TN News Notes, 10/14/11

Haslam Campaigns for Shelby DA
With the March Shelby County primaries on the way, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will be lending his support to a fundraiser for Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, according to the Memphis Daily News.
Haslam is the featured guest at a $500-a-head fundraiser Nov. 2 at Oaksedge in East Memphis. Weirich will be running in the GOP primary for the remaining two years in the eight-year term of office of Bill Gibbons. Haslam appointed Weirich as the county’s chief prosecutor after tapping Gibbons to be his commissioner of safety and homeland security when Haslam took office as governor in January.
Weirich’s appointment was the first Haslam made to fill a local office. District attorney general is one of three countywide offices on the 2010 ballot. The other two are assessor and General Sessions Court clerk.

THP Having Video Problems
According to WJHL-TV in Tri-Cities, an investigation of Highway Patrol video camera procedures found “a complex web of missing videos, limited oversight and budget restrictions.” Seems the TV station’s effort was inspired by a July 5th crash involving Carter Count Sheriff Christ Mathes wherein state Trooper Brad Proffitt deactivated his dash camera. Proffitt wound up being suspended for one day as punishment.
THP investigated 61 crashes statewide on that day, July 5. The station selected 10 of them to review as a sample. Only five had a video recording and in two of those cases it appeared patrol policy might have been violated.
Said Col. Tracy Trott, Patrol Commander to the TV reporter: ” I see what you’re saying and it is a concern for us. It’s not the most pressing concern we have.”
Former Judge Loses Law License
Former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner can no longer practice law in Tennessee, according to the disciplinary arm of the Tennessee Supreme Court. By agreement, Baumgartner was disbarred, according to Thursday’s notice from the Board of Professional Responsibility, reports the News Sentinel.
“Mr. Baumgartner, through counsel, delivered to the Board of Professional Responsibility an affidavit consenting to disbarment because he could not successfully defend against a Petition for Final Discipline based on Mr. Baumgartner’s guilty plea to official misconduct or the board’s investigation of other misconduct…,” the notice states.
Baumgartner, licensed to practice law in the state since 1978, stepped down and pleaded guilty in March to the felony official misconduct charge after a TBI investigation found he had purchased pills from a probationer in his court.

‘Guns in Bars’ Didn’t Hurt Tourism?
Critics of Tennessee’s so-called “guns in bars” law once predicted it would lead to “drunken shootouts” and a decline in tourism, according to Andrea Zelinski, but that hasn’t happened.
In 2010, the year after the law initially went into effect, the state’s tourism numbers were up 6.3 percent, according to state officials. Every county saw a boost in tourism, according to a report by the Department of Tourism Development and the U.S. Travel Association.
“It doesn’t surprise me that tourism didn’t drop,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville. “There wasn’t one documented case still to this day of someone going into a bar, a gun permit holder, and using their firearm. There’s still not.”

Shelby Tax Collections Pocketed by Collector?
The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office is investigating whether an employee of a Texas-based law firm that collects taxes for the city of Memphis misappropriated thousands of dollars by depositing checks into a personal account, says the CA.
Cedrick Hughes, the Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson firm employee, convinced at least one elderly Memphis couple beginning in 2007 to write checks to Hughes personally instead of to the city, according to City Attorney’s Office officials.
“At this point there’s not much we can say because we’re in the preliminary stages of an investigation,” said Vince Higgins, communications director for the D.A.’s office.

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