Judge Declines to OK Library Cards as Valid ID

U.S. District Court Judge Kevin H. Sharp yesterday shot down an attempt by the City of Memphis to force the Shelby County Election Commission to accept library photo ID cards as valid identification for voting. The election commission, at State Election Coordinator Mark Goins' direction, has refused to accept the library cards. Sharp said he agreed with Memphis officials' concerns that the new photo ID requirement makes it more difficult to vote but said he's "not convinced that the city fixed the problem" by having the public library issue photo ID cards. A full hearing on the issue is set for Aug. 2 before U.S. District Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger. Read more in the Commercial Appeal

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.

00 - TN Supreme Court
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
08 - TN Court of Appeals
05 - 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 Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Frederick R. Baker, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Nissan North America, Inc., and Ace American Insurance Company.

R. Steven Waldron, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Bratten Hale Cook, II, Smithville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tommy W. House.

Judge: KURTZ

The employee alleged that he suffered a compensable injury to his right shoulder in July 2008. His employer contended that the employee’s complaints were a continuation of a February 2006 injury to the same shoulder which was the subject of an earlier settlement. In the alternative, the employer contended that any award of benefits should be limited to one-and-one-half times the anatomical impairment in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(A), because the employee resigned in April 2010 pursuant to a voluntary buyout program. The trial court found that the employee had sustained a new injury in July 2008 and that his resignation was reasonably related to the work injury, and therefore, the lower cap did not apply. A judgment awarding benefits was entered, and the employer has appealed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Mitchell Jeffrey Ferguson, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alason Margaret B.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Joshua Davis Baker, Assistant Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.


Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights and argues that the trial court erred in deciding the termination action while a de novo appeal of a dependency and neglect action was pending in circuit court. Finding no error in the actions of the trial court, we affirm.

CORRECTION: On page 1, the name of the trial judge has been changed from C. L. Rogers to J. Mark Rogers

Court: TN Court of Appeals


John P. Doyle, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Martin Duane Luplow.

John Isaac Harris, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Barry W. Bethel.


This is an appeal of a jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff in an action for misrepresentation and breach of contract. The jury returned a general verdict finding Defendant liable and awarding Plaintiff $62,083.18 in compensatory damages. Defendant appeals, asserting that the elements of misrepresentation are not supported by the evidence and that the jury was improperly instructed on the issue of damages. We hold there is substantial and material evidence in support of a finding that Defendant breached the contract between the parties and affirm the jury’s verdict in all respects.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Stella M. Kamoni, self-represented appellant.

Charles Wesley Fowler, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brooklyn Style Leasing, Inc.


The order appealed is not a final judgment and therefore we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Donald N. Capparella, Amy J. Farrar, Jeffery Shane Roberts, and Jonathan Levoy Griffith, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellants, Ulysses Durham, III, a minor, by next friend, Ulysses Durham, Jr., and Kimberly Durham.

Richard W. Rucker, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Appellee, John Noble and the City of Murfreesboro.


This appeal arises out of a lawsuit brought by the parents of a minor child who was struck by a school bus while riding his bicycle. The matter proceeded to a bench trial, and the trial court found that the child was 58% percent at fault for the accident and that the defendants were 42% at fault; judgment was entered in favor of the defendants. Plaintiffs appeal. The trial court’s finding that the child was negligent was proper, and the evidence does not preponderate against the court’s allocation of fault between the parties; the judgment is affirmed in all respects.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Donald Earl Johnson, Memphis, Tennessee, pro se

Lewis W. Lyons, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Calvary Colony


Plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit in the General Sessions Court. Following a trial, judgment was entered in favor of Defendant. Plaintiff then attempted to raise his claim in Circuit Court, but the Circuit Court dismissed his claim on the basis of res judicata, finding no evidence that he had appealed the adverse General Sessions judgment to Circuit Court. Plaintiff then filed a Notice of Appeal to this Court. Because Plaintiff’s Notice of Appeal to this Court is untimely, the appeal is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Barrett T. Painter, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Thomas L. Lane.

Joshua H. Jenne, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wanda S. Lane.


This post-divorce appeal concerns the classification and division of property, namely a products liability settlement and a pension plan. Following the grant of the parties’ request for divorce, the trial court classified the proceeds of the settlement and the portion of the pension earned during the marriage as marital property. The court held that husband had dissipated the settlement proceeds without wife’s knowledge or consent. The court awarded husband the pension but awarded wife a judgment of $27,520.97 to equalize the division. Husband appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James Massengale, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Pamela Lorch, Senior Counsel; for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Probation and Parole.


Appellant is a prisoner challenging a decision of the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole. After the Board denied him parole, the appellant filed a common law writ of certiorari in the trial court. The trial court denied the appellant’s discovery motions and dismissed his petition with prejudice. We find no error in the trial court’s decision.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Darren V. Berg, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eugene Wilkerson.

Glenna W. Overton, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Claude W. McCoy & Helen B. McCoy.


The appellees claim ownership to two tracts of land listed as parcels 4.00 and 4.01 on the Union County Tax Map. They assert ownership through adverse possession as a result of members of their family allegedly farming and paying taxes on the parcels since 1917. The appellant was a bona fide purchaser of parcel 4.00 in 2003. The appellees filed a complaint to quiet title to determine ownership of the land; the appellant countered with a complaint for a declaratory judgment. The trial court consolidated the actions and concluded that the appellees held title to the parcels by adverse possession. The appellant appeals. We reverse.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Claiborne H. Ferguson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Gooding.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Susan Taylor, Assistant District Attorney General; and Edith Sellerd, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


After a jury trial, Defendant Michael Gooding was convicted of third offense driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI). The trial court sentenced him to serve 160 days in the county workhouse. Defendant’s sole issue on appeal is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction of DUI. We affirm the conviction of DUI, third offense, but remand for entry of a corrected judgment setting forth the correct sentence of 11 months and 29 days, with all but 160 days suspended for DUI, third offense, and for designation that counts 1, 2, and 4 are merged with count 3.

CORRECTION: Trial Court Number Corrected

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Carter S. Moore, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Debra Elaine Moore Kirk.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; James B. Dunn, District Attorney General; and Amanda H. Inman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Debra Elaine Moore Kirk, stands convicted of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony, and aggravated child abuse, a Class A felony. The trial court sentenced her as a Range I, standard offender to an effective sentence of 25 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In a previous appeal, this court ruled that the defendant waived all issues other than sufficiency of the evidence by failing to file a timely motion for new trial and affirmed the judgments of the trial court. See State v. Debra Elaine Moore, No. E2007-00533-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Knoxville, June 23, 2008). A postconviction court granted post-conviction relief in the form of a delayed appeal. In this appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by allowing certain testimony from the medical examiner and that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions. Our previous determination that the evidence was sufficient to support the defendant’s convictions is the law of the case, and we do not consider this issue. Following our review of the remaining issues, we conclude that the trial court committed no reversible error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kenneth Rich, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; and C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Kenneth Rich, appeals from the habeas corpus trial court’s order dismissing, without an evidentiary hearing, the petition for writ of habeas corpus relief filed by Petitioner. After reviewing the entire record, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jeffrey A. DeVasher and Jason Gichner (on appeal) and Laura J. Getz and Laura C. Dykes (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, L. B. Rittenberry, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Robert Elliott McGuire and Joel Crim, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, L. B. Rittenberry, Jr., of second degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty years to be served at one hundred percent. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction; (2) the trial court should have granted his motion to suppress his statements; (3) the trial court erred by allowing the State to refer to the deceased as “the victim”; and (4) his sentence is excessive. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


B. Jeffrey Harmon, District Public Defender; and Philip A. Condra, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Steven Wayne Wilson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steve Strain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Sequatchie County Circuit Court jury convicted the defendant, Steven Wayne Wilson, of first degree felony murder, see T.C.A. § 39-13-202(a)(2), and especially aggravated burglary, see id. § 39-14-404. Following the jury’s verdicts, the trial court modified the especially aggravated burglary conviction to aggravated burglary by operation of law, see id. § 39-14- 404(d), and imposed an effective sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole, also by operation of law, see id. § 39-13-208(c). On appeal, the defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the trial court erroneously denied his motion to suppress, (3) the trial court erroneously admitted and excluded evidence during Agent Mark Wilson’s testimony, (4) the trial court erroneously admitted expert testimony via an unqualified witness, (5) the State failed to disclose exculpatory evidence, (6) the trial court erroneously instructed the jury regarding the elements of felony murder as charged in this case, (7) the trial court’s rulings and comments evinced judicial bias requiring recusal, (8) the trial court erroneously excluded as hearsay the statements of two witnesses, (9) the trial court erroneously admitted the autopsy report as an exhibit at trial, (10) the trial court erroneously admitted physical evidence without establishing a proper chain of custody, (11) the overall conduct of the trial deprived the defendant of his right to a fair trial under the Tennessee Constitution, and (12) the cumulative effect of the trial errors deprived the defendant of his right to a fair trial. Following an extensive review, we determine that the evidence is sufficient to support the convictions and that the trial court committed no reversible error. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

State Again Calls for Blackwood Recusal

The state on Tuesday filed a new motion asking Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to recuse himself from retrials in the Christian-Newsom murders case. The state made its first recusal motion on June 4. It has based its arguments on concerns about Blackwood’s impartiality, citing reports that he demonstrated "remarkable anger" in a June 14 hearing on the first recusal motion, and admitted he had become an advocate instead of a judge in the case of several defendants whose trials may have been tainted by the unethical conduct of former Judge Richard Baumgartner. WATE has more

Chancellor Was Ready to Block Mosque Construction

If a federal judge had not overturned a partial injunction barring the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro from opening, Chancellor Robert Corlew III would have halted completion of the mosque, according to court documents filed last week. According to these documents, Corlew said he was preparing to order officials with the Rutherford County Building Codes Department to immediately stop construction of the center “for the reason that the structure is being built without a valid site plan…” Now that the federal court has asserted jurisdiction, the local court has suspended its involvement. Learn more in the Murfreesboro Post

Shelby Co. Launches Veterans' Court

A newly established veterans' court in Shelby County will help veterans navigate the criminal justice system if they find themselves facing charges, says county mayor Mark Luttrell. According to the Commercial Appeal, the court will provide a comprehensive approach that coordinates criminal justice processes with services from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Only non-violent defendants will be referred the program, which the county will spend $60,000 a year to support. Shelby County officials will discuss the new court and how it will work at a session tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. in the Division 7 General Sessions Courtroom, located at 201 Poplar.

Public Education Committee Meets Friday

The TBA Public Education Committee, under the leadership of chair Tasha Blakney, is meeting in Nashville this weekend to develop a long-range plan for implementation and coordination of civics and public education programs offered by the TBA. The group will assess the effectiveness of current programs, review proposals for the addition of new programs and make plans to implement Law Rules, an initiative adopted from the Memphis Bar Association by TBA President Jackie Dixon. For more information about the committee or the programs offered by the TBA contact staff member Sarah Hayman or visit the committee's web page.

Clark in Michigan for LSC Board Meeting

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Cornelia Clark joined three other state chief justices yesterday on a panel at the University of Michigan Law School to discuss the role legal aid plays in safeguarding the fair administration of justice. The event was held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Board of Directors. The meeting continues through the week with sessions on innovative solutions to domestic violence and a keynote address by former ABA President Dennis W. Archer. Read more from the LSC

Disbarred Attorney Involved in Snipes Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Sumner County attorney John Pierce Brownlee Jr. earlier this month for participating in a fraudulent business that encouraged clients to avoid paying taxes. Now news has surfaced that Brownlee’s clientele included action movie superstar Wesley Snipes, who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for failure to file income tax returns. Brownlee was convicted in January 2008 for conspiring to defraud and interfere with the Internal Revenue Service, which caused tax losses of up to $10 million. The Tennesseam has more

Contributors Sought for New LGBT Publication

The American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and the National LGBT Bar Association are seeking contributors for an upcoming anthology, OUT and ABOUT: The LGBT Experience in the Profession. The purpose of the publication is to share the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) attorneys, academics and jurists in an effort to educate the legal profession and the general public about this diverse group, its contributions and its struggles. The book will be published through ABA Publishing with a fall target publication date. Interested individuals should contact Robin Rone, director of the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at robin.rone@americanbar.org. The email should include the individual’s contact information and a brief biography.

TBI Investigates Rhea County Voting Issues

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed Wednesday it has launched a probe into whether Rhea County election officials illegally stopped several individuals from voting in the 31st House District Republican primary. The county election administrator said she and other officials did nothing wrong when they blocked known Democrats from voting in the primary, suspecting an orchestrated campaign for crossover voting in the race. The TBI investigation comes at the request of District Attorney General Mike Taylor. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Tennessee law provides an "open primary" system but allows officials to exclude a voter if the person is “deemed not to be a ‘bona fide’ member of the party.”

Memphis Law Seeking Tenure-Track Faculty

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is seeking applications for up to two tenure-track faculty positions. Current needs fall in the areas of evidence and civil procedure, as well as other subjects. Interested individuals should submit applications online at workforum.memphis.edu, by email to to kusmani@memphis.edu or by mail to Katharine Traylor Schaffzin, Chair of the Faculty Recruitment Committee, Attn: Karol Landers, The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, 1 N. Front Street, Memphis 38103. The screening of applications may begin as early as August and will continue until the positions are filled. Read more about the school


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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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