Legislative update: Lien law wins committee support; Ethics Commission loses staff request

The TBA-backed bill that makes construction lien administration more clear and certain sailed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 9-0 vote today. The bill, SB2031/HB187, was drafted through a three-year effort by TBA members.

The Tennessee Ethics Commission saw its request for three additional staff to conduct audits and investigate complaints voted down by the Senate Finance Committee this morning and then met to address a number of other issues. During the five-hour meeting, the commission deferred access to records rules and guidelines; adopted an advisory opinion on the close personal gift exception; and reviewed reporting and audit requirements for employers of lobbyists. The commission continued its practice of deferring public comment until all decisions were made.
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Howard H. Vogel
Knoxville, Tennessee
Editor-in-Chief, TBALink


Court: TSC



Court: TCA


Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, Warren Jasper, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, TN, for Appellant, State of Tennessee ex rel., Elizabeth Wray

No Appearance for Appellee, Kelly Collins


This appeal involves a series of cases -- a paternity action, a dependency and neglect proceeding, and the present case, a petition to establish paternity and set child support. The first paternity suit had been dismissed by the mother after genetic testing had taken place, but before the court entered an order of parentage. During subsequent dependency and neglect proceedings, a grandmother had received temporary custody of the child. Finally, the State of Tennessee filed this case on the grandmother's behalf to establish paternity and collect child support from the child's biological father. The father insisted that he had never been properly served in the dependency and neglect proceeding, so the trial court dismissed the State's petition. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand.



Court: TCCA


Keith E. Haas, Newport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry Boykin

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; Al C. Schmutzer, Jr., District Attorney General; and James B. Dunn and Tracy L. Stone, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee

Judge: OGLE

The appellant, Larry Boykin, was convicted by a jury in the Cocke County Circuit Court of first degree murder, and he received a sentence of life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant argues that the State failed to timely disclose exculpatory information, the trial court erred in failing to suppress the appellant's statements to police due to a Miranda violation, the trial court erred in allowing evidence of a burglary to be introduced during the course of the murder trial, and the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for murder. Upon our review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCCA


James E. Lanier, District Public Defender; Patrick R. McGill, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Edgar White, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; Lance E. Webb, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee


The defendant, Edgar White, Jr., was convicted of driving under the influence (first offense) (DUI) and simple possession of marijuana, both Class A misdemeanors, and was sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days in jail for each, suspended to thirty days, to be served concurrently. On appeal, the defendant challenges both the sufficiency of the evidence that formed the basis of his convictions and the length of his sentence. We conclude that the evidence was sufficient to sustain both convictions, and we affirm the convictions. We also affirm the sentence imposed by the trial court.



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Legal News
Fall out spreads from U.S. attorney firings
The U.S. Senate voted today to end the Justice Department's ability to fill U.S. attorney vacancies as the backlash to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of eight federal prosecutors continued to grow. Also today, congressional leaders pored over thousands of pages of e-mails related to the firings; the White House agreed to let presidential adviser Karl Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers talk to senators behind closed doors and off the record; and President Bush addressed the nation on the issue. Read the Associated Press recap on Law.com
Or follow the story on CNN
If the Senate's bill wins approval from the House and President Bush, it could mean trouble for Nashville's current U.S. Attorney Craig Morford, who came into office as an interim appointee in October.
Read more in the Nashville City Paper
Memphis utility chief admits to keeping power on for councilman
Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division CEO Joseph Lee told city officials today that he had personally instructed utility staff not to cut off Councilman Edmund Ford's delinquent accounts. But, Lee told the council, he did not receive any favors from Ford or other council members for his actions.
Read the full story in the Commercial Appeal
Bredesen names panel to study succession
Gov. Phil Bredesen today created a panel to recommend changes to the state's rules for a temporary handoff of executive power. Tennessee has no provision to cover a governor's serious illness or disability. The panel will include Attorney General Bob Cooper; Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville; House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington; former Supreme Court Justice Adolpho A. Birch Jr.; former Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter; Bredesen staffers Steven Elkins and Kim McMillan; and University of Tennessee law professor Glenn H. Reynolds.
Read more on Chattanoogan.com
Disabled access in Legislative Plaza questioned
Seventeen years after the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, restrooms in the building where Tennessee lawmakers have their offices and hold committee meetings apparently do not accommodate wheelchairs. One disabled advocate says the state is lucky it has not been sued yet.
Read more in the Chattanooga Times Free Press
TennCare advocate wants state to pay legal fees
The Tennessee Justice Center has filed a request in federal court seeking to collect $2.8 million in fees and expenses for its work on the Grier v. Goetz case, which altered the course of TennCare.
The Nashville Business Journal reports
Law Examiners announces new board members
The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners has new officers for 2007. They are: President Ricky Edward Wilkins of Memphis, Vice President Jimmie Carpenter Miller of Kingsport, Secretary-Treasurer William Scott McGinness of Chattanooga and board member Marlene Eskind Moses of Nashville.

Legislative News
Bill giving troopers immigration enforcement powers passes Senate
The Tennessee Senate voted yesterday to give the Tennessee Highway Patrol the authority to enforce federal immigration and customs laws. The legislation, SB1604, passed on a 30-0 vote. A companion bill was scheduled for a hearing in the House today, according to the Daily News Journal.
Read about the bill
Wilder returns to Senate
Senator John Wilder, D-Mason, returned to the Senate on Monday after recuperating from a fall earlier this month. Colleagues greeted him with a standing ovation, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Rep. McCormick speaks out on judicial issues
Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said yesterday that he favors electing state Supreme Court justices, supports doing away with lifetime-tenure for judges and wants to remove from office judges who do not uphold the death penalty. His comments came in a speech to a Chattanooga area Republican group.
Read more about his remarks on Chattanoogan.com
Stay current on legislation with TBA updates
The Tennessee General Assembly is tackling a number of bills of interest to Tennessee lawyers this session. Keep up with action on those bills with the TBA legislative Watch and Action lists.
Check out TBA legislative updates
Republicans ask Williams to resign
A growing number of Republican officials in the 4th District are calling on Sen. Mike Williams, I-Maynardville, to resign since he changed his party affiliation from Republican to Independent. Williams has said he has no intention to do so.
Chattanoogan.com has the story
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