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Court: TCA


Mike J. Urquhart, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Margaret Michelle O'Brien (Moore).

Joe Harsh, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Timothy E. Hawkins, Sr.


In this post-divorce proceeding, the trial court modified the permanent parenting plan by designating Father as the primary residential parent and holding Mother in contempt for failing to pay the car note on the vehicle awarded Mother in the divorce for which Father was jointly liable. At the time of the divorce, Mother was designated the primary residential parent of the parties' minor child. Shortly after the divorce was final, Father filed a Petition for Change of Custody and Contempt. Father also filed a motion for an immediate temporary change in parenting responsibilities, and following a hearing on the motion, the trial court entered an order temporarily designating Father as the primary residential parent and restricting Mother's parenting time. Two years after the entry of the temporary order, the court conducted a final hearing on Father's petition. Following the final hearing, the trial court found that a material change in circumstances had occurred and it was in the child's best interest for Father to be designated the primary residential parent. The court also found Mother in contempt for failing to pay the note of the vehicle awarded her in the divorce as required of her in the Final Divorce Decree. Mother appealed. We affirm the modification of the parenting plan; however, we reverse the finding of civil contempt as the trial court made no findings of fact regarding Mother's ability to pay the financial obligation and the evidence is insufficient for this court to find that Mother had the ability to pay the note or that her failure to pay the note was a willful act of disobedience of the court's order.


Court: TCA


K. Robert Barlowe, Nashville, Tennessee, and Stephen W. Pate, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellants, S. H. and C. H.

Robert E. Cooper and Amy T. McConnell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children's Services.


Mother and Father appeal the termination of their parental rights based upon the court's finding of abandonment by failure to provide a suitable home, the persistence of conditions that led to the removal of the children, the parents' substantial non-compliance with the permanency plan, severe abuse of the children and that termination was in the best interest of the children. Finding by clear and convincing evidence that grounds for termination exist and that termination is in the best interest of the children, we affirm the trial court's ruling.


Court: TCA


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Elizabeth C. Driver, Senior Counsel; for the Appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Robert D. Bradshaw, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem for Savannah S., Jason S., Chloe S., and Magen S.


The State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services ("DCS") filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of D.S. ("Mother") to her minor children, Savannah S., Jason S., Chloe S., and Magen S. (collectively "the Children"). After a trial, the Trial Court entered an order finding and holding, inter alia, that there was clear and convincing evidence of grounds to terminate Mother's parental rights to all four of the Children under Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-1-113(g)(2) and (g)(3), and that it was in the best interest of Jason, Chloe, and Magen for Mother's parental rights to be terminated. The Trial Court then held that it was not in the best interest of Savannah for Mother's parental rights to be terminated. Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to Jason, Chloe, and Magen. DCS and the Children's guardian ad litem appeal the Trial Court's determination that it was not in the best interest of Savannah for Mother's rights to be terminated. We affirm the termination of Mother's parental rights to Jason, Chloe, and Magen. We reverse the Trial Court's finding that it was not in the best interest of Savannah for Mother's parental rights to be terminated and hold that clear and convincing evidence exists that it was in the best interest of Savannah for Mother's parental rights to be terminated as to Savannah.


Court: TCA


Jeff Mueller, Jackson, TN, for Appellants.

David W. Camp, Jackson, TN, for Appellees.


This case involves competing adoption petitions filed by a child's maternal and paternal grandparents after the child's father was sentenced to death for killing the child's mother. The trial court simply compared the relative fitness of the two sets of grandparents and granted the adoption petition of the paternal grandparents. We conclude that the trial court erred in giving equal weight to both petitions because the paternal grandparents did not meet the requirements set forth in Tennessee's adoption statutes. We also conclude that the maternal grandparents were fit persons to have the care and custody of the child, that they are financially able to provide for the child, and that adoption is in the best interest of the child. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the chancery court and remand for entry of an order granting the adoption petition filed by the maternal grandparents.


Court: TCCA


Joseph T. Howell (on appeal), Jackson, Tennessee, and Susan D. Korsnes (at trial), Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carlos Cooper.

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

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Carlos Cooper, appeals from the judgment of the Madison County Circuit Court, revoking his probation and reinstating his original sentence of eight years. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the court.


Court: TCCA


Marvin Anthony Matthews, pro se, Henning, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District 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 grant the state's motion and affirm the judgment of the lower court.


Court: TCCA


Jeff Woods, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marlos Shields.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Carrie Shelton and Kirby May, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Marlos Shields, was indicted on charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. After a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of the charged offenses. The trial court imposed a sentence of twelve years for the aggravated robbery conviction and six years for the aggravated burglary conviction and ordered the sentences to run consecutively for an effective sentence of eighteen years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion for a mistrial; (2) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; and (3) the trial court erred in imposing an excessive sentence. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


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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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