Government Affairs Update

Follow the TBA's efforts to influence federal and state policy as it fulfills one of the core missions of the association – advocacy for the profession and for our system of justice.

Niceley Wins Faulk’s Senate Seat

Former State Rep. Frank Niceley prevailed over three others to capture the Republican nomination for the newly renumbered 8th Senatorial District. The seat is being vacated by State Sen. Mike Faulk, who opted not to seek re-election earlier this year. There is no Democratic candidate on the November general election ballot, which means Niceley should cruise to victory in November. The Rogersville Review and the Times News have more.

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Lawyers See Mixed Success in Legislative Races

Of the 25 lawyers running for 20 seats seats in the Tennessee General Assembly, several will be moving on to the fall general election. Here are results of how they fared in Thursday's primary elections.

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AG: OK to Deny Politicians Alternative Sentencing

A new Tennessee law that holds public officials more accountable for crimes related to their official position or duties is constitutional according to Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper. The law, passed by the legislature earlier this year makes elected or appointed officials ineligible for pre-trial diversion for offenses committed in their official capacity or duties of office. The opinion, requested by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, found that diversion would be considered “truly extraordinary relief” and not a “fundamental right.” The Times Free Press has more. Download the opinion

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Judicial Elections, Party Primaries on Thursday's Ballot

Voters in Tennessee will go to the polls Thursday to vote on judicial races and party primaries for general assembly seats. A report compiled by the Tennessee Bar Association shows that while the number of lawyers serving in the legislature has declined over the last several years, more lawyers are candidates this year than in the last two election cycles. See a list of the 25 lawyers running for election this year. In related news, the Secretary of State’s office recently announced that 326,876 Tennesseans voted early – shattering the previous participation record set in 2008. The office also reminds voters that they now must present an ID containing their name and photograph to cast a ballot. For information about polling places or voting requirements visit www.GoVoteTN.com or call (877) 850-4959.

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Rogers Wants Apology for Maggart Campaign Tactic

In the race for State House District 45, Rep. Debra Maggart included opponent Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers' unlisted home number in campaign materials -- and that has Rogers calling for an apology after receiving a call claiming the devil is going to get her and her family. Maggart defends publicizing the number, saying it was used on campaign documents that were filed with the state and therefore public record. Maggart sent out an email titled, "Why is Courtney Rogers lying to you," defending her stance on gun rights and ending with a phone number for Rogers. WSMV has the story

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Hargett Calls for Investigation in Shelby Election

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett formally asked State Comptroller Justin Wilson on Friday to audit the administration of the Shelby County Election Commission and investigate election procedures and returns, where it is estimated that about 1,000 voters got the wrong ballot. State Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris of Collierville and Tennessee Democratic Party chairman Chip Forrester of Nashville called separately Thursday for a state review of election results in the county, the Memphis Daily Journal reports. “This is not a witch hunt. This is not finger pointing,” Norris said. “We need to know the process works.” Forrester called for the review because he said Republican political leaders “have failed over and over again to protect our voting rights.”

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Record Early Voting Turnout; Problems Surface in Shelby

More than 220,000 Tennesseans have voted early or absentee by mail for the Aug. 2 election, but the Tennessee Democratic Party called for an investigation into early voting statewide amid evidence that more than 1,000 people in Shelby County were given the wrong ballots. A Memphis blogger and candidate for the Shelby County Election Commission turned up evidence this week that hundreds of voters in Shelby County were erroneously given ballots for a neighboring district.

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TBI Investigates Rhea County Voting Issues

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed Wednesday it has launched a probe into whether Rhea County election officials illegally stopped several individuals from voting in the 31st House District Republican primary. The county election administrator said she and other officials did nothing wrong when they blocked known Democrats from voting in the primary, suspecting an orchestrated campaign for crossover voting in the race. The TBI investigation comes at the request of District Attorney General Mike Taylor. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Tennessee law provides an "open primary" system but allows officials to exclude a voter if the person is “deemed not to be a ‘bona fide’ member of the party.”

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Candidate Won't Be Punished for Contempt if She Cooperates

Lou Ann Zelenik may not have to face a contempt of court citation if she testifies in a state senator's lawsuit before Aug. 8. The ruling came down Monday from Wilson County Judge C.K. Smith who said in the order he's "not inclined to punish" the Republican Congressional candidate if she were to give her deposition by the August date. Zelenik was accused last week of criminal contempt for not appearing for a July 12 court deposition. She was subpoenaed in an ongoing lawsuit brought by State Senator Mae Beavers and her husband Jerry against a Macon County newspaper. WKRN reports

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Zelenik Faces Contempt Charge

Republican congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik -– who is seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Diane Black -– is facing a contempt charge after not showing up for a deposition. Earlier this month, Zelenik was subpoenaed to give a deposition in a case involving State Rep. Mae Beavers and the Macon County Chronicle. The lawyer who issued the subpoena says Zelenik cancelled at the last minute, saying she was too busy campaigning. Zelenik’s lawyer, however, says the postponement was agreed upon. A hearing on the charges was set for September. WSMV reports

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