dale Pitts, alias Alfonzo Dell Pitts, alias Alphonsa Dale Pitts, alias Alfonzo Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and C. Matthew Rogers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Defendant, Alphanza Dale Pitts, was convicted by a Hamilton County Criminal Court jury of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and theft of property over $1000, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. sections 39-14-403; -103 (2006). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a persistent offender to fifteen years for the aggravated burglary conviction and as a career offender to twelve years for the theft conviction, to be served concurrently. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, (2) that the prosecutor made improper comments during opening and closing arguments, and (3) that the trial court erred in sentencing him to the maximum term of fifteen years for aggravated burglary. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/pittsa_091710.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANTHONY EUGENE YOUNG

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee; J. Michael Engle (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Anthony Eugene Young.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Jeff Burks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant of one count of burglary, and the trial court sentenced him to twelve years as a career offender. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred when it admitted testimony about items in the Defendant's possession when he was arrested; (2) the record contains insufficient evidence to support his conviction; and (3) the trial court erred when it denied his request for Community Corrections. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/younga_091710.pdf


Notarization of Spouse's Signature

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-09-17

Opinion Number: 10-97

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2010/ag_10_97.pdf

Implementation of Beer Permit Distance Requirement

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-09-17

Opinion Number: 10-98

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2010/ag_10_98.pdf

TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Election 2010
Practice Management
Career Opportunities
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Law dean calls U.S. nation of 'constitutional illiterates'
As the nation celebrates Constitution Day today, the dean of Louisiana College School of Law is making news by calling the United States "a nation of constitutional illiterates." J. Michael Johnson, in a speech last night, said recent survey data shows that 71 percent of Americans would fail a civics test, less than half of Americans can name the three branches of the federal government, and Americans gradually have abandoned constitutional values.
The local Louisiana paper covered the speech
ABA section calls for uniform national bar exam
The executive council of the American Bar Association's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar released a proposal this week calling on bar admission authorities in each state to implement a uniform bar examination. The Conference of Chief Justices adopted a similar resolution last month. The ABA group argues the move would make it easier for lawyers to become licensed in multiple states. So far two states, Missouri and North Dakota, have adopted the uniform exam.
Learn more in this article from the ABA Journal
Senate confirms new TVA directors
The U.S. Senate has confirmed four new directors for the Tennessee Valley Authority, which restores the nine-member board to full strength. Among the new appointees is lawyer Neil McBride with the Legal Aid Society in Oak Ridge. Other new members are Middle Tennessee State University professor Barbara Haskew and Georgia Tech professor Marilyn Brown. Former TVA chairman and businessman Bill Sansom also was re-nominated to the board. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported the development.

Hamblen Co. jail to lose certification
After three years of maintaining the Tennessee Corrections Institute's official certification, the Hamblen County Jail will soon lose that status due to overcrowding and poor ventilation. Officials say decertification could result in higher insurance premiums for the county and could open the door for lawsuits. County Sheriff Esco Jarnagin said he will continue enforcing the law whether the jail is certified or not and will not refuse to take a prisoner because of overcrowding.
The Citizen Tribune has more
Federal judge upholds merit selection in Kansas
A federal judge in Kansas has denied a request to stop the state from filling judicial vacancies through a merit-based selection process. Four Kansas voters sued last month to stop the state from using the procedure to fill a vacancy on its Supreme Court. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot rejected the request for a temporary restraining order saying that halting the procedure would not be in the public interest since merit selection has been in use since 1958 and has done no irreparable harm.
The Wichita Eagle reports
DOJ to sue oil companies for environmental violations
The Department of Justice announced this week that it plans to file suit against oil companies involved in the massive Gulf oil spill for violation of federal environmental laws. The action could lead to civil fines against BP or Transocean Ltd., the drilling-rig owner. Officials also said that criminal charges could be brought if the department finds that federal laws were deliberately broken.
Read more in the News Sentinel
Election 2010
Memphis vote challenge moves closer to hearing
All sides in the legal dispute over the Shelby County's Aug. 5 election results met with Chancellor Arnold Goldin today to begin wading through a series of motions with the hope of setting a date for a hearing on the dispute. Ten candidates who lost their bids for election have filed two lawsuits against the Shelby County Election Commission and are asking for a new election. According to the deputy county attorney, a trial needs to begin by Oct. 13 to meet standards for timely review of the claim.
The Memphis Daily News reports
Practice Management
Magazine names best firms for working moms
The same four law firms named by Working Mother magazine last year as some of the best companies for work-life balance have made the list again. The firms, among 100 companies identified for their family-friendly policies, are Arnold & Porter LLP -- which also made the magazine's list for best parental leave policies -- Covington & Burling LLP, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. The ABA Journal looks at each of the firms' policies.
Learn more here
Career Opportunities
Counsel On Call seeks commercial contracts lawyer
Counsel On Call is seeking an attorney with at least five to eight years of significant commercial contracts experience to work on a contract basis for a corporate legal department in Nashville. Assignment will require full-time hours for an indefinite period of time. Responsibilities include negotiating sales contracts, managing a high volume of files and communicating with the sales team. Qualified candidates should send resumes to claudia.levy@counseloncall.com.
Learn more about the position and qualifications on JobLink
Disciplinary Actions
Knoxville lawyer suspended
On Sept. 10, the Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended the law license of Knoxville attorney William Lee Wheatley for failure to comply with a Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program monitoring agreement.
Read the BPR's notice
Knoxville lawyer reinstated
Knoxville attorney Vanessa Lynn Lemons was reinstated to the practice of law on Sept. 15. She had been temporarily suspended on Aug. 11 for failing to respond to a complaint of misconduct.
See the BPR release
TBA Member Services
Open your door to FedEx residential shipping
Did you know that the FedEx portfolio of residential services can help you reach every residential address in the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii? That's why you should Think FedEx First. And as a TBA member, you get a valuable discount on the select FedEx residential services.
Find out how to enroll today

 
 
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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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