Court Strikes 3 Parts of Arizona Law; Lets Police Check Stand

The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected key provisions in Arizona's tough anti-immigration law, but let stand controversial police checks of immigration status. In Arizona v. U.S., a 5-3 majority, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that three of four provisions in the law challenged by the Obama Administration were preempted by federal immigration law. Kennedy said the three provisions were preempted because they either conflicted with federal law or because Congress has "occupied the field" with federal regulation, and "even complementary state regulation" is impermissible.

But the majority held that Section 2(B) was not preempted -- at least not until there has been experience with its application. Under that section, state officers are to make a "reasonable attempt" to determine the immigration status of any person they stop, detain or arrest on some other legitimate basis if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is unlawfully in the country. Anyone who is arrested also must have his or her immigration status determined before being released. In light of this decision, the American Bar Association called on authorities "to avoid unnecessary, prolonged detention of individuals who are lawfully present in the United States." The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association also weighed in with its reaction, saying it is concerned that "communities of color throughout our nation will be negatively targeted as a result, and that community policing efforts on the part of law enforcement will also suffer."

Read more about the decision in the Blog of Legal Times

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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
05 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
00 - TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders

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TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Alaric A. Henry and Kathryn Russell, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, The Counts Company.

James A. Hurst, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Praters, Inc.


Plaintiff, was general contractor for the renovation of a private club, and employed defendant to install flooring at the club. Plaintiff sued defendant to recover damages incurred when plaintiff was sued by the club which obtained judgment for damages against plaintiff for the defective floor, as well as for attorney's fees for defending the action and other expenses. Defendant moved to dismiss the action, relying on the statute of repose, Tenn. Code Ann. §28-3-202. The Trial Court granted defendant's motion and dismissed the action, and plaintiff has appealed. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joe Bednarz, Sr., Nashville, Tennessee, and Steven R. Walker, Oakland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Zona Mayo.

Rick L. Powers, and Rachel Park Hurt, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.


Zona Mayo (“Plaintiff”) sued Donna L. Shine, M.D., Fort Sanders  Obstetrical and Gynecological Group, P.C., and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center (“the Hospital”) alleging medical malpractice in connection with Plaintiff’s birth. After a jury trial, the Trial Court entered judgment on the jury’s verdict finding and holding that neither Dr. Shine nor the Hospital were legally responsible for any harm suffered by Plaintiff. Plaintiff appeals raising issues regarding alleged jury misconduct and alleged errors with regard to admission of evidence, among other things. We find and hold that Plaintiff is entitled to a new trial due to errors in the admission of specific evidence and the improper limitation of Plaintiff’s cross-examination of Dr. Shine, among other things. We vacate the Trial Court’s judgment and remand this case to the Trial Court for a new trial in compliance with this Opinion.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Roger W. Dickson, Travis R. McDonough, Robert F. Parsley, Kevin D. Hudson, and Jade D. Dodds, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellants, Elizabethton Medical Investors, Limited Partnership d/b/a Life Care Center of Elizabethton; Elizabethton Medical Investors, LLC; and Life Care Centers of America, Inc.

M. Chad Trammell, Texarkana, Arkansas, S. Drake Martin, Grayton Beach, Florida, Tony Seaton, Johnson City, Tennessee, and Brian G. Brooks, Greenbrier, Arkansas, for the appellee, Jean McLemore.


This is a survivor and wrongful death suit arising out of the alleged neglect and abuse of Earl McLemore while he was a resident in a nursing home, Life Care Center of Elizabethton, which is located in Elizabethton, and is owned and operated by defendants. The suit was filed in the Circuit Court for Carter County, and following a ten day trial in May of 2010, the jury returned verdicts in favor of plaintiff and against all defendants. The jury awarded compensatory damages of $500,000.00 and punitive damages of $4,250,000.00. The Trial Court suggested a remittitur of compensatory damages to $225,000.00, but sustained the punitive damages award. Defendants/appellants appealed the verdict on numerous grounds. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Louis Moore, pro se.

Melanie Campbell-Brown, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, All in One Automotive, Inc.


This action originated in Sessions Court, when the plaintiff sued defendant, alleging that defendant had confiscated an automobile of plaintiff's over a disputed debt for repairs on another vehicle. The Circuit Judge refused to award either party damages, but ordered plaintiff's vehicle to be returned to him. Plaintiff appealed to Circuit Court, which inter alia held that plaintiff was entitled to damages of $663.88. Defendant was awarded $663.88 under its counter-complaint. The Court said the two awards offset each other and dismissed all claims and taxed costs equally. On appeal, we affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Joseph F. Whalen, Associate Solicitor General; Charles L. Lewis, Deputy Attorney General; Brad H. Buchanan, Assistant Attorney General; and Talmage M. Watts, Assistant Attorney General, for the Respondent/Appellant Richard H. Roberts, Commissioner of Revenue, 1 State of Tennessee.

Michael D. Sontag, Stephen J. Jasper, and Ashley N. Bassel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Petitioners/Appellees Pfizer, Inc., and Pharmacia Corporation.

Joseph F. Welborn, III, and Lauren P. Coble, Nashville, Tennessee, for Amicus Curiae The Council on State Taxation (COST) in support of Appellees.

Brett R. Carter, Joseph W. Gibbs, and Patricia Moskal, Nashville, Tennessee, for Amicus Curiae Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry in support of Appellees.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves the disqualification of an attorney and the denial of permission to appear pro hac vice. The plaintiff taxpayer corporations filed two lawsuits against Tennessee’s Commissioner of Revenue for a refund of franchise and excise taxes. The Commissioner filed a motion to permit an out-of-state attorney to appear pro hac vice to assist in representing Tennessee’s Attorney General in the taxpayers’ lawsuits. The attorney to be admitted pro hac vice is a full-time in-house attorney with a quasi-governmental multistate tax policy entity. The plaintiff taxpayers objected, arguing that admission pro hac vice of the multistate tax entity’s in-house attorney was tantamount to allowing the multistate tax entity to intervene in the lawsuits. The plaintiff taxpayers also argued that the attorney should be disqualified from representing the Commissioner because such representation would present an inherent conflict of interest and would give the attorney access to confidential taxpayer information. The trial court agreed with the plaintiff taxpayers. It denied the Commissioner’s motion to admit the attorney pro hac vice and disqualified the attorney from representing the Commissioner in these proceedings. This Court granted the Commissioner’s application for an extraordinary appeal. We reverse and remand the case for entry of an order granting permission for the attorney to appear on behalf of the Commissioner pro hac vice.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James E. Thomas, Memphis, Tennessee (on appeal); and Joshua Beadle, Pro Se, (at trial), for the appellant, Joshua Beadle.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Robert Carter, Assistant District Attorney General; and Kate Emdands, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


A Shelby County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Joshua Beadle, and Co-Defendant, Lezuntra Knox, charging them with burglary of a building. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of the offense and received a sentence of four years in the county workhouse. Defendant Knox was tried separately. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stacie Odeneal, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jimmy Esters.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lindsy Paduch Stempel, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Christi L. Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Lawrence County jury found appellant, Jimmy Esters, guilty of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. The trial court sentenced appellant as a Range I, standard offender, to six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, appellant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the prosecutor’s comments during closing argument inappropriately shifted the burden of proof to appellant; and (3) the trial court erred in sentencing him. Finding no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William J. Brown and David K. Calfee, Cleveland, Tennessee (on appeal); and Randy G. Rogers, Athens, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, David W. Gaddis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Robert Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and Brooklyn Townsend and Stephen Hatchett, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant was convicted of second-offense driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor, and driving with an expired license, a Class B misdemeanor. He was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days, suspended after seven months’ incarceration, on the second-offense DUI, and to a concurrent six months on the charge of driving on an expired license, for a total effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the defendant claims that: the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to enter evidence pertaining to his tumultuous relationship with a woman; the trial court erred by denying his motion to recuse; the trial court erred by denying his motion to investigate juror dissatisfaction with the verdict; and the sentences imposed were excessive. After carefully reviewing the record and the arguments of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jennifer Austin Mitchell, Dunlap, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ricky Dean Harvey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa Zavogiannis, District Attorney General; Darrell Julian, Assistant District Attorney General; and Mark Tribble, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


A Van Buren County jury convicted Defendant, Ricky Dean Harvey, of possession of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on a related charge of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), and the trial court declared a mistrial as to that count. A fourth count of the indictment was resolved in a bench trial wherein the trial court found Defendant violated the implied consent law. The DUI charge was ultimately dismissed. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve eleven years for the cocaine conviction, concurrent with the sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days for the drug paraphernalia conviction. In his appeal, Defendant presents the following issues for review: (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for possession of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to deliver; (2) the stop and search of Defendant’s vehicle and the resulting arrest of Defendant violated Defendant’s constitutional rights and the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress; (3) the sentence imposed by the trial court is excessive; and (4) Defendant “[l]acked the [m]ental [c]apacity for the [a]rrest and [t]rial [h]eld in this [m]atter.” After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lawyers Reporting More Pro Bono Hours

More than 46 percent of Tennessee attorneys reported performing pro bono legal work in Tennessee, an increase of six percent from last year, according to data from the Board of Professional Responsibility. This is the highest percentage of pro bono reporting since attorneys began to voluntarily report in 2009 and more than twice the level of reporting during the initial year. So far, about 3,860 lawyers with Tennessee law licenses residing in Tennessee reported 329,285 hours of pro bono work. The law license renewal form includes a section where lawyers can voluntarily report their pro bono work done in the previous calendar year. 

Increasing pro bono participation is a priority of the Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission’s 2012 Strategic Plan. “The commission’s goal is to ensure all Tennesseans have access to justice by knowing their rights, having access to counsel and understanding the judicial system,” ATJ Chair George T. "Buck" Lewis said. “This is very encouraging news, and next year we hope to see that number over 50 percent.” Learn more from the Tennessee Supreme Court

Nashville County Clerk Resigns

John Arriola, the embattled Davidson County clerk whose practice of collecting fees to perform weddings put him under fire, has resigned. Spurring the move may have been an ongoing investigation from District Attorney Torry Johnson, whose office has been in the process of reviewing the comptroller’s findings, suggests the Nashville City Paper. Given the resignation, Johnson now says there will be no prosecution.

Editorial: Attorney-Client Privilege Trumps Public's Right to Know

Tennessee’s Open Meetings Law requires all public business to be conducted in the sunshine, but in an editorial today, the Daily News Journal discusses why the attorney-client privilege is an exception to that. The paper agrees that meetings with counsel should be in private, but cautions as to what topics should and should not be covered behind closed doors.

Metro Government Turns 50

It's been 50 years since Nashville's city and county governments were consolidated into one, and as this City Paper article shows, the cast of characters who represent Metro’s “Founding Fathers,” include Harlan Dodson, G.S. Meadors, R.N. Chenault, Charlie Warfield and Cecil Branstetter.

Court: Constitution Bans Life without Parole for Juveniles

Justice Kagan announced the opinion for the court in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs today, holding, in a five-to-four vote, that “the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” SCOTUSblog has the story. The American Bar Association hailed the ruling saying, “We are gratified that the court followed its precedents…in determining that juvenile offenders are constitutionally different from adults for sentencing purposes. Juveniles are less morally culpable and more capable of rehabilitation than adults convicted of the same crimes.” Read the ABA’s brief in the cases

Justices Reaffirm Citizens United Ruling

A major effort by Montana, campaign finance reform groups and more than 20 states to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its widely criticized Citizens United decision has failed. Today, the justices reversed a ruling by the Montana Supreme Court that upheld that state's century-old ban on corporate spending in state elections. The Washington Times has more

Court Good at Keeping Mum, as Health Care Decision Looms This Week

The nine U.S. Supreme Court justices and more than three dozen other people have kept quiet for more than two months about how the high court is going to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act. Unlike the Congress and the executive branch, which seem to leak information "willy-nilly," the Associated Press says, "the Supreme Court, from the chief justice down to the lowliest clerk, appears to truly value silence when it comes to upcoming court opinions, big and small. No one talks, and that's the way they like it." The decision is expected to come Thursday, when the justices plan to complete their nine-month term.

Hurley Reelection Site Redirects to Opponent

The website for the reelection of state Rep. Julia Hurley, R-Lenoir City, sends visitors instead to the website of Kent Calfee, her opponent in the August Republican primary. Both candidates said they were unaware of the website redirect until informed Friday by the News Sentinel. Hurley promptly cast blame on Calfee and his supporters, but Calfee says he was unaware and that apparently the website registration was not maintained. "I would assume that if you're holding office and you had a website, you would maintain the control of it," he said.

Field for Hawk's Seat Increases After Domestic Charges

Two of the three candidates opposing state Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, in this summer's Republican primary acknowledge they had no plans to enter the contest until the incumbent was charged with domestic assault on his wife. Hawk's primary opponents are attorneys Duncan Cave, Bradley Mercer and Ted Hensley, a county commissioner and real estate broker. The News Sentinel has more

Montgomery County Attorney Disbarred

Montgomery County attorney Donrua Barnes-Hulsey was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 22 for neglecting client matters, failing to communicate with clients and abandoning her practice. The court found that her actions violated Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 3.2 and 8.4 of the Rules Supreme Court of Tennessee. Download the BPR release

Sevier Lawyer Suspended

Sevier County lawyer Jerry DeWayne Kerley was suspended from the practice of law June 21 based on his conviction on serious crimes. The Supreme Court further ordered the Board of Professional Responsibility to institute a formal proceeding to determine the extent of final discipline to be imposed as a result of the conviction.  Download the BPR release


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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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