Judge: state's lethal injection method unconstitutional

Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman ruled Friday that the state's lethal injection method is unconstitutional, paving the way for a delay in the execution of several death row inmates. In her ruling, which came in the case of Stephen Michael West, Bonnyman said the defendant showed that Tennessee's injection procedure "allows for death by suffocation while conscious." She rejected arguments that the U.S. Supreme Court's approval of a similar Kentucky procedure should guide her decision, saying that case did not question the amount of sodium thiopental being used in executions. The state attorney general's office now must decide whether to appeal the decision.

The News Sentinel has more

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Court: TSC


IN THE MATTER OF: APRIL F. (d.o.b. 11/20/98), DYLAN F. (d.o.b. 3/30/00), and DEVIN F. (d.o.b. 7/24/06) ET AL.

Court: TCA


Kimberly M. Hinson, Linden, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy F.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, Ryan L. McGehee, Assistant Attorney General and Mary L. White, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services.


This is a termination of parental rights case. The juvenile court terminated the parental rights of the father on the grounds of persistence of conditions, substantial noncompliance with the terms of the permanency plans, and abandonment by willful failure to support. The father appeals, arguing that the Department of Children's Services did not clearly and convincingly show that it made reasonable efforts to help him address his addiction to methamphetamine, clearly and convincingly prove grounds for termination, or clearly and convincingly demonstrate that termination of his parental rights was in the best interests of the children. Because DCS did not clearly and convincingly demonstrate that it made reasonable efforts to reunite the father with his children, we reverse.



Court: TCA


Michelle M. Benjamin, Winchester, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Donald Eugene Bivens.

Katherine H. Lentz, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Brenda Carrol Bivens.


Brenda Carrol Bivens ("Wife") filed this divorce action against Donald Eugene Bivens ("Husband") in the Hamilton County Circuit Court in the Eleventh Judicial District. At the time of the parties' separation, they lived in Grundy County in the Twelfth Judicial District. Husband has lived in Grundy County his entire adult life. Husband filed a motion to dismiss for improper venue which he claims was granted orally by the Trial Court. No order dismissing the case ever was entered. The Trial Court later entered a final decree and marital dissolution agreement submitted by Wife and signed by Husband. Husband filed a motion to set aside the final decree. Following a hearing, the Trial Court determined that Husband had waived any objection to venue and refused to set aside the final decree. Husband appeals. We conclude that Husband did not waive his objections to venue and that the proper venue in this case never has been Hamilton County. Accordingly, we vacate entry of the final decree and remand this case to the Circuit Court for Hamilton County with instructions to transfer this case to an appropriate court in Grundy County.



Court: TCA


Scott Justice, Jefferson City, Tennessee, for the Respondent/Appellant, Christy C.

Mitzi L. Sweet, Morristown, Tennessee, for the Petitioners/Appellees, Stephen and Dustie Belcher.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a termination of parental rights and adoption case. The mother of the child tested positive for cocaine when the child was born, and DCS removed the child from the mother's custody and developed a safety plan for the mother. The child was eventually placed in the custody of the petitioners, who are the mother's cousin and her husband. During the time period at issue, the mother's visitation with the child consisted primarily of attending family gatherings and visiting with the child at these gatherings. She paid no child support. After the mother went to the petitioners' home to say that she intended to seek custody of the child, the petitioners filed this petition for termination of the mother's parental rights and for adoption of the child. After a trial, the trial court terminated the mother's parental rights on grounds of abandonment by failure to support and failure to visit. The mother now appeals. We affirm the trial court's finding of abandonment for failure to support and for willful failure to engage in more than token visitation with the child during the four-month time period preceding the filing of the termination petition, and affirm the termination of the mother's parental rights.



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