Programs to help more people access legal services

Vice President Joe Biden today announced a series of steps designed to help middle class and low-income families secure their legal rights. These actions include strengthening foreclosure mediation programs, helping veterans secure the legal help they need, and making it easier for workers to find a qualified attorney when they believe their rights have been violated. The Blog of Legal Times has more on the initiatives announced at the White House.

At the ceremonies, The Legal Services Corporation's Board Chairman John G. Levi launched, the first national website focused on common legal problems of veterans and military families, and the start of an awareness campaign involving community-based Vet Centers and local legal aid offices.

Part of the initiative is a collaborative program between the Department of Labor and the American Bar Association, which will assist workers with legal complaints related to employment issues. The two groups are establishing an attorney-referral system in which workers will be referred to lawyers experienced in the Family and Medical Leave Act and Fair Labor Standards Act.

Learn more about the Department of Justice's Access to Justice Initiative

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Court: TCA


Eric D. Miller, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Albert J. Hale.

John M. Russell and Lauren A. Wong, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wal-Mart Associates, Inc.


Claimant, an employee of Wal-Mart, was charged with possession of cocaine and pled guilty to a misdemeanor possession, and was then discharged for violating company policy. Claimant was not at work nor on Wal-Mart's property when the offense occurred. The agency found that claimant was discharged under disqualifying conditions and denied unemployment benefits. Throughout the appeals process, denial of benefits was upheld. On appeal to this Court, we hold that claimant violated Wal-Mart's policies by failing to report his conviction under a criminal drug statute to his employer within three days as required under the employer's policy. We affirm the denial of unemployment benefits to claimant.


Court: TCA


Thomas E. LeQuire, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellants, Bradley County, Tennessee, Bradley County Sheriff's Dept., Sheriff Tim Gobble, Office Marshall Hicks, Officer John Doe #1, Officer John Doe #2, Officer John Doe #3, Officer John Doe #4, Officer John Doe #5, Officer John Doe #6, Officer John Doe #7, Officer Jane Doe #1 and Officer Jane Doe #2.

Jeffrey A. Miller, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jeremy Paul Hopkins.


Plaintiff was incarcerated in jail on an arrest warrant that authorized bail of $1,500.00, which defendants failed to honor until the elapse of a 12 hour period. The Trial Judge held the defendants violated the statute governing the arrest warrant, and that the violation amounted to a constitutional violation entitling the plaintiff to damages. We granted an interlocutory appeal on these two rulings by the Trial Judge. We uphold the Trial Judge's determination that the defendants violated the statute by holding plaintiff for 12 hours before allowing bond, but reverse the Trial Court's holding that plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated and remand the case to the Trial Court.


Court: TCCA


Mike Whalen, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Baldomero Galindo.

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


The Defendant, Baldomero Galindo, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of first degree murder, for which he is serving a life sentence. On appeal, he contends that (1) the trial court erred in dismissing his motion for new trial on the basis it was untimely, (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (3) the trial court erred in denying his pretrial motion to suppress his inculpatory statement, and (4) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial based upon the State's failure to disclose discovery materials in a timely manner. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


John E. Nicoll, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joel Keener.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; and Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Joel Keener, appeals as of right the Warren County Circuit Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In 2005, the Petitioner was convicted by a jury of facilitation of manufacturing methamphetamine and sentenced to eight years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the denial of his petition was error because he did not receive the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Specifically, he contends that counsel failed to seek severance of the charges, failed to seek suppression of the Petitioner's statement, and failed to challenge admission of a photograph showing iodine-stained hands. He argues that the cumulative effect of these errors denied him a fair trial. Following our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we conclude that the Petitioner has not shown that he is entitled to relief. The judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.


Court: TCCA


Clifton L. Corker, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Lee Miller.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Anthony Wade Clark, District Attorney General; and Kenneth C. Baldwin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Robert Lee Miller, was found guilty of the first degree murder of the victim, Krystal Dubuque, during the perpetration of an aggravated rape, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant argues

1. that the trial court erred in admitting a videotaped interview of the appellant dressed in his prison uniform;

2. that the trial court should have excluded the testimony of Rodney Perkins identifying the appellant as the person he saw near the victim's car;

3. that the trial court erred in not granting a mistrial when the State disclosed that recent blood testing had revealed that blood in the victim's underwear was not that of the appellant;

4. that the trial court erred in not granting the appellant's motion for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Rule 29 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure;

5. that the trial court erred in permitting the introduction of prior act evidence regarding the appellant's dealings with other women and specifically regarding statements about his desire to be sexually involved with the victim;

6. that the trial court erred in not suppressing all statements made by the appellant as they were obtained in violation of his right to counsel as secured by the Tennessee State Constitution Article I, Section 9 and Amendments Five and Six of the U.S. Constitution; and

7. that the appellant's right to a speedy trial was violated.

Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, we must remand to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment of conviction to reflect the appellant's guilt of count one, felony murder, instead of count two, premeditated first degree murder.


Court: TCCA


Hershell D. Koger, Pulaski, Tennessee, (on appeal) and Donna Orr Hargrove, District Public Defender; Michael Collins, Assistant Public Defender; and William Harold, Assistant Public Defender, (at trial) for the appellant, Daniel Stewart.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Daniel Stewart, entered open guilty pleas to two counts of Class C felony theft, one count of forgery, and one count of passing a worthless check, also Class C felonies, for which Petitioner was sentenced, following a sentencing hearing, as a Range I standard offender to six years confinement for each count, to be served concurrently. In this appeal from the court's denial of his post-conviction petition, Petitioner asserts that (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial; (2) his guilty plea was entered involuntarily; and (3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel regarding waiving his right to appeal he did not effectively waive his right to appeal. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TCCA


Harold E. Deaton, Jamestown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Keith A. Whited.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; William Phillips, District Attorney General; and John W. Galloway, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Keith A. Whited, was charged with first degree murder, driving under the influence (fourth offense), and driving on a revoked license. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of second degree murder, a Class A felony, driving under the influence (fourth offense), a Class E felony, and driving on a revoked license, a Class B misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. sections 39-13-210(c); 55-10-403(a)(1), -50-504(a)(1). In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the verdict was against the weight of the evidence; (2) the testimony of the three eyewitnesses for the State was tainted and should have been disregarded; (3) the police investigation was mishandled and the crime scene was not protected; and (4) the lead investigator's testimony was inconsistent and should have been disregarded. After our review, we affirm the Defendant's convictions. We remand solely for the purpose of entry of a corrected judgment form for the second degree murder conviction.

Prohibiting the Sale of Beer Through Drive-Up Windows

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-11-19

Opinion Number: 10-113


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Legal News
NBF gives Rutherford Award to Echols, honors new fellows
The Nashville Bar Foundation honored its 2010 Class of Fellows on Nov. 13, and presented the David Rutherford Award to the Hon. Robert L. Echols, former U.S. district judge for the Middle District of Tennessee. Echols is now a member of Bass, Berry and Sims. This award is given to a Fellow who exemplifies the memory and ideals of Nashville lawyer David Rutherford, which include "professionalism, charitable contributions in the legal field and in the community as a whole, and the spirit of collegiality among bench and bar."
Download the list of Fellows
Court agrees that school can ban kids from wearing Confederate flag clothing
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court's ruling that a school's ban on Confederate clothing was a reasonable attempt to prevent disruptions. Tommy Defoe sued Anderson County school officials after he was sent home and then suspended for insubordination in 2006 for wearing a T-shirt and a belt buckle bearing the image of the Confederate battle flag. He said he wanted to display his pride in his Southern heritage. In court filings, he claimed school officials violated his First Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan in August 2009 threw out Defoe's suit. On Thursday, the Sixth Circuit affirmed that decision. The court found that racial tensions and incidents at the school were such that banning displays of the Confederate flag was a reasonable way to prevent disruption and violence. The Tennessean reported the AP story.

New FTC rule to protect homeowners from scams
Attorneys who handle loan modification services for clients should be aware of a new Federal Trade Commission rule that bans providers of mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification services from collecting fees until homeowners have a written offer from their lender or servicer that they decide is acceptable. The FTC is issuing the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule to protect homeowners from mortgage relief scams that have sprung up during the mortgage crisis. Bogus operations falsely claim that, for a fee, they will negotiate on the the consumer's behalf to obtain a loan modification, a short sale, or other relief from foreclosure.
Download more from the FTC
National Adoption Day celebrated in courthouse
The Hamblen County Courthouse in Morristown will be bustling with more activity than normal tomorrow (Saturday) morning as Chancellor Thomas "Skip" Frierson finalizes six adoptions at a special ceremony in honor of National Adoption Day. This is Frierson's eighth year to celebrate the day by finalizing adoptions. "As a father of three adopted children, I understand the significance of this day," he said, "and we work hard to make it a special event for the children and their new families."

During the event, the Bill Williams Award will be presented to an East Tennessee attorney for supporting the adoption of children. The award was created in honor of Bill Williams, a reporter for Knoxville's NBC affiliate WBIR-TV and a longtime advocate for adoption.
The AOC has more
Experts testify in lethal injection case
Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman heard evidence for both sides today of a case brought by Stephen Michael West, who is set to be executed by the state Nov. 30. West contends that the three-drug cocktail that will be used to kill him is inhumane. An anesthesiologist testified yesterday that levels of sodium thiopental in three recent autopsies of death row inmates were too low to cause unconsciousness. But a family member of the two victims didn't care about that. "Anything he goes through is going to be an easier death than my family had and will probably be an easier death than any of us will have."
The Tennesean reports
Tenn. Supreme Court
Court grants review in 4 cases
The Raybin Perky Tennessee Supreme Court Hot List reviews four new cases in which the court has just granted review. These include products liability, double jeopardy and lesser included offenses, default judgments, and community supervision for life.
Check out the list
Disciplinary Actions
Martin attorney suspended
On Nov. 15, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended the law license of Martin lawyer Harry Max Speight, based upon his plea of guilty to a serious crime, i.e., conspiracy to make false statements and defraud the government. The court further ordered the Board of Professional Responsibility to institute a formal proceeding to determine the extent of final discipline to be imposed as a result of the conviction.
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The TBA has partnered with First Horizon Msaver Inc. to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and HSA-qualified health plans for individuals and groups to members. HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts that let you set aside money to pay for current and future medical expenses. For more information, or to obtain an instant quote for an HSA-qualified health plan, call the TBA's dedicated toll-free customer care line at (866) 257-2659 or visit the TBA member web site.
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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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