Beavers withdraws bill that would take power from courts

Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, announced without any specific explanation today she was abandoning four bills, including a judicial oversight measure that would have stripped state courts of the power to block laws enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly. The bill was an effort, she had said, "to control out-of-control courts." She had faced heavy criticism from both sides of the political aisle over the idea. Democratic Sen. Andy Berke, a Chattanooga attorney, said it's unlikely Beavers' bill would have survived a legal challenge. "We in government shouldn't be part of a power grab," he said. "Any time you try to grab another branch's powers, the court is likely going to invalidate that."

The News Sentinel carried this AP story

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.

00 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
00 - TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders

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: TCA


Oliver J. Higgins, Pine Knot, Kentucky, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Joseph F. Whalen, Associate Solicitor General; and Benjamin A. Whitehouse, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


Petitioner who sought judicial review of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's denial of his request for disclosure of investigative records pursuant to the Tennessee Public Records Act appeals the trial court's dismissal of the petition. Finding that the records requested are excepted from disclosure, we affirm the judgment.


Court: TCCA


Roger Joseph, Pro Se, Mountain City, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and Joe Hoffer, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

On April 25, 2001, Petitioner, Roger Joseph, pled guilty to first degree murder. The Bradley County Criminal Court sentenced him to life in prison with possibility of parole. Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post- conviction relief on February 17, 2010. On February 28, 2010, the post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition for being untimely and because Petitioner had filed a previous petition. On appeal, Petitioner argues that he was taking various psychiatric medications at the time he entered his guilty plea and, therefore, his plea was not entered voluntarily. He also argues that trial counsel was ineffective because he knew Petitioner was taking medication. Because Petitioner has shown no due process violation or other reason for tolling the statute of limitations, we conclude that the post- conviction court properly dismissed the petition.


Court: TCCA


Harold E. Deaton, Jamestown, Tennessee (on appeal) and Paul Crouch, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Horace Oscar Wakefield.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Galloway, Jr., District Attorney General; LaTasha Wassom, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


This is a delayed appeal from a jury conviction for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), ninth offense. Following a sentencing hearing, the Defendant, Horace Oscar Wakefield, received a sentence of four years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. After a review of the record, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the Defendant's conviction for DUI. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court of the Judiciary
Legal News
General Assembly News
TBA Member Services

Court of the Judiciary
Charges filed against Hawkins County Judge Taylor
The Court of the Judiciary today filed formal charges against Hawkins County General Sessions Court Judge James F. Taylor for five counts of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct. The charges involve claims for payment and for converting collected money to his own use. Judge Taylor has 30 days to file a response to the charges. The Court of the Judiciary has also filed an order of recusal for Presiding Judge Chris Craft because he served on the investigative panel for this matter. Presiding Judge Pro-tem Jean Stanley will now serve as presiding judge in this matter.
The Administrative Office of the Courts has the related documents
Legal News
GPS used in Nashville case; new ruling probably won't affect sentence
When the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday released a ruling on the use of tracking devices and said that police need a warrant before they can attach a GPS unit to someone's car, attorney Carrie Gasaway knew she had been right. Gasaway represented Robert Jason Burdick, the notorious "Wooded Rapist," in a series of jury trials several years ago. "It confirmed what we thought all the way along, that they violated his constitutional rights," she said. Burdick was convicted of raping women in several counties and won't be eligible for parole for another 100 years. The high court's decision affirms her argument, Gasaway said, but it probably won't free her former client since evidence used in the case was obtained before the GPS device was put into use.
The Tennessean has it
Recall election case will stay in Circuit Court
Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth struck down several motions Monday over the recall election of Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, including denying a request to move the case from Circuit Court to Chancery Court. After the Hamilton County Election Commission set an August date for the recall, Littlefield filed suit against the commission in an attempt to stop the election.
The Times Free Press reports
Cleared on DNA evidence, man still not exonerated
Lawrence McKinney spent more than 31 years in prison before DNA evidence proved he was not guilty of the rape that put him in jail. But the state still has not exonerated him, and without that, his lawyer David Raybin said McKinney can't apply for compensation from the state for being wrongly imprisoned. Raybin said the answer to why the state won't exonerate McKinney is likely linked to his one parole hearing before DNA cleared him. At that hearing, McKinney admitted to a crime that he now says he didn't commit.
NewsChannel5 has the story
Belmont Law's building nearing completion
Belmont University's College of Law today celebrated the official "topping out" ceremony for the Randall and Sadie Baskin Center, a 71,000 square foot facility that will serve as the school's permanent home when it is finished this summer. In August 2011, Belmont welcomed its charter class of 132 students.

LAET gets $34k anonymous gift for unemployment work
The Chattanooga office of Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) has received an anonymous $34,000 award to continue funding its successful unemployment insurance appeals work. Over the past year, LAET's Chattanooga office has won $560,000 in benefits for Chattanoogans on appeal after an initial agency denial. "These Tennesseans played by the rules, paid their taxes, and worked hard," LAET Associate Director Russell Fowler said. "Now they are without employment and often erroneously denied benefits. With this funding, LAET can appear in the case at the appeal stage and provide the advocacy needed."

All 9 justices likely to hear health care reform appeals
It looks like all nine U.S. Supreme Court justices will participate in the upcoming appeals over the constitutionality of health care reform. The justices without comment on Monday denied the request from Freedom Watch, a group that argued Justice Elena Kagan should recuse herself. Similar calls for recusal from other groups have been directed at Justice Clarence Thomas. carried this story
General Assembly News
39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this week
This week marks the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that led to the legalization of abortion. It comes amid a fight over a state proposal on the issue. In 2014, Tennessee voters will decide what role the state has when it comes to abortion. They'll vote on an amendment that would change language in the Tennessee Constitution. has the story
Memphis law school seeks mock trial volunteers
The University of Memphis School of Law will host the 37th Annual National Trial Regional Competition for Region 5 on Feb. 17 to 19. Trial teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee will participate, and the planning committee is seeking volunteers to serve as competition judges and witnesses. The committee is also seeking sponsors. For more information contact the Moot Court Board at (901) 678-2679 or
Learn more about the competition online
TBA Member Services
Program offers savings on auto insurance
See how being a member of the TBA could help you save 8 percent on car insurance. GEICO offers 24-hour sales, service and claims. Call GEICO at (800) 368-2734
or get an online rate quote

Discontinue your TBA Today subscription? ... Surely not!
But if you must, visit the TBALink web site at:

Questions, comments: Email us at

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.

© Copyright 2012 Tennessee Bar Association