Court's access to justice plans include forms, summit

The Tennessee Supreme Court today unveiled plans to bring greater access to the state's justice system by removing barriers, making the system more user-friendly, providing education and involving more lawyers and law students in closing the state's growing civil legal needs gap. Central among projects announced today was a pro bono summit in January 2011 and development of "downloadable plain-language forms" that would be approved by the Supreme Court. After attending the announcement, TBA President Sam Elliott said he was "impressed by the court's commitment to access to justice" and that the TBA would be actively supporting January's Pro Bono Summit.

A number of resources are available to learn more about the court's plans. You can download the court's media release, remarks that Chief Justice Janice Holder made in announcing the plans, or comments from Access to Justice Commission Chair Margaret Behm. You can also view an interview with Justice Holder and Behm conducted by TBA Access to Justice Committee Chair David Esquivel or an access to justice promotional video produced by the court.
TODAY'S OPINIONS
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IN RE: COREY N.A., KAYLA M.A, and ROBERT L.A.
TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES v. R.L.A., et al.


Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Agnes Trujillo, Rutledge, Tennessee, for the appellants, L.R.A., and R.L.A.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Nicholas G. Barca, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.

Judge: FRANKS

The Department of Children's Services petitioned the Court to terminate the parental rights of both parents to the minor children. Following trial, the Trial Judge ruled that grounds to terminate the parental rights by clear and convincing evidence existed, as well as clear and convincing evidence that it was in the children's best interest to terminate the parental rights of the parents. The parents have appealed and we affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/coreyna_062210.pdf


VICTORIA DUTTON, ET AL. v. FARMERS GROUP, INC., ET AL.
With Concurring Opinion


Court: TCA

Attorneys:

David T. Black, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Victoria Dutton, Geoffrey Carel, and Dezirae Carel.

Bruce A, McMullen, Kenny Saffles, and Stacie Winkler, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Farmers Group, Inc. and Mid-Century Insurance Co.

Daniel M. Gass and P. Alexander Vogel, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, East Tennessee Restoration.

Ellis A. Sharp and Zachary B. Tenry, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Servpro Industries, Inc.

John M. Norris, Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, for the appellee, Air Doctor.

Judge: MCCLARTY

Plaintiffs' home flooded and incurred severe water and mold damage when the hot water tank burst. Plaintiffs began to experience varying illnesses after moving back into the home. Despite Defendants' assurances that the home was safe, three years after moving back into the home, Plaintiffs discovered that their home was contaminated with toxic mold. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendants alleging various claims. Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint asserting that the statute of limitations barred the claims. After a hearing, the trial court agreed and dismissed Plaintiffs' Complaint. Plaintiffs then filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment; the trial court denied the motion. Plaintiffs appeal. We reverse.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/duttonv_062210.pdf

SUSANO concurring
http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/duttonv_CON_062210.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JEFF D. ARP

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

W. K. Cather, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeff D. Arp.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Tom P. Thompson, Jr., District Attorney General; and Justin Harris, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

Appellant Jeff D. Arp pled guilty to two counts of incest stemming from two separate incidents involving his mentally disabled teenage daughter. One incident took place before the effective date of the 2005 amendments to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1989, and one incident took place after the effective date. Appellant chose to be sentenced under the prior law for the first offense. The trial court imposed a sentence of five years for each conviction, to be served consecutively, and denied alternative sentencing. Appellant claims that the trial court erred in its application of the enhancement factors and in denying alternative sentencing. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/arpd_062210.pdf


WESLEY EARL BROWN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

David L. Raybin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Wesley Earl Brown.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Brian Holmgren, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Wesley Earl Brown, of two counts of rape of a child and three counts of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to twenty-five years for each rape conviction, to be served consecutively, and ten years for each sexual battery conviction, to be served concurrently but consecutively to the rape convictions, for a total effective sentence of sixty years. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming: (1) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) the trial court improperly instructed the jury; and (3) the trial court's sentence violated the Petitioner's constitutional right to a jury. The post-conviction court denied relief after a hearing, and the Petitioner now appeals. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/brownw_062210.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ROBIN LYNN COOPER, ALIAS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Michael T. Cabage, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robin Lynn Cooper, Alias.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Leslie Nassios, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Robin Lynn Cooper, was convicted of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; rape, a Class B felony; aggravated rape, a Class A felony; especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony; and three counts of aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony. The convictions for the Class B felony kidnappings were merged into one count. The defendant was sentenced to life without parole as a repeat violent offender for the rape, aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and three convictions of aggravated kidnapping and to a concurrent sentence of twelve years at thirty percent for attempted second degree murder. On appeal, he argues that: the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; the trial court erred in admitting evidence; the trial court abused its discretion when it failed to grant a continuance; and the presence of his parole officer's folder on the witness stand violated a court order that the State could not mention that he was on parole. After careful review, we affirm the judgments from the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/cooperr_062210.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DANNY LEE GREENE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Donald E. Spurrell, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danny Lee Greene.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; and Anthony Wade Clark, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Danny Lee Greene, was convicted by a jury of second degree murder and sentenced to twenty-three years as a violent offender. On appeal, he contends that the trial court improperly denied him a jury instruction concerning voluntary intoxication. After careful review, we conclude no error exists and affirm the judgment from the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/greened_062210.pdf


MARVIN ANTHONY MATTHEWS v. TONY PARKER, WARDEN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Marvin Anthony Matthews, Pro Se, Tiptonville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The petitioner, Marvin Anthony Matthews, appeals the lower court's denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The state has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the lower court's denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. We conclude that the state's motion is meritorious. Accordingly, we grant the state's motion and affirm the judgment of the lower court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/matthewsm_062210.pdf


COURTNEY MEANS V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Brett B. Stein, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Courtney Means.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and David Zak, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Courtney Means, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, Petitioner contends that (1) the search of his car and seizure of a gun was unconstitutional; (2) counsel failed to file a motion to suppress the victim's identification; (3) counsel failed to file a motion to suppress his statement to police; and (4) the introduction of a gun into evidence with a different serial number than the gun that was found in his vehicle violated his due process rights. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/meansc_062210.pdf


GARNER DWIGHT PADGETT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

R. Luke Chaffin, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Garner Dwight Padgett.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; and Anthony Craighead, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Garner Dwight Padgett, appeals the Putnam County Criminal Court's denial of post-conviction relief from his conviction for first degree murder. The Petitioner contends (1) that the trial court violated the Petitioner's federal and state constitutional rights at the trial by asking members of the venire whether they could be fair to both sides, thus lowering the State's burden of proof, and (2) that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial for failing to object to the trial court's asking whether the members could be fair. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/padgettg_062210.pdf


CRAIG E. SHEARS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Leslie M. Jeffress, Knoxville, Tennessee, attorney for appellant, Craig E. Shears.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Takisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Petitioner, Craig E. Shears, filed a petition for post-conviction relief attacking his conviction of first degree murder on the basis of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief based upon its finding that the Petitioner had failed to prove his allegations by clear and convincing evidence. In this appeal as of right, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to effectively argue a motion to suppress his statement and in preparing for trial. The Petitioner also contends that co-counsel was ineffective in failing to request a continuance when co-counsel was hired to assist trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/shearsc_062210.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JERRY ORLANDO WEAVER

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Brennan Patrick Lenihan, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for appellant, Jerry Orlando Weaver.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; David S. Clark, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

An Anderson County jury convicted the defendant, Jerry Orlando Weaver, of two counts of facilitation of possession of less than one-half gram of cocaine for sale or delivery, Class D felonies. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a career offender to twelve years for each count, to be served consecutively in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in sentencing him as a career offender and in imposing consecutive sentences. Following our review of the record, the parties' briefs, and the applicable law, we conclude that the defendant failed to timely file his notice of appeal and that his claims do not warrant consideration in the "interest of justice." Therefore, we dismiss his appeal.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/weaverj_062210.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOHN EDWARD WINN, JR.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

John Herbison, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Edward Winn, Jr.

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

Judge: WELLES

The Defendant, John Edward Winn, Jr., was placed on probation for eight years after pleading guilty to aggravated burglary and aggravated assault. Following a revocation hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant's probation and ordered him to serve the remainder of his eight-year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contests the trial court's evidentiary rulings during the revocation hearing and the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the revocation. Upon our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for a new hearing.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/winnj_062210.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Judicial elections: Be an informed voter
Deciding how to vote in Tennessee judicial elections is too important to leave to chance. The Tennessee Bar Association has collected a package of resources to help voters make informed choices in the upcoming elections. Also available is the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct and listing of judges who have signed the Code of Conduct and agreed to conduct their campaigns in a manner reflecting the integrity of the justice system in Tennessee. Watch a short video about the resources or visit the TBA's online
Judicial Election Center
Ford associate fined for lying to FBI about lobbying activities
A federal judge in Memphis has fined Dr. Roger D. Morgan of Lakeland $5,000 for lying to the FBI about lobbying former state Sen. John Ford, who was under surveillance at the time. Morgan, a psychologist, denied he spoke with Ford about legislation benefiting psychologists, but FBI surveillance tapes revealed a conversation in which Morgan asked about the legislation after Ford asked him to help raise legal defense funds. Morgan earlier had pleaded guilty to the crime. He must pay the fine, but was not given prison time.
News Channel 5 has the story
Attorney says case closed against Scruggs' associate
An attorney for P.L. Blake, a former associate of Mississippi lawyer Dickie Scruggs, says the federal government has ended its investigation into his client's activity. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office in Oxford, however, could not confirm the claim. According to court documents, Blake earned $50 million from the state's tobacco settlement working for Scruggs, who is now serving seven years in prison for the unrelated crime of attempting to bribe a judge during Hurricane Katrina litigation.
The Clarion-Ledger has this AP story
National group honors Nashville judges
The National Association of Women Judges will honor 22 Tennessee judges at a Nashville School of Law event tonight. The judges, all graduates of the school, include: Denise Andre, Cheryl Blackburn, Jacqueline Bolton, Clara Byrd, Sophia Crawford, Donna Davenport, Lynn England, Sue McKnight Evans, Jane Franks, Betty Adams Green, Stella Hargrove, Barbara Haynes, Lynda McDaniel, Susan Melton, Diana Monroe, Amy Reedy, Muriel Robinson, Marietta Shipley, Carol Solomon, Bettye Springfield, Dianne Turner and Jane Wheatcraft. Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee, who is also a district director with the judicial group, will present the association's Equal Access to Justice Scholarship to Nashville School of Law student Brandy L. Spurgin, the Tennessean reports.

Disciplinary Actions
Clinton lawyer disbarred
Clinton attorney Debra Fannin Graham was disbarred and ordered to pay restitution of all unearned fees to six clients by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 16. The court found that Graham had violated disciplinary rules by neglecting client cases; charging excessive fees; and making misrepresentations to the Board of Professional Responsibility and clients. Her actions violated Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8, Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 (diligence); 1.4 (communication); 1.5 (fees); 1.16 (terminating representation); and 8.4 (misconduct).
Read the full release from the Board of Professional Responsibility
Former Covington lawyer disbarred
Former Covington lawyer Richard D. Cartwright was disbarred on June 17 by the Tennessee Supreme Court. At the time of his disbarment, Cartwright was also serving a three-year suspension from a prior disciplinary matter. During his suspension, Cartwright abandoned his practice, but the court found he had failed to inform many of his clients of the suspension and failed to return client property and legal fees.
Read the full BPR release and court order of enforcement
TBA Member Services
TBA expands insurance services for members
The TBA Member Insurance Solutions Program has been expanded to offer assistance to members in meeting their health, life, disability and other insurance needs. Working with Graham Swafford III of Capital Financial Group, the TBA is now able to provide members with exclusive benefits, personalized service, and pricing discounts. Services and products offered include: disability income insurance, business overhead expense insurance, group life, long-term and short-term disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, and group health, dental and vision insurance along with other employee related benefits.
Learn more about TBA Insurance Solutions now

 
 
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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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