Lawsuit questions constitutionality of Tennessee Plan

A conservative think tank today filed suit in federal district court in Nashville challenging the constitutionality of the entire appellate judicial system in Tennessee. The lawsuit, brought on behalf of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research and its director by Nashville lawyer Bob Delaney, alleges that the Tennessee Plan for merit selection, evaluation and retention of appellate court judges deprives voters of their 14th amendment right to vote.

Along with a declaration that the election of the Tennessee Supreme Court and intermediate appellate courts is unlawful, the suit prays for a temporary restraining order to block the appointment of a fifth justice to the Supreme Court. Download a copy of the filings:

http://www.tba2.org/tbatoday/news/2007/tennplan_challenge.pdf

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TODAY'S NEWS

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Legal News
Judge allows 'bribe' term; defense to argue payments were legit in Ford trial
Despite defense arguments that use of the term "bribe" would unfairly bias the jury, U.S. Dist. Judge J. Daniel Breen ruled yesterday that FBI agents who testify may use the term to describe payments made to former state Sen. John Ford. In light of the ruling, lawyers for Ford indicated they would argue the payments were not bribes, but compensation for legitimate consulting work. Breen reserved judgment on another key question: whether prosecutors can present video and audiotapes involving a Rolex watch Ford received. The trial begins Monday with jury selection.
Read the latest in the Commercial Appeal
MLGW board presses Lee for answers
Joseph Lee, head of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, announced yesterday that he is reassigning the vice president who oversaw City Councilman Edmund Ford's utility accounts and hopes to move on from the scandal. However, the utility's board of commissioners voted on the same day to dig deeper into what role Lee may have played in protecting Ford.
The Commercial Appeal reports on the board's action
Few attend execution hearing
Despite a sparse turnout yesterday at a public hearing on the future of lethal injection in the state, the Department of Corrections says it is on track to present revised execution procedures by the May 2 deadline. Two speakers, attorney Michael Passino and assistant federal public defender Kelley Henry, questioned the possibility of developing good protocols by the deadline.
The News Sentinel has this AP story
Papers call for Gonzales' departure
Both the Columbia Daily Herald and the Knoxville News Sentinel ran identical editorials this week calling on U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign or President Bush to fire him.
Read the piece by Scripps Howard News Service
Fired U.S. attorney cites Reserve duty
Former U.S. attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico has filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel alleging that he was fired because he spent too much time on Naval Reserve duty. Iglesias, one of eight prosecutors fired last year, said he filed the complaint to avail himself of another agency with subpoena power in hopes of determining the truth behind his dismissal.
The Commercial Appeal has the story
Justice aid who asserted Fifth amendment resigns
Monica M. Goodling, a top aide to Gonzales who refused to appear before congressional committees to discuss her role in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, resigned today.
The News Sentinel has this AP story
Peanut butter suits growing
The Peter Pan peanut butter legal action is just beginning. Brentwood-based Craft & Sheppard filed a class-action suit Feb. 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee on behalf of five plaintiffs. Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann and Bernstein, a national law firm with offices in Nashville, filed suit Feb. 28 in Georgia on behalf of 35 people. ConAgra, the manufacturer of the tainted product, announced yesterday that moisture from a leaky roof and faulty sprinkler led to salmonella bacteria in the plant.
Read more in the Tennessean
Dickson Co. judge meets with court security committee
Circuit Court Judge Robert Burch met recently with members of the Dickson County courthouse security committee, which is studying ways to improve security at the Courthouse Annex and General Sessions Court in Charlotte. The group heard from two Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents about courthouse safety, and plans to continue gathering information before making recommendations to the county commission.
Learn about their efforts in the Tennessean
Legislative News
Legislative briefs
The Associate Press has a wrap up of legislative action from the week, including news of a bill requiring HIV testing for individuals convicted of promoting prostitution.
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Thompson declines road named in his honor
A segment of U.S. Highway 43 in Fred Thompson's hometown of Lawrenceburg will not be named after him, because the former U.S. senator -- and potential presidential candidate -- asked state lawmakers to withdraw the proposal, reports the Tennessean.

BPR Actions
Seymour lawyer reinstated
Kenneth Kennedy, formerly of Knoxville, has been reinstated to the practice of law after paying his annual BPR fee.
View all attorneys suspended for 2006 fee violations
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