ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) — A judge has dropped six official misconduct charges against former Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris.
The Johnson City Press reports that Judge John Kerry Blackwood ruled there was insufficient evidence to proceed with Harris’ trial, which started Monday.
It would have been Harris’ third trial. Two previous trials ended in hung juries.
During opening statements Monday, District Attorney General Tony Clark told jurors that county inmates were taken to property owned by Harris to bush hog it, mow it, cut wood and raze structures there.
Harris’ attorney said in court that Harris did not know the inmates were working on the property.
A grand jury in October 2011 indicted Harris on felony charges, including official misconduct, theft, criminal simulation, attempted aggravated assault and tampering with evidence.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A judge in northeast Tennessee is dismissing a $750,000 libel lawsuit against state Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield for publishing false information online about a Democratic candidate for the state House in 2008.
Campfield, a Knoxville Republican, blogged before the election that year that he had heard candidate Roger Byrge had multiple drug arrests, and that the mug shots were “gold.” It was later determined the arrest record belonged to Byrge’s son.
The elder Byrge lost the House race to Republican Chad Faulkner by fewer than 400 votes and later filed suit in Campbell County.
“It is a dog-eat-dog world out there, and this stuff happens,” Circuit Judge John McAfee said, according to a transcript of Wednesday’s court hearing in Jacksboro.
“Sometimes you just get beat, and that’s just the plain simple truth of the matter,” he said. He added: “Politics are politics, and it’s a big boys and big girls game. That’s just the way it is.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a group of Catholic nonprofits in Nashville that challenged a provision of the new federal health care law.
An attorney for the nonprofits said in court earlier this month that the agencies have a religious objection to providing health care coverage for their employees that includes services like contraception and sterilization.
He asked U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell to issue an injunction, preventing the government from enforcing the so-called contraceptive mandate.
Campbell last week dismissed the suit, ruling that the nonprofits have suffered no injury from the new rule because it is not currently being enforced.
The rule is being revised to try to accommodate nonprofits with religious objections to it.
Judge David Loughry dismissed new Democratic Property Assessor Rob Mitchell’s campaign sign vandalism charges against past Republican Property Assessor Bill Boner Tuesday, reports the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. Mitchell, who won the Aug. 2 election, spent nearly all of his first official day in office at the County Judicial Building after he took out a warrant to have Boner arrested in July. He accused the incumbent of damaging a campaign banner that had been hanging on the side of a wall at the Premier 6 movie theater at Jackson Heights shopping center where Boner serves as the property manager.
Judge Loughry, though, said during the preliminary hearing that Boner had to respond to a Murfreesboro Building and Codes Department warning that the city only allows three temporary signs per property.
“Mr. Boner has the approved authority to determine the three signs,” Loughry ruled in determining there was no probably cause to send the case to a grand jury.
The judge noted that the sign in question was hung back up with duct tape before Mitchell agreed to take it down.
A federal judge has dismissed a $6 million class action lawsuit filed against Bluff City, its mayor and an Arizona-based traffic camera company regarding tickets issued from two speed-enforcement cameras on Highway 11-E, reports the Kingsport Times-News. Motorists Chris Cawood and Jonathan Kelly Proffitt filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville in September 2011 naming Bluff City, Mayor Irene Wells and American Traffic Solutions as the defendants.
The lawsuit claimed Bluff City and ATS conspired to violate the Fair Debt Collections Act, state law and the city’s own ordinances by imposing an administrative fee of $40 on top of the $50 fine imposed for motorists allegedly captured on the city’s two speed-enforcement cameras on Highway 11-E.
Last month, Judge Ronnie Greer granted the motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
In his opinion, Greer wrote that conspiracy has to be supported with enough factual allegations … that is plausible on its face.
“The only factual allegation regarding ATS is that ATS installed and maintained the cameras at issue,” Greer wrote, noting this is insufficient to establish a conspiracy.
Larry Crim, fourth place finisher in the Aug. 2 Democratic U.S. Senate primary, indicates in a news release that he’s dropping legal action to void the apparent victory of Mark Clayton, who has since been disavowed by the state Democratic party.
This comes after U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp of Nashville effectively threw the lawsuit out — though telling Crim’s lawyer he could come back and try again.
Instead of litigating, the release says Crim is launching a new organization — he will be chairman — called Democrats United For Tennessee. It’s purpose, says the release, will be uniting Democrats and “providing leadership for a new direction focused on emphasizing the importance of every race for public office and on the vetting, selection, nomination, and general election of Tennessee Democrats dedicated to being a public servant for all Tennesseans.”
The full release is below.
U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Wiseman Jr. ruled Tuesday that TennCare now meets its coverage obligations to children, dismissing a 14-year-old class-action lawsuit filed by the Tennessee Justice Center.
From The Tennessean’s report:
The legal advocacy organization said it will appeal the judge’s decision.
Wiseman in his opinion wrote that TennCare had met the requirements of a 1998 consent agreement between it and the Tennessee Justice Center. That agreement required TennCare to do early and periodic screening of 750,000 Medicaid-eligible children and to provide them with needed treatments.
The goal under the agreement was to make sure that 80 percent of the children got regular checkups and dental care. Doctors who were witnesses for the Tennessee Justice Center shared stories of children not receiving adequate access to care, but the judge based his decision largely on the state’s documentation and numbers.
“This testimony, while interesting and even compelling from a policy perspective, was for the most part not directly related to the decision of whether the state is in substantial compliance with the consent decree,” Wiseman wrote.
The state’s screening rate for Medicaid-eligible children exceeded 90 percent, he noted — 10 percentage points beyond the goal set in the consent requirement.
By Travis Lollar, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Nashville judge on Monday dismissed trespassing and other citations against 55 Occupy Nashville protesters and ordered their records expunged.
“We won again,” protester Dorsey Malina said after a brief hearing.
The ruling was the latest in a series of defeats for Gov. Bill Haslam’s attempt to dislodge the group with a curfew on the grounds around the state Capitol.
Afterward, Haslam signaled in an interview with The Associated Press that the fight to remove the protesters, or at least curtail their activities, was not over. He said new rules for the space are in the works, and his administration is developing them in cooperation with constitutional lawyers and people who use the space.