Donna Kaye Wright was a bookkeeper at the former Bank of Friendship in Crockett County and attended the town’s United Methodist Church, but the Commercial Appeal says little more is known about her except Friday she got a presidential pardon. Wright, 63, who was sentenced to serve just 54 days on federal charges she embezzled and misapplied bank funds, was given the rare presidential clemency in an announcement late Friday afternoon by the White House. Sixteen others, including people from Athens and Chattanooga, in Tennessee, got pardons.
And this from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press: A Chattanoogan and an Athens, Tenn., native were among 17 people who were pardoned Friday by President Barack Obama on Friday, largely for minor offenses
Donald Barrie Simon Jr., of Chattanooga, had been sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation for aiding and abetting in the theft of an interstate shipment.
Roy Eugene Grimes Sr., of Athens, Tenn., had sentenced to 18 months’ probation for falsely altering a U.S. postal money order, and for passing, uttering and publishing a forged and altered money order with intent to defraud.
The White House offered no details on why these particular people, or any of the other 15, were selected by Obama, who has issued relatively few pardons since taking office.
Those receiving pardons came from 13 states and had been sentenced for crimes that included falsely altering a money order, unauthorized acquisition of food stamps, drug violations, and possession of an unregistered firearm.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A group of Occupy Nashville protesters disrupted a discussion with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about his memoir, “Known and Unknown.”
A press release from the group says an anonymous donor purchased four $125-a-plate dinners that allowed protesters to enter the Thursday night event at a downtown Nashville hotel.
They mingled with the crowd before standing up, one by one, and accusing Rumsfeld of being a war criminal. They also suggested Rumsfeld should go outside and submit to a citizen’s arrest.
The protesters were ejected by security.
The event was sponsored by conservative Washington think tank the Heritage Foundation. Heritage spokesman Matthew Streit confirmed that four protesters caused what he called a “brief interruption” of the discussion.
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today applauded the Senate’s vote to confirm U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by a vote of 96 to 2.
“It’s coincidental, but I think it’s fitting that Judge Bernice Donald, a pioneer in so many ways in our state’s history, is the first nomination to the federal bench that the Senate considered after the opening of the Martin Luther King Memorial here in the nation’s capital,” Alexander said.
“Her life–which is full of education, service, and achievement–is a testimonial to the success of Dr. King’s movement and the kind of leadership that he inspired. I commend her on all that she has accomplished, both in her profession and in our state and in her community– and congratulate her on her confirmation to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.”
For the last 15 years, Judge Donald has served on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Donald was the first African American woman to serve as a District Court Judge in Tennessee.
In a floor speech before the vote (VIDEO HERE), Alexander introduced Judge Donald to his colleagues and encouraged them to support her confirmation.
A full transcript of his floor speech follows:
“Madam President, later today the Senate will consider the nomination by the President of Judge Bernice Donald for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Donald is from Memphis, Tennessee. I know her well. I am here today to introduce her to my colleagues and to encourage them to support her confirmation.
“Judge Donald has been before the Senate before. She has been a Federal district judge since 1995. Our Judiciary Committee in the Senate has looked over her qualifications again and has recommended her to us without dissent. The American Bar Association has reviewed her credentials and said she is either qualified or well qualified.
“I think there is not much doubt about her fitness to serve on the Court of Appeals, so in my remarks I would like to talk more about Judge Donald’s role in the community and her role as a pioneer in our country during her lifetime. She is the sixth of 10 children. Her parents were a domestic worker and a self-taught mechanic in DeSoto County, MS, which is just south of Memphis. As a young person, she was among the first African Americans to integrate in her high school during the period of desegregation. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis and graduated from its law school. She focused her career at the beginning working among the most vulnerable citizens in Memphis in the Office of Legal Defender.
“Here is where the pioneer story continues, not just in desegregating her high school or working with vulnerable citizens, but only three years after she left law school, she began a judicial career that has spanned nearly three decades. She became the first African-American female judge in the history of our state in 1982. Six years later, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, upon which she has been nominated to serve by the President, appointed her to serve as U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Tennessee. Again she made history — an African-American female judge had been appointed as a bankruptcy judge in the United States. Then, in 1995, as I mentioned earlier, President Clinton nominated her to be a Federal district judge. On December 22 of that year the Senate confirmed her by unanimous voice vote, and she became the first African-American female district court judge in the history of Tennessee. She served in that capacity for 15 years.
“She has flourished in her career, not just on the court but in her profession. She has just concluded a three-year term as Secretary of the American Bar Association, and she has previously served on its Committee on Governance and on its Board of Governors. She has been equally active in the local and Tennessee Bar associations. She gives a good deal of her time to community organizations: the Memphis Literacy Council, the University of Memphis alumni board, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Calvary Street Ministry, the YWCA, and others.
“It is coincidental, but I think it is fitting that Judge Bernice Donald, a pioneer in so many ways in our state’s history, will be the first nomination for the Federal bench that this body will consider after the opening of the Martin Luther King Memorial in the Nation’s Capitol. Her life, which is full of education and service and achievement, is a testimonial to the success of Dr. King’s movement and the kind of leadership he inspired.
“I commend her on all that she has accomplished both in her profession and in our state and in her community. I know Memphis is proud of her. I look forward to voting in favor of her confirmation this afternoon, and I hope my colleagues will do so as well.”