Volunteer to help with statewide pro bono initiative

Tennessee lawyers will offer free legal services to those unable to afford a lawyer throughout the month of October as part of Celebrate Pro Bono Month. More than 30 events are planned across the state. This year's initiative builds on the success of two pro bono campaigns in 2009.

"For the third time in two years, Tennessee lawyers are making a concerted statewide effort to provide pro bono legal services to the hundreds of citizens who need, but cannot afford, these services," said Tennessee Bar Association President and Chattanooga lawyer Sam D. Elliott. "In doing so, lawyers not only contribute to individual needs, but to the overall administration of justice and the betterment of a free society." Tennessee lawyers are encouraged to volunteer at an event in their area.

Learn more about the initiative, how to volunteer or see a list of events

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.

03 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - 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.


Court: TSC


With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TSC


Douglas Ray Pierce and James Andrew Farmer, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tractor Supply Company, Inc.

Wade Bonham Cowan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gary M. Gossett.


The employee brought an action for common law retaliatory discharge against his employer for refusal to participate in an allegedly illegal activity. The employer moved for summary judgment, presenting evidence of a legitimate reason for the employee's discharge pursuant to the framework announced in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). The employer also argued that summary judgment was warranted pursuant to Collins v. AmSouth Bank, 241 S.W.3d 879 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007), because the undisputed facts showed that the employee did not report the alleged illegality. The trial court granted summary judgment, which the Court of Appeals reversed. We hold that the McDonnell Douglas framework is inapplicable at the summary judgment stage because it is incompatible with Tennessee summary judgment jurisprudence. We also hold that an employee alleging retaliatory discharge for refusal to participate in an illegal activity need not report the illegality. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.


CLARK dissenting in part and concurring in the judgment

With Concurring Opinion

Court: TSC


Kelly A. Campbell, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Berkline, LLC.

Mark S. Stapleton, Rogersville, Tennessee, and William Lewis Jenkins, Jr., Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gerry G. Kinsler.

Justin S. Gilbert, Jackson, Tennessee; Donald A. Donati and William B. Ryan, Memphis Tennessee; and Wade B. Cowan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the amicus curiae, Tennessee Employment Lawyers Association.


The employer discharged the employee three days after he rejected an offer to settle his workers' compensation claim, and the employee brought a retaliatory discharge action against the employer. The trial court granted the employer summary judgment, which the Court of Appeals reversed. We hold that genuine issues of material fact preclude summary judgment. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.


CLARK concurring in part and concurring in the judgment


Court: TCA


James P. Catalano and Emily B. Vann, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Cintas Corporation Services, Inc. and Brandy Sefranek.

Jonathan L. Griffith, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Robin R. Rippy and Darrell Rippy.


Plaintiff motorist filed suit against defendant motorist and her employer, seeking damages she sustained in a motor vehicle accident in which defendant motorist rear-ended her vehicle. Defendants appeal a jury award asserting there is no material evidence to support the award. Finding the verdict of the jury to be supported by the evidence, we affirm the judgment.



Court: TCCA


Steve McEwen, Mountain City, Tennessee (on appeal); and Terry L. Jordan, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Daniel D. Harbaugh.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; and H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Daniel D. Harbaugh, pled guilty in 2006 to violating the sex offender registry law and was sentenced as a career offender to six years. The sentence was suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for six years. In 2007, after the defendant apparently had absconded, a violation of probation warrant was filed alleging that he had failed to adhere to the terms of his probation in that he did not report as ordered on August 1 and 15, 2006, and did not notify his probation officer that he had changed addresses. At the hearing on the probation violation, the defendant admitted that he had violated his probation, as alleged, and he then was ordered to serve his six-year sentence. The probation revocation order was filed on December 16, 2009; and on January 14, 2010, the defendant sent a letter to the trial court styled "Withdrawal of Plea," which was treated as a pro se pleading, stating that the defendant wished to appeal the court's decision of December 16, 2009, and that he was "withdrawing [his] plea of guilty and entering a plea of not guilty." The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion, finding it to be without merit. The defendant appealed, and, following our review, we affirm the order of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Robert W. Jones, District Public Defender; Tony N. Brayton, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal), and Larry Nance (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Derrick Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark Bryan Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; David Zak and Lora Fowler, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Derrick Johnson ("Johnson"), of first degree premeditated murder and aggravated assault. He was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to life with the possibility of parole and a six-year consecutive term of imprisonment. In this appeal as of right, Johnson argues: (1) the insufficiency of the convicting evidence as to the first degree premeditated murder; and (2) the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Gary F. Antrican, District Public Defender; Periann Houghton, Assistant Public Defender, for the Defendant-Appellant, Shannon Jones.

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


The Defendant-Appellant, Shannon Jones, was convicted by a jury in Lauderdale County of facilitation of delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance less than 0.5 grams, a Class D felony, and delivery of a counterfeit controlled substance, a Class E felony. He was sentenced as a career offender to twelve years for facilitation and to six years for delivery of a counterfeit controlled substance. The trial court ordered these sentences to run concurrently to each other but consecutively to another unrelated case. On appeal, Jones challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Ruchee J. Patel, Memphis, Tennessee (on appeal); and Juni S. Ganguli, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Leo Mays.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Rachel Newton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

Originally charged with aggravated burglary, aggravated rape, and aggravated assault, the defendant, Leo Mays, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated criminal trespass and aggravated assault. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of seven years' incarceration. In this appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Finding sufficient evidence to support the verdicts of the jury, we affirm.



Court: TCCA


Jeff Woods, Memphis, Tennessee for the Defendant-Appellant, Terrence Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Stephanie Z. Johnson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Terrence Woods, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of post-conviction relief from his guilty plea to first degree premeditated murder and his life sentence. In his appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial attorneys failed to request an independent mental health evaluation to determine if mental health defenses were available. He also contends that he was unable to make a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent decision to enter his guilty plea because of trial counsels' failure to perform this independent mental evaluation. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told alumni, law students and other University of Tennessee students and faculty Friday that when he was younger, he "was an angry black man." He explained how he is "more idealistic now than I ever have been in my whole life. ... I was very, very upset. I was upset with the South. I was upset with the church. I was upset with my grandparents. I was upset with everybody ... I was looking for reasons to be upset. At 26, I was cynical, and at 62, I am idealist, not because I am on the court, but because of what I have seen in life." He also was asked about regret, cynicism and "doing the right thing." Learn more from UT's Daily Beacon and
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Most public officials' financial disclosures are available online, but if the public wants to see annual reports on federal judges' investments, affiliations and paid travel -- reports that could signal potential conflicts of interest in pending lawsuits -- a paper report must be ordered. This can take two weeks to get and it may be partially censored before its release. "There's a disincentive on the part of litigants and other interested parties to ask for a particular judge's financial-disclosure form," said Tom Fitton, president of the conservative public-interest group Judicial Watch. "Whether or not they would be retaliated against I don't know, but people get nervous." What's more, the judges are told each time someone requests a copy.
The First Amendment Center has this AP story
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Read this profile in the Tennessean
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NashvillePost.com gives you the story
Scalia: 'Idiot' is protected by Constitution to burn Koran
Justice Antonin Scalia told law students on Friday that the First Amendment likely protects anyone who burns the Koran. Scalia called Florida pastor Terry Jones an "idiot," but said he would be protected if he ever carried out his threats to burn the Koran. Scalia was addressing students at the University of California's Hastings School of Law. "It may be a very bad idea, but a lot of stupid stuff is perfectly constitutional," he said.
ABAJournal.com connects you to this story
Election 2010
Steve Hill to fill Mayor Burchett's senate seat
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WBIR reports
Editorial: Election commission should be defended by more neutral lawyer
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