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VOL. 131 | NO. 129 | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Daily Digest

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Memphis Bar Poll Ranks Judicial Candidates

More than 800 local attorneys have weighed in on the judicial races on the Aug. 4 Shelby County ballot. The Memphis Bar Association Judicial Qualification Poll asks attorneys which candidate is best qualified for a judicial post.

The participation ranged between 818 and 873 votes per question.

The participating attorneys ranked Circuit Court Judge Valerie Smith as best qualified over challenger Michael G. Floyd in Division 3 of the civil court, with 86.6 percent of the choices.

Chancellor Jim Newsom tallied 82.1 percent of the choices in Chancery Court Part III over challengers Joe Jenkins and David Ferguson, in that order.

The attorneys also ranked incumbent General Sessions Court Clerk Ed Stanton as best qualified by 54 percent to 23.1 percent for Republican challenger Richard Morton. Another 21.7 percent of the attorneys in that race had no opinion, which was more than the 1.2 percent who judged independent candidate William Chism to be best qualified.

No-opinion selections can mean an attorney isn’t in a particular court a lot.

Most of the attorneys responding to the poll, 43.1 percent, said they had no opinion about who is best qualified in the race for Bartlett Municipal Court Division 1. Another 40 percent said incumbent Judge Tim Francavilla is best qualified and 17 percent said challenger Henry Miller is.

The Division 1 race is one of two Bartlett Municipal Court judicial races on the ballot. In the other, incumbent Judge Dan Brown is running unopposed.

In the seven state appellate court retention races on the August ballot, including three Tennessee Supreme Court positions, more than two-thirds of the attorneys said each of the incumbent judges were qualified to be retained.

– Bill Dries

Grizz Decline $9.4M Option On Lance Stephenson

As expected, the Memphis Grizzlies have declined guard Lance Stephenson’s $9.4 million for the 2016-17 season, according to The Vertical. But Stephenson still could return to the team on a restructured deal.

Acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers last season, Stephenson, 25, provided an athletic spark for a Grizzlies team beset by injuries. He averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists over 26 games while shooting 35.5 percent from 3-point range.

While Stephenson gave the Grizz that rare player who could create his own shot, he also careened out of control from time to time. The Grizzlies are believed to still have interest in Stephenson, who now becomes a free agent. A long-term deal at less money per season remains a possibility.

– Don Wade

Turner Construction Names Memphis Business Manager

Turner Construction has promoted Andy Davis to business manager of the company’s Memphis office.

In his new role, Davis will oversee day-to-day operations and establish short- and long-range goals for the office, with a focus on the West Tennessee, Mississippi and Eastern Arkansas markets.

The promotion brings Davis to Memphis from Nashville, where he most recently served as project executive for Turner. Davis began his career with Turner in 1997 as a part-time intern while completing his degree at Middle Tennessee State University.

He’s gone on to play a key role in many of the company’s health care projects across the Southeast, and over the last 11 years he has also been heavily involved in several key projects in Memphis, which started with Memphis Mental Health Institute and currently includes the $280 million Methodist University Hospital expansion.

– Andy Meek

Tennessee to Get $570M In Volkswagen Settlement

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, along with the Division of Consumer Affairs, announced Tuesday, June 28, a settlement requiring Volkswagen to pay more than $570 million for violating state laws prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices by marketing, selling and leasing diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed “defeat device” software.

This agreement is part of a series of state and federal settlements that will provide cash payments to affected consumers and require Volkswagen to buy back or modify certain VW and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles. Additionally, the settlement prohibits Volkswagen from engaging in future unfair or deceptive practices in its dealings with consumers and regulators.

The coordinated settlements resolve consumer protection claims raised by a multistate coalition of state attorneys general against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America Inc., Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America, Inc. – collectively referred to as Volkswagen. They also resolve actions against Volkswagen brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, California and car owners in private class-action suits.

The investigation confirmed that Volkswagen sold more than 570,000 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles in the U.S. equipped with “defeat device” software intended to circumvent emissions standards for certain air pollutants; actively concealed the existence of the devices from regulators and the public; and made false statements to consumers in their marketing and advertising, misrepresenting the cars as environmentally friendly.

Volkswagen will reportedly spend up to $14.7 billion to settle these violations, according to the EPA.

Under the settlements, Volkswagen is required to implement a restitution and recall program for more than 475,000 owners and lessees of 2.0-liter diesel Jetta, Golf, Beetle and Passat vehicles from model years 2009 through 2015, including 11,448 vehicles in Tennessee.

Once the consumer program is approved by the court, affected Volkswagen owners will receive restitution payment of at least $5,100 and a choice between a buyback of the vehicle (based on its pre-scandal value) or a modification to reduce emissions, provided that Volkswagen can develop a modification acceptable to regulators.

– Daily News staff

New Site Helps Tennesseans Evaluate College Programs

High school students and adults seeking higher education and businesses looking to boost their workforce have a new tool in LaunchMyCareerTN.org.

Tennessee is among the first states in the nation to offer the new college selection tool, with the Greater Memphis Chamber among six Tennessee chambers to receive a grant from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to promote the new program.

Launch My Career TN offers information about jobs that are in demand in Tennessee, the degree or certificate that will help students prepare for these jobs, and how projected earnings compare to the investment required for a degree program.

The website was developed with the the American Institutes for Research’s College Measures, Gallup and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation with funding from USA Funds.

“Memphis is full of young people who will benefit from a career tool like this, connecting them to the information that will help them find the right fit for their continued education or job opportunities,” Greater Memphis Chamber president and CEO Phil Trenary said in a statement. “This will also help our businesses who will be able to better connect with a qualified workforce, a top priority for the chamber.”

– Madeline Faber

Sentencing for Carjackings In Tennessee Rises July 1

July 1 marks the implementation of new laws in Tennessee, including legislation that requires any person convicted of carjacking to serve no less than 75 percent of the sentence imposed by the court, less any earned and retained sentence credits.

Previously, offenders convicted of carjacking could serve as little as 30 percent of their sentence before being released on parole, according to a release from state Sen. Brian Kelsey, a co-sponsor of the law.

The law was passed amid a spate of carjackings in the Memphis area over the past year.

Carjacking is defined as the intentional or knowing taking of a motor vehicle from the possession of another by use of a deadly weapon or by force or intimidation and is a Class B felony. According to statistics from the Tennessee Department of Corrections, the average person convicted of carjacking currently serves less than five years in jail.

Kelsey also co-sponsored Gov. Bill Haslam’s Public Safety Act, which addresses Tennessee’s violent crime rate by establishing mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of three or more charges of aggravated burglary, especially aggravated burglary or drug trafficking.

– Daily News staff

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 87 87 7,836
MORTGAGES 108 108 9,307
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 8 1,366
BUILDING PERMITS 130 130 16,737
BANKRUPTCIES 55 55 5,461
BUSINESS LICENSES 32 32 2,980
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 47 47 3,297
MARRIAGE LICENSES 37 37 1,725

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