Ceremony welcomes Judge Stranch to court

The Hon. Jane Branstetter Stranch formally joined the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals during investiture ceremonies today in Nashville. The Hon. Martha Craig Daughtrey administered the oath to Judge Stranch, who had her husband, Nashville attorney James G. Stranch III, at her side. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper offered remarks and Nashville Bar Association President Jonathan Cole made a presentation on behalf of the bar as part of the event.

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Court: TSC


CORRECTION: The correction is Attorney Garret P. Swartwood's name was misspelled. The corrected name is "Swartwood"

Court: TCA


C. Paul Harrison and Garrett P. Swartwood, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Prestige Land Company.

Richard M. Smith and Craig N. Mangum, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Brian Mullins Excavating Contractors, Inc.

Prestige Land Company ("Developer") owned land upon which it intended to build a commercial shopping center. An estimate to complete the project was obtained. Thereafter, the project was opened up for bidding. Brian Mullins Excavating Contractors, Inc. ("Contractor") bid on the project. Although Contractor's bid was significantly lower than the next lowest bid, it was only 10% lower than the estimated costs of construction. Contractor was unaware that it had made a unilateral mistake in its bid. Contractor was awarded the project. Eventually, Contractor was unable to complete the project because it ran out of money due to its unilateral bidding mistake. Developer sued for breach of contract, and Contractor filed a counterclaim for fraud and other claims. The Trial Court awarded Contractor a judgment for $101,357.05. Finding no clear and convincing evidence of fraud by Developer, we vacate the judgment for Contractor and enter a judgment for Developer in the amount of $128,326.56.



Court: TCCA


R. Wayne Culbertson, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Domonte O. Briggs.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, District Attorney General; James F. Goodwin and Teresa Ann Nelson, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Sullivan County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Domonte O. Briggs, of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony, and the trial court imposed a Range I sentence of two years' incarceration to be served consecutively to previously imposed sentences from North Carolina. On appeal, the defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we agree. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case is dismissed.



Court: TCCA


Mitchell E. Shannon, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Jonathan Sender.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr. District Attorney General; Thomas E. Parkerson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Jonathan Ray Sender, pled guilty to reckless aggravated assault, with an agreed sentence of four years and the trial court to determine the manner of service. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied the Defendant's request for judicial diversion, and ordered the Defendant to serve thirty days of his four-year sentence in confinement, with the remainder to be served on supervised probation. The Defendant appeals, claiming the trial court erred when it denied him judicial diversion and ordered a sentence of split confinement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Benjamin L. McGowan, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ladarius Tyree Springs.

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

Judge: OGLE

The defendant, Ladarius Tyree Springs, pled guilty to one count of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Hamilton County Criminal Court sentenced the defendant to six years incarceration suspended to intensive probation after the service of eleven months and twenty-nine days in confinement. While on probation, the defendant pleaded guilty to assault. A violation of probation warrant issued and, following a revocation hearing, the trial court ordered the defendant to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. In this appeal as of right, the defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying him an alternative sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Stacy Nordquist, Maryville, Tennessee (at trial); and J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, April Jennifer Warren.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Tammy Harrington, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The defendant, April Jennifer Warren, pled guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court to one count of voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the defendant agreed to a sentence of ten years a Range II, multiple offender, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the defendant to confinement. In this appeal as of right, the defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying her request for alternative sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Legal News
Career Opportunities
Celebrate Pro Bono
General Assembly News
TBA Member Services

Legal News
West execution on hold pending law suit outcome
The Tennessee Supreme Court has postponed the scheduled execution of Stephen Michael West from Nov. 9 to Nov. 30. The court acted on a motion to appeal from the Davidson County Chancery Court, where West filed a lawsuit challenging Tennessee's three-drug legal injection protocol. In the suit, West alleges that prisoners executed using this method experience unconstitutionally severe pain because the first drug, sodium thiopental, does not render the prisoner completely unconscious before the final two drugs are administered. Because evidence has not yet been presented regarding this claim, the Supreme Court has remanded the case to Davidson County Chancery Court for an immediate hearing to make a decision regarding West's claim. In the order, the court notes that "decisions involving such profoundly important and sensitive issues ... are best decided on evidence that has been presented, tested, and weighed in an adversarial hearing."
The Tennessean has more
Opinion: Stop executions until 'flawed system' fixed
In an opinion piece, the Rev. Joe Ingle cites the recent American Bar Association study on Tennessee's death penalty system, pointing out that the state "meets only seven of 93 standards recommended by the ABA for fair implementation of the death penalty." Ingle calls for a moratorium on executions until our system can be "fixed." Since 1977, Tennessee has executed fewer people than any other Southern state yet there are four executions set in the next four months, he writes. "These are all real, end-of-the-appeals execution dates."
Read the opinion piece in the Tennessean
New program works with domestic violators
The Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole has implemented a new statewide program that focuses on male probationers and parolees who may have an excessive domestic violence history. Last week, the "When Men Murder Women Report" ranked Tennessee as fifth in the nation for homicides where men kill women. Tennessee has been been ranked in the top 15 states in the country for this type of crime since 2000. "[The program] came about when the board began to look at how to address this issue while offenders were on community supervision -- how can we get to them before there is a murder," victim's services director Jennifer Brinkman said.
Read more from the Leaf-Chronicle
More funds needed for Montgomery juvenile justice
In an editorial today, the Leaf Chronicle urges the Montgomery County Commission to support a request to add funds -- $81,421 -- "to add a part-time juvenile magistrate and a full-time youth service officer and to remodel a dispute-resolution room so that it could be used to hear juvenile cases."
Read the editorial
Iowa justice ouster may have 'ripple effect'
Three Iowa Supreme Court justices lost their seats in last week's election over the court's 2009 ruling that said an Iowa law limiting marriage to a man and a woman was discriminatory. It's too early to know, say retention-vote watchers, whether the four remaining justices might also be targeted by similar well-financed campaigns. Nationally, it is rare for voters to oust justices in retention votes; it happens about once a decade. Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Penny White was ousted in such a way in 1996 for a ruling she joined that partly overturned a lower court's death penalty ruling. "Every time these groups win, they become empowered to go after courts in other states," she said. "I do think it has a ripple effect beyond Iowa."
The DesMoines Register has the details
Elliott to speak, sign book at 150th anniversary of state
In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, Tennessee's Sesquicentennial Commission will host the state's Inaugural Sesquicentennial Signature Event Nov. 12 and 13 in Nashville. Gov. Phil Bredesen will kick off the event on Friday at 10 a.m., along with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the Nashville Children's Choir and country music artist Trace Adkins. Sam Davis Elliott -- who is chair of the Tennessee Historical Society and president of the Tennessee Bar Association -- will give the keynote address, "The Coming of the War," on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in the War Memorial Building. A book signing will follow, featuring Elliott, author of Isham G. Harris of Tennessee: Confederate Governor and United States Senator, and other notable authors including Robert Hicks, author of New York Times best seller Widow of the South.
See the schedule and RSVP to the free events
Career Opportunities
Real estate firm seeks partner
The Nashville law firm of Hix & Gray PLC is seeking an attorney with an established client base who is interested in joining its practice. The firm reports this is a good opportunity for a lateral move for someone desiring to stabilize and grow their practice. The firm focuses on lending, creditors' rights and real estate law in both transactional and litigation matters. Resumes should be sent to Marshall L. Hix.
Learn more about the firm on JobLink
Celebrate Pro Bono
Students and lawyers joined by justices for clinic
As part of Celebrate Pro Bono Month, University of Tennessee law students and lawyers from the community volunteered their time for a two-day free legal advice clinic on Oct. 29-30. One event was held at the Family Justice Center and was co-sponsored with the Hamilton Burnett American Inn of Court, with a visit from Tennessee Supreme Court Justices Gary R. Wade and Sharon G. Lee. The next day, a legal advice clinic was held at the Knox County Public Defender's Community Law Office and was co-sponsored by the Knox County Public Defender's Community Law Office and the Centro Hispano de East Tennessee.
The Informant has more
General Assembly News
Child autopsy law to be introduced in January
A group plans to lobby lawmakers in January to pass "Tyler's Law," which would give parents of a deceased child the right to see the body before it is taken for autopsy. The proposal arises from a case where a couple's 18-month-old son, Tyler, died suddenly while napping at a baby sitter's house, the medical examiner's investigator would not let the couple see their son. The group includes four of the 12 jurors who served on the case; Tyler's parents, Don and Sarah Sinclair; and their legal team, Charles Robert Bone, John Branham and David Briley.
The Tennessean has this story
TBA Member Services
Office management resources available for TBA members
The TBA Law Office Technology & Management Section has purchased a collection of resource materials to be added to the TBA Lending Library for use by all members. Those materials include:

-- Letters for Litigators: Essential Communications for Opposing Counsel, Witnesses, Clients and Others
-- Letters for Lawyers: Essential Communications for Clients, Prospects and Others, Second Edition
-- Risk Management: Survival Tools for Law Firms, Second Edition
-- 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

Books may be borrowed for up to two weeks. To request a book, please email Sharon Ballinger or call her at (615) 383-7421.

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