Governor Signs Guns-in-Trunks Bill

Today Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law Senate Bill 142 allowing handgun permit holders to carry their guns anywhere in their cars, even to work, the Tennessean reports. The bill, which goes into effect July 1, removes criminal penalties for carrying a firearm in a car onto private property without the owner’s permission. It left open the legal question of whether an employer could fire someone for bringing a gun to work, however.

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
00 - 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

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 Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gary Howell, Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven Dale Hill.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Kyle Dodd, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendant was found guilty after a trial by jury of aggravated arson, a Class A felony, aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, theft of property over $1000.00, a Class D felony. He was sentenced to twenty years for aggravated arson, six years for aggravated burglary, and four years for theft over $1,000.00, with all sentences to run concurrently, for a total effective sentence of twenty years. On appeal, the defendant claims that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that one of the State’s witnesses was an accomplice as a matter of law. Upon review, we determine that the evidence is sufficient to support the defendant’s convictions and that the trial court properly instructed the jury with respect to the legal status of the State’s witness. The judgments from the trial court are affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William Justin Conway, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Daniel Humphrey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Brian Ewald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Daniel Humphrey (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and, pursuant to his plea agreement, was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to three years on community corrections. Upon the subsequent filing of a violation warrant, the Defendant was taken into custody, and the trial court held an evidentiary hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s community corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his original sentence in confinement. The Defendant appealed the trial court’s ruling. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

CORRECTION: In the third sentence of the opening paragraph, "determinate" should be changed to "determine."

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


John E. Herbison (on appeal) and Carrie Watson Gasaway (at trial), Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brett Joseph Price.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; y, Jr., District Attorney General; and Robert Joseph Nash, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


This case has been remanded by the Tennessee Supreme Court for reconsideration of sentencing in light of State v. Caudle, 388 S.W.3d 273 (Tenn. 2012). On direct appeal, this court concluded that the Defendant waived review of his sentence by failing to include a transcript of the guilty plea hearing. In light of Caudle, we conclude that the record, which contains transcripts of the motion to suppress hearing and the sentencing hearing, exhibits from each hearing, and the presentence report, is sufficient to determine whether the trial court recited a proper basis for the sentence. 388 S.W.3d 273. The Defendant, Brett Joseph Price, pleaded guilty to robbery, a Class C felony, and conspiracy to commit robbery, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-401, 39-12-103 He was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to five years for robbery and to three years for conspiracy, to be served concurrently. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying his motion to suppress his post-arrest statements and by admitting his statement at the sentencing hearing; (2) denying judicial diversion; (3) imposing excessive sentences; and (4) denying probation. We affirm the judgements of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gary K. Thomas, Talladega, Alabama, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Gary K. Thomas, appeals from the summary dismissal of his petition for post- conviction relief attacking his January 2005 conviction for simple assault. The Petitioner’s August 2012 petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective and that his plea was not voluntary, was dismissed as untimely. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file an appeal after he requested such action. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Judge Bars State from Defunding Planned Parenthood STD Program

U.S. District Court Judge William J. Haynes Jr. barred the state from defunding Planned Parenthood of Tennessee in contracts totaling more than $170,000 last year. According to WATE News Channel 6,  Haynes blocked Republican leaders' efforts to keep Planned Parenthood from participating in a federally funded venereal disease prevention program aimed at reducing the infection rate of HIV and syphilis.

50 Years After 'Gideon,' Defense System for Poor in Crisis

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, but even with the help that brought for poor defendants, many lawyers say the system for providing defense attorneys is in crisis. University of Georgia law professor Erica Hashimoto, who studies state defense systems, points out that when the Supreme Court ruled for Gideon, it didn't say anything about who would pay for lawyers for the poor, and those programs usually are at the top of the list to cut during times of belt-tightening. She's also worried about defendants in rural areas. "We know that felony defendants in urban areas for the most part are represented by counsel. We don't know the same about felony defendants in rural areas." Nobody collects that information, so, Hashimoto says, nobody can say whether thousands of defendants are getting their rights under Gideon. NPR has more.

Maryland Legislature Votes to Overturn Death Penalty

The Maryland House of Delegates today joined the Senate, voting to overturn the state's death penalty, putting it a step closer to becoming the 18th U.S. state to abolish executions, Reuters reports. By a vote of 82 to 56, the House agreed to replace capital punishment with a sentence of life without parole. Gov. Martin O'Malley -- who said the death penalty was expensive, did not work and cited a study that death penalty sentencing was racially biased -- has pledged to sign the bill into law.

Attorney’s Police Aspirations Evolved into Legal Career

Memphis native Shayla Purifoy had planned to become a police officer before deciding that the legal profession was the right fit for her. She began working on domestic violence cases through a general civil litigation clinic after taking a social welfare and policy course at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Now with Memphis Area Legal Services, Purifoy works with immigrant women who are victims of domestic abuse. “I just enjoy helping people,” she told the Memphis Daily News.

No-Helmet Bill Passes Senate Panel

A proposal to do away with the state’s motorcycle helmet law was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee despite Gov. Bill Haslam’s opposition, the Memphis Daily News reports. The bill, sponsored my Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, would allow riding without a helmet but require the driver to have $25,000 in additional medical coverage, a minimum two-year motorcycle license, have taken a motorcycle riding course and be at least 25 years old.

AG: Bill to Dismantle Vanderbilt Police Unconstitutional

A bill to strip Vanderbilt University of its police powers unless it drops a controversial nondiscrimination policy has been ruled unconstitutional by Attorney General Robert Cooper, the Tennessean reports. Senate Bill 1241, sponsored by state Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, proposes dismantling the university’s police department into an armed security guard service if the institution does not repeal a policy requiring officially recognized campus groups to allow any student to participate regardless of the student’s beliefs or status. The policy was instituted after a Christian fraternity tried to exclude gay members.

Don't Miss Opportunity to Get Better Now and Next Year

Want to get better next year … or maybe a little more knowledgeable this year? The Tennessee Bar Association’s 2013 annual convention has programming to help you on both fronts. The just-released CLE schedule for this year’s event – June 12-15 in Nashville – is packed with strong sessions to help you thrive as a lawyer. From the innovative “Better Next Year” session in an un-conference format, to an analysis of “The Vanishing Lawyer” from author and George Washington University Law professor Thomas D. Morgan, there will be programs you don’t want to miss. See a full schedule now or go right to the registration page.

Three Vying to be Memphis Democratic Chair

Three contenders for chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party will gather supporters Saturday at the district caucuses to determine who will be delegates to the county party convention, where they will elect the new chair. The Memphis Daily News reports that Jennings Barnard, Bryan Carson and Terry Spicer are in the running to replace attorney Van Turner who has served as chair for four years.

Learn about the Costs and Budget for eDiscovery

With the continued growth of eDiscovery, the manner in which corporations and law firms assess vendor budgets can be a challenge. Join John Burchfield and Austin Maddox as they educate counsel on eDiscovery costs and budgeting to determine what eDiscovery program is best for them. The pair will discuss these and other issues during a one-hour webinar next Thursday, March 21.


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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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