published Friday, May 25th, 2012

Supreme Court vacates new trials and other Chattanooga area news

Supreme Court vacates new trials

KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee Supreme Court is overturning a special judge's decision to order new trials for three murder defendants after the judge in their original trial pleaded guilty to official misconduct.

The court ruled Thursday that the order for new trials for Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas must be vacated because the defendants had not shown that former Judge Richard Baumgartner's misconduct outside the courtroom affected their trials. The Supreme Court sent the cases back to the original trial court to reconsider the new trial motions.

The three were convicted in 2009 in the slayings of 21-year-old Channon Christian and 23-year-old Christopher Newsom.

Later, an investigation found Baumgartner was abusing pills acquired from a drug court graduate. In December, Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ordered the retrials.


Haslam signs 'Works Act'

Nashville -- Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a proposal to help Tennesseans get off unemployment and find a job.

The legislation sponsored by Democratic Sen. Andy Berke, of Chattanooga, and Democratic House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, of Ripley, is called the "Tennessee Works Act." It unanimously passed the Senate 33-0 and 91-0 in the House.

The bill creates a pilot program to provide employers with grants to pay for training expenses for recently laid-off workers or workers whose jobs have gone overseas. To continue receiving the grant funds, employers agree to hire a portion of the employees trained.

Sponsors said the legislation is proof that Republicans and Democrats can work together.


Remains linked to missing man

CALHOUN, Ga. -- Detectives from the Calhoun Police Department are investigating a lead in a case involving a local man reported missing by family members in 2010, according to WRCB-TV3.

Calhoun police, working with the Cobb County Police Department, found evidence linking human remains found near Interstate 75 in Kennesaw, Ga., to a Calhoun man reported missing on Aug. 11, 2010.

The remains were discovered on May 23 by a man picking up cans along the interstate, the station reported.


70 checkpoints set for weekend

NASHVILLE -- Law enforcement officers will staff more than 70 checkpoints in Tennessee over the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

State troopers will work around the clock with a special emphasis on enforcing seat belt use as part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign. They also will be looking for impaired and aggressive drivers.

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