State Challenges Ruling on Same-Sex Marriages

Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper is asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a decision granting recognition to three same-sex married couples, the Tennessean reports. The action follows Friday’s preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger allowing the marriage of three same-sex couples -- plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit -- to be recognized as their lawsuit against Gov. Bill Haslam and others progressed. The AG’s argument points to a stay issued in a similar ruling in Utah, and says it won’t irreparably harm the couples not to be recognized.

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
03 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
01 - 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 Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


James Higdon (on appeal), Pro Se, and Michael G. Hatmaker and Donald Brent Gray (at trial), Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Higdon.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Lori Phillips-Jones, District Attorney General; and Steve Garrett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Tommy Higdon, was convicted by a Campbell County Criminal Court jury of three counts of reckless endangerment, Class A misdemeanors, assault, a Class A misdemeanor, and resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor. See T.C.A. § 39-13-101, 39-13- 103, 39-16-602 (2010). He was sentenced to concurrent sentences of eleven months, twentynine days for the reckless endangerment and assault convictions and six months for the resisting arrest conviction, all to be served on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) his Fifth Amendment rights were violated because the indictment was improperly amended and a defect existed in the grand jury proceedings, (2) he was denied his right to confront witnesses against him, (3) his right to a speedy trial was violated, (4) his three reckless endangerment convictions violate principles of double jeopardy, and (5) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kathryn Merwald and Robert C. Edwards, Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Anthony Xen Maples.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Jamie Carter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Anthony Xen Maples, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury conviction of second offense driving under the influence (“DUI”), claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the fine imposed by the trial court was excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Phillip Pye, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Brent Cooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Phillip Pye, appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief as untimely. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that due process concerns should toll the one-year statute of limitations to allow review of his underlying claims. Because the Petitioner has failed to prove any grounds upon which to toll the statute of limitations, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Constitutionality of Legislation that would Prohibit Mass Picketing

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-03-17

Opinion Number: 31

Next 2 Weeks Critical for Legislators

The next two weeks could be crucial for the General Assembly, the Tennessean suggests, as big issues such as meth abuse, school vouchers, free tuition for community college students and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants still face decisions in the House and Senate before they shut down. The TBA's package of bills continues to progress towards passage. The five-year statute of repose for legal malpractice passed the House Monday and is now headed to the Governor, as is the TBA's family law bill. However, the TBA has concerns about bills regarding patent litigation, employment discrimination, and confidentiality for victims of sexual offenses and has communicated these concerns to the legislature. These measures continue to move forward without changes. A bill on the issue of bad faith patent infringement (SB1967/HB2117) is ineffective, since any litigation would likely not survive a preemption challenge and existing case law effectively addresses these issues. Another bill (SB2126/HB1954) would gut protections for whistleblowers in employment discrimination cases, and only protects against retaliation if a report was in writing or email. Under the guise of keeping crime victim information confidential, SB2254/HB2361 would make it more difficult for defense attorneys to discuss identifying information about the victim with their client. TBAImpact has more.

Vanderbilt Launches Program to Train Federal Judges

Vanderbilt Law School and the Federal Judicial Center (FJC) are teaming up to provide mid-career training for federal judges. The first seminar will be offered this fall. Law school dean Chris Guthrie says the unique collaboration solidifies the school’s position as a center for the study of judges and judging. The first seminar will be led by FJC Director and U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel and Vanderbilt professor Terry Maroney, who said the program aims “to create space for them to reflect and recharge in a deep way, something their daily work pressures can make difficult.”

Mosque Opponents Now Targeting Graveyard Permit

Plaintiffs opposed to the development of a graveyard at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro will take their case before Chancellor Robert Corlew III next Monday, the Tennessean reports. The plaintiffs hope to stop graveyard construction on grounds that a permit should not have been granted while opponents of the center are still pursuing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court over the original building permit for the Islamic Center.

Lawsuit Challenges Policy of Shackling During Delivery

Hamilton County’s policy of shackling female prisoners during labor, delivery and postpartum is being challenged in a new federal lawsuit. Attorney Chris Clem told the Chattanoogan that the suit seeks to declare the practice “as cruel and inhuman and a violation of civil rights.” A Metro Davidson County policy was also challenged in the high-profile case of Juana Villegas, an undocumented Nashville resident who was arrested and later held in shackles while giving birth.

Mississippi Criminal Justice Reforms Move Ahead

Legislative reform that will bring sweeping changes to Mississippi’s criminal justice system survived a last-minute challenge Monday to win approval in both the House and Senate. The bill came out of a seven-month study by a task force studying prison crowding and related matters. The legislation would, among other things, ensure that violent criminals serve at least half of their sentences — nonviolent criminals would have to complete 25 percent of their terms — before becoming eligible for parole.

Dalton Named Red Boiling Springs City Attorney

Christi Dalton has been named as new city attorney for Red Boiling Springs. A Nashville School of Law graduate, Dalton practices with the Chamberlain Law Firm in Lafayette, the Macon County Times reports. Appearing before the council for the first time last week, Dalton said she was excited to be working with the city. "I hope we can do good things together.”

Tennessean, Others to Appeal Records Ruling

A media coalition led by The Tennessean filed notice yesterday that it plans to appeal a judge’s decision in a lawsuit against Metro government over access to records in a Vanderbilt University rape case.

Want to Be a Happy Lawyer? Make a Difference

What does it take to make a lawyer happy? Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan told graduating students at Georgetown University Law Center that the key is being able to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. The high court's youngest justice said that she was inspired by working as a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall, who convinced her that a meaningful career for lawyers meant making a difference "in something bigger than themselves." WRCB carries the Associated Press report.

ABA Offers Retirement Benefits for the Legal Sector

Looking for a retirement plan for yourself or your employees? The ABA Retirement Fund provides unique, full service 401(k) plans specifically for the legal community. By leveraging the assets of its 3,800 client firms, the ABA plan offers packages typically available only to large corporations. For more information contact a regional representative at (800) 826-8901 or visit

Family Court Judge Seeking Re-election

Wilson County Family Court Judge John T. Gwin has announced he is running for re-election to the position he has held since the Court was first formed as Division III of the General Sessions Court in 2008. Before going on the bench, Gwin was in private law practice for more than 30 years, with primary emphasis on family law matters. The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet has more.


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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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