New TN courtroom security standards include ‘panic button,’ bullet proofing

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. ­– The Tennessee Judicial Conference and the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference have adopted new minimum courtroom security standards to promote the security and safety of the members of the judiciary, court personnel, and the public. The standards were last updated in the 1990s.

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U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Greer, former state senator, announces retirement

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer, a former Republican state senator, has announced his retirement from the bench effective June 30, reports the Greeneville Sun.  He’ll take “senior status,” meaning Greer may still be appointed to hear selected cases after stepping down from fulltime duties.

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Disgraced former Judge Richard Baumgartner found dead

Richard Baumgartner, who served 19 years as Knox County Criminal Court judge before resigning in disgrace amidst a drug scandal, died Tuesday at the age of 70, reports the News Sentinel.

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Norris voices doubts about being confirmed as U.S. District Court judge

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris says he will stay in his current elective position until the U.S. Senate actually confirms his nomination as U.S. District Judge for West Tennessee – and he’s not really certain that’s going to happen, reports The Tennessean.

“I don’t trust the United States Senate to follow through on this,” he said during a state Senate GOP caucus meeting. “I’m not going to resign the seat which my constituents have elected me or this leadership for which you elected me.”

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Senate confirms ‘Chip’ Campbell as federal judge for Middle TN

The U.S. Senate Tuesday voted 97-0 to confirm President Donald Trump’s nomination of Nashville attorney William “Chip” Campbell as a U.S. District Court judge for Middle Tennessee. Confirmation of three other nominees for judicial post in Tennessee is still pending.

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Judge’s law license suspended; legislator says no impeachment plans ‘at this time’

State Rep. Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, tells the Kingsport Times News he has no plans “at this time” to launch impeachment proceedings against Hawkins County Juvenile Court Judge Daniel Boyd, whose license to practice law has been suspended because of acknowledged “dishonesty.”

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Haslam picks new Hamilton County judge

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Kyle E. Hedrick of Chattanooga as Circuit Court Judge for the 11th Judicial District.  He replaces Judge W. Neil Thomas III, who has retired. The 11th Judicial District serves Hamilton County.  Continue reading

NAACP affiliate opposes Norris confirmation as federal judge

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) announced its opposition to the confirmation of state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) as a federal judge, reports Nashville Post. At least two other ‘progressive groups’ are opposing confirmation.

Norris, an attorney with Adams and Reese, was nominated to serve as U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee by President Donald Trump earlier this year. He was questione by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in October, but it has not yet voted on his nomination. If the committee votes in favor of his appointment, the vote would move to the full Senate.

In a letter to the Judiciary Committee, Sherrilyn A. Ifill, the president of the LDF (a separate institution from the NCAAP itself) cites concerns with Norris’s record as a legislator.

“Norris has developed an appalling record opposing equal rights that stands out even among President Trump’s long line of anti-civil rights nominees,” Ifill writes. “Norris’s record of hostility toward vulnerable and marginalized communities in Tennessee – that is, the very people who depend most on the courts to protect their rights – shows that he cannot fairly and impartially provide equal justice under the law.”


Haslam appoints Tidwell Circuit Court judge in Rutherford County

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Barry Ross Tidwell of Murfreesboro as Circuit Court Judge in the 16th Judicial District, which includes Rutherford and Cannon counties.

Tidwell’s appointment follows the death of Judge M. Keith Siskin in July.

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Judge gets reprimand for granting jail sentence reductions for vasectomies

White County General Sessions Jud Sam Benningfied has been reprimanded by the state Board of Judicial Conduct for offering jail inmates 30 days off their time behind bars for getting vasectomies or birth control implants, reports The Tennessean.

Bennifield’s order authorizing sentence reductions for long-term birth control measures was issued in May and rescinded in July after protests. It has led to at least two lawsuits against the judge and the White County sheriff, who oversees the jail in Sparta.

A letter posted on the Board’s public website (HERE) says the judge’s actions threatened confidence in the judicial system.

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