TBA addresses unjust criticism of judges

Tennessee Bar Association President Marcy Eason today forwarded a letter to the editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel addressing several factual inaccuracies in coverage of federal court proceedings involving a Knoxville lawyer. The letter came as a result of the TBA Executive Committee's examination of the coverage under the association's policy on response to unjust criticism of judges. The policy is an outgrowth of the duty of the bar to respond to criticism of judges who are prohibited from making public comment on pending actions. TBA members are invited to read Eason's letter and attachments (which include copies of TBA's response policy and Rule 83.7, which governs attorney discipline in federal court), the original news account from March 7, an editorial that ran on March 12, an editorial cartoon, and two columns mentioning the issue (March 16 and March 23).
TODAY'S OPINIONS
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SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TSC

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2008/certlist_032408.pdf


IN RE ESTATE OF HELEN B. PRICE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

John K. Banks, Elizabethton, Tennessee, for the Appellants, William G. Fenner, Sr., William G. Fenner, Jr., Terry Wayne Fenner, Kathy Fenner Melton, Connie Fenner Gray, Willie Jo Perry, Chucky Price, David Price, Chris Price, and Kathy Price Lyon.

Robert J. Jessee, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Helen Sue Ludrosky.

Judge: SWINEY

Decedent died testate, leaving her entire estate to her sole surviving child, and leaving nothing to the man she had lived with for more than forty years, William G. Fenner, Sr. Mr. Fenner and all but one of decedent's grandchildren filed an action to invalidate the will on the basis of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity. In the alternative, plaintiffs alleged that decedent and Mr. Fenner were partners and her assets were assets of the partnership, to which he is entitled to half. Plaintiffs also requested that the Trial Court impose a trust upon decedent's estate for the benefit and use of Mr. Fenner. Following two hearings on these issues, the Trial Court dismissed all of plaintiffs' claims and upheld the validity of decedent's will. Plaintiffs appeal, raising issues regarding undue influence, testamentary capacity, implied partnership, imposition of a resulting trust, defendant's failure to testify at the second hearing, and the Trial Court's dismissal of portions of plaintiffs' claims pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 41.02 motions by defendant. We find no error on the part of the Trial Court, and, therefore, affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2008/estateofprice_032408.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHARLES L. ROCHELLE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), and J. Michael Engle (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, Nashville, Tennessee, for defendant, Charles L. Rochelle.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Charles L. Rochelle, was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. Prior to trial, he pled guilty to felony evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle. The defendant was sentenced to twelve years for aggravated robbery, ten years for aggravated assault, and to eight years for evading arrest. The defendant's sentences were ordered to run consecutively for a total effective sentence of thirty years. On appeal, the defendant argues: (1) that insufficient evidence existed to support his convictions, (2) that the trial court erred by permitting the state to enter the classified section of a local newspaper as rebuttal evidence, (3) that his sentences were excessive in length, and (4) that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/rochellc_032408.pdf


FALLON LYNN TALLENT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Fallon Lynn Tallent, Pro Se, T.P.F.W., Nashville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Preston Shipp, Assistant Attorney General; Tom P. Thompson, Jr., District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Fallon Lynn Tallent, was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and received consecutive life sentences. The petitioner's convictions were affirmed on appeal. The petitioner filed a post-conviction petition for relief which was dismissed. The petitioner appeals the decision of the post-conviction court. On appeal, she argues that she received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel and that her constitutional right to due process was violated because she was denied a preliminary hearing. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we reverse the decision of the post-conviction court and remand for appointment of counsel.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2008/tallentf_032408.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Pakistan judges freed by new prime minister
In his first act as Pakistan's new prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani today freed the country's deposed supreme court chief justice and some 60 other jurists from the house arrest under which they have been held since November.
The ABA Journal links you to the story
Herenton says he'll stay unless named superintendent
Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton said today he would stay on as mayor if he is not named superintendent of Memphis City Schools. Herenton had said late last week that he planned to step down in July after serving 16 years as mayor.
The Commercial Appeal has the update
At retirement Kurtz looks back ... and forward
Judge Walter Kurtz, 64, has been a Davidson County circuit judge since 1982, and as he retires as 5th Circuit judge this month, he talked about his career. Kurtz's retirement won't be boring though; he has accepted a four-year position as a senior judge, filling in for other judges as necessary.
Read what he says in the Tennessean
Opinion: 'Justice for sale'
An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal points out that money should not influence courts, but studies show it often does. Separate recent empirical studies in The New York Times and the Tulane Law Review support the proposition that contributions not only correlate with decisions, but alter them, writes James Sample, who is with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. "In the long term, we all lose when any decision reinforces suspicions that the biggest donor, not the best case, wins. Reforms range from commission-based appointment systems, to publicly financed campaigns, to more rigorous recusal rules."
Read the Wall Street Journal piece
Kingsport urged to expand justice center
Kingsport's chief of police urged the board of mayor and aldermen to expand the justice center because they are out of space. Chief Gale Osborne said they need to consolidate all court functions under one roof, and give the police department more room. When the center opened in 1989, the police department had 86 sworn officers and 50 civilian employees. Today, the department has 111 officers and 61 civilian employees.
The Kingsport Times-News reports
Clerk duties transferred in Putnam County
The transfer of the duties of probate and juvenile court from the Putnam County Clerk's Office to the Putnam Circuit Court Clerk's Office was officially recommended by the Putnam County Commission last week. The shift of duties requires approval of a private act by the state legislature and if approved would begin July 1.
The Cookville Herald-Citizen reports
Legislative News
House members attempt to remove DA Gibson from office
Upper Cumberland area state legislators are preparing to seek the removal of embattled District Attorney Bill Gibson. Gibson has been unable to actually work in the position of chief prosecutor for the 13th Judicial District since his law license was suspended in 2006 over an ethics scandal. Since that time, Gibson has been investigated by the TBI, which unsuccessfully attempted to indict him for official misconduct, and has been trying to negotiate with the State Board of Professional Responsibility to get his law license back. Now, State House of Representatives members Henry Fincher of Cookeville, Charles Curtiss of Sparta, and Frank Buck of Dowelltown, are co-sponsoring a resolution aimed at removing Gibson from the DA's position.
The Cookville Herald-Citizen has more
Opinions vary on crime legislation
Differing views on legislation that would change how probation is given for violent crimes are explored in opinions by Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas and attorney David Raybin. The Tennessean ran their opinion pieces yesterday.

Wilder's retirement marks 'end of era'
When state Sen. John Wilder retires later this year, it will be the end of an era in Tennessee politics and will create a wide-open race in his West Tennessee district for the first time in decades. The Commercial Appeal looks back on Wilder's career.
Read the story
Disciplinary Actions
Knoxville lawyer suspended
On March 19, the Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an order temporarily suspending Knoxville lawyer Nathanael Ellis Anderson's license to practice law, upon finding he posed a threat of substantial harm to the public. The order requires Anderson to comply with Section 18 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9.
Read the BPR release
TBA Member Services
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on the TBA Web site

 
 
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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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