Tag Archives: kennedy

On the Origin of TN’s ‘Sunshine Law’

The Tennessee Legislature, which through much of the 1960s would routinely exclude the public and press from lawmakers’ “executive session” meetings, in February of 1974 adopted a landmark law that states in its preamble:
“The General Assembly hereby declares it to be the policy of this state that the formation of public policy and decisions is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.”
The statute is known as the “Sunshine Law,” and passage marked a change in attitude from prior years. It also marked a rare case of legislative advocacy by the state’s newspapers, represented by the Tennessee Press Association, with the late Ralph Millett, then editor of the News Sentinel, and Sam Kennedy, then editor of the Columbia Daily Herald, as point men.
“We decided to take the initiative, something that, as a matter of policy, we did not do,” recalled Kennedy in an interview last week. Normally, he said, the TPA became active in the Legislature only in opposing bills considered bad, not pushing legislation considered good.
The full article, written as part of a News Sentinel series on the newspaper’s history over the past 125 years, is HERE.

Woman Convicted of Helping Kill Monroe Election Commissioner

MADISONVILLE, Tenn. — Jessica Kennedy may not have killed Jim Miller, but she helped someone else do it.
That was the decision a jury reached Monday night in the case of the 2010 slaying of the 60-year-old chairman of the Monroe County Election Commission.
More from the News Sentinel:
The jury deliberated for a little more than seven hours before returning verdicts of facilitation of felony murder, facilitation of aggravated robbery, facilitation of arson and facilitation of abuse of a corpse, all lesser included offenses of the original charges against her.
Miller was shot in the head three times, and his body stuffed into the trunk of his car, which was then set ablaze. The verdicts mean that Kennedy will not be facing life in prison, which she would have been had she been convicted of felony murder. The murder facilitation conviction carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years.
Kennedy burst into tears and hugged her attorney, John Eldridge, and other members of her defense team.
“Those were tears of relief,” Eldridge said.
Senior Judge Walter Kurtz set sentencing for Oct. 3 at 9 a.m.

Miller’s widow, Vickie Miller, left the courtroom without comment.
“This is not everything we wanted, but I feel they came back with as fair a verdict as they could,” said Miller’s daughter by a previous marriage, Mechelle Miller. “We want everybody responsible in this to pay, and we also want the truth.”
Authorities say other people were involved in the crime.
“Maybe this will give us an opportunity to find out who,” prosecutor Jim Stutts said.