Tennessee Walking Horses

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., accompanied by Rep. Kurt Schrader D-OR., speaks during a news conference, ahead of a House vote on a bill that would prevent Soring in training Tennessee Walking horses on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

MEMPHIS (AP) — U.S. House members have passed a bill expanding horse soring regulations at Tennessee Walking Horse shows.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen said the House voted 333- 96 in favor of passing the U.S. Sen. Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics Act.

Soring occurs when a horse’s legs are intentionally injured to make the animal have a higher gait. It often includes the use of caustic chemicals and chains, or objects shoved between the hoof and stacked shoes.

In a statement, Cohen said the practice is “beyond reprehensible.” The bill establishes a new system for inspecting horses and increases penalties for violations.

Mike Inman is CEO of the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration show. He says walking horse shows already are heavily regulated and the law hurts the industry.


McGee sworn in as judge

for Court of Appeals

SAVANNAH — Tennessee’s Court of Appeals has a new member.

Carma Dennis McGee has been sworn in as a judge for the Court of Appeals.

A news release from the Supreme Court of Tennessee said McGee was appointed to the appeals court by Gov. Bill Lee.

She fills the seat of former Judge Brandon Gibson, who stepped down to become an adviser to Lee.

McGee worked in private practice before she was appointed to be a 24th Judicial District chancellor by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2014.

McGee was one of 14 people who applied for the appeals court seat. She was sworn in by Lee at Hardin County High School in Savannah on Friday.


Death row inmate declines

choice on dying method

NASHVILLE — A Tennessee death row inmate has declined to choose the method of his execution scheduled for mid-August. Making no choice would result in death by lethal injection.

Tennessee Department of Correction spokesman Neysa Taylor said in an email that Stephen West declined to pick his method of execution when given the opportunity. She says by policy, the method would default to lethal injection.

West’s execution is scheduled for Aug. 15. The 56-year-old was convicted for the 1986 murders of a Union County mother and daughter. He received a death sentence in 1987.

Four inmates have been executed in Tennessee since August 2018. Two died by the state’s preferred method, lethal injection, and two chose the electric chair, arguing it would be a less painful way to die than the three-drug method.


Three wounded in shooting


COLUMBIA — Officials say three people have been shot and critically wounded at a home in Maury County.

Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland told news outlets that a man called emergency dispatchers early Friday and told them to send officers to the home because he shot people.

Rowland said responding deputies found two women and a man in the home with gunshot wounds. He said two children under age 3 were safely removed from the home and placed with the Department of Children’s Services.

The sheriff said the suspect was detained and the shooting victims were taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center with critical injuries.

He did not release the names of the suspect or the victims, but he said one victim is the children’s mother.

Ridgetop police sue city

RIDGETOP — A middle Tennessee city is accused of violating the civil rights of its police department when it abruptly disbanded the agency last month.

The Tennessean reported Ridgetop police chief Bryan Morris and the department’s four former officers filed the federal lawsuit July 22 against the city.

The lawsuit says the Board of Aldermen and Mayor Tony Reasoner are waging a retaliatory war against the department for investigating allegations that lawmakers destroyed evidence and issued illegal ticket quotas. It says the city falsified data for the budget, which the city said was too constrained to fund police.

A court order reopened the department; the city allowed only Morris to remain employed. Court documents say at least one 911 call has gone unanswered since last month.


Federal judge continues

to block auctioneer law

NASHVILLE — Tennessee will continue to be banned from enforcing a newly passed law requiring some online auctioneers to be licensed as a lawsuit questioning the statute’s constitutionality moves through court.

U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson had previously granted a temporary restraining order right before the law would kick in on July 1. However, last week, Richardson agreed to continue that ban after ruling the law could cause “irreparable harm” for certain smaller auctioneers if the law was enacted. The law exempts big auction websites like eBay.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee filed the lawsuit in June for two online auctioneer groups and the Interstate Auction Association.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Herbert Slatery has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.


Embattled Tennessee DA:

Jones email not doctored

NASHVILLE — A special prosecutor said the office of the now-outgoing Tennessee House speaker did not doctor a black activist’s email to frame him for a bond violation, marking the latest in a series of developments that began when a glass of iced tea was allegedly hurled at the speaker.

The prosecutor who made the announcement has himself come under scrutiny for anti-Islam and anti-gay remarks.

Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott said he spoke with the legislative IT department and determined the email from Justin Jones to Speaker Glen Casada had gotten stuck in a spam filter, making it appear it was sent after Jones was banned from contacting Casada.

A judge had imposed the ban as a condition of bail in February after Jones was arrested on misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges for allegedly throwing the iced tea toward Casada during a protest.

Jones had argued that he actually wrote the email to Casada before his arrest and that someone changed the date to make it look like it was afterward.

Nashville’s district attorney handed off Jones’ case when Casada’s former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, forwarded the prosecutor’s office the email from Jones. The prosecutors’ conference then assigned Northcott to the case.

The doctored email allegation was the first of several that arose this spring before Cothren resigned and Casada announced he would leave his leadership post as well.

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