Sharp passes immigration question to Supreme Court

The Tennessee Supreme Court will look into a federal lawsuit that challenges the authority of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office to enforce federal immigration law, after U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp put the case on hold. He asked the court to weigh in on whether the sheriff's office's 2009 memorandum of agreement with ICE violates the Metro Charter. Nashville attorney Elliott Ozment filed a lawsuit in January 2011 on behalf of individuals affected by a partnership between the Davidson County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that allows the sheriff to investigate the immigration status of jail inmates and determine whether to turn them over for federal deportation proceedings.

Read more in the Tennessean

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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
05 - 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: TSC


Court: TCA


Todd A. Rose, Paris, Tennessee; Les Jones, Memphis, Tennessee, Kate E. Rhodes, Paris, Tennessee for the appellants, Christopher J. Etheridge, by next friends and parents, Selena A. Etheridge and Christopher J. Etheridge (Sr.), Selena A. Etheridge; and Christopher J. Etheridge (Sr.)

James B. Summers, Jessica A. Benton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, John B. Riddle

Bradford D. Box, Nathan E. Shelby, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, David Haltom


A minor was injured in June 2008 when a sink, installed in November 2004, shattered. Suit was initially filed in June 2009, and Defendants were added in September 2009 and April 2010. The trial court granted summary judgment to Defendants based upon the construction statute of repose, Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-3-202, et seq., and we affirm


Court: TCA


C. Suzanne Landers and Carrie Eaker Kerley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Dean Flynn.

Mitchell D. Moskovitz, Zachary M. Moore and Adam N. Cohen, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Barbara Jean Hooper Flynn.


The trial court denied Husband's petition to modify alimony upon finding he was voluntarily underemployed, and found him to be in civil contempt. We vacate the finding of voluntary underemployment, affirm the finding of contempt, and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TCA


Glenn R. Copeland, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, S. Dale Copeland.

Arnold A. Stulce, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mary Lee Martin.


In this boundary line dispute, plaintiff sued defendant, the adjoining property owner, and defendant countersued. Each of the parties employed their own surveyors who testified at the trial, and the Trial Court ultimately established a boundary line between the parties. Defendant appealed to this Court. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TCA


Roger Lee Neal, pro se appellant.

Kelli Jean Hayes, pro se appellee.


This case arises from a long-running legal dispute between Roger Lee Neal ("Neal") and Kelli Jean Hayes ("Hayes") concerning their minor child ("the Child"). Neal and Hayes disputed, among other things, custody matters relating to the Child. In March 2011, the Circuit Court for Knox County, Fourth Circuit ("the Trial Court"), entered an order confirming findings of the Special Master, Sarah Higgins ("the Special Master") and resolving numerous contested issues. In the same order, the trial judge, Judge Swann, stated, in effect, that he no longer could be neutral towards Neal because of Neal's villainous statements about the Special Master and Neal's "admitted perjury" and recused himself from any further participation in these cases. Husband appeals, arguing, in part, that Judge Swann could not simultaneously rule on the Special Master's findings and recuse himself because of lack of neutrality. We hold that as both the Special Master and Judge Swann expressed an understandable lack of neutrality in their findings and order, respectively, the Trial Court's March 2011 order is vacated, and we remand for further proceedings to be held before a neutral court. We vacate the judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TCA


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General and Brian J. Ramming, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellants, Reagan Farr, Commissioner of Revenue, State of Tennessee.

David W. Bertoni, Lewiston, Maine, and Charles A. Trost, G. Michael Yopp and Christopher A. Wilson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc.


The trial court determined that the Commissioner of Revenue's assessment of sales and use taxes against out-of-state Plaintiff for sales to customers in Tennessee was not permitted under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, and entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. The Commissioner of Revenue appeals. We reverse and remand.


Court: TCCA


J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Mack Garner, District Public Defender, for the appellant, Tammy Bernice Davenport.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Matthew Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Tammy Bernice Davenport, appeals the Blount County Circuit Court's revocation of her probation and subsequent sentencing. The defendant pled guilty in 2008 to the promotion of methamphetamine manufacture and received a ten-year sentence to be served on supervised probation. Following a prior revocation and reinstatement of her probation, a second violation warrant was issued alleging a violation based upon new charges and the use of intoxicants. Following a revocation hearing at which the defendant acknowledged her violations, the trial court revoked the defendant's probation and ordered that her sentence be served in confinement. On appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering the defendant to serve the balance of her sentence in confinement. Following review, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court's actions as a defendant already on probation is not entitled to a second grant of an alternative sentence. Because we conclude no error occurred in this case and because the case has no precedential value, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.


Court: TCCA


George Arthur Lee Smith, Pro Se, Wartburg, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Victor J. Vaughn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, George Arthur Lee Smith, appeals from the Hamblen County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Specifically, Petitioner argues that trial counsel was ineffective for the following reasons: 1) for failing to move to suppress a recorded conversation between Petitioner and a co-defendant; 2) for failing to argue at trial the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception to hearsay as rebuttal to the State's theory of motive; 3) for failing to call Petitioner's mother and stepfather as witnesses at trial; 4) for failing to move to strike the testimony of Petitioner's sister at trial; 5) for failing to request a jury instruction regarding corroboration of accomplice testimony; 6) for failing to request a limiting instruction concerning evidence of Petitioner's prior bad acts; 7) for failing to assert intoxication as a defense; and 8) for failing to object to improper comments by the prosecutor during voir dire and closing argument. Petitioner also contends that the post-conviction court erred by not allowing hearsay testimony from Petitioner's mother at the post-conviction hearing. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Legal News
Judicial Selection, Retention
General Assembly News
Tenn. Government
Court of the Judiciary
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Editorial: Tennessee 'leading the way' in judicial reform
An editorial in The New York Times praises Tennessee's recent adoption of the new Code of Judicial Conduct, saying it is a "good model [that] should help prod court leaders in other jurisdictions to follow suit." The editorial urges other states to do likewise, where "campaign spending problems have plagued judicial races. ... A sensible rule on recusal would significantly increase public confidence in judicial integrity."
Read the editorial
Crowd pays tribute to Judge Moon
Friends and family gathered Saturday to remember Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Robert "Bob" Moon, who died last week.
The Chattanoogan reports
Editorial: Shelby Juvenile court changed face of justice
In an editorial, the Commercial Appeal praises "the efforts by the leadership team at Shelby County Juvenile Court to change the face of juvenile justice in Memphis and Shelby County continues to garner national recognition."
Read the editorial
U.S. attorney says he'll be tough on hate crimes
U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin pledged to be tough on hate crime last week at a forum on the topic. In attendance was the family of Matthew Shepard, whose murder inspired new federal hate crime laws. President Obama signed the legislation in 2009 that gives new authority to pursue hate crimes based on gender, sexual orientation and religion. Martin says he's on the lookout for hate crimes in Middle Tennessee, particularly against Muslims.
WPLN reports
Legal assistant used stolen money for gastric-bypass
A Knoxville legal assistant has struck a deal with federal prosecutors to plead guilty in U.S. District Court to a mail fraud charge in connection with the embezzlement of more than $180,000 from Tammy Kaousias' law firm. Melisa Rebecca Thacker used $3,000 of the funds to pay for gastric-bypass surgery, according to the plea agreement filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kolman.
Read the story in the News Sentinel
Judicial Selection, Retention
The politics of a constitutional amendment
Nashville Public Radio's Capitol Hill correspondent Joe White discusses proposed changes to the way Tennessee chooses its judges, and why he believes Republicans have changed their minds about the way judges are chosen. He also tells what must happen to get a proposed constitutional amendment adopted.
LIsten to the story
General Assembly News
Editorial: Don't weaken ethic's rules
The Jackson Sun writes in an editorial urging state lawmakers to reject all attempts to weaken Tennessee's ethics rules that would allow more lobbyist and corporate money into the state's political system. "The Tennessee Waltz bribery sting taught everyone some very hard lessons," the paper says. "It is our hope that we are not ready to forget them."
Read the editorial
Tenn. Government
Haslam to give 'State of State' tonight
Gov. Bill Haslam will unveil his full budget plan tonight at 6 p.m. Central time during his second State of the State address. The proposals include cuts in the inheritance tax and the sales tax on groceries, changing civil service rules for state workers and changing teacher pay and average class size rules.
The Associated Press reports
Would 'TEAM' dismantle civil service protection?
Gov. Bill Haslam may be ready to pull from former Gov. Ray Blanton's playbook and implement a patronage system, where state employees are subject to firing based on recommendations by a commissioner. Critics say the Tennessee Excellence Accountability and Management (TEAM) Act would dismantle the civil service system, but Haslam dismisses such criticism.
The News Sentinel reports
Court of the Judiciary
Dickson County judge reprimanded
The Court of the Judiciary has issued a public reprimand against Dickson County Juvenile Court Judge A. Andrew Jackson for failing to appoint counsel in two cases.
Learn more from the AOC
TBA Member Services
New solutions for your insurance needs
Working with Graham Swafford III, the TBA Member Insurance Solutions Program is able to provide members with exclusive benefits, personalized service, and pricing discounts for disability income insurance, business overhead expense insurance, life and long-term care insurance with other employee related benefits. TBA Member Insurance Solutions can also provide an objective review of your current health insurance program, evaluate your needs and recommend the most cost effective solution.
Learn more about TBA Insurance Solutions now

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