Tennessee Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments for January in Knoxville

January 8, 2019

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear three cases on January 9, 2019.  The details of the cases are as follows:  

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

  • Estate of Ella Mae Haire, et al. v. Shelby J. Webster, et al-This case examines the nature of a joint tenant with right of survivorship bank account (“JTROS”).   The case involves the Estate of Ella Mae Haire.  Following the death of her husband, Ms. Haire added her son Danny Haire to her JTROS bank account. Following a dispute, Danny Haire was removed from the JTROS bank account while two other children, David and Shelby, were added and began to manage the account.  Ms. Haire subsequently died and the account was paid out to David and Shelby.  Danny Haire sued, arguing that the Bank breached its contract with him and Ms. Haire by removing Danny’s name from the account without his signature.  The trial court granted the Bank’s motion to dismiss, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.  On appeal, Danny Haire argues that “a bank should be held liable for removing an account owner’s name from a JTROS account without that person’s consent.”  The Bank argues that there was no breach of contract and furthermore that Tennessee Code Annotated section 45-2-703 protects the Bank from liability. 
  • State of Tennessee v. Quintis McCaleb- The case comes to the Court by way of an interlocutory appeal.  The issue before the Court is whether the trial court should have admitted several statements made by the defendant in a video-recorded interview following a polygraph examination. Because polygraph evidence is inadmissible, the defendant argued before the trial court that the post-polygraph interview also was inadmissible because he would have to discuss the polygraph in order to give context to his statements. Even though the State conceded that the post-polygraph interview would have to be redacted to exclude references to the polygraph examination, the defendant argued that such redactions would cause his statements to be taken out of context.  The trial court determined that the defendant’s post-polygraph statements were inadmissible because the probative value of the statements would be outweighed substantially by the danger of unfair prejudice.  The Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed and determined that the defendant’s statements during the post-polygraph questioning were highly probative.  The Court of Criminal Appeals also held that, with proper redaction, the statements would not unfairly prejudice the defendant.   According to the Court of Criminal Appeals, the defendant did not need to discuss the polygraph examination or its results in order to provide adequate context for the questioning.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the danger of unfair prejudice substantially outweighs the probative value of any testimony derived from the post-polygraph interview.  
  • John O. Threadgill v. Board of Professional Responsibility- This case involves a disciplinary action against an attorney, Mr. John Threadgill.  Mr. Threadgill was found guilty of evading taxes. This Court referred the matter to the Board of Professional Responsibility to determine the extent of attorney discipline necessary as a result of the conviction.  Following a final hearing on the matter, the Hearing Panel in this case determined that disbarment was the appropriate discipline.  Mr. Threadgill appealed to the Chancery Court for Knox County which affirmed the Hearing Panel’s decision.  Mr. Threadgill now appeals that decision, arguing that the Hearing Panel and the trial court lacked the statutory authority and jurisdiction to impose discipline in this matter and that the judgment was unsupported by substantial and material evidence.  Furthermore, he argues that a sanction of disbarment is contrary to the intent of the American Bar Association Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions.

Media members planning to attend oral arguments should review Supreme Court Rule 30 and file any required request.