Information from WYSH Radio
Tennessee Sen. Randy McNally and Rep. Ryan Haynes will introduce legislation that calls for drug testing all Tennessee judges, the two legislators announced Friday.
McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican, made the announcement after meeting Thursday with Knox County Prosecutor Leland Price and the families of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom. Christian and Newsom were raped, tortured, and murdered by Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas, and Vanessa Coleman seven years ago.
“For a family to have to go through one trial where it involves the torturous murder of their loved one is far too painful for anyone to endure,” McNally said. “But, to have to go through two trials is inconceivable and inexcusable. This legislation addresses this so that no one will have to endure this kind of lengthy and excruciatingly painful court process again due to drug abuse by a judge.”
The families of Newsome and Christian had to endure two painful trials as a result of the misconduct of Judge Richard Baumgartner, who pleaded guilty to illegally taking narcotics during the first trial of the convicted murderers in which he presided. As a result of Baumgartner’s plea, the four defendants, who had previously been found guilty, were retried and convicted again.
McNally said he also plans to introduce legislation which provides for harsher punishment for ethical misconduct by officers of the court that lie about crime victims in order to advance their case.
“Attorneys are officers of the court and should not be allowed to lie in order to advance their case at the expense of the victim,” the senator said. “To do so amounts to a second crime against the victims and their families and should be treated as such.”
McNally said both pieces of legislation are still in the drafting stages.
“I am appalled at what these victims and their families endured during these trials,” McNally said. “We must make sure this never happens again.”
McNally is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and represents Senate District 5 in the Tennessee State Senate, which encompasses Anderson and Loudon Counties and portions of Knox County. Haynes, a Knoxville Republican, is chairman of the State Government Committee and represents portions of Knox County in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
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