Death Row Inmates Sue to Stop Electric Chair 'Torture'

A group of 10 death row inmates suing over lethal injection in Tennessee today argued that the state’s backup plan — the electric chair — is an unconstitutional “torture device,” the Tennessean reports. Their lawsuit stems from a 2013 law that makes nearly all information about lethal injection secret. The inmates are locked in a battle with the state over whether they have a right to know how they will be killed and who will do the killing. In 2014, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a law that makes the electric chair the state’s official backup if lethal injection is declared unconstitutional or if the necessary drugs are unavailable. Attorneys for the inmates say that no other state, or any government in the world, imposes electrocution on the condemned.

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
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 Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Robert D. MacPherson, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shirley M. Cartwright.

Arthur E. McClellan and Elizabeth R. McClellan, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.


Shirley M. Cartwright (“Plaintiff”) sued Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company (“Defendant”) alleging breach of a contract of insurance. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. After a hearing, the Circuit Court for Maury County (“the Trial Court”) entered an order finding and holding, inter alia, that Plaintiff’s response to Defendant’s motion was untimely and would not be considered and that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment. Plaintiff appeals raising issues regarding whether the Trial Court erred in finding her response untimely, whether the Trial Court erred in granting Defendant summary judgment, and whether the Trial Court erred in denying two other motions filed by Plaintiff. We find and hold that Plaintiff’s response to Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was filed timely. We, therefore, reverse the Trial Court’s decision finding Plaintiff’s response untimely and refusing to consider it. As it was error to refuse to consider Plaintiff’s response to Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, we vacate the grant of summary judgment to Defendant and the Trial Court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motions and remand this case to the Trial Court for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Stephen E. Grauberger, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, for the appellants, William D. Stalker and Stephen L. Young.

John R. Phillips, Jr. and Brandon R. Meredith, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellees, David R. Nutter and Tamara D. Nutter.


In this non-jury case, builders of a home appeal the dismissal of their breach of contract claim against the prospective buyers, the court’s determination that the builders breached the construction and sale agreement, and the order awarding the earnest money deposit to the buyers. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal), Sarah King (at trial), and Kristin Neff (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ladarron S. Gaines.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Ladarron S. Gaines, of evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle in which the flight or attempt to elude created a risk of death or injury to innocent bystanders or other third parties, a Class D felony. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to eight years in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred by denying his motion to exclude testimony regarding a surveillance video, and that his sentence is excessive. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Keith Lowe, Knoxville, Tennessee (at trial); and Robert L. Vogel, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Jerry Kirkpatrick.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Eugene Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kenneth F. Irvine, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Jerry Kirkpatrick, was indicted for burglary and theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, both Class D felonies. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-14- 103, -105, -402. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was acquitted of the burglary charge and convicted of the theft charge. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to seven years. The trial court ordered the Defendant’s sentence to run consecutively to his sentence for a prior conviction. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction because the testimony of his accomplice was not sufficiently corroborated and (2) that the trial court erred in ordering his sentence to be served consecutively to a prior sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Applications Accepted for Eastern Division Magistrate Judgeship

The Judicial Conference of the United States has issued a public notice accepting applications for a fulltime U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Greeneville. This position is created by the upcoming retirement of Magistrate Judge Dennis H. Inman. The term of office is eight years. More information may be obtained from the Chairperson of the Merit Selection Panel, Charles T. Herndon IV, 104 East Main Street, Johnson City, TN 37604. Application deadline is Sept. 12.

Nashville Mayor Supports Same Sex Marriage

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean took another step in his support for same-sex marriage yesterday by officially joining the group Mayors for the Freedom to Marry — the first mayor in Tennessee to do so. Dean signed a marriage equality statement that says allowing same-sex couples to marry is good for everyone. Nearly 500 mayors around the country have signed the statement so far, according to the groups spokeswoman. In a press release, Dean said he wants Nashville to respect “individual dignity.” “Embracing and celebrating our growing diversity makes our city stronger,” he wrote. “Nashville needs to continue in that direction, and it’s my hope that joining this effort will help us do that.” Nashville Public Radio has more.

Deadline Monday to Apply for Shelby County Chancery Court Seat

The Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments is now accepting applications for the chancellor vacancy in the 30th Judicial District Chancery Court in Shelby County. The vacancy has been created by the appointment of Chancellor Kenny Armstrong to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, effective Sept. 1. For more information and the application, contact the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Justice Ginsburg Warns of Corruption from Money in Judicial Races

In a wide-ranging interview with the National Law Journal, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg criticized the court’s “biggest mistake” in the area of its campaign finance jurisprudence, adding, “It should be increasingly clear how [money] is corrupting our system, and it is spreading in states that elect their judges.” In replies to other questions, Ginsburg discussed recent court rulings including the Hobby Lobby case, restrictions on affirmative action and voting rights and the “real race problem” in America.

Reentry Summit Works to Reduce Crime and Recidivism

U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee William C. Killian hosted  a reentry summit this week at Chattanooga State Community College, the Chattanoogan reports. At the direction of the attorney general in early 2013, the Justice Department launched a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system in order to identify reforms that would ensure federal laws are enforced more fairly and — in an era of reduced budgets — more efficiently. “The goal of reentry is reduction of crime and recidivism,” Killian said.

Swearing-in Ceremonies Set Across the State

There are a number of ceremonies planned across the state next week to recognize retiring court and judicial officials and install new judges and other court officers in their positions. The events involve candidates elected for the first time, as well as those set to begin new terms. Find out information on times and locations.

Early Look at November Ballot

The Commercial Appeal today offered an early look at what Shelby County voters will see on their ballots in the Nov. 7 general election. There are 11 competitive state and federal races, including the gubernatorial race between Democrat Charlie Brown and Republican incumbent Bill Halsam. Voters will also decide on Amendments 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Challenge or Concede: Sen. Tracey to Announce Decision Monday

State Sen. Jim Tracy will wait until Monday to announce whether he'll challenge the Fourth Congressional District Republican primary results or concede to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, his campaign said today. The counties in the district finished certifying their results Thursday, and DesJarlais, the two-term incumbent, maintained his 38-vote lead over Tracy, who declared victory at one point on election night two weeks ago. The Republican winner will face Democrat Lenda Sherrell in the November general election. The Tennessean 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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