Haslam, Harwell, Ramsey unite on judicial selection plan

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey today proposed a constitutional amendment that would set in stone the state's merit selection system for appointing appellate judges. Haslam said the amendment is needed to settle once and for all the long dispute over how judges are named and elected. "The uncertainty surrounding the process, the differences on what the constitution means and the effect that these have on the judicial branch are all results that no one wants," Haslam said. "This is the best way to handle it." TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur has argued that such a constitutional amendment is unnecessary but said that if the General Assembly decides it is, the association will support it.

Read more in the Tennessean

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Court: TCA


Phillip Duane Barber and Mary Leech, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donna Crawford.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Bill Young, Solicitor General; and Eugenie B. Whitesell, Senior Counsel, for appellee, Department of Finance and Administration and State of Tennessee Civil Service Commission.


Appellant, a civil service employee with the State of Tennessee, appeals the trial court's judgment affirming the decision of the Civil Service Commission terminating her employment. The Commission had affirmed the initial order by the Administrative Law Judge, who upheld the decision of the Department of Finance and Administration to terminate Appellant's employment for the good of the service pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 8-30-326. Discerning no error, we affirm.



Court: TCA


Casey Renea Jeans, pro se appellant.

C. Dwaine Evans, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jonathan Paul Gray.


Casey Renea Jeans ("Mother") and Jonathan Paul Gray ("Father") are the parents of two minor children, Tyler and Alexia ("the Children", collectively). Mother and Father never were married. As part of the Permanent Parenting Plan ("the PPP"), Mother and Father shared custody of the Children, with Father designated as the primary residential parent. Mother filed a motion in the Circuit Court for Hamblen County ("the Trial Court") to modify the PPP. Specifically, Mother sought to become the primary residential parent of the Children. Mother also requested that she then be allowed to relocate with the Children. After a trial, the Trial Court declined either to make Mother the primary residential parent of the Children or to permit her to relocate with the Children. Mother appeals. We affirm.



Court: TCA


Fred T. Hanzelik, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert F. Meredith.

Phillip C. Lawrence, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Kenneth L. Weller, individually and dba Weller Construction, and Weller Construction, LLC.


The plaintiff, Robert F. Meredith ("the Owner"), appeals a judgment rendered against him in favor of his home builder, Kenneth L. Weller ("the Builder"), on the Builder's counterclaim for breach of contract and for attorney's fees incurred in defending the Owner's claims for, among other things, defective construction, misrepresentation, breach of contract, and violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, Tenn. Code Ann. sections 47-18-101 et seq. (2001)("the TCPA"). The Builder asks us to award him his attorney's fees incurred in defending the Owner's appeal. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects. We also award the Builder his reasonable attorney's fees incurred on appeal and remand to the trial court for a hearing to determine those fees.



Court: TCA


Julie Anne Foster, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronald B.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Martha A. Campbell, Associate Deputy Attorney General, General Civil Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Darrell W. Sproles, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, guardian ad litem for the minor, Ronald L. D.


This is a termination of parental rights case in which the Tennessee Department of Children's Services (the "Department") removed Ronald L. D. (the "Child") from the custody of Ronald B. ("Father"). The Child was adjudicated dependent and neglected, and after Father failed to comply with the permanency plan, the Department petitioned to terminate Father's parental rights. Following a hearing, the court terminated Father's parental rights, finding that Father failed to substantially comply with two permanency plans, that the conditions which led to removal persisted, and that termination of Father's parental rights was in the best interest of the Child. Father appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.



Court: TCA


Holly L. Booksh, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Susan M.M.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Bill E. Young, Solicitor General; and Lindsey O. Appiah, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Russell J. Kloosterman, Johnson City, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem.


The State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services ("DCS") filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of Susan M.M. ("Mother") and Mark M. ("Father") to the minor children Sierra D.M. ("Sierra") and Hunter Z.M. ("Hunter") (or collectively "the Children") pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. sections 36-1-113(g)(1) and (g)(3). After a trial, the Juvenile Court entered its order on August 17, 2011 finding and holding, inter alia, that clear and convincing evidence existed to terminate Mother's parental rights to the Children under Tenn. Code Ann. sections 36-1-113(g)(1) and (g)(3), and that clear and convincing evidence existed that the termination of Mother's parental rights was in the Children's best interest. Mother appeals to this Court. We affirm.



Court: TCCA


Candice K. Mendez, Dandridge, Tennessee (on appeal); and A. Philip Lomonaco, Knoxville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Doyle Everette Haney.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; James B. Dunn, District Attorney General; Joe C. Crumley and W. Brownlow Marsh, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Doyle Everette Haney, appeals his Cocke County Circuit Court jury convictions of sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine and delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine for which he received concurrent sentences of 30 years' incarceration as a career offender. In addition to contesting the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions, the defendant argues that the State failed to comply with discovery requirements, that juror misconduct infected his trial, and that the trial court erred at sentencing. Although not raised by the defendant, we determine that the trial court erred by failing to merge the jury verdicts into one judgment of conviction. On remand, the trial court shall enter a single judgment of conviction indicating the merger of the jury's verdicts, and the judgment in count two shall be vacated.


State Employee Salaries

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-01


Issuance of Beer Permits Near Cemeteries

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-02


Unfair Trade Practices under the Tennessee Dairy Law

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-03


Owner's Use of Milk and Licensing of the Sale of Eggs

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-04


Licensure under the Tennessee Egg Law

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-05


Prearranged Funeral Contracts

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-06


Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-07


Education Improvement Act - Number of School Board Members

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-08


Conflicts of Interest: Joint Economic and Community Development Boards

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-09


Scope of Enforcement Authority of Judicial District Task Force Members

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2012-01-25

Opinion Number: 12-10



Legal News
Disciplinary Actions
Career Opportunities
TBA Member Services

Legal News
First Baumgartner case filed with appeals court
Raynella Dossett Leath, convicted in January 2010 of killing her husband, is appealing a decision by former Knox County Criminal Judge Richard Baumgartner to deny her a new trial. The case is unique in that it is the first to mount an appellate court challenge to Baumgartner's fitness as a judge. Other suits seeking new trials have been filed at the trial level. One issue the appeals court will have to resolve, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, is whether defendants seeking new trials may use portions of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's file on Baumgartner in their cases.
The paper has the full story
Audit finds clerk pocketed fees, mismanaged office
A "scathing" state audit released Wednesday morning reveals that Davidson County Clerk John Arriola may have improperly pocketed as much as $119,000 over five years for weddings that he performed on taxpayer time. The audit also documents sloppy supervision of the office, including employees getting paid without having to prove they actually worked the hours, contracts being awarded without following purchasing procedures and staff engaging in political activities on work time. Prosecutors confirmed they are reviewing the report to see if criminal charges are warranted.
Learn more on News Channel 5
Sevier lawyer to spend 6 months in prison
A ruling by Sevier County Judge Richard Vance sentencing a disbarred attorney to six months in prison for perjury has been upheld by the state appellate court. The lawyer, Nathanael Anderson, was accused of lying in court that his law license had been reinstated, when it had not. Acting as his own counsel, Anderson entered a guilty plea. Later, lawyers and family members sought to withdraw the plea, saying Anderson had been suffering from schizophrenia at the time and was unable to understand what he was doing. The appeals court disagreed, saying the testimony failed to establish such an interpretation.
The Mountain Press reports
Changes coming in Baker Center leadership
University of Tennessee professor and associate director of the Center for Business and Economic Research Matt Murray will take over as the new leader of the school's Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. He replaces Carl Pierce, who has directed the center since June 2009. Pierce, a professor at the law school, will shift his focus to compiling Sen. Baker's papers and divide his time between the center and the law school.
The News Sentinel has more
Nashville lawyers named to leadership class
The Nashville Business Journal has announced its "Forty Under 40" class of 2012. Lawyers among the group are Phillip Cramer, Sherrard & Roe; Matthew Foster, Harwell Howard Hyne, Gabbert & Manner; Anna Grizzle, Bass Berry & Sims; Mary Beth Haltom, Lewis King Krieg & Waldrop; and James Mackler, Bone McAllester Norton.
The journal has more
Disciplinary Actions
Hawkins County lawyer suspended
Hawkins County lawyer John Douglas Godbee was temporarily suspended on Jan. 24 for failing to comply with his Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP) Monitoring Agreement.
Download the BPR notice
Davidson County lawyer censured
On Jan. 24, Davidson County lawyer Sheryl D. Guinn was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court for refusing to refund a client's fee. Guinn was paid $9,000 to represent a defendant charged with child rape and aggravated sexual battery. Later, the defendant discharged Guinn but she refused to refund any portion of the fee, asserting it was nonrefundable. Since Jan. 1, 2011, however, a nonrefundable fee agreement must be in writing, which she had not obtained.
Read the BPR release
Morristown lawyer censured
On Jan. 20, Paul G. S. Whetstone of Morristown was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court after being convicted of criminal contempt by the Jefferson County General Sessions Court. The General Sessions court found that Whetstone interrupted court proceedings, became argumentative with the presiding judge and failed to take his seat when ordered to do so.
See the BPR notice
AWA banquet is Jan. 31
The Association for Women Attorneys is holding its 32nd Annual Banquet Jan. 31 at the Memphis Racquet Club. The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a silent auction. Dinner and a program will follow at 6:45 p.m. During the event, the group will recognize Shelby County District Attorney General Amy P. Weirich with this year's Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award, induct new officers and committee chairs, and grant scholarships to several students at the University of Memphis School of Law. In addition, Lucie K. Brackin will pass the presidential gavel to Emily C. Taube, the group's 2012 president. Tickets are $55 for AWA members, $65 for non-members and $30 for law students. RSVP to Leah Hillis at lhillis@smmfamilylaw.com, (901) 821-0044 or send check to 530 Oak Court Dr., Suite 355; Memphis 38117.

Career Opportunities
Attorney sought for Memphis firm
Leitner Williams Dooley & Napolitan is seeking an experienced attorney for its Memphis office. Candidates should have defense litigation experience, strong academic background, analytical abilities, exceptional communication skills and commitment to client services. Interested individuals should submit a cover letter, resume, salary requirements, personal and professional references and a writing sample to Kathy R. Howell at kathy.howell@leitnerfirm.com.
Learn more on JobLink
Nation's oldest federal judge dies at age 104
U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown, the nation's oldest sitting federal judge in history, died Monday at the age of 104. Brown started his career at the law firm of Williams, Martindell and Carey in Hutchinson, Kan. He was appointed as bankruptcy judge in 1958 and as a district judge in 1962. He took senior status in 1979 but continued to carry a full workload for decades. Though he no longer presided over hearings, Brown kept an active civil caseload and was handling several cases at the time of his death.
WKRN has this AP story
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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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