News

Memphis Proposes Registry for Rental Properties

The City of Memphis has plans for a real property registry intended to monitor and track rental properties, compile data and make focused decisions regarding allocation of resources to those that have a history of code violations, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The registry would require landlords to have a local, registered agent to consult regarding code violations and other matters in attempts to prevent blight and ensure accountability from property owners. This would be the first step for the city’s 3.0 comprehensive land-use plan, with prospective tax changes and other affordable housing measures on the horizon.

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Metro Council to Consider Development Incentives Proposal

A Metro Nashville Council proposal would link economic and community development incentives to investment and support for affordable housing. Councilmember Fabian Bedne has introduced a bill which would require Metro to make matching payments to the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing when awarding incentive grants to companies seeking to relocate to the city, The Nashville Post reports. According to the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development, total incentive grants in the 2018 fiscal year were $1.53 million. The bill is set to be considered at next week's Metro Council meeting. 

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Shelby Contracted for Tool to Track Details of Inmate Calls

Though the county said it has not used the tool, last year Shelby County entered into a contract to provide county investigators with a high-tech surveillance tool that would track and monitor all inmate calls, including the voice prints and cellphone locations of individuals who are not incarcerated. The Commercial Appeal reports that since the contract with prison phone provider GTL was signed last year, similar services offered by other companies have come under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.
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Former White House Police Officer Sues City Over Sexual Harassment

A former patrol officer in the White House Police Department is suing the city in federal court, saying she was sexually harassed for years, discriminated against and fired for filing complaints against co-workers and supervisors, The Tennessean reports. In the lawsuit, filed Dec. 19, former officer Melissa Pearce said she worked for the department for six years but was denied promotions and retaliated against by leadership while enduring comments about her sexuality, being exposed to numerous "graphic sexual comments" and being chastised for reporting inappropriate behavior to supervisors.
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Rutherford Store Owners Allege Discrimination in 'Operation Candy Crush'

Store owners raided and shuttered by Rutherford County law enforcement during "Operation Candy Crush" for selling CBD oil are alleging that they may have been targeted because of their race, The Daily News Journal reports. An amendment to the complaint initially filed in October says that 12 of 17 of those arrested are of Egyptian descent and that several surrounding stores sold the same CBD products but remained open and that those owners were not charged with crimes. According to the complaint, Assistant District Attorney John Zimmerman is alleged to have told an attorney for one of the CBD suppliers that "all the people selling CBD in Rutherford County are 'foreigners.'" The paper reports that the case is set on District Judge Aleta A. Trauger’s Jan. 7 docket at 1:45 p.m. 

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Former U.S. Attorney Appointed Monitor in Memphis Police Surveillance Case

Former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton has been named the independent monitor who will report to U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla on steps the Memphis Police Department is taking to end surveillance of protesters after violating a 1978 consent decree barring such surveillance, The Daily Memphian reports. Stanton was selected over Bill Nettles, a former federal prosecutor from South Carolina who was recommended by the Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, to be the independent monitor. Stanton was recommended by the city.
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Rural Clinics Grapple with Frozen TennCare Payments

An estimated 20 rural health clinics that opened in the last 15 months are facing financial distress due to promised TennCare payments being temporarily frozen until the state establishes new payment rules, The Tennessean reports. Many of these clinics are the only health provider in the area due to several rural hospital closures. While national and state health care organizations have expressed the necessity of ending the moratorium, a TennCare spokeswoman defended the freeze due to the complicated nature of creating required rules for billing procedures for all of the state’s 150 rural clinics.  The moratorium has been extended twice; the current freeze is scheduled to end in April but could be extended again.  

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Shelby Criminal Court Clerk Calls for Forensic Audit

New Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Heidi Kuhn has ordered a forensic audit of her office after finding several issues she said were troubling enough to ask for a full financial review, The Daily Memphian reports. Kuhn, who has only been in office 90 days, said her team found a number of issues, including that no payments collected from court fines had been disbursed to other county agencies since 2016, financial records were maintained in unsecured computer files and that collections on delinquent accounts ceased in 2016. The new administration also discovered checks that Kuhn said had been sitting for some time without being deposited.

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Bill Lee Plans Jan. 19 Inauguration

Governor-elect Bill Lee has announced the schedule for his inauguration next month, The Nashville Post reports. The events will mostly be held on Jan. 19, beginning with a worship service at the Ryman Auditorium followed by the inaugural ceremony at Legislative Plaza at 11 a.m. The oath of office will be administered by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins.
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News Report: Detective Accused of Beating Handcuffed Man Had History of Violence

The Hamilton County detective suspended this month for severely beating a handcuffed man has a history of violence, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Blake Kilpatrick — who is under investigation by the DOJ after video surfaced of the beating — was previously accused by his then-girlfriend of bursting into her home and hitting her. Kilpatrick also allegedly kicked down his and his ex-wife's door in 2011, then vandalized their home. Records show that he was never arrested or charged in those incidents. Kilpatrick’s attorney, who is also defending him in a wrongful death suit filed in 2017, said that he is investigating the incidents and working on a statement. Charley Toney, who was beaten by Kilpatrick after being arrested, suffered a collapsed lung, a broken finger, a broken nose and several broken ribs. 

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Hawkins County Board of Education Approves Gay-Straight Alliance for High School

The Hawkins County Board of Education has voted in favor of a Gay-Straight Alliance student organization at one of its high schools, despite strong opposition from one of its members, the Kingsport Time-News reports. The organization was approved 5-1, with the lone holdout being Tecky Hicks who is a pastor at the First Baptist Church in Surgoinsville. Hicks, regarding the constitutionality of denying the group, was reported as saying the Bible supersedes the Constitution of the U.S., the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, school board policy, the state constitution “and everything else.” Several board members voiced concerns that denying the alliance would open the county up to lawsuits, with County Attorney Jim Phillips and the board’s lawyer Lawrence Giordano agreeing that the county would likely lose in litigation. Board member Chris Christian said of the organization, “Could it provide a venue to prevent tragedy, to protect this child who has no family support or no one to reach out to? That’s why I serve on this board, for the betterment of the children. I’m not questioning what these kids are going to do, but if there’s an ounce of hope of saving someone, a child, I would have to vote yes.”

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Ethics Board Recommends Censure for Former Nashville Mayor Barry

The Metro Nashville Board of Ethical Conduct recommended at a hearing today that former Mayor Megan Barry be censured for unethical conduct related to her affair with a police sergeant assigned to protect her, The Tennessean reports. The complaint was filed by an activist focused on policing reforms, who claims that Barry acted unethically in office because her affair was with an officer. It will now be up to the Metro Council to decide whether to censure Barry.
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Department of Ag. Announces Recipients of Its Agriculture Enterprise Fund

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture on Monday announced six new recipients of the organization’s Agriculture Enterprise Fund. The initiative is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Governor’s Rural Task Force, which aids new and expanding Tennessee agriculture, forestry, and food businesses, particularly in the state’s rural counties. Recipients must exhibit potential for impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation, with a primary focus on distressed counties. “The Agriculture Enterprise Fund program has made an economic impact of more than $25 million for our state since we first began to award these grants one year ago,” said Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton. “While we are proud of the successes so far, we are excited to see the continued opportunities and new jobs that will result from this program.”

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Animal Shelter Director Arrested on Cruelty Charges

A Cocke County animal shelter was raided by authorities this month resulting in animal cruelty charges for its director, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Terry Starnes, who oversaw the Friends Animal Shelter in Newport, was arrested by the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office after they found an emaciated and dehydrated coonhound that was half the ideal weight for the breed. The coonhound was taken in by another area shelter, Steele Away Home Canine Foster and Rescue, which is caring for the dog. Investigators also noted that there were other dogs that appeared “underweight and in poor condition” and areas of the shelter appeared to be “in need of cleaning.” Friends Animal Shelter President Anne Fontaine reportedly said that Starnes arrest was unfair because he is working with sparse funding, little help and too many animals.

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Forrest Descendants Sue Memphis Over Statue

The descendants of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest have filed a lawsuit against the City of Memphis, demanding the return of a statue of him that was removed late last year, The Commercial Appeal reports. The descendants want the city to pay for the return of the statue to a location of their choosing, as well as return "all pedestal, base, burial vault, copper caskets, and the earthly remains of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest." They want an unspecified amount in compensatory damages for the "embarrassment, humiliation, and mental anguish caused by the defendants."
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More Than 100 Nominated for Nashville Police Oversight Board; Mayor Adds His Picks

Nashville Mayor David Briley named his two nominees for the new Community Oversight Board, which will provide citizen oversight of police. The Tennessean reports. Briley chose Phyllis Hildreth, an administrator at American Baptist College, and Bob Cooper, former Tennessee Attorney General. The city had received more than 100 public nominations leading up to today's deadline for submissions. The Metro Council will take up the slate of nominees to choose the 11-member panel next month.
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Shelby Election Commission Moves to Dismiss Germantown Mayoral Candidate Complaint

The Shelby County Election Commission filed a motion to dismiss a complaint filed by Germantown mayoral candidate John Barzizza, saying his claims for a recount are without merit, The Daily Memphian reports. Barzizza filed the lawsuit after the Nov. 6 municipal election, challenging Mike Palazzolo's 120-vote win by claiming 543 absentee votes were cast in the Germantown election, while only 476 were counted. The election commission states the facts in Barzizza’s complaint are false, but if they were true, he still would have lost to Mike Palazzolo by 50 votes.

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Join Us Today: LAW TECH

Today's the day! Discover the newest technology for your law practice and law office at this year's Law Tech Blast at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville!

The flexible open house format allows you to create your own schedule. You can attend CLE sessions, enter to win prizes, network with attendees, visit with sponsors and interact with speakers. Take as many or as few CLE hours as you need. Only those seeking to be awarded CLE Credit will be charged. The registration desk will be open all day, so you can come and go for the hours you need when it is convenient for you. Attendees can earn up to 6.5 hours of Dual CLE credit.

CLE TOPICS:
  • GDPR, Cloud and Technological Competency
  • The Bill and Phil Tech Show 2019: BEAT THE CLOCK
  • Best Practices: Information Security for Firms
  • Judicial Panel: Technology in the Courtroom
  • Know When to Hold 'Em
  • Digital Evidence – A Technical Life Raft for the Legal Mind
  • Make it Rain: Ethics Guidelines and Practice Essentials

ATTEND TO WIN: Attendees will have a chance to win prizes, including an iPad Pro. The tech prize drawing will be held at the 10:30 a.m. break. Must be present to win.

TAKE A LYFT: TBA has partnered with Lyft to offer attendees a discounted ride.

  • New to Lyft?: Get $5 off 2 rides at http://lyft.com/i/lawtech5 or download the app and enter code LAWTECH5
  • Already Have Lyft?: Save 10% off 2 rides to or from Law Tech Blast with code LAWTECH

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS & EXHIBITORS:


 

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Give the Gift of TBA Membership

Give yourself (or a friend) the gift that keeps giving — one-year of unlimited access to professional development opportunities and a number of programs and services designed to help you become a better practitioner. Founded in 1881, the Tennessee Bar Association is dedicated to enhancing fellowship among members of the state's legal community. Oh, and did we mention some of the benefits? Earn three pre-paid credits to use on any live or online course featured in the 12-days of CLE. Join now!

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Services for Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley on Saturday

Services for Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley, who passed away last week from cancer, are set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 at the First Baptist Church Sevierville, with a visitation on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Atchley’s Funeral Home, WBIR reports. Atchley, who had served as mayor since 1995, was instrumental in the growth of Sevierville, building a new City Hall and police station, Smokies Stadium, convention center, expanding the greenway system, even bringing a double-A minor league baseball team to the city. “Mayor Atchley was Sevierville to the core,” said Sevierville City Administrator Russell Treadway. “From coaching youth baseball to being Mayor, and everything in between, he exemplified public service and proved there are hundreds of ways to serve one’s community.” Vice Mayor Robbie Fox will serve as Mayor until the next election in May 2019.

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Governor Haslam, Governor-elect Lee Oppose Closed Primaries

Governor Bill Haslam and Governor-elect Bill Lee both have voiced opposition to a closed primary resolution put forth by the GOP's state executive committee earlier this month, the Tennessean reports. The resolution asks the General Assembly to "address the issue of 'cross-over' voting in Tennessee’s primary elections," to prevent concerns of an opposing party influencing the other’s election. Gov. Haslam when speaking to the crowd at a Nashville Rotary meeting said “I am strongly opposed to that … If you're a Republican, I think it's a silly proposal." Lee made similar comments, saying “I would be willing to look at whatever the legislature says, but on the surface, I don’t see a reason to make a change.” Closed primaries have been a contentious issue in the state for decades and a similar resolution was voted down by the executive committee in 2015.

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Woman Files Lawsuit Against Rutherford County Regarding Guilty Plea in Child Abuse Case

A woman who pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse in 2007 is suing the Murfreesboro Police Department and Rutherford County, claiming the plea was made under duress, The Daily News Journal reports. Catherin Funk-Vaughn filed the pro se lawsuit in federal court on Nov. 28, asking for $9.9 million, alleging she thought that she was pleading to a diversion charge — not a guilty plea — and that her attorney told her the only way she would see her children again was if she pleaded guilty. She also says her name was misspelled as “Catherine” on court documents, making them void and claims violations against several of her constitutional rights. Funk-Vaughn has also filed a separate suit against the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

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Tennessee AG's Office Names New Chief Deputy

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced Jonathan T. Skrmetti will join the attorney general’s office as the Chief Deputy in January. In his new role, Skrmetti will coordinate and oversee the substantive legal work of all five sections of the office. Skrmetti joins the office from Memphis where he has been a partner with Butler Snow LLP, an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.  In that role he investigated and prosecuted civil rights crimes and white-collar offenses.
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Casino Planned for Tennessee, Virginia Border

Private investors intend to convert a failing Bristol, Virginia, shopping mall into a casino, resort and convention center, The Business Journal reports. The city built The Falls shopping center with taxpayer dollars in hopes to compete with the booming retail sector of its sister city in Tennessee, adding $48 million to the city’s debt and creating a heavy bond-debt. Investors believe the project will be a boon to the local economy, creating somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 jobs in the area. The total conversion is expected to cost $300 million to $400 million.

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Downtown Memphis Development Board Approves First TIF Property

The Center City Revenue Finance Corp., a state-chartered industrial development board in Memphis, recently approved its first tax increment financing initiative, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The Union Row project will develop around 800 apartments, 200 hotel rooms and 460,000 square feet of mixed-use office and retail space in a location between South City and Downtown. Construction is set to start in June 2019, with the first phase scheduled for completion by June 2021.

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