Tag Archives: vince

Bail Bondsmen Bill Stirs Post-Session Controversy

A bill that “slipped through” the Legislature during the last session rewrites a portion of state law on bail bonds to allow bondsmen to avoid liability once a defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, reports The Tennessean. It’s apparently causing some turmoil in the criminal justice system.

No longer will bondsmen remain liable until a defendant is actually sentenced.

A review of videotapes of House and Senate sessions shows there was little discussion of the bill, and confusion dominated what little discussion took place.

Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, plainly told an inquiring colleague just before the final House vote that the bill would require the bonds to remain in effect until the time of sentencing.

“It requires the surety to remain in effect till sentencing,” Dean said in response to a question from Rep. William Lamberth, a Republican from Cottontown.

Instead, judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers say the law, which already has gone into effect, allows bondsmen to withdraw from a case at the time of a guilty plea or verdict, leaving the defendant liable to be put in jail or pay for another bond. Sentencing can come days or weeks after a plea is entered.

Opponents say that if the defendant is jailed from the time of a guilty finding until sentencing, the state or county will have to pick up the cost of that additional jail time.

The new law prompted judges of Davidson County’s criminal court to issue a rare emergency order, which remains in effect indefinitely, requiring that bondsmen at least notify their clients of plans to revoke the bonds. It sets different requirements for bonds in effect before the May 6 effective date of the new law.

Bonding companies failing to comply with the notice requirements risk having all bonding privileges in Davidson County suspended.

…Charles White, head of the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents, said the “very unusual” edict by the Davidson County judges amounts to “extortion. The judges have usurped the power of the legislature.”

White said the association pushed for the change because the risk of flight increases once a defendant is found guilty.

“Once there is a guilty finding or a plea, our work is done,” White said, “but they want us to remain liable.”

…Lamberth, the legislator who raised questions about the bill, said he was pleased that another provision in the measure was eliminated. That provision would have set time limits on how long a bond would remain in effect, depending on the crime committed.

As to Dean’s answer to his question, Lamberth said, “I can only assume it was a misunderstanding.”

Dean also said it was a misunderstanding and added he would be willing to work out a correction.

“I try my best to work with everyone,” he said.


Note: The bill is SB736/HB102 by Dean and Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga.

On Democrats Competing to Challenge Rep. Vince Dean (House 30)

Democrats running in their party’s state House District 30 primary say they’re in the contest in part because of concerns over where the Republican-led General Assembly is taking Tennessee, reports Andy Sher.
Brock Bennington, Sandy Smith and Brian White of East Ridge are vying for their party’s nomination in the Aug. 2 primary. They acknowledge that whoever wins will face an uphill fight to unseat Republican Rep. Vince Dean, also of East Ridge, in November.
…They said their focus will be on promoting public education and jobs-related efforts zeroing in on the district, which includes East Ridge, East Lake, East Brainerd and part of Collegedale.
“We need to be looking at real issues and not the evolution bill or the ‘gateway sexual activity’ bill,” said Smith, a retired Hamilton County teacher, calling those types of issues “red herrings.”
“I just feel we have so many more important things to deal with.”
Bennington, a private investigator for a local law firm, took aim at the 2012 “evolution” law that proponents said was needed to provide a framework to protect public school teachers who address controversies over theories like evolution and climate change.
“To me it’s a waste of our tax dollars [spending hours] debating the issue in committees,” Bennington said. “It just made us a laughingstock when corporations are looking at moving here.”
But Benningston, Smith and White all said they are conservative enough to appeal to voters in the general election. All said they support a controversial guns-in-parking lots bill that would prevent employers and others from barring handgun-carry permit holders’ ability to store weapons in their vehicles on private or public lots.
Smith, however, said schools should be excluded while White said he thinks it shouldn’t apply to universities.
White, who worked as a security guard but said he is now at home caring for his elderly father, also took issue with Dean’s support of two laws, which he contends are Dean’s main achievements. One allowed businesses in East Ridge to sell fireworks and the other bans motorcyclists from popping wheelies.
“There’s a lot of injuries” associated with fireworks, White said. “A lot of elderly people don’t like the noise. I don’t like the noise.”

Dean to Stick With House Seat

State Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, says he plans to seek re-election to his House District 30 seat and not run for the state Senate, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
“I will be submitting my qualification papers on Monday morning to the Hamilton County Election Commission,” Dean said in a statement.
Dean said that, while he has been “overwhelmed by friends and supporters that have urged me to seek Senate District 10, I feel that currently, I need to continue my focus on my House duties.”
Senate District 10 has leaned Democratic in the past but now favors Republicans as a result of the recent passage of a GOP-drawn redistricting plan by the state Legislature. The seat is now held by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, who has announced he won’t run again and seriously is considering a 2013 race for Chattanooga mayor.

Chattanooga Developer to Seek Berke’s Senate Seat (Dean maybe not)

Chattanooga developer Greg Vital said Friday he plans to run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Andy Berke, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, is reconsidering a run for Berke’s Senate seat after the two top House Republican leaders told him they want him remain in the House, where Dean serves as floor leader.
Vital, 56, said he plans to file his qualifying petition next week to run in the 10th Senate District Republican primary in August.
“I waited until Andy made his decision, looked at the map and decided to run for what will be an open seat newly created because of redistricting,” said Vital, who is president of Independent Healthcare Properties in Collegedale.
“Half the district is in Hamilton County and half is in Bradley County and I think I can do an excellent job, having been in both districts.”
The new 10th Senate district leans Republican and Vital said he can bring a fresh business perspective to the Legislature. He is a former executive for Life Care Centers of America in Cleveland who started building assisted living centers, nursing homes and other senior housing projects in 1986.

Andy Berke for Mayor? Vince Dean for Senate? Redistricting to Split Bradley County?

Redistricting may put more Republicans into state Senate District 10, now held by Democratic Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga. If that happens, Republican state Rep. Vince Dean says he’d be interested in seeking the seat, reports Andy Sher.
Berke, meanwhile, says he’d be interested in running for mayor of Chattanooga if things don’t work out for current mayor Ron Littlefield in a recall flap.
Berke is not ruling out running for mayor, although he said Sunday evening his considerations aren’t based on what the 10th District looks like after redistricting next year. Short on people Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said Sunday that the 10th District needs more people. The Democratic-leaning district, which includes much of Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Marion County, is 16,153 people short of the ideal population of 192,306, based on U.S. Census figures.
Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said Sunday that the 10th District needs more people.
The Democratic-leaning district, which includes much of Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Marion County, is 16,153 people short of the ideal population of 192,306, based on U.S. Census figures.
“Certainly one concept that’s been looked at is can you take the 10th and move it eastward toward Bradley,” Watson said.
“That concept has been looked at, but no decision has been made,” he emphasized.
Taking out Marion County’s 28,237 people, plus the need to add 14,000 to 16,000 people to the 10th, would open an opportunity to add East Ridge and southern Bradley County, both Republican areas.
Dean, a former East Ridge mayor, said he would “certainly explore the possibilities” of a Senate run, but “only after the district lines are finalized.”
“I’m not going to jump out there and say I’m running for a district I haven’t seen,” Dean said.
Berke said he hasn’t seen a map or any proposed lines, but he thinks there’s a constitutional problem with such a redrawing.
“The [Tennessee] Constitution says that you can’t divide counties, and the reason for that is to make sure counties maintain their strength.
“When you divide Bradley County you minimize its ability to speak with one voice,” Berke said. “Any attempt to split Bradley County certainly appears to violate the Constitution and hurts [its residents’] abilities to have power in the legislature.”

Note: THe Cleveland Daily Banner has an article on the possibility of Bradley County being split in Senate redistricting. Sen. Mike Bell, who currently represents all of the county, had no comment.