Proposed Election of AG Defeated in Senate

A proposed constitutional amendment to allow for the statewide election of the Attorney General was narrowly defeated in the Senate today. The measure needed 17 votes to proceed but only received 15, with several senators not voting. Sen. Mae Beavers, who was its main supporter, indicated she would continue to press the issue in future sessions. A competing proposal to allow the legislature to appoint the AG continues to press forward. Nashville Public Radio 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
02 - 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

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TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jeremy Wayne Parham, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Azalea City Amusement, Inc.

John B. Ingleson, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, Haas & Wilkerson, Inc.


This is an appeal from an order denying a motion for return of personal property. Because the order does not resolve all the claims between the parties we dismiss for lack of a final judgment.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Eli Tom Orr, Pollock, Louisana, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Benjamin A. Whitehouse, Assistant Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Safety.


A person whose property was seized, and subsequently forfeited, pursuant to a drug arrest challenges the actions of the Department of Safety. In light of the nine-year delay in the filing of a petition for review, we find no error in the trial court’s dismissal of the action.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jerry A. Schatz (at trial and on appeal) and Brett B. Stein (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Thomas Bolton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Kirby May and Cavett Ostner, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Thomas Bolton, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of vandalism, theft of property, and violations of the Solid Waste Disposal Act, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the propriety of certain jury instructions. We affirm the convictions and sentences but remand for correction of clerical errors in the judgments.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Jeremy B. Epperson, Assistant District Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brandon L. Brawner.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Jody Pickens, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Brandon L. Brawner, pleaded guilty to one count of vandalism of property valued at $10,000 or more and received a six-year sentence, to be served in a community-based alternative to incarceration (community corrections). A violation of probation warrant1 was subsequently filed, alleging that appellant perpetrated a domestic aggravated assault, aggravated assault, and vandalism of $1,000 or more while using a knife and that appellant owed $9,438.50 in fines, costs, and restitution. The trial court revoked his probation, and this appeal follows. Appellant now alleges that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve the remainder of his sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. After our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Rosalind E. Brown, Memphis, Tennessee, for the petitioner, Anthony Clinton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jessica Banti, Assistant District Attorney General, for the respondent, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Anthony Clinton, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of robbery, a Class C felony, and was sentenced as a career offender to fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Following an unsuccessful direct appeal, he filed the instant petition for postconviction relief. The post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing and denied relief. Appealing from the post-conviction court’s order, petitioner pursues the following claims of ineffective assistance of counsel: (a) failure to file a motion to suppress his identification; (b) failure to file a motion to suppress the evidence seized during the search of his person; and (c) failure to obtain copies of the store surveillance tapes and the 9-1-1 recordings. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Daniel Lee Draper, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Tracy L. Bradshaw, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The pro se petitioner, Daniel Lee Draper, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. He argues that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to sentence him to life with the possibility of parole, that the habeas court erred in summarily dismissing his petition without a hearing, and that the habeas court erred in failing to treat his habeas petition as a post-conviction petition. After review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Marvin Ballin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Curtis Moore.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Carla Taylor, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Curtis Moore, of attempted second degree murder, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and aggravated assault. The trial court merged the aggravated assault conviction with the attempted second degree murder conviction and ordered the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of fourteen years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for attempted second degree murder and that the trial court erred when it found him statutorily ineligible for probation. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction. We further conclude, and the State concedes, that the trial court erred when it found the Defendant statutorily ineligible for probation. As such, we reverse the case for the trial court to consider the Defendant’s suitability for probation on the eight-year sentence for attempted second degree murder.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Harry E. Sayle, III (on appeal), Michael J. Johnson and John Zastrow (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Jeffrey Walton.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Stacy M. McEndree, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Jeffrey Walton, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of vandalism over $10,000, a Class C felony, and burglary of a building, a Class D felony, for which he received sentences of fifteen years as a persistent offender and twelve years as a career offender, to be served consecutively, in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Drug Testing of Judges Proposed in New Bill

A bill filed for introduction by Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, would allow for drug testing of judges in criminal trials on the motion and demand of either party. If the judge refuses, the judge would be deemed disabled for that trial and a new judge appointed. If neither party brings the motion for drug testing, the issue may not be asserted on appeal. Check out TBAImpact for the TBA take on this new legislation

New PAC to Educate Public on Judicial Issues

Tennesseans for Independent Courts, a new nonprofit political action committee, has announced it will educate the public on the “dangers of partisan political pressures on judicial elections and appointments.” The group, formed Jan. 10 by former personnel commissioner Randy Camp, who served in Gov. Phil Bredesen’s cabinet, will also provide support to judicial candidates who want to run for office without political affiliations, and back legislative and gubernatorial candidates who want the same. Camp states that the non-profit corporation has filed for 501 (c) designation with the IRS, and will be dedicated to informing, educating, engaging and involving the citizens of Tennessee in ensuring that the judicial branch of Tennessee’s government remains free and independent of partisan political pressures from any group or organization. KnoxBlogs has more.

White House Touts Diversity in Judicial Nominations

President Barack Obama today nominated five lawyers for trial and appellate courts, including a state judge in Florida who would be the first openly gay male African-American on the federal bench. According to the National Law Journal, the White House is touting the nominations as part of Obama’s effort to expand the gender and racial diversity of the nation’s courts. The White House today published an updated graphic that spotlights Obama’s judicial nominations to date.

Baker Donelson Works to Retain Female Attorneys

Christy Crider, a shareholder in Baker Donelson’s Nashville office, takes over this week as head of the company’s firmwide Women’s Initiative. One of Crider’s chief tasks in her new role, which comes straight from CEO Ben Adams, is to improve the firm’s retention of top-tier female lawyers. In an interview with the Tennessean, Crider talks about why offering a certain perk to men can actually help support female attorneys, and how she plans to spread the principles of Baker Donelson’s Women’s Initiative across Nashville’s health care community.

More Pick Up Petitions for Williamson County Primary

Sixty-one candidates have picked up petitions to be on Williamson County’s May 6 primary ballot to contend for judgeships, county constitutional offices and numerous seats on the county commission. The last day to qualify for the election is Feb. 20. Voter registration is April 7. Candidates have also been picking up petitions to qualify in the Aug. 7 primary for state Senate and House seats and state executive committees. The qualifying deadline for the August election is April 3. Visit the Tennessean for a full list of candidates

Conservative Group Backs Sen. Tracy in GOP Primary

GOPAC, a national group that works to elect what it considers promising conservatives, announced today that it is backing state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, in his GOP primary challenge of U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais. Founded by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., the group says Tracy is one of four "proven and tested conservative state leaders" the group is backing nationwide in primary and general elections as part of its "Called-Up" program. Tracy is running against DesJarlais as he seeks a third term representing Tennessee's 4th Congressional District. Teacher John Anderson of Bell Buckle is also running in the GOP primary. Democrat Lenda Sherell of Monteagle officially launched her campaign on Monday. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has the story.

LGBT Advocate to Speak at Vandy Law Next Week

Attorney James Esseks, director of the LBGT and AIDS Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, will speak at Vanderbilt University on Feb. 11 at noon in Flynn Auditorium in the law school. Esseks played a pivotal role in the Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling (United State v. Windsor) striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Age. In his talk, “The Road to Windsor: Marriage and the Broader Struggle for LGBT Rights,” Esseks -- who represented Edie Windsor -- will discuss the case, as well as the ACLU’s plan for achieving the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide, and where marriage fits into the larger agenda of LGBT rights, including employment discrimination, parenting rights, transgender equality and school bullying. The event is free and open to the public.

Napier- Looby Annual Barrister’s Banquet Feb. 20

The Napier-Looby Bar Association will host the 10th Annual Barristers’ Banquet and Awards Program at the Music City Center in Nashville on Feb. 20. Cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and awards presentation. This year’s honorees are Sheila Calloway of the Metro Nashville Juvenile Court, Cynthia Fitzgerald of the Law Offices of Cynthia Fitzgerald, Jerrilyn Manning of the Metro Public Defender’s Office and Robert Smith of Smith Hirsch PLC. Please RSVP by Feb. 12.

CBA to Hold Memorial Service

The Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA) will hold a memorial service on March 7 at 11 a.m. in the Hamilton County Courthouse. Those remembered will include the Hon. Edward A. “Butch” Synder, Ralph Russell Armstrong, former Tennessee Bar Association President Charles Gearhiser, Allan Geschwind, John Lee III, Ben Haden and J. Guy Beatty Jr.

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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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