News

November TBJ Covers a Variety of Topics

In the latest issue of the Journal, Murfreesboro lawyer Josh McCreary writes about "The Viability of a Regulatory Takings Claim Under Phillips v. Montgomery County." In his column, Knoxville lawyer Wade Davies helps you understand diminished capacity, and two books are reviewed. Nashville lawyer David Raybin explores a book by noted death penalty scholar Austin Sarat, Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty (there were several in Tennessee over the years, including an elephant) and Chattanooga lawyer John B. Phillips reviews H. Graham Swafford Jr.'s memoir, Go to the Pound and Get a Dog ... Then Learn to Fly an Airplane: Life's Lessons Acquired by a Country Lawyer.

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Corlew Recuses Himself from New Mosque Suit

Chancellor Robert Corlew III on Monday recused himself from hearing a lawsuit challenging construction of a cemetery at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, the Daily News Journal reports. Attorneys for the center argued Corlew should not hear the case since he previously ruled against the mosque in a decision regarding whether adequate public notice was given before the center received approval for construction. Corlew, who has announced his retirement, defended his track record in the construction case saying he tried it in a fair and impartial way. The new suit seeks to halt construction of a cemetery approved in January by the zoning board, arguing the center has not presented new soil and traffic studies as directed.

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If You Did It, Flaunt It With a TBJ Announcement

The Tennessee Bar Journal has a new opportunity for lawyers and firms to promote outstanding achievements, new associates, new partners, mergers, awards and any changes within the firm. Now, Professional Announcements are available at special, lower-rate pricing. You can tell more than 12,000 of your peers about your accomplishments by placing an announcement in the Journal. For information or to place an announcement, contact Debbie Taylor at 503-445-2231 or Debbie@llm.com. To have an announcement placed in the April issue, please contact her before Feb. 18.

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Appeals Court Rules Notice OK for Mosque Project

An appeals court ruled this week that the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission provided proper public notice before approving construction plans for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro mosque in 2010, the Tennessean reports. The appeals court reversed Chancellor Robert Corlew III’s decision that the county’s public notice in The Murfreesboro Post about the meeting time, date and location without an agenda, didn’t reach enough people before planning commissioners approved the mosque plans. The plaintiffs’ attorney Joe Brandon said Thursday that the Tennessee Supreme Court will be asked to reverse the ruling.

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Judge Gives More Time for Mosque Construction

U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp agreed Thursday to give the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro more time to complete construction and occupy its new building. Sharp extended a temporary restraining order until Aug. 15 after another federal judge last week ordered Rutherford County to restart the inspection process on the mosque. Nashville-based U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin said his office and Rutherford County asked the federal judge to provide more time to allow the ICM to complete the new mosque and obtain a certificate of occupancy after passing final inspections from the local government.

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Chancellor Was Ready to Block Mosque Construction

If a federal judge had not overturned a partial injunction barring the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro from opening, Chancellor Robert Corlew III would have halted completion of the mosque, according to court documents filed last week. According to these documents, Corlew said he was preparing to order officials with the Rutherford County Building Codes Department to immediately stop construction of the center “for the reason that the structure is being built without a valid site plan…” Now that the federal court has asserted jurisdiction, the local court has suspended its involvement. Learn more in the Murfreesboro Post

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Judge Allows Access to Mosque, U.S. Sues for Occupancy Permit

A federal judge in Nashville ruled this afternoon that a Murfreesboro mosque may open in time for Ramadan, though he said the building must go through the normal inspection process. Attorneys for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro argued in court today that they were being held to a higher standard than other religious groups in seeking a construction permit for their building. Also today, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Rutherford County, claiming violations of a federal law that prohibits religious discrimination in land use and zoning decisions. The suit asks the court to force the county to issue a certificate of occupancy for the mosque. The county has refused to issue the certificate following a chancery court ruling that proper notice was not given for the mosque’s building permit. The Tennessean has the latest

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Planners Consider New Vote on Mosque

Planning commission members are exploring a new vote on construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro while they appeal a court ruling that stopped occupancy of the nearly finished mosque. A commissioner told the Daily News Journal that legal counsel indicated the body could revisit the matter any time as long as public notice is adequate. A judge in May overturned the commission's approval of the mosque because public notice wasn't sufficient. Meanwhile, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro intends to ask for a certificate of occupancy for the new mosque soon despite a court order banning the county from issuing the document. The paper has more on that issue

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Building the Mosque: Religious Land Use vs. Open Meetings?

Even cities with strict design standards that can reject a McDonald’s from building its golden arches can’t reject the architectural designs that are part of a place of worship, Nashville attorney George Dean said in explaining legal rights of religious architecture. Dean provided expert testimony for the Rutherford County government in defense of a lawsuit for approving the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro’s mosque plans in 2010. He talks about weighing religious land use rights against the open meeting meetings law, which is at the heart of the legal dispute over if the facility can open.  The Daily News Journal has the story

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Bids for Anderson Co. Jail Work Reviewed

With a budget of $10 million set for expansion of the overcrowded Anderson County Jail, several bids came in under the mark, with Rouse Construction Co. of Knoxville having the apparent low bid of $9,660,000. The plan is to significantly redesign the existing facility and construct a new 45,965-square-foot building that will provide space for 212 beds. The News Sentinel has more

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Judge Blocks Occupancy Certificate For Mosque

Rutherford County Chancellor Robert Corlew today stopped short of halting construction on a new mosque in Murfreesboro, but blocked local officials from issuing an occupancy certificate for it. Last month Corlew voided construction approval for the facility. At a hearing today, opponents of the mosque asked him to order county officials to halt construction at the site. He declined, saying his ruling was not enforceable until after a 30-day appeal period. The Planning Commission voted on Monday to appeal. The County Commission will take up the issue Thursday. Read more from News Channel 5

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Rutherford Commission Votes to Appeal Mosque Ruling

Rutherford County planners voted 6-1 Monday to appeal a court ruling that declared their approval of a mosque void for not providing adequate public notice. “In my opinion, he was asking us to discriminate,” Rutherford County Regional Planning Commissioner Mike Kusch said of Chancellor Robert Corlew III's ruling. Another commissioner agreed, saying the ruling asked the county to discriminate by telling it to treat the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in a different way than how it approved construction plans for Grace Baptist Church next door. The Tennessean has the story

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Judge Says Mosque Construction Can Proceed

Construction of a controversial mosque in Murfreesboro can continue according to a ruling out today. Earlier this week, Chancellor Robert Corlew III found that county commissioners did not give proper notice before approving the new Islamic center, but a footnote in the order issued today said that does not mean work has to stop on the mosque, and that such a matter would have to be taken up separately. WPLN reports

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County Won't Halt Mosque Construction

Rutherford County has no immediate plans to revoke the building permit for an embattled Murfreesboro mosque, says county attorney Jim Cope. “The county is going to look at all the possibilities" and "this could take weeks.” Construction at the new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was set to continue today, despite a judge’s decision that voided the county planning commission’s approval of the project. County officials say they will wait for a court order from the judge to stop the construction. The Tennessean has more

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Justice Center Repairs May Cause Suit

Cumberland County attorney Randal Boston will review a report and documents from the renovation and remodeling of a portion of the Justice Center to determine if a civil suit could be pursued by the county. Renovations done about three years ago, commissioners say, have had to be repaired many times, causing water damage and mold. One architecture firm estimates the needed repairs to be more than $400,000. The Crossville Chronicle reports

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