December 4, 2001
Volume 7 — Number 223

What follows is the case style or name, first paragraph, author's name, and the names of attorneys for the parties of each opinion released eletronically today to TBALink.

This Issue (IN THIS ORDER):
 
02 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Supreme Court
00 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Supreme Court Workers' Compensation Panel
00 New Document(s) or Proposed Rule(s) from the Tennessee Supreme Court
00 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Court of Appeals
03 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
00 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Attorney General (PDF format)
00 New Judicial Ethics Opinion(s)
00 New Formal Ethics Opinion(s) from the Board of Professional Responsibility
 

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Howard H. Vogel
Knoxville, Tennessee
Editor-in-Chief, TBALink

HECK VAN TRAN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court:TSC

Attorneys:   

Brock Mehler, Nashville, Tennessee, and William D. Massey, Memphis,
Tennessee, for the appellant, Heck Van Tran.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Michael E. Moore,
Solicitor General; Alice B. Lustre and Jennifer L. Smith, Assistant
Attorneys General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of
Tennessee.

Judge: ANDERSON

First Paragraph:

We granted this appeal to determine whether the trial court and the
Court of Criminal Appeals erred by denying the petitioner's motion to
reopen his post-conviction petition.  In his motion, the petitioner
asserted that new evidence establishes that he is mentally retarded
and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty under Tenn. Code Ann.
S 39-13-203, which prohibits the execution of the mentally retarded. 
The petitioner also argued on appeal that the Eighth Amendment to the
United States Constitution and article I, S 16 of the Tennessee
Constitution prohibit the execution of mentally retarded individuals.

After careful consideration, we conclude that the General Assembly did
not clearly intend to apply Tenn. Code Ann. S 39-13-203 retroactively
and that the statute therefore provides no basis to reopen a
post-conviction suit for a petitioner who was sentenced before its
effective date.  We also conclude, however, that the Eighth Amendment
to the United States Constitution and article I, S 16 of the Tennessee
Constitution prohibit the execution of mentally retarded individuals
because such executions violate evolving standards of decency that
mark the progress of a maturing society, are grossly disproportionate,
and serve no valid penological purpose in any case.  We therefore
reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and remand the
case to the trial court for further proceedings.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/vantran_opn.wpd

BARKER AND HOLDER CONCURRING AND DISSENTING

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/vantran_dis.wpd

WILLIAM WARRICK v. CHEATHAM COUNTY HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT

Court:TSC

Attorneys:

Stacy A. Turner, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William
Warrick.

D. Brett Burrow, Gordon C. Aulgur, and Mike Vetter, Nashville,
Tennessee, for the appellee, Cheatham County Highway Department.                       

Judge: DROWOTA

First Paragraph:

In this workers' compensation case the deceased employee, William
Warrick, has appealed from a judgment of the Chancery Court of
Cheatham County denying his claim for benefits filed against the
employer, the Cheatham County Highway Department.  The employee, who
filed a claim for benefits after sustaining a work-related shoulder
injury, died prior to trial from a heart attack unrelated to his
employment.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the employer
on the basis that unadjudicated claims for benefits do not survive the
nonwork-related death of the employee.  The employee's appeal was
argued before the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel pursuant
to Tenn. Code Ann. S 50-6-225(e)(3), but was transferred to the full
Supreme Court prior to the Panel issuing its decision.  The sole issue
before this Court is whether an unadjudicated claim for benefits
survives the nonwork-related death of the worker.  After careful
consideration, we hold that a worker's personal representative may
recover benefits  on behalf of the deceased employee from the time of
injury to the time of death, even though the worker's death was
unrelated to the employment.  Thus, workers' compensation claims do
not terminate upon the nonwork-related death of the employee merely
because the claim has not been adjudicated prior to the worker's
death.  If the employee is able to furnish enough evidence to satisfy
the requisite burden of proof establishing the claim, then benefits
may be awarded until the time of death.  The judgment of the trial
court is therefore reversed and the case remanded.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/warrickw.wpd

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DONALD R. EADY, JR.

Court:TCCA

Attorneys:

Eric S. Armstrong, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donald R.
Eady, Jr.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Smith,
Assistant Attorney General; Jerry N. Estes, District Attorney General;
and Shari Lynn Tayloe, Assistant District Attorney General, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

First Paragraph:

The Defendant was convicted by a Bradley County jury of second degree
murder.  The trial court sentenced him as a Range I standard offender
to twenty-five years' incarceration.  In this appeal as of right, the
Defendant argues (1) that insufficient evidence was presented at trial
to support his conviction; (2) that the trial court erred by failing
to suppress his statement to police; (3) that the trial court erred by
allowing into evidence autopsy photographs of the victim; (4) that the
jury considered extraneous facts during deliberation and that the
trial court erred in the manner in which it conducted a post-trial
voir dire of the jury concerning this matter; and (5) that he was
improperly sentenced. Having reviewed the record, we conclude (1) that
sufficient evidence was presented to support the Defendant's
conviction for second degree murder; (2) that the trial court did not
err by allowing the Defendant's statement into evidence; (3) that the
trial court did not err by admitting into evidence autopsy photographs
of the victim; (4) that the record does not support the Defendant's
allegation that jurors in his case were influenced by extraneous
information and that the manner in which the  trial court conducted a
post-trial voir dire of the jurors concerning this matter was not
improper; and (5) that the Defendant was properly sentenced.  We thus
affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/eadydr.wpd

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GARLAND GODSEY

Court:TCCA

Attorneys:

Robert L. Marlow, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Garland
Godsey.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Elizabeth B. Marney,
Assistant Attorney General; William E. Gibson, District Attorney
General; Anthony J. Craighead, Assistant District Attorney General;
and Ben Fann, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee,
State of Tennessee.                        

Judge: WITT

First Paragraph:

The defendant was tried and convicted of second degree murder in the
Cumberland County Criminal Court in connection with an aggravated
assault of a bar patron who died approximately one month later.  The
trial court sentenced the defendant as a violent offender to 25 years
incarceration in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal,
the defendant takes issue with the trial court's failure to instruct
the jury on "diminished capacity" and with the length of the sentence
he received.  Based upon our review, we affirm the judgment below.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/godseyg.wpd

TOMMY WAYNE SIMPSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE, et al.

Court:TCCA

Attorneys:

Joe H. Walker, District Public Defender, and Walter B. Johnson, II,
Assistant Public Defender, for the defendant, Tommy Wayne Simpson.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Mark A. Fulks, Assistant
Attorney General; J. Scott McCluen, District Attorney General; and
Daryl Roger Delp, Assistant District Attorney General, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

First Paragraph:

Defendant appeals from the dismissal of his petition for writ of
habeas corpus.  We conclude that the State of Tennessee never
surrendered jurisdiction over defendant and that defendant's sentence
did not expire.  We accordingly affirm the judgment from the trial
court.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/simpsontw.wpd

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