courts

Jury finds former Pilot Flying J president guilty of fraud, conspiracy and witness tampering

A federal jury Thursday convicted the former president Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest diesel fuel retailer, in a plot to rip off truckers to boost both his own bottom line and that of the company, reports the News Sentinel.

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Former TVA manager gets probation in plot to provide nuclear info to China

A former senior manager for the Tennessee Valley Authority, recruited by an operative for the Chinese government seeking to buy information on American nuclear information, will avoid any time in prison for his activity, reports the News Sentinel.

Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan on Thursday turned aside a bid by federal prosecutors to have nuclear scientist Ching Ning Guey, 63, imprisoned and instead sentenced the former TVA executive to a three-year probationary term.

Guey was among a half dozen nuclear engineering experts working in the American nuclear power production industry who were recruited by operative Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho, 67, as part of what Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Atchley Jr., has called a plot by China to garner nuclear technological know-how the country was not allowed to access.

But Guey appears to be the only one of those experts who was charged, and court records indicate it was Guey who agreed to help prosecutors snare Ho, who has since confessed guilt and provided the U.S. government with intelligence on China’s nuclear production capabilities.Ho was sentenced last year to a two-year prison term.

Court records show Ho recruited Guey in 2013 to travel to the People’s Republic of China and, on China’s dime, speak at a “technological exchange” at which he disclosed three reports on nuclear safety analysis. He was paid $15,500, which he has since forfeited to the federal government, according to statements in court.

The reports he provided were not classified but fell under the regulatory auspices of a law that bars certain countries considered nuclear bad actors, including China, from gleaning without permission of the federal government.

Appeals court finds $250 DUI fine — used in financing TBI — unconstitutional

An appeals court has ruled unconstitutional a state law that requires every person convicted of DUI through a blood or breath test pay a fee that that helps fund the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, reports the Associated Press.

Tuesday’s ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Knoxville says the $250 fee violates due process and calls into question the trustworthiness of test results obtained by the bureau’s forensic scientists. State law requires the money to go to the bureau’s intoxicant testing fund.

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Judge issues temporary injunction in Confederate statues lawsuit

An injunction issued by a judge Monday was “a partial, if unsurprising, win for the Sons of Confederate Veterans” in a lawsuit filed against Memphis Greenspace Inc., the nonprofit that recently removed Confederate statues from two former city parks, reports the Commercial Appeal.

 Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle barred the nonprofit from selling, gifting or moving the statues of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, President Jefferson Davis, and Capt. J. Harvey Mathes pending a “contested case hearing” before the Tennessee Historical Commission sometime within the next 60 days.

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Appeals court upholds TN constitutional amendment on abortion

By a 3-0 vote, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today rejected a legal challenge to the 2014 vote that added an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution dealing with abortion, overturning a lower federal court ruling that called for a recount. The 6th Circuit decision, on the other hand, is in line with a state court ruling.

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Wrongfully convicted man seeks $1M damages from state

A Wilson County man wrongfully convicted of rape and robbery nearly 40 years ago is officially asking the state for $1 million in damages, reports WPLN. The move comes just days after Lawrence McKinney was exonerated by Gov. Bill Haslam.

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Court of Appeals rules for TV station in DA’s libel lawsuit

The state Court of Appeals has unanimously overturned a lower court ruling that would have required  Nashville TV station WTVF and reporter Phil Williams to turn over documents related to reporting on Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk, who has filed a libel lawsuit.

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Haslam appoints new Davidson County Criminal Court judge

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Angelita Blackshear Dalton of Nashville as Criminal Court Judge for the 20th Judicial District, replacing retiring Judge J. Randall Wyatt.

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Court of Appeals upholds removal of Confederate names from Memphis parks

The state Court of Appeals in Jackson, affirming a February ruling by the Shelby County Chancery Court, has ruled that the City of Memphis had the legal authority to rename despite contentions to the contrary from the Sons of Confederate veterans, reports the Commercial Appeal.

In 2013, the city parks changed the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park, renamed Confederate Park as Memphis Park and declared the former Jefferson Davis Park to be known as Mississippi River Park.

Lee Millar, a spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp No. 215, said the group is a digesting the 18-page ruling it received Wednesday and has yet to decide whether to appeal the court’s decision to the state Supreme Court.

“They’ve been known for their history and historic naming for decades and decades,” Millar said of the parks. “They shouldn’t be frivolously renamed. They’re part of our history — Memphis’ history as well as America’s history.”

Wednesday’s ruling doesn’t affect the city’s legal efforts to remove a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest or the graves of he and his wife from Health Sciences Park. The city still plans to argue for the statue’s removal in Davidson County Chancery Court in November following the state Historical Commission’s Oct. 13 rejection of a waiver.

Note: The full Court of Appeals decision is HERE.

Tennessean leads National Opioid Task Force set up by state courts

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Director Deborah Taylor Tate and Indiana Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush were appointed co-chairs of the newly created Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) National Opioid Task Force. The Task Force will find solutions, examine current efforts, and make recommendations to address the opioid epidemic’s ongoing impact on the justice system.

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