Senate OK's extension of judicial selection commission

The Tennessee Senate today voted to extend the life of the Judicial Selection Commission for one year. The House of Representatives passed this legislation (SB0970/HB0544) in mid May, so the bill now goes to Gov. Bredesen.
TODAY'S OPINIONS
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Knoxville, Tennessee
Editor-in-Chief, TBALink

SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TSC

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2007/certlist_060407.pdf


RONNIE FINCH V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

James P. McNamara, Nashville, Tennessee, for appellant/appellee, Ronnie Finch.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Mark A. Fulks, Assistant Attorney General; Bret T. Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee/appellant, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: CLARK

The Petitioner, Ronnie Finch, was convicted of one count of facilitation of first degree premeditated murder and two counts of facilitation of attempted first degree premeditated murder. In this postconviction proceeding, the Petitioner contends that his lawyer provided ineffective assistance at trial. We granted this appeal to determine whether counsel was ineffective in failing to object when the trial court erroneously took his motion for judgment of acquittal under advisement and in continuing to participate in the trial thereafter. Because we hold that defense counsel's representation did not prejudice the Petitioner, we reverse the Court of Criminal Appeals and reinstate the judgments of conviction against the Petitioner.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2007/finchr_060407.pdf


JAMES W. CLARK, JR. v. WAYNE MEDICAL CENTER, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

James W. Clark, Jr., pro se.

M. Todd Sandahl, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee Hubert Langley, M.D.

Judge: CAIN

Inmate filed medical malpractice action against Hospital and Doctor alleging that Defendants negligently diagnosed and failed to treat his fractured mandible. The trial court granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment. Inmate appeals the dismissal of his Complaint against Doctor and other related errors. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2007/clarkj_060407.pdf


STATE EX REL. C. M., ET AL. v. L. J.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Warren Jasper, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

There are no other attorneys listed.

Judge: CLEMENT

The sole issue on appeal is whether a parent who is incarcerated for the commission of a crime is willfully or voluntarily unemployed for purposes of child support. The State of Tennessee filed a petition to set child support while the parent was incarcerated relying on Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. Section 1240-2-4-.04(3)(d)(ii)(2005), which provides that "any intentional choice or act that affects a parent's income" constitutes willful underemployment or unemployment. The trial court, relying on Pennington v. Pennington, No. W2000-00568-COA-R3-CV, 2001 WL 277993, at *4 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 14, 2001), denied the petition to set child support for the period the parent was incarcerated. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2007/cm_060407.pdf


JERRY L. JOHNS v. WILLIAM DALTON, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Jerry L. Johns, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, and Michael B. Schwegler, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellees, William Dalton, Townsend Anderson, Lynn Duncan, Sheila Swearingen and Director, Tennessee Board of Paroles.

Judge: FARMER

The trial court dismissed Petitioner's petition for writ of certiorari. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2007/johnsj_060407.pdf


BRADFORD JASON LEWIS v. NEWSCHANNEL 5 NETWORK, L.P. ET. AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Robert L. DeLaney, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bradford Jason Lewis.

Jon D. Ross and Ronald G. Harris, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, NewsChannel 5 Network, L.P., Deborah Turner, Mike Cutler, and Phil Williams.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves a television news story about the discipline of a high ranking official of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department who interceded with a subordinate to prevent his brotherin-law's arrest. Following the broadcast, the police official and his brother-in-law filed separate lawsuits against the television station and three of its employees in the Circuit Court for Davidson County seeking damages for libel and false light invasion of privacy. The televison station and its employees filed a motion for summary judgment based on the common-law fair report privilege and on its defense that the heightened "actual malice" burden of proof applied to all claims. In response, the police official's brother-in-law asserted that he should not be held to the "actual malice" standard because he was a private person and because the news story involved a matter of purely private concern. The trial court granted the summary judgment and dismissed the complaints filed by the police official and his brother-in-law. With specific regard to the police official's brother-in-law, the court determined that the television station and its employees were shielded by the fair report privilege. It also concluded that the police official's brother-in-law was not a public figure for the purpose of his libel claim but that he had failed to demonstrate that he would be able to carry his burden of proof to establish a simple negligence claim against the television station and its employees. The court also concluded that the actual malice burden of proof applied to the false light invasion of privacy claim and that the police official's brother-in-law had failed to establish that the television station and its employees had acted with actual malice. Only the police official's brother-in-law appealed. He asserts that the trial court erred by applying the fair report privilege and by concluding that he could not successfully prove that the television station and its employees had been negligent in their investigation and broadcast of the news story. We have determined (1) that the trial court erred by holding that the fair report privilege applies in this case; (2) that the police official's brother-in-law is a limited purpose public figure and, therefore, cannot recover damages unless he can prove that the television station and its employees acted with actual malice; and (3) that the police official's brother-in-law cannot prove that the television station and its employees acted with actual malice in the investigation and broadcast of the news story.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2007/lewisb_060407.pdf


VIRGINIA DELL PERSON v. JAMES R. WILSON, ET AL., AND COFFEE COUNTY, TENNESSEE, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Jeffrey M. Beemer and Robert C. Bigelow, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Coffee County, Tennessee and Alvin Harper.

Roger J. Bean and Christopher R. Moore, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for the appellee, Virginia Dell Person.
Thompson G. Kirkpatrick, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellees, James R. Wilson, Beverly K. Wilson, James E. Wilson and Jennifer Wilson.

Judge: CLEMENT

This appeal arises from a two-car accident at the intersection of two county roads in Coffee County. The sixteen year-old driver of one of the two vehicles and his parents and sister, who were passengers in his vehicle, filed suit against the County for injuries they sustained in the accident, contending the County was at fault for failing to properly maintain the stop sign and vegetation at the intersection. The trial court attributed 50% of the fault to the County and 50% of the fault to the sixteen year-old driver. Because he was 50% at fault, the sixteen year-old driver was not awarded damages against the County; however, his parents and sister were awarded judgments against the County for 50% of their damages. On appeal, the County contends the parents are barred from recovering against it due to their negligence and negligent entrustment. The County also contends his sister was negligent for riding in the vehicle. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2007/personv_060407.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. STEPHANIE E. BANEY

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Richard Hughes, District Public Defender, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stephanie E. Baney.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry N. Estes, District Attorney General; and John Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Stephanie E. Baney, pled guilty to especially aggravated stalking, two counts of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and vandalism over $1,000, stemming from two separate indictments, and was sentenced to an effective eight-year term. On appeal, she argues that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences. After our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the trial court's sentencing decision.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/baneys_060407.pdf


DANIEL LYNN OWEN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Daniel Lynn Owen, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Ellen L. Berez, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Daniel Lynn Owen, pled guilty to arson (Class A felony) and setting fire to personal property (Class E felony), agreeing to a concurrent sentence of ten years for arson and two years for setting fire to personal property, as a Range II, multiple offender. The original judgment incorrectly listed the conviction for arson as a Class B felony rather than a Class C felony, and the trial court later amended the judgment to correctly indicate the petitioner had been convicted of a Class C felony. The petitioner filed this appeal to contest the amended judgment. We conclude that correcting a clerical mistake does not trigger a Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3 appeal as of right. No error exists, and the appeal is dismissed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/owend_060407.pdf


Constitutionality of Proposed Grandparent Visitation Legislation

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-05-31

Opinion Number: 07-83

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2007/ag_07-83.pdf

Drug Tests as a Condition of Receiving Public Assistance

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-06-01

Opinion Number: 07-84

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2007/ag_07-84.pdf

National Civil Rights Museum

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-06-01

Opinion Number: 07-85

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2007/ag_07-85.pdf

City of Crossville Franchise Fee

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-06-01

Opinion Number: 07-86

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/AG/2007/ag_07-86.pdf

TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
BPR Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Wrongly accused man struggles with payments from state
Clark McMillan was exonerated five years ago for a rape and murder after DNA testing proved his innocence, but he had already served more than 20 years in prison for the crime. Most of the $832,950 award from the state for wrongful imprisonment remains out of his grasp, being paid over time, but McMillan wants the state to give him all of the money he is owed so that he can manage his own affairs. "I don't believe there's anything that can be done at this point," Rob Briley, who was McMillan's lawyer at the time of the settlement, said Friday.
Read more in the Tennessean
Moncier bites back
at Judge Greer
Knoxville lawywer Herbert Moncier has asked U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer to reconsider his decision to find Moncier in criminal contempt of court. Moncier also wants Greer booted off the bench and federal prosecutors removed from the case.
Follow these events in the News Sentinel
'TB lawyer' profiled
Andrew Speaker -- the lawyer who apparently boarded two trans-Atlantic flights despite warnings from health officials that he has an extremely drug-resistent case of tuberculosis -- is profiled by the Associated Press, giving a picture of an otherwise upstanding citizen. "If you subtract this TB thing from Drew Speaker, he's really a pillar of the community," said David Rich, a Nashville attorney who was Speaker's law school roommate.
Read about Speaker in the Kingsport Times-News
ABA prez urges support of Attorney-Client Privilege Act
American Bar Association President Karen J. Mathis today urged Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy to support S. 186, the so-called Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act, and overturn Department of Justice and other federal agency policies she said "erode the attorney-client privilege ... the work product doctrine ... [and] employees' constitutional and other legal rights."
Read Mathis's letter
Nashville TV station
wins libel suit
The state appeals court has rejected a libel claim from a man after a television station reported he was arrested while carrying bags of cash, gambling receipts and a sawed-off shotgun. Brad Lewis was mentioned as part of a series of stories Nashville's WTVF-TV ran about his then-brother-in-law, Carl Dollarhide, formerly a major with the Metro Nashville Police Department. Both Lewis and Dollarhide sued WTVF after the broadcast, claiming libel. The case was dismissed by a lower court, and only Lewis chose to appeal the decision.
Read more in the Tennessean
Read the opinion
Cooper trial underway in Chattanooga
A federal prosecutor told jurors that state Sen. Jerry Cooper was desperately in debt and used political influence to arrange a $1.77 million bank loan so he could sell a lumber mill. "That's his motive," Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Humble said during opening arguments today in Cooper's fraud trial. "He was desperate to get out of debt."
Read more in the Knoxville News Sentinel
Mental health court gains support
A group in Rutherford County is seeking to add a court that would deal with people with mental illnesses who commit crimes. Judge Larry Brandon, working with a group of judicial professionals and advocates for people with mental illnesses, is seeking a $50,000 federal grant to develop the program. "Incarceration doesn't solve the problem that person is experiencing," Brandon said. "We need to get the person the resources they need, so hopefully they'll never end up back in jail."
The Tennessean has more
Sentencing for Libby set for Tuesday
Former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby will learn on Tuesday whether or not he will go to prison. Then the question will be if President Bush will pardon him. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is calling for Libby to spend up to three years in prison, but LIbby maintains his innocence after being convicted in March of lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
TriCities.com carried this AP story
Jail closure adds costs to transport inmates
Inmates now must be transported to the Sequatchie County Justice Center in Pikeville from Bledsoe County because the fire marshal has shut down the Bledsoe County jail. Officials estimate the cost of gas, transportation and keeping the Bledsoe prisoners in Sequatchie while there for court is going to run about $350 day.
For more on the cost of this court closure, read the Chattanooga Times Free Press
Eminent domain gets limits in Connecticut
Connecticut's legislature has decided to limit the use of eminent domain, two years after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, the AP reports. The state's House of Representatives voted 132 to 7 Saturday night in favor of a bill that restricts private property from being taken solely to boost property tax revenues. The move comes two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the city of New London could take homes for a private riverfront development. Gov. Jodi Rell is expected to sign the bill limiting the use of eminent domain.

CASA gets Greeneville office
Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) has opened an office in Greeneville. "[CASA] is the eyes and ears of the judge, and the voice of the child," said Stephanie Sanders, executive director of CASA of Northeast Tennessee.
Read more in the Greeneville Sun
Legislative News
Follow legislative progress
Stay abreast of key legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly with the TBA bill tracking service.
Access TBA bill tracking service
BPR Actions
Knoxville lawyer reinstated
Steven Lee Williams has been reinstated to the practice of law in Tennessee after paying the annual BPR fee.
View all attorneys suspended for 2006 fee violations
Mississippi lawyer censured
Wanda Abioto was censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on May 16 for failing to keep adequate trust account records, misplacing client property and failing to return two videos to her client, which resulted in a contempt of court charge. The Board of Professional Responsibility found that she violated DR 1-102(A)(1)(6) and DR 9-102(A)(B) of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules 1.5 and 8.4(a)(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The censure declares Abioto's actions to be improper but does not limit her right to practice law.

TBA Member Services
Student loans at low rates through SunTrust
The TBA and SunTrust Bank now have a Partnership Program to help alleviate the burden of student loans. Members and their families can consolidate their federal student loans at a special low fixed rate - right now as low as 5.375 percent. In addition, those with consolidation loans greater than $10,000 are eligible to reduce their interest rate by another 1.5 percent for on-time payments and automatic debit payments.
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