Haslam Creates Commission for Judicial Appointments

Gov. Bill Haslam today issued Executive Order No. 34 establishing the Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments, which is designed to sustain the judicial branch of government and its operations following termination of the Judicial Nominating Commission last June. The order comes on the heels of Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper’s opinion last week confirming the governor’s authority to make judicial appointments. The new 17-member commission will send a panel of three nominees to the governor to make an appointment when a vacancy occurs or is impending. The Administrative Office of the Courts has the story.

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
07 - 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

CITY OF MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE ET AL. v. TRE HARGETT, Secretary of State ET AL.
With Concurring Opinion

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

William E. Young, Solicitor General; Steven A. Hart, Special Counsel; and Janet M. Kleinfelter, Deputy Attorney General, for the appellants, Tre Hargett, Secretary of State; Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Mark Goins, State Coordinator of Elections, all in their official capacities.

George E. Barrett and Douglas S. Johnston, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, and Herman Morris, Jr. and Regina Morrison Newman, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, City of Memphis, Tennessee, Daphne Turner-Golden, and Sullistine Bell.

Judge: WADE

In May of 2011, the General Assembly enacted a law providing, with certain exceptions, that all citizens who appear in person to vote must present photographic proof of their identity. The statute authorized a variety of acceptable forms of identification, one of which was a valid photographic identification card issued by an entity of the State of Tennessee. Prior to the August 2012 primary election, the City of Memphis Public Library issued photographic identification cards to its patrons. When two Shelby County residents attempted to vote in the primary using photographic library cards as means of identification, however, election officials declined to accept the cards as the requisite proof. The two residents and the City of Memphis filed a declaratory judgment action against the Secretary of State, the State Coordinator of Elections, and the Attorney General, arguing that the photographic identification requirement violated constitutional protections and that the City of Memphis qualified as an entity of the state authorized to issue valid photographic identification cards through its public library. The trial court denied relief on all counts, ruling first that the plaintiffs lacked standing and holding in the alternative that the photographic identification requirement did not violate the state constitution and that the City of Memphis did not qualify as an entity of the state. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that each plaintiff had standing to sue and that photographic identification cards issued by a municipal library complied with the statute for voting purposes, but also concluding that the photographic identification requirement did not violate constitutional principles. Following the grant of an application for permission to appeal, briefing, and oral argument, the General Assembly enacted amendments to the statute which, among other things, precluded the use of photographic identification cards issued by municipalities or their libraries for voting purposes. In light of these recent amendments, we hold that each issue in this appeal that pertains to the validity of the Memphis Public Library cards as photographic identification is now moot. We further hold that the City of Memphis lacks standing, and, although the two residents of Shelby County have standing to file a declaratory judgment action, the photographic identification requirement, both on its face and as applied in this instance, meets constitutional scrutiny. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals on the issue of constitutionality.


TN Court of Appeals

ROMALIS GRAY v. TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Romalis Gray, Wartburg, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Shauna Jennings, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Tennessee Department of Correction et al.

Judge: FRIERSON

The petitioner, a state prison inmate, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his petition for declaratory order, in which he alleged that the respondents, Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) and Morgan County Correctional Complex (“MCCX”), denied his due process rights and violated TDOC policies when he was placed on administrative segregation following a disciplinary hearing. The trial court found that the petitioner had failed to pay court costs from a previously filed action and dismissed his petition pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 41-21-812 (2010). Discerning no error, we affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEVIN BELL

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Roger E. Nell, Clarksville, Tennessee (on appeal), and Timothy J. Richter, Springfield, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Kevin Bell.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jason White, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Kevin Bell, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probationary sentence and challenges the imposition of the original sentence to be served in confinement. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DUSTIN MARSHALL GOFORTH

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Lawren B. Lassiter, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dustin Marshall Goforth.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and Jason Criddle, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, Dustin Marshall Goforth, was serving a suspended eight-year sentence on supervised probation. Violation of probation warrants were filed, and his suspended sentence was revoked after an evidentiary hearing. The trial court ordered the sentence to be served by incarceration in the Department of Correction. In his sole issue on appeal, Defendant asserts that the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s motion for the judge to recuse himself in this case prior to the evidentiary hearing. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


CLARENCE DEWAYNE HAYES v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ryan C. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Clarence Dewayne Hayes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Katrin Miller, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The petitioner, Clarence Dewayne Hayes, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged the ineffective assistance of trial counsel and the misconduct of the prosecutor. We affirm the order of the postconviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. FELTON NEVILLE JACKSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Adam Wilding Parrish, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Felton Neville Jackson.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Tom P. Thompson, Jr., District Attorney General; and Howard Chambers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Felton Neville Jackson, was indicted by a Wilson County grand jury for especially aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. He was convicted of both charges, and the trial court sentenced him to concurrent sentences of twenty-five years and six years, respectively. He now appeals his convictions and sentences on the following grounds: (1) the trial court erred by allowing a police officer to offer an allegedly testimonial statement attributed to the victim; (2) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; and (3) his sentences are excessive. Following our review, we discern no error and affirm appellant’s convictions. However, we vacate the judgments in this case and remand this cause for entry of a single judgment of conviction noting merger of the aggravated assault conviction into the especially aggravated robbery conviction.


JEREMY KEETON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stacie Odeneal, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeremy Keeton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Joel Douglas Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Petitioner, Jeremy Keeton, appeals as of right from the Wayne County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to secure the appearance of several witnesses at his trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. LAVARIO DEVON KIBBLE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert L. Marlow, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lavario Devon Kibble.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michelle Consiglio-Young, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; Michael Randles, Assistant District Attorney General; and Richard Cawley, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Defendant, Lavario Devon Kibble, entered guilty pleas to reckless endangerment and aggravated assault pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement. Under the agreement he received consecutive sentences of one year for reckless endangerment and four years for aggravated assault. The manner of service of the effective sentence of five years was left to determination by the trial court after a sentencing hearing. The trial court ordered the sentences to be served totally by incarceration. Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court should have ordered an alternative sentence of either split confinement or periodic confinement. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. STEPHEN ANTHONY SCOTT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen Anthony Scott, Pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and C. Daniel Brollier, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

Pursuant to this court’s opinion in Stephen Anthony Scott v. State, No. M2010-00448-CCA-R3-PC, 2011 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 632, at *5 (Nashville, Aug. 16, 2011), the Montgomery County Circuit Court resentenced the appellant, Stephen Anthony Scott, to the presumptive minimum sentence in the range for his convictions of aggravated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, and attempted robbery. Six months later, the trial court found the appellant to be an especially mitigated offender and further reduced his sentences for count 3, especially aggravated kidnapping, and count 4, kidnapping, by ten percent. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by not allowing him to be sentenced pursuant to the 2005 amendments to the Tennessee Sentencing Reform Act of 1989, that the trial court erred by failing to sentence him as an especially mitigated offender for all of the offenses, and that his sentences violate Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court was without jurisdiction to classify the appellant as an especially mitigated offender and could not reduce his sentences by ten percent. Therefore, the case is remanded to the trial court for reinstatement of his previous sentences for counts 3 and 4. Regarding the issues raised on appeal, we conclude that the appellant is not entitled to relief and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Supreme Court Upholds Voter ID Act

The Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously declined to overturn the state’s Voter Identification Act. Passed in 2011, the act requires voters to present government-issued photographic identification in order to cast a ballot in state or federal elections. Two Shelby County residents and the City of Memphis filed suit after residents were not allowed to vote using their Memphis Public Library issued ID. The group argued that the City of Memphis library cards were valid identification and that the law violated state constitutional protections.


Tower Wins Domain Dispute with MDHA

After a bitterly contentious four-year legal dispute about the fair value of land Metro Nashville took to build the new convention center, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied the Metro Development and Housing Agency’s (MDHA) request to appeal, giving a decisive victory to development firm Tower Investments. According to the Tennessean, Metro used eminent domain to take land south of Broadway it needed to build Music City Center, and then paid owners what it contended was fair market value for the property. A Nashville jury decided in 2011 that Tower’s 5.66-acre tract was worth $30.4 million, more than double the $14.8 million the city paid during the condemnation proceedings.


Federal Judiciary Gets Budget Increase in Last-Minute Deal

The budget deal Congress approved late yesterday to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling provides $51 million in additional funding for the judiciary and federal defenders. In the bill, $1.01 billion would go to defender services, marking a $26 million annual increase over Fiscal Year 2013 for attorneys who represent indigent defendants, said Charles Hall, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The extra funding would primarily go to pay the backlog of attorney fees under the Criminal Justice Act, which funds court-appointed private counsel. Overall, the judiciary budget would increase from about $6.65 billion to about $6.7 billion. The Blog of the Legal Times has the story.


DOJ Lawyers Return to Work

More than 18,000 Justice Department employees who were furloughed during the shutdown, including a significant number of lawyers who handle civil matters, will return to court after an untold number of cases were put on hold, the Blog of the Legal Times reports. Main Justice and U.S. attorney's offices nationwide asked courts to postpone civil litigation, citing the lack of appropriations. Some judges granted blanket stays, while other judges made case-by-case decisions. In a letter this morning to the entire department, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said he was "grateful to be able to welcome the entire Department of Justice back to work."


'Mockingbird' Author Files Suit Against Hometown Museum

“To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee has sued the Monroe County Heritage Museum in her Alabama hometown for allegedly violating her trademarks and right to publicity, the ABA Journal reports. The museum touts its restored courtroom as the model for the fictional courtroom in the novel, and also uses the domain name tokillamockingbird.com and sells memorabilia. In the suit, Lee—who recently settled with her editor over copyright issues— claims trademark and right-of-publicity violations, cybersquatting, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.


Judge Hicks Announces Bid for Re-election

Circuit Court Judge Ross. H. Hicks has announced his candidacy for re-election in 2014, the Leaf Chronicle reports. “I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve the people of the 19th District as Circuit Court Judge,” he said. “A fair, impartial and independent judiciary is essential, and I believe my conduct...reflects all those attributes. I ask the people of the 19th District to allow me to continue to serve in this capacity.” Hicks was appointed to the bench in February 2002 by Gov. Don Sundquist following the death of Judge James E. Walton.


DA Announces Criminal Court Judge Bid

Assistant District Attorney Dennis Brooks announced yesterday that he intends to run for criminal court judge to replace Judge Robert Cupp, who is expected to retire next year when his term ends. Brooks has served 15 years as a prosecutor in the First Judicial District, which covers Carter, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties. The Johnson City Press has the story.


TFA Calls on Legislators to Stop Common Core

The Tennessee Firearm Association (TFA) has called for state legislators to stop or delay implementation of the Common Core standards in Tennessee due to issues regarding teaching materials and testing concerning the Constitution. According to John Harris, executive director of the TFA, Common Core is “intentionally and recklessly misrepresenting the Second Amendment in schools across the country.” The Chattanoogan has more.


TBA Online: Your Source for Valuable Resources

Remember to visit and bookmark TBA.ORG, which features current news, new member benefits, CLE courses, a searchable database of court opinions and so much more! It is also the portal to your TBA account. Login today!


 
 

Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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 2013 Tennessee Bar Association