News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled (Friday) that Knoxville attorney Herbert S. Moncier must pay the costs incurred prosecuting the disciplinary proceeding that resulted in his one-year suspension from the practice of law in Tennessee.
On June 1, 2011, the Supreme Court assessed costs totaling $22,038.32 against Mr. Moncier. Afterward, Mr. Moncier petitioned for relief from costs, arguing that the disciplinary proceedings resulting in his suspension were unfair and unconstitutional.
A three-member panel of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR) refused to grant him relief from costs. Mr. Moncier appealed to the Supreme Court, again arguing that he should not be required to pay costs because the disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his suspension were unfair and unconstitutional. Mr. Moncier also argued that the members of the BPR panel assigned to hear his petition for relief from costs were biased against him.
The Supreme Court addressed and rejected Mr. Moncier’s arguments and affirmed the BPR panel’s decision denying him relief from costs. Among other things, the Court concluded that Tennessee’s attorney-disciplinary procedure is consistent with the due process requirements of the Tennessee and United States constitutions and that disqualification standards applicable to judges do not apply to members of the Board of Professional Responsibility.
To read Herbert S. Moncier v. Board of Professional Responsibility Opinion, authored by Justice Cornelia A. Clark, visit TNCourts.gov.
Thirty days after a new law took effect transforming the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, the utility regulating agency got an executive director and a quorum for its new part-time board on Tuesday.
Earl R. Taylor, a Panera Bread franchisee who lives in Knoxville and has previously worked as a consultant to media companies, was named as the full-time executive director of the agency jointly by Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey.
Previously, the TRA had four full-time directors and no executive director. Under the legislation passed this year at Haslam’s urging, it will have five part-time directors and a full-time executive director.
Two of the part-time director positions were also filled Tuesday by appointment of James Allison and Herbert Hillard.
Allison is president and CEO of the Duck River Electric Membership Corp., headquartered in Shelbyville. He grew up in Maryville, according to Haslam spokesman and is described in a news release as “also regarded as one of the top instant replay officials in college football after having been an on-field official in the Southeastern Conference for more than 12 years.”
Hillard is executive vice president and chief government relatons officer of First Horizon National Corp. in Memphis.
Two of the former full-time TRA directors – Kenneth Hill and Sara Kyle – remain as part-time directors after the agency overhaul. One part-time director position still remains to be filled.
The new law took effect July 1 and when it did, the agency was left with only two of the part-time board members in place – not enough for a quorum – and with no executive director. The appointments Tuesday resolve that situation.
Taylor was not among the 18 persons who initially applied for the TRA executive director position.
“We wanted to cast as wide a net as possible, so we had those who applied and we also had conversations with others who might be interested,” said Haslam spokesman David Smith in an email. “We’re excited Mr. Taylor is willing to serve in this capacity.”
Taylor’s resume, provided by the governor’s office, says that as a Panera franchisee since 2000, he has developed stores in Florida and has stores under development in Texas and Louisiana. Before that, he was employed by Harmony Media as a consultant. In the 1990s, the resume says Taylor “developed and signed-on” WBXX-TV, Channel 20, in Knoxville and served as general partner and in other capacities at WKXT-TV in Knoxville.
Before that, he practiced law in Johnson City. He holds a bachelor’s degree from UT Knoxville and a law degree from the University of Memphis.
— Note: The governor’s news release is below.
Ignoring a plea from the Republican chairman of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and criticism from Democratic legislators, a Senate committee Thursday approved Gov. Bill Haslam’s plans for a transformation of the agency.
“Maybe it’ll work. Maybe not,” said TRA Chairman Kenneth Hill of the Haslam plan. “Why go there and inflict damage to the utilities of Tennessee and to the people of Tennessee … then have to come back and fix it?”
Hill, appointed to the TRA by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, said the utility-regulating agency is working extremely well, cutting back on costs on its own, operating at a lower cost than any similar regulatory agency in the Southeast and earning top scores in national ratings in such areas as enforcing gas pipeline safety.
In contrast, he contended that the governor and Herbert Slatery, the gubernatorial legal counsel who has served as point man in pushing the bill through the Legislature, has never explained why an agency “doing a good job” needs to be changed.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to overhaul the Tennessee Regulatory Authority scraped though a Senate committee last week with a “neutral” recommendation and could be headed for more trouble this week, reports Andy Sher. Two area lawmakers pointedly told Haslam’s legal counsel, Herbert Slatery, that officials need to come up with better answers to criticisms of elements such as turning the agency’s full-time director slots into part-time positions.
“I think, going forward, you will find it much more difficult and you will need to answer the questions,” Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, warned Slatery in the Government Operations Committee hearing. Bell is committee chairman.
At one point, Slatery couldn’t recall the names of people in the regulated utilities who were asked for advice about the proposed changes.
….Haslam’s original bill called for creation of a full-time executive director, appointed by the governor.
Critics, including TRA Chairman Kenneth Hill, charged that effectively would put the governor in charge of the independent agency and its part-time board.
Haslam retreated; new language provides for an executive director jointly appointed by the governor and the House and Senate speakers for a three-year term.
On Friday, Haslam told reporters he “strongly” believes the TRA needs a full-time executive director with a professional background. Currently, directors rotate the chairmanship and management responsibilities annually.
“You can’t show me another management structure like that [which] is effective,” Haslam said.
“At the end of the day, what the TRA bill is about is providing utilities at the lowest price possible for those people who use those regulated agencies,” Haslam said.
The amended bill also would save more than $347,000 a year, the administration says.
The four full-time directors now are paid $152,400 plus benefits. Part-time directors would be paid $36,000 a year, plus benefits. Qualifications would include at least a bachelor’s degree and at least three years’ experience in a regulated utility industry or in “executive-level management,” plus expertise in an area such as economics, law, finance, accounting or engineering.