Ethics Commission considers rules, ethics opinions

In what observers considered a surprising turn of events, the Tennessee Ethics Commission today retreated from its practice of permitting public comment and discussion at its meeting, moving forward on several fronts with public comment only after all decisions had been reached.

The commission had under consideration draft rules on public records, an advisory ethics opinion and principles of ethical conduct. Despite specific public records requests for advance drafts of the documents, they were not distributed until the meeting had begun. The public records rules permit the staff broad discretion in asserting a wide variety of exceptions for denying access to papers in the hands of the commission. They also permit charges for staff time to watch someone look at records, and allow staff and supply charges over and above a 25 cents per page for copies. The advisory ethics opinion clarifies that members of associations are not themselves covered by the lobbying law just because the association itself employs a lobbyist. The draft guiding principles of ethical conduct were significantly revised by the commission, specifically stripping out a provision that would have suggested that it was unethical for lawmakers to represent clients when the state was involved.
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Howard H. Vogel
Knoxville, Tennessee
Editor-in-Chief, TBALink


Court: TCCA


J. Thomas Marshall, Jr., Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bobby J. Russell.

Michael E. Moore, Acting Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General; James N. Ramsey, District Attorney General; and Jan Hicks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Bobby J. Russell, pled guilty in the Anderson County Criminal Court to aggravated assault and agreed to a six-year sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that he serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the appellant claims that the trial court erred by denying his request for alternative sentencing. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Wayne R. Stambaugh, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Douglas Sims.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkley Bell, District Attorney General; and Victor Vaughn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Hamblen County Criminal Court jury convicted the appellant, Douglas Sims, of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to sixteen years in confinement. The victim did not testify at trial. On appeal, the appellant claims that the trial court's allowing the State to introduce a transcript of the victim's preliminary hearing testimony into evidence violated his constitutional right to confrontation. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we conclude that the appellant is not entitled to relief and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


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