KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Knox County commissioner has pleaded no contest to public indecency nearly a year after he was accused of engaging in oral sex in a park.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/199eDTh ) that Commissioner Jeff Ownby was fined $500 plus court costs for the misdemeanor charge on Friday.
He must also serve six months of supervised probation and is banned from being within 100 yards of the North Knoxville park he was arrested in.
Knoxville police arrested Ownby and another man during a prostitution sting on May 24, 2012. Ownby, who is married, has maintained that the incident was a one-time indiscretion.
Ownby rejected calls for his resignation following his arrest.
A recent Tennessee Supreme Court rule change that will make oral arguments from all of the state’s appeals courts available online has delivered a shock to some appeals court judges and family law attorneys, reports The Tennessean. Under current rules, oral arguments from the Court of Appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court are available by request and for a nominal fee — usually about $20.
But in a little-noticed policy change in the name of “transparency and openness of the courts” expected to take effect this spring, digital recordings of all oral arguments in appeals courts will be available online at no cost.
The action has led some, including Appeals Court Judge Frank Clement, to voice concern that it could complicate the lives of children whose parents are going through messy divorces, not to mention “cast a dark cloud” over the parents themselves, according to a letter Clement recently wrote to the high court.
“I’m very concerned about Internet bullying, harassing and abuse,” Clement said in a telephone interview. “This is not about the courts keeping secrets. It’s about preventing children from being abused and bullied.”
Michele Wojciechowski, a Tennessee Supreme Court spokeswoman, said giving the public open access to the courts is important. That said, she noted that the court is now devising a way to “mitigate possible abuse.” The court will catalog complaints over the program’s one-year trial period.
A two-page oral sex encounter by an awkward teen at boarding school in the coming-of-age novel Looking for Alaska was deemed too racy by Sumner County schools last week, The Tennessean reports. The district banned the book from its assigned classroom reading list, becoming at least the second in the state, after Knox County in March, to keep students from reading it together in class.
The teen novel is the first in several years to be stripped from Sumner classrooms. Wilson, Rutherford and Williamson county schools say they haven’t banned the book or any titles in recent years. Metro schools didn’t have information on the book as of Monday.
“Kids at this age are impressionable. Sometimes it’s a monkey see, monkey do,” said parent Kathy Clough, who has a freshman and a senior at White House High School, where the book had been assigned reading. “I’m going to trust that my school board made the right choice. … If they feel like this book is a little too graphic, I’m all for it.” Debate over censorship
As many as 500 books are challenged each year, more often by a parent or school administrator and mostly for being too sexually explicit or containing too much foul language, according to the American Libraries Association.
The challenges ignite debate over censorship of books in public schools and how much control a parent should have, as Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill to deter teachers from promoting “gateway sexual activity.”
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A House panel on Tuesday killed a bill seeking to require insurance companies to cover oral chemotherapy treatments.
The House Commerce Committee voted 19-9 to send the measure to a study committee after the Legislature adjourns for the year.
Rep. Steve McManus, R-Cordova and the committee’s chairman, said a series of closed-door meetings with supporters and opponents of the legislation indicated to him that a compromise wasn’t likely.
“There’s still an awful lot of questions that need to be answered,” McManus said.
Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville, who disclosed last week that he had been diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, noted that none of the committee members supportive of the legislation were invited to the meetings.