Monday, April 16, 2007


And the Media Takes Notice!

The Chattanooga Times Free Press had an article today talking about tomorrow's hearing of the death penalty study bill. Hamilton County D.A. Bill Cox is quoted as saying he supports the legislation which is great news! People across the spectrun are realizing that the death penalty system in Tennessee is deeply and seriously flawed and needs to be looked at! And once again, the Paul House case is mentioned.

One quick note, the bill will be heard by the House Subcommittee on Civil Practice and Procedure tomorrow, not the Senate Judiciary.

Read the entire article here.
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Nashville Scene sues state over death penalty protocols
By Ken Whitehouse and E. Thomas Wood

04-17-2007 3:32 PM —
Nashville's alt-weekly Nashville Scene has filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court against Tennessee's Department of Corrections, seeking to make the state shed some light on its current effort to fine-tune how it puts condemned prisoners to death.

According to the Scene's attorney, John P. Williams of the law firm Tune, Entrekin and White, the lawsuit is a result of a open-records request that has been denied by the Department of Corrections and its commissioner, George Little.

On February 1 of this year, Gov. Phil Bredesen issued an executive order halting all executions for 90 days so that the Tennessee Department of Corrections could perform "a comprehensive review of the manner in which the death penalty is administered."

According to the order issued by the Governor, procedures for both lethal injections and electrocutions would be reviewed by, among others, experts from the legal, scientific, medical, and corrections fields. Additionally the governor has asked that the department review practices of other states.

The Nashville Scene has been trying to obtain documents in advance of new protocols being put in place in order to see what the committee appointed by Little is discussing.

Scene Editor Liz Garrigan told today that she filed a request two months ago under Tennessee's open-records law for information on how the new procedures would be developed. Kleinfelter wrote back with a copy of the current execution manual and some other documents, but told Garrigan that some information had been held back on the grounds that it was privileged material relating to policy deliberations.

According to the lawsuit, Assistant Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter, representing the Department of Corrections, described some of the withheld documents in her letter as "drafts of the [new execution] manual and the handwritten notes and comments of the individual members of the working group appointed by Commissioner Little, as well as a very limited number of emails between members of this group."

"We think the process ought be transparent," Garrigan said today. "We're talking about how we're going to go about killing people in this state. We think that ought to be an open discussion."
Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokesperson for the Attorney General's office, said that her office is not at liberty to discuss pending litigation.

A hearing has been set in Davdison County Chancery Court for Wednesday, April 25 at 9 a.m. Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman will hear the complaint.
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