attorney general

Legislators seek AG opinion on judge reducing jail time for vasectomies or birth control implants

News release from Senate Majority Leader Lee Harris

 MEMPHIS – Sen. Lee Harris and Rep. G.A. Hardaway have asked state Attorney General Slatery to give his opinion on whether Tennessee judges have the power to impose, reduce, or vary a defendant’s criminal sentence based on whether the defendant undergoes a medical procedure that would permanently or temporarily limit the defendant’s ability to have children.  They released the following statements in response to Judge Sam Benningfield’s efforts to reduce sentencing for inmates who choose to receive a vasectomy or implant in the White County jail.

Sen. Lee Harris said, “We depend on our judges to administer justice fairly, not to use their position of power to coerce vulnerable populations to give up their God-given rights to have children or not have children. Reproductive health care options should be available to all, in prison and out. However, those options should always be offered on a voluntary basis. These options should not come with strings attached or through coercion.”

 Rep. G.A. Hardaway said, “Offering incentives in exchange for someone’s reproductive freedom is not only unethical, I’m pretty sure it’s unconstitutional. It appears the inmates in White County are being targeted and they are not in a position to reject this coerced offer. Senator Harris and I have asked state Attorney General Slatery to opine on this matter and we look forward to his prompt response.”

Also signing the letter are Rep. Harold Love, Rep. Larry Miller, Rep. Antonio Parkinson, Rep. Johnny Shaw, and Rep. Joe Towns.

Note: Previous post on the subject HERE.  All those signing the request are Democrats. Shaw is from Bolivar, Love from Nashville with the others from Memphis.

Slatery signs onto letter threatening lawsuit against Trump administration over ‘Dreamers’

Attorneys general from Texas and nine other Republican-led states – Tennessee’s Herbert Slatery is one of them — threatened Thursday to sue the Trump administration over a program that grants deportation relief and access to work permits to nearly 788,000 “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants brought to the country at a young age, reports Politico.

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the states urged the administration to rescind the June 2012 memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program during President Barack Obama’s first term.

The letter called on the federal government to phase out DACA by ceasing to accept new enrollees or to renew existing applications — a decision that would leave many Dreamers subject to deportation.

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Slatery investigating opioid manufacturers, looking to ‘decisive action’ at ‘the appropriate time’

News release from Tennessee Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced Tennessee is one state leading a bipartisan coalition of a majority of Attorneys General from across the country as part of an effort to combat the opioid epidemic. The Attorneys General are conducting comprehensive investigations into the widespread prescribing and use of opioids, as well as the role parties involved in the manufacture and distribution of opioids may have played in creating or prolonging this problem.

A focus of the ongoing investigation is to evaluate whether manufacturers have engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing and sale of opioids. The Attorneys General are committed to using the vast investigative resources available, including subpoenas for documents and testimony, to identify and hold accountable those parties responsible for the opioid epidemic.

“There is not a single community in Tennessee, or a region of the country for that matter, that has not witnessed the devastating impact of opioid abuse,” General Slatery said. “At the appropriate time, you can be assured Tennessee will take decisive action against those parties responsible for harming so many families.”

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AG in court filing: ‘Natural and ordinary’ law does ‘nothing new at all’

Start of an Associated Press report:

NASHVILLE (AP) — A new law that’s been criticized as discriminatory against same-sex couples actually does “nothing new at all,” Tennessee’s attorney general contends in a legal filing.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery made that argument last week in a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by four married lesbian couples expecting children through artificial insemination.

The law requires using the “natural and ordinary meaning” of words in state law. Gay rights groups have contended that the requirement offers a sneaky way to deny same-sex couples the legal rights and protections granted to a “husband,” a “wife,” a “father” or “mother.”

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Slatery joins 16 attorneys general in complaining to Trump about fed regulatory overreach

News release from attorney general’s office

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III is joining a coalition of 16 state attorneys general in asking President Trump to lead a regulatory reform effort to protect individual rights from regulatory overreach. In a signed letter to President Trump, the coalition, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, says reforms are necessary to bring the current federal regulatory process under the rule of law.

“Federal agencies were created to administer the law. In too many instances they have tried to make law, to legislate, through guidance letters and the like. When steps like these are taken, the voice of the people through their elected representatives is not heard,” General Slatery said. “And that is a problem, a constitutional problem, which we want the Administration and Congress to address.”

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Harwell urges AG to sue opioid drug manufacturers

House Speaker Beth Harwell has asked Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery to consider filing a lawsuit against five manufacturers of prescription opioid drugs – as Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine did earlier this week.

Harwell’s letter to Slatery says Tennessee is “consistently ranked among the worst states” for the opioid abuse and notes the Ohio lawsuit contends the drug manufacturers “sparked the addiction crisis by misrepresenting the drugs’ addictive qualities.”

Further from WKRN:

“We have a true crisis in our state,” said… Harwell. “And we want to address it… To some extent, drug manufacturers have misled how addictive these prescriptions are.”

Speaker Harwell said she’ll defer to the Attorney General to decide if a lawsuit is necessary. Harwell also stated she does hope that if a lawsuit is filed by the state. If the court sides with the state, the money would go toward helping people battling addiction.

“Really what we’re looking for is some assistance in helping people go through rehabilitation programs and to pay for those programs,” Harwell said. “To help them come off of what is really a crisis.”

From an AP brief on the letter:

The companies sued by DeWine are Purdue Pharma; Endo Health Solutions; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary, Cephalon; Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals; and Allergan.

And here’s a statement via email from Attorney General Slatery: “Ohio advised us that it was taking this step.  It is hard to overstate the problem that opioid abuse is in our State and nationally.  We have been working for quite some time with the Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and frankly other states, to determine the most effective role our Office can play in addressing and helping to resolve this problem.”

A copy of the letter is available by clicking on this link: harwellletter

Fed lawyers: TN law doesn’t allow legislators to bring refugee lawsuit on behalf of the state

In a 48-page motion filed Thursday, U.S. Department of Justice attorneys asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit over refugee resettlement in Tennessee that was filed by a law firm advocating for states’ rights in response to a resolution passed by the legislature last year.

From The Tennessean’s report:

Among the federal government’s various arguments is that Tennessee law does not allow the General Assembly to bring the lawsuit on behalf of the state.

“Statutes enacted by General Assembly make clear that the authority to represent the state in litigation belongs exclusively to the Attorney General,” the motion states, while pointing out that the state’s attorney general declined to initiate the lawsuit.

At one point, the federal government also says the claim that Tennessee has been forced to spend state funds as part of refugee resettlement is “logic-defying.”

The state’s lawsuit came after lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a resolution in 2016 approving legal action and after Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery declined to initiate the case. Instead, the state’s case was brought forth by the Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based legal group.

Sessions gives tough-on-crime speech in Memphis; draws protesters

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd of about 100 law enforcement officials in Memphis, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed opioid abuse, urged protection of the country’s southern border and vowed to dismantle transnational cartels, drug trafficking and gangs, reports the Commercial Appeal.

He cited a 43 percent increase in homicides last year in Memphis as showing the need for tougher action. About 100 protesters were outside.

“If you are a gang member, know this: You think you are targeting us. Well, we are targeting you,” he said. “We will find you. We will devastate your networks. We will starve your revenue sources, deplete your ranks and seize your profits. We will not concede a single block or single street corner to illegal gangs.”

Sessions said 230 more Assistant United States attorneys will be hired nationwide, and he reiterated that he has empowered federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense in each case.”

To reduce opioid abuse, deaths and crime, he said prevention programs “in the long run are the most important and effective thing we can do.”

About 100 protesters also showed up, according to a sidebar story. They marched from the Memphis City Hall to the federal courthouse where Sessions was speaking chanting slogans including “No justice, no peace!” and “No racist police!” and “Hey, ho, Jeff Sessions has got to go!”

AG lawsuit contends California company is a ‘government imposter’

News release from the attorney general’s office

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced the filing of a lawsuit against a California company and its principals for violations under the Government Impostor Act.

The civil enforcement action names LA Investors LLC, based in southern California, and its principals, Roberto Romero and Laura Romero. LA Investors conducted business in Tennessee under the names “Local Records Office” and “National Profile Document.”

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AG sues operator of 18 TN ‘pain management clinics,’ alleging TennCare fraud

News release from Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced the filing of a lawsuit against an organization of pain management clinics owned and operated by Michael Kestner and his business partner, Dr. Lisabeth Williams. Kestner is the primary owner of MMi, which operated at least 18 pain management clinics throughout Tennessee.

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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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