3 Make Short List for 30th District Vacancy

Three candidates were chosen today for the 30th Judicial District Criminal Court vacancy when the Judicial Nominating Commission met in Memphis. They are:

• John W. Campbell, deputy district attorney general, 30th Judicial District;
• Dean Thomas DeCandia, special assistant U.S. attorney, Western District of Tennessee; and
• Lawrence J. Laurenzi, federal prosecutor, Western District of Tennessee.

The vacancy was created by the appointment of Criminal Court Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. as U.S. District Court judge for Western Tennessee. The list of three candidates, who are all of Memphis, now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam for a decision. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more

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
00 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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

You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer.

TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, the State of Tennessee.

James Bryan Lewis, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wayne Donaldson.

Judge: WADE

An officer stopped the defendant for a traffic violation. When the officer ordered the defendant out of his vehicle to sign the citation, he observed what appeared to be a bag of cocaine on the floorboard of the driver’s side. Charged with possession with intent to sell or deliver twenty-six grams or more of cocaine in a school zone, the defendant moved to suppress the evidence as the product of an unlawful seizure. The trial court sustained the motion, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. This Court granted the State’s application for permission to appeal. Because an officer, after making a lawful stop for a traffic violation, may routinely direct the driver outside of the vehicle, the order of suppression is reversed, and the cause is remanded for trial.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Sean H. Muizers (on appeal) and Eran E. Julian (at post-conviction hearing), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chris Brown.

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


The Petitioner, Chris Brown, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, and being a felon in possession of a handgun, for which he is serving an effective twenty-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his guilty pleas were not knowingly, voluntarily, and understandingly made. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Matthew J. Sweeney, Gary C. Shockley and John S. Hicks, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner, Christopher A. Davis

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General and Thomas B. Thurman and Katrin N. Miller, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Respondent, State of Tennessee


The Davidson County Criminal Court denied the Petitioner, Christopher A. Davis, postconviction relief from his convictions on two counts of first degree murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of especially aggravated robbery, but granted relief from his sentence of death and ordered a new capital sentencing hearing. The Petitioner appeals the denial of a new trial and the State appeals the granting of a new sentencing hearing. Having discerned no error, we affirm the order of the trial court.

Judge: TVA Negligent, Responsible for Massive Spill

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Varlan ruled on Thursday that the Tennessee Valley Authority was responsible for a massive coal ash spill at its Kingston facility in 2008. He said the TVA should have investigated and remedied problems at the site prior to the "catastrophic failure." Total cleanup costs, which are ongoing, are estimated to exceed $1 billion. Varlan said in a written opinion that the TVA was negligent in its conduct and will be liable for damages that will have to be proven in the next phase of the ongoing lawsuits. Related litigation involves more than 60 cases and more than 800 plaintiffs. ABC News has more

Torture-Slaying Defendant Seeking U.S. Supreme Court Review

Knoxville defense attorneys Tom Dillard and Stephen Ross Johnson are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal on behalf of their client, George Thomas, to decide whether former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was able at the time to deliver a constitutionally sound trial. Thomas is one of four defendants convicted in the January 2007 Christian-Newsom torture-slayings. The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that Baumgartner's misdeeds are not cause for new trials in the case, rejecting the defendants' claim of "structural" or constitutional error. Thomas believes the state high court was wrong to reject the "structural error" argument and is asking the nation's top court to weigh in. The News Sentinel has more

Lawyers Take Cases Pro Bono To Keep Steelman's Court Moving

A group of Chattanooga attorneys volunteered to take cases pro bono today in Judge Barry Steelman's Criminal Courtroom so that a backlog would not increase further until multiple recusal motions by Public Defender Ardena Garth are dealt with. Garth was in the courtroom continuing to step aside on all new cases, saying in an earlier motion that Judge Steelman has been "venomous" toward her office. Steelman has set a hearing for Monday afternoon on the recusal motions. The Chattanoogan has the update

Application for New Judgeship Out Next Week

There will be an Oct. 1 deadline to apply for the recently created Washington County Sessions Court judgeship, and the application should be ready for distribution Aug. 27, according to Legal Services Committee Chairman Doyle Cloyd. The position is intended to ease the growing case load on the two current judges, James Nidiffer and Robert Lincoln. Read more in the Johnson City Press

Court: Graphic Images on Cigarette Warnings Violate Speech Rights

Federal rules that require graphic warning images on cigarette packages were struck down today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, on the basis that the mandates violate corporate speech rights, ABAJournal.com reports. Writing for the majority, Judge Janice Rogers Brown found in favor of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, saying that the case raises “novel questions” about what the government can require in commercial disclosures.

Summerville Booted as Chair for Comments to Black Caucus

State Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, doesn’t “give a rat’s ass what the black caucus thinks.” That is what he told Memphis state Rep. Barbara Cooper via email Wednesday in response to her report from the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators criticising the probe of a state university for changing students’ grades. Response was swift on Thursday, TNReport says, when Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham stripped Summerville of his chairmanship on the Higher Education Subcommittee. On Friday, Summerville resigned from the Senate Education Committee, the Commercial Appeal reports and Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, said Friday that he has been asked to take over as chairman of the subcommittee, the Tennessean reports in its In Session blog.

Lawmakers Question Campus Gun and Knife Rules

Revisions to the University of Tennessee student conduct rules has sparked concern among some legislators who questioned rules banning guns and most knives with blades three inches or longer. The revamped rules also add some new provisions, such as a prohibition on surreptitiously recording another student when he or she has a "reasonable expectation of privacy." Under state law, the legislature must sign off on all new rules promulgated by state agencies. The Government Operations Committee this week gave its OK, but the rules will go before the full general assembly early next year, the News Sentinel reports.

Legal Clinic Partnership Set in Chattanooga

Legal Aid of East Tennessee has partnered with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and the law firm Miller & Martin to offer a free legal advice clinic on Sept.13, at 2 p.m., at the downtown office of BlueCross Blueshield, 1 Cameron Hill Circle, Chattanooga 37402. Individuals interested in meeting with a lawyer for free legal advice at this clinic should call Legal Aid of East Tennessee at 423 756-4013.

Clarksville Lawyer Suspended

Clarksville lawyer Christopher Wayne Barber was summarily and temporarily suspended on Aug. 16 for failing to respond to a complaint of misconduct. The suspension remains in effect until dissolution or modification by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Download the BPR notice


Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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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