TennCare suit dismissed, TJC vows appeal

U.S. District Judge Thomas Wiseman Jr. today dismissed a long-running lawsuit over care for 750,000 children on TennCare. The class-action suit, known as John B., filed in 1998 by the Tennessee Justice Center claimed that children on TennCare weren't getting proper medical and dental care, in violation of federal rules governing Tennessee's version of Medicaid. The case was settled with a consent decree outlining requirements the state had to follow. Wiseman ruled that the state is in substantial compliance with the terms of the decree. He vacated the decree and dismissed the case. Michele Johnson of the Tennessee Justice Center, who leads the legal team representing the children, said the ruling will be appealed.

The News Sentinel has the story

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Court: TCA


Shelley S. Breeding and David L. Dothard, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Masquerade Fundraising, Inc.

Christopher D. Heagerty and Kristi M. Davis, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Steve Stott.


The Trial Judge held that venue for the cause of action was not in Knox County. Plaintiff, on appeal, contends that defendant either waived the issue of venue, or the record establishes that Knox County was the proper venue for the cause of action. On appeal, we hold that venue is properly in Knox County and reverse the Judgment of the Trial Court.


PEE WEE WISDOM CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER and VIVIAN BRAXTON v. ROBERT E. COOPER, JR. In his official capacity as Attorney General & Reporter for the State of Tennessee
With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TCA


Vivan J. Braxton, Germantown, Tennessee, pro se

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Joseph F. Whalen, Associate Solicitor General, Michael A. Meyer, Deputy Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter

Robert A. Cox, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Robert Dinkelspiel, Indiv. and the Law Firm of Apperson Crump Maxwell, PLC


This extraordinary appeal involves proceedings to dissolve a nonprofit corporation. After the case had been pending in the trial court for seven years, with a court-appointed receiver in control of the nonprofit corporation's assets, the trial court dismissed the case in its entirety based upon a motion to dismiss that was filed early in the proceedings but never heard. We conclude that the trial court erred in doing so, and therefore, we reverse and remand for further proceedings, to include an orderly winding up of the nonprofit corporation's affairs and a proper termination of the receivership when appropriate.


KIRBY dissenting


Court: TCCA


Philip A. Condra, District Public Defender, and B. Jeffrey Harmon, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Daryl J. Carter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and James W. Pope, III, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Daryl J. Carter, was convicted after a trial by jury of one count of rape of a child, a Class A felony. The defendant appeals his conviction, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress a statement made to police and by prohibiting his defense counsel from cross-examining the defendant's ex-wife concerning her love life. In addition, the defendant claims that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and that the prosecution engaged in misconduct during its closing argument. After reviewing the record and the arguments of the parties, we conclude that: (1) the trial court did not err by declining to suppress the defendant's pretrial statement; (2)the trial court did not abuse its discretion by limiting the defendant's cross-examination of his ex-wife; and (3) the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction. While we agree with the defendant that the prosecutor made an inappropriate statement in his closing argument, we do not believe that this inappropriate statement prejudiced the defendant to the degree necessary to warrant the reversal of his conviction. The judgment of the trial court is accordingly affirmed.



Court: TCCA


Stanley K. Pierchoski, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, (on appeal), and Ronald G. Freemon, Columbia, Tennessee, (at trial), for the appellant, Romalis Gray.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; Kimberly Cooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Romalis Gray, pled nolo contendere to attempted second degree murder and received a sentence of 8 years in the Department of Correction. In this appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief, Petitioner asserts that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary because the trial court failed to comply with the requirements of State v. Mackey, 553 S.W.2d 337 (Tenn. 1977) and Rule 11 (c) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. He argues the trial court failed to: (1) advise him that if he pled guilty, the court could question him under oath, and those answers could be used against him in a prosecution for perjury if the statements were false; and (2) advise him of the right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.



General Assembly News
Legal News
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TBA Member Services

General Assembly News
Subcommittee questions law enforcement bill
State Rep. Bill Dunn's bill, HB2619, requiring federal agencies to notify local law enforcement officers before making arrests in Tennessee faced almost an hour of critical questioning from the House Judiciary Subcommittee last week. Members of the panel wondered if it amounted to unnecessary overreaching by the legislature as a "nullification" effort that could jeopardize investigations into local corruption and lead to deputy sheriffs arresting federal agents. The bill is on the House Judiciary Committee's judiciary subcommittee calendar for Wednesday.
The News Sentinel reports
Bill would make bail higher for illegal immigrants
A bill proposed by state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, would lead to higher bail amounts for illegal immigrants involved in serious injury or fatal crashes, by automatically treating them as a flight risk. "I'm trying to make it more difficult for those who are here illegally to jump bond, so they appear in court," he said.
Read about it in the Tennessean
Vote set to remove 'occupiers' from Capitol
The state House of Representatives says it will vote Thursday morning on legislation that would authorize the removal of Occupy Nashville's camp at the state Capitol, by punishing unauthorized camping on public grounds with a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail. The timing of the vote in the Senate on companion legislation has not yet been announced but is also expected to take place Thursday morning.
The Tennessean has it
Legal News
Sheriff joins effort to improve access to justice
Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal is joining in the effort to improve access to justice, hosting a luncheon for the county legal community on Friday to exchange ideas and look for innovative ways to assist the public with access to the court system. In a release sent out Monday, the sheriff invited Washington County judges, the Washington County Bar Association, and the Circuit and Chancery Court clerks to the event. The sheriff credited the legal community with being at the forefront in establishing an initiative to help low-income citizens with legal needs, and says he now wants to take this initiative even further. Read about the county's efforts in a recent Tennessee Bar Journal. For more information contact Tony Seaton at 423-282-1041.

Blackwood fills in for Brown, out since December
A medical problem has kept Criminal Court Judge Lynn Brown out of the courtroom in Johnson and Carter counties since December and out of Washington County court since Jan. 4. He is scheduled to be back in court Wednesday. Retired Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood has been filling in while Brown has been out. "There are no cases that's going to fall between the cracks or anything," Washington County Circuit Court Clerk Karen Guinn said. "They will all be rescheduled and get tried at some point."
Read more on Tricities.com
U.S. sending help for Haitian judiciary
The U.S. State Department is sending a team of experts in international law to Haiti to look at ways to strengthen its beleaguered judiciary, Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille said Monday. "We need to look at how do we make sure that when a judge gives a verdict, in whatever direction, people feel comfortable, that the judge ruled in all independence," he said.
WKRN.com carried this AP story
Scalia talks of 'originalism,' quality of life
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Monday touted his approach to interpreting the federal Constitution that focuses on the original intent of the Founding Fathers, what he calls the "originalism" method. "I don't have to prove (it's) perfect. The question is whether it's better than everything else," said Scalia, who addressed about 400 people at the University of Chicago Law School. He also advised future law students to pursue a job that would give them time to focus on their family and community, what he calls "a human existence."
The Chicago Tribune has the story
July trial set for Shelby court clerk
The trial of Shelby County General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson, who is charged with official misconduct, is set for July 16. Jackson, who was elected in 2008, was indicted last year for allegedly pressuring his staff to contribute and collect money for his re-election campaign. Senior Judge Walter Kurtz of Nashville will preside over the trial to be held in Shelby County Criminal Court. The Commercial Appeal reported the news.

Disciplinary Actions
Rather disbarred in Tennessee, California
On Feb. 9, the Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred James L. Rather of Knoxville from the practice of law. The Board of Professional Responsibility in November had filed a petition for reciprocal discipline pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 17, based upon his disbarment by the Supreme Court of California. The State Bar Court of California determined that Rather had misappropriated funds that had been given to him to hold in trust, as well as failing to return unearned legal fees.
Read the BPR release
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