Case: Johnson v. Little

3:06-cv-00946 | U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee

Filed Date: Oct. 4, 2006

Closed Date: 2013

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On October 4, 2006, a death-sentenced inmate of the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Tennessee Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The State of Tennessee allows death-sentenced prisoners who committed their crimes prior to 1999 to choose their method of execution - lethal injection or the electric chair. Plaintiff complained to the Court that bot…

On October 4, 2006, a death-sentenced inmate of the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Tennessee Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The State of Tennessee allows death-sentenced prisoners who committed their crimes prior to 1999 to choose their method of execution - lethal injection or the electric chair. Plaintiff complained to the Court that both methods of execution used in Tennessee were unconstitutional because they would torture the executed prisoner.

Plaintiff objected to the use of the state's electric chair (which was nicknamed "Old Sparky") during his execution by arguing that it had been modified and would not work properly because it would not deliver an adequate current. He quoted the manufacturer, who responded to the news of the chair's modifications by saying that the changes would make it an "instrument of torture" that is "tantamount to somebody being burned at the stake." Plaintiff also referred to allegedly botched executions involving electric chairs in other states.

Plaintiff also objected to the defendants' lethal injection protocol, arguing that it led to an unconstitutional risk of torture because it 1) did not specify the required credentials of the medical personnel involved, 2) involved the use of an anesthetic that would work only for a very short duration, therefore allowing the plaintiff to feel pain, 3) involved the use of a paralytic agent that would render the condemned unable to express the pain that he was feeling and unable to breathe, and 4) involved a dose of potassium chloride that was high enough to cause extreme pain but not high enough to arrest the heart and cause death. Plaintiff alleged that this combination of chemicals would render him conscious, paralyzed, and in extreme pain while he suffocated to death.

On October 10, 2006, the defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction, arguing that Plaintiff had not shown any likelihood of success on the merits and that he had brought the complaint only to delay his execution. Nine days later, the District Court (Judge Todd J. Campbell) denied Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction and granted the motion to dismiss, finding that Plaintiff was unlikely to succeed at trial and that he had brought the case only to delay the execution. Plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted motions to stay and consolidate the case with a similar death-row case, Harbison v. Little (07-6225). In that case, the District Court ruled that the lethal injection method was unconstitutional, and the defendants appealed. These two consolidated cases were stayed until the United States Supreme Court decided a Kentucky case, Baze v. Rees, CJ-KY-0002. In Baze, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that the Kentucky legal injection method, which was similar to the method used in Tennessee, was constitutional. Following that decision, the parties in this case set an oral argument date in December 5, 2013. However, on December 3, 2013, the Court of Appeals granted a joint motion to dismiss the appeals as moot, following the implementation of a new lethal injection protocol by the state of Tennessee.

Summary Authors

Justin Benson (3/21/2012)

Maurice Youkanna (7/28/2014)

Related Cases

Baze v. Rees, Kentucky state trial court (2004)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4662630/parties/johnson-v-little/


Judge(s)

Campbell, Todd J. (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bottei , Paul R. (Tennessee)

Henry , Kelley J. (Tennessee)

Minton, Christopher M. (Tennessee)

Swift, Gretchen L. (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Hudson , Mark Alexis (Tennessee)

Moore, Michael E. (Tennessee)

Judge(s)

Campbell, Todd J. (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bottei , Paul R. (Tennessee)

Henry , Kelley J. (Tennessee)

Minton, Christopher M. (Tennessee)

Swift, Gretchen L. (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Hudson , Mark Alexis (Tennessee)

Moore, Michael E. (Tennessee)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Dec. 3, 2013 Docket
1

Complaint

Oct. 4, 2006 Complaint
6

Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Little and Bell

Oct. 10, 2006 Pleading / Motion / Brief
7

Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Little and Bell

Oct. 10, 2006 Pleading / Motion / Brief
14

Amendment to Complaint

Oct. 18, 2006 Complaint
15

Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Memorandum in Support

Oct. 18, 2006 Pleading / Motion / Brief
20

Memorandum [Granting Motion to Dismiss. Denying Preliminary Injunction]

2006 WL 2993339

Oct. 19, 2006 Order/Opinion

Order [Staying and Consolidating Case]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Jan. 27, 2009 Order/Opinion

Joint Motion to Dismiss

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Nov. 27, 2013 Pleading / Motion / Brief
006111897549

Order [Dismissing Case]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Dec. 3, 2013 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Parole News Blog links to Clearinghouse

Parole News

Link to Clearinghouse: "Profile of the Graziano v. Pataki federal case, produced by the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse" Aug. 7, 2016 http://parolenews.blogspot.com/...

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4662630/johnson-v-little/

Last updated May 20, 2022, 1:21 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
20

MEMORANDUM Signed by Judge Todd J. Campbell on 10/19/06. (gi, )

Oct. 19, 2006 RECAP
1

COMPLAINT against Ricky Bell, John Doe Executioners 1−100, George Little , filed by Don Johnson.(rm) (Entered: 10/04/2006)

Oct. 4, 2006
21

ORDER granting 6 Motion to Dismiss and denying 15 Motion for Preliminary Injunction for reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum. This order shall constitute the judgment in this case pursuant to FRCP 58. Signed by Judge Todd J. Campbell on 10/19/06. (gi, )

Oct. 19, 2006 RECAP
2

APPLICATION to Proceed in forma pauperis by Don Johnson. Responses due by 10/23/2006 (rm) (Entered: 10/04/2006)

Oct. 4, 2006
3

ORDER granting 2 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. Signed by Judge Todd J. Campbell on 10/4/06. (gi, ) (Entered: 10/04/2006)

Oct. 4, 2006
4

ORDER: In light of the impending execution date of 10/25/06, defts are ordered to file a response to the complaint by 10/11/06. Pltf shall file any reply by 10/18/06. Signed by Judge Todd J. Campbell on 10/4/06. (gi, ) (Entered: 10/04/2006)

Oct. 4, 2006
5

Summons issued as to defts Ricky Bell and George Little and forwarded to USM for service this date. (km, ) (Entered: 10/05/2006)

Oct. 5, 2006
6

First MOTION to Dismiss by Ricky Bell, George Little. (Hudson, Mark) (Entered: 10/10/2006)

Oct. 10, 2006
7

MEMORANDUM in Support of 6 First MOTION to Dismiss filed by Ricky Bell, George Little. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, Order Setting Execution, June 20, 2006 (Tenn.)# 2 Appendix Kincy v. Livingston (5th Cir. 2006) Unpublished Opinion# 3 Appendix Hughes v. Johnson, (5th Cir. 2006), Unpublished Opinion# 4 Appendix Alley v. Little, (6th Cir. 2006), Unpublished Opinion# 5 Appendix Cox v. Shelby State Community College (6th Cir. 2002) Unpublished Opinion# 6 Appendix Walker v. Johnson, (E.D. Va. 2006) Order and Memorandum Opinion)(Hudson, Mark) (Entered: 10/10/2006)

Oct. 10, 2006
8

MOTION to Disqualify Counsel by Ricky Bell, George Little. (Hudson, Mark) (Entered: 10/10/2006)

Oct. 10, 2006
10

SUMMONS returned executed by USM for Don Johnson. Ricky Bell served on 10/6/2006. (km, ) (Entered: 10/11/2006)

Oct. 11, 2006
11

RESPONSE in Opposition re 8 MOTION to Disqualify Counsel filed by Don Johnson. (Henry, Kelley) (Entered: 10/17/2006)

Oct. 17, 2006
12

ORDER denying 8 Motion to Disqualify Counsel. . Signed by Judge Todd J. Campbell on 10/17/06. (km, ) (Entered: 10/17/2006)

Oct. 17, 2006
13

RESPONSE in Opposition re 6 First MOTION to Dismiss filed by Don Johnson. (Henry, Kelley) (Entered: 10/18/2006)

Oct. 18, 2006
14

AMENDED COMPLAINT against all defendants, filed by Don Johnson.(Henry, Kelley) (Entered: 10/18/2006)

Oct. 18, 2006
15

MOTION for Preliminary Injunction by Don Johnson. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit List)(Henry, Kelley) Modified on 10/19/2006 (aef, ). Modified on 10/19/06 (jb). (Entered: 10/18/2006)

Oct. 18, 2006
16

Additional Attachments (Exhibits Nos. 1−33; Exhibits Nos. 13−15 are Photographs provided to Court via hand delivery on CD) to Main Document re: 15 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1− CV Dr. Wikswo# 2 Exhibit 2− Declaration Dr. Wikswo# 3 Exhibit 2−Dr. John Wikswo part b# 4 Exhibit 3−Leuchter Equipment Certification# 5 Exhibit 4−Morse Letter# 6 Exhibit 5− Weichert Letter# 7 Exhibit 6− TDOC Electrocution Manual part a# 8 Exhibit 6−TDOC Electrocution Manual part b# 9 Exhibit 6−TDOC Electrocution Manual part c# 10 Exhibit 7−Letter From JVM Industries# 11 Exhibit 8−TN Article 9−16−06# 12 Exhibit 9− Horace Dunkins Report# 13 Exhibit 10− Michael Lindsay Report# 14 Exhibit 11− Wayne Ritter Report# 15 Exhibit 12− Post−Furman Botched Executions Article# 16 Exhibit 16− Postmortem Jesse Tafero# 17 Exhibit 17− Postmortem Daniel M. Thomas# 18 Exhibit 18− Postmortem David Funchess# 19 Exhibit 19−Postmortem Ronald Straight# 20 Exhibit 20− Postmortem Beuford White# 21 Exhibit 21−Postmortem Willie Jasper Darden, Jr.# 22 Exhibit 22−Postmortem Jeffrey Daugherty# 23 Exhibit 23−Postmortem Theodore Bundy# 24 Exhibit 24− Postmortem Aubrey Adams# 25 Exhibit 25− John Lewis Evans Report# 26 Exhibit 26− Arthur Lee Jones# 27 Exhibit 27− Herbert Lee Richardson# 28 Exhibit 28−Wallace Norell Thomas# 29 Exhibit 29−Affidavit of Russell F. Canan# 30 Exhibit 30−Affidavit of Samuel Glasscock# 31 Exhibit 31−Affidavit of Jonathan Eig# 32 Exhibit 32− Affidavit Johnny Robinson# 33 Exhibit 33− Affidavit of Reverend J.D. Brown)(Henry, Kelley) Modified Text on 10/19/06 (jb). (Entered: 10/18/2006)

Oct. 18, 2006
17

NOTICE of Filing Compact Disc Containing Electronic Copies of Photographs Noted (Exhs. Nos. 13−15) in 15 Motion for Preliminary Injunction by Don Johnson. (Henry, Kelley) Modified Text on 10/19/06 (jb). (Entered: 10/18/2006)

Oct. 18, 2006
18

INTERROGATORIES and Request for Production of Documents Propounded to Defendants by Don Johnson.(Henry, Kelley) Modified Text on 10/19/06 (jb). (Entered: 10/18/2006)

Oct. 18, 2006
23

SUMMONS returned executed by USM for Don Johnson. George Little served on 10/6/2006. (km, ) (Entered: 10/20/2006)

Oct. 18, 2006
19

NOTICE of Filing by Don Johnson Exhibit to Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Exhibit 1: Execution Form)(Henry, Kelley) (Entered: 10/19/2006)

Oct. 19, 2006

Note to Filer re DE #16: Declarations and affidavits should be filed as separate events, not as attachments to other documents. These documents do not need to be re−filed unless otherwise directed by the Court. (jb) (Entered: 10/19/2006)

Oct. 19, 2006
22

Docket Entry Numbers 20 &21 are hereby entered on the docket in compliance with Rule 58 and/or Rule 79(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on 10/19/06 by gi. (gi, ) (Entered: 10/19/2006)

Oct. 19, 2006
24

NOTICE OF APPEAL as to 20 Memorandum &Opinion, 21 Order on Motion to Dismiss,, Order on Motion for Preliminary Injunction, by Don Johnson. (Henry, Kelley) (Entered: 11/14/2006)

Nov. 14, 2006

USCA Case Number 06−6452 for 24 Notice of Appeal filed by Don Johnson and assignment of Audrey Crockett (mk, ) (Entered: 11/17/2006)

Nov. 17, 2006
25

MOTION Motion For Relief From Judgment by Don Johnson. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1− Harbison Memorandum Part 1# 2 Exhibit 1− Harbison Memorandum Part 2# 3 Exhibit 1− Harbison Transcript Vol. 1# 4 Exhibit 3− Harbison Transcript Volume 2# 5 Exhibit 4− Transcript Volume 3# 6 Exhibit 5− Harbison Transcript Vol. 4)(Henry, Kelley) (Entered: 10/16/2007)

Oct. 16, 2007
26

RESPONSE in Opposition re 25 MOTION Motion For Relief From Judgment filed by Ricky Bell, George Little. (Hudson, Mark) (Entered: 10/23/2007)

Oct. 23, 2007
27

ORDER: This case is currently on appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Court of Appeals Docket No. 06−6452). See Docket No. 24 in this case. Therefore, this Court is without jurisdiction to decide Pltf's Motion for relief from judgment 25 . Signed by Judge Todd J. Campbell on 10/25/07. (km) (Entered: 10/25/2007)

Oct. 25, 2007
28

NOTICE OF APPEAL as to 27 Order on Motion for Miscellaneous Relief, by Don Johnson. (Henry, Kelley) (Entered: 11/26/2007)

Nov. 26, 2007
29

ORDER of USCA as to 24 Notice of Appeal filed by Don Johnson, 28 Notice of Appeal filed by Don Johnson. It is ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED and the appeals are dismissed. (NO MANDATE TO ISSUE) (tmw) (Entered: 12/03/2013)

Dec. 3, 2013

State / Territory: Tennessee

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 4, 2006

Closing Date: 2013

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A death-sentenced inmate of the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Tennessee Department of Corrections (Nashville, Davidson), State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

Death Penalty:

Electric chair

Lethal Injection - Chemicals Used

Lethal Injection - General

Lethal Injection - Staffing (including physician)