Attorneys representing Gov. Bill Haslam and various state agencies are appealing a recent federal ruling that found the state unlawfully arrested members of the Occupy Nashville group. reports the Tennessean. According to a notice of appeal filed late last week, the state objects to U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger siding with the Occupy Nashville plaintiffs.
Trauger wrote that the state “cannot make law by fiat” and that the protesters’ First Amendment rights were violated when they were arrested. The appeal, which will be heard by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, will be spelled out in detail in about a month, when the appeal’s legal brief is filed, according to attorney Dawn Jordan, who is representing the state.
Last month, Trauger wrote that state and local agencies made a series of mistakes in the way they handled the Occupy Nashville protesters in the fall of 2011. State officials have held that the Occupy encampment on War Memorial Plaza was a public safety concern, pointing to mounting trash and reports of fights and lewd behavior.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Mike Faulk as circuit court judge for the Third Judicial District, replacing Judge Kindall T. Lawson, who retired effective June 1.
“Mike will bring vast experience to the bench,” Haslam said. “He has served his state well in the past, and I know he will serve the citizens of the Third Judicial District well in this new role.”
Faulk, 59, has worked in The Faulk Law Office in Church Hill since 1982. He served as a Tennessee state senator representing Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson and Union counties in the 106th and 107th Tennessee General Assemblies. While serving as a state senator, he was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, among other duties.
“I am deeply humbled by the Governor’s confidence in me, grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of East Tennessee and privileged to work with the other judges and court personnel of Greene, Hamblen, Hawkins and Hancock counties,” Faulk said.
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct has issued a public censure and a public reprimand to Circuit Court Judge John K. Wilson of the Third Judicial District.
Judge Wilson’s censure is a result of his conduct at 2011 deposition in addition to failure to abide by a resolution and agreement previously reached with the Court of the Judiciary.
The reprimand was due to an improper ex parte hearing and improper ex parte relief granted with respect to a petition to modify a permanent parenting plan.
Because it is a public censure rather than just a public reprimand, the judge will be required to personally appear before Board of Judicial Conference at its August meeting pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. ‘ 17-5-301(g)(2) & (4).
Judge Wilson has been a judge since 1979. The Third Judicial District serves Greene, Hamblen, Hancock and Hawkins counties.
The complete text of the censure and reprimand can be found HERE.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal appeals court has thrown out a 15-year-old legal agreement that mandated regular medical and dental care for the 750,000 children on TennCare, more than a third of all children in the state.
The Tennessean reported (http://tnne.ws/ZR2cKk ) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in an opinion published Thursday voided an agreement mandating compliance with federal requirements governing the state’s version of Medicaid. The consent decree arose out of a 1998 lawsuit alleging that children were not getting regular checkups.
Last year, a federal judge ruled that the state was in substantial compliance and dismissed the case. The appeals court upheld that ruling.
Michele Johnson, an attorney with the Tennessee Justice Center that originally filed the suit, called the court’s ruling a disappointment and said more was needed for children covered by the program.
“Our daily contact with families and professionals who care for TennCare children makes us painfully aware that TennCare continues to shortchange some children, many of whom have great needs,” Johnson said in a written statement.
Fifteen years ago, a federal court found that Tennessee was not providing adequate care to children on TennCare and a consent decree made 80 percent of children on TennCare receive regular checkups and medical and dental care.
For children in state custody, the agreement went even further, requiring the state to give all of them regular checkups and medical care. The lawsuit was known as John B., named after one of the original plaintiffs.
State lawyers sought to have the consent decree dismissed in 2006, arguing that it was no longer necessary. Lawyers for some of the children disagreed, and the case stalled through years of appeals, disagreements and allegations of improper behavior by judges.
“TennCare had vastly improved its delivery of services to enrollees, and indeed become a national leader in its compliance with the Medicaid statute,” according to the opinion.
“The ruling of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes the dramatic improvements TennCare has made over the 15-year history of this case,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a written statement. “It also recognizes TennCare as a national leader in the delivery of services to children, which will continue to be a top priority in Tennessee.”
TennCare Director Darin Gordon said in a statement that they were pleased with the appeals court’s opinion.
“Today’s ruling confirms TennCare as a national leader among Medicaid programs. We are pleased that the court recognizes the dramatic improvements TennCare has made over the 15-year history of the case. We continue to strive to provide high quality comprehensive health coverage to the 1.2 million members we serve.”
— Note: Statements on the ruling from TennCare director Darin Gordon and Gov. Bill Haslam are below.
News release from TBI (dated Friday, Feb. 8):
Chattanooga, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today arrested a former employee of the Monroe County Circuit Court Clerk’s office after he was indicted by the Monroe County grand jury earlier this week on theft and misconduct charges.
Norman Bruce Arp, 49, of Sweetwater, Tenn. was indicted on one count of theft over $1,000 and one count of official misconduct.
Between February 2012 and September 2012, while working as an administrative assistant to the Monroe County Circuit Court Clerk, Arp embezzled funds by withholding cash deposits from fees collected in the offices of the Circuit and General Sessions Court Clerk’s. Arp kept deposit slips to record amounts for repayment purposes. A state audit conducted by the Comptroller’s office discovered the theft. The 10th Judicial District Attorney General requested TBI to investigate in September 2012. Arp stated he took the money because he had fallen on hard financial times. He has since repaid the funds.
Arp was booked tonight into the Monroe County Jail and released on $10,000 bond.
By Travis Lollar, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A federal appeals court on Friday ordered a lower court to reconsider whether Tennessee law makes it too difficult for third parties to get on the ballot.
In February, U.S. District Judge William Haynes Jr. struck down state rules requiring third-party candidates for high-level offices to be selected through a primary. He also struck down a requirement that the parties and candidates collect about 40,000 signatures and turn them in seven months before the election.
After that decision, the General Assembly changed the law to make it easier on third parties.
Under the new rules, minor political parties can still use the primary process. They also have the option of selecting nominees in accordance with their own internal rules.
If they chose to do the latter, the parties still have to collect signatures, but they don’t have to turn them in until 90 days before the election. The individual candidates don’t have to collect signatures.
The three-judge panel for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling from Cincinnati, sent the case back to the lower court to re-evaluate the rules in light of the recent changes. The court also overturned the lower court’s determination that a prohibition on the words “independent” and “nonpartisan” in party names was unconstitutional.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Keith Siskin to the 16th Judicial District Circuit Court, which serves Rutherford and Cannon counties.
Siskin fills the vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Don Ash to a senior judge position earlier this year.
According to a news release from the governor’s office, Siskin has been a juvenile court magistrate since 2004 and presided over both criminal and civil proceedings including parentage, child support, child custody and visitation, dependency, neglect, abuse and delinquency matters.
Siskin graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1994 and went to the University of Georgia School of Law, graduating cum laude in 1997.
He is a past president of the Rutherford and Cannon County Bar Association and has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Thursday assures that Green Party candidates will have a place on Tennessee’s November general election ballot in several races – including Martin Pleasant of Knoxville as the party’s U.S. Senate nominee.
“That’s wonderful,” said Pleasant, 43, who said he now plans to take some time off his job with the Knox County Engineering and Public Works Department for campaigning.
State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said the court ruling came in requests for an expedited ruling on two issues in a lawsuit brought by the Green and Constitution parties challenging the state’s ballot access.
Currently, Democrats and Republicans are listed by party affiliation but others are listed as independents unless they go through various steps that a U.S. District Court judge in Nashville ruled in February are too burdensome. The state attorney general’s office appealed that ruling.
In Thursday’s decision, the court declared Green and Constitution party candidates must be on the ballot and listed by party name, Goins said. But the court ruled for the state in another issue up for “expedited” decision – letting stand a present law requiring the “majority party,” now Republicans, be listed first on the ballot, followed by the “minority party,” the Democrats, with others following lower on the ballot.
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Judicial Nominating Commission met in Franklin
today to interview the 12 applicants for the Circuit Court vacancy in
the 21st Judicial District, which includes Hickman, Lewis, Perry and
Williamson counties. The vacancy was created by the appointment of
Circuit Court Judge Jeff Bivins to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
After holding a public hearing and an interview for each applicant, the
Judicial Nominating Commission has recommended the following three
candidates to Governor Bill Haslam:
Michael W. Binkley
Schell, Binkley and Davies
Derek Keith Smith
Deputy District Attorney
21st Judicial District
David Henry Veile
Lowery, Lowery & Cherry, PLLC
The governor may now appoint one of these candidates.
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Haynes announced her retirement today after serving on the bench for 29 years. Her retirement will take effect on November 15.
Haynes began her judicial career in 1982 as a Davidson County General Sessions Court judge. In 1990, Haynes was elected circuit court judge in the 20st Judicial District, which serves Davidson County.
Prior to taking the bench, Haynes was a partner at the law firm of Haynes and Haynes. She also served as a legal assistant on a congressional staff.