The maximum fine for committing bigamy would be doubled – from $2,500 to $5,000 – under legislation approved by the Senate and awaiting a House committee vote.
As originally filed by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, the legislation (SB542) would have elevated bigamy from a misdemeanor to a felony. That provision was dropped after legislative staff estimated that there are 18 convictions of bigamy per year in Tennessee and that the cost to the state for incarcerating them as felons would total more than $368,000 per year.
The bill also changes current law to allow prosecution for bigamy for a longer period after a person already married maries again. Under the current “statute of limitations,” a bigamist can be prosecuted for two years after the second marriage takes place.
In some cases, Bell said, the spouse of a bigamist does not discover the previous marriage, with no divorce, until “several years later.” With the change of law, he said, bigamy is treated as “a continuing offense” so the statute of limitations does not begin until the prior marriage is discovered “so even if it’s discovered later, it can be prosecuted.”
State Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, has been served with a criminal summons citing him with a misdemeanor for “dogs at large” after an ongoing dispute that has Dickson police scratching their heads, reports The Dickson Herald via The Tennessean. Germaine Paltzer, who lives down the road from Summerville, has filed two complaints over the lawmaker’s dogs, and called Dickson police four times on him in the last four months. Paltzer had just undergone knee surgery when she filed the first complaint.
“I had knee surgery; that’s how this started. The dog ran out in front of us and we had to brake,” Paltzer said.
Residents can cite other residents for minor infractions such as violating leash laws, but an officer must sign off on the citation. The senator was cited April 12 for having dogs out and paid the fine. Ricky Manley, animal control officer for the city of Dickson, cited Summerville again May 12.
Summerville paid $157 in court costs for the first citation without having to appear in court. The second citation required an appearance by Summerville, but the date was moved because city attorney Jerry Smith was not in court.
…The first police report April 9 reports dogs belonging to Summerville came running out at Paltzer in the street. The report further states Manley “then went over to Mr. Summerville’s house and advised him about the dogs running after the car and stated that he was sorry and he would keep the dogs up but didn’t know they were getting out of his yard.”
Paltzer dispatched animal control again May 12. The May report states she went to Summerville’s house and asked him why the dogs were still loose when he had a fenced-in backyard. Paltzer said Summerville “made a face at her and jumped towards her as if to make her flinch,” according to the report.
Manley said he’s gone out to Summerville’s house a number of times and did not see dogs out, but picked up two puppies that belonged to Summerville when Paltzer called in a police report in May.
“I have gone through there numerous times, and have yet to see the dog loose, but she took pictures of [Summerville’s dog] this time, so she’s got proof of him being loose,” said Manley.
…When approached about the issue, Summerville said he believed The Herald wanted a “little piece of sensationalism guaranteeing your readers, a few of whom who read at about a sixth-grade level, so I am not going to cooperate with your investigation.”
…Summerville wrote a column entitled “Dickson County has long history with man’s best friend” that appeared in the June 1 edition of The Herald. He wrote: “When we first get to heaven, all the dogs we’ve ever loved will come running to greet us.”
SAVANNAH, Tenn. (AP) — A West Tennessee jury has found a school superintendent guilty of lesser charges after he carried a pistol into a middle school.
The Jackson Sun (http://bit.ly/LOweow ) reported Hardin County Director of Schools John Thomas was convicted Tuesday on a misdemeanor count of carrying a weapon in a school without intent to use it. Thomas will pay a $50 fine and have up to six months of probation.
Thomas’ attorney said that if the jury had convicted his client of the felony count he was indicted on, he would have been in violation of his employment contract.
School Board Chairman David Long said after the verdict came back that it was not an issue with the board.
County resident Jerry Fowler, who took the case to the grand jury after the local prosecutor declined to, said he was disappointed in the outcome, but satisfied that the issue came to public attention.
At least six people running for public office in this year’s Metro election, including two incumbents, have been convicted of crimes. A Tennessean search of criminal records in Middle Tennessee turned up no felonies for the 112 people running for office in Nashville, but it found several misdemeanors, including assault, trespassing and driving under the influence.
Misdemeanors do not bar people from running for office, and the Election Commission does not run background checks on the candidates, said Joan Nixon, deputy administrator of elections.
“It’s not illegal for these folks to run,” said local political analyst Pat Nolan. “On the other hand, depending on the seriousness of the
would want to consider. I don’t know that these people are going to put it in their campaign literature, but it’s fair information for people to be aware of.”
The Tennessean searched criminal records in Davidson, Williamson, Wilson, Sumner and Rutherford counties, along with registries for Tennessee felons, sexual offenders and meth offenders.
The Senate joined the House Monday in unanimously approving a bill to prohibit possession and sale of methcathinone, now sold legally as “bath salts” or “Molly plant food.”
The bill that was approved, HB457, simply makes the new crime a misdemeanor. Other bills called for making possession and sale of the drug a felony, but the projected costs of incarcerating those convicted promoted a switch to a simple misdemeanor with no mandated jail time.
Law enforcement officers say is being increasingly abused. The bill passed the Senate 32-0 under sponsorship of Sen. Charlotte Burks, D-Monterey, and cleared the House 96-0 under sponsorship of Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville. It now goes to the governor for his signature.