Nashville lawyer named revenue commissioner

Charles Trost, who has been with the Nashville law firm of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, was appointed state revenue commissioner by Gov. Phil Bredesen. He will succeed Reagan Farr, who resigned as revenue commissioner on Sept. 1., and will serve for the remainder of his administration.

The News Sentinel has more

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Court: TSC


Mart S. Cizek, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ralph Byrd Cooper, Jr.

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


The defendant appeals his conviction for aggravated rape and his sentence as a repeat violent offender. We hold that the evidence is sufficient to support the defendant's conviction and that the trial court did not err in relying on a certified judgment of another state's court to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is a repeat violent offender pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-120. We conclude, however, that the State failed to comply with the notice requirements set forth in section 40-35-120(i)(2) and that the defendant's sentence as a repeat violent offender therefore constitutes plain error. We affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing.


Court: TCA


Brian C. Quist, Joanna R. O'Hagan, and Ryan E. Jarrard, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, English Mountain Retreat, LLC and G.E.R. Management, LLC.

Brad A. Fraser and Ryan C. Dreke, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Susanne Crusenberry-Gregg and the Assurance Center.


Plaintiffs purchased property insurance from defendants. The insured building was destroyed by a fire and plaintiffs received the full coverage limit. Nonetheless, plaintiffs sued defendants claiming that the building was under-insured and that they relied on the defendants' negligent advice. A jury trial occurred and after the close of plaintiffs' proof, defendants moved for a directed verdict on all issues. The trial court granted defendants' motion and dismissed plaintiffs' complaint. Plaintiffs appeal. We find that a directed verdict is inappropriate because plaintiffs presented sufficient facts for a jury to decide liability. Therefore, we reverse the trial court's order and remand for a full trial.


Court: TCA


Adam Wilding Parrish, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellants, Jerry Hutchins, Jr. and Laura Hutchins.

Sue N. Puckett-Jernigan, Smithville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Ronnie Herman, Marsha Herman, and Ben Herman.


The defendants have appealed from a judgment declaring the plaintiffs to be the owners of certain real property and awarding the plaintiffs a judgment for the negligent cutting of timber. Because the defendants did not file their notice of appeal within the time permitted by Tenn. R. App. P. 4, we dismiss the appeal.


Court: TCCA


William M. Harris, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeremy Trent Keeton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Michel T. Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Doug Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Jeremy Trent Keeton, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He originally agreed to plead guilty to the sale of a Schedule II drug (methamphetamine), a Class C felony, and aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to twelve years, to be served concurrently with each other but consecutive to two other cases for a total effective sentence of thirty-nine years. On appeal, he argues that the post-conviction court erred in ruling that he had failed to demonstrate that trial counsel was ineffective and in ruling that his guilty plea was entered voluntarily. After careful review, we affirm the judgment from the post-conviction court.


Court: TCCA


William Harold (at trial), Shelbyville, Tennessee, and James R. Frazier (on appeal), Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Christopher Metcalf.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; Charles F. Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; Hollynn Eubanks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Christopher Metcalf, pled guilty to initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine and agreed to a nine-year sentence, with the trial court to determine the manner of service. At sentencing, the Defendant requested an alternative sentence, but the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his entire sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appeals, contending the trial court erred when it denied his request for an alternative sentence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Paul J. Morrow, Jr. and Kelly A. Gleason, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leonard Edward Smith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Mark E. Davidson, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Leonard Edward Smith, appeals as of right from the May 21, 2004 and March 2, 2007 orders of the Hamblen County Circuit Court denying his initial and amended petitions for post-conviction relief challenging his 1985 conviction and life sentence for the first degree felony murder of John Pierce, his 1989 conviction for the first degree felony murder of Novella Webb, and his 1995 sentence of death for the murder of Novella Webb. On appeal, the Petitioner claims that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief because defense counsel provided ineffective assistance in both the trial and appellate proceedings related to these convictions and sentences and because multiple other constitutional violations call into question the validity of these convictions and sentences. After a careful and laborious review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief relative to the Petitioner's conviction and life sentence for the murder of John Pierce and the Petitioner's conviction for the murder of Novella Webb, but we reverse the denial of post-conviction relief relative to the Petitioner's death sentence for the Webb murder and remand for a new sentencing hearing in that case. We do so based upon the conclusion that the post-conviction court erred in denying the Petitioner's claim that his trial attorneys provided constitutionally ineffective assistance in their investigation and presentation of available evidence in support of their motion to recuse the 1995 resentencing judge.

Validity of Actions Taken by Board of Regents Where Board Was Improperly Composed

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-09-21

Opinion Number: 10-99


Legal News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Board of Regents prior decisions valid, Cooper says
State Board of Regents decisions are valid even if membership on the board was not in compliance with state law, Attorney General Bob Cooper says in a formal legal opinion that was spurred by controversy over the board's selection of Deputy Governor John Morgan. The governor has said that he was not concerned about Regents decisions being invalidated because the board lacked Republicans, and Cooper's opinion confirms that. "Tennessee case law provides that in cases where a court declares that a public board such as a board or commission is improperly composed, the actions of that body prior to such a declaration are still valid under Tennessee law," the opinion says.
Read Humphrey on the Hill in the News Sentinel
Memphis lawyers elected to new positions
Two Memphis lawyers have been elected to new positions in the Tennessee Bar Association. Steven King, an attorney with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, is the new West Tennessee governor to the TBA Young Lawyers Division Board. Stacie Winkler, also with Baker, Donelson, is the new West Tennessee Young Lawyer Delegate to the TBA House of Delegates. They replace former Jackson attorney Paul Whitt, who held both positions but recently relocated to Knoxville, making him ineligible to continue serving in those positions. Under the YLD bylaws, mid-term vacancies are filled by the board, which voted last week to fill the posts.

3L recruiting program may catch on
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP will abandon its summer internships and offer a six-week fall apprenticeship program for third-year students as a prelude to a permanent hire after graduation. The 190-attorney firm will post job openings in July, followed by interviews in August. In September, students will begin the mostly virtual program, which includes one weekend retreat, for which they will be paid $10,000. "In the current economy, I would understand why a firm would want to switch to a 3L recruiting policy," said McGaver, of Wisconsin-based Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown. Firms around the country are looking for changes, as well.
The Wisconsin Law Journal has more
Nashville jurors screened for Memphis mass-murder case
After about three dozen prospective Nashville jurors were quizzed Monday for possible service in the worst mass-murder case in Memphis history. The plan is to select 12 jurors and four alternates to be bused to Memphis for the capital-murder trial, scheduled to begin Monday. It could last up to three weeks.
Read more in the Commercial Appeal
Election post draws crowd of candidates
Fifty-five people, including Metro Councilman Eric Crafton and former At-large Councilman Buck Dozier have applied to be the next Davidson County Elections Administrator, replacing outgoing administrator Ray Barrett.
Read more from the City Paper
1959 VU grad Work dies at 75
Frederick T. Work, who in 1959 became one of the first African Americans to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School, has died at age 75. After graduating from Fisk University and then Vanderbilt, Work moved to Gary, Ind., and began private practice, serving for two terms as a city judge in the 1970s, and also became the first African American to run for statewide office. He stayed in private practice until his death.
Learn more about is career from Vanderbilt
Disciplinary Actions
Three lawyers reinstated
Knoxville lawyer Aubrey Lewis Davis, Germantown lawyer Audrey Josie-Ellen Grossman and Memphis lawyer Vanessa Gale Keeler were reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee on Sept. 20 after complying with requirements for continuing legal education. All three were suspended on Sept. 7 for failing to meet 2009 CLE requirements.
View all attorneys suspended and reinstated for 2009 CLE violations
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-- Letters for Litigators: Essential Communications for Opposing Counsel, Witnesses, Clients and Others
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-- The 2009 Solo & Small Firm Legal Technology Guide: Critical Decisions Made Simple
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Adobe Acrobat, Third Edition (Covers Adobe Acrobat 8.0)
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Collaboration Tools & Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together + CD-ROM Supplement
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Governing Your Firm
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet, Third Edition
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Excel 2007
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Outlook 2007
-- The Lawyer's Guide to Practice Management Systems Software, Second Edition

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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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