The Law Office of Daniel A. Horwitz, Esq.

May 20, 2019

White County, Tennessee Inmate Sterilization Program Terminated By Historic Order

Federal court orders that controversial sterilization program be rescinded; White County officials to pay Plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees, permanently enjoined from making or enforcing any sentencing determination that is based “in whole or in part upon a defendant’s consent—or refusal to consent—to becoming permanently or temporarily sterilized.”

Following an historic reversal at the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit last month, an inmate sterilization program instituted by two White County, Tennessee officials has finally come to an end.  The landmark order comes nearly two years after a trio of inmates at the White County jail filed suit against White County General Sessions Court Judge Sam Benningfield—the architect of the program—and the White County Sheriff’s Office, alleging that the program violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection and Due Process clauses.

A consent decree approved by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee earlier today formally terminates the controversial inmate sterilization program, compelling Judge Benningfield to rescind each of his standing orders regarding the program “in their entirety,” effective immediately.  The Court’s order also permanently enjoins both Judge Benningfield and the White County Sheriff’s Office “from making or enforcing any sentencing determination that is based in whole or in part upon a defendant’s consent—or refusal to consent—to becoming permanently or temporarily sterilized” at any point in the future.  Judge Benningfield and the White County Sheriff were further ordered to pay the costs of the lawsuit and the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees, which the order provides “shall be donated by Plaintiffs’ counsel to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Tuskegee History Center.”  Each of the three inmates who sued after refusing to become sterilized also received a 30-day sentencing credit toward a future expungement.

“Inmate sterilization is despicable, it is morally indefensible, and it is illegal,” said Daniel Horwitz, a Nashville-based constitutional lawyer who represented the inmates. “Let this historic order serve as a warning: Whether you are a sitting Judge, a Sheriff who is ‘just following orders,’ or any other government official, if you violate the Constitution, you will be held accountable.”

The Consent Decree and Final Order approved by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee and additional case documents regarding the program appear below.

Consent Decree and Final Order

6th Circuit Opinion Reversing District Court

Plaintiffs’ Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

Plaintiffs’ Memorandum in Support of Summary Judgment

6th Circuit Brief of Plaintiffs-Appellants

Daniel Horwitz is constitutional lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee.  If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:

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April 4, 2019

Horwitz Wins Sixth Circuit Reversal Against Judge Who Instituted Inmate Sterilization Program

In 2017, three inmates in White County, Tennessee sued White County General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield, alleging a variety of constitutional violations arising from a coervice sterilization-for-sentencing-credits program instituted in the county jail. Among other things, the inmates’ lawsuit sought injunctive relief that would forever terminate White County’s sterilization program.

On April 4, 2019, in a decision reversing the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit officially ruled that sterilization-for-sentencing-credits arrangements like the one instituted by White County Judge Sam Benningfield are unconstitutional. “Requiring inmates to waive a fundamental right to obtain a government benefit impermissibly burdens that right” in contravention of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court’s opinion reads.

“This decision sends a clear, important message that should never have been necessary in the first place: Inmate sterilization is illegal and unconstitutional,” Daniel Horwitz, the inmates’ lawyer, said in a statement to The Tennessean on the ruling.

Daniel Horwitz is constitutional lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee.  If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:

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Posted in: Appeals, Daniel Horwitz
February 8, 2019

Horwitz Secures First-Ever Reinvestigation of Nashville Murder Conviction By District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit

After a years-long effort to secure a review of Joseph Webster’s conviction for a 1998 murder, the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office has officially authorized a reinvestigation into the case. It is the first investigation into a potential wrongful murder conviction in Nashville’s history.

“I applaud the District Attorney’s office for deciding to reinvestigate the case against Joseph Webster, which has utterly collapsed,” said Daniel Horwitz, Webster’s attorney. “Mr. Webster looks forward to a thorough investigation of this matter, which he is confident will prove his consistent and unwavering claim of innocence.

Daniel Horwitz is a criminal and civil appellate attorney based in Nashville, Tennessee.  If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:

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February 4, 2019

Horwitz Wins Speech Defense Claim, Secures Full Dismissal of Lawsuit Filed By Strip Club Over Witness Testimony

In a Memorandum Opinion and Order issued on February 4, 2019, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Deja Vu of Nashville, a local strip club, against business owner Linda Schipani. The lawsuit arose out of testimony that Mrs. Schipani gave to the Metro Traffic and Parking Commission regarding misconduct by the strip club’s valet service operator, which the strip club claimed was part of a conspiracy. Schipani was represented by Daniel Horwitz, a First Amendment and speech defense lawyer based in Nashville.

“Mrs. Schipani is pleased that this garbage lawsuit was properly disposed of at the court’s first opportunity, as we’d promised it would be,” Horwitz said in an emailed statement to the Nashville Business Journal. “In addition to recovering her legal fees, Mrs. Schipani looks forward to celebrating this complete and total victory by continuing to be a good neighbor, a successful businesswoman, and an engaged member of her community. Future bad actors who seek to censor and intimidate their neighbors by filing nonsensical lawsuits would be wise to take heed.”

Daniel Horwitz is a First Amendment and speech defense lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee.  Selected case documents and media reports about the case are available below.  If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:

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Selected Case Documents:

Selected Media Coverage:

January 11, 2019

Horwitz Secures Appellate Victory Upholding Validity of Election that Established Nashville’s Police Oversight Board

Nashville’s first-ever Community Oversight Board—a committee that will review and investigate complaints of police misconduct that voters approved by an overwhelming margin in a November 2018 referendum—will stand, according to a unanimous opinion from the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The Fraternal Order of Police and other opponents of police oversight had sought to invalidate the results of the election, claiming that the referendum should never have been submitted to voters. Advocates of the oversight board were represented by Nashville attorneys Daniel Horwitz and Jamie Hollin.

“The FOP’s attempt to invalidate a free election and strip 134,135 people of their vote has been rejected yet again,” Community Oversight Now attorneys Jamie Hollin and Daniel Horwitz said in a statement to The Tennessean. “We are pleased that Metro’s Community Oversight Board will be permitted to do the important work that voters demanded.”

The Metro Council will begin considering nominations to the Board immediately.

Daniel Horwitz is a campaign finance and election lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee.  Selected case documents and media reports about the case are available below.  If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:

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Selected Case Documents and Media Coverage:


October 31, 2018

Horwitz Secures Early Release of Calvin Bryant, College Student Who Received 17-year Mandatory Minimum Sentence First-Time, Non-Violent Drug Offense

Calvin Bryant—a beloved college student and high school football star whose sentence garnered national attention for its purposeless cruelty after he received a 17-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense—was released from prison on October 31, 2018. Mr. Bryant’s release was made possible after his attorney, Daniel Horwitz, brokered a deal with Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk that enabled him to be released seven years early.

Due to the severity of Tennessee’s Drug Free School Zone Act—an intensely punitive sentencing enhancement that has nothing to do with protecting children, places drug offenses on par with the most severe, violent crimes, and can be applied to virtually every drug transaction that occurs within a Tennessee city—Mr. Bryant received a prison sentence for a low-level drug transaction that was longer than he would have received if he had committed Rape or Second Degree murder. His case attracted widespread calls for reform after it exposed prosecutors’ arbitrary use of the enhancement and its racially disparate application.

“This would not have been possible without a DA sticking his neck out to right this wrong, and without a legion of supporters,” Horwitz told The Tennessean. “This is—and I’m not exaggerating— the most unfair sentence I have ever seen. There is simply no circumstance in which it makes sense to punish a first-time, nonviolent drug offender more harshly than a rapist or a murderer.”

After his release, Bryant immediately re-enrolled at Tennessee State University to finish his degree and established a non-profit organization aimed at curbing youth violence and steering kids away from gangs and drugs. Selected media coverage of Mr. Bryant’s case appears below.

Calvin Bryant poses with his attorney, Daniel Horwitz, following his early release from prison for a first-time, non-violent drug offense.

Selected Media Coverage:

–The Tennessean: Sentenced to 17 years for low-level drug charge, Nashville man gets freedom thanks to deal with prosecutors

–Patch:  Nashville Case Highlights Drug-Free School Zone Reform Efforts

–Reason: How a Drug-Free School Zone Sent a Tennessee College Student to Prison For 17 Years

–Reason: Calvin Bryant Was Serving a Draconian Mandatory Minimum Sentence. Now He’s Free

–Nashville Scene:  Council Members Petition Judge Over Drug-Free School Zone Case

–The Tennessean:  He got 17 years for selling drugs near school. Now 12 Nashville officials are fighting on his behalf

–ScotBlog: Eighth Amendment Challenge Filed Against Tennessee’s “Drug Free School Zone” Law

–Families Against Mandatory Minimums: Calvin Bryant: 17 Years for a First Offense


October 4, 2018

Horwitz Wins Lawsuit Challenging Tennessee’s “Blackout Ban” for Non-Partisan PACs

In a landmark victory against a decades-old Tennessee election statute, Horwitz client Tennesseans for Sensible Election Lawsa non-partisan PAC that aims to “protect all Tennesseans’ rights to participate in the political process without unreasonable interference from the state government”—has secured an injunction prohibiting the State of Tennessee from favoring partisan speakers.  The effect of the Court’s ruling is that non-partisan PACs are now able to make direct campaign contributions during the most critical period before an electionsomething that partisan PACs have been able to do for decades.  The Tennessean has more: https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/09/27/nashville-judge-rules-against-tennessee-lawsuit-over-blackout-period-pacs/1437231002/ 

Daniel Horwitz is a campaign finance and election lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee.  Selected case documents and media reports about the case are available below.  If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:

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Selected Case Documents:

Plaintiff’s Complaint

Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law in Support of a Preliminary Injunction

Defendants’ Answer

Plaintiff’s Pre-Trial Brief

Defendants’ Pre-Trial Brief

Selected Media Coverage:

-The Tennessean: Nashville judge rules against state in lawsuit over ‘blackout period’ for PACs

-Nashville Post: Court strikes down ‘blackout period’ campaign finance provision

-The Tennessean: Tennessee sued over PAC contributions ‘blackout period’ before elections

April 20, 2018

Horwitz Wins Defamation Suit on Behalf of Restaurateur (Again)

In another resounding win, celebrated Nashville restaurateur Randy Rayburn has again beaten back a multi-million dollar defamation and false light lawsuit filed against him by Thomas Nathan Loftis, Sr., the former director of Nashville State’s culinary program.  In a unanimous ruling, the Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed the outright dismissal of Mr. Loftis’s claims on the basis that Loftis had advanced a “far-fetched and not a reasonable interpretation” of the statements that he had sued over, and that “the statements in the newspaper article are not defamatory as a matter of law.”  The Court of Appeals also ordered Mr. Loftis to pay for the costs of the lawsuit, and it further ordered the Trial Court to determine whether Loftis must pay Mr. Rayburn’s legal fees.

Given the serious threat that the case posed to the viability of newsgathering in Tennessee, the lawsuit attracted national attention from First Amendment organizations like The First Amendment Center’s Newseum Institute and TechDirt. The Court of Appeals’ decision constitutes a total victory and complete vindication for Mr. Rayburn, who has maintained that the lawsuit was frivolous from the beginning.  “We’re thrilled about this resounding win, which fully vindicates Mr. Rayburn and the First Amendment yet again,” said Daniel Horwitz, Mr. Rayburn’s attorney.  “Filing a lawsuit this frivolous was a very poor decision, and unfortunately for Mr. Loftis, it is about to become an expensive one as well.”

Daniel Horwitz is a First Amendment and speech defense lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee.  Selected case documents and media reports about the case are available below.  If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:

Consultation Payment Form

Payment for: 30-Minute Consultation

Amount: $200.00

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Selected Case Documents:

Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint

Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint

Plaintiff’s Response to Motion to Dismiss (1)/Plaintiff’s Response to Motion to Dismiss (2)

Defendant’s Reply to Plaintiff’s Response

Transcript of Hearing on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss

*Order Dismissing Plaintiff’s Complaint With Prejudice

Brief of Plaintiff-Appellant Thomas Nathan Loftis, Sr.

Brief of Defendant-Appellee and Cross-Appellant Randy Rayburn

*Appellate Court Order Denying Plaintiff’s Appeal and Remanding for Consideration of Attorney’s Fees Award

Selected Media Coverage:

-The Tennessean: Defamation lawsuit against restaurateur Randy Rayburn dismissed — again

-TechDirt: Judge Dumps Stupid Libel Suit Featuring A Man Suing A Third Party For Things A Journalist Said

-Nashville Business Journal: Nashville restaurateur Randy Rayburn faces $1.5 million lawsuit

-TechDirt: Former University Official Files Libel Lawsuit Against His Replacement For Things A Journalist Said

-Nashville Business Journal: Judge dismisses $1.5M suit against well-known restaurateur

-First Amendment Center’s Newseum Institute: Unusual Defamation Suit Targets Source of Story

April 10, 2018

Horwitz Wins Landmark Victory Resetting Nashville’s Mayoral Election

In a landmark ruling, the Tennessee Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the special election to fill the vacancy in the Nashville Mayor’s office must be held in May.  The ruling comes on the heels of Tennessee’s high court opting to exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction and review the case on an expedited basis.

“We are grateful that the Tennessee Supreme Court has issued a powerful, persuasive, and unanimous opinion vindicating Mr. Wallace’s claim that the Charter is clear and that Metro Government cannot unilaterally nullify a referendum supported by 83% of voters,” said Daniel Horwitz, Wallace’s attorney.  “Hopefully, the next time around, Metro Legal will respect the will of the citizens that they are supposed to represent.”

Daniel Horwitz is a constitutional litigator and election lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee.  Selected documents and media reports on Wallace v. Metro are available below.

If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:

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Selected Case Documents

*Tennessee Supreme Court’s Opinion and Order granting relief,

Wallace Principal Brief

Metro’s Principal Brief

Wallace Reply Brief

Wallace Application for Extraordinary Jurisdiction

Selected Media Coverage

-The Tennessean: Tennessee Supreme Court moves up Nashville mayoral special election to May

-The Nashville Scene: Supreme Court: Mayoral Election Must Be Held in May

-The Nashville Post: Supreme Court moves mayoral election to May

-The Nashville Business Journal: Supreme Court strikes down August mayoral election date

-Nashville Business Journal: Tennessee Supreme Court to decide fate of Nashville mayoral election

-WPLN: Nashville Must Hold Next Mayor’s Election In May, Court Rules

-Nashville Post: Supreme Court will decide mayoral election date

-Nashville Scene:  Metro Legal Could Cost the City Money for Another Election

 

August 4, 2017

Horwitz Secures Foreign Vanderbilt Law School Graduate’s Right to Take the Tennessee Bar Exam; Wins Tennessee Supreme Court Case Against Tennessee Board of Law Examiners

Represented by attorney Daniel Horwitz, Tennessee bar applicant Maximiliano Gluzman—the “obviously very, very qualified” Vanderbilt Law School graduate who was denied the opportunity even to take the Tennessee Bar Exam—has officially won his case before the Tennessee Supreme Court.  Based on the Court’s order approving his petition, Mr. Gluzman will be able to take the upcoming bar exam scheduled for February 2018.

“We conclude that the requirements of section 7.01 should not be applied to preclude Mr. Gluzman from taking the Tennessee bar examination,” the Court held in a per curiam order.  “As a result, the BLE may not hereafter rely upon section 7.01 of Rule 7 as a basis to deny Mr. Gluzman permission to take the Tennessee bar examination.”  The Court’s order is available here.

“We are ecstatic that the Tennessee Supreme Court has vindicated Mr. Gluzman’s claim that he was wrongfully denied the opportunity to take the Tennessee Bar Exam,” said Daniel Horwitz, Mr. Gluzman’s attorney.  “Mr. Gluzman is as qualified to practice law as any attorney in Tennessee, and he will be a tremendous asset to the legal profession.  Justice was served today.”

The briefing in Gluzman v. BLE featured the participation of three leading national conservative groups, which argued that the Board’s crippling regulations violated Mr. Gluzman’s fundamental right to earn a living free from irrational government overreach.  Tennessee’s two flagship law schools—Vanderbilt Law School and the University of Tennessee College of Law—also filed petitions in the case after seeing students disenroll from their law programs once the Board began implementing its protectionist regulations.

Daniel Horwitz is a constitutional lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee.  Selected case documents and media reports about the case are available below.  If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:

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Petitioner Maximilano Gluzman’s Principal Brief

Brief of Respondent the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners

Petitioner Maximiliano Gluzman’s Reply Brief

Brief of Amici Curiae The Beacon Center, Cato Institute, and Goldwater Institute

Petition of Vanderbilt Law School and University of Tennessee College of Law

Selected news coverage about the ruling is available at the following links:

-Nashville Post: Supreme Court rules Argentine can take Tennessee Bar

-Bloomberg: Argentine LL.M. With 3.9 GPA Wins Bid to Take Tenn. Bar Exam

-Nashville Post: Argentine lawyer challenging Tennessee Board of Law Examiners

-Nashville Post: National conservative groups join local bar fight

-Above the Law: State Bars Foreign Student From Bar Exam — Next Stop, State Supreme Court

-ABA Journal: Vanderbilt law prof who taught Argentine LLM student backs his bid to take the bar exam

-The Tennessean: How Tennessee discriminated against a talented Vanderbilt law grad

-Cato At Liberty Blog: Even Lawyers Have the Right to Earn an Honest Living

-Beacon Center Blog: Banned From the Bar Exam