Category Archives: herbert slatery

Durham committee gives AG subpoena power

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A special House committee has voted to designate Tennessee’s attorney general to investigate sexual harassment allegations against Republican state Rep. Jeremy Durham.

The panel voted 4-0 on Monday to give Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office subpoena power for an investigation into “allegations of disorderly and inappropriate behavior” by the second-term Republican from Franklin.

Durham has denied any wrongdoing. The lawmaker has stepped down as House majority whip and later withdrew from Republican caucus. He is currently taking a hiatus from the Legislature while seeking medical and religious guidance.

House Speaker Beth Harwell, Gov. Bill Haslam, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and state Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes have all called for the Durham’s resignation.

AG: $2.1M in student loans to 1,400 TN students to be forgiven

News release from Tennessee Attorney General’s office
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, along with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, today announced a settlement with Education Management Corporation (EDMC) that will lead to major reforms and student loan forgiveness. As part of the agreement, EDMC, a for-profit education company, is required to significantly reform its recruiting and enrollment practices, and forgive more than $2.1 million in loans for over 1,400 former Tennessee students.

EDMC, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, operates 110 schools in 32 states and Canada through four education systems, including Argosy University, The Art Institutes, Brown Mackie College and South University.

Tennessee, along with 38 states and the District of Columbia, conducted a multistate investigation after receiving complaints from current and former EDMC students. Nationwide, the agreement requires the for-profit college company to forgive $102.8 million in outstanding loan debt held by more than 80,000 former students.

“This agreement holds EDMC accountable to Tennessee students in two very important ways,” General Slatery said. “It not only provides some relief to a large number of former students through loan forgiveness, but it also helps ensure that the company will make substantial changes to its business practices for future students.”
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Slatery won’t seek Supreme Court appointment

Attorney General Herbert Slatery today issued a statement saying he has no intention to seek appointment to the state Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Gary Wade on Sept. 8.

There has been considerable speculation that Slatery, a longtime friend of Gov. Bill Haslam and his former legal counsel, was virtually assured of getting the court position if he wanted it. Haslam makes the appointment, though a screening committee will review applications and recommend three names to the governor.

Here’s the Slatery statement, distributed to media by his press secretary:

“The State is facing an important decision, appointing and confirming someone to the Supreme Court position recently vacated by Judge Gary Wade. This will be the first appointment after the recently passed constitutional amendment dealing with judicial appointments.

“I am sure the Governor and the General Assembly will make it a smooth process. There has been a fair amount of speculation not only about possible candidates, but also about how confirmation will work.
While my name has been mentioned in some of the conversations, a compliment that I really appreciate, I want to clarify that I do not intend to submit an application for the position.

“The Court appointed me as Attorney General less than a year ago, to possibly take another position in a few months would be to leave a job unfinished. A number of people, talented people, have changed course in several ways to come and work with our office. Honoring that commitment to them and the other fine employees of this office is important to me. Changing directions in midstream and applying for another position feels like it is more about me than it should be at this point.

“I am quite confident the Governor will appoint, and the General Assembly will confirm, the very best person to succeed Judge Wade. Those are big shoes to fill. Governor Haslam already has a good track record on appointing excellent judges. His decision here will not be any different.”

Haslam yet to talk Slatery about appointing him to Supreme Court

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam says he has not had any communication with Attorney General Herbert Slatery about an upcoming vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Slatery is a close Haslam friend and former top legal adviser in the Republican governor’s Cabinet.

The state’s highest court appointed Slatery to an eight-year term as attorney general last year, but the Sept. 8 retirement of Justice Gary Wade has raised questions about whether he may seek to move up to the Supreme Court bench.

The governor appoints Supreme Court justices in Tennessee, and Haslam acknowledged that “there has been a lot of speculation” surrounding Slatery’s plans.

Because the attorney general is so close with the governor, other potential candidates will likely want to wait and see what Slatery decides before submitting an application.

Slatery joins in settling lawsuit against drug manufacturer

News release from attorney general’s office:
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, along with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs and 48 other states, today announced a $71 million nationwide settlement with Amgen Inc. to resolve allegations that the company violated state consumer protection laws. Amgen Inc. is a California based biotechnology company that manufactures and sells pharmaceutical products, including Aranesp and Enbrel.

Today’s settlement resolves allegations that Amgen unlawfully promoted both medications. The Complaint and Agreed Final Judgment alleges that Amgen violated the law by: (1) promoting Aranesp for dosing frequencies longer than the FDA approved label without competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the extended dosing frequencies; (2) promoting Aranesp for anemia caused by cancer without having FDA approval or competent and reliable scientific evidence to support it; and (3) promoting Enbrel for mild plaque psoriasis even though Enbrel is only approved by the FDA to treat chronic moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

“Consumers need to be able to trust that what they are being told accurately describes the product they are buying,” General Slatery said. “This is a health and safety issue and drug manufacturers should be held accountable for misleading and deceptive practices.”
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Nashville officials reject AG opinion, ban guns at some facilities

Despite a recent state attorney general’s opinion, Metro Nashville officials said Thursday they still plan to ban guns at city-owned Nissan Stadium and Bridgestone Arena, reports The Tennessean.

“Guns are not permitted in those facilities, that’s absolutely clear. I want to make sure everybody understands that,” Metro Law Director Saul Solomon said Thursday.

“The attorney general’s opinion is just that: It’s an opinion of the attorney general. It has no force of law.”

Metro is banning guns at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville too, while Franklin officials plan to ban guns at the upcoming Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival

Solomon and Metro Sports Authority Executive Director Toby Compton joined officials from Franklin, Memphis and around the state in a roundtable discussion Thursday at the state Capitol about the new guns-in-parks law. Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, created the event to discuss the new law, opinion from the attorney general and the potential ramifications both will have on events at parks or publicly owned venues around the state.

…On Thursday, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said he isn’t sure Tennessee needs any more gun bills at all during the upcoming legislative session. House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, voted against the law this year, but said she’d have to look over any proposed exemption to the law before she’d support changes.

“I understand Metro’s concerns. You know, I don’t take lightly going against an AG’s opinion, though,” Harwell said Thursday.

“It’s a tough position for our city to be in, and I’m sorry we’re in this position.”

Others who attended Thursday’s event spoke against easing restrictions on guns in general. That includes gun-control organizations such as the Safe Tennessee Project, but also the Tennessee Sheriffs Association and Kevin Wilson, senior vice president of business affairs for the Country Music Association. No organizations with opposite views, such as the National Rifle Association, participated in the event.

Supreme selection: A ‘disorganized mess’ to be sorted out by a ‘dysfunctional legislature’?

Excerpt from a Frank Cagle column on the confusion over appointing a successor to state Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, which he depicts as an aftermath of “the big lie” used in selling voters on Amendment 2 to the Tennessee constitution.

It’s not clear what is going to happen next. But the possibility exists that Haslam would appoint someone like his attorney general for the seven years left on Wade’s term, and Herb Slatery could then retire without ever having to face the voters. I don’t think that will happen. But do you feel your right to elect judges was “protected?”

Amendment Two says the Legislature will confirm judges appointed by the governor. But the Legislature last session failed to come up with a plan to do so. And there is a real likelihood that it may not next session either.

The impetus for Amendment Two, to appoint judges, came from the state Senate. But if the Legislature merely votes to confirm or not confirm a Supreme Court justice, then the House has a lot more members and will thus make the decision. Out-sized egos in the state Senate can’t stand being irrelevant.

So the brain trust that fooled you into thinking you were protecting your right to elect judges has no clearly defined method of confirming them or a clear idea of whether an appointed replacement has to be confirmed in the next general election or whether they serve the time left on the term.

I wonder if all the people who contributed money and campaigned to save Wade’s seat feel any sense of betrayal. From his exit interviews it appears that Wade ran for re-election because he could not step down from the challenge. Put another way, his ego wouldn’t allow him to be run out of office by the GOP.

But the things that went on last year to fool the voters should make the state judiciary and its legal establishment hang its head in shame. In the haste to make the constitution require appointed judges, the court has been put under the thumb of the governor and the Legislature. And, as I have pointed out, the disorganized mess left in its wake must be sorted out by the dysfunctional Legislature — God help us. I’m sure Wade will be an excellent dean of the Lincoln Memorial University law school, just as he was an excellent appeals court judge. And Ramsey will have his Republican majority on the state Supreme Court without spending any more GOP campaign contributions.

AP story on TN Supremes situation (Justice Herbert Slatery?)

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When Gary Wade was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 2006, the self-described “mountain boy from the Smokies” planned to serve the eight-year term and retire from his distinguished judicial career.

That was before Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey decided to bankroll an effort to defeat Wade and two fellow justices appointed to the state’s highest court by a Democrat. Setting retirement plans aside, Wade helped spearhead the campaign turn back Ramsey’s efforts and win the three justices another term on the bench last year.

“I felt it was extremely important for the court to stand firm and hold on to the basic concept that the courts are free of politics,” Wade said in a telephone interview.

Having won retention of the three justices, Wade recently announced that he will retire next month. That has set off wave of speculation about possible successors, and legal questions about how the position will be filled given the passage of a constitutional amendment that for the first time gives the Legislature the power to reject the governor’s Supreme Court nominees.

Lawmakers couldn’t agree this year on a mechanism to reject judicial nominations — both the House and Senate wanted to guard against the other chamber having too much say in the matter — meaning the issue was punted to next year’s legislative session. If they still can’t agree, any appointment by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam would be considered approved within 60 days of the Jan. 13 start of the session.

So what’s the five-member high court without a tiebreaking vote between September and possibly March? Not to worry, said Chief Justice Sharon Lee.

“Choosing the next justice is an important decision for the State of Tennessee and there is no need to rush it,” said Lee, who along with Wade and Cornelia Clark was among the justices targeted by the Ramsey campaign.
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TN AG now OK with same-sex divorce

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage, the Tennessee attorney general’s office is no longer contesting the divorce of two men who wed in another state.

On Friday, the office sent a brief to the Tennessee Court of Appeals making clear that it won’t stand in the way of Frederick Michael Borman and Larry Kevin Pyles-Borman getting a divorce.

The couple married in Iowa in 2010. Rockwood attorney Mark Foster, who represents Frederick Michael Borman, said they have been denied a divorce since filing in Roane County in March 2014 because the state didn’t recognize same-sex marriages before last month’s Supreme Court decision.

Harlow Sumerford, a spokesman for Attorney General Herbert Slatery, said in a statement that the filing acknowledges the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on Tennessee law.

AG: TN court clerks may immediately begin issuing gay marriage licenses

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery has today advised Tennessee’s 95 county clerks that they can begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.

The newspaper says the University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Service sent a memo to clerks advising them on the matter this morning after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Hamilton County’s court clerk, Bill Knowles, told the newspaper he will thus begin issuing marriage licenses immediately.

In an email to the state’s 95 county clerks, obtained by the Times Free Press, the UTCTAS says, “We have been advised by the Tennessee Attorney General that county clerks may begin issuing marriage licenses immediately under the U. S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell.

“The Attorney General will hold a press conference at 2:00 pm central time at which time this will be formally announced, but county clerks do not need to wait for the press conference to begin issuing marriage licenses.”

UPDATE/Note: Slaterly did, indeed, announce that clerks should begin issuing gay marriage licenses immediately… and they did so. See, for example, post HERE.