Appeals Court Approves Voter ID Law, Library Cards

The state Court of Appeals this afternoon upheld the constitutionality of Tennessee's voter-photo identification law and ordered that new photo library cards issued in Memphis be accepted for voting by otherwise qualified, registered voters. According to the Commercial Appeal, the order is a partial victory for the City of Memphis. While its new library cards were approved for voting purposes, the city also had sought to have the underlying law ruled unconstitutional on grounds that it added a qualification for voting beyond the four listed in the Tennessee Constitution. The court disagreed with that reasoning, finding that the constitution gives the legislature authority to enact laws to "protect the purity of the ballot box." Download the appeals court’s opinion and order to remand

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
07 - 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 Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jessica Abeyta, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Dixie W. Cooper, James C. Sperring, and Brian D. Cummings, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Parthenon Pavilion of Centennial Medical Center.


This is an involuntary commitment case, in which we are asked to review the trial court’s grant of Appellee/Hospital’s motion to dismiss. The trial court found that all of the claims asserted in Appellant/Patient’s complaint sounded in medical malpractice. Because Appellant failed to provide a certificate of good faith as required under the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-26-115, et seq. (“TMMA”), the trial court granted Appellee’s motion to dismiss. Appellant argues that not all of her stated claims sound in medical malpractice. We affirm the dismissal of Appellant’s claim asserting a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, we conclude that Appellant has stated a claim for medical battery, as well as a claim for negligence per se arising from alleged violations of the involuntary commitment statutes. Moreover, because Appellant’s negligence per se claims survive the motion to dismiss, she may also maintain the false imprisonment and invasion of privacy claims. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Nick Perenich, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Candace C.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Shanta J. Murray, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Laura Stewart, Nashville, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem.


Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to two children. Mother’s rights were terminated on grounds of abandonment by failure to support the children within four months prior to her incarceration and wanton disregard for the children’s welfare, substantial noncompliance with permanency plans, and persistence of conditions. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jon S. Jablonski, Nashville, Tennessee for the Defendant/Appellant Daniel Adam Barnes

Jennifer Noe and Lynn Newcomb, Ashland City, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellee Chelsea Samantha Barnes

Judge: KIRBY

This is a divorce appeal. The parties were married for two years and had one minor child. At the time of the divorce trial, both parties were unemployed. The trial court adopted the mother’s proposed parenting plan in its entirety, based on its review of the child support history. It awarded minimal alimony and calculated child support by imputing income to the father but not to the mother. The father appeals. We affirm the award of alimony, vacate the parenting plan and the award of child support, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


George E. Barrett and Douglas S. Johnston, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee; Herman Morris, Jr. and Regina Morrison Newman, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, City of Memphis, Daphne Turner-Golden, and Sullistine Bell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Steven A. Hart, Special Counsel; and Janet M. Kleinfelter, Deputy Attorney General; Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Tre Hargett, Secretary of State; Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General; and Mark Goins, State Coordinator of Elections.


The City of Memphis and two persons who had to cast provisional ballots in the August 2012 election because they lacked sufficient photographic identification filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to have the photographic identification requirement for voting declared unconstitutional, or to have the Memphis library photographic identification card declared sufficient identification for purposes of the voting law. The trial court found that the plaintiffs did not have standing, that the photographic identification requirement was constitutional and that the Memphis library photographic identification card was not acceptable under the law as sufficient identification for voting. The plaintiffs appealed. We find that the plaintiffs have standing, that the law is constitutional and that the Memphis library photographic identification card is acceptable under the law as sufficient proof of identification for voting.

CORRECTION: On page nine of the opinion, within the last sentence of the second full paragraph, "poperty" has been changed to "property"

Court: TN Court of Appeals


W. Gary Blackburn and C. Dewees Berry, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jane Field.

Robb S. Harvey, Heather J. Hubbard and Mark M. Bell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, The Ladies’ Hermitage Association.


This is the second round in a long-running dispute over the provisions in a warranty deed conveying historic Tulip Grove to the Ladies Hermitage Association (LHA). In the deed LHA agreed to make certain payments to the grantor and her heirs. In a prior appeal this Court affirmed the chancellor’s ruling that the property did not revert to the heirs so long as LHA paid the heirs at least $600 every six months. On remand the chancellor held that LHA did not have an implied obligation to keep the property open for paid tours and that LHA did not have to share with the heirs the income derived from renting the property for special events. We affirm the chancellor on the implied obligation and reverse the holding on the heirs’ right to a portion of the special event income.

S.A.M.D. v. J.P.D.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Drayton D. Berkley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant S.A.M.D.

Vickie Hardy Jones, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee J.P.D.

Judge: KIRBY

This post-divorce proceeding involves modification of the primary residential parent designation and contempt. The final decree of divorce designated the mother as the child’s primary residential parent. Subsequently, the mother was found in criminal contempt for failure to adhere to the parenting plan; her sentence was suspended provided there were no violations of the trial court’s orders. A few months later, the mother was found to have further violated the trial court’s orders. Consequently, the trial court ordered the mother to serve a portion of the suspended jail sentence imposed in the prior contempt order. In addition, the trial court held that a substantial and material change in circumstances had occurred, and it modified the parties’ parenting plan to designate the father as the primary residential parent. The mother now appeals. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Clayton Michael Cardwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Courtney Anne Thompson.

Gloria Jean Evins, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Robert Harrison Thompson, III.


The trial court declared the parties divorced, reserving the designation of primary residential parent for their nine month-old daughter. After a hearing the court adopted a parenting plan that designated the father as the child’s primary residential parent. The mother argues on appeal that the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard and made a decision contrary to logic and reasoning. We disagree and hold that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings of fact, and that the court did not err in its application of the facts to the relevant legal principles. Therefore, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General, and Leland L. Price, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Kimberly Ann Parton, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Letalvis Cobbins.

David M. Eldridge, Douglas A. Trant, and Loretta G. Cravens, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, LeMaricus Davidson.

W. Thomas Dillard and Stephen Ross Johnson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, George Thomas.


On September 26, 2012, the State of Tennessee, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, section 2.02, appealed the trial court’s order denying its motion to have the trial judge recused or otherwise disqualified from presiding over the three cases at issue in this appeal. After initial review, this Court, pursuant to Rule 10B, section 2.04, stayed all further proceedings in these cases pending resolution of this appeal. Then, in accordance with the mandate of Rule 10B, section 2.06, that this Court act on an expedited basis, this Court, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, section 2.05, requested and received responses from the defendants on October 8, 2012. The issue presented is as follows: Whether a person of ordinary prudence in the trial court’s position, knowing all the facts known to the trial court, would find a reasonable basis for questioning the trial court’s impartiality in these three cases? After a thorough de novo review of the record and relevant authorities, we conclude that the trial court erred in denying the State’s motion for recusal. The judgment of the trial court is reversed, the trial judge is recused, and the stay previously entered in these cases shall remain in effect until the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court appoints a replacement trial judge, or pending further orders of this Court or the Tennessee Supreme Court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender; John Halstead and Robert Edwards, Assistant Public Defenders, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carlos Radale Cornwell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr. Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Carlos Radale Cornwell, appeals his conviction of second degree murder and resulting sentence of thirty-five years. Appellant cites the following errors: (1) the State failed to adequately preserve evidence; (2) the trial court erred in permitting the State’s medical expert to testify beyond the scope of her expertise; (3) the trial court improperly allowed two of the State’s witnesses to testify as experts; (4) the trial court erred in allowing improper testimony of certain lay witnesses; (5) the State improperly argued a theory in its closing argument that was not supported by the evidence; (6) the State failed to provide audio tapes of witness interviews in a timely fashion; (7) the trial court erred by allowing an officer to read aloud the affidavit of complaint supporting a domestic violence warrant taken by the victim against appellant; and (8) the trial court erred in sentencing appellant as a Range II offender and in determining the length of appellant’s sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm appellant’s conviction and sentence.

Nashville ‘Notario Publico’ Shut Down

For 17 years, Martha Salazar operated a business in South Nashville where thousands of Hispanics had immigration papers and other legal documents prepared. This week, Davidson County Judge Amanda McClendon ordered that Salazar pay back customers, pay $4,000 in attorney’s fees and pay $6,000 in civil penalties. So-called “notarios publico” provide low-cost legal assistance, often in immigrant communities. But according to state law, they must post that their services are not provided by a licensed attorney. State officials are asking consumers who have used Salazar’s services to contact the attorney general’s office at (615) 741-1671. Claims for reimbursements must be filed within the next six months. The Tennessean has more

Opening Statements Presented in Baumgartner Trial

Prosecution and defense attorneys gave opening statements this morning in the trial of former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner. According to, U.S. attorneys said they will prove that Baumgartner used his power and influence as a judge to cover up the crimes of his mistress Deena Castleman. They also revealed that Baumgartner's former judicial assistant and court clerk of 15 years will testify against him. The defense said it will explain "honest reasons why Baumgartner said what he said and did what he did" for Castleman. Baumgartner won't deny his pill addiction or the relationship with Castleman, but will fight the allegation that he covered up her involvement in a drug conspiracy.

Judge to Rule on West Memphis 3 Evidence

An Arkansas judge says he plans to rule next week on whether to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the mother of one of three boys killed in 1993. Pam Hicks filed a civil suit in June in hopes of viewing evidence in the slaying of her son and his friends. Three men, known as the West Memphis Three, were convicted in the boys' deaths, but released from prison last year. Hicks is seeking to examine items from the case, including her son's bicycle and clothes. The state argues that physical evidence is not covered by FOIA law and has asked for dismissal of the suit. Hicks also is seeking three affidavits filed in the case last winter. The state argues these documents also are exempt from disclosure laws. The Commercial Appeal reports

Occupy Nashville Sues Haslam, Others

Members of the Occupy Nashville group that camped out on Legislative Plaza last year have filed suit against Gov. Bill Haslam and other Tennessee officials, The City Paper reports. The group claims the state violated their First Amendment rights by limiting "access by the public to a forum universally accepted to be an area protected for the speech of the governed." In addition to Haslam, the suit names Department of General Services Commissioner Steven Cates, Department of Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Tennessee Highway Patrol officers who cleared out protestors. 

Memphis Bar Foundation Awards Grants, Inducts Fellows

The Memphis Bar Foundation recently awarded grants totaling $30,000 to nine non-profit organizations and inducted 42 new fellows. Organizations receiving grants were Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Memphis & Shelby County Inc., Community Legal Center, Exchange Club Family Center, Mediation and Restitution/Reconciliation Services (M.A.R.R.S.), Memphis Area Legal Services, Memphis Bar Association Diversity Committee for the Summer Law Intern Program, National Civil Rights Museum, and the Public Action Law Society at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. See a list of new fellows on the Memphis Bar Association’s website

Baker Donelson Awards Diversity Scholarships

The law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz yesterday announced the recipients of its 2012 Diversity Scholarship. In Tennessee, Willie Santana, a second-year law student at the University of Tennessee College of Law, was selected. He will serve as a summer associate in the firm’s Knoxville office. Established in 2008, the program awards scholarships annually to diverse law school students who have completed their first year of law school. Each recipient receives a salaried summer associate position and a $10,000 scholarship. Read more from the firm

Democratic Party Chair to Step Down

After four years of controversial leadership, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester will not seek re-election to the party's top post, he told The Tennessean today. The move opens the door to new leadership for the party, which has suffered deep losses in both the statehouse and among the state's congressional delegation in recent years. Democrats will elect a new party chair in January. Forrester said he believes the chair should serve a four-year term, not two years, and is proposing a bylaws change to that effect.

Firms Invited to Learn about 'Pillar Law Firm' Program

Law firms in East Tennessee are invited to an informational meeting, sponsored by the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission's Pro Bono Advisory Committee and the Knoxville Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee, to learn more about the "Pillar Law Firm Model" -- a program designed to increase firm involvement in pro bono services. Attendees will hear from Terry Woods, director of the Pro Bono Project for Legal Aid of East Tennessee; Access to Justice Commission Chair Buck Lewis; and representatives from firms who are participating in the program. The event will be held Oct. 30 from 4 to 5:15 p.m., at the University of Tennessee College of Law, Room 237, 1505 W. Cumberland Ave. For more information, contact Wynne du Mariau Caffey.

Conservatorship Training Offered in Memphis

Memphis Area Legal Services will offer conservatorship training for lawyers in Memphis tomorrow at 2 p.m. The session will take place at the offices of International Paper. Please contact Linda Seely at (731) 217-8013 or for more information.

Legal Advice Clinic on Tap in Cookeville

The Legal Aid Society and the Upper Cumberland Young Lawyers Association will provide free legal advice and referrals to low-income individuals Saturday at the Arcade Building, 9 South Jefferson Ave., Suite 102, Cookeville. Contact Rachel Moses at (931) 528-7436 or for details.

Two Clinics Scheduled in East Tennessee

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will hold its regular Knox County Saturday Bar and Blount County Saturday Bar clinics this coming weekend. Both clinics take place from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The Knoxville clinic will take place at the agency’s office at 502 South Gay St., Suite 404. The Blount County clinic will take place at New Hope Blount County Children's Advocacy Center, 212 Cates St., Maryville. Contact Terry Woods at (865) 637-0484 or for details about either event.

Legal and Health Clinic Set for Memphis

Memphis Area Legal Services will provide free legal services in conjunction with the Community Bible Church’s health fair on Saturday. The fair will take place at the Lewis Senior Center, 1188 North Pkwy., Memphis. Please contact Linda Seely at (731) 217-8013 or for more information.

See a list of all Celebrate Pro Bono events across the state


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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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