State to Appeal Part of Voter ID Ruling

The decision to allow library cards as proof of identity for Memphis voters is being challenged in the Tennessee Supreme Court, The Commercial Appeal reports. State election officials said they planned to ask the court today to overturn the portion of Thursday's Court of Appeals ruling that ordered the Shelby County Election Commission to begin accepting photo ID cards issued by the county library as proof of identification for voting. Following the ruling, the secretary of state directed the Shelby County administrator of elections to allow properly registered voters who present the library photo ID to vote, but said they should be given provisional ballots, which could be disqualified if the Supreme Court stays or overturns the decision. Officials in Memphis pointed out, however, that the appeals court made no mention of provisional ballots. 

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
01 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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

CORRECTION: Pursuant to Rehear Order filed 10-26-2012, corrections to the opinion appear on pages two (2), four (4) and thirteen (13), resulting in pagination change.

Court: TN Supreme Court


William J. Brown, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellants, Rondal Akers, Jr. and Lucinda Akers.

Stuart F. James, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, T. Ray Brent Marsh.

Judge: LEE

Dr. Rondal D. Akers, Jr. and Lucinda Akers sued T. Ray Brent Marsh for the alleged mishandling of their deceased son’s body, which had been sent to Mr. Marsh’s crematorium for cremation. Following a jury verdict for the Akerses, the trial court entered judgment against Mr. Marsh based on the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim but granted his motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the Akerses’ Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and bailment claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed. We hold the trial court did not err in (1) holding Mr. Marsh liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress in the amount of the jury verdict; (2) instructing the jury that they were permitted to draw a negative inference resulting from Mr. Marsh’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege during questioning; and (3) dismissing the TCPA and bailment claims. The judgments of the trial court and the Court of Appeals are affirmed.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Margaret Beebe Held, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Philip Wayne Hamby.

Danny C. Garland, II, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Myra Renee Wheeler.


This appeal arises from a petition for contempt related to an underlying divorce judgment. Philip Wayne Hamby (“Hamby”) and Myra Renee Wheeler (“Wheeler”) were divorced by decree of the Circuit Court for Knox County (“the Trial Court”). As part of the terms of the divorce, Hamby was required to turn over to Wheeler a publishing company (“the Business”) the two then owned. Wheeler later filed a motion for contempt alleging that Hamby had failed to pay certain necessary taxes on the Business and should be responsible for that tax debt. Wheeler also alleged that, because of the resulting tax lien, the Business was encumbered and Hamby, therefore, owed alimony arrears pursuant to the Trial Court’s divorce judgment. The Trial Court held Hamby responsible for the IRS tax debt, and also ordered him to pay back alimony. Hamby appeals. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court in its entirety.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James A. H. Bell and Ed Holt, , Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Lee Gibson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; and Al Schmutzer, Jr., District Attorney General Pro Tem; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

In 2007, pursuant to a plea agreement, the Knox County Criminal Court sentenced appellant, Christopher Lee Gibson, to an effective four-year sentence for aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. The trial court suspended the sentence and placed appellant on probation. The court subsequently issued a probation violation warrant alleging that appellant violated the terms of his probation by committing the new offense of possessing a handgun after having been convicted of a felony. Appellant pled guilty, without a recommended sentence, to committing the new offense and stipulated that he had violated the terms of his probation. Following a combined hearing to determine his sentence for the handgun charge and the outcome of his probation violation, the trial court revoked appellant’s probation and ordered that he serve the four-year sentence in confinement. The trial court also ordered appellant to serve a sentence of two years for unlawful possession of a handgun concurrently with his original four-year sentence. Appellant contests the trial court’s revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the original four-year sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Thomas Edward Kotewa, Pikeville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; David S. Clark, District Attorney General; and Sandra N. C. Donaghy, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Thomas Edward Kotewa, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for DNA testing pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001, alleging that DNA testing of clothing he was wearing at the time of the murder to which he pleaded guilty and testing of the murder weapon would have supported his position of self-defense. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition. Perceiving no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Lorraine Wade (at trial), and Patrick T. McNally (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Natayna Daemarie McCullough.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Kimberly L. Fields Cooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Natayna Daemarie McCullough, was convicted by a Maury County jury of facilitation of attempted especially aggravated robbery, a Class C felony. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed the maximum six-year term and denied judicial diversion or any form of alternative sentencing. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges (1) the sufficiency of the evidence; (2) several evidentiary rulings, including an alleged Brady violation and limitations on two witnesses’ testimony; and (3) various sentencing determinations, including the imposition of the maximum sentence, and the denial of judicial diversion or any other form of alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Sally A. Goade, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); Richard A. Tate, Assistant Public Defender (at trial); and Ashley Daniel, Blountville, Tennessee (at motion for new trial hearing), for the appellant, Martin J. McMurray.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and Brandon Haren, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Martin J. McMurray, was convicted by a Sullivan County Circuit Court jury of driving a lawnmower while under the influence (“DUI”), a Class A misdemeanor; violation of an habitual traffic offender order (“HMVO”), a Class E felony; driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol concentration over .08% (“DUI per se”), a Class A misdemeanor; and DUI, sixth offense, a Class E felony. The trial court merged the DUI and DUI per se convictions into the DUI, sixth offense, conviction and sentenced the defendant to three years on that conviction. The trial court sentenced the defendant to three years for the HMVO conviction, to be served consecutively to the DUI, sixth offense, conviction for an effective sentence of six years in the Department of Correction as a Range II, multiple offender. The trial court further ordered that the sentences be served concurrently with a violation of probation in another case. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for DUI; (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and at the motion for new trial; (3) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a continuance; (4) the trial court imposed an excessive sentence; and (5) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for recusal. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paul K. Guibao and Matthew S. Lyons (on appeal); Samuel Perkins (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Corey Noland.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Kevin Rardin and Stacy McEndree, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Shelby County jury convicted appellant, Corey Noland, of false imprisonment, a Class A misdemeanor; domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor; bribery of a witness, a Class C felony; two counts of coercion of a witness, Class D felonies; and aggravated stalking, a Class E felony. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of eighteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Appellant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in applying sentence enhancement factors; and (3) the trial court erred in allowing the State to engage in “vindictive prosecution.” After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Eric Tolley, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia J. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Glen C. Baity, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


Pro se Petitioner, Eric Tolley, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief seeking analysis of certain evidence under the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001 (“The Act”). The Petitioner originally entered guilty pleas to three counts of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of rape of child for which he received an effective sentence of twenty-one years and six months in the Department of Correction. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends the post-conviction court erred in denying his petition without an evidentiary hearing. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Blackwood Removed from Retrial Cases

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals yesterday ordered Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood removed from the retrial cases of three defendants previously found guilty in the January 2007 torture slayings of a Knoxville couple. The ruling comes after a series of hearings, legal maneuvers and decisions about the case following revelations that the judge presiding over the original trials – Richard Baumgartner – was involved in activity that may have impacted his ability to conduct a fair proceeding. The state attorney general and the Knox County district attorney sought to have Blackwood removed, arguing that he had lost his objectivity because of his anger over Baumgartner’s behavior. The News Sentinel has more

Comments Sought on Parenting Plan Pro Se Form

For almost two years, the Parenting Plan Subcommittee of the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has been working on a plain language version of the Permanent Parenting Plan. The TBA's Family Law Section and Access to Justice Committee also have been involved in the process. The project is now in its final stages and comments are being solicited from practioners. Interested lawyers may review the draft parenting plan form, instructions and tips for familes online. Comments and suggestions should be submitted by Oct. 31 to Claudia Lewis by email at or by fax at (615) 741-6285. 

Former Court Clerk Rejects Settlement

Former Shelby County General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson Jr. chose to go forward with an official misconduct trial today after declining an offer of diversion, according to the Commercial Appeal. Special Judge Walter Kurtz of Nashville set a Feb. 19, 2013, trial date. Elected general sessions court clerk in 2008, Jackson was indicted last year on four felony counts, accused of pressuring clerk's office employees to give and raise money for his re-election campaign. Judges suspended him after his indictment. He lost the Democratic primary last March.

Roane County Lawyer Held in Contempt

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals found Roane County attorney Spence Bruner in contempt of court this week and announced its intention to notify the Board of Professional Responsibility of its decision. The court found Bruner in contempt for his willful failures to comply with orders of the court. He was harshly admonished by the three-judge panel, according to the Roane County News.

Vanderbilt, Legal Aid Make News for Partnership

Many patients at Vanderbilt University’s Shade Tree Clinic are there because of chronic health conditions that are aggravated by where and how they live. In addition to medical treatment, these individuals usually need some kind of entry into the legal or court system to resolve those issues. A medical-legal partnership between the clinic and the Legal Aid Society in Nashville is helping bridge that gap. A story in the Nashville Ledger looks at the collaboration and how it is working to improve the prevention side of medical care.

Former Law School Employee Admits Inflating Job Stats

A former assistant career services director at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Calif., has admitted to inflating the school's 2006 graduate employment data to include unemployed graduates who had been employed at any time since graduation. The ABA Journal also reports that the employee states she was pressured into padding the numbers by her supervisor, the director of career services. The admission was contained in a sworn statement taken in connection with a class action lawsuit against the school by graduates who contend that misleading job statistics were used to lure them into attending the school.

Court Grants Review of 3 Cases

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently granted review of two criminal cases that address retroactivity of a new rule regarding guilty pleas in certain sex offender cases and the sufficiency of evidence in an attempted murder case. A civil case accepted concerns the standard of review in modification of domestic relations Permanent Parenting Plans. The Raybin Perky Hotlist reviews the cases and predicts how they may be decided.

UM Law 50th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will mark its 50th anniversary with a celebration tomorrow hosted by the Law Alumni Chapter. A VIP reception featuring singer-songwriter Caroline Jones will kick off the event, followed by a live music revue and documentary film telling the story of the law school’s history. Information and tickets are available online. Contact Wendy Sumner-Winter at (901) 678-1562 or for details.

Two Events in Memphis Tomorrow

Lawyers in Memphis will participate in two pro bono events tomorrow. The first, which will run 9 to 11:30 a.m., will take place in the parking lot of the Lewis Senior Citizens Center, 1188 North Pkwy. In case of rain, the clinic will move to the Community Bible Church at 601 North Bellevue. The second event, which also will run from 9 to 11:30 a.m., will take place at Greenwood CME Church, 3311 Kimball Ave. This program is a community seminar featuring various attorneys and paralegals speaking on a variety of legal topics. Contact Nakeshia Hawkins at for more information.

CPB Clinics Scheduled in Nashville Tomorrow

Lawyers in Nashville will participate in two pro bono clinics tomorrow. The first will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Legal Aid Society, 300 Deaderick St. Lawyers interested in volunteering should contact Lucinda Smith at (615) 780- 7127. Clients should call (615) 244-6610 for details. The second clinic, sponsored by Justice for Our Neighbors, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and Connexion Americas, is by appointment only. Contact Adrienne Schlichtemeir at for details.

See all events planned for Celebrate Pro Bono Month


Questions, comments: Email us at

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.

© Copyright 2012 Tennessee Bar Association