Judicial elections focus of House Judiciary subcommittee

Tennessee's merit selection, evaluation and retention system was the focus of today's Civil Practice Subcommittee hearing in the House, where members heard testimony regarding the plan and began consideration of legislation that would alter it. Judge Holly Kirby of the Western Section Court of Appeals, testifying in her personal capacity and not as a member of the court, told the body that the Tennessee Constitution had granted broad powers to the legislature in this area. Brian Fitzpatrick, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt's law school, also testified, conceding that the courts had interpreted the Tennessee Plan to be constitutional, but saying that lawmakers could and should make their own independent determination as to whether the plan is constitutional.

The subcommittee also took up a judicial election bill sponsored by Rep. Joe McCord (R-Maryville) and senators Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville) and Joe Haynes (D-Goodlettsville). McCord offered an amendment that appears to be patterned after the final proposal made by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey at the end of the 2008 legislative session.

The proposal provides for a 17-member judicial selection commission. Bar groups could recommend, but speakers would not be bound by those recommendations for selecting commission members. The selection commission would have to conduct its processes in complete sunshine and would recommend four names to the governor for selection of any appellate or Supreme Court seat. The committee rolled the bill for one week.

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Court: TCCA


Clifton Corker, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Bryan James Farve.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, District Attorney General; Barry Staubus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Bryan James Farve, pled guilty to two counts of attempt to commit aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court sentenced him to eight years of probation. A revocation warrant was issued, charging that the Defendant had violated his probation, and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant's probation and ordered him to serve the balance of his sentence in prison. The Defendant now appeals, contending that the trial court erred when it revoked his probation and when it permitted a witness to testify as an expert. After thoroughly reviewing the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court's judgment.


ETHRA Probationary Services

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-03-24

Opinion Number: 09-33


Traffic Citation for Failure to Devote Full Attention to the Operation of a Motor Vehicle

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-03-24

Opinion Number: 09-34


Director of Schools Serving in General Assembly

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2009-03-24

Opinion Number: 09-35



Legislative News
Legal News
TBA Member Services

Legislative News
Business speaks out on judicial selection
Tennessee's business community is speaking out against costly contested elections for appellate judges. "You want a stable, predictable, knowledgeable system," says Bradley Jackson, vice president of government relations for the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Business is afraid it would turn into a political process that would be costly."
The Nashville Business Journal has the story
Budget cuts proposed in public safety without FONCE loophole closing
The budget proposed on Monday night by Gov. Phil Bredesen includes a provision that makes funding for 85 district attorney positions, 25 public defender positions and 208 department of safety and highway patrol positions dependent upon the passage of legislation subjecting family-owned, non-corporate entities subject to franchise and excise taxes. An estimated $25 million is raised by this legislation.
Download the public safety budget proposal
Legal News
Names sent to governor for 14th Circuit Court seat
The Judicial Selection Commission today recommended the governor select from Tullahoma attorneys James F. Conley, Joseph Eugene Ford and Vanessa Agee Jackson to fill the circuit court vacancy in the 14th Judicial District, created by the death of Judge John Wiley Rollins.

Editorial: Pass legislation to reform death penalty
In an editorial today, the Tennessean asks the legislature to pass legislation proposed by the Death Penalty Study Committee, after 16 months of study. "The reforms the committee recommends are pragmatic and moderate, designed to eliminate the high number of errors that have occurred because attorneys did not understand the complexities of capital-case law, or because indigent defendants could not obtain better counsel," the paper writes.
Read the editorial
In related opinion pieces, Stacy Rector, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, writes that "Regardless of one's position on the death penalty, Tennesseans can agree that its administration should be fair and convict only the guilty. Tennessee's current system cannot be trusted to do either." Read Rector's opinion piece.

Verna Wyatt, executive director of You Have the Power, a victims' advocacy group and a member of the commission, writes that the group was not balanced, with "only three people on this entire commission whose primary interest is for victims." Read Wyatt's opinion piece.

Court asked to open records in nursing home fire case
The Tennessee Supreme Court was asked yesterday to take up a case involving a fatal nursing home fire and to clarify that most civil court records should be open to the public. The case involves a decision by Judge Barbara Haynes to close nearly all documents connected to 32 lawsuits over a 2003 nursing home fire that killed 16 people. Each of the lawsuits against National HealthCare Corp. eventually ended in a confidential settlement. The brief was submitted on behalf of Tennessee broadcasters, newspapers, news services and open government advocates.
The Tennessean reports
Murfreesboro legal aid to hold clinic in statewide effort
"There are many people in our community who need the help of an attorney but cannot afford one," said Barbara Futter, managing attorney for the Murfreesboro office of the Legal Aid Society. To help with this, her office will partner with local volunteer lawyers in the Rutherford/Cannon County Bar Association to offer a legal clinic on April 4. The effort is part of a TBA initiative to help bring access to justice to citizens across the state. See the list of activities here.
The Daily News Journal has more
TBA Member Services
TBA, Bank of America team up for no-fee credit card
The TBA World Points Rewards MasterCard from Bank of America places a new world of rewards, privileges, and service at your command -- with no annual fee.
Click here to learn more

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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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