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Posted by: Landry Butler on Mar 28, 2017

Head Comment: The Court also filed the attached Judgment in this case.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Stephen M. Kissinger, pro hoc vice, and Helen Susanne Bales, Assistant Federal Community Defenders, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Stephen Michael West, Nicholas Todd Sutton, Larry McKay, and David Earl Miller.

Attorneys 2:

Gene Shiles, Jr., and William J. Rieder, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Billy Ray Irick.

Kelley J. Henry, Supervisory Assistant Federal Public Defender, and Michael J. Passino, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants Edmund Zagorski, Abu-Ali Abdur‘Rahman, Charles Wright, Don Johnson, David Keen, Andre Bland, Kevin Burns, James Dellinger, David Ivy, Byron Black, Pervis Tyrone Payne, William Glen Rogers, Oscar Smith, Stephen Hugueley, Kennath Henderson, Jon Hall, Andrew Thomas, Henry Hodges, Gerald Lee Powers, Tony Carruthers, and Donald Middlebrooks.

Kathleen Morrison, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Lee Hall, Jr., Nikolaus Johnson, David Jordan, Richard Odom, and Corinio Pruitt.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andre´e S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; Jennifer L. Smith, Associate Solicitor General; Scott C. Sutherland, Deputy Attorney General; and Linda D. Kirklen, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellees, Derrick Schofield, Wayne Carpenter, Tony Mays, Jason Woodall, Tony Parker, and John Doe Physicians, Pharmacists, Medical Examiners, Medical Personnel, and Executioners.

Judge(s): BIVINS

The Plaintiffs, each convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death, brought this declaratory judgment action seeking to have declared facially unconstitutional the written protocol by which the Tennessee Department of Correction carries out an execution by lethal injection. After a lengthy evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied relief. The Plaintiffs appealed and, following a motion by the Defendants, this Court assumed jurisdiction over this matter. The Plaintiffs assert three grounds for relief in their brief to this Court: (1) the protocol is unconstitutional because it creates a substantial risk of serious harm; (2) the protocol is unconstitutional because it creates a substantial risk of a lingering death; and (3) the trial court erred by dismissing their claim that the protocol is unconstitutional because it requires the State to violate federal drug laws. We hold that the trial court did not err in concluding that the Plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of demonstrating that the protocol, on its face, violates the constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. We also hold that the trial court did not err in dismissing the Plaintiffs' claims that the protocol requires violations of federal drug laws. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's judgment.