A recent Tennessee Supreme Court rule change that will make oral arguments from all of the state’s appeals courts available online has delivered a shock to some appeals court judges and family law attorneys, reports The Tennessean. Under current rules, oral arguments from the Court of Appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court are available by request and for a nominal fee — usually about $20.
But in a little-noticed policy change in the name of “transparency and openness of the courts” expected to take effect this spring, digital recordings of all oral arguments in appeals courts will be available online at no cost.
The action has led some, including Appeals Court Judge Frank Clement, to voice concern that it could complicate the lives of children whose parents are going through messy divorces, not to mention “cast a dark cloud” over the parents themselves, according to a letter Clement recently wrote to the high court.
“I’m very concerned about Internet bullying, harassing and abuse,” Clement said in a telephone interview. “This is not about the courts keeping secrets. It’s about preventing children from being abused and bullied.”
Michele Wojciechowski, a Tennessee Supreme Court spokeswoman, said giving the public open access to the courts is important. That said, she noted that the court is now devising a way to “mitigate possible abuse.” The court will catalog complaints over the program’s one-year trial period.
As voting finally gets under way after months of campaigning and debates, The Tennessean asked political players from Tennessee who worked with Gingrich during his four years as speaker to discuss his leadership style.
Snippets from the three former congressmen-turned-consultants contacted:: Bob Clement: “Newt was more distant and less personal, stayed in his office more…But there’s no doubt (he was) an intellectual.” Zach Wamp: “Before the presidential primary kind of went negative, Speaker Gingrich had a whole lot of momentum, principally because he is always looking down the road at where things need to be…He’s a visionary, frankly.” John Tanner: “He was one of the first people I ever heard refer to other Americans who had a different point of view about public policy as the enemy…I always thought the enemy was terrorists or the Russians or somebody.”
One woman who has been voting for more than eight decades in this state was told this week she may no longer be eligible to vote, reports WSMV-TV. She’s worked for years at the Tennessee State Capitol and has her old state ID, but that’s not good enough under the new voter ID law. Thelma Mitchell cleaned this governor’s office for his entire term. She has been a fixture at the State Capitol for more than 30 years, yet this year she was told “you’re no longer allowed to vote.”
“I ain’t missed a governor’s election since (Frank) Clement got to be the governor,” said Mitchell.
The 93-year-old Mitchell voted for the first time in 1931, soon after women gained the right to vote in the United States. “It meant a lot to me,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell worked as a maid cleaning the State Capitol, specifically the governor’s office. She has known governors, legislators and council members personally for decades. This week Mitchell found out her old state ID with her picture on it is no longer enough to qualify her to vote. (Born in Alabama in 1908, she also never had a birth certificate, the story says.)
“When he told me I may be in this country illegally, I said I’ve been over here all my life,” said Mitchell.
…Mitchell and her nieces are considering suing the state.
“If it’s put her in this position, it’s probably put a lot more people in this position,” said Jones. “People are living longer. It’s a right (to vote). They struggled at getting the right to vote, and that’s their right.” UPDATE: Excerpt from an AP story:
Mitchell, who was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918, has never had a birth certificate. But when she told that to a driver’s license clerk, he suggested she might be an illegal immigrant.
But a spokesman for the House Republican Caucus said Mitchell was given bad information. Brent Leatherwood said even an expired state ID will allow her to vote.
Asked about why Mitchell might have been confused or received incorrect information about the new voter ID law, Leatherwood said only that the provision that allows for the use of state employee IDs is “pretty straightforward.”
He said staff would be contacting Mitchell to get to the bottom of the miscommunication.
(Note: This is an unedited version of Sunday’s News Sentinel column.)
Gov. Bill Haslam recently made a first, tentative step recently toward using his office a bully pulpit to prod the state Legislature into action – or maybe inaction, in this case.
His proposal, basically, was that the General Assembly should reduce the number of bills filed every year. There were about 2,200 bills this year – his administration had only about 20 of them in its package – and the governor said he would like to see that number reduced by about a third, say 700 or so.
House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey indicated they are supportive of the governor’s idea, though other lawmakers voiced some misgivings about what they perceived as an executive branch intrusion into legislative branch functions.
On the other hand, when asked last week what role he would play in the developing wrangle over redistricting of Tennessee congressional and state legislative districts, Haslam had a rapid response of one word, “Zero.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former Congressman Bob Clement of Nashville says the U.S. must work through any business, trade or diplomatic issues with China.
Clement, a Democrat, just returned from a visit to China representing the United States Association of Former Members of Congress.
He said the bipartisan group that went with him was impressed with the future economic opportunities that China can provide.
Clement said American-made cars sell well in China, and the country is expected to become one of the largest markets for commercial airplanes.
Clement is currently president of a public affairs company with offices in Nashville and Washington.