Same Sex Couples Sue Tenn. for Marriage Recognition

Four Tennessee same-sex couples have filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Tennessee to force the state to recognize their legal marriage from other states. The four couples were married in New York or California, where same-sex marriages are legal, and argue that Tennessee’s refusal to recognize their marriages violates their constitutional rights. “All of the sudden, they’re not married anymore,” said attorney Abby Rubenfeld tells the Tennessean. “This case is about recognizing those marriages, it’s a very simple issue.” Rubenfeld said the lawsuit is just the first step to eventually having same-sex marriage legalized in Tennessee.

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.

02 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
00 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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


Thomas C. Jessee, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Andrew K. Armbrister.

David L. Leonard, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Melissa H. Armbrister.

Judge: CLARK

The issue in this post-divorce proceeding is whether a parent seeking to modify a residential parenting schedule in a permanent parenting plan must prove that an alleged material change in circumstances could not reasonably have been anticipated when the residential parenting schedule was originally established. We hold that Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6- 101(a)(2)(C) (2010), enacted in 2004, abrogated any prior Tennessee decision that could have been read as requiring such proof. Accordingly, because the father who sought modification in this case was not required to prove that his remarriage, relocation, changed work schedule, and natural aging of his children were unanticipated, we reverse the Court of Appeals’ judgment and reinstate the trial court’s judgment modifying the residential parenting schedule to give the mother 222 days and the father 143 days of residential parenting time with the two minor children.


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Adrian Brown, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The pro se appellant, Adrian Brown, appeals as of right from the McMinn County Circuit Court’s order denying his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct clerical error. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court dismiss the appeal or, in the alternative, affirm the trial court’s denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion to affirm by memorandum opinion is well-taken and affirm the judgment of the McMinn County Circuit Court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph McClusky, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant Darrell Carpenter.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General, and Bryan Davis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Appellant, Darrell Carpenter, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for second degree murder in November of 2007. At the conclusion of a jury trial, he was convicted of the offense as charged in the indictment and sentenced to twenty years in incarceration as a violent offender. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Appellant did not seek an appeal. Appellant subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he sought a delayed appeal pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-113. The trial court granted the motion for delayed appeal. In this Court, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence resulting in his second degree murder conviction. After a review of the record and the applicable authorities, we conclude that the evidence at trial was sufficient to support the conviction. Accordingly, Appellant is not entitled to relief, and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Gregory A. Hedges, Wartburg, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Gregory A. Hedges, filed in the Morgan County Criminal Court a habeas corpus petition, seeking relief from his convictions of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and aggravated kidnapping. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Paul K. Guibao (on appeal), and Ross Sampson and Taylor Eskridge (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Lanier.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Greg Gilbert and Katie Ratton, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, William Lanier, of premeditated first degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant asserts: (1) that he was denied his right to a speedy trial; (2) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; (3) that the trial court erred in allowing Detective Anthony Mullins to testify as a blood spatter expert; (4) that the trial court erred in admitting blood spatter evidence that was insufficiently authenticated; (5) that the trial court improperly limited defense counsel’s cross-examination of witnesses; (6) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its questioning of witnesses and closing argument; and (7) that the cumulative effect of the errors warrants a new trial. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joann G. Rosa, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; and Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Joann G. Rosa, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for a writ of error coram nobis regarding her conviction for first degree murder, for which she is serving a life sentence. The Petitioner contends that the trial judge who presided over her jury trial pleaded guilty to official misconduct, that the judge’s misconduct was newly discovered evidence entitling her to a new trial, that the judge’s misconduct created structural error entitling her to a new trial, and that the trial judge who denied coram nobis relief had a conflict of interest because she was mentioned in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) report regarding the misconduct allegation. We 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), Kamilah E. Turner and Gregory T. Carman (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Dameon Williams.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Patience R. Branham and Samuel D. Winnig, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Dameon Williams, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony, and sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to six years in the county workhouse. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in admitting an autopsy photograph of the victim’s skull and that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Based upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Supreme Court Rules on Modifying Parental Plans

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that a parent seeking to modify a residential parenting schedule after establishing a permanent parenting plan is not required to prove the parents did not anticipate a significant change in circumstances at the time of the initial parenting agreement, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. The Court emphasized that the trial court properly applied the law in Andrew K. Armbrister V. Melissa H. Armbrister and modified the residential parenting schedule consistently with other statutes instructing courts to structure residential parenting schedules so that both parents enjoy the maximum participation possible in the life of the child.

Wharton Speaks Out Against Supreme Court Voter ID Decision

Memphis Mayor AC Wharton is speaking out about the city’s lost battle to have library cards with a photo serve as legal identification for voting. Wharton told  WREG News Channel 3 that the city stood up for poor, disenfranchised voters in the fight. “Emphasis ought to be on getting more people to vote as opposed to reducing the number of people who vote,”  Wharton said. The Supreme Court says the law doesn’t prevent anyone from voting because anyone who can’t afford it, can get a free photo ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Former TBA President Recovering From Attacks

Former TBA President and Tennessee Bar Journal columnist Bill Haltom is recovering from two attacks he suffered recently while running in Memphis, the Commercial Appeal reports. Haltom had his iPhone taken and suffered a broken jaw, but his sense of humor remains intact. “They say that in America a man is assaulted every seven seconds," Haltom wrote on his website, "and he's getting mighty tired of it!”

Davidson County Lawyer Censured

Michael Lloyd Freeman received a public censure for keeping his own money in his client trust account and using those funds to pay his office rent. Freeman also failed to maintain reasonable communication with a client and then failed to provide subsequent counsel with the client’s file. Finally, Freeman neglected a different client’s case by failing to act with reasonable diligence and failing to communicate with the client. Download the BPR notice.

Fentress County Lawyer Censured

Thomas Harding Potter received a public censure for disclosing confidential, prejudicial information about his client in a motion to withdraw. Download the BPR notice.

Bradley County Lawyer Censured

James Franklin Logan Jr. received a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility. Logan, on behalf of a Limited Partnership in which he and his client were principals, attempted to foreclose on his client’s residence to recover monies the client owed to the partnership. In so doing, he violated Rules 1.7 and 1.8 because his actions were adverse to the interests of his client. Additionally, Logan violated Rule 1.6 by discussing his client’s finances with his client’s ex-wife without his client’s consent. Download the BPR notice.

Memphis Lawyer Censured

Samuel Jones was publicly censured on Oct. 16 for failing to adequately communicate with a client during his representation in a divorce proceeding. Jones also failed to diligently represent the client, which led to the court’s dismissal of the client’s case on two separate occasions for lack of prosecution. Download the BPR notice.

TBA Offers CLE Your Way

Remember to use the three hours of free CLE programming that comes with your TBA membership. Members can use this credit to cover all or part of the cost of live programs across the state, weekly webcasts or any of the 300-plus online courses offered in both video and text formats. Find a course now.

YLD to Hold Librarian Training In Chattanooga

Young lawyers with the Tennessee Bar Association and the Chattanooga Bar Association will hold two training sessions Friday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Chattanooga Downtown Library Auditorium. The sessions will educate librarians and court clerks about free services available to members of the public seeking legal assistance. To attend, RSVP to Ellie Hill at (423)756-7117. The Chattanoogan has more.

Morristown CLE is Thursday

An item in Friday's TBA Today had the wrong city for a free CLE being offered Thursday for those who agree to take a pro bono case from Legal Aid of East Tennessee. While the hosting agency is located in Chattanooga, the CLE is being offered in Morristown. Learn more about this and other Celebrate Pro Bono events across the state.

Get Ready for Vandy-UT With Pre-game CLE

Whether your blood runs orange or black and gold, start your preparations for this year's annual UT-Vandy football game in Knoxville with the TBA's Pre-Game CLE Ppogram on Nov. 22. Mix and mingle with your colleagues from these two proud Tennessee schools the afternoon before the big game, while also learning about  legal issues facing the sports world today. Topics will touch on the law, ethics, and complexity of amateur athlete compensation and managing relationships between schools, players, and the NCAA.

Strut! Fundraiser and Fashion Show Oct. 24

The Community Legal Center and Memphis Bar Association will host Strut! this Thursday at Mercedes-Benz of Memphis. Strut! is the annual fundraiser for CLC and includes food, wine and a fashion show. The event starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $50. For event sponsorship information, contact CLC at (901) 543-3395.

Smartphone Comparison for Lawyers

The ABA’s 2012 Legal Technology Survey Report says 89 percent of American lawyers use smartphones for law-related tasks. Almost half of that number use iPhones, while 31 percent use BlackBerry and 18 percent use Android phones. To help lawyers decide which is right for them, the Canadian Lawyer compared and contrasted the features of these top three phones.


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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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