Round up of candidates applying for court vacancies
The following attorneys have applied to fill the remaining vacant seat on the Tennessee Supreme Court. The deadline for applications was the close of business today. Applicants are: Circuit Court Judge D'Army Bailey of Memphis, Court of Appeals Judge Frank G. Clement Jr. of Nashville, Stephen A. Cobb of Nashville, David Day of Cookeville, Chancellor Richard Dinkins of Nashville, John T. Fowlkes Jr. of Memphis, J. Houston Gordon of Covington, Court of Appeals Judge William C. Koch Jr. of Nashville, George T. "Buck" Lewis of Memphis and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge J.C. McLin of Memphis. The Judicial Selection Commission will meet July 17 in Nashville to conduct public hearings and private interviews with the candidates.
The commission also received the first application for the Court of Criminal Appeals seat vacated by Judge Gary Wade. The application came from Douglas Trant, a Knoxville attorney. Applications for this position are due July 10.
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, 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 http://www.tba.org/getpassword.mgi.
01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
04 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
TBA members can get the full-text versions of these opinions three ways detailed below.
All methods require a TBA username and password. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password,
you can look it up on-line at http://www.tba.org/getpassword.mgi
Here's how you can obtain full-text version. We recommend you download the Opinions to your computer and then
open them from there. 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. 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. Browse the Opinion List area of TBALink.
This option will allow you to download the original version of the opinion.
Howard H. Vogel
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LEONARD J. YOUNG
With Dissenting Opinion
Tony N. Brayton and Garland Erguden (on appeal) and William Johnson and Dianne Thackery
(at trial), Shelby County Public Defender's Office, for the appellant, Leonard J. Young.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Angele
M. Gregory, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; Amy
Weirich and Jennifer Nichols, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of
Defendant, Leonard J. Young, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder,
especially aggravated kidnapping, and theft over $1,000 but less than $10,000. See Tenn. Code
Ann. Section 39-13-202(a)(1) (Supp. 1999), 39-13-305(a)(1) (1997), 39-14-103 (1997). The jury
subsequently sentenced Defendant to death for the murder, applying three aggravating
circumstances: (a) Defendant was previously convicted of one or more felonies, other than the
present charge, the statutory elements of which involve the use of violence to the person; (b) the
offense was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrest
or prosecution of Defendant or another; and (c) the murder was knowingly committed, solicited,
directed, or aided by Defendant, while Defendant had a substantial role in committing or
attempting to commit, or was fleeing after having a substantial role in committing or attempting
to commit, theft. See id. Section 39-13-204(i)(2), (6), (7) (Supp. 1999). The trial court sentenced
Defendant as a career offender to sixty years for the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction
and as a career offender to twelve years for the theft conviction. The trial court ordered all
sentences to be served consecutively. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the convictions
and the death sentence.
After the case was docketed in this Court, we entered an order identifying several issues
for oral argument. We now hold as follows: (1) the evidence was sufficient to establish venue
in Shelby County; (2) the death in the immediate family of the original trial judge constituted an
"other disability" under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 25(a) such that appointment of a
substitute judge was proper; (3) the trial court committed harmless error in allowing into
evidence several photographs of the victim as a child; (4) the evidence is sufficient to support
Defendant's conviction of first degree premeditated murder; (5) the trial court committed
harmless error in admitting certain victim impact evidence; (6) the trial court committed harmless error in instructing the jury that Defendant's 1999 Mississippi conviction of kidnapping
was an offense, the statutory elements of which involve the use of violence to the person; and (7)
the death sentence is valid under this Court's mandatory review pursuant to Tennessee Code
Annotated Section 39-13-206(c)(1) (2003). We agree with the Court of Criminal Appeals'
conclusions with respect to the remaining issues and attach as an appendix to this opinion the
relevant portions of that court's decision. The judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is
Appendix (excerpts from the Court of Criminal Appeals' decision)
CHINON DEVELOPMENTS, LLC v. FARNSWORTH OFFICE PRODUCTS, LLC, ET AL.
Scott J. Crosby, Memphis, Tennessee, attorney for Appellant, Chinon Developments, LLC.
Robert F. Miller and Nicole Gibson Davison, Memphis Tennessee, attorney for Appellee, Pan
Am International Flight Academy, Inc.
James R. Newsom III, Memphis, Tennessee, attorney for Appellees, Farmsworth Office
Properties, LLC and Farnsworth Investment Company.
This is an action for breach of contract to pay commissions for arranging a lease on commercial
property. The brokerage firm insisted that Pam-Am, the tenant, maliciously induced the
Landlord, not to pay additional commission. The Chancellor disagreed. We affirm the trial
EDGAR A. RICE v. NN, INC. BALL & ROLLER DIVISION
Ronald S. Range, Jr., Jennifer P. Keller, and David Harvey, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the
appellant, NN, Inc. Ball & Roller Division.
D. Bruce Shine and Donald F. Mason, Jr., Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Edgar A. Rice.
Edgar A. Rice sued his former employer, NN, Inc. Ball & Roller Division, seeking a declaratory
judgment that a contract exists between the parties or, in the alternative, that the defendant made
a promise to the plaintiff which it is estopped to deny. Prior to his employment with NN, Inc.,
that company gave the plaintiff a document (the term sheet) that reflected what his starting
salary would be and what fringe benefits he would be entitled to in the event he accepted the
company's offer of employment. The plaintiff argues that the term sheet includes a promise to
pay him a Profit Trust of $165,000 when he reaches the age of 65. The defendant counters that
the Profit Trust language in the term sheet is only an estimate, not a contract or a promise to
pay the plaintiff a fixed definite amount at age 65. On cross motions for summary judgment, the
trial court granted summary judgment to the plaintiff, holding that he was entitled to $165,000
when he reached the age of 65. The defendant appeals. We reverse the grant of summary
judgment to the plaintiff; grant summary judgment to the defendant; and dismiss the plaintiff's
IN RE S.M.N.
Joseph F. Della-Rodolfa, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, S.A.N.
Timothy A. Housholder, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, L.C. and her husband, K.C.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, and Amy T. Master, Assistant Attorney
General, for the intervenor, State of Tennessee.
The trial court terminated the parental rights of S.A.N. (Father) to his minor child, S.M.N.
(DOB: April 21, 2001), upon finding, by clear and convincing evidence, (1) that Father
abandoned the child and (2) that termination of Father's parental rights is in the child's best
interest. Father appeals, arguing that Tenn. Code Ann. Section 36-1-113(f)(3) is unconstitutional in
that it gives trial courts the discretion to determine whether a prisoner is entitled to be physically
present in the courtroom during a proceeding involving the termination of the prisoner's parental
rights. In addition, Father challenges the sufficiency of the pleadings and whether the evidence
establishes abandonment. We affirm.
GILBERT WATERS, ET AL. v. WESLEY COKER, M.D.
Robert L. Trentham, Taylor B. Mayes, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Wesley Coker, M.D.
Larry D. Ashworth, Richard H. Batson II, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Gilbert Waters
and wife, Hixie Waters.
Plaintiff in medical malpractice action appeals jury verdict alleging that the "dynamite charge" which
supplemented the original instruction after the jury was apparently deadlocked violated Kersey v.
State and its progeny. We agree and, because we find the instruction affected the result, we reverse.
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM PAUL ARROWOOD
Keith E. Haas, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Paul Arrowood.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General;
Al C. Schmutzer, Jr., District Attorney General; Timothy Arrants and James B. Dunn, Assistant
District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
The Defendant was convicted for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”), fourth
offense, driving after having been declared a habitual motor offender, driving on a revoked license,
and violation of the implied consent law. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I
offender to four years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the
evidence is insufficient to sustain his DUI conviction. Finding that there exists no reversible error,
we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. FRED JOHNSON
Michael G. Hatmaker, Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Fred Johnson.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Blind Akrawi, Assistant Attorney General;
William Paul Phillips, District Attorney General; and Scarlett W. Ellis, Assistant District Attorney
General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
The defendant, Fred Johnson, was convicted by a Campbell County jury of five counts of sexual
battery, a Class E felony, and five counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. He was
sentenced to one year for each sexual battery and eight years for each aggravated sexual battery. He
received a total effective sentence of twenty-seven years, twenty-four years at 100% as a violent
offender for the aggravated sexual battery counts and three years at 30% as a Range I, standard
offender for the sexual battery counts. On appeal, he argues: (1) the trial court erred in failing to
charge lesser-included offenses; (2) the jury did not understand or follow the charge of the trial court;
and (3) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for aggravated sexual battery.
Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of corrected
judgments to reflect that Counts 3 and 5 are consecutive to Counts 1 and 2.
GUADALUPE S. MENDEZ v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
G. Earl Patton, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Guadalupe S. Mendez.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General;
William E. Gibson, District Attorney General; and Gary McKenzie, Assistant District Attorney
General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
The Petitioner, Guadalupe S. Mendez, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction
relief. The Petitioner was convicted of aggravated rape and especially aggravated sexual exploitation
of a minor. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After
a review of the record, we affirm the post-conviction court's denial of post-conviction relief.
MICHAEL SALVATORE MORANI v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
C. Douglas Field, Crossville, Tennessee for the appellant, Michael Salvatore Morani.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Blind Akrawi, Assistant Attorney General; Bill
Gibson, District Attorney General; and Thomas Tansil and Gary McKenzie, Assistant District
Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.
The petitioner, Michael Salvatore Morani, was convicted by a jury of attempted first degree murder
and theft of property over $10,000 in 2002. Trial counsel filed an untimely motion for new trial that
was denied by the trial court after a hearing. The petitioner appealed to this Court. On direct appeal,
the petitioner raised challenges to his sentence and the fines imposed by the trial court. The
timeliness of the motion for new trial and subsequent notice of appeal were not addressed on appeal.
This Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. State v. Michael Salvatore Morani, No. E2002-
02394-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 21946736 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Aug. 14, 2003), perm.
app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 15, 2003). The petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction
relief requesting a delayed appeal in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel for failing
to file a timely motion for new trial. The post-conviction court granted the delayed appeal. The
petitioner presents the following issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court improperly
admitted statements made by the petitioner to the victim; (2) whether the trial court improperly
allowed Investigator Potter to testify that the petitioner commented he had been “Mirandized
before;” (3) whether the trial court improperly denied the petitioner’s request for a continuance; (4)
whether the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict; and (5) whether the cumulative effect of
the trial court’s errors entitles the petitioner to a new trial. After a review of the record and the
issues, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
| Legal News
TBA Member Services
|New building security frustrating attorneys
|A number of Nashville defense lawyers are complaining of long lines, limited mobility and difficulty accessing clients in the newly opened A. A. Birch Criminal Justice Building, the City Paper reports
|Read the article
|Governor says he's not 13th juror in death penalty cases
|Governor Phil Bredesen explained his thinking in rejecting clemency this week for two death row inmates, saying he does not want to be the 13th juror but wants to allow the judicial system to work and only get involved as a final check if the system is failing.
|Read more of his comments in the Kingsport Times News
|FBI probe continues in Tennessee
|An FBI investigation into public corruption in Tennessee that has netted indictments of state lawmakers and authorities in Cocke County is still going on, the Tennessean reports.
|Read the full story
|Laptop battles spreading across law school campuses
|The battle over laptop usage in class that bubbled up earlier this year at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is now being waged at law schools across the country.
|Law.com has the story from the National Law Journal
|DNA testing of arrested draws protests
|Several states have started collecting DNA samples from people accused, but not convicted of breaking the law. This has drawn protests from civil liberterians, who say the practice makes a mockery of "innocent until proven guilty."
|Read the story in the Murfreesboro Daily News
|Prison term cut for dealer
|When can a defense attorney call his client "pathetic" and not get punched? When the label gets the former gang member a big break in his sentence. Read about one attorney's arguments in a drug and gang trial.
|The News Sentinel has the story
|Build your internet research skills with online course
|Everyone uses the Internet, but are you taking full advantages of the research capabilities that are available? Carole Levitt, a nationally recognized author and founder of Internet for Lawyers, has developed a special course for Tennessee lawyers that is now available from TennBarU. This one-hour interactive course teaches you how to efficiently search the Tennessee Code, perform historical legislative research, search municipal codes and more.
|Register or find out more now
|TBA Member Services
|Program offers savings on auto insurance
|GEICO and the Tennessee Bar Association team up to offer the GEICO Preferred auto insurance program.
|Find out more