Tag Archives: licenses

About 200 TN gay marriage licenses issued Friday; AG says compliance otherwise will take time

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery says he was disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, but promptly advised court clerks in Tennessee’s 95 counties to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couple, reports The Tennessean.

An official with Tennessee Equality Project says 55 counties were ready to issue licenses later on Friday and that at least 200 licenses were issued to couples. And Slatery said fully implementing and complying with the decision in other respects will take some time.

“Everyone needs to be patient, reasonable and understanding during this process. It will not happen overnight, despite the best of intentions, but it will happen in Tennessee,” Slatery told reporters Friday afternoon. “And we’ll get this right.”

…(Slatery) didn’t know of any clerks flatly refusing to issue the licenses. As of late Friday, at least 55 county clerks had either issued licenses or said they were ready to issue licenses to same-sex couples, said Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project.

Many of the other 40 counties cited “administrative reasons” as to why they weren’t ready to issue licenses.

“We’re not offering a theory beyond administrative reasons at this point. Fifty-five on the first day is pretty good,” Sanders said.

He thought at least 200 licenses were issued Friday, but thinks many more will be issued next week. In at least several counties, clerks received many calls but were asked to issue few licenses. In Wilson County, Deputy Clerk Scott Goddall said the office received 14 calls but was only asked to issue one license.

Administrative issues affected some of the counties that issued licenses as well. In Davidson County, applicants waited several hours. The clerks office waited for the go ahead from the Attorney General and needed to update software related to the marriage licenses before starting to issue licenses.

There will be similar issues moving forward, affecting almost every department of state government, Slatery said.

“How many forms in state government refer to husband and wife? How many references in Tennessee code annotated refer to husband and wife?” Slatery said.

“Those are going to be some changes that take some time, and actually incur some expense.”

In addition to practical changes in legal language, Slatery said the ruling may also affect the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Tennessee law affirms a business’ religious freedom rights, and is similar to laws in Indiana and other states that have received national attention.

“Well, I think that remains to be seen. Obviously, any exercise by the state or state officials…may be subject to some scrutiny if they were doing that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Slatery said.

Failure of Fine Collection Law Blows Hole in Safety Budget

State lawmakers thought a 2011 bill allowing revocation of driver’s licenses for deadbeats who failed to pay criminal fines and court costs would reap millions in reinstatement fees, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
But seven months into the first year of operation, only nine counties are complying and the state has collected just $22,425. The shortfall has left a gaping hole in the department’s budget, Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said last week.
“The department is requesting $7.6 million in supplemental funding for the current fiscal year in order to correct the overestimate of driver’s license reinstatement fees,” Gibbons told Senate Transportation Committee members.
The law requires county court clerks to notify the state of scofflaws who’ve gone at least a year without paying anything toward fines and costs. The department then revokes their licenses until they start to pay up.
Tennessee charges $65 for each license reinstatement plus an additional fee for the license.
Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell is among those participating. So are clerks in the three other largest counties — Davidson, Knox and Shelby.
A number of counties are “working on methods to provide notices electronically” to the state, Gibbons said.

Former State Official Gets Two Years in Prison for Selling Driver Licenses

A former Tennessee Department of Safety official apologized to a federal judge Friday for selling state driver’s licenses and said his history of a clean record and military service justified a lighter sentence, according to The Tennessean.
Larry Murphy, 54, was sentenced to 27 months in prison and will forfeit $69,500 for accepting money as a state official in turn for issuing driver’s licenses without administering the proper tests. Anny Castillo, 31, received three months in prison and nine months of home detention and will forfeit $42,500 for bribing Murphy and for selling U.S. birth certificates. Each faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“I am very ashamed of creating an awkward and embarrassing situation for my wife and kids,” Murphy told U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp. “I have lost my pride, dignity and respect of my family, friends and neighbors all because I did something stupid.”
Murphy’s attorney, Craig Fickling, asked Sharp to consider Murphy’s 21-year service in the military and that he had no prior criminal history.
Sharp agreed that Murphy’s decisions, which Murphy said were based out of financial concerns for his family, were “out of character,” but said his military service would not factor into a reduced sentence.
“In some sense you can look at that military service and go, ‘He knew better,’ ” Sharp said.
Castillo, speaking through an interpreter and tears, said she made a mistake when she bought her own license from Murphy and fell into a growing scheme through fear and pressure from others who wanted licenses. She asked for probation out of concerns for her three children, saying, “I don’t even want to imagine what would happen if they were left all by themselves.”

Phony drivers’ licenses flood bars (but not voting precincts?)

Phony drivers’ licenses from overseas have swamped bars and clubs around the University of Tennessee campus — so many some bars now ask for two kinds of identification, reports the News Sentinel. For teenagers, they’re a license to drink and to party.
For police and for bar owners, they’re a neverending headache.
“I’ve seen trained law enforcement officers look at them and not spot the difference,” said Trevor Hill, owner of The Hill bar on Forest Avenue in Fort Sanders. “We’ve gotten them from different states and from 12 or 14 countries. It’s rampant on campus. My collection right now’s right around 300, and that’s not counting what we’ve turned over to the police. I’d say we’ll take up several hundred more in the first month of school.”
…ID Chief, the leading forger, operates from China and advertises its bogus wares on a website based in the Philippines.
Each fake comes with a duplicate for emergencies.
“If you lose one, you don’t have to pay for another,” the site explains.
Pick a name, state and address. Scan and send a photo and clear copy of your signature. Fill out the order form and pay by credit card or money order, then sit back and allow up to 10 business days for shipping.
Don’t worry about what happens to your personal information.A pair of fakes cost $200. Three pairs go for $600.Find enough friends and get a price break — special discounts for 10 or more. The site offers Christmas, Halloween and back-to-school sales

New Collaboration Between THP, ABC

The state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which issues liquor licenses in Tennessee, now has direct access to the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s computer database for accidents related to drunken driving, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
That means the commission will know sooner about any distributor who may be serving underage drinkers or visibly intoxicated ones, officials said Tuesday.
THP Director Col. Tracy Trott and ABC Executive Director Danielle Elks joined others at the Charleston Fire Department on Tuesday to announce the partnership put together by state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland.
“You’ve heard the expression ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire.’ Well, where there’s smoke, the ABC special agents can now look for the fire,” Watson said at the news conference.
“This partnership will allow ABC special agents to more quickly gather information regarding alcohol-related traffic accidents,” he said. “This information could lead to further investigations into possible violations of state liquor laws.”
Defense attorney Jim Logan, a Democrat, said he and Watson, a Republican and veteran law enforcement officer, agreed quickly about the need to spread the responsibility beyond the driver.

Starting July 1, Unpaid Court Costs & Fines Mean Loss of Driver’s License

Thousands of Tennesseans who haven’t paid court costs and fines will start losing their driver’s licenses on July 1 under a law enacted by the General Assembly last year. Bob Fowler reports that county court clerks and judges, who are preparing to begin enforcing the law, have differing opinions about whether it’s a wise thing to do.
The law applies to misdemeanor and felony cases that were resolved after July 1, 2011. Defendants one year from the date of a guilty plea or conviction to pay off their court costs and fines and, if they don’t they are faced with loss of license. The revocations, thus, will begin after July 1, 2012.
“Imagine the court having to have a hearing on every unpaid court cost case,” Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk Barry Pelizzari said. “It would be a burden that this system could not handle.”
“It’s going to be a huge mess,” Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge predicted. He said he expects to discuss the issue with fellow jurists during a judicial conference in June.
Roane County Circuit Court Clerk Kim Nelson offers another view. She said she’s “thankful that the Legislature has provided court clerks with another enforcement tool in collecting court costs.”
…State Rep. Jim Gotto, R-Nashville, spearheaded passage of the law. His main reason: “There’s almost $1 billion statewide in unpaid fines and court costs,” he said.
Defendants facing the loss of their driver’s license will now have “an incentive to pay their fines,” he said.
Gotto said he was asked to introduce the legislation by representatives of the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk’s office. “They see what a huge problem this is.”
Gotto said the law allows defendants unable to pay off their court costs in full within a year to either seek a six-month extension or set up an installment plan for paying.
“There are all kinds of safeguards to keep from disenfranchising any group,” he said, “but it brings some real consequences to folks who just won’t pay.”
Several clerks said they have either already sent out notices to defendants owing court costs in cases resolved last July, alerting them about the new law, or plan to do so soon.

State Checking for Noncitizen Voters

The names or more than 20,000 noncitizens who hold Tennessee driver’s licenses or certificates will soon be compared to voter registration records to determine if any have voted illegally.
The review, which follows a legislative mandate approved in May, was inspired by a similar check in Colorado that found 11,800 noncitizens were registered to vote and about 5,000 had cast ballots in the 2010 election.
State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said there have been isolated cases of noncitizens found voting in Tennessee, including one case in Houston County and another in Putnam County. But he said that, without the pending review, there is no way to know how common such things.
“I hope for four, or five. It could be 10,000,” he said Monday. “It’s a shot in the dark.”

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Haslam on the Shipley-Ford Matter

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday that he’s awaiting the outcome of an investigation into whether lawmakers improperly intervened with a state board to help three nurse practitioners whose licenses were suspended, but acknowledged he doesn’t like it “when people use their leverage to accomplish a personal agenda.”
The case grew out of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe of fatal overdoses among patients of the now defunct Appalachian Medical Center.
Two Republican lawmakers — Reps. Tony Shipley of Kingsport and Dale Ford of Jonesborough — have acknowledged using their legislative positions to some degree to force the Tennessee Board of Nursing to reconsider the suspensions of Bobby Reynolds II, David Stout Jr. and Tina Killebrew.
Haslam, a Republican, told reporters after an event in Franklin on Wednesday that he couldn’t comment on the specific situation because of the investigation.
“I think we should let that (the investigation) play out before we jump to any conclusions about if there’s a good government principle involved there,” he said. “But … I don’t like it when people use their leverage to accomplish a personal agenda.”