What #TNLeg Did on Criminal Justice Week of January 29th, 2018

Watching legislation move through sub-committees and committees means that we tune in to watch livestream discussions, only to see many bills of interest taken off notice/calendar with no discussion. Bills taken off notice will possibly not be seen again until the next session. Or ever. So when you support or are against a proposed law, make sure to let your representative and the lawmaker sponsoring it know. And that you’re watching.

Here’s what happened this week:

TN State of the State Address Click here to read the transcript of Gov. Haslam’s last State of the State and to see the governor’s proposed budget for 2018-2019.
TN Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018. Legislation has yet to be released. Click here to look at an overview of the Act.
HOUSE Criminal Justice Subcommittee
*HB1544 by *Farmer (SB1654 by *Stevens.) Criminal Procedure – As introduced, extends availability of writ of error coram nobis to cases where accused pled guilty or nolo contendere, upon a discovery of subsequently discovered or new evidence. – Amends TCA Title 40, Chapter 26. RESULT: Action Deferred. Put on the Criminal Justice Subcommittee calendar for 2/13/2018
HB 1471 by *Staples (SB 1505 by *Briggs) Sentencing – As introduced, increases the penalty for any aggravated assault or homicide that occurs by a person discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle and the victim is a minor at the time of the offense; names act the “JaJuan Latham Act”. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 13, Part 1 and Title 39, Chapter 13, Part 2. RESULT: Action Deferred. Put onCriminal Justice Subcommittee calendar for 2/6/2018
HB 1482 by *Alexander (SB 1841 by *Kyle) Probation and Parole – As introduced, establishes guidelines for companies or agents providing electronic monitoring services when monitoring has been ordered as a condition of a release from custody; permits judges to establish rules and authorize monitoring companies to operate in a judicial district. – Amends TCA Title 40, Chapter 35, Part 1. RESULT: Action Deferred. Put on Criminal Justice Subcommittee calendar for 2/6/2018
HB 0860 by *Miller (SB 0673 by *Harris) Criminal Offenses – As introduced, creates an exception to the offense of simple possession of marijuana for persons with a valid, state-issued medical marijuana identification card who obtained the marijuana pursuant to a valid physician’s recommendation. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4. RESULT: Action Deferred. Put on Criminal Justice Subcommittee calendar for 2/13/2018
HOUSE Criminal Justice Committee


HB 0849 by *Hardaway, Miller, Goins (SB 1133 by *Kyle) Domestic Violence – As introduced, directs funds from domestic assault fines to be used to pay for global positioning monitoring for indigent domestic abuse and stalking defendants; requires forms for bail in domestic abuse and stalking cases to indicate that global positioning monitoring was considered as a condition of bail and whether the monitoring requirement was imposed. – Amends TCA Section 39-13-111 and Title 40, Chapter 11. RESULT: Recommended for passage if amended and referred to Finance, Ways and Means Committee.
HB 1479 by *Dunn (SB 1504 by *Briggs) Criminal Procedure – As introduced, authorizes general sessions and criminal court judges statewide to suspend court costs and litigation tax for indigent defendants; authorizes court clerk to implement community service program in lieu of full payment of court costs and litigation taxes for indigent defendants. – Amends TCA Section 8-21-401; Title 40, Chapter 25 and Title 67, Chapter 4, Part 6. RESULT: Recommended for passage and placed on Regular House Calendar for 2/07/2018
HOUSE Civil Justice Subcommittee


HB 0837 by *DeBerry (SB 1272 by *Norris) Criminal Procedure – As introduced, prohibits a court from issuing or a law enforcement officer from serving a no knock search or arrest warrant; defines a no knock warrant as a warrant that specifically enables an officer to enter a structure without giving notice of the officer’s authority or the purpose of the officer’s presence. – Amends TCA Title 40. RESULT: TAKEN OFF NOTICE
HB 1261 by *Towns (SB 0872 by *Yarbro) Search & Seizure – As introduced, prohibits a law enforcement officer from seizing or destroying a person’s photograph or recording of an event or person if it is not illegal and the person is in a place the person has a right to be when photographed or recorded; allows law enforcement to petition court for copy of certain photographic material. – Amends TCA Title 40, Chapter 6, Part 1. RESULT: Action Deferred. Put on Civil Justice Subcommittee calendar for 2/21/2018
HB 0880 by *Daniel (SB 1084 by *Lundberg) Courts – As introduced, creates the court fee and tax advisory council; requires the council to consider and make recommendations on legislation that would create or increase litigation taxes or fees on criminal or civil cases and compile an annual report on all existing litigation taxes and fees. – Amends TCA Title 4, Chapter 29 and Title 16. RESULT: TAKEN OFF NOTICE


Shelby County Public Defender on Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Tennessee

“Each morning, I slow down as I drive past the concrete blocks in downtown Memphis that once held up the Confederacy.

It has become a daily source of inspiration to reflect on the unrelenting courage, commitment and creativity that leaders in my community displayed to bring down monuments to oppression and inhumanity. Years of meetings, protests, threats, paperwork and political maneuvering culminated in the erasure of these public symbols of white supremacy.

As the Chief Public Defender for Shelby County, this gives me hope. It demonstrates that this community can make difficult change when there is a sustained will to confront injustice.

Razing racial disparities in our juvenile justice system will require the level of courage, commitment and creativity it took to bring down those statues — times 10. That sounds daunting, but Memphis is not alone in this fight. What is wrong here is wrong in communities across our state” — Shelby County Public Defender Stephen Bush, Commercial Appeal “Viewpoint”

This Tuesday, the Tennessee General Assembly convenes the 2018 legislative session. Over the next few months, we could see laws proposed that dramatically alter the way all children in Tennessee are treated, particularly youth  of color who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.  Shelby County Public Defender Stephen Bush was invited to contribute his perspective about a report recently issued by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice. The recommendations in this report could be used to create a more fair juvenile justice system and curb the number of school children referred to law enforcement.

You can read his entire column in the Commercial Appeal here.