AG Opinion Limits Blue Lights for Funeral Processions

A legal opinion issued earlier this week by state Attorney General Bob Cooper said that only full-time law enforcement officers can use blue flashing lights while escorting funeral processions in Tennessee -- and even then it must be part of their official duty to do so. The opinion, requested by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, stated non-law enforcement may not use blue or red flashing lights of any kind, though escort vehicles can be equipped with amber lights. News Channel 5 has more.

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
05 - 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 Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Phyllis Aluko, Assistant Public Defender; and Mary Katherine Kent, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kewan Callicutt.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Anne Schiller, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.


Defendant, Kewan Callicutt, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for attempted especially aggravated robbery. Defendant was convicted as charged by a jury and sentenced by the trial court to serve 12 years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant asserts that: 1) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his statements to the police because he was under the influence of a drug or intoxicant when he waived his Miranda rights; 2) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction; and 3) his sentence is excessive. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Parker O. Dixon (on appeal and at trial) and Melissa Downing (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Broderick Devonte Fayne.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and James Walter Freeland, Jr. and Billy G. Burk, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Broderick Devonte Fayne, was convicted by a Tipton County jury of aggravated burglary and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, both Class C felonies. The trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to consecutive terms of three years at 30% for the aggravated burglary conviction and to six years at 100% for the employing a firearm during a dangerous felony conviction, for a total effective sentence of nine years in the Department of Correction. In a timely appeal to this court, the defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain his conviction for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; (2) whether the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial following the prosecutor’s introduction of his defense counsel as employees of the public defender’s office; (3) whether the trial court properly allowed the defendant’s accomplice to testify regarding his understanding of the charges against him; (4) whether his right to a fair trial was violated by the State’s arguing alternate theories of his guilt; and (5) whether the trial court erred by denying his request for jury instructions defining possession and constructive possession. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paul D. Cross, Monteagle, Tennessee, for the appellant, Patrick Timothy Lowe.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; James Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steven M. Blount, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Patrick Timothy Lowe, pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, first offense, subject to reserving a certified question of law. The trial court imposed the agreed-upon suspended sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days. Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, we remand this case for entry of judgment forms reflecting the dispositions of Count I of the indictment, driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more, and Count III of the indictment, reckless driving.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Richard Madkins, pro se, Henning, Tennessee, as the appellant.

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


Richard Madkins (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed his petition without a hearing, and the Petitioner now appeals. On appeal, the Petitioner presents three claims: (1) that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment rights when it sentenced him to twenty-five years for his especially aggravated robbery conviction; (2) that the trial court did not have authority to sentence the Petitioner as a Range I offender because the State waived Range I sentencing when it filed a notice of intent to seek Range III punishment; and (3) that the Petitioner’s sentence violates principles of double jeopardy. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s summary dismissal of the petition for habeas corpus relief.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Scottie O. Wilkes, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony Woods.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Bob Gray, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A jury convicted the defendant, Anthony Woods, of one count of facilitation of intent to deliver less than 0.5 grams of cocaine, a Class D felony, and one count of simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced the defendant to concurrent sentences of six years for the facilitation conviction and to eleven months and twenty-nine days for the simple possession conviction. The physical evidence in the case was seized pursuant to a search warrant issued for the home of the defendant’s girlfriend and the defendant’s teenage daughter. The defendant’s original appeal was dismissed due to an untimely notice of appeal. State v. Woods, No. W2010-01301-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 134243, at *2 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 13, 2012). The defendant then brought a postconviction petition, and the post-conviction court granted the defendant this delayed appeal pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-113(a)(1). The defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, the trial court’s refusal to admit an audio recording or transcript of the preliminary hearing into evidence, and the legality of the search warrant. Because the search warrant failed to adequately establish the credibility of the confidential informant and because the defendant had standing to challenge the warrant, we reverse the defendant’s convictions.

State Appeals Ruling in Occupy Nashville Case

Department of General Services Commissioner Steve Cates and Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons are appealing U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger's ruling last month that they were liable for damages to Occupy protesters both in their capacities as state officials and individually  The commissioners helped institute “new rules” for Occupy Nashville protestors on War Memorial Plaza in 2011. According to the Nashville City Paper, Trauger criticized Cates and Gibbons for failing to consult with the attorney general before creating rules that led to the arrest of Occupy protesters.

Juvenile Transfer Decisions Worry DOJ Monitor

A 14-year-old boy was recently transferred to adult court in a short amount of time by Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County magistrate Dan Michael -- and this has Department of Justice due process monitor Sandra Simkins questioning the move. Simkins was appointed by the DOJ to oversee changes to the court following a two-year investigation in 2009, which revealed civil rights concerns, routine violations of due process protections, and transfer hearings set only two weeks after a child’s arrest. “The rushed time frame [of transfers], added to the woefully low allocation of resources, challenges the integrity of the entire system,” she said. The Memphis Flyer has the story.

Scare at Jackson Federal Building Was False Alarm

Earlier today the Ed Jones Federal building in Jackson was evacuated after what officials believed to be an explosive device was found. It was a false alarm, however, when it was learned that the suspicious materials turned out to be evidence shipped by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ATF Special Agent Michael Knight told The Jackson Sun that Friday's delivery was labeled properly by the agency's lab, but when screeners looked at the material through an X-ray, they contacted police.

Dollar General Sued for Labor Violations

The Goodlettsville-based Dollar General Corp. is being sued for allegedly violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The lead plaintiffs in the suit are hourly, non-exempt Dollar General employees whose pay was subject to an automatic 30-minute meal-break deduction. The suit alleges that the plaintiffs were forced to work during their meal breaks and were not allowed to leave the premises. The class-action lawsuit comes on the heels of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s suit against the retailer last month, alleging its use of criminal background checks was discriminatory.

Profs Urge Law Schools to Raise Skills Training

In a July 1 letter from a national organization of clinical law professors to the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the organization called current law school accreditation requirements for experiential learning "dismal.” The Clinical Legal Education Association is pushing for dramatically higher requirements for skills training for every prospective JD graduate. Law 360 has more.

Two More Suits Filed Against Pilot Flying J

Two more trucking companies have filed lawsuits against Pilot Flying J, Knoxnews reports. R&R Transportation, a company based in Audubon, Minn., filed a suit alleging that Pilot and several of its executives had committed fraud against R&R in connection with rebates owed to the company, and had engaged in racketeering activity. Townes Trucking, of Coffeeville, Miss., filed a suit alleging that it was defrauded by Pilot in connection with diesel rebates. Both lawsuits were filed on July 3 and cited an affidavit that was issued in connection with the ongoing federal investigation, which became public in April.

Exhaustion Doctrine Detailed in July Issue

Recent court decisions decided the 'Exhaustion Doctrine' differently: soybean seeds went one way and imported textbooks went another. James R. Cartiglia and Nina Maja Bergmar explain it in the latest Tennessee Bar Journal. Also, new TBA President Cindy Wyrick makes her case for this year's work ahead, encouraging lawyers to work together to make a difference.

Alexander Pushes Pharmacy Compounding Regulation

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, is renewing his push for more stringent oversight of drug compounders, as the fungal meningitis death toll stemming from a Massachusetts-based company rises to 61, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The Pharmaceutical Compounding Quality and Accountability Act, introduced by Alexander and health committee chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, with Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and Al Franken, D-Minnestoa, calls on compounding manufacturers to be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, while preserving states' roles in regulating traditional pharmacy activity. In stressing urgency, Alexander pointed to a new outbreak stemming from a compounded product from a pharmacy in Newbern, Tenn., which has infected more than 20 people.

Speculation Abounds Over 2015 Mayoral Race

Now that Jeremy Kane has resigned as CEO of LEAD Public School, speculation is that he may make a run for Nashville mayor in 2015, the Tennessean political blogs reports. So far, the lone candidate to show visible signs of launching a mayoral campaign is At-large Councilwoman Megan Barry. Other names believed to be weighing a run include: Businessman Stuart McWhorter, former school board chair David Fox, At-large Councilman Jerry Maynard; businessman Bill Freeman; former U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall.



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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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