Court: Money can influence judicial elections, decisions

In a landmark ruling that could affect state judicial elections nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court today said that due process can require a state judge to recuse when a party in a case before him or her has had a "significant or disproportionate" influence on placing the judge on the court through large campaign donation. The 5-4 decision in Caperton v. Massey Coal Co. introduces for the first time a constitutional standard into the debate over the influence of big money on judicial elections, which supporters said was a victory for the rule of law.

Read the details in the National Law Journal

TODAY'S OPINIONS
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IN THE MATTER OF: L.W., d/o/b 07/04/1991, A Child Under Eighteen (18) Years of Age

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Andrew L. Wener, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Dennis Martin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General and Elizabeth C. Driver, Senior Counsel, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services.

Judge: FARMER

The trial court sustained the petition to adjudicate dependency and neglect filed by the Department of Children's Services. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/matteroflw_060809.pdf


RHONDA GAIL OAKES, v. HARVEY JOE OAKES

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Robin Ruben Flores, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for appellant, Harvey Joe Oakes.

Cindy A. Howell, Sparta, Tennessee, for appellee, Rhonda Gail Oakes.

Judge: FRANKS

This is an appeal from the ruling of the Trial Court, following the appeal to this Court, wherein we remanded with enforcement of the Trial Court's Judgment, as modified. After remand, the wife moved for contempt against the husband for not paying as ordered, and at a hearing on that motion the Trial Court found the husband guilty of contempt and ordered him to serve ten days in confinement for each finding of contempt. The order provided that the sentence would be suspended if he paid the sum due. The husband paid the sum due and appealed. On appeal, we affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/oakesr_060809.pdf


CYDNIE BROWNING O'ROURKE v. JAMES PATRICK O'ROURKE
WITH DISSENT


Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Connie Reguli, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Cydnie Browning O'Rourke.

Helen S. Rogers and Lawrence J. Kamm, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, James Patrick O'Rourke.

Judge: FARMER

Respondent appeals the trial court's judgment finding her guilty on two counts of criminal contempt and imposing a sentence of twenty days in jail, with sixteen days suspended. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/orourkec_060809.pdf

KIRBY Dissenting
http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/orourkec_diss_060809.pdf


MARCUS WILLIS v. SHELBY COUNTY, TENNESSEE, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Herbert D. Hurst and Jill M. Shirley, Hurst Law Firm, P.A., Memphis, Tennessee, Louis P. Chiozza, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, and Steven R. Walker, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marcus Willis.

Reid R. Phillips and Chapman Sellers Morrow, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Correctional Medical Services, Inc. Debra L. Fessenden, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Shelby County, Tennessee.

Judge: FARMER

This appeal arises from the removal of a state court action to federal court. Once the federal court granted the defendants summary judgment regarding plaintiff's federal claims, it dismissed plaintiff's state law claims without prejudice. Approximately one year later, the plaintiff sought to present its state law claims in state court by filing a motion titled to be a "Motion to Reassume Jurisdiction" and refiling its entire cause of action in state court. The trial court dismissed both cases with prejudice because the statute of limitations had run. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/willism_060809.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

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Legal News
Evidence allowed in case against alleged Obama plotters
Judge J. Daniel Breen ruled today that evidence against two white supremacists charged with plotting to kill President Barack Obama and dozens of other black people can be used at trial. Prosecutors can now show a trial jury the guns, swords, computer files and other items seized from Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman when they were arrested late last year. While the deputies did not have a search warrant, Breen said, they had Cowart's grandfather's permission to search the house where the two were staying.
The Tennessean carried this AP story
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The Commercial Appeal reports
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SCOTUSBLOG has the story and the order
Legislative News
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In an editorial today, the News Sentinel supports the proposed changes for selecting judges. "The plus for the bill is that it keeps some of the best parts of the current system intact and makes the commission meetings open," the paper says. "It also gives legislators, judges and state court observers two years to see how this works, while considering a permanent measure."
Read the editorial
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As this legislative session winds down, take a look at the bills that did not become law this time, including proposals to allow wine to be sold in supermarkets, grant the right to carry handguns on college campuses, expansion of charter schools and require voters to show photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot.
Read this AP story in the Commercial Appeal
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