Judge: No Photo ID Needed to Vote in Pennsylvania

Voters won’t have to show photo ID in Pennsylvania before casting a ballot in November, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled today. He issued a narrow injunction on the deadline day he was given by the state Supreme Court, which will surely hear a second appeal in the nationally watched case before November, the Legal Intelligencer says. Poll workers are allowed to ask for photo ID from voters, but they must allow all qualified electors to cast a ballot regardless of whether or not the voters can show ID, Simpson ruled.

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
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
03 - 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 Court of Appeals

With concurring opinion

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert W. Wilkinson, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Robert Braun, Jr.

Lisa A. White, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Nita Lynn Braun.


This is a post-divorce appeal. Stepfather assumed a parental role over Mother’s child from a previous relationship even though only one child was born of the relationship between the Parties. Following an agreed divorce, the court ordered Stepfather to submit child support for both children. The court reasoned that as a result of Stepfather’s participation in a petition to terminate the biological father’s parental rights to Mother’s child, the Child lost any right to support from his biological father. Stepfather appeals. We reverse the decision of the trial court but remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael S. Shipwash, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Dale England and Barbara England.

B.J. Reed, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Robert England and Alice Mae England.


This case is a property dispute between two brothers regarding the width of a right-of-way that affects both their properties. The plaintiff claims the right-of-way is eight feet wide and the defendant should be prevented from expanding the gravel road that runs along the right-of-way to 25 feet because the expansion would require the plaintiff to remove fences, septic tanks, and other permanent structures. The trial court ruled that the right-of-way created by the brothers’ father was intended to be 25 feet wide. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Lewis Spilman Howard, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Gatlinburg Town Square Condominium II Association, Gatlinburg Square Members Association, Inc., and Mountain Meadows Time Share Owners Association, Inc.

W. Tyler Chastain, Knoxville, Tennessee. for the defendant, Liberte Management Group of the Pinellas Islands.

R. Alexander Johnson, Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Summer Bay Management, L.C., and Summer Bay Partnership.


This Court issued a Show Cause Order setting forth that the Notice of Appeal filed in this case is not "a final judgment adjudicating all the claims, rights and liabilities of the parties"of which "an appeal of right would lie."

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kevin DeWitt Ford, Only, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General, and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


On January 18, 2011, Petitioner, Kevin DeWitt Ford, filed a pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis. He subsequently submitted two amended petitions, also pro se. Petitioner attacked seven convictions in the Davidson County Criminal Court for aggravated robbery. Petitioner pled guilty to the offenses but reserved for appeal a certified question of law. On appeal, this court affirmed the convictions. State of Tennessee v. Kevin DeWitt Ford and Clifford Sylvester Wright, No. M2003-00957-CCA-R3-CD, 2005 WL 677280 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 23, 2005) perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Oct. 24, 2005). Petitioner’s post-conviction relief petition was denied by the trial court. This Court affirmed. Kevin DeWitt Ford v. State of Tennessee, No. M2007-01727-CCA-R3-PC, 2009 WL 564226 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 5, 2009) perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 15, 2009). The coram nobis court dismissed the petition, as amended, without an evidentiary hearing, on two bases. First, the petition was filed outside the applicable statue of limitations. Second, even if the petition had been timely field, it did not state a cognizable claim for a writ of error coram nobis. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Karen McDonald, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Pete C. Jenkins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Amy Eisenbeck, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


On March 31, 1994, the petitioner entered a plea of nolo contendere to two counts of aggravated rape, a Class A felony, and was sentenced as a Range I offender to fifteen years for each count. The plea agreement required the sentences to be served consecutively. The petitioner brought a petition for the writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to impose consecutive sentences and that the judgments were consequently void. The trial court denied the petition. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Caesar Cirigliano, Nashville, Tennessee, and Lee Sprouse, Nashville, TN for the appellant, William Thomas Mayers.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Robert Homlar, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


After a trial by jury, the defendant was found guilty of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, attempted aggravated burglary, a Class D felony, and theft of property over $500, a Class E felony. He was sentenced to a total effective sentence of 25 years. On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred by (1) denying his motion to dismiss his indictment or suppress testimony regarding destroyed evidence; (2) allowing the State to present certain photographs taken of the defendant, on grounds that they were not properly authenticated; and (3) ordering him to serve his sentence on the attempted aggravated burglary consecutively to his sentence for aggravated burglary because both crimes should have been considered part of the same criminal episode. We conclude that the defendant has waived the first claim by virtue of his failure to prepare an adequate brief and record and that the trial court did not err by allowing admitting the photographs and ordering consecutive sentences. We affirm the judgments of the trial court accordingly.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Andrew M. Freiburg, Cleveland, Tennessee (on appeal), and G. Scott Kanavos, Cleveland, Tennessee (at trial), for appellant, Oscar E. Ochoa. Matthew C. Rogers, Athens, Tennessee, for the appellant, Beatriz Ochoa.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Steven Bebb, District Attorney General; and Dallas Scott, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendants, Oscar E. Ochoa and Beatriz Ochoa, were indicted by the Bradley County Grand Jury for possession of between 10 and 70 pounds of marijuana with intent to sell. Defendants filed applications for Rule 9 interlocutory appeal seeking our review of the trial court’s ruling that the State did not abuse its discretion when the Assistant District Attorney General denied Defendants’ applications for pretrial diversion. Defendants’ cases were consolidated on appeal. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we conclude that the trial court properly affirmed the State’s denial of pretrial diversion. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Judge, Lawyers Work on Jury Pool for Baumgartner Trial

Former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner wants a jury selected from East Tennessee for his Oct. 23 trial, the News Sentinel reports. But U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer warned that he would not delay the upcoming trial more than a week or so should a jury not be seated in Knoxville. Baumgartner's lawyers and assistant U.S. attorneys met Monday in Greer's Greeneville courtroom to hammer out details of the trial. Greer said he will summon 100 potential jurors in hopes of having a large enough pool to ferret out those prejudiced by the media coverage of both Baumgartner's misdeeds and the resulting chaos in the Knox County judicial system. Baumgartner's lawyers are asking Greer to require potential jurors to submit answers in advance of the trial to a detailed questionnaire that asks them, among other things, whether they've ever been involved in a divorce situation. Greer's response: "That's awfully personal."

Justice Grant Will Help Courts, Police in Jackson

The Jackson City Council voted unanimously today to approve the 2012 Justice Assistance Grant for Jackson and Madison County. Jackson Police Department Capt. Gerry Campbell said the city and county would split the federally funded grant, which is about $54,000. The county will use its half to enhance court security, while city police will put the funds toward tablet computers.

3 Sentenced in Clean Air Act Violation

Three men who conspired to violate the Clean Air Act when they demolished, without taking precautions, a Chattanooga factory containing large amounts of asbestos, were sentenced Monday in federal court. U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier sentenced David Wood, James Mathis and Donald Fillers and the Watkins Street Project LLC for their roles in the conspiracy. They were sentenced between 18 and 48 months and required to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines and restitution. “These sentences send a strong message that criminal violations of environmental laws designed to protect human health from exposure to hazardous substances, such as asbestos, will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Killian. NewsChannel9 reports

High Court Will Not Hear Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal in a lawsuit over the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission's makeup. The plaintiffs filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in 2010, challenging sections of the Iowa Constitution and state code. They argued that the system excludes Iowa voters from participation in the election of the elected attorney members of the state Judicial Nominating Commission; that it denies voters the right to equal participation in the selection of state Supreme Court justices; and that it denies voters the right to vote for the elected attorney members of the commission. The judicial commission is given the power to select the nominees for vacant positions on both the state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. The governor then chooses one of the commission's three nominees. Learn more from LegalNewsLine.com

Legal Clinic at Martha O'Bryan Center on Wednesday

The Nashville Pro Bono Program, with lawyers from Walker, Tipps & Malone PLC, will provide advice and referral to people with low incomes at a Wednesday legal clinic at the Martha O'Bryan Center, 711 South 7th St., in Nashville. The event is 9 a.m. to noon. For more information contact Lucinda Smith at the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands.

Pikeville Event for Seniors Wednesday

An education and outreach program will be offered for seniors at noon Wednesday in Pikeville. The event will be sponsored by the Legal Aid Society of East Tennessee. For details, contact Charlie McDaniel. See all the events planned for Celebrate Pro Bono Month

Rep. Cobb Indicted, Arrested for Assault

State Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, was arrested today after a Rhea County grand jury indicted him on Monday, the Times Free Press reports. He is charged with assault in connection with an election-day incident on Aug. 2. Cobb is scheduled to appear for a Friday hearing in Circuit Court.

ABA President to Keynote Nashville Economic Event

American Bar Association President Laurel Bellows will keynote the Nashville 2012 Economic Summit on Women on Oct. 22 and appear at a reception the night before. The Summit is sponsored by the Tennessee Economic Council on Women, and will be held at the Nashville Airport Marriott. Bellows will join two other headliners: Lilly Ledbetter, responsible for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and Deb Sofield, an executive speech and presentation coach. For information, contact Jane Powers.

Health Law Programs Offer Range of Information

The TBA's Health Law Primer is Wednesday, followed by the 24th annual Health Law Forum on Thursday and Friday. The Primer will provide a general health law overview, while the Forum will include more in-depth information, including a discussion of the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, presentations on hospital-physician integration models, contracting with health care software vendors from the provider's perspective, monitoring compliance, updates on the Stark law, and much more. Register here

Candidate Says He Was Not Threatening the President

Brad Staats, the Republican nominee challenging U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper in the 5th Congressional District election, is on the U.S. Secret Service's radar after making a Facebook post that some construed to be a threat to President Obama. Under a photo of a semi-automatic pistol on his Facebook page, the candidate explained his views on Second Amendment rights in part by saying, "Here is something that I usually have with me. Welcome to Tennessee Mr. Obama.” Staats says he was not threatening the president. The Tennessean has more

Chattanooga Attorney Suspended

The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed on Sept. 27 the Hamilton County Chancery Court and a 45-day suspension for Chattanooga attorney Fred T. Hanzelik. The discipline was originally imposed by a hearing panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility. Hanzelik was suspended for attempting to bill a client twice for the same legal service, failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, failing to adequately communicate with a client, charging an unreasonable fee, and failing to respond to inquiries from the board. Download the BPR's 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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