Supreme Court

TN Supreme Court seeks pay raise for indigent attorneys

News release from Administrative Office of the  Courts

Nashville, Tenn. ­– The Tennessee Supreme Court, acting on recommendations from its Indigent Representation Task Force, is taking action to reform the state’s method for providing legal assistance to individuals who are unable to afford an attorney.

“The task force confirmed what many of us already suspected: The system needs major reforms,” said Chief Justice Jeff Bivins. “While no perfect solution exists, the Court believes the improvements we commit to today will move the state toward a more efficient, effective means of providing this representation that our federal and state constitutions guarantee.”

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TN Supremes decide election lawsuit with 3-2 vote

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – In a case involving a 2014 election for circuit court judge in East Tennessee, the Tennessee Supreme Court has rejected the unsuccessful candidate’s claim that the Roane County Election Commission (“Commission”) had no authority under Tennessee law to decide a pre-election challenge to the successful candidate’s residency qualifications to run for the office.

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Supremes confirm death penalty in 2008 Memphis murder

News release from the Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court has affirmed James Hawkins’s premeditated murder conviction and sentence of death for the 2008 murder of Charlene Gaither, Mr. Hawkins’s long-term girlfriend and the mother of his three children. 

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More funding recommended for poor in TN court system

After 18 months of study, a task force set up by the state Supreme Court has provided its recommendations on changes needed to provide appropriate legal representation to the poor – including higher pay for the lawyers who serve them.

From the News Sentinel’s report:

“What we are talking about are programs designed to protect the liberties of people from inappropriate interference by the government,” said former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch Jr., who served as chairman of the Indigent Representation Task Force.

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TN Supreme majority: Police can ignore ‘no trespassing’ signs

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – A majority of the Supreme Court has ruled that, despite the existence of “no trespassing” signs near an unobstructed driveway, police officers’ warrantless entry onto the defendant’s property was constitutionally permissible.

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TN Supreme Court upholds death penalty protocol

News release from the Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the written protocol by which the Tennessee Department of Correction carries out an execution by lethal injection.

The plaintiffs in this matter, each of whom have been convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death, brought a declaratory judgment action in the trial court challenging the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol under both the United States and Tennessee Constitutions.  This protocol was adopted on September 27, 2013, and provided that inmates who had been sentenced to death were to be executed by injection of a lethal dose of the drug, pentobarbital.  The trial court conducted a lengthy evidentiary hearing and eventually denied the plaintiffs relief.

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Kevin Teets gets his lawyer license back

The state Supreme Court has reinstated the license to practice law for Kevin Teets, a veteran Democratic political operative after a 19-day suspension following accusations that he took about $8,000 from  nonprofit association created to help the homeless, reports The Tennessean.

But that comes with conditions. Teets must meet with another lawyer biweekly who will monitor Teets’ work and has to continue weekly mental health sessions. He has to allow his therapist to provide monthly reports to the Board of Professional Responsibility, which recommended his discipline. And he has to pay the board’s costs of nearly $800 (he has already paid restitution), disciplinary documents say.

“Practicing law in Tennessee is a privilege and it’s a privilege that I am glad to have reinstated by the Tennessee Supreme Court,” Teets said Thursday. “I’m passionate about advocating for my clients and I’m ready to get back to work.”

Teets is a former executive with the Tennessee Democratic Party and led the political campaigns of District Attorney General Glenn Funk and former mayoral candidate Bill Freeman.

Note: Previous post HERE.

Supremes back firing of tenured TN teacher without back pay

News release from the Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – In a case involving the dismissal of a tenured teacher, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that the Court of Appeals’ award to the teacher of partial back pay was not authorized under the Tennessee Teacher Tenure Act (Tenure Act). It also held that the teacher could not appeal the timeliness of her school board hearing because she did not raise that objection to the school board.

Rogelynn Emory taught French and English in several different high schools in Memphis, Tennessee. For several years, school administrators noted that Ms. Emory exhibited unusual behavior, had difficulty managing her students, and displayed a low level of teaching skill. In late 2005, the city school system notified Ms. Emory that she was being charged with “inefficiency,” that is, teaching below the acceptable standard, and would be discharged. Under the Tenure Act, Ms. Emory demanded a hearing before the city school board.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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