Tennessee General Assembly Reforms Court Fine Collection Procedures

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Legislation was passed Thursday in Tennessee’s House that expands and defines the methods local court officials may use to collect criminal fines. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tilman Goins, R-Morristown, and Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown, with Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, as co-sponsor.

“Under this legislation, court clerks will have the authority they need to enforce court rulings and close loopholes in our legal system,” said Rep. Dean. “The bill is greatly needed in our counties where thousands of dollars of fines have been neglected.” 

The bill enables the criminal court clerk, general sessions court clerk, and district attorney to collect fines 6-months after a defendant’s conviction, if it is clear the defendant is able to pay the fine. Under the new law, officials may use either an outside collection agency or in-house collection procedure. The new legislation also allows court clerks to keep up to 50 percent of fines to cover collection costs and civil costs.

Rep. Goins indicated the expansion of the clerks’ abilities to collect fines will ultimately benefit Tennessee taxpayers, saying, "These fines and fees were assessed against these people for a reason, and I feel strongly that our court system should be paid by those who are using it.” 

Both the House and Senate approved the bill with a unanimous vote. The bill is now headed to Governor Haslam’s desk to be signed into law.

“This bill is overdue,” said Rep. Dean. “It’s time that our county clerks were given the tools needed to follow up on our judges’ orders and collect those fines that have been unpaid for years.” 

Rep. Dean is seeking the Republican nomination for Criminal Court Clerk in Hamilton County where the current Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell recently hired an outside firm to collect $50 million of uncollected fines. 

The primary election for Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk is May 6, and early voting begins on April 16. The general election is Aug. 7.

Corker Says Congress’ Irresponsibility Burdening States, Cities And Future Generations

Senator Bob Corker on Thursday voted against legislation to temporarily patch the Highway Trust Fund by transferring nearly $10 billion from the general fund. The $10 billion transfer is spent within a few months but paid for over 10 years using budget gimmicks, he said. “It’s sad that the default mode in Congress is to pass one short-term patch after another, burdening our states, ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BERHE, HURUY M     7010 OOLTEWAH GEORGETOWN RD OOLTEWAH, 37363     20     Collegedale          Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) BLACKMON, COREY SYDNEY     1709 WILSON STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37406    ... (click for more)

Curtis Adams: Beck, Mackey Should Be Considered For County Commission Leadership

Just think about this;  a person highly qualified applying for a job.  As he is just about finished filling out his papers for his interview, he sees at the bottom there is a place for him to check Democrat or Republican.  He would think, “if I mark the wrong one I may not get the job.” Being a real leader requires honesty, integrity, and, most importantly, fairness. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Orchids And Onions

With record low temperatures being recorded around the South, I didn’t know what I’d find in my garden on the first day of August but – sure enough -- there is a profusion of orchids and onions. The start of college football will be later this month and, with the chilly mornings, fall practice is a far cry from what it will be when the sweltering heat comes back next week. Here’s ... (click for more)

Live Viewing Party Of The National Championship Offered At First Tennessee Pavilion

Chattanooga Football Club fans will get one more chance to gather and cheer on the team as it battles for the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) National Championship powered by Mitre.  On Saturday, from 7-11:30 p.m. at the First Tennessee Pavilion, Big River Brewing Company, Volkswagen Chattanooga, Memorial, Finley Stadium, and EPB Fiber Optics are hosting ... (click for more)

Jane Webb Is A Fun-Loving Runner At Heart

Jane Webb isn’t one of those people who started running when she was a kid, but she loves the benefits since she restarted her running career about four years ago. She’s all about being active and doing things that are good for you,   but long-distance running never really captured her attention and she’s found that she can receive the same payoff by covering ... (click for more)