White House asks for $54 million increase for LSC

The White House today recommended $402 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Fiscal Year 2013, an increase of $54 million from current funding. About 94 percent of the White House request -- $376.8 million -- would provide grants to nonprofit legal aid programs to deliver civil legal assistance to low-income Americans who request help to avert foreclosures, escape domestic violence, deal with consumer fraud and appeal denial of veterans' benefits, as well as other critical matters. LSC funding was approximately $404 million in Fiscal Year 2011 before falling to $348 million in Fiscal Year 2012. As an independent nonprofit corporation, LSC also sent its own budget request to the Congress today, seeking $470 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2013.

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Court: TSC



Court: TCA


Michael L. Mansfield, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Town of Collierville.

David Wade, J. Lewis Wardlaw, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Abbington Center, LLC.


The two billboards at issue in the case were erected in 1979, prior to Collierville's prohibition of billboards. Plaintiff sought to re-construct the billboards, and he received assurances from the Town that he could do so. However, the Town subsequently questioned whether the billboards were legal, non-conforming uses protected by the "grandfather clause" set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated section 13-7-208, and it issued stop work orders on the billboards' reconstruction and it refused to issue the building permits necessary for reconstruction. Plaintiff appealed to the Board of Zoning Appeals, which affirmed the Town's actions. Plaintiff then filed a writ of certiorari in the chancery court, which, prior to trial, remanded to the BZA. On remand, the BZA affirmed its prior decision, and Plaintiff subsequently filed a second writ of certiorari in the chancery court. The chancery court found that the BZA acted illegally, arbitrarily, and capriciously, and it invalidated the stop work orders and it declared that Plaintiff could re-construct the billboards. Based on Plaintiff's failure to demonstrate that the billboards were legal uses prior to the 1982 amendment, we find that the BZA was justified in upholding the Town's stop work orders and in upholding the Town's denial of Plaintiff's requested building permits. Accordingly, we find that the BZA's decisions were not illegal, arbitrary, or capricious.



Court: TCA


Jonathan L. Miley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellants, Eddie Porter and Carmen Porter

Lewis A Williams, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee Robert George Gardner, II

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves a divorce action that includes a claim against third parties. The wife filed a divorce complaint against the husband, and the husband counterclaimed for divorce. Later, the husband amended his divorce counterclaim to add claims against third parties as defendants, alleging that they took personal property from the marital home with the wife's acquiescence. Later, the divorce claims were dismissed, but the claims against the third parties remained. After a hearing, the trial court awarded the husband compensatory and punitive damages as to the property taken. As to one item, however, the third parties were ordered to deliver the item to the court to be donated to a local charity. The third parties now appeal. We affirm the trial court's finding as to the value of the property taken, remand for findings of fact and conclusions of law under Rule 52.01 as to the monetary judgment, and vacate the order requiring the donation of an item of property.



Court: TCA


James G. Stranch, III and James G. Stranch, IV, Nashville, Tennessee, and David Cocke, Memphis, TN for the appellants, Regina Morrison Newsom, Minerva Johnican, Venita Marie Martin, Shep Wilbun, Corey Maclin, Randy L. Wade, Coleman Thompson, Ricky Dixon, Sondra Becton, and Glenn Wright.

John L. Ryder, Pablo Adrian Varela, and Samuel J. Muldavin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Shelby County Election Commission.


This is an election contest case brought pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section section 2-17-101, et seq. Appellants, unsuccessful candidates for various offices in the August 5, 2010 Shelby County general election, filed suit against the Appellee Shelby County Election Commission. Appellants aver that the election process was incurably flawed to the extent that Appellants and the citizens of Shelby County were denied a free and equal election as required by Article I, Section V of the Tennessee Constitution. The trial court granted an involuntary dismissal, under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.02(2), finding that Appellants' proof was insufficient to prove that the election was incurably uncertain. We affirm.



Court: TCCA


Clifford K. McGown, Jr., Waverly, Tennessee (on appeal); George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Hewitt Chatman, Assistant Public Defender (at trial and of counsel on appeal), for the appellant, Jerry W. Elliott.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Angela R. Scott, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Jerry W. Elliott, was convicted by a Henderson County Circuit Court jury of driving under the influence ("DUI"), a Class A misdemeanor, and violations of the open container, financial responsibility, and registration laws, all Class C misdemeanors. He was sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the DUI conviction and thirty days for violations of the open container and registration laws. He also received fines for each conviction as well as for violation of the financial responsibility law. The trial court separately found the defendant guilty of violation of the implied consent law, for which his driver's license was revoked for one year. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence convicting him of DUI and also argues that his conviction for violation of the implied consent law is improper because the charging instrument is not in the record. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Ebony N. Dawkins, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Calvin Landers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Theresa McClusky, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Calvin Landers, was convicted by a jury of rape of a child and sentenced to twenty years. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Calvin Landers, No. W2007-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 2901603 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Jul. 25, 2008), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Jan. 20, 2009). Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. Petitioner also asserted that his sentence violated Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004) , that his conviction was based on evidence obtained pursuant to an unlawful arrest, that his conviction was based on evidence obtained pursuant to an unlawful search, and that there was a "fatal variance" between the indictment and the proof. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Petitioner appealed. After a thorough review, we determine that Petitioner has failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that he is entitled to post-conviction relief where the proof showed that trial counsel made a tactical decision to forego a motion to suppress; met with Petitioner at least ten times prior to trial; and was given the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. Moreover, Petitioner did not raise his issue with regard to exhibits in the petition for post-conviction relief so it cannot be raised on appeal. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.



Court: TCCA


Mack Garner, District Public Defender; Tiffany Deaderick (at trial), Assistant Public Defender, Maryville, Tennessee; J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Jon Logsdon.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; Clinton Frazier and Betsy Brockman, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Blount County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Jon Logsdon, of two counts of solicitation of a minor to commit especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class C felony, two counts of solicitation of a minor to commit aggravated statutory rape, a Class E felony, and four counts of solicitation of the sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class E felony. He received an effective sentence of four years in the Department of Correction. The sole issue presented for review on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to prove the element of Logsdon's reasonable belief that undercover officers posing as minors were under eighteen years of age. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Tony N. Brayton (on appeal) and Carlyn L. Addison and R. Trent Hall (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Demario Rawlings.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Susan L. Taylor and Billy Bond, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Demario Rawlings, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days in the county jail with all but five days suspended. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; and Darrell Julian, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

David L. Clarke, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bernardo Acuna Rodriguez.


Defendant, Bernardo Acuna Rodriguez, was indicted by the Warren County Grand Jury for second offense driving on a revoked license. Prior to trial, Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the arresting officer's stop and seizure of Defendant. Following a hearing, the trial court granted Defendant's motion, and as a result, dismissed the indictment. The State now appeals. After a review of the record, we conclude that the officer's stop of Defendant was constitutionally valid, and therefore, the trial court's order granting Defendant's motion to suppress is reversed, the order dismissing the indictment is reversed, and this case is remanded.



Court: TCCA


Robert Brooks, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Arthur Lee Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Arthur Lee Taylor ("the Petitioner") filed for post-conviction relief from his convictions of possession of cocaine with intent to sell and/or deliver and possession of dihydrocodeinone and his resulting effective thirty-year sentence as a career offender. He alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at his jury trial. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal followed. Upon our careful review of the record, we affirm the post-conviction court.



Court: TCCA


Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Barry W. Kuhn (on appeal) and Alicia J. Kutch and Jennifer E. Johnson (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Marquette Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Corliss Shaw, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Marquette Woods, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and was sentenced to nine years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



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Law Tech kicks off with free webcast
The TBA and its Law Office Technology & Management Section's Law Tech Un-Conference gets underway this Thursday, kicking off with a session from tech gurus Bill Ramsey and Phillip Hampton at 9 a.m., followed by roundtable discussions and demonstrations. The Bill & Phil segment will also be available as a free webcast (watch for details in Wednesday's TBAToday). Those who preregister and attend the program in person will also be registered in a drawing for a free IPad2. Check out the schedule and drop in the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to take part in any or all of the sessions.

Legal News
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In a lengthy article, News Sentinel reporter Jamie Satterfield details the people, dates and actions leading up to former Judge Richard Baumgartner's demise. The events show a secretive system unwilling to believe or act quickly on suspicions about the sitting judge. Read a timeline of events. In a related story, the paper's editor details Satterfield's journey through the process -- what did she know about Baumgartner, and when did she know it?
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Williamson mayor wants to add juvenile judge
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The Tennessean has more
Judge stops recall election
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The Times Free Press reports
2 UT law professors honored for 'big ideas'
Two University of Tennessee College of Law professors, Michael Higdon and Glenn Reynolds, are honored by the school for "bringing big ideas to life in the classroom." Higdon is an innovator and national leader in the field of legal writing, and Reynolds, a columnist and writer for several national publications, is most well-known for his blog, Instapundit. The New York Times described Instapundit, with its 14 million page vists per month, as "a 'thought leader' in social networking circles."
Learn more about them from UT
Court: Winners can take office in Shelby Co.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled against several losing candidates who filed suit against the Shelby County Election Commission claiming the 2010 county election races were rigged. The appellate court on Monday said the candidates failed to show that "fraud or illegality so permeated the conduct of the election as to render it incurably uncertain."
The News Sentinel has more
Breyer robbed in vacation home
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed last week by a machete-wielding intruder at his vacation home in the West Indies, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said today. The 73-year-old Breyer, wife Joanna and guests were confronted by the robber in the home Breyer owns on the Caribbean island of Nevis, spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said. The intruder took about $1,000 in cash and no one was hurt, she said.
The Associated Press reports
General Assembly News
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Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jeff Bivins squared off in a debate before the Tennessee Press Association last week to discuss disciplining judges. Beavers wants fewer judges on the Court of the Judiciary and thinks they should be appointed by the speakers of the House and Senate. Bivins, who is also a member of the judicial disciplinary board, said it was necessary to have a majority of judges because the panel has to conduct hearings that are in compliance with legal rules. He also said that it's customary for members of the same profession to discipline their own, the way doctors, architects, pharmacists and others do. "So, we're simply asking to be treated like the other professionals," Bivins said.
The Tennessean has this AP story
Election 2012
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The News Sentinel has it
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The Tennessean has the 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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