Court Overturns ‘Antiquated’ Statutory Rape Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion today, overturned what it called an “antiquated rule” that classifies statutory rape victims as accomplices and requires victims’ testimony to be corroborated by other evidence. The decision came in the case of DeWayne Collier of Shelby County, who was convicted of statutory rape based primarily on the testimony of his victim. He appealed on the basis that prior rulings required that testimony to be backed up by other proof. The court disagreed finding there no longer exists a “no defensible reason” to classify minor victims of sex crimes as accomplices or to characterize their testimony as “inherently unreliable.” Read more from the AOC.

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.

03 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
00 - 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 Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court


Kevin Richard McGee, Nashville, Tennessee, and Larry Samuel Patterson, Jr., Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terrance Antonio Cecil.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Daniel J. Runde, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

The defendant was convicted of false imprisonment and assault. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of six months, with all but sixty days suspended to probation. More than one year after the trial but while the defendant’s case was pending in the Court of Criminal Appeals, this Court filed its opinion in State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559 (Tenn. 2012), which requires, on grounds of due process, trial courts to provide a more specific instruction on kidnapping charges as to whether the removal or confinement of a victim is essentially incidental to any accompanying offense. The Court of Criminal Appeals held in this instance that, although the White instruction was not provided at trial, the jury was correctly instructed and the evidence was sufficient to support both convictions. We granted review to determine whether the absence of the White instruction warrants a new trial. Because the omission of the instruction required by White cannot be classified as harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, the conviction for false imprisonment is reversed and the cause remanded for a new trial.


Court: TN Supreme Court


Phyllis Aluko, Assistant Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, DeWayne Collier.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William L.Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Damon Griffin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WADE

A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant of aggravated statutory rape, and the trial court imposed a sentence of four years. On appeal, the defendant, who was forty-two years old at the time of the offense, argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction because the testimony of the fourteen-year-old female victim, a consenting accomplice in the crime, was not adequately corroborated by other proof. The Court of Criminal Appeals found that the victim qualified as an accomplice to the crime but affirmed the conviction, holding that her testimony was sufficiently corroborated by the evidence in the record. This Court granted review to determine whether a victim of statutory rape qualifies as an accomplice such that his or her testimony must be corroborated in order to support a conviction. We hold that the testimony of a victim of statutory rape does not require corroboration. Because the evidence is sufficient to sustain the conviction, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, and Mack Garner, District Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Tyris Lemont Harvey.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Clinton Frazier, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Tyris Lemont Harvey, appeals the sentencing decision of the Blount County Circuit Court following the revocation of his probationary sentence. The defendant pled guilty in multiple cases, over a period of years, and was serving an effective eleven-year sentence on supervised probation. A violation report was filed, and, following a hearing, the trial court revoked the defendant’s probation and ordered that the balance of the original sentences be served in confinement. On appeal, the defendant does not contest the trial court’s revocation, but argues that the court erred in ordering him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. After review, we conclude no error occurred and affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Ardena J. Garth, District Public Defender; Blake Murchison and Richard K. Mabee, Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Charles King Morris.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Kyle Hixon, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, District Attorney General; and William Hall, Assistant District Attorney, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Charles King Morris (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of theft over $1000 and, pursuant to his plea, was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to a three-year sentence suspended to supervised probation. After the Defendant was arrested again for theft of property, his probation officer filed a probation violation report. The trial court subsequently held an evidentiary hearing, revoked the Defendant’s probation, and ordered the Defendant to serve the remainder of his original sentence in confinement. The Defendant appeals the trial court’s ruling. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Nashville Lawyer to Lead ABA’s Environmental Law Section

Stites & Harbison attorney William L. Penny is the new chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, the Herald Online reports. A longtime Nashville resident, Penny is the first Tennessean to lead the group though he has served as vice chair, chair-elect and budget officer. Penny has practiced environmental law and litigation for more than 30 years and has served as general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation. He also was the first chair of the TBA’s Environmental Law Section and the first chair of the Nashville Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee.

Lewis Earns ABA Presidential Citation

Former TBA President and Memphis attorney George T. "Buck" Lewis today was awarded a Presidential Citation from ABA President Laurel Bellows at the ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards luncheon in San Francisco. The presidential citation is a new award that allows the ABA president to recognize lawyers who have made "noteworthy contributions to the legal profession and the ABA," and who exhibit "outstanding leadership qualities." The luncheon was being held in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting. See a photo from the event on the TBA's homepage.

Birmingham Firm Expanding to Nashville

The Birmingham-based law firm of Wiggins Childs Quinn & Pantazis announced today it is expanding to the Nashville area with an office in Brentwood. Josh Wilson, who has been with the firm since 2003, will manage the office, reports the Nashville Business Journal. According to a news release obtained by the journal, the firm is the largest plaintiffs firm in Alabama focusing on consumer protection, product liability, mass torts, personal injury and employment law. It also has offices in Mobile, Ala., and Deland, Fla.

Tipton to Fill Unexpired Term of Judge Hillman

Bristol attorney David W. Tipton was the unanimous choice of city council members to fill the unexpired term of longtime Municipal Court Judge Shelton Hillman Jr., who died last month after serving for more than 30 years. “There is no way to replace Judge Hillman,” Tipton said following his selection. “I was an associate in the firm of Slaughter, Jackson, Cooper & Watson as a clerk when I met Shelton back in 1977. He was a very special person.” Tipton earned his law degree from Memphis State University. He currently is lead partner in the firm of Tipton & Jones. has more.

NALS Raises $3,500 for Legal Aid

The Nashville Chapter of the National Association of Legal Professions (NALS) recently raised $3,350 for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee at its first annual NALS After Hours Silent Auction. The event raised awareness as well as funding for legal aid programs. NALS President Tiffany Burford Taylor of Waller praised the work of Legal Aid and said the chapter felt it was important to give back to the community and to make legal representation available to all. The NALS leadership said it hopes to make the auction an annual event. The 2014 date is tentatively set for July 10. Read more from the group's press release.

Holder, Clinton Address ABA House of Delegates

The ABA House of Delegates, meeting today and tomorrow in San Francisco, faces a full agenda of resolutions but “the early buzz [was] over two legal superstars" who addressed the House today, the ABA Journal reports. This morning, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder outlined a new crime and prison policy focusing on what the administration believes is an over-reliance on mandatory minimum sentences. Holder said the department would be directing the nation’s prosecutors to avoid these sentences for “low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or drug organizations.” Then this afternoon, Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared before the House to receive the ABA Medal, the association's highest award. The Washington Post has more on both of those stories.

Judge: Mother May Not Name Baby ‘Messiah’

A Newport mother is appealing the decision of a child support magistrate who ruled last week that she may not name her baby "Messiah." The mother and father of the child, who could not agree on a last name for the baby, were in court to settle that issue. The magistrate ordered the baby’s last name to be DeShawn McCullough, which incorporated both of the parent’s last names. But she also directed them to change the first name saying, "The word Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ." The couple is appealing the decision to the local chancery court, WBIR reports.

Tenn. Case Reveals ‘All That is Wrong’ with Justice System, Columnist Says

In his Sunday column, New York Times writer Nicholas D. Kristof writes that “if you want to understand all that is wrong with America’s criminal justice system, take a look at the nightmare experienced by Edward Young.” Young had been convicted of burglary, served his time, and after being released from prison in 1996, he married, worked hard and raised four kids in Hixson. When a neighbor died, Kristof writes, Young helped the widow sort and sell her husband’s belongings. During that process he found some shotgun shells and put them away so his children would not find them. When Young became a suspect in a new spate of burglaries, the police found the shells in his home. He was tried and convicted under a federal law that bars ex-felons from possessing guns or ammunition and carries a 15-year minimum sentence – even though police later dropped the burglary charges. Kristof uses the case to raise questions about the nation’s current sentencing policy and explore alternatives he says are more effective and less costly.

TBA Members Now Save with UPS

As a TBA member you now can save up to 36 percent on UPS Next Day Air and up to 18 percent on UPS Ground Shipping! Visit UPS online to learn how this new member benefit can deliver greater efficiencies for your firm. Already a UPS customer? You also are eligible for this discount once you register your account on the UPS' TBA discount site.

Wednesday’s Investiture Ceremony in Church Hill

The joint investiture ceremony for Third Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Mike Faulk and Chancellor Doug Jenkins will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Church Hill Middle School in Church Hill. The ceremony and reception are free and open to the public. Friday’s issue of TBA Today listed the wrong city for the event.

Saturday Ethics Program: Coffee Anyone?

Don’t have time during the week to get your ethics hours? Grab a cup of coffee and join our Saturday ethics seminar this weekend at 8 a.m. The three-hours presentation will feature topics such as notary issues for lawyers, how to start a paperless practice, and ethical issues concerning conservatorships. Coffee, all the fancy fixin's, and pastries will be hot and ready to enjoy as soon as you walk in the door. Don’t miss this rare Saturday seminar.


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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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