Inmate pushes liability for torts toward Gov. Haslam, using administrative notice

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This page is the first of two in an administrative notice to prison overseers about their personal obligation to obey Tennessee law. Administrative notice does not state grievances, but merely the law. Page 2 is below.

Gov. Bill Haslam and high officials talk about the state’s road repair program. (Photo governor’s office)

Here is a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam regarding his duty under the Tennessee constitution and pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. to protect the rights of others and not let abuse occur under his personal watch. The letter lets virtue consolidate itself upon the basis of the law, restated for government actors by administrative notice pursuant to the uniform administrative procedures act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-101. All agencies of state government operate in a subterranean realm known as administrative law; aside from litigation, perhaps the only way to hold bureaucrats accountable for injuries, torts, wrongs, evils, abuse, harassment, oppression and the like is to give them proper notice pursuant to statute, to forestall the evils and to deny them the defense of good-faith ignorance.

I say subterranean because the free people in the state of Tennessee walk on the surface of the ground, on the land, pursuing their rights and liberties, and administrative claims cannot touch them, since no agency abrogates or derogates any common law right, according to state law. — DJT

‘Ministerial duty’ outlined — and questioned

Dear Gov. Haslam, I’m writing you regarding the Dec 18, 2017, administrative notice by a prison inmate, Grenda Ray Harmer, No. 88710, confined at the Wartburg prison. Mr. Harmer indicates he has provided you with a copy of it

The notice cites Tenn. Code Ann. 39-6-401, 39-16-402, 39-16-403, 41-1-104 as well as department of correction policy Nos. 302.08 and 305.03.

I realize that as the chief executive of the state you are not bound by departmental policy, which emerge from your discretion or from your ministerial duty. But you are bound to act in good faith under the Tennessee code, the provisions of which make clear the danger of committing acts relating to one’s official employment that are injurious to the rights of the people of Tennessee.

The chief danger to you, Gov. Haslam, is the prohibition of “knowingly and intentionally subjecting another to mistreatment or to arrest, to tension, stop, frisk, halt, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment or lien when the public servant knows that conduct is unlawful” or when one “intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity, when the public servant knows the conduct is unlawful.”

What is a particular concern to me is that Mr. Harmer is being abused by you through the agency of TDOC commissioner Tony Parker and MCCX Warden Sean Phillips.

The administrative notice to you and your agents refreshes your familiarity with the statutes and the provision in the Constitution, Article 1, Section 32 regarding the erection of safe prisons and humane treatment of prisoners, and serves to bring your personal attention to the deviation between your conduct and the statutory requirements.

‘Act in good faith to protect life, health’

Seeing that the constitution exist as a protection of the people and is a controlling authority upon you and your branch of government, I suggest that you make every effort to ensure that the mass of prisoners, and the individual of Grenda Ray Harmer, be treated in accordance to these provisions.

Now, to Mr. Harmer’s case. “In regards to the heat, or the lack thereof. They’ve turned it off and have kept it off. It’s off now and my cell is like a freezer. I personally believe they only turn it on for a brief minute was to taunt me. Everybody’s cell except mine has heat. It’s in the low 20s, and cold air is coming out of my vent. I’m writing you wearing 3 T-shirts, one thermal top, one sweater, one thermal bottoms, my blue shirt and pants, my coat, three pairs of socks and three pairs of gloves. Somehow they are able to give everybody heat but me. *** Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I’m wearing to wool caps. Sometimes I forget I’m wearing it.”

Mr. Haslam, given that you have received administrative notice of your ministerial duty, I ask you to act in good faith to protect the life and health of my correspondent and all his fellow inmates, particularly during wintertime.

Notice lays out law

Page 2 of an administrative notice that restates the law for the benefit of prison wardens, corrections commissioners and governors.

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