Haslam names Gibbons to homeland security post

Gov.-Elect Bill Haslam today named Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons as his commissioner of public safety and homeland security. The office is responsible not only for the state's response to terrorism but also the Tennessee Highway Patrol and drivers' license testing facilities. Gibbons will start the state job on Jan. 15. Haslam also announced that he would appoint Deputy DA Amy Weirich to fill Gibbons' post.

The Memphis Daily News reports

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Court: TCA


Phillip C. Lawrence, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Patrick Garrett Ingraham.

Selma Cash Paty, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jennie F. Ingraham.


After eighteen years of marriage, Jennie F. Ingraham ("Wife") sued Patrick Garrett Ingraham ("Husband") for divorce. After a trial, the Trial Court entered its Final Judgment on December 7, 2009, inter alia, granting Wife a divorce and dividing the marital property. Husband appeals to this Court raising issues regarding the valuation and distribution of the marital property. Wife raises additional issues concerning the property distribution and attorney fees. We affirm as to the Trial Court's valuation of items of marital property, the determination that the Exxon stock is Husband's separate property, and the denial of an award to Wife of attorney's fees. We, however, remand this case for proof on the issue of whether Husband's combined SEP and IRA fall under the definition contained in Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-4-121(b)(1)(B) pursuant to our Supreme Court's Opinion in Snodgrass v. Snodgrass, 295 S.W.3d 240 (Tenn. 2009).



Court: TCA


Shannon R. Romain, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marce Lundsford, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Warren A. Jasper, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The father of a minor child appeals his conviction of eighteen counts of criminal contempt for willful failure to pay child support. He contends the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions because the State failed to present evidence he had the ability to pay or that his failure to pay was willful. We agree and reverse the holding of the trial court.



Court: TCA


Mark Allan Jennings, Olive Branch, MS, pro se, (filed initial Appellant's Brief); James E. Thomas, Memphis, TN, attorney for the appellant, (filed Reply Brief of Appellant).

Stephen F. Libby, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Joni Lynn Jennings.


After Husband and Wife filed cross petitions for orders of protection, they entered Consent Injunctions restricting communications between them. Subsequently, the parties filed competing petitions for contempt, alleging violations of the Consent Injunctions. On appeal, Husband argues that the Consent Injunctions were improperly entered, and therefore, that the trial court's criminal contempt conviction, which was based upon violations of such injunctions, cannot stand. We affirm the decision of the chancery court, and finding the appeal frivolous, we remand for a determination of damages.



Court: TCA


Robin Ruben Flores, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Robert A. Myers.

Jennifer K. Peck, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Leta V. Myers.


Leta V. Myers ("Mother") and Robert A. Myers ("Father") were divorced in 1999. Approximately ten years later, Father filed a petition seeking to have his child support payment reduced after the oldest of the parties' four children became emancipated. Mother responded to the petition. Mother also filed a counter-petition seeking a modification of the parenting plan as well as to have Father found in contempt of court for willfully violating numerous provisions of the final decree. When Father failed to respond timely to the counter-petition, Mother filed a motion for default judgment. The Trial Court granted the motion for default. Approximately three hours after the order granting the default judgment was entered, Father filed a response to the counter-petition. The Trial Court eventually found Father in contempt of court for numerous violations of the final decree. After Father's motion to set aside the default judgment was denied, Father appealed challenging only the initial entry of the default judgment. We affirm.



Court: TCA


Kerry Knox and Thomas H. Castelli, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellants, Sandra Newman, Tim Newman, and Alyssa Christy-Millet, a minor b/n/f Laura Millet.

Steven A. Dix, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellees, Rubye J. Jarrell and Joseph D. Ash, Jr.

Richard W. Rucker, Adam Ford Tucker, and Susan Emery McGannon, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellees, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Police Department and the City of Murfreeboro, Tennessee.


The plaintiffs were injured in a car accident in which their car collided with a stolen car. They sued the City of Murfreesboro and its police department, arguing that the stolen car was being pursued by the police immediately prior to the accident. The plaintiffs also sued the person who was using the car with its owner's permission prior to the theft, arguing that he had acted negligently in leaving the keys in the car. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of all of the defendants. With respect to the city and its police department, we affirm. With respect to the user of the offending car prior to its theft, we reverse and remand.



Court: TCCA


Samuel J. Harris, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robin Blaskis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General, and Anthony Craighead, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

In November 2006, the Putnam County grand jury indicted Appellant, Robin Blaskis, for one count of theft over $60,000. Following a jury trial, Appellant was convicted as charged. The trial court sentenced Appellant to ten years as a Range I, standard offender. On appeal, Appellant argues that the trial court erred in denying her motion to dismiss based upon the violation of her right to a speedy trial and that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the trial court's denial of her motion to dismiss was correct because the four factors set out in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), did not weigh in her favor. We also conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support her conviction. Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.



Court: TCCA


Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Michael J. Collins, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Veronica Lynn Floyd.

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

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Veronica Lynn Floyd, pled guilty in the Bedford County Circuit Court to three counts of theft of property over $10,000, Class C felonies, and one count of theft of property over $1000, a Class D felony. She was sentenced as a Range I offender to five years on each of the theft over $10,000 convictions, with two of the counts to be served concurrently and one count consecutively to the others, and three years on the theft over $1000 conviction, to be served consecutively to the other counts, for a total effective sentence of thirteen years. The defendant was ordered to serve nine months of her sentence in the county jail with the remaining term on community corrections. On appeal, she argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Larry M. Warner, Crossville, Tennessee, and Leif E. Jeffers, Assistant Public Defender, Huntsville, Tennessee (at trial); James A. Simmons, Hendersonville, Tennessee, and Richard L. Gaines, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the Defendant-Appellant, Hubert Glenn Sexton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael Moore, Solicitor General; Mark E. Davidson, Assistant Attorney General; William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General, John W. Galloway, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, and Sarah H. West Davis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Scott County jury found the Appellant Hubert Glenn Sexton guilty of two counts of first degree murder arising from the deaths of Stanley and Terry Goodman. Following penalty phase, the jury found the presence of one statutory aggravating circumstance, that the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution of the defendant or another, and that this aggravator outweighed any mitigating factors. See T.C.A. section 39-13-204(i)(6). The jury imposed sentences of death. Appellant Sexton seeks review by this court of both his convictions for first degree murder and his sentences of death. He raises the following issues for our review:

I. Whether the trial court erred in denying a motion for change of venue;

II. Whether the trial court erred in failing to properly admonish the jury before and during trial;

III. Whether the trial court erred in failing to adequately voir dire the jury regarding extrajudicial information;

IV. Whether the trial court erred in failing to excuse certain jurors for cause;

V. Whether the trial court erred in admitting allegations of child sexual abuse;

VI. Whether the trial court erred in admitting testimony regarding the Appellant's willingness and later refusal to take a polygraph examination;

VII. Whether the trial court erred in admitting statements made by the Appellant's wife;

VIII. Whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence that was similar to the murder weapon;

IX. Whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence of an unrelated speeding arrest;

X. Whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence that Appellant alleges was unlawfully obtained from his vehicle;

XI. Whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence relating to the preparation of Appellant's IRS tax forms;

XII. Whether individual and cumulative instances of prosecutorial misconduct denied him a fair trial;

XIII. Whether the convicting evidence was sufficient to support his convictions;

XIV. Whether the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence;

XV. Whether Tennessee's death penalty scheme is constitutional; and

XVI. Whether the trial court erred in denying the motion for new trial based on cumulative error.

Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Ricky L. Stacy, McMinnville, Tennessee for the Defendant-Appellant, Dana Kennedy Walls.

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


Defendant-Appellant, Dana Kennedy Walls, was convicted by a Warren County Circuit Court jury of facilitation of initiating a process to manufacture methamphetamine in count one, a Class C felony; facilitation of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine in count two, a Class E felony; and promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine in count three, a Class D felony. She was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to serve concurrent sentences of five years with service of 365 days in confinement for count one, two years with service of 90 days in confinement for count two, and three years with service of 250 days in confinement for count three, for an effective sentence of five years with 365 days in confinement prior to serving the remainder of her sentence on probation. On appeal, Dana Walls argues: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions, (2) the trial court committed reversible error in failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of attempt for each of the charged offenses, and (3) her sentence is excessive. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Compensation Expense Ratio Under Tenn. Code Ann. Section 56-22-120

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2010-12-08

Opinion Number: 10-115



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Congressional News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Charges dismissed against Memphis lawyer
Criminal contempt charges have been dismissed against Memphis lawyer R. Sadler Bailey, who was jailed briefly two years ago after criticizing a judge during a trial. Circuit Court Judge Karen Williams cited Bailey for criminal contempt, fined him $50 and sentenced him to 10 days in jail. The Shelby County District Attorney was to handle the prosecution, but the case was delayed for 15 months, in part due to Williams' unavailability. In 2009, a state appeals court vacated Williams' finding and ruled that another judge should hear the matter. That judge, Chancellor James Butler, dismissed the charges saying the ongoing delay violated Bailey's right to a speedy trial.
The Commercial Appeal has more
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With courts nationwide struggling to function in an economic crisis, American Bar Association President Steve Zack has created the Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System to study the issue. The task force will partner with state and local bar associations, hold public hearings, and meet with policymakers to highlight the debilitating impact of underfunding the American justice system. At the end of the process the task force will recommend ways to redress the current crisis and guard against future harm.
Learn more in the ABA Journal
Criminal trials lead to 10-month backlog
This year has seen the greatest number of criminal trials in the history of Davidson County, which has lead to an extensive and expensive backlog. As of this week, new trials are being set for next October. While some suggest using civil judges to help clear the backlog, Presiding Judge Joe Binkley Jr. said there's no simple or immediate answer to the situation.
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Probation officers stop polygraphs for sex offenders
Tennessee probation officers who use polygraph testing in the supervision of sex offenders have been told to stop due to legal concerns. Gary Tullock, director of field services for the Board of Probation and Parole, said the use of polygraph tests is supposed to be limited to treatment purposes only. For years, however, probation officers were asked to ensure sex offenders took at least one test per year. Some officers interpreted that authority to mean they could order the tests themselves and question offenders about compliance with probation or parole.
Read more in the Tennessean
LAET Chattanooga moves to new office
Effective Monday of this week, Legal Aid of East Tennessee has a new location in Chattanooga. The new office is located 535 Chestnut Street, Suite 360, Chattanooga 37402. The office, which is run by Russell Fowler, previously was located on McCallie Avenue. The phone number remains the same.

Congressional News
Senate convicts judge on corruption charges
The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly today to convict U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous of Louisiana's Eastern District on charges of accepting cash and gifts from those with business before him, running a kickback scheme to assign cases to certain attorneys, filing for bankruptcy under a false name, and lying to the executive and legislative branches of government. Porteous' lawyers argued the acts did not rise to the "high crimes and misdemeanors" standard required for removal. The Senate action followed a unanimous vote of impeachment in the House of Representatives last March.
The Wall Street Journal has more
Disciplinary Actions
Lawyers suspended for failure to pay privilege tax
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Read the order and list of those suspended
Lawyer remains suspended though no longer inactive
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Download the BPR notice
Memphis NBA chapter holds annual dinner, fundraiser
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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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