For a quarter of a century, Collierville Prosecutor Mark McDaniel has led the Town’s municipal court system, helping it earn a reputation as one of the best around.Town officials honored McDaniel at an August 14 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting for 25 years of service in Collierville.
Finance Director Mark Krock presented McDaniel with his 25-year pin on the 14th, noting, “I’ve watched in work in many court sessions, and I can tell you we are fortunate to have Mr. McDaniel as our Town Prosecutor.”
Mayor Stan Joyner called it “a service milestone that is certainly to be congratulated,” and Judge Craig Hall said McDaniel’s loyal and professional service has earned the Town’s court system a stellar reputation in Shelby County.
“I want to thank all of you for reappointing him. We have five cities in this county with city courts, which makes eight or nine divisions of municipal court,” Judge Hall said.
“In privacy, I could rate them. I would give many of them a C. But because of Mark McDaniel, our court in Collierville is an A,” he added. “He has the skill and the character and the faithfulness, and my job has been made easy because of him.”
Five Germantown restaurants were caught selling beer to minors during stings late in July, police said. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen, acting as the beer board, heard the details Monday evening, including that wait staff in four cases actually checked IDs and served the minors anyway.
Chili's, 7810 Poplar, Petra Cafe, 6641 Poplar, and Soul Fish Cafe, 3160 Village Shops Drive, all repeat offenders, each received a $1,000 fine or 45-day suspension of their beer permits. In the case of Chili's, it was half of the $2,000 fine city prosecutor Mark McDaniel recommended. Alderman John Barzizza said $2,000 was too high for a simple math error on the server's part.
He also suggested Chili's and other establishments that fire servers for serving underage patrons consider rehiring them, suggesting they will never make the error again.
Maui Brick Oven, 7850 Poplar, which has closed since the sting, had its beer permit revoked. First-time violator Elfo's, 2285 S. Germantown Road, received a $500 fine or 14-day suspension of its permit.
Alex Grisanti, proprietor of Elfo's, said it would not happen again. His server, a longtime manager, was not fired. When Barzizza recommended the server retake a "responsible server course," Grisanti said he had already ordered it.
Elfo's was the only restaurant that served the teenager working with police without carding. All others did check ID, apparently not noticing the red line around the photo on driver's licenses issued to those under 21 by the state of Tennessee. In some cases, the servers had been given a paper copy of the cutoff year and date to put in their pockets at the start of their shift and still failed.
An Elfo's spokesman said the teenage girl was served at 4 p.m., just as the restaurant opened, although he admitted it was no excuse. Others said their establishments had redoubled efforts to make sure all are carded.
"Our community takes alcohol sales to minors very seriously, with enforcement a priority of our police department," Mayor Mike Palazzolo said before the meeting. "With so much emphasis on not serving to minors, I'm always mystified why servers continue to violate this law."
In all five cases, the servers were charged with misdemeanors.
The board has authority to fine the establishments up to $2,500 or suspend or revoke their beer licenses.
Establishments have seven days to pay the fine before their license is suspended.
As reported by Trevor Aaronson here in the Commercial Appeal
Dennis Churchwell pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to a felony perjury count related to grand jury testimony he gave as part of FBI Operation Main Street Sweeper.
The local businessman and property owner admitted he lied to a grand jury by saying indicted former city councilman Edmund Ford Sr. was not delinquent in paying rent for 3390 Elvis Presley Blvd., where the politician runs E.H. Ford Mortuary Services.
Under the plea agreement, federal prosecutors will drop five other perjury charges against Churchwell.
The politician's landlord appeared before the grand jury on March 27, 2007, as part of the FBI operation that investigated, among other things, how Ford used his elected position for personal financial gain.
Prison Drug-dealing Charge Scuttles Plea Deal for Memphis Underling of International Drug Kingpin Craig Petties
As reported by Beth Warren here in the Commercial Appeal:
Collierville resident Vacha Vaughn escaped two murder plots against him by one of the largest and most deadly cocaine trafficking rings in Tennessee history.
His closest call was on July, 26, 2004, when two drug thieves posing as police signaled him to pull over in his Chevrolet Avalanche. When Vaughn got out of the vehicle, the men peppered him with bullets, critically injuring him.
Vaughn's boss, international drug lord and multimillionaire Craig Petties, later began to mistrust Vaughn and put his own hit on Vaughn's life, but federal agents learned of the plot and intervened.
DNA may be star in trial debut
As reported by Lawrence Buser March 30, 1992 in The Commercial Appeal
When science comes to the courtroom in two pending rape trials here, the outcome may hinge not so much on police detectives as on DNA detectives. The trials, including one involving a former Juvenile Court officer, will be the first in West Tennessee to use so-called DNA fingerprinting. The controversial process of using genetic material to link suspects to crimes has been used several hundred times since it was first used in 1987 to convict an accused rapist in Florida. it has been used in solving paternity cases since the 1970's.
Criminal investigators say the cellular testing method is the greatest breakthrough since fingerprint identification was developed in the early 1900's. Although not yet as precise as comparing fingerprints, they say DNA testing can identify someone often with a 1-in-a-100-million chance of error or less.
But critics say the probability numbers are exaggerated and that often the chance of error may be as great as 1 in 128. They worry that jurors may be blinded by science and the result could be the conviction of innocent defendants. "It's far too young to be relied upon as heavily as it is," defense attorney Mark McDaniel said. "In the early 1900's they built a boat (the Titanic) that was supposed to be unsinkable. How many people lost their lives on the unsinkable boat?"
In any event, DNA in the courtroom appears here to stay. Although several trial judges have banned it as unreliable, most judges believe DNA fingerprinting has gained general acceptance in the scientific community and are allowing DNA in the courtroom. Last year the Tennessee legislature passed a bill allowing DNA evidence into courtrooms and directing Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to establish a DNA testing lab and a DNA data bank of convicted sex offenders to identify or eliminate suspects in future crimes.
Bartlett Dad Fighting to Avoid Trial
Click here to view the full text of the TN Supreme Court ruling.
As reported here by Brooke Sanders at WMC Action News 5:
The Tennessee State Supreme Court heard arguments today in the case of a Bartlett father charged after leaving his child in a hot car to die.
It's an emotional case. Steve McKim doesn't want to relive the death of his child during a trial, but the District Attorney said "no way" to essentially giving Steven McKim probation.
It was standing room only as students, judges, lawyers and family members packed the civil courthouse to see the Tennessee Supreme Court in action.
The question: whether or not Stephen McKim should have been granted pre-trial diversion, which essentially would allow him to avoid a trial and serve probation.
"Any person who has been a parent has had the opportunity to make a mistake with their child. Fortunately, they are not always fatal. 19:48:45 This happened to be an accident that ended up being fatal," said McKim attorney Mark McDaniel.
In the News
Mark McDaniel has made news headlines in Tennessee for over 3 decades.