News

Coffee County Taxpayers on Hook for $1 Million in Employment Case

The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled in favor last week of a former Coffee County employee who claimed she was dismissed inappropriately by the county, and now residents are on the hook for more than $1 million in damages and attorney fees, The Manchester Times reports. County litigation insurance doesn’t cover this type of claim, so the money to pay Melinda Keeling’s damages and her attorney fees will come from the county’s general fund. Nonetheless, Coffee County Attorney Robert Huskey said the case would likely continue, as he would recommend the county file an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. 
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Your 3 PrePaid CLE Hours

TBA members receive three hours of free CLE programming. Members can use this credit to cover all or part of the cost of live programs at locations across the state on legal topics, trends and skills, webcasts and any of the 300-plus online courses.
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Police Union’s Lawsuit Over Nashville Community Oversight Referendum Dismissed

Judge Kelvin Jones has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Fraternal Order of Police that attempted to derail a charter referendum creating a civilian oversight board to review complaints against Nashville police, The Tennessean reports. The lawsuit hinged on a technicality related to which election should be used to determine how many signatures are needed on a petition to qualify a measure for the November ballot. Jones found that while the FOP did have standing to sue, the advocacy group responsible for gathering signatures had satisfied the requirement. He found that the “preceding general election,” used to determine how many signatures are needed, occurred on Aug. 4, 2016.  
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Shelby County Mayor Signals New Juvenile Justice Approach with Appointment

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced yesterday that attorney Herman Morris will serve as the county’s new settlement coordinator, a sign that Harris will take a new approach to juvenile justice than previous administrations. The Associated Press reports that Morris replaces Paul Summers, who was criticized for a May report that said there was no race problem in “Shelby County, Washington, D.C. or Chicago.” Shelby County has been fighting to end federal oversight of its juvenile justice system that began in 2012 after a report found multiple failings, including discrimination. 
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AOC Director Honored by Women in Numbers

Administrative Office of the Courts Director Deborah Taylor Tate was recently honored at a reception held by Women in Numbers, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to supporting women in public office. Tate was recognized for her many years of leadership in public service, which has included three-and-a-half years at the AOC, a term as an FCC commissioner, and a term as president of the Court Appointed Special Advocates board, among many other accomplishments.
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After Vote to Sack Magistrate, Hamilton County Commission Seeking Replacement

The Hamilton County Commission voted yesterday to fire Magistrate Stuart Brown and will soon begin seeking applications for his replacement, Chattanoogan.com reports. The move was made at the recommendation of Chief Magistrate Lorrie Miller, who said Brown made many mistakes including some that could be “catastrophic.” Those interested in the position may apply starting Sept. 20, with the commission making a decision on Oct. 3.
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State Supreme Court to Hear Dispute Between Tullahoma, Coffee County Education Board

The ongoing lawsuit between the City of Tullahoma and the Coffee County Board of Education over the distribution of liquor-by-the-drink taxes will now be heard by the Tennessee Supreme Court, The Tullahoma News reports. The school board claims that since 1980, the city has been collecting tax revenue that rightfully belonged to the county, and that the money should have been distributed among the three school systems in Coffee County. The county estimates it should have received $387,488 from 1980 to 2014.
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Cheatham County Sheriff’s Sgt. Pleads Guilty to Lying to Federal Investigators

Cheatham County Sheriff Sgt. Gary Ola has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for making false statements to federal investigators in connection with a Taser incident in the county jail, The Tennessean reports. Ola admitted to making false statements in two interviews with investigators, in which he claimed he did not see a restrained inmate shocked after helping to secure him in a restraint chair in 2016. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
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Several Chattanooga Neighborhoods Added to EPA List of Most Toxic Places

Several Chattanooga neighborhoods are considered among the U.S.'s most toxic places, The Times Free Press reports. The Environmental Protection Agency recently added the Southside Chattanooga Lead Site to its Superfund National Priorities List, making it a top priority for cleanup. The area — which was home to industrial operations that used toxic material as fill and topsoil — tested nearly four times higher than the EPA's benchmark for unsafe lead levels.

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Tullahoma Tax Dispute Headed to Supreme Court

An ongoing lawsuit between the City of Tullahoma and the Coffee County Board of Education (CCBOE) is headed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Tullahoma News reports. The suit stems from the county’s interpretation of two different state statutes regarding collection and distribution of liquor-by-the-drink taxes. The city won the case in the Coffee County Chancery Court but lost when CCBOE appealed the decision. The case is scheduled to be heard by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 4.

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AG Names David Rudolph as Assistant Attorney General for Memphis Office

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has announced David M. Rudolph as assistant attorney general for the Memphis office. In this role, Rudolph will join Jim Newsom who serves as Special Counsel in the Memphis office. Most recently, Rudolph served as a Circuit Court judge in the 30th Judicial District. His prior experience includes nearly 30 years in private practice. Rudolph was a member of the Memphis law firm Bourland, Heflin, Alvarez, Minor & Matthews PLC from 2009 until his appointment by Gov. Haslam to the Circuit Court bench in 2017.
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New Ad from Dean Touts Medicaid Expansion Under ACA

A new ad for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Karl Dean references the amount of federal money Tennessee has been losing due to not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), calling out Republican nominee Bill Lee for being against Medicaid expansion, The Tennessean reports. Lee has previously voiced support of working with the federal government to obtain block grants rather than expand Medicaid under the ACA. 

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White Nationalists Sue State Parks Over Security Fee Charge

After being charged a security fee for an upcoming event at a state park, a white nationalist group is suing the state, The Tennessean reports. The founder of New Century Foundation, more commonly known as American Renaissance, filed suit yesterday in U.S. District Court in Nashville against the director of state park operations for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. American Renaissance has held eight conferences at Montgomery Bell State Park, but in recent years protestors have shown up to the event, prompting officials to deploy additional rangers and security measures. The nationalist group is claiming that the 10 percent refundable security deposit now required of them is “unconstitutional.” 
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Construction on Nashville's Broadwest Two-Tower Development Scheduled for Fall

The West End Summit site, home to the infamous and recently drained ‘Lake Palmer,’ may see construction beginning as soon as this fall, The Nashville Post reports. Huntsville, Alabama-based Propst Development plans to build two mixed-use buildings which will be called Broadwest and encompass a collective 1.2 million square feet at 1600 West End Ave near the split with Broadway. Local partners on the project include:

  • Chartwell Hospitality, a Franklin-based hotel operations and development company, to co-own and operate the 14-floor luxury hotel;
  • Parks Realty, a Nashville-based real estate agency, to lead condominium sales;
  • The Nashville office of Jones Lang Lasalle for office leasing;
  • Atlanta-based Cooper Carry as the lead architects of Broadwest;
  • The local offices of Turner Construction Company and Hoar Construction as general contractors;
  • Nashville-based Premier Parking to oversee the parking component.

The project could carry a price tag upwards of $500 million.

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Environmental Groups Sue TVA Over Grid Access Charge

Five environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in an attempt to block a new grid access charge scheduled to begin next month, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The plaintiffs maintain that the planned TVA rate changes and cutbacks in renewable and energy efficiency programs will discourage consumers from investing in solar, wind and energy efficiency projects and harm the environment as a result. The new grid access charge is set to take effect Oct. 1 and will require municipalities and power cooperatives to pay a mandatory electricity fee regardless of their energy usage. You can view the complaint here.

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Franklin Sues United Daughters of Confederacy to Determine Public Square Ownership

The City of Franklin has filed a lawsuit against the United Daughters of the Confederacy, seeking to determine who owns the land on public square where a Confederate monument stands, Brentwood Homepage reports. The action follows a threat of legal action from the group should the city allow a coalition of religious and preservation leaders to place historic markers in the park.

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Mayor Harris Names New Shelby County Attorney

New Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced today he has named Marlinee Clark Iverson as the next county attorney, The Commercial Appeal reports. Iverson is the juvenile court magistrate for Memphis and Shelby County and an adjunct faculty member at Christian Brothers University. She has also worked as assistant county attorney for Shelby County, assistant district attorney for the Shelby County District Attorney General and special assistant United States attorney. She will assume the role on Sept. 12.
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More Inmates Than Beds in Overcrowded Madison County Jail

At the Madison County Criminal Justice Center, overcrowding has become such an issue that 40 inmates now share a cell meant for 32, with some sleeping on floor mats instead of beds, The Jackson Sun reports. The jail has failed to meet the Tennessee Correction Institute’s minimum standards since 2014 due to capacity issues. Plans to build an extension have been underway for two years, with $30 million earmarked for the project by the Madison County Commission in March. But if the problem proceeds, in a worst-case scenario, the jail could face a federal injunction.
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Animal Law Forum 2019 & Special Guests

Register now for the TBA Animal Law Section's 2019 annual forum at the Nashville Zoo. This unique opportunity will provide updates on trends and advancements in animal law while allowing participants to network, enjoy all of the fun and activities offered by the zoo and a chance to meet the two latest additions to the organization's family. We will be joined by the zoo's President and Chief Executive Officer, and the board's general counsel, who will discuss conservation efforts and laws affecting procurement and care for animals.
 
Additional topics will include animal considerations in divorce and domestic law, ethics, legislative updates affecting the practice area and the humanization of animals. A midday lunch is included, with additional time to explore the zoo, the recently added Expedition Peru exhibit and new state-of-the-art veterinary medical space that also serves as a teaching center, where you can learn about the diagnosis, treatment, and management of animal health. Don't miss this chance to fulfill necessary CLE requirements while experiencing one of the top zoos in the nation. Here are the key details:
 
When: Friday, May 17, registration at 8 a.m., CDT
Where: Nashville Zoo, 3777 Nolensville Pike, Nashville

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Loudon County Election Commission Affirms City Employee's Exclusion from Ballot

The Loudon County Election Commission on Monday affirmed a decision by the Lenoir City Council contesting candidate Earlena Maples’ qualification for the November ballot due to her 37-year tenure at Lenoir City Utilities Board (LCUB), the Lenior City News-Herald reports. During the meeting, Maples filed a motion contesting council members Mike Henline, Douglas “Buddy” Hines, Jennifer Wampler and Jim Shields from being on the ballot which the election commission will address on a later date. Maples may still opt to take the matter to chancery court.

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City of Franklin Seeks Assistant City Attorney

The city of Franklin is seeking an Assistant City Attorney to provide legal services and representation to assigned departments, commissions, and committees — representing the city, its officials, and employees in civil cases. The Assistant City Attorney will also draft ordinances, resolutions, leases, contracts, court pleadings, etc., relating to lawsuits and/or other municipal concerns. Interested candidates can learn more about the position and apply using this link.

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Ketron Resigns from Senate Ahead of Assuming Mayoral Position

Tennessee Senator Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, has resigned his position at the legislature, days before his swearing-in as Rutherford County Mayor, The Tennessee Journal reports. Ketron was elected to the Senate in 2002, and has been serving as Senate Republican Caucus Chairman. He had two months remaining in his term.
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Tennessee Reports Record Number of Overdose Deaths for 2017

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) released data last Monday that shows 1,776 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses in 2017 — the highest one-year number since reporting began — the Johnson City Free Press reports. In fact, more Tennesseans died last year from drug overdoses than from automobile crashes, according to a press release on the TDH website. Almost three-fourths of drug overdose deaths in Tennessee in 2017 were associated with prescription opioids. 

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Noblett Confirmed as Chattanooga City Attorney

Phil Noblett has been confirmed as city attorney and chief legal officer for the city of Chattanooga, the Hamilton County Herald reports. Noblett, who has been practicing in Tennessee since 1982, become deputy city attorney in 2009. Mayor Andy Berke said Noblett is “uniquely and eminently qualified” to serve in the position. 
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Fraternal Order of Police Sues to Block Nashville Police Oversight Referendum

The Nashville Fraternal Order of Police has sued to block a vote on the creation of a community oversight board, which would appoint citizens to review complaints on law enforcement. The Tennessean reports that the referendum, which would appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, was initially approved when a group submitted a petition with more than 8,200 signatures. The Metro Charter allows such referendums on the ballot if a petition is signed by 10 percent of the number of voters who voted in the “preceding general election.” The FOP lawsuit argues that the last general election was not in 2016 but the special mayoral election held this year to replace Megan Barry, which had a significantly higher number of voters and would thus mean more signatures would be required for the vote.
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