TBA Law Blog


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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 19, 2020

Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Heidi Kuhn said it was “human error” when a clerk in her office’s property and evidence room mistakenly grabbed evidence from another murder case and gave it to attorneys working on the death row case of Pervis Payne, the Daily Memphian reports. Kuhn had called for a forensic audit of her office and says new procedures are now in place to prevent another such  situation. Payne’s attorneys had announced there was new evidence found that had never been tested for DNA. But it was later revealed by Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich that the evidence was from a different murder case that occurred a decade after Payne was convicted.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 19, 2020

The Tennessee Historical Commission won’t consider removing the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state capitol until early next year, but some Tennesseans weighed in with public comments at the commission’s meeting Friday, WPLN reports. The commission also identified the stakeholders who need official notice of the request to move the bust. The commission plans to consider moving the bust to the Tennessee State Museum in February.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 19, 2020

Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk has joined with more than 60 prosecutors across the country pledging not to enforce laws criminalizing abortion, Tennessee Lookout reports. The group released a statement last week committing to “not prosecute women who obtain abortions and health care professionals who provide treatment.” Funk is the only Tennesseean to sign the statement, which was organized by Fair and Just Prosecution and includes district attorneys and state attorneys general. The move reaffirms a similar statement Funk made in a recent federal court filing about a state abortion law.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 19, 2020

The Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville has announced that LaTonnsya Burney is the new part-time manager for its Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts program. A Nashville native, Burney earned her law degree from the University of Memphis School of Law. Since graduating, she has served as plaintiff and defense counsel, outside counsel for an insurance company and in-house counsel for a number of corporate entities and government agencies. A current member of the TBA’s Leadership Law class, Burney is passionate about mentoring and opportunities for diverse lawyers.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 19, 2020

The federal government will execute the first woman on death row in nearly seven decades on Dec. 8, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday. Lisa Montgomery was convicted for the 2004 murder of a pregnant woman in Missouri. She will be executed by lethal injection at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. The last woman to be executed by the federal government was Bonnie Heady, who was put to death in a gas chamber in 1953. Also on Friday, the Justice Department scheduled a Dec. 10. execution for Brandon Bernard, who with his accomplices murdered two youth ministers in 1999. The executions will be the eighth and ninth carried out in 2020 after the administration ended an informal 17-year-hiatus in federal executions in July, Reuters reports.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 19, 2020

The Workers’ Comp Appeals Board recently held oral arguments by videoconference in three cases. Issues considered included an employee’s proper impairment rating, an employer’s right to a medical examination, and whether a court properly ruled that a party should be prohibited from introducing expert testimony at trial. A new blog post from the board summarizes the cases and the questions they raise. Decisions are expected in the next 20 to 45 days.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 19, 2020

Jackson attorney Andy Cole has been promoted to pro bono coordinator at West Tennessee Legal Services (WTLS). He previously worked for the Tennessee Senior Law Alliance at WTLS advocating for seniors in West Tennessee. Cole joined WTLS a year ago after working in private practice. He is a graduate of Belmont University College of Law, where he served as web editor of the Health Law Journal.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Oct 16, 2020

U.S. District Judge William Campbell has set an April 2022 trial date in the case of a death row inmate seeking to die by firing squad, the Associated Press reports. Terry Lynn King, along with three other death row inmates, filed the suit nearly two years ago, arguing that the state had several alternative execution methods that would “substantially reduce the constitutionally-unacceptable risk of inflicting unnecessary and serious pain” caused by electrocution. Three of those inmates — Nicholas Todd Sutton, Stephen Michael West and David Earl Miller — have since been executed by the electric chair. According to the lawsuit, attorneys argue that the state already has the trained personnel, firearms and space to allow for a firing squad. However, if the court disagreed, the suit argued inmates should have permission to use other alternatives such as orally administering lethal drugs over using a needle, or using different forms of drugs.   

Posted by: Kate Prince on Oct 16, 2020

A hearing date has been scheduled in the federal lawsuit against the United States over the national eviction moratorium, the Associated Press reports. Seven Memphis landlords filed the suit, claiming the order infringes on their rights as property owners. They will make their case in front of a federal judge on Oct. 30 at 10 a.m. CDT. Several similar cases across the country have recently been dismissed, but Glankler Brown attorneys S. Joshua Kahane and Aubrey B. Greer say they are confident they’ll be successful in showing the moratorium violates not only property rights but also federal regulations.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Oct 16, 2020

State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, is under fire for comments he made regarding “inner city” obesity and the local police department during an interview with Chattanooga’s News Channel 9, the Associated Press reports. “The obesity rate in the inner city is bigger than anywhere else. Because ... they go to a 7-Eleven or a convenience store, there’s fried chicken so they get them some fried chicken on the way home and have dinner on that. Well, that’s the worst thing you can eat,” Gardenhire, who is white, said during the interview. Gardenhire also briefly suggested that a police officer should not arrest a person caught driving drunk, but should instead drive that individual home if the officer knows the person. Senate Speaker Randy McNally defended Gardenhire, saying his “candid style often leads to misunderstanding and misinterpretation.” “I am confident he did not intend any offense or disrespect,” McNally said.


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