Archive for the ‘justice’ Category

Sheriff Kent Harris Booked, Fingerprinted & Released from Jail

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Erwin-Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris turned himself in this afternoon to the Unicoi County jail. Harris wore his uniform to his booking. According to the arrest page, he walked in at 1:30 p.m., was fingerprinted and processed then left 45 minutes later.

Judge Lynn Brown issued a criminal summons so Harris did not have to post bond.

The political implications of Harris’ arrest could be widespread. He was appointed, just this year, to serve on the Tennessee Post Commission. They develop state law enforcement standards.

Harris is also a prominent Republican. He served as Congressman Phil Roe’s campaign chairman in Unicoi County, donated over $2,000 to the Roes campaign in 2008, and announced his re-election bid in 2010.

Mr. Harris remains Sheriff at this time. A Monday meeting of the County Commissioners may shed new light on his continued employeement as Sheriff. The District Attorney General Tony Clark and County Attorney Doug Shults may make recommendations on that issue but that remains unclear at this time.

Harris’s faces 10 indictments from a Grand Jury in Unicoi County.

According to a release issued by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the six counts of official misconduct are the result of incidences occurring on several dates in June and July of 2010 when Harris allegedly had Unicoi County inmates perform labor on property owned by him at 604 N Mohawk Drive in Erwin. The deed was transferred to his brother, Jason Harris, this year.

The document states that on or about Sept. 6, 2008, Harris committed the offense of tampering with evidence, Harris altered or destroyed evidence that was part of investigation at this time. The presentment said this evidence involved confiscated moonshine.

According to the charges, Harris committed the offense of criminal simulation in September 2008 by “making or altering a memorandum requesting payment from the county for vehicles valued at $4,500 that were actually donated.” The theft over $1,000 also occurred in September 2008 when Harris received $4,500 belonging to the county, according to the presentment.

The presentment states that Harris’ charge of attempted aggravated assault was the result of his confrontation with Unicoi County resident J.D. Henley. This followed a July meeting of the county’s finance committee and, according to the TBI release, Harris was charged after attempting to assault Hensley with a deadly weapon. The weapon was a cane carried by Harris.

The TBI is looking into “other matters” but what those matters may be, they will not say.

Is this simply Republican politics as usual in Unicoi County?

Occupy Wall Street Protests Wall Street’s “hog troughts of greed”

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street protest that started in New York three weeks ago is now spreading across the country; people are standing up and saying enough is enough. It’s time for banks to be a safe place for our money, not another place to get mugged.

The people who gave us the financial crisis continue their lust for greed and disregard of the plight of most struggling working middle class families. Their greed and irresponsibility demolished our economy leaving us to bail them out—and how do they thank us? They’re going right back to business as usual, getting rich off the working middle class and spending millions lobbying Republicans against new rules proposed by Democrats to prevent a future crisis.

New York– The message of the Occupy Wall street protest is clear: the demonstrators are seeking accountability from Wall Street and corporate America for the financial crisis and the growing economic inequality gap. This message is a warning shot in regards about the kind of civil unrest that may emerge – if the economy continues to struggle.

It was over a week, after the protest started, before public radio even mentioned it, so it is a testament to the passion of the protestors involved that not only does the protests continues to grow but the movement is now becoming too big to ignore. When it appeared apparent that the police were prepared to tighten down on the protesters, unions stepped in and protected the protesters. Now a growing number of Democrats are expressing support for the protesters,

Occupy Wall Street is beginning to look like an event that may become a turning point with growing disparity between the top 1% and the remaining 99%. The protestors’ indictment of Wall Street is correct; greed has become a destructive force, both politically and economically. There is a growing concern on Main Street that justice will never be served to those responsible for our current economic woes.

The bankers took advantage of Republican deregulation and ran wild, they over paid themselves and inflated huge bubbles through reckless spending. But, the bankers got bailed out by taxpayers with little of no accountability attached, while the working middle class and poor begin to suffer loss of jobs and loss of homes as consequences of the banker’s “greed” sins. Then bankers turned on the middle class who bailed them out and threw their support and financial backing behind Republicans who promised to lower taxes for bankers and the wealthy while dismantling the mild regulations created by Democrats to address the financial crisis.

It is time that protesters and Americans denounce the unfettered greed that is laying our nation to waste. Ultimately this movement is about unchecked power and greed that threatens the working middle class and increasing the ranks of the poor.

There will be real political opportunities from these protests but not for the Republicans who have stuffed their pockets full of banker’s blood money made off the backs of the working middle class while condemning the protests as “class warfare.”

Democrats and President Obama will be wise to give the protesters the serious attention they deserve. While protesters generally don’t talk much about politics, most appear to lean left and most have issue with the actions of those associated with the right, who created the dire financial situations that threatens the working middle class.

Many feel that “Like the Tea Party was about reinvigorating the right; Occupy Wall Street will reinvigorate the left.” It appears these growing protests could be the start of a populist movement on the left that pales in comparison the Tea Party on the right. Unlike the Tea Party movement, Occupy Wall Street protests appears to be such an event where the anger is correctly directed at the right people (those greedy folks on the right who destroyed the economy).

Today, plutocrats, Wall Street and business lobbyists and Republican hacks flood the talk shows and continue to call the protesters anarchists, while praising the Tea Party movement (sponsored by the mega wealthy Koch brothers) as the real grass roots movement. Only time will expose whom drinks from “hog troughs of greed” and whom stands with the remaining 99%. .

Haslam Signed Law That Places Price on Life

Thursday, June 16th, 2011
job counter

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law today his pet project to take away a jury's power in cases where citizens are harmed by businesses. He says it will create jobs. We're keeping track.

The Republican-dominated legislature passed and Gov. Bill Haslam signed into a law a measure that caps damages awarded to victims of horrific accidents, medical malpractice and other life-changing injuries. Mr. Haslam said perverting the justice system would “create jobs” — we’re holding him to it. 

Republicans said their plan to protect insurance companies profits and reckless corporations will increase business prospects in Tennessee, despite the fact that after eight years of Democratic leadership, Tennessee is already continually ranked one of the best states to do business.

An Associated Press story noted that last year in Tennessee, only 14 trials exceeded the proposed caps, meaning there would be no radical change to the state’s job creation climate, as supporters claim. There is no evidence that Tennessee juries have been tossing about outrageous awards, however, or that businesses were afraid to move here because of it.

So instead, Republicans put a price on life. $29 a day for the lifetime of a 20-year-old girl who had suffered just such an injury, Democratic state Sen. Roy Herron pointed out.

“Today state lawmakers put a price on the life of our children. They put a price on the life of our parents and grandparents. They put a price on the life of the weak, the paralyzed, the neglected — all under the guise of economic development,” Senator Eric Stewart of Belvidere said.


Caps on jury awards was Haslam’s pet project, perhaps because his multi-million dollar business is tied up in a lawsuit stemming from a citizen being killed at a Pilot gas station owned by the governor. [, 3/2/11]

Under Haslam leadership, the unemployment rate jumped in June for a third straight month. [, 6/16/11]