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Special Collections Online at UT

Donald Paine Collection Regarding Tennessee v. Daisy Root

Identifier: MS-3445

  • Staff Only

This collection houses Donald Paine’s research materials and resulting article regarding the case of Tennessee v. Daisy Alexander Root. Among these materials are derivative newspaper articles from The Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Press-Scimitar, copies of court documents from the Shelby County Criminal Court and the Tennessee Supreme Court in Nashville, a contemporary article, Murder in Memphis, by Michael Finger (published in the March 2002 edition of the Memphis magazine), and a 2008 book entitled Memphis: Murder & Mayhem by Theresa R. Simpson (chapter 10, The Cigarette Girl, is about Daisy Root). Also included are Donald Paine’s notes and correspondence relating to the trial and a contemporary Memphis street map showing the murder location.


  • 1935 November 11-1937 December 26, 2002 March-2009 December 21

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


0.2 Linear Feet


This collection consists of Donald Paine’s research materials and resulting article regarding the case of Tennessee v. Daisy Alexander Root. The research materials consist of derivative newspaper articles, copies of court documents, contemporary articles, Donald Paine’s notes and correspondence, and a Memphis street map.

Biographical/Historical Note

Daisy Alexander (1905-1998) married Brenton (Brit) Root in 1928. The couple had one child, George, born in 1932. Brit was physically and mentally cruel. He assaulted Daisy and kept a list and photograph album of the women with whom he committed adultery. On November 2, 1935, Daisy and Brit went out for the evening and encountered Lucille, one of the women pictured in Brit's photograph album. Around 1 a.m. the next morning Daisy woke Brit and shot him three times, killing him. On January 30, 1936, the Criminal Court of Memphis convicted Daisy of second degree murder and sentenced her to imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years. On January 16, 1937, Chief Justice Grafton Green recommended that the charge be reduced to voluntary manslaughter, for which she would serve two years. On December 26, 1937, Daisy Root was pardoned. She moved to McNairy County and remarried sometime after 1945.

Donald Franklin Paine was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1939. He earned his B.A. (1961), M.A. (1963), and LL.B. (1963) from the University of Tennessee. Immediately after graduation, Paine served in the Army as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. He was discharged in 1966 and returned to Tennessee, where he authored the Tennessee Law of Evidence (1974). Paine practiced law with Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers in addition to researching Tennessee's legal history. He was a Reporter to the Supreme Court Advisory Commission on Rules of Practice and Procedure, wrote a monthly column for the Tennessee Bar Journal, and lectured for the Tennessee Law Institute, the University of Tennessee College of Law, and the Tennessee Judicial Conference. Paine also served as President of the Knoxville Bar Association (1983) and of the Tennessee Bar Association (1986-1987). Paine died November 18, 2013.


This collection consists of a single box.

Acquisition Note

Donald Paine donated these materials to Special Collections on December 24, 2009.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA