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TODAY'S OPINIONS
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 or to obtain a text version of each opinion, 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 the TBA's Membership Central.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
08 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR

You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) 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. 2) 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.

WILLIAM W. BROWN, JR. ET AL. v. ERACHEM COMILOG, INC.

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Larry R. McElhaney II, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William W. Brown, Jr. Larry R. McElhaney II, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William W. Brown, Jr.

Dale A. Tipps, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Erachem Comilog, Inc.

Judge: HOLDER

We granted review to determine when the statute of limitations begins to run in a workers' compensation case in which the employee suffers from an occupational disease. The trial court dismissed Employee's suit as untimely, reasoning that the statute of limitations began to run when Employee gave notice to Employer that she had an occupational disease. The Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel affirmed the trial court's judgment, relying upon Bone v. Saturn Corp., 148 S.W.3d 69 (Tenn. 2004), overruled by Bldg. Materials Corp. v. Britt, 211 S.W.3d 706 (Tenn. 2007), a gradually occurring injury case. We conclude that the Panel erred in relying upon Bone in affirming the trial court's finding of untimeliness. Claims involving occupational diseases are governed by Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-306(a) (2005). This statute provides that the statute of limitations in an occupational disease case begins to run when an employee knows or should know that she has an occupational disease and that it has injuriously affected her capacity to work to a degree amounting to a compensable injury. Because Employee filed suit within one year of becoming incapacitated from working, we hold that her claim for benefits was timely. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2007/brownw_083007.pdf


VICKIE KAY MOORE v. VICK MOORE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Ted W. Daniel, Murfreesboro, TN, for Appellant.

Megan A. Kingree, Shelbyville, TN, for Appellee.

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal arises out of post-divorce proceedings. The final decree of divorce and marital dissolution agreement required the husband to refinance the parties' marital residence within thirty days of the decree, and to pay the wife $15,000 for her equity in the residence. Approximately two months after the decree was entered, the wife filed a petition to show cause alleging that the husband had not refinanced the home or paid her for the equity. The trial court entered an order finding the husband in contempt, but it did not find that the husband had willfully failed to meet his obligations. The court also ordered the husband to pay the wife's attorney's fees. We reverse in part and affirm in part.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2007/moorev_083007.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DANIEL RAY CLAYTON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Raymond Mack Garner, District Public Defender; and Stacey Nordquist, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial); and J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the Appellant, Daniel Ray Clayton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Tammy Harrington, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Daniel Ray Clayton, pleaded guilty to theft of property over $1,000 but less than $10,000, see T.C.A. sections 39-14-103, -14-105(3) (2006), a class D felony and aggravated robbery, see id. section 39-13-402, a class B felony. According to the plea agreement, the sentences were to run concurrently, but the length and manner of service were to be determined by the trial court. The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on June 7, 2006, and sentenced the defendant to two years for the theft conviction and nine years for the aggravated robbery conviction for an effective nine-year sentence to be served in confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in failing to consider certain mitigating factors and claims that his sentence should be reduced to eight years. We disagree and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/claytond_083007.pdf


DAVID WAYNE DUNN v. HOWARD CARLTON, WARDEN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

David Wayne Dunn, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Leslie E. Price and David E. Coenen, Assistant Attorneys General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The pro se petitioner, David Wayne Dunn, appeals from the Johnson County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus attacking his 1985 first degree murder conviction. He alleges that he is entitled to relief because the indictment is duplicitous and the judgment represents an illegal general verdict. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/dunnd_083007.pdf


MATTHEW JACKSON V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Matthew Melson Jackson, Pro Se, Tiptonville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Elizabeth Bingham Marney, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

This matter is before the Court upon the State's motion to dismiss or in the alternative to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Petitioner has appealed the trial court's order dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief in which Petitioner alleged that his guilty plea was based on a coerced confession, he was denied the right to counsel, he was denied the right to speedy trial, evidence was obtained unconstitutionally, and the trial court made factual conclusions that were not supported by the record. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court was correct in summarily dismissing the petition for post-conviction relief and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, the State's motion is granted, and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/jacksonm_083007.pdf


NEIL LINCOLN MILLER v. HOWARD CARLTON, WARDEN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Neil Lincoln Miller, Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Cameron L. Hyder and John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Neil Lincoln Miller, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. He contends that his sentence is illegal. Because the record and law establish that the petitioner is not entitled to habeas corpus relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/millern_083007.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ERIC JAMES OSBORNE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Ross E. Alderman, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A. Devasher, Assistant Public Defender; C. Dawn Deaner, Assistant Public Defender; and Amy Dawn Harwell, Assistant Public Defender, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric James Osborne.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Brian Holmgren, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Following a jury trial, Defendant, Eric James Osborne, was found guilty of seven counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and five counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. The trial court declared a mistrial on two counts of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery because the jury was unable to reach a verdict on these charges. The trial court conducted a sentencing hearing after which it sentenced Defendant to twenty-five years for each rape of a child conviction and eleven years for each aggravated sexual battery conviction. The trial court ordered Defendant to serve a combination of consecutive and concurrent sentences for an effective sentence of one hundred and seventy-two years. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred in denying Defendant's motion to sever the offenses involving different victims; (2) the trial court erred in denying Defendant's motion for a mistrial; (3) the evidence is insufficient to support Defendant's convictions in counts 14 and 15 of the superseding indictment; (4) the trial court erred in allowing testimony concerning prior bad acts; (5) the trial court erred in ruling that Defendant's prior conviction of child abuse would be admissible for impeachment purposes; and (6) that the trial court erred in determining the length and manner of service of Defendant's sentences. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/osbornee_083007.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. NATHANIEL STARR

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender; Randall Kilby, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial); and Gianna Maio, Assistant District Public Defender (on appeal), attorneys for appellant, Nathaniel Starr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Leslie Nassios, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The defendant, Nathaniel Starr, appeals as of right his bench trial conviction for aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, for which he received a sentence of twenty-five years as a Range III, persistent offender. On appeal, he alleges that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for aggravated robbery and that the trial court erred in finding him to be a persistent offender. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/starrn_083007.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. FRED EUGENE THOMPSON, JR.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Thomas B. Luck (on appeal) and Leann Smith (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Fred Eugene Thompson, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Deborah Housel and Lisa Naylor, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant of first degree felony murder and theft of property valued over $1000. He was sentenced to life in prison for the first degree murder conviction and to five years for the theft conviction, and the trial court ordered the sentences to run concurrently. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the State's proof; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; and (3) the trial court failed to perform its role as a thirteenth juror. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/thompsonf_083007.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BARBARA WATSON

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Kevin C. Angel, Clinton, Tennessee, attorney for appellant, Barbara Watson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Frank Harvey, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The defendant, Barbara Watson, appeals as of right her conviction for theft of property valued at over one thousand dollars, a Class D felony, resulting from her bench trial in the Morgan County Criminal Court. On appeal, she asserts that there was insufficient proof of the value of property stolen and, absent such proof, the conviction should be for theft of property valued under five hundred dollars, a misdemeanor. She also argues that the trial court's restitution order of $3,926.11 is not supported by the evidence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2007/watsonb_083007.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

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Ford starts to work on appeal
The day after former Sen. John Ford was sentenced to more than five years in prison, he and his newly appointed lawyer are working on an appeal. Ford asked a judge Wednesday to order taxpayers to finance copies of trial transcripts needed for his expected appeal -- a request that could cost $8,000 or more.
Read more in the Commercial Appeal
Files found, Lineweaver freed
Once the missing files were found -- in less than three hours -- Metro Juvenile Court Clerk Vic Lineweaver was released from jail, where he'd been after three Davidson County Juvenile Court referees yesterday had ordered him to jail for contempt for failing to find two court files. Court officials say the act of jailing the man responsible for maintaining the records of the court should send a clear message that lost and missing files can no longer be a daily part of Nashville's juvenile justice system.
The Tennessean has the story
Pay for midlevel associates documented
A salary survey by American Lawyer magazine shows that, nationwide, total median compensation is $222,000 for fourth-year associates and $245,000 for fifth years. The figures include bonuses. The legal magazine's breakdown of median salaries by city shows New York firms pay the most. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz pays its third-years the most: $190,000 in salaries and $190,000 in median bonuses. Satifaction surveys and the "Pain Index" ("how much pain is it really causing partners to pay associates so well?") are all documented on
Law.com
Gonzales testimony probed by inspector general
The Justice Department inspector general said Thursday he is looking into whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may have intentionally misled Congress in sworn testimony, CNN reports. In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D- Vermont, Inspector General Glenn Fine said the Gonzales probe is included in his ongoing investigation into the firings of several U.S. attorneys.
Read more from CNN
Hamilton Grand Jury calls for new jail
Members of the Hamilton County Grand Jury told Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman on Wednesday that no one seems to be listening to their reports. The grand jury -- and others before this one -- recommended the replacement of the Hamilton County Jail. The panel also called for a new juvenile detention facility. "The present jail is over 30 years old, with an obsolete design that is incompatible with current needs," the report says.
Read more on the Chattanoogan.com
Man freed from justice center, returns to vandalize it
A man released from jail for burglary and vandalism of Madison County's criminal justice complex came back and smashed a door and window in it, according to Sheriff David Woolfork. Now Clint Earl Sims is awaiting arraignment -- it has been postponed once after Sims spit on an officer while being transported to court.
The Jackson Sun carried the story
Budget funds staff for new Polk jail
The Polk County Commission has approved a $6.3 million general fund budget and a property tax raise. That budget should fund 15 correction officers, along with three administrative positions for the jail, commissioners said.
Read more in the News Sentinel
Maury justice center has land, if not funding
Maury County officials have demolished two buildings to make space for a criminal justice center. The proposed center will house all of the courthouse functions now located at the century-old Maury County Courthouse on the Square. The project is expected to cost $15-18 million. The County Commission has not allocated funding for construction.
The Daily Herald reports
Upcoming
Supreme Court dinner to honor justices
The Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society will host a dinner in honor of newly appointed Justice William C. Koch Jr. The dinner is Oct. 2 at the Hilton Downtown Nashville and is also given in memory of Justice Charles O'Brien and in recognition of the dedicated service of Chief Justice William M. Barker and justices Janice M. Holder, Cornelia A. Clark and Gary R. Wade. Tickets are $130 per person. Reservations may be made by emailing TSCH Administrator Joy Day or calling (615) 771-5008 by Sept. 21.

National family law conference to come to Memphis
The American Bar Association's Family Law Conference, a national continuing legal education program, will be in Memphis Oct. 10-13. Amy J. Amundsen, president-elect of the Memphis Bar Association, said law students, family lawyers and judges who attend will benefit from ample networking opportunities as well as the conference's numerous seminars.
Find out more about the conference from the Memphis Daily News
TBA Member Services
Free online legal research is hot TBA benefit
Online legal research is available free to all Tennessee Bar Association members through an agreement with Fastcase, a leading online legal research firm. The new TBA member benefit is national in scope and offers TBA members unlimited usage, unlimited customer service and unlimited printing -- all at no cost.
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