judges

Governor names new Shelby County judge

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed David M. Rudolph Circuit Court Judge for the 30th Judicial District, which serves Shelby County. The vacancy was created by the retirement of Judge Robert L. Childers on June 30.

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Lawsuit filed over White County jail inmate birth control program

From an Associated Press report:

A Tennessee sheriff and judge violated the constitutional rights of jail inmates by promising to reduce their sentences if they underwent birth control procedures, an ex-inmate says in a federal lawsuit.

Christel Ward was among the misdemeanor-level White County Jail inmates who took the deal, according to the lawsuit. She said Thursday that she still has the unwanted birth control device in her arm that authorities injected in her.

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TN judge reducing sentences of jail inmates who get vasectomies or anti-pregnancy implants

General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield of Sparta has authorized 30-day sentence reductions for male inmates at the White County Jail who agree to free vasectomies in White County and women who agree to receive free Nexplanon implants, which prevent pregnancies for up to four years.

WTVF TV in Nashville, which first reported on the judge’s order, signed in May, says 32 women and 38 men have since signed up for the procedures and the accompanying sentence reduction.

“I understand it won’t be entirely successful but if you reach two or three people, maybe that’s two or three kids not being born under the influence of drugs. I see it as a win, win,” (Benningfield) added.

Inmates in the White County jail were also given two days credit toward their jail sentence if they complete a State of Tennessee, Department of Health Neonatal Syndrome Education Program. The class aimed to educate those who are incarcerated about the dangers of having children while under the influence of drugs.

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Tennessee, says the “coerced contraception” program is unconstitutional.

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TN Senate majority leader vetted for appointment as federal judge

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is being vetted for potential appointment as a federal judge, reports the Times Free Press, citing two “Republican sources” at the state capitol who were contacted by the FBI as part of the customary background check that proceeds such by appointments. Besides that, two “law enforcement chiefs” who know Norris  have apparently been contacted by agents as well.

There’s previously been talk that Norris might be nominated by President Donald Trump for one of two current vacancies on the U.S. District Court bench in West Tennessee – those vacated by Judge Hardy Mays in 2015 and by Judge Daniel  Green earlier this year. They retired – or “took senior status,” as the judicial saying goes.

Norris has for months been saying he’s interested joining the field of candidates running for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination. But he’s made no announcement – and the TFP says he did not return phone calls asking about his vetting for a federal judgeship.

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Nashville judge, facing federal charges, resigns

Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland, facing federal obstruction of justice charges, has resigned from the bench effective Tuesday, reports The Nashville Post.

Moreland’s lawyer submitted his resignation letter to a federal magistrate judge during a pretrial detention hearing (Friday), during which Magistrate Judge Joe Brown decided Moreland could return home while he awaits trial.

Mayor Megan Barry and several Metro Council members had previously called for Moreland’s resignation over allegations included in an FBI investigation that the judge had attempted to pay more than $6,000 to have a witness sign a false affidavit as well as plant drugs on the same witness in order to discredit her.

Moreland’s resignation is effective April 4.

The magistrate judge ruled that Moreland could be released prior to his trial, with conditions restricting his travel and communication with others. Moreland’s wife, Jacqueline, testified that the judge has experienced symptoms of depression and alcoholism for the past few years, and she agreed to oversee the conditions of his release. The two have not lived together since early February, after news media accounts revealed he had been involved in a relationship with the witness in the investigation, who was previously a defendant in his Nashville courtroom.

Slatery urges senators back Gorsuch for U.S. Supreme Court

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has written the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Tennessee’s two U.S. senators to voice support for President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.

“In short, Judge Gorsuch is a champion of the structural safeguards that protect state sovereignty and individual liberty, a committed textualist and originalist, and a brilliant jurist. I urge the Senate to confirm him without delay,” says Slatery in the letter to Sens. Chuck Grassley (the Judiciary Committee chairman), Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.

Corker has publicly declared he will vote for Gorsuch’s confirmation. Alexander has praised the nominee lavishly and denounced the notion of Democrats threatening to filibuster the nomination without explicitly saying the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge has his vote.

Text of Slatery’s letter is below.

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Armstrong’s new trial motion rejected by judge

U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips has rejected former state Rep.
Joe Armstrong’s bid for a new trial and scheduled sentencing for Nov. 30 on his felony conviction for filing a false federal income tax return, reports the News Sentinel.

The August conviction involved profits the veteran legislator made by buying state tobacco tax stamps before a cigarette tax increase that he supported, then selling them after the 2007 tax hike became law. Armstrong contended his accountant misled him into believing the taxes had been paid.

But Phillips said Armstrong’s own testimony provided proof he knew the windfall must be included on his taxes – in whatever form, whether income or capital gains – but signed the document knowing it wasn’t included.

“(Armstrong) admitted that the profit was income to him, it was not included on his 2008 income tax return and it should have been,” Phillips wrote. “He acknowledged that he could not report his income on the tax return of another person. Thus, the jury was presented with the defendant’s own testimony that the tax stamp profit was his income, and he did not report it.”

Armstrong is expected to appeal the conviction further. He faces a maximum of three years in prison when sentenced.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

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

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