Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, ET Al. v. Tony Parker, Et Al.

Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, ET Al. v. Tony Parker, Et Al.
M2018-01385-SC-RDO-CV

This appeal represents the third time, each after a trial on the merits, that we have addressed the facial constitutionality of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol. In both prior appeals, we upheld the particular protocol at issue. In this most recent litigation, the death-sentenced inmates challenge Tennessee’s current three-drug protocol, which calls for the administration of midazolam followed by vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. The trial court dismissed the inmates’ complaint for declaratory judgment. This Court, upon its own motion, assumed jurisdiction over the appeal. After our review of the record and applicable authority, we conclude that the inmates failed to carry their burden of showing availability of their proposed alternative method of execution—a onedrug protocol using pentobarbital—as required under current federal and Tennessee law.  For this reason, we hold that the inmates failed to establish that the three-drug protocol constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution or article I, section 16 of the Tennessee Constitution. This holding renders moot the majority of the other issues before us. The expedited appellate procedure has not denied the inmates due process, and they are not entitled to relief on their remaining issues. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: 
Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Originating Judge: 
Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle
Date Filed: 
Monday, October 8, 2018