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July 5, 2018
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Latest Tennessee news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. CDT


Ex-judge stripped of pension following federal conviction
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A former Tennessee judge who pleaded guilty to federal charges will lose his pension after a vote by the city’s pension oversight board.
News outlets report that former Nashville Judge Casey Moreland was due $58,203.48 annually after decades on the bench.
Moreland pleaded guilty to charges that included retaliating against a witness, obstruction of justice, theft from a federally funded program, destruction of records and witness tampering. He is due in U.S. District Court on Aug. 31 for sentencing.
Members of the Employee Benefit Board did not immediately respond to a request for information. Tara Stewart of Metro Human Resources said that Moreland will lose his pension due to the board vote Tuesday.
Moreland’s attorney says he’s not sure whether Moreland will appeal the board’s decision.



Tennessee panel accepting applications for 2 judgeships
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A Tennessee panel is accepting applications for two judicial vacancies.
The Trial Court Vacancy Commission will consider prospective judges for the 19th judicial district’s circuit court, covering Montgomery and Robertson counties, and the 20th judicial district’s criminal court, covering metropolitan Nashville.
The 19th district seat is created Sept. 1 by a new state law. The 20th district opening is left by the retirement of Judge Seth Walker Norman, effective Aug. 31.
The deadline to apply is the afternoon of July 23.
Applicants must be licensed attorneys who are at least 30 years old, have been Tennessee residents for five years and must live in their districts. Applications can be found online at www.TNCourts.gov .



Group: Tennessee school graduation shouldn’t have had prayer
(Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com)
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – The Freedom From Religion Foundation is telling a Tennessee school district that a high school graduation should not have begun with prayer.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press , a letter from Freedom From Religion Foundation legal fellow Christropher Line accused Catoosa County Schools of unconstitutionally allowing prayer at Ringgold High School’s ceremony in May.
Line says it’s the sixth letter the organization has sent the district since 2013.
In response, schools superintendent Denia Reese said graduation ceremonies are planned and led by students. Reese said the district’s attorney will respond to Freedom From Religion Foundation if and when a complaint is received, and explain how students can keep developing graduation programs and lead ceremonies.


Drivers challenge license suspensions for unpaid court debt
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Advocates for low-income people are pushing to change laws that allow the suspension of driver’s licenses for people with unpaid criminal or traffic court debt.
Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of automatic suspensions are pending in at least five states. Advocates argue the laws violate due process because drivers are not given notice or an opportunity to argue that they cannot afford to pay the fees.
More than 40 states allow license suspensions for unpaid court debt.
In Virginia, a legal aid group estimates that nearly a million people have suspended licenses at least partly due to unpaid court debt.
Proponents of the laws say drivers who violate traffic laws need to be held accountable. They say the threat of license suspension provides an incentive for people to pay their fines.



Judge: Tennessee can’t revoke licenses for unpaid court debt
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A federal judge says Tennessee officials can’t keep revoking driver’s licenses from people who can’t pay their court debts.
In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger in Nashville wrote that revocations imposed when a driver hasn’t paid court debt for a year or more are powerfully counterproductive and deprive constitutional due process and equal protection.
More than 40 states allow similar suspensions.
The ruling says Tennessee revoked 146,211 driver’s licenses from July 2012 to June 2016 under state law for failure to pay court debts, with only 10,750 licenses reinstated.
The case was brought on behalf of two indigent men affected by the law.
Trauger ordered state officials to submit a plan within 60 days to stop revoking licenses over court debts and lift related previous license revocations.



Voter registration for August primaries ends Tuesday
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote in Tennessee’s August primary elections.
Information on how to register can be obtained from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s election division or at a county election commission. Primary elections for Democratic and Republican candidates for governor, U.S. senator and all nine of the state’s congressional districts are on the Aug. 2 ballot. Party nominees will also be chosen for state legislative races.
To be eligible you must be a U.S. citizen and a resident of Tennessee and at least 18 years old before the next election. If you have been convicted of a felony your voting rights must be restored.
Voters must have a Tennessee driver’s license or a Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security ID to submit an online application.