Committee OKs judges' plan for new ethics board

The state Senate Government Operations Committee approved legislation Wednesday that replaces the current Court of the Judiciary with a Board of Judicial Conduct made up of 10 judges and six citizens. It then referred the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Tennessee Criminal Appeals Court Judge Jeff Bivins, who is the Judicial Conference's point person on the issue, was on hand to present the conference's proposal for handling judicial complaints. The package, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, as SB 2671, would, according to TNReport, shift responsibility for rejecting complaints to board members rather than staff. In addition, the new board would produce quarterly public reports instead of the current yearly statistics, establish a legislative liaison and operate with a lower threshold for pursuing an investigation.

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Court: TCA


Robert L. Crawford and Joseph B. Reafsnyder, Memphis, Tennessee, and Charles L. Perry, Dallas, Texas, for the appellants, Eagles Landing Apartments, LP, PNC Multifamily Capital Institutional Fund XXX, LP, and Columbia Housing SLP Corporation.

Dedrick Brittenum, Jr., and Kenya S. Hooks, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Eagles Landing Development, LLC.


This is a breach of contract case. Following a bench trial, the trial court awarded Appellee Developer the remaining balance due under a Development Agreement that was entered by and between Appellee and the Appellants, a partnership and its limited liability partners, for construction of an apartment complex. Appellants contend that Appellee was not entitled to final payment because the general partner, who is not a party to this appeal, had not funded the development fees that were contemplated under a Partnership Agreement, to which Appellee was not a party. Specifically, Appellants argue that the payment under the Development Agreement is contingent upon satisfaction of the funding requirements specified in the Partnership Agreement. We conclude that the conditions precedent under the Development Agreement were met, and that the Appellee was, therefore, entitled to its full fee under the Development Agreement. The trial court assessed judgment against the limited liability partners and the partnership. Under the Tennessee Revised Uniform Partnership Act, Appellants' status as limited partners protects them from liability for the debts of the partnership. Appellee contends that it is a third-party beneficiary under the Partnership Agreement and may, therefore, have judgment against the limited partners who were parties to that agreement. We conclude that the third-party beneficiary issue is waived and that the trial court erred in entering judgment against the limited partners. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.


Court: TCA


Michael R. Hill and Pamela G. Vawter, Milan, Tennessee, for the appellant, Gary Paul.

John W. Whitworth, Camden, Tennessee, for the appellees, Dennis Watson and Darlene Watson, d/b/a Double D Lawn Care and Landscaping.


This case involves an alleged oral contract for landscaping work. The homeowner paid a considerable amount of money to the landscaper during the project, but when the landscaper failed to complete the project, the homeowner demanded a refund. When the landscaper refused to refund any money, the homeowner sued, alleging breach of contract, a violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, conversion, and negligent and intentional misrepresentation. The trial court ruled that the homeowner was entitled to a refund only of his last payment to the landscaper before the landscaper left the job, as well as attorney fees. The homeowner appealed. Following an order from this court directing the homeowner to obtain a final judgment, the trial court entered an amended judgment denying the homeowner's claim pursuant to the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Because we conclude that the trial court failed to rule on the homeowner's claims for conversion and misrepresentation, we dismiss this appeal for lack of a final judgment.


Court: TCA


Mart G. Fendley, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joshua Rountree.

Wesley Mack Bryant, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellee, Katie J. Rountree.


This is a divorce case involving issues related to the permanent parenting plan and the division of marital property. The trial court adopted Mother's proposed permanent parenting plan, which provided that the child would attend preschool, against Father's wishes, even though prior to trial Father had been the primary caregiver of the child while Mother worked. The trial court also adopted Mother's proposed division of marital property. We conclude that the trial court erred in finding that Father's desire to care for the child during the day was based on a self-serving motive. Accordingly, we vacate the parenting plan and remand for the establishment of a new permanent parenting plan. We further conclude that Mother was improperly assigned her attorney fees as a marital debt, and we reverse that award. In addition, we reverse portions of the trial court's findings regarding the marital property, but affirm the overall division as equitable. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.


Court: TCA


R. D. Hash, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brian Douglas Spivey.

Glenna W. Overton, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, David N. King and Anthony G. Brown.


The plaintiff Brian Douglas Spivey ("the Plaintiff") alleges that the defendants, his former business partners, David N. King and Anthony G. Brown (collectively "the Defendants"), engaged in a conspiracy, and, pursuant to that conspiracy, took actions that include forcing him into bankruptcy and harassing him in the bankruptcy case, expelling him from a business entity, defaming him, and initiating unwarranted criminal charges that were dismissed. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss asserting that this was simply an attempt to relitigate issues that had been determined in the Plaintiff's bankruptcy and in a chancery court case the Defendants had pursued. They also filed a motion for sanctions. It turns out that the bankruptcy court did not issue its opinion until after the complaint in this case was filed and that the chancery court action was stayed as to the Plaintiff as a result of his bankruptcy filing. The trial court dismissed the complaint in an order that states that the dismissal was for "failure to state a claim." The trial court also awarded sanctions against the Plaintiff and his attorney. The Plaintiff appeals. We affirm that part of the judgment dismissing the claims related to forcing the Plaintiff into bankruptcy and harassing him in bankruptcy as well as the claims related to expelling him from the business entity. We vacate that part of the judgment dismissing claims related to defamation and the allegedly unwarranted criminal prosecution. We also vacate that part of the judgment sanctioning the Plaintiff and his attorney.


Court: TCCA


Steve McEwen, Mountain City, Tennessee, (on appeal) and Richard A. Tate, Assistant Public Defender, Blountville, Tennessee, (at trial) for appellant, Antwan Deemeek Hudson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General, and Amber Massengill, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Antwan Deemeek Hudson, was convicted by a Sullivan County Jury of two counts of rape of a child. The trial court sentenced him to two, concurrent sentences of twenty-five years. On appeal, Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, the trial court erred in allowing a doctor to testify as to a statement made to him by the victim's parents, and the trial court erred in excluding Appellant's testimony regarding the results of a medical test. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Appellant's argument regarding the sufficiency of the evidence is actually a plea for this Court to reweigh the evidence, which we are precluded from doing. In addition, we conclude that the evidence is more than sufficient to support his convictions. We also conclude that the statement made by the parents to the doctor was erroneously allowed into evidence under an exception to the hearsay rule, but the error was harmless. Due to errors on the judgment forms, we remand for the correction of the judgment forms to reflect that Count 1 and Count 3 will run concurrently to each other. In all other respects, the judgments are affirmed.


Court: TCCA


Steve McEwen, Mountain City, Tennessee; Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; and William A. Kennedy, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Bethany Jean O'Donnell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and Barry P. Staubus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Bethany Jean O'Donnell, appeals the Sullivan County Circuit Court's revocation of her probationary sentence. Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement to multiple charges, the defendant was sentenced to five consecutive terms of eleven months and twenty-nine days, to be served on supervised probation. A violation warrant was subsequently issued and, at the following hearing, the defendant acknowledged that she had committed the violation. The trial court then found the defendant to be in violation of the terms and conditions of her probation and ordered that the remainder of her sentence be served in confinement. On appeal, the defendant contends that the decision was error and, further, that the court erroneously concluded that she would not be entitled to good conduct credits when serving her misdemeanor sentences at seventy-five percent. Because we conclude no error has occurred and because the case holds no precedential value, we affirm the ruling of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.


Court: TSC-Disciplinary_Order

Judge: KOCH

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