News

Community Foundation Grant Provides Van to Drug Court

The 23rd Judicial District Drug Court received a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for a 15-passenger van to transport participants to work, counseling, community service and mandatory court sessions.

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Gov. Signs Law to Overturn Nashville, Memphis Marijuana Acts

Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday approved legislation that repeals separate Nashville and Memphis laws that had allowed partial marijuana decriminalization in those communities, the Tennessean reports. The signing ends the short-lived policies adopted last fall that gave police the power to reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

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Court Allows Social Media History as Evidence in UT Rape Case

The defense of two former University of Tennessee football players will be allowed to go after the social media history of the woman they allegedly raped, a state appellate court ruled today. Knoxnews reports that the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision may aid the case of A.J. Johnson and Michael William, and also open the door for defense attorneys to directly seek social media history from witnesses without relying on prosecutors or police to do so.
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Bill Setting Deadline for Parole Cases Heads to Governor

A bill that creates a deadline for the Board of Parole to reconsider cases when a person has returned to prison after criminal charges have been dismissed is headed to Gov. Bill Haslam, the Tennessean reports. The measure, which passed the House unanimously on Monday, was proposed after a Tennessee man was imprisoned for a year after his case was dismissed.
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Attorney General to End Forensic Science Commission

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will put an end to the National Commission on Forensic Science, a 30-member advisory panel of scientists, judges, crime lab leaders, prosecutors and defense lawyers that were working to raise forensic science standards, the Washington Post reports. Sessions said that instead, an in-house team of law enforcement advisers will be used. The Justice Department has decided to suspend work on setting uniform standards for forensic testimony.
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Suspect in Zaevion Dobson Case Found Guilty of Shooting Informant

A suspect in the death of Knoxville high school football player Zaevion Dobson was found guilty today of attempting to murder his friend for talking to police, Knoxnews reports. A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted Richard Gregory Williams III of trying to kill Larry Eugene North, a friend of Williams’ who had talked to police investigators about the shooting death of Dobson. Williams and another suspect, Christopher Drone Bassett, are still awaiting trial in that case.

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Suspect in Zaevion Dobson Case Found Guilty of Shooting Informant

A suspect in the death of Knoxville high school football player Zaevion Dobson was found guilty today of attempting to murder his friend for talking to police, Knoxnews reports. A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted Richard Gregory Williams III of trying to kill Larry Eugene North, a friend of Williams’ who had talked to police investigators about the shooting death of Dobson. Williams and another suspect, Christopher Drone Bassett, are still awaiting trial in that case.

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Learn About the Latest in Criminal Law and DUI Cases

CLE on criminal law will be held at the Bar Center in Nashville on May 3. Attendees will learn about the latest in Tennessee DUI law and best practices for handling criminal cases. Sessions will touch on the technical and legal aspects of criminal defense and provide tips on how to best advise clients. Additional topics will cover client communication, general guidelines for handling criminal cases and field sobriety testing.

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Court Overrules State v. Jacumin on Sufficiency of Affidavit to Issue Search Warrant

The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a 2012 search warrant in the case of Jerry Lewis Tuttle, overruling State v. Jacumin and adopting the totality-of-the-circumstances approach for determining whether an affidavit sufficiently establishes probable cause for issuance of a search warrant. Tuttle had moved to suppress evidence seized from the search, but the trial court denied the motion and admitted the evidence at trial. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the decision, leading to the state's appeal to the Supreme Court. Nashville defense attorney David Raybin was critical of the ruling, saying "This decision is another instance where the Court is eliminating independent Tennessee Constitutional oversight over police searches."
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New N.C. Rule Requires Lawyers to Reveal Innocence Evidence

North Carolina will require all attorneys to reveal any evidence of innocence they become aware of after a conviction, the Associated Press reports. It is the first state in the union to pass such a law, though 16 other states have applied this rule to prosecutors. 
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CLE Outlines How to Change Your Practice to Meet Market Demands

The fourth and final CLE in the “Modern Law Practice Series” will explore emerging trends in the delivery of legal services and how focusing on consumer behavior could benefit your law firm. This session will examine the ways in which consumer-facing companies like Avvo and LegalZoom have capitalized on tailoring services to the needs of the modern legal client and how you can adjust your practice to meet those same demands. The program will be held April 13, and will be available in person and on-demand.

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How to Deal With Bullying, Threats and Physical Violence in the Workplace

Violence in the workplace is a growing threat. Read in the April Journal about its many forms -- including bullying, intimidation, and of course, physical harm -- and what to do about them. Chattanooga lawyer Bob Lype details the issue. And read Nashville lawyer David Hudson's article about the “jailhouse lawyer” case that significantly changed the legal landscape in the state regarding prisoner rights and access to the courts. Also in this issue, TBA President Jason Long thanks the Young Lawyers Division on its many accomplishments. Read the entire issue online.

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Moreland Resigns; Granted Release from Jail

Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland today resigned his post, effective April 4, the Tennessean reports. The announcement was made in federal court where U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Brown ruled there was probable cause to sustain charges against him. New details of the FBI inquiry also were revealed, including the fact that Moreland kept a list of people on his iPhone labeled “witnesses.” Brown also decided to release the judge from jail pending trial on the charges, but with certain conditions.
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Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection Protocols

The Tennessee Supreme Court today upheld state lethal injection protocols in a unanimous opinion, potentially allowing executions to resume, the Tennessean reports. Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins wrote the opinion, in which the court states that the more than 30 condemned inmates bringing the case failed to show that current protocols violate constitutional provisions against cruel and unusual punishment. 
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Supreme Court: Indigent Prisoner’s Case Properly Dismissed

The Tennessee Supreme Court has held that an indigent prisoner’s petition for parole was properly dismissed when the court found he had outstanding unpaid court costs. Reginald Dion Hughes is serving a 60-year sentence for two 1987 murder convictions, and appealed to the Chancery Court after being denied parole for the third time. In Justice Sharon Lee’s dissenting opinion on the decision, she noted that Hughes’ petition was denied based on only $49.50 in unpaid court costs that a clerk had not attempted to collect.
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Man Accused of Murdering Parents Indicted in Knoxville

A Louisiana man charge with brutally murdering his parents was indicted yesterday by a Knox County grand jury on five counts, Knoxnews reports. Joel Michael Guy Jr. faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of abusing a corpse and one count of felony murder. He is currently being held in the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility on a $2 million bond.
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Fingerprint Helped Solve 1989 Cold Case

A fingerprint on a beer can helped solve the 30-year-old homicide cold case that Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston filed charges in earlier this week, the Times Free Press reports. At the scene of the crime of the 1989 stabbing death of James “Richard” Layne at the La Plaza motel in Chattanooga, a beer can with a fingerprint was discovered, but it wasn’t until 2016 that a match was found. A print taken from Samuel Edward Reeves during a DUI arrest connected him to the crime, which he later admitted to.
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Fingerprint Helped Solve 1989 Cold Case

A fingerprint on a beer can helped solve the 30-year-old homicide cold case that Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston filed charges in earlier this week, the Times Free Press reports. At the scene of the crime of the 1989 stabbing death of James “Richard” Layne at the La Plaza motel in Chattanooga, a beer can with a fingerprint was discovered, but it wasn’t until 2016 that a match was found. A print taken from Samuel Edward Reeves during a DUI arrest connected him to the crime, which he later admitted to.
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Gatlinburg Detective Appears in Court in Connection to Ooltewah Rape Case

A Gatlinburg police detective appeared in Hamilton County Court today on perjury charges in connection with his 2016 testimony in the Ooltewah High School rape case, the Times Free Press reports. The case centers around a 15-year-old who was raped with a pool cue. Detective Rodney Burns referred to the incident as “something stupid kids do,” and when he testified he reported that “there was no rape or torture, no screams of anguish.” However, in a previous police report, he recorded that someone told him the victim “yelled out in pain” during the attack. Burns faces two counts of aggravated perjury.
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Nashville Police Unveil $50 million Officer Camera Plan

The Metro Nashville Police revealed plans to purchase body cameras for all 1,440 officers and new dashboard cameras for 880 department vehicles, the Tennessean reports. The plan, which was presented at the Metro Police Department’s budget hearing with Mayor Megan Barry today, is expected to cost $50.1 million. The request comes after the department faced scrutiny in the wake of the police killing of Jocques Clemmons.
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Nashville Police Unveil $50 million Officer Camera Plan

The Metro Nashville Police revealed plans to purchase body cameras for all 1,440 officers and new dashboard cameras for 880 department vehicles, the Tennessean reports. The plan, which was presented at the Metro Police Department’s budget hearing with Mayor Megan Barry today, is expected to cost $50.1 million. The request comes after the department faced scrutiny in the wake of the police killing of Jocques Clemmons.
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Nashville Police Unveil $50 million Officer Camera Plan

The Metro Nashville Police revealed plans to purchase body cameras for all 1,440 officers and new dashboard cameras for 880 department vehicles, the Tennessean reports. The plan, which was presented at the Metro Police Department’s budget hearing with Mayor Megan Barry today, is expected to cost $50.1 million. The request comes after the department faced scrutiny in the wake of the police killing of Jocques Clemmons.
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Nashville Public Defender Talks Racial Injustice

The Nashville Scene published an in-depth interview today with Metro Public Defender Dawn Deaner, who discusses racial injustice and what can be done about it. “If we're going to talk about racial injustice we have to recognize that our court system has never been a place where people of color have received legitimate equal treatment,” Deaner said. The interview was done in honor of Public Defense Week, which is being celebrated across the country.
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Ex-Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in Extortion Case

A former Shelby County Sheriff’s deputy pleaded not guilty today to federal charges alleging that he unlawfully took money while serving on the Narcotics Task Force, the Commercial Appeal reports. Jeremy Drewery is accused of threatening a person with arrest before taking $2,000.
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Bill That Would Exonerate McKinney Moves Forward

A bill that would eliminate the need for the Governor’s approval on certain exoneration requests has been approved by a subcommittee and is headed for the full Criminal Justice Committee, the Tennessean reports. If passed, the bill would include the exoneration application of Lawrence McKinney, the Wilson County man who spent 31 years in prison on a charge he was later cleared of through DNA evidence. McKinney was released from jail but so far has been unable to gain exoneration. 
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