New Rule Requires Electronic Tax Filing

All professional privilege tax returns filed on or after Jan. 1, 2013, must be filed electronically. The Tennessee Department of Revenue says returns can be filed by individuals, or by companies who file and pay for multiple individuals. For a step-by-step guide to electronically filing an individual return visit the department's website. Companies filing and paying for multiple individuals can get details here. The department will not mail a Professional Privilege Tax Return for the $400 tax due June 1, 2013. Questions should be directed to the Electronic Commerce Unit at (866) 368-6374 for in-state calls or (615) 253-0704 for Nashville or out-of-state calls. Download the notice

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
05 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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


John E. Herbison, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Jason Burdick.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

In 2000, an affidavit of complaint was issued charging “John Doe” with an aggravated rape that had occurred in 1994. The affidavit, which included a detailed DNA profile of “John Doe,” led to the issuance of an arrest warrant. In 2008, police officers discovered that fingerprints taken from the scene of the crime matched those of the defendant. Later, police determined that the DNA profile was that of the defendant, and a superseding indictment was issued in his name. The defendant was tried and convicted of attempted aggravated rape, and the trial court imposed a ten-year sentence. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, holding that the “John Doe” warrant with the DNA profile was adequate to identify the defendant and commence prosecution within the applicable statute of limitations. Because the issue is one of first impression in this state, this Court granted an application for permission to appeal. We hold that a criminal prosecution is commenced if, within the statute of limitations for a particular offense, a warrant is issued identifying the defendant by gender and his or her unique DNA profile. Furthermore, a superseding indictment in the defendant’s proper name provides the requisite notice of the charge. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Richard F. Clippard, Assistant Attorney General, General Civil Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tennessee Bureau of TennCare.

Jennifer Kent Exum, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, G. Michael Luhowiak.

Fred F. Crumley, Jr., Harrison, Tennessee, appellee, pro se.

Mary Castleberry, Chattanooga, Tennessee, appellee, pro se.


The Bureau of TennCare filed a petition to open Fred F. Crumley, Sr.’s estate in order to file a claim against the estate for medical assistance rendered. The court appointed an administrator, and the Bureau of TennCare filed a claim. Administrator argued that the statute of limitations barred recovery on any claim filed by the Bureau of TennCare. The trial court agreed with Administrator and dismissed the claim. The Bureau of TennCare appeals. We reverse the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


David W. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rusty Ing

Michael A. Carter, J. Noble Grant, Milan, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Milan


Plaintiff is a business owner who was informed by the City of Milan that his business license would not be renewed because the City had determined that he was a “transient merchant” within the meaning of the City’s municipal code. Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, seeking an injunction preventing the City from prohibiting the operation of his business. The City filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that the undisputed facts established as a matter of law that Plaintiff was a transient merchant. The trial court agreed and granted the City’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff appealed. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Dail R. Cantrell, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edna H. Irwin.

George H. Buxton, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the appellee, Christopher Martin Anderson.


Plaintiff received serious injuries in an automobile accident, when she turned left in front of the oncoming vehicle operated by defendant. The suit resulted in a jury trial wherein the jury returned a verdict for defendant, which was approved by the Trial Judge. On appeal, we affirm the Trial Judge's Judgment.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Brandon Pelizzari, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph H. W., Jr.

Laura S. Hash, Knoxville, Tennessee, guardian ad litem for the minor, Jarrel X. W.

Chauncey P., Knoxville, Tennessee, pro se.


This is a termination of parental rights case in which Guardian, along with Custodial Parent, sought to terminate the parental rights of Father to the Child. Following a hearing, the trial court terminated Father’s parental rights, finding that Father abandoned the Child by failing to visit and by failing to provide child support and a suitable home; that the conditions which led to removal persisted; and that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the best interest of the Child. Father appeals. We affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gregory D. Cotton, Collierville, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant Sarah White

Betty Ann Milligan, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee Target Corporation

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and misappropriation of image. The plaintiff, a customer of the defendant store, brought clothing into the store’s dressing room to try it on. While in a state of undress in the dressing room, the customer noticed in the reflection of her dressing-room mirror a globe on the store ceiling that appeared to contain a surveillance camera. Store employees initially told the customer that the globe contained a camera, but a store manager later told the customer that the ceiling globe did not contain a camera. Eventually, the plaintiff customer filed this lawsuit against the defendant store, seeking damages for, inter alia, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and misappropriation of image. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant store. The plaintiff now appeals. We reverse, finding that the standard for summary judgment under Hannan v. Alltel Publishing has not been met in this case.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kevin Abston, Henning, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Sophia Lee, Senior Counsel, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Kevin Abston, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Marvin Anthony Matthews, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General, for the Appellee, Henry Steward, Warden.

Judge: PAGE

The Petitioner, Marvin Anthony Matthews, appeals the Circuit Court of Lake County’s denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Harry E. Sayle III (on appeal) and Robert Trent Hall (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Benjamin Murrell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul Hagerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

A Shelby County jury convicted appellant, Benjamin Murrell, of criminal attempt to commit voluntary manslaughter and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of eighteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Court Presents 2013 Rules Amendments

The Tennessee Supreme Court today filed orders proposing amendments to a number of court rules. All of the amended rules become effective July 1, 2013, pending approval by resolutions of the General Assembly. Download each of the orders for proposed amendments here:

Rules of Appellate Procedure
Rules of Civil Procedure
Rules of Criminal Procedure
Rules of Evidence
Rules of Juvenile Procedure

Applications Available for 1st Judicial District Criminal Court

The Judicial Nominating Commission is now accepting applications for a vacancy in the 1st Judicial District Criminal Court, which serves Carter, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties. The position is open because of the retirement of Judge Lynn W. Brown, who will leave office on March 31. Interested applicants must be licensed attorneys at least 30 years of age, residents of the state for five years, and residents of the judicial district for at least one year. Applicants must complete an application and submit it to the Administrative Office of the Courts by noon Central time Jan. 11. Learn more and get application information

Deal Reached to Reform Shelby Co. Juvenile System

An agreement to overhaul Shelby County Juvenile Court, expected to cost $4.5 million to $6.5 million, was finalized Monday between court and county officials and the U.S. Department of Justice, The Commercial Appeal reports. The plan, officially announced today, addresses problems such as the disparate treatment of black youths, the high number of youth transferred to adult court, and due process rights violations. If the county doesn't carry out the reforms, federal officials have said they likely would file suit to force changes. While many Memphis officials applauded the plan, members of the Shelby County Commission were surprised by the deal saying they were not asked to weigh in on the agreement. The commission chair reportedly has asked the county attorney for a legal opinion as to whether the mayor has authority to make the agreement without commission approval.

Duncan Law Hires New Admissions Director

Lincoln Memorial University has announced the appointment of Randy Mathews as director of admissions at the John J. Duncan School of Law. Mathews joins the school after an 18-year career with BARBRI, the law school and bar exam preparation company. At BARBRI, Mathews served as state director and then as vice president for academic affairs. He earned his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. has more

Foundation Names Fellows for 2012

The Tennessee Bar Foundation will induct its Class of 2012 Fellows during the annual Fellows’ Dinner Jan. 18 in Nashville. This year’s class is made up of Roy L. Aaron, C. Dale Allen, Adrienne L. Anderson, Kyle C. Atkins, John T. Bobo, Jacqueline E. Bolton, Edward T. Brading, George H. Brown Jr., Douglas M. Campbell Sr., Angelita Blackshear Dalton, David R. Esquivel, Randall J. Fishman, Patrick A. Flynn, Stephen D. Goodwin, W. Stanworth Harris, William L. Jenkins, Jon E. Jones, W. Morris Kizer, Linda R. Koon, Patricia Head Moskal, Roger A. Page, Ernest A. Petroff, Timothy A. Priest, J.

Federal Bar Elects Officers in Memphis

The Memphis Chapter of the Federal Bar Association chose Eric Hudson with Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada as its new president during its annual meeting last week. Hudson will take over leadership from J. Gregory Grisham with Jackson Lewis, who will serve as immediate past president. Others officers elected were Vice President Mary Hale Morris with Burch, Porter & Johnson; Treasurer Earl W. Houston II with Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston; and Secretary Kevin Ritz with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Also elected were Craig A. Cowart, president-elect; Justin M. Ross, national delegate; Tom Gould, federal court liaison; and at-large board members Bryce Ashby, Adam Cohen, Frank L. Day Jr., Brandon Gibson, Colleen D. Hitch, Michael M. McLaren, Ben J. Scott (YLD Chair) and Judge Tu M. Pham. Download a roster of leaders

TLAP Receives Donation from Health Care Clinic

The 3rd and Church Health Care Clinic in downtown Nashville has made a $1,000 donation to the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP). The clinic, which provides a variety of healthcare services to downtown employees, residents and visitors, donates $1 to local charities for every B-12 shot it administers at off-site clinics. TLAP offers a range of services including consultations, crisis stabilization, assessments, referrals, interventions, education, peer support services, anonymous support groups and more. The AOC has more

Norris Elected to Lead Government Group in 2014

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader and Adams and Reese Special Counsel Mark Norris, R-Collierville, has been selected chair-elect of the national Council of State Governments, a bipartisan professional association serving all three branches of government in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, beginning in 2013. Norris, the first Tennessean elected to the leadership post, will take office as chair in 2014. Norris works in the Memphis office of Adams and Reese. He has served in the state Senate since 2000 and as majority leader since 2007. Read more on the firm’s website

Shelbyville Legislator, Attorney Dies

Clarence W. “Pete” Phillips Jr., a Tennessee state legislator representing Lincoln County for 30 years, died last week in Shelbyville. The son of Bedford County Judge Clarence Waters Phillips, he earned a law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School and went on to serve as president of the Shelbyville-Bedford County Bar Association. In the legislature, he served as chairman of the House Calendar and Rules Committee and the Commerce Committee’s Utilities and Banking Subcommittee. Among his many accomplishments were the expansion of the Murfreesboro Highway from Shelbyville to Rutherford County, securing funding for the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy and the creation of the Shelbyville-Tullahoma Bypass. Funeral services were held Saturday. The Elk Valley Times has more on his life.


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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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